Voluntaryist perspective on the "Civil" War and 14th ammendment?

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    As a Voluntaryist, I believe 100% in the right of secession all the way down to the individual as a Natural Right, and I believe the south had the right to secede from the Union.

    But at the same time, we still have two ultimately evil entities, The USA and the CSA are still both tyrannical, coercive institutions that trampled Natural Rights, and both are enormous violators of the Non-Aggression Principle.

    It feels weird siding with one over the other, when in the end they are both immoral.

    On to the 14th amendment, even though it was unconstitutional for the Federal government to dictate to the states in this way.

    Morally, I see it as one tyrannical entity undoing the oppressive law of another tyrannical entity.

    This whole subject gets incredibly confusing.

    Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

    I would be interested to know what Lysander Spooner thought of the 14th Amendment, can anyone provide me with or link me to information regarding this?

    Also, I know Murray Rothbard has written extensively on this secession and the Civil War, can anyone recommend specific articles of his on the Civil War and the 14th Amendment?


    Sorry, huge typo, replace 14th amendment with 13h amendment.


    What you are seeing is the tyrannical nature of all centralizing governments. The nature of government is power and the use of that power to the benefit of certain groups over others.

    As for Rothbard, to the best of my knowledge he didn’t write on this part of US history. I know he did a lot of work on the Colonial period with his Conceived in Liberty and he did a lot of work on the Great Depression.


    I found this , “America’s Two Just Wars” a lecture by Murray Rothbard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clwZbQ5LoBI


    Check this article out by Walter Block:



    I don’t think there is a good constitutional objection to the 13th Amendment, so I have no scruples there. One might have a concern about empowering the U.S. government in any capacity, even the capacity to do good. These are indeed difficult questions, with no neat answers. In a debate I saw him do years ago, Walter Block took the view that regardless of constitutional procedure, which to him is secondary (if even that), what it boils down to is this: can group A intervene to make sure group B stops oppressing people? Does group A, even if a government, have the right to do the right thing? Put that way, Walter was OK with it.


    Looking back over this, I see that I posted the wrong link (though the one I posted is worth reading). The Walter Block article I meant to post is here:


    Dr. Woods, that article by Dr. Block appears to contradict what you recall him saying in that debate. Block states that the North invading the South to rid it of slavery would violate the non-invasion (except in self-defense) provision of limited government libertarianism:

    “If secession is always and everywhere justified, what, then, is the proper libertarian response to the existence of suttee, slavery, clitorectomy, etc., in other countries (e.g., in seceding territories)?

    Under limited government libertarianism, the government of the north would take no steps to rid the sovereign Confederacy of its slavery (or India of its suttee). The purpose of the state in this philosophy is to protect its own citizens. Period. And, on the (historically accurate) assumption that the Confederacy showed no indication of invading the north, but merely wanted to be left alone to its own devices, that would be the end of the matter as far as the northern government was concerned.

    However, even under these assumptions individual abolitionists would be perfectly free, and, indeed, justified, in going in to the Confederacy, guns in hand, with the intention of ridding the south of this evil institution of slavery. But if things went poorly for them, they could not then scurry back to the north, tails between their legs, hiding behind their mama’s skirts, because that would necessarily bring in the northern government into the fray. It would violate the non-invasion (except in self-defense) provision of limited government libertarianism, or minarchism.”


    The problem with this line of argument is that interventionists can always cook up a contention that the other country is somehow morally blameworthy. Thus, once you’ve admitted that the US Government can attack any foreign country that fails to adopt the American social/legal template, you’ve admitted it can attack any foreign country, period. That way lies John McCain.


    This is a conundrum for the ideal non-interventionist libertarian state… would such a state have any moral duty to intervene in the affairs of another state if that state were carrying out genocide on its own people or enslaving a certain group that lived within its territorial boundaries? The problem is that we keep considering the state as a group of people, but it becomes clearer I think as to the proper course of action if we break it down to 3 people. If I happen to come upon Person A beating Person B and clearly Person B is the weaker person and is not able to defend themselves, do I have (a) a moral duty to help person B or a (b) civil duty to help person B. Most people would probably say yes to (a), however for (b) the correct response I think is “no”… because in so doing you could be endangering yourself, you don’t know what person A is carrying as a weapon or what they are capable of, and you do not know if person B even wants your help, maybe he doesn’t, maybe it’s all part of his master plan before he counter attacks, who knows, the point is you would be interfering and there is no non-arbitrary way to know if that interference is welcome or not… even asking might be interference… in other words one is not obligated to put themselves in harms way from a civil standpoint (morally however I think if we see someone at the point of death we’re going to do something as we would expect the same were we in that position).

    Now, the situation changes if person B requests of me assistance, I now have become involved in the altercation and clearly person B is desirous of assistance. Because I have been asked it is necessary for me to make a choice and civilly either choice is acceptable… so from a civil standpoint we move from a definite “no” to new options of “yes” or “no” if asked. If asked and accepted then it is completely keeping with the non-aggression principal because I would not be aggressing… I have a right of association as does person B, and we are choosing to associate and participate in shared defense… just as a family defending their home… any member may defend against an aggressor if that aggressor attacks any member of the family not only if they happen to be under attack themselves (i.e. I would not let someone attack my son just because they aren’t aggressing me and say “well it’s up to him to defend himself”).

    So, if we now extend this from 3 people to thousand or millions, we can argue that if the Jews during the holocaust had asked for US assistance the US government could have legitimately considered the request and chosen to help or not. But strictly the makeup of the military would have to be different, it would have to be all volunteer and before every mission it is explained what the purpose of the mission is and only those soldiers wishing to engage in that mission would go. If it is a genuine attack on US soil you would not find one soldier not opting to join… but a situation like Vietnam you would have had far fewer.

    So that is my long winded explanation of how I see libertarian principals being applied to the riddle of state non-interventionism. Right of association applied to co-defense and individual voluntary ascent to the request allows for groups of individuals to crush “evil”… since as we saw in WWII and in other arenas (killing fields of Cambodia) evil does unfortunately still exist and we libertarians don’t want to get mischaracterized as uncaring because we would have just allowed such atrocities to occur while painting ourselves into the “non-agression/non-interventionist” corner.

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