Lincoln’s Marxists

Was Abraham Lincoln a Marxist?

No. No he wasn’t.

Yet Marx certainly adored Lincoln, and there was an abnormally high Marxist presence around Lincoln, the Republican Party and the Union Army. These shocking facts are recounted in a fascinating new book, Lincoln’s Marxists, by Al Benson and Walter Donald Kennedy. Neither writer was very familiar to me prior to reading this, though I remember an appearance by Kennedy on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect some time ago.

The book has two main thrusts:

1. An examination of the socialist/communist support for Lincoln, his war against the South and the reasons for this support.

2. Exploring the role played by socialist/Marxist veterans of the 1848 revolutions in Europe in the founding of the Republican Party, supporting Fremont and Lincoln, and the War Between the States itself.

Socialist and Communist Support for Lincoln and the War

The fact that Marx was vigorously supportive of the Union is not a new revelation. I’ve mentioned this before. The reason is simple. Marx sought the creation of a single, powerful and indivisible state to replace the multiple sovereign states that existed in Germany, the United States and elsewhere as a preliminary for the Communist revolution. As he wrote to his colleague Joseph Weydemeyer in the London Communist League (a future brigadier general in the Union Army!) about the situation in Germany in 1853:

“The preliminaries of the proletarian revolution, the measures that prepare the battleground and clear the way for us, such as a single and indivisible republic, etc., things that we had to champion against the people whose natural, normal job it should have been to achieve or, at least, to demand them – all that is now convenu [taken for granted]”.

What is amazing in Marx’s writings on the War Between the States is his sheer ignorance of the situation. He frequently makes major mistakes in some of the most basic facts, claiming “the South embraces more than three-quarters of the territory hitherto comprised by the Union”. He writes easily spotted falsehoods about the Confederate Constitution, the Confederate war effort and American history in general. I couldn’t help being reminded of the communist propaganda and hyperbole directed against their current obsession, Israel, today. But that’s for another post.

Interestingly, Marx was hired by in the 1850’s to write for the New York Tribune by its managing editor Charles A. Dana. Dana had become a personal friend of Marx and Engels while reporting on Europe in 1848. Dana was an associate of the famous socialist and abolitionist Horace Greeley, and was sympathetic to many communist movements. He later became assistant secretary of war under Lincoln, the first communist, or at least communist sympathiser, to hold such a position.

Communism and socialism (the terms were more interchangeable in the 19th Century) had a significant presence in the United States in the antebellum years. Numerous attempts at Utopian communistic communities sprang up, almost entirely in the North. These ranged from the religious-based, such as the Shakers and the Oneida Community, to more secular Owenite and Fourierist communal systems. These always failed, and within a short period (though the Shakers might have lasted much longer if they hadn’t banned marriage and sex). The ideologues within tended to be fanatically anti-Southern. The famous Brook Farm produced two notable officers to the Union Army: General Francis Channing Barlow and Colonel George Duncan Wells. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a well-known member of the Transcendental Club/Brook Farm group once stated: “If it cost ten years, and ten to recover the general prosperity, the destruction of the South is worth so much”.

The reasons for this hostility were complex, and probably best illustrated by the economist and polymath Murray Rothbard in his fantastic talk on Just War:

“The North, in particular the North’s driving force, the “Yankees” – that ethnocultural group who either lived in New England or migrated from there to upstate New York, northern and eastern Ohio, northern Indiana, and northern Illinois – had been swept by a new form of Protestantism. This was a fanatical and emotional neo-Puritanism driven by a fervent “postmillenialism” which held that as a precondition for the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, man must set up a thousand-year Kingdom of God on Earth.

The Kingdom is to be a perfect society. In order to be perfect, of course, this Kingdom must be free of sin; sin, therefore, must be stamped out, and as quickly as possible. Moreover, if you didn’t try your darndest to stamp out sin by force you yourself would not be saved. It was very clear to these neo-Puritans that in order to stamp out sin, government, in the service of the saints, is the essential coercive instrument to perform this purgative task. As historians have summed up the views of all the most prominent of these millennialists, “government is God’s major instrument of salvation”…

…If anti-slavery, prohibitionism, and anti-Catholicism were grounded in fanatical post-millennial Protestantism, the paternalistic big government required for this social program on the state and local levels led logically to a big government paternalism in national economic affairs. Whereas the Democratic Party in the 19th century was known as the “party of personal liberty,” of states’ rights, of minimal government, of free markets and free trade, the Republican Party was known as the “party of great moral ideas,” which amounted to the stamping-out of sin. On the economic level, the Republicans adopted the Whig program of statism and big government: protective tariffs, subsidies to big business, strong central government, large-scale public works, and cheap credit spurred by government.

