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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

[cal-libs] federalism is neither unlibertarian nor about slavery

Brian Miller wrote:
BM) why are Mr. Holtz, and apparently at least a few other Libertarians, in so much denial about the fact that "states' rights" doctrine was created as an underpinning to justify slavery?  (BM
Typical Miller mendacity.  I repeat:
BH) I don't dispute that the label "states' rights" has been seriously tainted by the issue of slavery, but it would be simply addled to claim that the concept of federalism and decentralism is inherently unlibertarian.  Do you dare so claim, or not?  (Probability of Miller answering: ~3%)  (BH
Turns out my probability estimate erred on the high side.
Here's James Madison writing in Federalist 45 about states' rights, but invoking classical Greece rather than America's slave states:
JM) We have seen, in all the examples of ancient and modern confederacies, the strongest tendency continually betraying itself in the members, to despoil the general government of its authorities, with a very ineffectual capacity in the latter to defend itself against the encroachments. Although, in most of these examples, the system has been so dissimilar from that under consideration as greatly to weaken any inference concerning the latter from the fate of the former, yet, as the States will retain, under the proposed Constitution, a very extensive portion of active sovereignty, the inference ought not to be wholly disregarded. In the Achaean league it is probable that the federal head had a degree and species of power, which gave it a considerable likeness to the government framed by the convention. The Lycian Confederacy, as far as its principles and form are transmitted, must have borne a still greater analogy to it. Yet history does not inform us that either of them ever degenerated, or tended to degenerate, into one consolidated government. (JM
Here's Jefferson and Madison writing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions:
KVR) the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: That to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party....each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress. (KVR
Was the topic slavery?  No, the topic was the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Miller of course dared not claim that the concept of federalism and decentralism is inherently unlibertarian.  Now I dare him to claim that Madison, Hamilton, and Jefferson thought that the best thing about the concept of states' sovereignty was that it would help preserve the institution of slavery.
So how about it, Miller?  What new kind of mendacity or prevarication will you muster to evade these central points?  What new smear will you use to indict fellow libertarians for the crime of not subsuming their political advocacy to your own narrow and self-involved agenda?  Do you seriously think a single person here can't see straight through your transparent tactics?
BM) I'd have hoped that a left-Libertarian of Mr. Holtz's standing, in particular, would have distanced himself from such Lew Rockwellian sentiments by this late date (BM
More Miller mendacity, implying that I hadn't already condemned the bigotry of the Paul/Rockwell/Rothbard newsletters the very day the TNR story came out, and multiple times since: