Friday, 18 August 2017

Monuments


Despite the ridiculously overblown claims of assorted idiots either quoting or  thoroughly misunderstanding George Orwell’s warning against the practice of historical airbrushing, there is nothing in the least “Orwellian” about removing monuments celebrating murderers or worse.

Germany boasts no public monuments to Hitler, Goering or Goebbels, and nor should it. It boasts no public monuments to Hitler, Goering or Goebbels, not because their memory has been Orwellianly erased, but because after the war fought to end Nazism the country was de-Nazified – as it should have been – rooting out the poisonous ideology to the most thorough extent possible.

Likewise in Japan, after a world  war fought to end its militant aggression, the country’s politics was thoroughly de-Shinto-ised and deodorised – Shinto being abolished as a state religion and its militant and ultra-nationalistic teachings, rites and monuments expunged.

So it was, or would have been, after the American Civil War too – a war fought, (as every rebel state’s declaration of their causes of secession made crystal clear at the time) to make the South safe for slavery just as long as their slave-owners desired. But too soon after that war against this inhumanity was won, the cause itself was lost and Jim Crow laws soon dragged in by the back door much that a war that killed 700,000 had thrown out the front.

So if it has taken one-hundred and fifty years to rouse the opprobrium necessary to remove statues erected to lionise peope who elected to go to war for the “right” to put other human beings in chains, then let’s raise a Halleh-fricking-lujah to that opprobrium, huh.

And stop mis-using Orwell to complain about it. Simply insist it be done within the law, instead of without.

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24 comments:

  1. That's correct of course. But in acknowledging that we must keep perspective, and remind ourselves that those seeking to remove the statues are not doing so primarily on the basis of individual rights, but on wanting to replace it with their own brand of slavery.

    We also must take into account the historical context and standards of the day, and what else the individual being commemorated may have done besides supporting slavery. In that regard Trump's retort is a reasaonble one: if we accept that the supporters of slavery need to have their statues taken down, doesn't that also mean the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson should also be taken down because they too had slaves?

    There are historical figures we can generally agree were predominantly bad, but there are many that were a mixture of good and bad. Whether someone was predominantly good or predominantly bad is something Objectivists and libertarians often can't even agree on (eg: Churchill), so how can we expect the general public to agree?

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    1. There is no moral equivalence between them, not is it a question of 'historical context.'

      The monuments were not raised to men simply because they *owned* slaves, but because they were men who went to war to fight for the perpetuation of that barbaric practice. (If you doubt that cause, I say again, read the causes each state cited in seceding.)
      Jefferson and Washington also fought a war, but for the very opposite reason to that of Nathan Forrest et al. Jefferson and Washington did not fight a war to uphold the alleged right for some human beings to place a saddle on other human beings and ro ride them booted and spurred, but for diametrically opposite reasons, reasons which, in their logic, which made it possible (eventually) for slavery to be expunged.

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    2. That is all correct, but it's also irrelevant to the point I'm making.

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    3. To elaborate on why it's irrelevant: You and I could have a nuanced discussion about the relative morality of all the combatants from that era, and in the end we'd probably agree or at least come close. Similar to what you've started with Mark Hubbard. But that level of careful analysis by two Objectivists is largely irrelevant to the forces now at play we saw in Charlottesville. Contrary to what your 2nd last paragraph Implies, this issue has not arisen in the context of growing respect for individual rights over 150 years, that has finally culminated in taking down Confederate statues. Rather it's arisen because of growing identity politics, that has seen two sides that are just as bad as each other clashing in the streets.

      To use an analogy, if you were watching say the D-day landings, would you commence a nuanced discussion around the property rights of the Normandy farmers whose land the Aliiies were invading and occupying, or would you put that to the side and focus on overcoming the German first? And if you focused on property rights too early, disregarding the bigger conflict that's underway, would that help or hinder the war effort?

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    4. A very, very important point. The folks currently removing monuments are doing so to perpetuate racism, not erase it--they are doing so because such statues "trigger" certain groups, rather than because of any principled defense of individual rights. To say that these removals is a good thing is to ignore the very real fact that they are a capitulation to openly violent thugs hell-bent on re-creating the institution that the men the statues represent fought to preserve. In other words: We are removing the monuments to slavery to satisfy those who wish to enslave us. That's not something to praise.

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    5. Dinwar, "we" are not removing those monuments, but being monuments to slavery they should be removed. But as I say in the last sentence, they should be removed *legally.* And because we support the rule of law, that's important.

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    6. Mark, I'd suggest the issue *should* have arisen before -- but as I repeat above, their removal should be done legally.
      PS: I'm not really sure I fully fathom your D-Day analogy here ...

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    7. "They are monuments to slavery" is not an objective fact. It's a narrative.

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    8. Richard, I have come to understand that you would not know an objective fact if one jumped up and bit you in the ballsack. This is one reason -- that, and your predilection for posting spam --
      that you remain on moderation.

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    9. Yes, I know your opinion of me. The statue is a monument to history, or a monument to slavery. Take your pick. If they stood to celebrate or promote slavery, I'd oppose them, but I don't think that is the case, so I don't see any reason to lose sleep over them. The real threat to liberty isn't the statues, but the fascist movement that is dragging them down. That is what should be animating freedom lovers.