The Northern war against slavery partook of fanatical millennialist fervor, of a cheerful willingness to uproot institutions, to commit mayhem and mass murder, to plunder and loot and destroy, all in the name of high moral principle and the birth of a perfect world. The Yankee fanatics were veritable Patersonian humanitarians with the guillotine: the Anabaptists, the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks of their era. This fanatical spirit of Northern aggression for an allegedly redeeming cause is summed up in the pseudo-Biblical and truly blasphemous verses of that quintessential Yankee Julia Ward Howe, in her so-called “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.”

The Impact of 1848

And now we come to the refugees of 1848. In the left-wing historian Theodore Draper’s book, The Roots of American Communism, the first Marxist socialists in the United States are said to be the exiled revolutionaries who arrived in the wake of the famous failed revolts of that year. When these radical socialists settled in America, they quickly resumed their old habits. Though their numbers were not large, historians such as Arnold Whitridge have written that “the influence of these few thousand refugees was out of all proportion to their numbers”. They would see the newly-founded Republican Party and the war against the South as a continuation of their revolution. Many became prominent in the German language press, founding or editing newspapers to recruit Germans to their cause. These men contrasted greatly with the peaceful and pious farmers that were the older generation of Germans.

The socialists championed Lincoln as a working class hero, despite the fact he was a wealthy corporate lawyer, and were just as enthusiastic for John Fremont’s campaign in 1856. They had reason to admire the Republican Party. After all, Republican Senator John Sherman (brother of General Sherman) had stated the United States should “nationalize as much as possible [and thereby] make men love their country before their states”. During the War Between the States, it was Gen. Fremont’s camp that became a magnet for the radical socialists. Indeed, his chief of staff was a former Hungarian socialist revolutionary, Alexander Asboth.

Other notable ‘Forty-Eighters’ in the Union Army include General August Willich, Louis Blenker, Gen. Weydemeyer (mentioned earlier) and Franz Sigel.

Karl Marx described his friend Willich as a “communist with a heart”. He was a member of the Central Committe of the Communist League and referred to as the “Reddest of the Red”. Willich gave a speech in 1859 urging Northeners to “whet their sabers with the blood” of Southerners.

Brigadier General Louis Blenker has the distinction of creating a new word that came into common usage during the war. This Forty-Eighter, due to having inadequate supplies from Union command, led his 10,000 man division to forage and loot from all over Virginia in the spring of 1862. The term “Blenkered” was applied to the unfortunate souls who had been victims of his German-American troops. Blenker became notorious for allegations of corruption in his camp and the lavish lifestyle he lived during the war (off the back of many stolen goods, of course).

Gen. Joseph Weydemeyer was a close friend of Karl Marx, and a fellow member of the London Communist League. Marx assisted Wedemeyer in meeting Charles A. Dana, the communist sympathiser and future assistant secretary of war in Abraham Lincoln’s administration. Dana assisted him in producing various communist journals in the United States, as well as the first American edition of the Communist Manifesto. Weydemeyer was active in the Republican Party as well as both the Fremont and Lincoln Presidential campaigns.

Franz Sigel had led a failed socialist uprising in Baden, Germany in 1848. His career in the Union Army was mixed. He is probably most known for the rout he took at the Battle of New Market. There, teenage cadets of the Virginia Military Institute (the oldest being barely 19) led a fateful charge that broke the Union line.

Gen. Carl Shurz (pictured above) was an active participant in the unsuccessful socialist revolution of 1848 in Germany. Like thousands of others he sought asylum in America. Shurz obtained the rank of Major General in the Union Army. After the war, he served a s a Senator from Missouri and Secretary of the Interior in the Hayes administration. He became notorious for his treatment and neglect of the Indians in the Reservations system (which he helped fashion into effective Gulags). A Native American delegation were once so impressed by the size of his eyes and named him Mah-hah-Ich-hon, meaning ‘Big Eyes’. They wondered how a man with such large eyes was unable to see the needs of their people. His wife pioneered the kindergarten system.

