Gene Berkman: ‘Blood & Soil BSers Look Back to Miserable Era’

Long time California Libertarian Party activist and IPR writer Gene Berkman writes at California Libertarian Report:

Q:”Why do Nazis rally around statues of Confederate heros?”
A:”There are no statues of Hitler in Germany for Nazis to rally around.”

Now that civic and business leaders in the south are beginning to deal with the statues of confederate politicians and generals, some are defending the statues as more about nostalgia than about racism. Of course, it is hard to separate nostalgia for the old south from the racist society that it stood for.

At the recent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, another kind of nostalgia was on display. A couple hundred night-time marchers carried tiki torches and chanted “Blood & Soil” and anti-Semitic slogans, in a juvenile parody of a Nuremburg rally. Americans, in the early 21st Century, nostalgic for the Third Reich – National Socialist Germany.

The National Socialist Party held power in Germany for 12 years, from April 30, 1933 to June of 1945. When the National Socialist reign came to an end, German cities had whole neighborhoods turned to rubble. Millions of Germans were homeless – they even created their own party, Bund der Heimatlosen. Factories and shops were damaged, and people were reduced to selling anything they had or could find to occupation soldiers in the hopes of making a little money to make survival possible.

Today, Germany is a major economic power, producing and exporting precision equipment and high quality consumer goods. Each year, Germany exports almost a trillion dollars worth of products. Germans have the highest standard of living and lowest taxes in Europe, except for the Swiss. And millions of foreigners have found in Germany a place to live and be creative.

Germany has achieved its economic success by restoring the market economy that the Nazis had destroyed, by enacting guarantees for civil liberties, and adopting a foreign policy based on avoiding conflict. Modern Germany has made a clean break with the Nazi past, and it has prospered.

Only a fool with a very low IQ, or someone with serious psychological problems, would think that the Third Reich was a better place to live than contemporary Germany. In Germany only a real loser would be nostalgic for a system that destroyed their country. In America, we have losers too, and they were on display in Charlottesville just recently.

The losers in Charlottesville included some who carried confederate flags, and others who carried flags with swastikas, mixing two forms of nostalgia. And who can deny that in the southern states today, life is better for everyone than it was during the 4 years of the slaveholders rebellion? After 4 years of the confederacy, millions in the south were in want, their dreams of a prosperous life dashed in a war caused by the defenders of slavery. How can anyone be nostalgic for that?

I guess nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.

33 thoughts on “Gene Berkman: ‘Blood & Soil BSers Look Back to Miserable Era’

  1. Andy

    The American Revolution could just as easily have been called the “Slave Holders Rebelion” since there were people who participated in it that owned slaves.

    Every culture around the world has practiced slavery.

    Funny how pristine morals are only being applied to some historic statues/monuments/sites, but not to others.

  2. paulie Post author

    The American Revolution could just as easily have been called the “Slave Holders Rebelion” since there were people who participated in it that owned slaves.

    No, it couldn’t. Compare the Declaration of Independence with the causes of secession passed by the various states that formed the CSA to see what I mean.

    Every culture around the world has practiced slavery.

    It was well on its way to being outlawed in the Western Hemisphere and had been outlawed all over Europe by the time the slaveholders’ rebellion took place in the US.

    The chattel slavery practiced here was worse than the kind of slavery practiced in many parts of the world throughout history.

  3. Gene Berkman

    Andy, I commend you if you are criticizing Washington, Jefferson, etc, for owning slaves. But in fact the American Revolution had other causes than the defense of slavery; and the British were not proposing to end slavery in the Americas. Once independent, America ended its involvement in the international slave trade in 1808, 25 years before the slave trade ended in the British Empire.

    The Civil War was nothing but a slaveholder’s rebellion. In the Declaration of Causes for Secession issued by South Carolina, slavery was the only issue brought up as a reason for separation. The only mention of tariffs is a reference to the Republican Party promoting tariffs to win power.

