The Dreaded 'S' Word

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It should be clear to anyone who has been paying attention to politics in recent years that the modus operandi of the statist and imperialistic neoconservative cult that now dominates the Republican Party is not to debate its intellectual opponents but to wage campaigns of character assassination against them. They are modern-day Jacobins and, like the French precursors of totalitarian communism, believe that they alone possess knowledge of "the general will." Consequently, all dissenters must be "destroyed."

The neocon cult began in the early 1980s by smearing the late Mel Bradford after President Reagan appointed him to head the National Endowment for the Humanities. It then carried on this immoral practice for some twenty years, with its current target being Professor Tom Woods, author of the phenomenally-successful book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

Since their targets, like Professors Bradford and Woods, are decent, honorable, educated and intelligent people, the neocons simply lie about them (and their writings), and then wage a very well-organized repetition of the lies in their various publishing vehicles and web sites. Not just little white lies, but outrageously absurd and vicious ones. In Bradford’s case, they absurdly claimed that he once praised Hitler in his writings! More recently, they are attempting to paint Professor Woods as a friend of the KKK because of his association, shortly after graduating from Harvard, with an organization called The League of the South.

Several recent hatchet jobs on Woods have mentioned the League of the South as though it was some kind of hiding place for Nazis who escaped the post World War II war crimes trials. They are lying about this, too, of course. All one needs to do is to browse the web site of the League and discover for oneself what the organization stands for. Specifically, read its "Core Beliefs Statement." Clearly, it is this statement that absolutely outrages the neocons, throwing them into a sputtering rage erupting in a blizzard of lies and false accusations about the League and anyone associated with it.

So what is it, exactly, about the League’s statement that causes such a violent reaction among our modern-day Jacobins? First of all, it is the Statement of Purpose: "We seek to advance the cultural, social, economic, and political well-being and independence of the Southern people by all honourable means." Good God, these people must be stopped! They want to improve the lives of all their friends and neighbors!

There’s more. The League also makes the "outrageous" claim that "Southern culture is distinct from, and in opposition to, the corrupt mainstream American culture. Therefore, we stand for our own sublime cultural inheritance and seek to separate ourselves from the cultural rot that is American culture." This is especially outrageous to neocons — and also to certain "libertarian" imposters — because it suggests that there are still people in America do not abide by the notion that the role of government in America is to force a uniform culture on the entire population.

The preferred "culture" of the neocons is a culture of death, of war, censorship, and imperialism. War is the very thing that makes us human, says prominent neocon theorist Victor Davis Hanson. The more war, the better. America’s youth must be brainwashed in the "poetry" of Abraham Lincoln’s political speeches, says neocon political theorist Walter Berns of AEI, so that they can be duped into joining the military and serving as cannon fodder for the neocons’ perpetual wars for perpetual democracy.

Obviously, no alternative culture is permitted in the neocon mind. They mock the very notion that a distinct southern culture even exists — or should exist. This is obviously an ignorant and imperious notion. It’s not only the League of the South that recognizes the uniqueness of southern culture. Just browse the web site of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, or its 1,634-page book, The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, with contributions from over 800 scholars. There is even a "Directory of Southern Culture" on the Internet. Or consult Clyde Wilson’s bibliography of southern literature in the LRC archives.

Even more "outrageous" than the notion that there exists such a thing as a distinct southern culture (as opposed to a New England culture, a Mid-western culture, a Washington, D.C. culture, or a New York City/L.A. culture) is the Leagues’ statement that "The South still reveres the tenets of our historic Christian faith. . . " Anyone who has ever lived in the South knows how true this statement is. Religion is a much bigger part of the average southerners’ life than in other regions, a fact that is usually denigrated by the dominant culture of America by darkly referring to the South as the "Bible belt."

Historically, the South may have been "a Christian nation," as the League says, but it was also more tolerant of non-Christians than the North was. This fact is well documented in the book The Jewish Confederates by Robert N. Rosen, for example, about the preponderance of Jews who fought on the side of the South during the War to Prevent Southern Independence.

One of Jefferson Davis’s closest friends was Judah P. Benjamin, who served as the Confederacy’s Jewish secretary of war and secretary of state, after being elected to the U.S. senate from Louisiana. Whereas nineteenth-century New Englanders were horrified by the immigration of Jews and Catholics, the South welcomed them. That’s why so many Jews fought for the Confederacy. In sharp contrast, Grant and Sherman were such anti-Semites that Grant issued an order in 1862 that all Jews were to be deported from his area of operations and were not permitted to ride on trains.