I have focused mostly on the Forty-Eighters of German extraction, perhaps unfairly. Hungary produced many of note, and one of the most interesting might just be Albin Francisco Schoepf. Schoepf was appointed to the rank of Brigadier General at the beginning of the war with the assistance of contacts in the War Department. Wounded at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, in 1862, he resigned his command yet surfaced six months later as the commander of Fort Delaware. Fort Delaware was one of the worst POW camps of the conflict. As one historian put it: “Schoepf allowed his subordinates unrestrained control inside the compound, and it eventually evolved into the most brutal POW institution in America”. Torture such as ‘thumb-hangings’ were a daily occurrence, and beatings were inflicted on prisoners to compel them into forced labour.

So, these were the men who came to shoot at the grandsons of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry to teach them how to be good Americans.


Commenator William Grigg said it best: “Lincoln’s war didn’t preserve or restore the Union; it destroyed it and supplanted it with a new polity based on radically different premises. Just as Marxists of his era gravitated naturally toward Lincoln and vibrated like tuning forks when he spoke the language of raw power and ruthless centralization, Marxist academicians of our era understand the true nature of what Lincoln accomplished”.

The Forty-Eighters did not dominate Lincoln’s Party, but they were a very strong element within it. They recognized that  the Union cause was a step in their desired direction. Now its time for our generation to see that too. Which is why a book like Lincoln’s Marxists is so important.

Lincoln’s Marxists [Hardcover] [Kindle Edition]


Saving Sierra Leone

I can’t help but notice that the United Nations and its defenders have been desperately trying to improve the organisation’s awful reputation by portraying themselves as the saviors of Sierra Leone. This is  in the wake of the recent conviction of Charles Taylor.

Few heroes emerge from a war such as the one waged by Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front and their friend Charles Taylor against innocent men, women and children in this corner of West Africa. But there are some, and they are most certainly not Kofi Annan and the men in the blue berets.

In March of 1995, when Sankoh’s rebellion was at its height, 200 South Africans with the fortitude typical of Boer warriors secured the diamond fields of Sierra Leone, that bought Charles Taylor’s support for RUF. The RUF scattered with remarkable speed in the face of real soldiers. Relative peace came upon Freetown for the first time in years; peace which enabled a civilian government to be elected in 1996. The South Africans were from the private military company Executive Outcomes.

The UN, no fan of white South Africans or free enterprise, didn’t like this one bit. The organisation put pressure on Sierra Leone to expel Executive Outcomes and threatened her with the loss of international aid. UN forces were eventually dispatched to replace the South African PMC.

The episode makes the UN’s silence in the face of the Rwandan Genocide shortly before all the more astonishing. It seems that if the genocide was to stop in this part of Africa, the credit had to go to some enlightened racially diverse UN bureaucrats, certainly not Boer mercenaries.

The UN forces, placed in Sierra Leone as part of a United Nations PR exercise, completely lost control of the situation. Tens of thousands died in the resumed RUF/Taylor rebellion.

And it was all the UN’s fault.

Chaim Arlosoroff as the Story of Israel

Some stories have everything, and the story of Chaim Arlosoroff is one of them. Murder, politics, diplomacy, Nazis, moral ambiguity and sex with Nazis: the story of Arlosoroff has all these things. Yet above all the life and tragic early death of Arlosoroff is very much the story of Israel embodied in a single drama. I am indebted to Dr. Charles Landau for giving a fascinating lecture on the topic last week at the London School of Jewish Studies.

There is a memorial to Chaim Arlosoroff on the exact spot of the Tel Aviv beachfront promenade where he was gunned down next to his wife Sima in 1933. It’s right outside the Tel Aviv Hilton. There are streets all over Israel named for Arlosoroff, yet surprisingly few Israelis know much about him. This is odd as well as unfortunate. The shooting of Arlosoroff is an intriguing unsolved case of murder, and the victim was a young but important Zionist leader favoured by David Ben Gurion. In fact, Arlosoroff would likely have been a Prime Minister of Israel had he lived. Yet this proud and committed Jewish leader found himself attacked for treason and collaboration with the Nazis, of all people. Thirty years ago in March of 1982, Menachem Begin would launch a Judicial Commission of Enquiry into the killing to finally settle the question of who committed the murder and why. The anniversary of that failed investigation encouraged this post.

The 8-foot tall bronze monument to Arlosoroff, Tel Aviv

The grandson of a rabbi but a child of non-religious parents, Arlosoroff was born in the Ukraine in 1899. Like many Jewish children of that time and place, he was to encounter vicious anti-Semitism early on. In 1905 his family home was attacked in a pogrom, and the family fled to Germany. He thrived there as a student at the Gymnasium, and studied economics at the University of Berlin. Arlosoroff was a bit of a wunderkind, a gifted writer on political matters and just about everything else. He was immersed in Goethe and Schiller, yet also studied Hebrew with a private tutor and quickly became a leader in the Labour Zionist movement in Germany. He received a doctorate by the age of 24, but turned down a professorship to live in the land of Israel. Two years later he was representing the Yishuv (organised Jewish community) at the League of Nations. A fascinating letter he wrote to his German literature teacher at the age of 17 reveals much about him:

“I am a Jew, and I feel strong and proud of my Jewishness. I feel it in my bones that I am different from a German, and it would never occur to me to deny this… My soul yearns for the unique, ancient Hebrew culture – but I also like German culture, and perhaps I am also afraid to admit how great my love for it is… Yet Goethe and Schiller never really touched my heart closely. They fill me with awe and wonder, I get excited by them as by a powerful and magnificent natural phenomenon, which reveals itself to men in all its sublime glory. But I cannot live in them and for them”.

Soon he was the tireless political head of the Jewish Agency. Strongly believing in outreach to the Arab community, in April 1933 Arlosoroff organized a historic luncheon at the King David Hotel on behalf of the Jewish Agency, inviting Chaim Weizmann and prominent Arab leaders like the Emir Abdullah of Transjordan. Not everybody in the Arab and Jewish communities were thrilled by this. Arlosoroff would earn the particular scorn of the Revisionist Zionists for his dovish positions; Revisionist Zionism being the less compromising, territorial maximalist movement that was the main rival of the Labour Zionists at the time. They felt Arlosoroff was undermining their goal of an independent Jewish state in favour of a bi-national one. Fiery threats were made.

Arlosoroff, sitting at centre, after convening the meeting of Arab and Jewish leaders at the King David Hotel.

The Haavara Agreement

Then the Nazis came to power in Germany. Assisting the Jews of the country he so loved became Arlosoroff’s top priority. Other Jews had also rushed to action in response to Nazi anti-Semitism. American Jewish leaders began deliberating on a boycott in March of 1933. Some were vociferously opposed to such action, fearing it would cause even more trouble for the Jews in Germany. However, Rabbi Stephen Wise, American Jewry’s most prominent rabbi and communal leader declared “we must speak out” and “if that is unavailing, at least we shall have spoken”. A rally of 55,000 was held at Madison Square Garden with about 70 similar rallies held in other cities in parallel with it. Jews were joined by labour and political leaders as well as Christian clergy.

The Nazis were furious. Goebbels wrote in his diaries about “international atrocity propaganda” and the need for “mental conquest” of the entire world. The result was a vicious Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses, with all its notorious imagery of Brownshirts outside Jewish stores and Stars of David painted on their windows. Jews were fired from government positions and forbidden from leaving the country without special exit visas.

In stepped Arlosoroff. In the past, Jewish communities that sought to plead their case with the ruling powers of the day had the shtadlan, an intercessor, to plead their case. Arlosoroff was a successor to that tradition, though in an unusual manner. The Nazis did not like the Jewish people, and the Zionists needed more of them. Arlosoroff saw common ground.

Now, many wonder why such people as the Nazis would bother negotiating on this matter. But they did. The Nazis were devoted anti-Semites, who believed in what the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion taught them. That is, all that stuff about Jewish Zionist power. The new regime needed to have some level of respectability to outside nations. As fiercely anti-Semitic as they were, Hitler and Goebbels did not appreciate the sight of pogroms, and in declaring a boycott the leadership actually urged the people against engaging in any violence. When the Nazis murdered Jews, they murdered in the most orderly and efficient manner in the history of genocides, and during a war when world attention was consumed with the fighting. Even then, they would shamelessly declare that Jews were the only people profiting from the World War II.

Arlosoroff went to Germany to negotiate the transfer (ha’avara) of Jews out of the country to the British Mandate of Palestine, in a way that would allow them to take most of their property. While the Nazis had permitted Jews to emigrate and were happy to see it, they used the opportunity to confiscate virtually all emigrant Jewish assets. Arlosoroff negotiated an arrangement that had already been used by a Zionist citrus planting company, Hanotea. The Haavara Agreement allowed the Zionist movement to set up a company (Haavara Ltd.) that required emigrant Jews to pay money into their special account, which was then used to purchase German goods useful for developing Jewish enterprise in Palestine. The proceeds of the sale of these goods were given to the Jews when they arrived in the country.

While initially critical of the idea, Hitler came to support it despite staunch opposition among many Nazi leaders to negotiating with Jews and helping boost the Zionist project. Many Nazi voices, such as the head of the Middle Eastern division of the foreign ministry, Werner Otto von Hentig, supported the policy of concentrating Jews in Palestine as a way of getting rid of Jewish anti-German elements. It also overcame the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott, as Jews purchased the goods.

The Zionist reaction was mixed. The Revisionists, particularly a secret radical branch, Brit HaBiryonim, expressed extreme criticism of Mapai (the left-wing socialist party in which Ben Gurion and Arlosoroff were leaders), due to their willingness to negotiate with the Nazi government. The esteemed leader of the Revisionist faction, Vladimir Jabotinsky, believed that the Yishuv should have been at the forefront of the anti-Nazi boycott and other anti-Nazi endeavours  This was very much in line with Revisionist ideology. Now, I happen to personally sympathise with some of the Revisionist outlook and I admire Jabotinsky’s staunch anti-socialism, and the non-socialist alternative they provided in the Zionist movement (along with Liberal Zionists like Chaim Weizmann). Yet the Revisionists often appear to me to be like hotheads with too much to prove; something like Joe Pesci’s character in Goodfellas. An apt description of their mentality comes from the mouth of a kibbutznik character in Amos Oz’s ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness, who says of Menachem Begin:

“[He’s] a sort of lapsed yeshiva bocher, who believes that if we Jews start shouting at the top of our voices that we’re not the way Jews used to be, we’re not sheep for the slaughter, we’re not pale weaklings but the opposite, we’re dangerous now, we’re terrifying wolves now, then all the real beasts of prey will be scared of us and give us everything we want, they’ll let us have the whole land, they’ll let us take all the holy places, swallow up Trans-Jordan, and be treated with respect and admiration by the whole civilised world as well”.

Revisionist criticism of Arlosoroff, already intense, became so fierce that it is said an ‘atmosphere of hate’ spread all over the Yishuv. Arlosoroff and his associates were said by Brit HaBiryonim to have committed treason against the Jewish people, and there was definite incitement to extreme responses. Leah Rabin, widow of Yitzhak Rabin, has expressed a lot of sympathy with Arlosoroff, finding his tribulations and that of her husband to be similar. There is much to be said for this.

My own position on the Haavara Agreement is supportive. Negotiating with Nazis should be a moral imperative if it can lead to saving Jewish lives. This the agreement did. 60,000 Jews transferred from Germany escaped persecution and probable death. The economic gains for the Yishuv were enormous. $100 million dollars at the then value came to Palestine, along with an industrial and agricultural infrastructure highly beneficial for a soon to be independent Jewish nation. While the German economy benefited, it was overall a very small and marginal aspect of the German economy. The equipment transferred from Germany, like irrigation tools and tractors also necessitated a continuing spare parts industry, which only stopped with the beginning of war in 1939. In the midst of a global economic depression, Palestine saw an economic boom that doubled the size of the Jewish population. The number of commercial firms went from around 600 to 14,000. The wealth, education and entrepreneurship of the German Jews were especially welcome.

Yet not all were satisfied.

Assassination, Suspicion and Trial

Arlosoroff returned from Europe to Jerusalem on June 14th, 1933. His extended trip had included a round of negotiation with the Nazis. He then settled some business at the offices of the Jewish Agency before leaving for his home in Tel Aviv on Friday 16th, in time for the weekend which his wife Sima planned to spend in the countryside. Arriving at his house at 5:15PM, the couple decided to dine at a beachfront hotel that night. They had dinner at 8:30, which lasted approximately for one hour, and at 9:30 went for a walk northward along the beach towards the Yarkon River. At some point Sima felt they were being followed by two men, but Chaim dismissed it. When the couple turned back at the end of the shoreline they came by the two men Sima was suspicious of, who walked ahead in front of them. At 10PM they encountered the men again. One man, the taller of the two, suddenly came close and shone a flashlight into Chaim Arlosoroff’s face and demanded to know the time. Annoyed, Arlosoroff told him not to bother them. The shorter man made what Sima later described as an ‘Oriental gesture’ with his hands and took out a gun. The taller man quickly turned out the light, and the other shot Arlosoroff.

Bystanders who had heard gunshots and Sima’s cries rushed towards them, and brought the wounded Arlosoroff to a hospital. He drifted in and out of consciousness and died at 12:45AM Saturday morning.

The description of the killers that Sima gave to the police went out on the official police blotter, which was carried in all the country’s newspapers:

[The man who held the flashlight] Suspect Number 1: Male, taller than average, large build, age 30-40, clean-shaven, full face, light-skinned, tough expression, brownish-reddish hair, stands with legs apart, has a duck-like walk. Wearing a dark suit in a European style – black or dark blue – and the stitching may be in a ‘double-breasted’ style. Collar or long tie. Wearing shoes, speaks without accent.

[The man who fired the gun] Suspect Number 2: Male, short, thin, fit body, age 30, dark Oriental type, long nose, unshaven, tough expression, dark hair, wearing a dark suit in a European style with irregular stripes. We think that he is wearing a gray hat and shoes. He makes Oriental movements with his hands.

A 500 lira reward was offered by the police to anyone with any information on the suspects. The Jewish Agency offered its own 1000 lira reward.

Yitzchak Halutz, a clerk in the Immigration Department in Jerusalem, saw the police blotter on June 17th. The description of Suspect Number 1 reminded him of Avraham Stavsky, a Revisionist Zionist activist and member of Beitar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement. Stavsky had applied for an exit visa in order to visit Poland, in order to engage in outreach and recruitment for the Revisionist party. His application was refused and he had spoken to Halutz in person the day before to get his application fee returned. Halutz supplied a photo of Stavsky to the police. Stavsky’s plan to leave the country raised alarm bells. He was apprehended at his home in Tel Aviv on the morning of June 19th.

Suspect Number 2 was identified as Ze’ev Rosenblatt, a Beitar member from Kvar Sava. He was suspected by a fellow member of his local Beitar group, Rivka Feigin. She told Mapai authorities that she had overheard an editor of a Revisionist newspaper Hazit Ha’am saying he was certain Rosenblatt was Suspect Number 2. Mapai went to the police. Rosenblatt was arrested 37 days after the murder, on July 23, at his local Beitar camp in Kfar Sava. He denied the charge, claiming that he was at a Revisionist party meeting in Kfar Sava the night of the murder.

A third suspect, Abba Achimeir, was also arrested on the week following the assassination. He was linked to the murder solely because he co-founded Brit Habiryonim, a secret organisation that advocated violent measures against the British for Jewish independence. He was eventually acquitted because of there was not enough evidence to try him.

Most in Mapai suspected the Revisionists, although some suspected Arabs attempting to rape Arlosoroff’s wife, or Communists. There were and are a variety of other theories. At first the Revisionists completely denied any involvement. They also made no attempt to defend Stavsky or Rosenblatt. Embarrassed and worried, they tried to distance themselves from Stavsky and even claimed he was a Communist. Jabotinsky eventually weighed in on Stavsky’s side in a party newspaper on July 22. He accused Mapai of creating a Blood Libel against the Revisionists. He further accused the party of exploiting the murder for political gain. Some Revisionists insisted that Mapai itself killed Arlosoroff, in order to defame the opposition

That was not the most unusual theory. Some have linked Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels to the murder, as there has been some speculation that Arlosoroff was sleeping with his wife, Magda Goebbels (n. Behrend). Arlosoroff, though not the most attractive of men, was known to have a way with women, almost like the male equivalent of Scarlett O’ Hara as she was described in Margarett Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. The Nazis were suspected of ordering the killing in order to bury the potentially explosive story. This has never been proven. Interestingly, however, during the First World War, Ms. Behrend met and became very close friends with Lisa Arlosoroff, Chaim Arlosoroff’s sister. One theory goes that because of Arlosoroff’s role in the transfer agreement, Goebbels became acutely aware of his wife’s former Jewish friend and sought to erase what might have been an embarrassment for the family. Magda’s happened to have a Jewish stepfather, Richard Friedländer, who was arrested on Goebbels orders and perished in the concentration camp in 1938. Yet others have blamed the Soviets for acting against what they considered an alliance against them.

The case was further complicated by the figure of Abdul Majud. Majud was an Arab arrested after the murder of Arlosoroff for a different murder. Majud announced in January 1934, a few months before the trial of Stavsky and Rosenblatt began, that an associate of his called Issa Ibn Darwish had killed Arlosoroff. He claimed they were both walking on the beach and he had asked Chaim Arlosoroff the time, and used a flashlight to help him see his watch. Darwish then shot him, but Majud insisted he had not intended to murder anyone or even known who Arlosoroff was. This story turned out to be completely false; Stavsky and Rosenblatt had paid Majud to take the blame when they met him in prison. Sima Arlosoroff never recognised either Arab man in a line-up, and Majud never testified at the trial. The bribe by Stavsky and Rosenblatt went against them.

