The NeoConfederate/Libertarian Connection

The Treasonous Shame of Forbes Magazine‘ (June 28) has morphed into a more recognizable form.


You might recall that Forbes published a “lost cause” economic screed by a fellow who claimed that the Civil War was actually all about tariffs and that this “freeing the slaves” nonsense was just scotch-taped to the evil usurpation by implication by Lincoln. OK. The article attained some notoriety. My piece on it attained some notoriety and Forbes, most gutlessly, simply scrubbed the page and its history on the “columnist”s page and hoped the thing would circle ’round the memory hold and vanish without too great a flushing sound.

forbes takes down column

Forbes scrubs “tariff” article from its website — click for full size

Alas for Forbes

You see, the fellow, whose name I am about to look up, wrote the “Lost Cause” piece in concert with his daughter, and co-wrote a happy rebuttal to the article, which is on his personal webpage, along with the Forbes-disappeared (as in los desaparecidos‘) article on Tariffs.

David John Marotta - Marotta On Money - Forbes (before)

Before:  Screencap 6/28/2013 @ 11:39:54

And it’s called:

Jefferson Davis Posthumously Responds to Our Readers’ Reactions
JUNE 27, 2013

And we find this:

By 1881, [Jefferson Davis] had finished writing his two volume account called The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. And then in 1889 he completed A Short History of the Confederate States of America. Later that year, he died, hoping he had set the record straight….

In other words, the entire “tariffs” defense is taken from and buttressed BY Mr. Marotta and Mariotta daughter Megan Russell … the rationalizations of Jefferson Davis? (Whom, it turns out, never ventured near enough to a sour apple tree to fulfill his melodic destiny, but, like all great American criminals, pretty much got off scot-free for having led a conspiracy that killed 800,000 Americans and maimed millions more, according to latest estimates. BUT …

David John Marotta - Marotta On Money - Forbes (after)

After: Screencap 7/1/2013 @ 12:41:01
With the mysterious disappearing column!

Since I am going to be intellectually dishonest, say “screw you” to Jeff Davis’ books, and refuse the notation, I will note that the “tariff” argument was originally coined to ‘fox’ the British, by making their cause about tariffs and NOT about slavery … but first, the IMPORTANT takeaway.

Marotta or his daughtta decide to yank one of the biggest “Lost Cause” apologists still living to continue to make their “case” that it weren’t about them thar slaves. T’wer them tariffs! Down in the comments, he drops this bomb:

bloody rebel flag

David John Marotta says:

Lincoln’s Tariff War by Thomas DiLorenzo, economics professor at Loyola University Maryland and author of “The Real Lincoln” …

[3:57] “One of the things I discovered is that the history profession at least the part that’s involved in Lincoln and the war to prevent Southern independence … sort of have a church or an official belief – the church of Lincoln – and whenever there are criticisms they react personally.

“And the biggest and most violent reaction I get when I write about this is whenever I mention the possibility that American politicians in the mid nineteenth century at least politicians such as Lincoln may have possible been motivated at least in part by the pursuit of money and power. If you bring that up the Lincoln cult goes nuts. They’re outraged that a politician would be interested in the accumulation of power and wealth and money.

And nothing causes them to become more vitriolic than to mention that the tariff dispute between the Northern States and the Southern States which had been brewing for 35 or 40 years by the time the war broke out had something to do with the war because the official mantra today is that the one and only cause was slavery.”

Holy Guacamole! And he even throws in a YouTube video of DiLorenzo to boot …

Here’s a quick take on DiLorenzo that deserves more digging, but there isn’t time here. Southern Poverty Law Center “The Ideologues” [emphasis added]:


Thomas DiLorenzo
Economics professor, Loyola College

The earliest apologists for the lost Cause of the South, writing in the first years of the 20th century, described Abraham Lincoln as a good and even great man, sorely misled by evil advisers who pushed a harsh Reconstruction policy. No more.

Thanks to Thomas DiLorenzo and others of his ilk, the 16th president is now viewed in neo-Confederate circles as a paragon of wickedness, a man secretly intent on destroying states’ rights and building a massive federal government.

“It was not to end slavery that Lincoln initiated an invasion of the South,” DiLorenzo writes in his 2002 attack on Lincoln, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. “A war was not necessary to free the slaves, but it was necessary to destroy the most significant check on the powers of the central government: the right of secession.”

DiLorenzo is not a historian. With a doctorate from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, he has been since 1992 an economics professor at Baltimore’s Loyola College. And most of his work has not been about history, focusing instead on libertarian and antigovernment themes.


