I don't want to get in a crazy debate, but, I am almost certain that the two guys you quote (Spooner and Livingston), most likely did not have their families subjugated, sold, mutilated for trying to free themselves and treated like just a piece of meat. I am sure, as you said before, that some slave owners may have cared for their subjects, just as I do love and treat my dog very, very well, but to compare taxation and government centralization to slavery is sick -- little different that comparing our Japanese internment camps (super shameful) to the Nazi concentration camps. While they had similar purposes, their methodology and end result were quite different...
for reference, Spooner and Livingston's quotes he cites are as follows:
"The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals. No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle --- but only in degree --- between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure." – Lysander Spooner (Nineteenth-Century lawyer, abolitionist, entrepreneur)
"A war of coercion was Lincoln's creation and he had to violently subvert the Constitution to carry it out. His purpose? To establish a centralized state."
Donald Livingston, prof. of philosophy, Emory University
Donald Livingston, prof. of philosophy, Emory University
Now, here is my response to my friend:
Thank you so much for that thoughtful and well presented response. There is no need to spark a huge, protracted debate. It should suffice to look at the facts as born out by history.
To begin with, I insist there is a vast difference between formal chattel slavery and the de facto slavery that is the result of increasingly centralized government power and its ability to dictate every aspect of our lives, including the power to take, by force, increasing amounts of the fruit of our labor to redistribute as the ruling elites see fit.
Spooner said the difference was one of degree. It is the difference between formally declared total slavery of a certain class and informal, de facto partial slavery of all. I disagree. The difference is more than quantitative. The difference is qualitative, centralized, autocratic government being MUCH worse, and I shall try to prove it here.
Regarding centralized power of government taken to its logical conclusion and slavery taken to its logical conclusion I glean the following from recent history:
Let us first acknowledge that slavery, as an institution, can only exist under the aegis of government power and approval.
Having said that, lets look at the particular form of slavery Messrs. Livingston and Spooner were most familiar with: southern slavery.
The record shows Southern slave owners treated their slaves very well in America.
Set aside the Christian aspect of American society at that time: Slaves were expensive.
It took over 10 years before a slave owner could break even on his purchase. Considering this fact, a slave owner would be a fool to abuse a slave and do things that tear down his health. According to records left of food purchases and housing, everything indicates most slaves actually had a higher caloric intake than the owners, they worked far fewer hours than the wage slaves in the northern factories trying to keep body and soul together. AND the slave owners took care of the elderly slaves who could not work, and much, much more.
But I'm not here to defend slavery in any way. My only point is when you buy something that is costly you take care of it because it is in your self interest to do so--and the facts of southern slavery bear that out. You can find that from the scientific study of records left regarding southern slavery. It was recorded in a book called Time on the Cross.
But here is my point:
Let's compare Southern slavery, where the historical record reveals slaves were very humanely treated for the most part (especially compared to the dehumanizing factory work in northern sweat shops); let's compare Southern slavery to 20th century totalitarian, centralized government, which you seem to approve.
Again, we don't have to theorize about this, we have well documented facts.
Southern slavery; a largely humane form of institutionalized slavery, where even the non-productive elderly were care for.
20th century totalitarian government; the conservative estimate is over 262,000,000 citizens killed by their own rulers--not to mention the servile misery of the millions that survived the death squads of the ruling elites. (Of course, the 20th century did not end the killing of citizens by their rulers--the killing goes on to this day, with no end in sight. In fact, the 20th century did not begin the killing. The killing of citizens by the modern state began under the autocrat, Lincoln. To this day the US government has killed more of its citizens that all the other countries have in all the wars we've fought combined.)
Let's throw in another stat, just to give a little more depth to the comparison:
20th century wars: around 44,000,000 killed in war.
You do the math.
My calculator figures it this way when I compare the three: Southern slavery is preferred, and a state of war is even better than being a citizen under the iron hand of totalitarian government, because people are obviously safer during war.