The trial began in May 1934, and ended a week before the first anniversary of Arlosoroff’s murder. The prosecution mostly rested on Sima’s eyewitness account. However, some of this proved problematic. Sima had been shown Halutz’s photo of Stavsky before she went on to identify him at the line-up. Stavsky looked very distinct from the rest of the men there and it was argued this was done deliberately to make him stand out more.

In regards to Rosenblatt, Sima was given nine jackets to identify, one of which belonged to him. She picked out Rosenblatt’s jacket as the one worn by Suspect Number 2, particularly because of its zig-zag pattern and red colour. The prosecution argued that the zig-zag pattern was a common design, as it was at the time. They also claimed there was no way that Sima could have been able to see the colour red at that time of night.

Four people testified that they saw Stavsky in the Sharon Restaurant in Jerusalem that night, and that he was still there by 8:45 PM. This would not have given him enough time to get to Tel Aviv by the time of the murder. Members of the police who had been there that evening disputed this.

Rosenblatt claimed he was at a political meeting in Kfar Saba on the night of the killing. However, his credibility was called into question because he originally said that he was at a party. Several witnesses who were at the meeting corroborated this, but their individual stories did not always match. The minutes of the meeting were also presented showing Rosenblatt had took part, but the prosecution argued they were distorted to assist him as they were written in quite a different fashion than the group’s notes normally were. However, due to it being a Friday night, the regular secretary was not taking notes because she was Shabbat observant. Thus Beitar were using a temporary replacement.

An important pillar for the defence was that because Arlosoroff was in Europe until June 14th, and his arrival in Palestine was unexpected (Sima did not know when he would be returning) his political opponents surely could not have known either. Even if organised the murder after he returned, the suspects would have had no way of knowing that he would be on the beach at that time on Friday night. Until Friday afternoon, the Arlosoroffs themselves had planned to be out of the city.

The defence always contended that the crime was an impromptu attempt at sexual assault or rape of Sima by two other men. As the men did not cover their faces and the shooter did not immediately fire, they argued murder was not the goal. In fact, it was claimed that what Sima dubbed Suspect Number 2’s ‘Oriental gesture’ before the gun was fired was a sexual one.

The trial saw Rosenblatt acquitted and Stavsky found guilty. The latter verdict was overturned on appeal. Neither the killers nor the motive for the killing were ever found.

The murder of Arlosoroff and the subsequent manhunt highlight the internal dynamics of the Zionist movement and Israel’s turbulent founding. The drama was an important landmark in the internal relations of the Jews in pre-state Israel, and its resonance has echoed throughout Israeli history, as the opinions of Leah Rabin show.

In early 1982, approximately fifty years after the murder, the Israeli historian Shabtai Teveth published a bestselling book on the assassination and trial. Teveth’s position was that one of the accused Revisionists was probably guilty: Avraham Stavsky. This offended the then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the former Irgun leader of strong Revisionist pedigree. The release of the book strongly increased the Israeli public’s interest in the case. Thus a Judicial Commission of Inquiry was set up, headed by former High Court of Justice Judge David Bachor. The Committee found no new evidence about the case, and was inconclusive about the identity of the killers and the motive. However, it decided unanimously that neither Rosenblatt nor Stavsky were connected to the killing.

The Story of Israel

There is an absolutely fascinating connection, however, to the assassination of Arlosoroff and a subsequent incident where Revisionists and the pragmatists of Ben Gurion clashed once more. That was the Altalena Affair. The legendary armed Revisionist force under Menachem Begin, known as the Irgun, signed an agreement with Ben Gurion’s aide Israel Galili on 1-2 June 1948 incorporating itself into the newly-formed IDF, which Ben Gurion’s new government had created as the successor to the Haganah. Begin transferred his troops as separate battalions within two IDF Brigades (Giv’ati and Alexandroni). The Irgun units in Jerusalem remained independent.

Yet on 19-20 June there occurred what Ben Gurion deemed a rebellion. An Irgun ship called Altalena embarked from France full of weapons and immigrants. The Irgun demanded the weapons be distributed to ‘its’ battalions and the independent Irgun fighters in Jerusalem. The government refused. Then, without government permission, the Irgun took over a beach north of Netanya and began to unload the immigrants and arms. A firefight ensued when the IDF surrounded the Irgun on the beach. The Irgun eventually surrendered to the IDF, but the Altalena set sail for Tel Aviv. There the IDF, under orders from Ben Gurion, fired on the ship with artillery, and it soon sank with much of the arms lost. Palmach troops then raided Irgun headquarters in downtown Tel Aviv, and the Irgun brigades within the IDF were disbanded.  Begin refrained from igniting civil war; for the good of the war existing effort and because his men were vastly outnumbered. The Irgun troops continued to serve in the IDF but no longer as independent battalions. The Irgun and Lehi fighters in Jerusalem stayed independent until a crackdown on all dissidents after the Bernadotte assassination.