    Georgia, Mississippi and Texas all issued declaration’s of causes, and all focused on the defense of slavery and the threat from northern abolitionists. In the Georgia declaration, corrupt northern businessman are accused of promoting abolitionism to get the north united in support of their corrupt policies, but again, the call is to defend slavery, not end tariffs.

    This is all in the public record https://www.civilwar.org/learn/primary-sources/declaration-causes-seceding-states

    Andy, read these documents, you will see the central role that slavery played in the southern rebellion.

  4. George Phillies

    Tariffs? As noted by Senator Yancey, who was there at the time, the very moderate pre-war tariffs were supported more or less unanimously by southern Democrats voting in Congress.

  5. Massimo

    Although I agree that most (maybe all, as a WSJ editorial stated) of the marchers on the right at Charlottesville were fools, anybody has a right to be a fool, it is called freedom of speech.

    Regarding the statue, of course the answer is that the State should not build any statue, it’s a waste of money and a way to try to influence the debate of serious historians with the heavy and violent hand of the State

    Regarding the Southern leaders specifically, this proscription of dissenting voices to the “official” narrative of the Civil war is almost Orwellian. Lincoln was a butcher that among a bunch of other executive overreaches had 600.000 people killed to maintain the unity, mainly driven by the Northern industrialists that did not want to lose the Southern captive market (note, I am not saying that the first wave of secession was not for slavery, but rather that war was illegal, morally and even juridically, and had nothing to do with slavery and a lot to do with tariffs). And there are figures that, even if tainted with the defense of slavery, wrote cogently and valiantly pieces that, incidentally, are very important for us and the independence of the states, like Calhoun and his 1828 Carolina declaration.

  6. Massimo

    The tariffs were not in the declarations of secession because it is true that the Secession (the first wave, at least) was for the slavery issue. But the drastic reduction of tariffs in the South after Secession, is very present in the debates in the North between Secession and Fort Sumter. What should be understood is that the Secession, even if considered illegal, which is very, very debatable, did not have to automatically mean war, two wrong do not make a right. Let’s stipulate for a moment that the people of California overwhelmingly decided for secession today. Would you think right to send in the federal standing army and kill 600.000 people to avoid it? And note that when Lincoln decided for war, he did not even have the flimsy cover of Texas vs White.

  7. Tony From Long Island

    Andy:

    The American Revolution could just as easily have been called the “Slave Holders Rebelion” since there were people who participated in it that owned slaves.

    Another absolutely asinine comment by Andy. The Revolution had nothing to do with slavery and they were not rebelling against an authority that wanted to abolish the peculiar institution. So, no. it could not be called that.

    Should the founders be criticized for being hypocrites and owning slaves? Yes. History must be analyzed in the context of its time but it is legitimate to analyze it through modern morals.

    Should the British put a statue of George Washington in Parliament? He did fight for the British against the French, right?

    No person who took up arms against the United States should have a public monument – period. They commemorate and explain a part of history. So does any museum.

    Why do you insist on being obstinate just for the sake of being obstinate?

  8. Tony From Long Island

    Oops 🙂 forgot to end the blockquote. I think you can all tell where Andy’s words end and mine begin 🙂

  9. paulie Post author

    Although I agree that most (maybe all, as a WSJ editorial stated) of the marchers on the right at Charlottesville were fools, anybody has a right to be a fool, it is called freedom of speech.

    If they had intended and had indeed marched peacefully, I would agree with you. But that is not what happened. They threatened violence ahead of time and then carried it out. And not only with the vehicular assault. 35 on the anti-fascist side went to the hospital, almost half of them from attacks not involving a vehicle. Zero fascists went to the hospital. Do the math.

  10. Massimo

    OK, Paulie, I buy that the violent guys were only on the right (it seems strange, given that I understand the assholes of Antifa were there as well).