Now, as I see it, Southern slavery is very similar to what we have here as national policy dictated by the federal government elites today. And Totalitarian 20th century style centralized, autocratic power is where we're headed, thanks in great part to those who foolishly do not fear handing over all power to government.
Spooner and Livingston both see clearly the logical conclusion of the increasing absolutizing and concentrating of government power, as born out by the actual results of history. Apparently, you were absent the day that was discussed by your history professor. Or maybe he was a Marxist and skipped over those facts.
Finally, let me share this concluding thought for your reflection and serious consideration:
Institutionalized slavery is a bad thing--as almost all Americans recognized even during the time of slavery. Many, north and south, wanted to end it, but could not agree just how to do it. The way we did end if was the worst of all possibilities, except for the solution of extermination.
Extermination was to come later with 20th century totalitarian government which usurped and consolidate all power.
Totalitarians like Marx, Hitler and Mussoliin, did, however, express a great admiration for Lincoln his consolidating power in the Presidency and his abrogation of the Constitution: another historical fact lovers of totalitarian government conveniently forget. But I digress.
Please, now. Focus on this part, for it is the very most important point of all those I've hoped to make in responding to you:
The difference between institutionalized slavery and centralized government is this:
Institutionalized slavery is limited in what it might do to the enslaved by the mores and values of the society in general and the laws of the land in specific. (It is also ended peacefully in the vast number of cases. The war we had in America was an exception, because slavery was just one among many excuses--consolidation was the real reason, as Livingston points out.)
Centralized government does not know these societal or legal limitations, but considers itself above the laws it imposes upon its citizens.
This is the point: one form of slavery is limited and can be ended peacefully. The other is not limited and is almost never ended peacefully. One is limited in its scope, and other is unlimited in it scope. Institutional slavery in a society where the motto is "right is might," eventually brings slavery to an end. The slavery in a modern centralized state where the motto is "might makes right" is unlimited in the means and scope of how it might treat its citizens.
The power of centralized government is limited in what it might do only by the imaginations and character of those who are in power.
Now, many claim that the atrocities we saw in the 20th century by autocratic rule and centralized government can never happen here. They can only say that being oblivious of our present situation.
Right now we have different laws and standards for our ruling elite than for us regular schleps who are part of the great unwashed herd of citizenry. Just look at all the laws broken by the criminal acts of Wall Street elites and government officials that lead to the financial collapse in 2008.
As of this date NOT ONE person has been convicted and sentenced to one day in prison. In fact, many leading government officials that encouraged the destructive policies have actually been promoted, even as they point the finger at all and every thing but themselves.
Our government pisses on the Constitution daily. The leaders constantly disregard it and do as they please.
In terms of civil law, our government does things as policy that would same bring about our arrest, imprisonment---and even execution: Our government bribes, steals, coerces, extorts, oppresses, threatens, invades and even murders its own citizens without due process of law--a flagrant nose-thumbing at the Constitution and the bill of rights and We the People.
Government employees who do these things such as Waco or Ruby Ridge get promotions instead of imprisonment.
A man who does not see this is a man who has drunk the kool aid of big government autocrats so long that he has forgotten what it is to be a free man in a free society.
My conclusion: Some people just have slavery in their blood. My people, from Wales, Ireland and Switzerland--we have fought oppression for fifteen hundred years BEFORE we came to the mountains of southeast Kentucky. We have freedom in our blood---and love our neighbor instead of loving our government.
One final point and I'm done:
We lovers of freedom and liberty are happy to leave the lovers of government alone, and even leave those who love their own slavery alone--The problem is, they won't leave us alone. They cannot. They must conscript us into their army of socialist slavery in order to carry out their collectivist schemes.
So we must fight here, just as we did there. If for no other reason, we fight that we and our children do not join the 262,000,000 souls that have gone before us as yet another statistic of the cruel and absolute power of the state.