Jefferson Davis was educated by Catholics and wanted to convert to Catholicism as a young man, but his parents would not allow it. His own children attended Catholic schools, and while he was in a northern prison after the war, the Pope himself sent Davis a hand-made crown of thorns.

It is easy to understand why certain neocon pundits have gone completely berserk after coming across the League of the South’s core beliefs statement. Rather than pledging undying loyalty to the state and its imperialistic adventures — the defining characteristic of a neocon — the League asserts that "Our strongest and most enduring earthly affections and allegiances" are to "families, friends, neighbors, villages, towns, cities, counties, and States," and not "the nation" or worse, the "global community." Bad news for President Bush: The League of the South is not likely to support spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to ostensibly "fight AIDS in Africa," or to "bring democracy to the Middle East" at gunpoint.

In other words, the League does not believe that the role of government is to use its members’ children as cannon fodder with which to wage perpetual warfare for such abstractions as "democracy" in foreign lands. This is something that the National Review/Weekly Standard/AEI/Heritage Foundation/Claremontista crowd simply cannot tolerate. The League endorses George Washington’s foreign policy: "a foreign policy of armed and vigilant neutrality (i.e., commerce and friendship with all, entangling alliances with none)."

All men are equal "before God and the bar of justice" says the League’s statement, but attempts by the state to impose egalitarian social polices in the name of material "equality" are denounced. As Murray Rothbard once wrote, egalitarianism is nothing less than a "revolt against reason," and can only lead to the destruction of civilization itself by denying the uniqueness of every individual and the role of the division of labor in society.

Why, these radical Southern Leaguers even endorse Christian charity, the sanctity of marriage, good manners and "southern hospitality," manly respect for women, freedom of association, and the rule of law. Obviously, these people must be stopped!

Your typical neocon has little or no understanding of or interest in economics. He is all about war, empire building, nationalism, "national greatness," and foreign policy imperialism. Not so of the League of the South. Its core beliefs statement includes a section on "economic independence" that advocates going back on the gold standard and abolishing the Fed; abolishing income taxation and taxes on real property; opposes fractional reserve banking; seeks limits on government regulation of business; and aspires to a government that is small enough that its basic functions can be financed solely by modest sales and excise taxes.

Thus, the League of the South advocates peace and prosperity in the tradition of a George Washington or a Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, its statement announces that "The South’s political ideals and principles are rooted in the Jeffersonian tradition as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Namely, that our unalienable rights are a gift from God, not privileges that are granted or denied by any governmental authority; that a truly free people has the right and power to determine its own form of government; that governmental power should reside as close to the people as possible and that competing governmental bodies should have meaningful checks on one another’s use of power." This statement is an eardrum-shattering catastrophe to any neocon.

It is high time that Americans recognize that the Republican Party was established as the political vehicle for destroying the Jeffersonian tradition of states’ rights and limited, constitutional government. The Republican Party of the nineteenth century was the political descendant of the Whig Party, which itself was derived from the Hamiltonian/Federalist/nationalist tradition. It was the political vehicle that had evolved as the anti-Jeffersonian movement in America, and it succeeded in destroying the Jeffersonian, states’ rights tradition once and for all and establishing a consolidated empire, centered in Washington, D.C.

The neocons are simply the latest manifestation of this anti-Jeffersonian tradition. Perhaps the biggest lie of all, though, is the neocon insistence that they are merely carrying on the traditions of the founders, such as Jefferson. The Claremont Institute claims that this is its main purpose, while it supports and advocates policies that Jefferson himself, the principal author of America’s historical states’ rights doctrine, would never, ever, support. The Big Lie is an essential feature of all neoconmen.

Jefferson understood that if the day were ever to come when the federal government, under the auspices of the Supreme Court, were to be the sole arbiter of the limits of its own powers, then it would inevitably assert that there were in fact no limits at all. That day came in April of 1865 and led to the creation of an American state that would cause many of the founders — certainly Jefferson — to rebel. The League of the South understands this, which is why it also advocates peaceful secession as the only viable means of restoring a free society.

Peace and prosperity are deadly poison to the advocates of "national greatness conservativism," however, which is why the neocons are so vicious in their personal attacks on anyone, like Professor Tom Woods, who dares to associate himself with such ideals.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His latest book is How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold Story of Our Country’s History, from the Pilgrims to the Present (Crown Forum/Random House, August 2004).

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at LRC

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at Mises.org

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