    But we still have to differentiate between the march and the violence. It seems to me that the press is now trying to conflate the two, saying that whoever is a white supremacist (or even a normal fellow that likes old statues), even if not violent, should be banned by society, and when the leftists say things like those, they do not imply a voluntary boycott by individuals, but rather the use of the State in some coercive function. Of course it is not going to happen in the short term in the US, freedom of speech is still holy to many people, but if the rethorics keep being like this, it might happen in a couple of decades. Today there was in the WSJ this article about Nafta new negotiations, in which the Canadians asked to put some clauses that will help the 3 states to reach their objective in “gender equality and defense of Native Americans”. Another example where the moral condemnation of some spontaneous discrimination (that, although repellent to many, should be perfectly lawful) starts to morph into statutory laws.

  11. paulie Post author

    Just so no one is confused I oppose any such laws limiting freedom of speech or protest. However it was neither the intent nor the practice of the fascist contingent in Charlottesville to do anything whatsoever peacefully. They called for blood and they got it. One of their opponents, who as far as I know did nothing violent, is now buried under the soil. I guess that is their “blood and soil” for you. Let’s not let them bloody or soil our movement for human freedom with their toxic presence.

    So:

    Peaceful protests are OK. Violent riots like the ones perpetrated by the fascists in Charlottesville are not.

    Preserving history, including the ugly parts, is necessary. Putting monuments to slavery at the height of segregation to send a message of white supremacy by government in public places is not.

    When they do manage to remain peaceful, we defend their right to speak. We don’t defend what they are saying, which was clearly a bunch of nazi crap – watch any videos of the so-called rally if you have any doubts.

    None of this is new and none of this should even be controversial among libertarians.

  12. Anthony Dlugos

    “Preserving history, including the ugly parts, is necessary. Putting monuments to slavery at the height of segregation to send a message of white supremacy by government in public places is not.

    When they do manage to remain peaceful, we defend their right to speak. We don’t defend what they are saying, which was clearly a bunch of nazi crap – watch any videos of the so-called rally if you have any doubts. ”

    damn straight.

  13. Tony From Long Island

    Preserving history in museums is perfectly fine. That’s what they are for.

  14. Massimo

    1) I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
    Voltaire to Helvetius, likely misattributed.

    Do we agree or not? Because the ACLU just decided they are not going to defend white supremacists freedom of speech if they are armed, even if they do not threaten to use violence. In my opinion, this is a normative category, no space for grey areas here.

    2)”I guess this is “their blood and soil” for you”. This was totally unwarranted. Why did you need to use a personal attack?

    3) The statues. I repeat that it is not the function of a State, even if it had one, which I do not believe, to put up statues. What to do with them now? I would say take them down and sell them to the higher bidder, but all of them, including those of Lincoln and Grant. They want to take out Jackson from the bills because of the Trail of tears, but they leave Grant with his “kill them all, God will sort his own” campaign in the South and the slaughter of the Native Americans in the Praires? Slavery is indecent, we all agree, and what about genocide or massive war crimes?

  15. Tony From Long Island

    Statues on government property is not a function of the state? Huh?

    Oooooh . . . you are one of those “zero government” anarchist Libertarians . . .OK . . . well then . . . good luck with that. . .

  16. paulie Post author

    Because the ACLU just decided they are not going to defend white supremacists freedom of speech if they are armed, even if they do not threaten to use violence.

    The ACLU is one organization, with limited resources and certainly isn’t always perfect, for example in the approach to the Second Amendment. There is room for other organizations to take on that fight. I support the right of people to carry weapons to demonstrations if they do so peacefully, even if their views are repugnant. I also understand that with heated rhetoric it’s not always easy to draw the line to know whether their intent is peaceful or not. In this case it clearly was not but other instances may be more ambiguous.

    ”I guess this is “their blood and soil” for you”. This was totally unwarranted. Why did you need to use a personal attack?

    How is that a personal attack? That was a slogan which was chanted by the fascists in Charlottesville, and by the original fascists in Europe. The latter had a much higher body count, but the meaning remains the same.

    The statues. I repeat that it is not the function of a State, even if it had one, which I do not believe, to put up statues.