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    10. I have to say Peter that on this issue I'm closer to Richard than I am you. Yes the Confederacy sought to preserve slavery, so I won't lose any sleep over them coming down, and in usual circumstance I'd prefer them down. But Richard is right that the bigger threat to liberty in our current context is not the continuing existence of those statues, but the identity politics of those seeking to take them down. You can still be in favour of removing the statues despite that, but you should in my view at least acknowledge the threat we're talking about. It seems to me that letting the left have their way on this issue will embolden them, and probably lead to them wanting statues of Jefferson/Washington down by their same logic.

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    11. Well, to repeat again: I argued above that if they are to be removed they should be removed *legally*, which would somewhat spike the guns of the mob, and I even provided a link to expain why and how which argues in part:
      "1. In the limited context of a government body displaying a statue or monument of some kind, it is completely reasonable for a group to lawfully petition the government for its removal. In other words, if some group in some town believes the government should not display a statue of a Confederate or display the ten commandments or whatever, there is legal and judicial process to have such displays removed.
      "2. In this context, it is never appropriate or legal for a mob to tear down a statue on private property. To allow this is to allow anarchy and mob rule, which is anathema to civil society and the rule of law...."

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  2. Replies
    1. Read (or re-read) the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which will explain as clearly as you will ever need why slave-holders in the slave states and new territories so reviled him they were prepared to have their states secede even before he was inaugurated.
      No amount of confederate arm-waving at the ill-named Mises Institute can get around that.

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  3. I agree that, from a moral perspective, men who aided a vile regime should not have monuments made to them. I do wonder about some Confederate generals--they were not universally slave supporters, and while slavery may have been a main cause of the Civil War it was certainly not the only one. Regardless, from a moral perspective I agree with you.

    From a political perspective, I strongly DISAGREE with what is going on. Monuments should be private, and therefore subject to the same rules as any other private structure, such as billboards. If you want to have a statue to some vile dictator on your lawn, that's your right--we don't burn Mein Kampf or arrest people wearing Che t-shirts.

    Further, the methods being used are...questionable. If you have to do it at night or in secret, as has been done in at least one location, that indicates there's a serious problem either with what you're doing or who you're doing it to.

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    1. Dinwar, I think you and Peter have hit on the solution - privatise statues and monuments. That is, under the rule of law, take down ALL statues currently standing on public property and auction them off to whoever wants to put them on their own, or someone else's, PRIVATE property. Problem solved. However, I believe that the vast majority in the Antifa movement would not hesitate to violate property rights and vandalise the statues even if they were sitting on private property.

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    2. You're right, they would violate private property and worse. They're not just after statues either, but anything that offends them. Statues are a small part of a much broader goal.

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  4. Peter , you show your REAL intent of being Antifa and the globalist POS you really are.
    No wonder Linzey Perigo said quote" Peter Cresswell is an evil unhinged POS"

    Jane

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    1. "I do wonder about some Confederate generals--they were not universally slave supporters,"

      Robert E. Lee apparently considered slavery to be a great moral and political evil.

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    2. As I've already pointed out, it's utterly irrelevant what Robert E. Lee's private views about slavery were -- what IS relevant is that he led a war to protect that "peculiar institution."
      But you know this, and we both know you're just trolling.

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  5. BTW, to those commenters who say "why now?" -- ie., why remove these statues to slavery now when they've been standing in public for years - the answer is simple: because maintaining their erection is wrong, just as maintaining the "peculiar institution" these men fought for was wrong; and just as ignoring the reality of that for decades before the civil war broke out was a leading cause of the virulence of the final explosion so, perhaps, was the ignoring of the statues' existence and meaning in recent decades one reason for the (only one, mind you) for the virulence of the reaction against them today.
    And in any case, there is never a bad time to right a wrong.

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  6. Peter - I'd like to try and reframe this discussion by asking you a few yes/no questions:

    1. Do you accept that the reason the leftists want the statues down is predominantly on the basis of identity politics, not the same reason you want them down?

    2. Is it correct that this issue wouldn't even be on your radar, and you wouldn't have considered it important enough to advocate for were it not initiated by the left?

    3. Do you accept that having statues of Confederates taken down in the current political context (whether illegally or legally) would be considered by the left a victory, and likely lead to calls to have other statues of slave owners such as Washington and Jefferson taken down?

    4. Do you accept that the bigger threat to liberty in the current era is not the politics of the Confederacy, but the identity politics of the left?

    5. If your answer to all the above is 'yes', how do you reconcile that with your strong calls to take them down? Or to put it another way, why do you think the statues coming down will lead to more liberty rather than less?

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    1. Hi Mark

      Maybe ask yourself why the Marxists started with statues representing people who fought to defend slavery? And notice that Marxist activists are generally trained to find and start with those very 'wedge' issues that, as far as possible, have some validity -- especially those issues that put them in the right, that society has been happy to have swept under the carpet.
      That's been the Gramsci/Alinsky/Marcuse way since they began advising activists.
      So maybe that should be motivation, if right alone is not, to set things properly to right instead of ignoring them, and before the cultural marxists take to the streets.

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    2. It's pretty obvious PC, that those who tore down the statues were not Marxist activists or advocates of Gramsci etc.

      So answer MarkT's questions instead of replying with a bunch of drivel.

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