Putting Things in Perspective – Part 2 – Civil War Analogy

After discussing the Revolutionary War last time, the next major historical comparison I’d like to look at is the one comparing our situation to the mid-nineteenth century American Civil War.  In this comparison the Left is equated with the historical “North” and the Right with the “South.”

We’ll start with things that do align in this comparison.  The cultural and intellectual elites of the Abolitionist Movement do line up well with the modern Left.  In fact, there is probably a decent number among today’s Woke Left that are direct descendants from the Abolitionists themselves.  And certain historians believe that the culture of New England and its exports to areas like the Great Lakes area and the Pacific Coast states have preserved the viewpoint and authority of the nineteenth century elites from that region of the country.  From that point of view there is a certain direct analogy between the Northern Abolitionist Leadership and the Modern Left.

But let’s look at some of the other factors.  First of all, let’s look at the driving force of the cause.  The Abolitionists wanted to end slavery.  It’s hard to over stress just how popular this cause was.  It was evident to even many Southerners that slavery was an evil that could not be justified by its benefits to the economy.  For a country whose whole existence is expressed in the single word freedom, slavery is anathema.  Therefore, the moral underpinnings of the Civil War were very powerful.  Certainly, the Southern States were able to muster a justification for the practice of slavery but at no time did this justification convince anyone outside of the South and not even everyone inside.  So, the abolition of slavery was a cause that resonated broadly around the United States outside of the Deep South.

But look at the current agenda of the Woke Left.  It is a rag tag grab bag of radical ideas and identity politics grievances that isn’t even rationally self-consistent.  Feminism and even lesbian feminism are at odds with transgender “rights.”  And the BLM agenda of eliminating the police won’t stand scrutiny by other communities like Asians and Hispanics now that they see that it equates to wholesale criminal anarchy.  It is far from certain that even in the “Blue States” that the whole agenda of the radical Left is entirely acceptable.  This is a major difference between the Civil War situation.  The Left’s agenda today is far less popular than the abolition of slavery was back then.

The next consideration is the location of each “side.”  The Confederacy was never able to convince even some of the slave states to join in its revolt.  The border states Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland never seceded.  And even an area of Virginia refused to join and “seceded” from Virginia to become West Virginia and remain with the Union.  Inside the free states there weren’t any large areas that would have joined the South or opposed the abolition of slavery for the most part.

But look at today.  Instead, the Red and Blue States are only an indicator of the majority status of each side in a state.  But geographically we can see that this is really a city versus countryside polarization.  The cities in the Red States are full of Leftists for the most part and even deep Blue States like California and New York have rural areas that are completely red.  This definitely helps our side.  These concentrated populations of Leftists work well when you want to cheat during an election but it doesn’t help much when you are trying to control a population that is diffused over thousands of square miles in some cases.  Controlling the back country especially when it is adjacent to a Red State may turn out to be an impossible job.

And finally in the 1860’s the slave states were so afraid of a Republican holding the White House that they seceded before Lincoln could even assemble his government.  We’ve seen two truly woke administration already.  Obama and now Biden.  And Biden is using all the force of the federal government to destroy our way of life.  But what it seems to show is that determined state leaders can use the state laws to combat these Woke orders and possibly nullify their effects without having to leave the Union.  This is still a preliminary evaluation but I think it is worth seeing if the lessons learned from Sanctuary Cities can be applied to other issues like Second Amendment Rights and First Amendment Freedoms.

So, from the point of view comparison, it seems to me that our side is significantly better off in the present situation than the South was during the Civil War.  And that is definitely a thing to be happy about.

White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century by John Oller – Book Review

Tyler over at the Portly Politico sent me this recommendation. I read the review and it sounded interesting for you history buffs.  Here’s his message followed by the link to the original book review at the bottom of the post.
A buddy of mine wrote a great book review for his blog, Corporate History International, that I thought might be of interest to you.  It’s a review of John Oller’s White Shoe:  How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century.  He touches upon some of the historical parallels between the Progressive Era and our current times, albeit subtly.

 

White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century by John Oller

New White Shoe Review for You

 

The Father of History / The Father of Lies / Summer Reading Fun!

My Professor of Ionic Greek was a very funny guy.  He said that the charm of reading Herodotus is that his prose reminds you of your Great Aunt telling family history.  The whole story is one big run-on sentence meandering back and forth and including everything from news of the great war to gossip about somebody’s wife cheating with the milkman.  And sometimes it’s difficult to tell which part she feels is more important.

In the same way, Herodotus starts off the history of the Persian War by claiming its origin was the kidnapping of Helen by the Trojans!  From there we get a family history of the first Asian ruler to conquer the Greeks living in Asia Minor.  Apparently, the origin of this dynasty involves a King allowing his wife to be seen naked by a commoner.  This triggers his wife’s anger so severely that she conspires with the commoner to kill her husband and usurp the throne.  All of these stories are given with either a tongue in cheek or a storyteller’s desire to be complete.

But in between all this chatter you get some stories that are told nowhere else and that record the (mostly) accurate exploits of the ancient world’s greatest generation.  You’ll hear about Marathon and Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea.  You’ll meet Leonidas and the Spartans, Themistocles and the Athenians and Xerxes and the Persians.  And mixed in with that you’ll hear unlikely stories of the origins of historical nations based on the amorous adventures of Heracles and other demigods.  And you’ll feel that you’re in the midst of a tumultuous time full of heroes and villains.  And you’ll discover the ancient dichotomy of the East vs. the West.  It’s freedom versus slavery.  It’s nation versus empire.  It’s intelligence versus brute force.

There are places where the story bogs down.  You see Herodotus was a world traveler and he relates all the tales he was told in his various travels.  During his time in Egypt he collected much material on the rulers and doings in Egypt.  Sometimes it gets to be a little much.  But mixed in with this minutia will be stories that sound like they came out of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

In terms of historical accuracy Herodotus was far inferior to his successor at Athens, Thucydides.  His history chronicles the aftermath of the Persian War.  This was a sort of Cold War between Athens and Sparta that eventually went hot.  Thucydides provides precise details of the military and political actions and forgoes all mythical and religious causes.  But the content is basically the story of Athens committing suicide.  I much prefer reading the story of its finest hour.

Every summer I read from two greek classics.  I read the Odyssey and I browse Herodotus.  Those two books give me hope that the legacy of the West isn’t a myth.  Odysseus tells me that the value of the brave man and the faithful wife can overcome the chaos and nihilism of the world.  And Herodotus tells me that freedom reappears in this world from time to time and that it is the most valuable substance in the universe.

In future installments, I’ll select some of the stories that I think make the case that the gossip Herodotus is still relevant and interesting 2,400 years later.