His 10 books include Official Lies: How Washington Misleads Us, and, with writer James T. Bennett,The Food and Drink Police: America’s Nannies, Busybodies and Petty Tyrants (attacking organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and Unhealthy Charities: Hazardous to Your Health and Wealth and Cancer Scam: Diversion of Federal Cancer Funds to Politics (both of which accuse nonprofits like the American Cancer Society of using public money to fund leftist “political machines”).

DiLorenzo is also a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a hard-right libertarian foundation in Alabama, and teaches at the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, a South Carolina school established by the League of the South to teach its unusual views of history (see also Little Men).

In 2003,, a Web site run by Von Mises Institute President Llewellyn Rockwell that includes a “King Lincoln” section, hosted a “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference in Richmond, Va., starring DiLorenzo. The conference has since become a bit of a road show, reappearing around the South and headlined by DiLorenzo.

And just in case you wondered whether we’ve really wandered into a rat’s next of Lost Cause/Free Market Confederate/Libertarians, consider his followup two daze (sic) later, intending to scream the rage at losing Gettysburg/Vicksburg on the anniversary:

The Civil War began over exploitive protectionist tariffs. On this specific issue, the South may very well have had the higher moral ground. Southerners wove some of their improvements into the Confederate Constitution. Our slavery-focused retelling of the Civil War loses sight of issues of freedom we’ve lost with the Confederate Constitution.

@ post-Katrina Jefferson Davis Mansion restoration
Left to Right; Bert Hayes-Davis – Board of Directors and
Great, Great, Grandson of President Jefferson Davis;
Haley Barbour – Governor of Mississippi;
Richard V. Forte Sr. – Chairman of the Board.

That’s the conclusion of this blog posting:

The Confederate Constitution: What Your Elementary School Didn’t Teach You

Which contains this gem in the comments section:

Megan Russell says:

Re: The Right of Secession

Although we now have the Civil War as precedent proving that secession will be met with aggression, there is actually Constitutional evidence that states should have had the right to secede. Walter Williams writes in his magazine article “Do States Have a Right of Secession?”:

Do states have a right of secession? That question was settled through the costly War of 1861. In his recently published book, “The Real Lincoln,” Thomas DiLorenzo marshals abundant unambiguous evidence that virtually every political leader of the time and earlier believed that states had a right of secession

And Walter Williams? Is that the same “Economist” who helms the Koch-funded Department of Economics at George Mason University? Who’s a fellow at the Koch-owned CATO institute? That Walter Williams?

About Walter Williams, Creators Syndicate.

From his Creators Syndicate page

Yup! Even crazier, here’s Walter Williams’ article that Mega-the-Lost-Causer cites:

Do States Have a Right of Secession?
WALTER WILLIAMS (2002.04.19 ) 

… DiLorenzo does a yeoman’s job in documenting Lincoln’s ruthlessness and hypocrisy, and how historians have covered it up. The Framers had a deathly fear of federal government abuse. They saw state sovereignty as a protection. That’s why they gave us the Ninth and 10th Amendments. They saw secession as the ultimate protection against Washington tyranny.

For some reason, the Editor seemed to feel that Walter Williams’ attack on Lincoln required an anti-slavery disclaimer sometime between 2002 and the present-day. Evidently, Mr. Williams forgot it:

Editor’s Comment: Secession is not protection against establishing a government to prevent the abolishment of slavery. The key issue in the right to secession is not separating oneself from a government that prevents the “self-determination” of “peoples,” but separating oneself from a government that fails in its purpose: the protection of individual rights.


Used to be a big favorite of Judge Napolitano’s


Judge Napolitano

And, lest you feel that perhaps Walter Williams has altered his views, you can go to his current article on Creators Syndicate:  “Distrusting Government,” which advises “Tenther” arguments with a mild whiff of secession:

Both lower houses of the South Carolina and Oklahoma legislatures enacted measures nullifying Obamacare on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional intrusion and violation of the 10th Amendment. You might say, “Williams, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled Obamacare constitutional, and that settles it. Federal law is supreme.” It’s worth heeding this warning from Thomas Jefferson: “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” Jefferson and James Madison, in 1798 and 1799 in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, said, “Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government … and whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

In other words, heed the 10th Amendment to our Constitution, which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That’s the message state legislatures should send to Washington during this year’s celebration of our Declaration of Independence.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Ah, nullification!


And the linkage between the Neoconfederates and the Libertarians may be said to be complete.