    I agree, and I also believe that some are worse than others. Glorifying a bloody slaveholders’ rebellion that tore the nation apart, killed hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed the economy of a good chunk of the country for a generation or more, with the statues having been put up during segregation with the specific intent of communicating a message of white supremacy, is one such especially egregious case. There are others.

    I wouldn’t necessarily sell them to the highest bidder. It’s appropriate to sell or donate them to museums or other places which will in fact preserve them as history.

  17. paulie Post author

    Statues on government property is not a function of the state? Huh?

    Why should it be? Even if you are of the belief that government is necessary for some things it doesn’t follow that it should subsidize or place statues, which are hardly value-neutral.

  18. Massimo

    @Paulie. I understood that with the phrase about blood and soil you were accusing me of sharing their ideals, which I most definitively don’t. If I misunderstood, my apologies.

    The problem I have with all this issue is the whitewashing of the gigantic crime that was the aggression of the North because of the inexcusable defense of slavery of the South. There was no good side in the Civil War. The South declared the Secession because they wanted to defend slavery, some of them even wanted to export it in the Caraibbeans and Mexico. But the attack of the North on the South had nothing to do with it. It was a naked imperialistic war of aggression to maintain a captive market, and on top it was conducted in a way that would have made proud the Nazi troops in Belarus or the Roman legions in England: a complete scorched earth policy, one of the greatest crime against humanity of the modern era.

    Given that the North won, all their sins are now forgotten, and if you ask the average American who was the greatest president in the history of the US, most will say Lincoln, while they likely don’t even know the name of, say, Grover Cleveland. This is a tragedy in general, but it is a tragedy especially for us, because it made taboo the defense of the natural right of self-determination, Secession in this case. Just because the only ones that actually tried to secede are also inexcusable for their indefensible defense of slavery, now anyone that talks about Secession is automatically discredited.

    Liberty cannot exist without the right to exit, we will never achieve anything with the voice only. This is why libertarians, while condemning the South for the slavery, must also condemn the North for using violence in a massive scale for a war that cannot, under any point of view, be considered a defensive war, but rather must be judged for what it was, the violent denial of the right of exit of a major segment of the population.

  19. paulie Post author

    I understood that with the phrase about blood and soil you were accusing me of sharing their ideals, which I most definitively don’t. If I misunderstood, my apologies.

    You misunderstood, as that idea never even crossed my mind. Apology accepted, and my apology in turn if my writing was unclear.

  20. paulie Post author

    There was no good side in the Civil War.

    That’s true. I’m a fan of Lysander Spooner, a radical abolitionist who criticized both sides and wanted the north to secede first. It’s a shame that it didn’t, as I think a lot of subsequent US imperialism would have been far less a problem had the US been divided.

    I agree with the rest of your comment as well, and I’m sure you will agree with my support for the right of counties that declared they were seceding from slave states when those states seceded and the right of slaves who exercised individual secession rights to escape from slavery.

    There’s nothing about moving the statues that were put up during the segregation era, specifically to communicate the message of white supremacy, to glorify confederate generals and politicians to private property or museums that whitewashes the crimes of the Northern generals and politicians. If I say “don’t glorify the confederacy” it does not mean I am saying glorify the Union, as I am not saying any such thing.

  21. Anthony Dlugos

    “This is why libertarians, while condemning the South for the slavery, must also condemn the North for using violence in a massive scale for a war that cannot, under any point of view, be considered a defensive war, but rather must be judged for what it was, the violent denial of the right of exit of a major segment of the population.”

    Libertarian scholars? Sure. Libertarian activists? Sure. Libertarian bloggers/writers/commentators? Sure. Its an intriguing area of study, no doubt, as I very much liked “Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.”

    Libertarians running for office, libertarians running for positions within the party itself, libertarians doing outreach to the public? Absolutely not. Bury those opinions in the deepest part of your intellect when you are in the arena of modern electoral politics. They are of no use there. No matter how smart you are, no matter how well read you are, no matter how intact your libertarian bona fides are, you will lose that discussion with the general public every time.

