I think Cato went off the deep end in some respects here:
My thoughts, in an email to a cousin:
The principle of praising the Confeds is based on secession – nothing more, nothing less. Many libertarians, believing themselves owned by themselves, believe in an unlimited right of secession – as a person or group, from the law. A knee-jerk reaction to the assertion that secession should be allowed is expected when the Civil War is the topic – we all believe that the end for which the War ultimately became was correct (it is the means that we disagree about). We are all uber-fedearlists now, as well, and 90% of persons in the US, if not more, believe that the Federal Government has the right and ability to direct behavior across the board – how much less thought it takes to believe that their authority should exist in the first place! It is a natural thing, perhaps status quo bias, that renders us immediately defensive of the union of these United States, and any assertion to the contrary results in a response that the Federal government had the legal right to control the South, and no one has ever had the right to secede. But legality is not the question, it is a red herring. I can make any number of laws toward outlawing scarcity or loosening the grasp of gravity, but the law has no effect in reality. The question has never been legality, and many scholars of all stripes get hung up on the legality of an action while mistaking it for the objective reality or morality of that action. If the truth is that I own myself, I should have the right to withdraw my consent from a body trying to force itself upon me. That includes religion, government, clubs, etc. That is the only principle of issue here.
Notwithstanding all of the above, this doesn’t mean that the libertarian who supports secession or the act of the South attempting to secede supports all actions of the government of the Confeds. There is a bit of irony here, because in general, the statists who do argue against this form of libertarianism have an assumption that goes unnoticed: support of a government or body of men does not mean agreeing with their every action or belief. Even the devoted state-worshipper knows this fact, but they straw-man the libertarian in support of secession by assuming that there is no other possibility than a stamp of assent on all Confed activity for the mere fact that the South was right in secession. In actuality, in the strict sense of secession, the Revolution had the exact mentality that the Civil War did…
Lysander Spooner, probably my favorite natural rights philosopher, is the epitome of how I believe the libertarian should respond to the Confederacy. Look him up. He is wonderful, simple, and thoughtful.
As a side, there is also the fact that violence was unnecessary to the abilition of slavery in South America, and most libertarians, being anti-aggression, would rather have seen slavery ended without a war or federal takeover. Lincoln suspended the constitution and many of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights to have his will done, and it truly was the first extension of the executive branch far beyond any enumerated powers. His was, in effect, the presidency that justifies many of the evil executive overreach we see today on terms of most rights except the economic (we can Reserve that to FDR, LBJ, Wilson, or Nixon). – everyone loves Lincoln, and it is very rare to see a criticism of him as a man or politician. In reality, some of the means Lincoln used are despicable and terrible. Further, contrary to the bare assertion here by J.S. Mill, the Civil War was not founded on slavery, directly. It was economic protectionism – the South had a huge advantage those days on the cost of labor, and the North needed some level ground on which to stand. Slavery is to the Civil War as Terrorism is to the War on Terror today – a digestible pill and attractive wrapping paper used to glean the support of the public toward to “obvious” conclusion that the aggressor is justified and made the correct moral and angelic decision in crushing the opposition.
In terms of economic efficiency in slavery, I would direct you to a youtube video called The Story of Your Enslavement, if you are interested. Slavery is extremely inefficient toward supporting the master class. Slaves are much better when willing and decieved into toiling for masters. And it is working today much better than ever.
I hate it when people attack a source, but I will say, Cato and Heritage (cited in this as flagbearers for libertarianism) are no longer defined by the non-aggression principle. Many of the main editors and writers have capitulated to power (the Koch brothers are a good example – though not as demonic as many on the left make them out to be, they constantly deride statism & corporatism but are huge purveyors and private users of regulatory capture), and giving a little bit of moral ground for the sake of practicality or renown. Many also are supporters of the Chicago School (of economics and morality), which is a pseudo-neocon, near-Randian perspective from which to view the world – in fact, I would say it is the libertarianism that is simultaneously the most Republican, the most popluar, and the most hated by those who see the antipathy/apathy of pop-rightism toward the poor as being integral to free-markets. I fear this brand of libertarianism much more than I fear democrats or monarchists. If they had power, it would be a very scary thing. I could go on about the in-fighting among libertarians for ages, but there really is no need. Austrian libertarianism is not the will-to-power that is prevalent in Chicago, nor does it require that price dictate every human interaction. There is much more nuance to Mises than Friedman, and Mises would be on the side of secessionism as an unlimited right. I would line up the same, contrary to this post’s assertion that libertarianism is incompatible with Confederate motivation in secession….