It’s clear not only that Marotta and dotta are hard-core Neoconfederates, poring over “Lost Cause” arguments and ‘histories’ but also that Marotta is a hard-core “movement” libertarian, kind of like the masthead of that place where Walter Williams wrote his “right to secede” column:


click for full size; note Ayn Rand quote

The “Tariff” argument from Jefferson Davis is merely a return to a prior mendacity from the same source, as discussed in the New York Times‘ Disunion column last month:


… Early British support for the South was further buttressed by something as mundane as a protective tariff — the Morrill Tariff — approved by Congress on March 2, 1861. This new tariff, passed to protect American infant industries, also unwittingly gave rise to a troublesome myth of mounting trans-Atlantic proportions.

The tariff had been opposed by many Southern legislators, which is why it passed so easily once their states seceded. But this coincidence of timing fed a mistaken inversion of causation among the sympathetic British public – secession allowed the tariff to pass, but many in Britain thought that the tariff had come first, and so incensed the Southern states that they left the union.

Nor was this a simple misunderstanding. Pro-Southern business interests and journalists fed the myth that the war was over trade, not slavery – the better to win over people who might be appalled at siding with slave owners against the forces of abolition. On March 12, 1861, just 10 days after the Morrill Tariff had become law, The London Times gave editorial voice to the tariff lie. The newspaper pronounced that “Protection was quite as much a cause of the disruption of the Union as Slavery,” and remarked upon how the Morrill Tariff had “much changed the tone of public feeling” in favor of “the Secessionists.”

The pro-North magazine Fraser’s made the more accurate observation that the new Northern tariff had handily given the Confederacy “an ex post facto justification” for secession, but British newspapers would continue to give voice to the Morrill myth for many months to come.

Why was England so susceptible to this fiction? For one thing, the Union did not immediately declare itself on a crusade for abolition at the war’s outset. Instead, Northern politicians cited vague notions of “union” – which could easily sound like an effort to put a noble gloss on a crass commercial dispute.


The Union soon obtained some much needed trans-Atlantic help from none other than the English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill. By the beginning of 1862, the tariff myth had gained enough public traction to earn Mill’s intellectual ire, and he proved quite effective at voicing his opinion concerning slavery’s centrality to the conflict. He sought to refute this “theory in England, believed by some, half believed by many more … that, on the side of the North, the question is not one of slavery at all.”

Assuming this to be true, Mill asked, then “what are the Southern chiefs fighting about? Their apologists in England say that it is about tariffs, and similar trumpery.” Yet, Mill noted, the Southerners themselves “say nothing of the kind. They tell the world … that the object of the fight was slavery. … Slavery alone was thought of, alone talked of … the South separated on slavery, and proclaimed slavery as the one cause of separation.”

Mill concluded with a prediction that the Civil War would soon placate the abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic. That, as the war progressed, “the contest would become distinctly an anti-slavery one,” and the tariff fable finally forgotten.

Mill’s prescient antislavery vision eventually begin to take hold in Britain, but only after Abraham Lincoln himself got involved in the trans-Atlantic fight for British hearts and minds when he put forth his Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.


And so, two years after the Morrill Tariff’s March 1861 passage, Northern antislavery advocates had finally exploded the transatlantic tariff myth. Goldwin Smith, a radical English abolitionist and Oxford professor, afterward explained the initial British acceptance of the tariff lie to his Boston audience in 1865: “Had you been able to say plainly at the outset that you were fighting against Slavery, the English people would scarcely have … been brought to believe that this great contest was only about a Tariff.” Over the years, Smith had “heard the Tariff Theory called the most successful lie in history,” he said. “Very successful it certainly was, and its influence in misleading England ought not to be overlooked.”

Now: having nearly bamboozled the UK into believing that the Civil War was about “tariffs” doesn’t it stand to reason that Jefferson Davis would revive the almost successful lie thirty years after the War to rationalize the Lost Cause?


Jefferson Davis stole our american hat

Jefferson Douchebag, CSA

But, as I’ve been telling you for awhile, this Koch/Libertarian movement is paralleled by and deeply intertwined with the old Lost Cause/NeoConfederate movement and its aims.

on the left sidebar of the
Georgia Heritage site

also on left sidebar; links to

And, just to get something useful out of all this, you might want to read Salon’s “How the Lost Cause Poisoned our History Books,” seeing as how they’re trying to do it again.

And shame on Forbes: first for publishing it, and then second for gutlessly scrubbing it without a word. We are owed an apology and an explanation, at the very least.

Forbes-mind ownership

But only if you’ve got one!


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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One Response to The NeoConfederate/Libertarian Connection

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