  22. Tony From Long Island

    Paulie

    TONY: Statues on government property is not a function of the state? Huh?

    PAULIE: Why should it be? Even if you are of the belief that government is necessary for some things it doesn’t follow that it should subsidize or place statues, which are hardly value-neutral.

    If the government owns the land, they are responsible for the removal of these shameful “monuments.”

  23. paulie Post author

    If the government owns the land, they are responsible for the removal of these shameful “monuments.”

    Of course. But your point as I understood it was that anyone who supports even a small amount of government has to therefore believe it’s a legitimate purpose of government to put up statues (any statues) in the first place. That’s the contention I am disputing. I think we are in agreement about the statues in question.

  24. Massimo

    Tony, let’s make a deal. If the State gets the fuck out from land, and all land becomes private, as it should be, I will personally move to the US and dedicate my life to eat all the public statues, confederate or not.

  25. Tony From Long Island

    I guess you won’t be moving here any time soon Massimo 🙂 Your intestines thank you.

  26. Tony From Long Island

    See Paulie, here is where you (and many other libertarians) go all out in the weeds.

    First you say ” . . . .anyone who supports even a small amount of government . . . ” Well that’s more than 99% of American citizens

    Second ” . . . therefore believe it’s a legitimate purpose of government to put up statues . . . ” Statues can be aesthetically pleasing. Statues can memorialize important people or dates. Statues can remind people of good or bad things

    Those things are axiomatic to me. They go without saying. There can always be discussions about funding and where it comes from or if it is too much. People elect representatives who then have the ability to do as they feel best with tax money. If citizens do not agree, elect someone else who will do differently.

    But, yes, we seem to definitely agree about what can be done with certain statues 🙂

  27. paulie Post author

    Statues can be aesthetically pleasing. Statues can memorialize important people or dates. Statues can remind people of good or bad things

    That’s nice. So why do they need to use coercive funding and create unnecessary debate and conflict by having them on government property? There are plenty enough people with plenty enough money and land to pay for statues through voluntary means and put them on private property.

  28. JT

    Gene Berkman neglects to mention the great revival of the German economy in the mid-1930s while the rest of the world continued to struggle with depression. The Germany First economic policy was a success prior to the war.

  29. Massimo

    The German economy in the late ’30s was a complete mess. It wasn’t a market economy, everything was centrally controlled in corporative fashion. Prices were fake. There was a thriving black market in most consumer goods. Although it was not a war economy like the Soviet (in Germany it became a war economy pretty late, only after Speer took command, in 1942), a very significant part was dedicated to weapon acquisition. If you really want to know how it was, you can read “The vampire economy” (here the free PDF courtesy of Mises.com: https://mises.org/files/vampire-economypdf/download?token=GpitWHXI) written just a couple of months before the start of the war by Gunter Reimann, a surprisingly bright German communist in exile in the US.

  30. Massimo

    I quit reading when found Galbraith spewing the usual Keynesian bullshit.

    The fact that in Germany there was virtually no unemployment does not mean anything per se (this is something that Trump should learn by the way): to judge, one has to consider the real productivity of those jobs. You have to understand that a job includes two components: 1) to be paid, and 2) to be useful to somebody. My wife occupation, for example, misses the first. Many German “jobs” (and American, for that matter) of that time missed the second. Because we work to consume, not for the sake of working. The German economy in the late ’30s had a lot of consumer goods rationed. Among those not rationed, most were ersatz, that is actually a German word: ersatz coffe, from acorn, ersatz flour, from potato, ersatz oil, from coal, and so on. The reason was not weapons expenditires, that never passed 10% (not very different from NATO countries in peace in the ’50s, which averaged 7%). It was because the German economy, due to autarky and corporativism, was a joke. And forget data and charts, in a fake economy where prices are meaningless, any measure of gnp or income pro-capita are fantasies.

    Here, a more balanced view from the great Wikipedia (by the way, what Samuelson and Galbraith used to say about “public goods” not produced by the private sector?): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Nazi_Germany

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