The memorial commemorating the fallen Irgun of the Altalena Affair is just a few yards from the 8-foot bronze memorial for Chaim Arlosoroff. Below is a photo. Readers of Hebrew will have no difficulty identifying the fifth, particularly interesting name down on the left: Avraham Stavsky.

Johnny Cash Sings Civil War Songs

Johnny Cash’s love of country and his Southern Heritage shines through in these performances. You can always tell when a subject is really close to a performer’s heart. 1862, 150 years ago, saw many fierce battles still etched into the American memory: Antietan, Shiloh, Fredericksburg, Harper’s Ferry and ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s victories in the Shenandoah Valley. The first video is a medley of several songs performed with great dignity and respect for all the men that fell, even though Johnny cheerfully admits his Southern sympathies in the end. The second is one of my personal favorites ‘God Bless Robert E. Lee’, and the last is a soul-stirring performance of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’.

What Next For Korea?

Scene from the North Korean Famine, mid-nineties

The history of Korea doesn’t begin with the Cold War. Its a fascinating part of the world and one I like to keep a close eye on. Korea was a monarchy from at least the 11th Century BCE, until the Japanese assassination of the Korean queen in 1910 and the subsequent Japanese occupation. This was a humiliating period in Korean history. Koreans are proud of their country’s historic resistance to foreign occupation and colonialism. It was the first country to use metal warships, and Christianity was fiercely suppressed immediately upon its arrival on the Peninsula’s shores. To this day, Koreans North and South have a special loathing for the Japanese. Japan-bashing is often used to score political points in the South, and its instrumental in state propaganda in the North.

That said, the old Korean royal family are deeply unpopular. The Yi Dynasty ruled Korea for five centuries, but the weakness and infighting in the monarchy is blamed for the Japanese walkover prior to World War I. Unlike Laos, which like North Korea is one of the last outposts of Communism, the overthrown royals have no great support among the people and offer no hope for the future (I happen to be quite passionate about the restoration of the Laotian Monarchy, but that’s for another post). In fact, Yi Seok, the man who would be heir to the Korean throne, made his living as a lounge singer, heavily influenced by Andy Williams and Pat Boone. He spent much of his working life destitute and living in the back of a van, until a few years ago when the Seoul municipal government granted him a house. Today, he gives tours of the former royal residences and happens to be an endearing fellow.

North Korea is the place we are supposed to be seriously worried about when it comes to nukes and WMDs. I am somewhat skeptical about that threat. The North Korean army may be the second largest in the world, but its arsenal is obsolete and the regime probably couldn’t even muster enough fuel for their Soviet era jets in an actual war. I’ve long said nuclear war is far more likely to erupt over the disputed, often overlooked region of Kasmir, where violent clashes are more common than at the famous 38th parallel. The United States has made some lumbering progress towards getting Kim Jong-Il to drop his nuclear weapons program, beginning in the era of Albright and Clinton. However, the process has always seemed to follow a particular pattern: North Korea huffs and puffs and occasionally explodes something, and America steps in with some much-needed cash and supplies to placate them. Then it starts all over again. North Korea has promised to freeze, but not dismantle its nuclear program. As they would, considering the foreign bribes constitute a lifeline. Interestingly, during the 1990s, Donald Rumsfeld was the director of the European engineering company ABB that won the contract to provide light water technology to North Korea. In 2003, he was US Defense Secretary when Bush made his famous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, which so angered the North it caused a battle in the Yellow Sea. Almost 30,000 American troops are still in the line of fire by the border, however, with many more stationed in Guam and Japan ready to pay a visit at a moments notice. Considering North Korean forces are little match for their southern neighbour alone, the regime of the Kims will never launch a nuke unless they are actually invaded, which is unlikely.

Most South Koreans I know strongly desire reunification, though were the Northern regime to collapse tomorrow its hard to see how South Korea could cope with millions of starving refugees and the prospect of bringing such a devastated  country up to speed. Japan and China similarly fear a human flood, as well as the rival a united Korean Peninsula might be. Lets not forget this is a very, very strategic location. The last thing the Chinese want is a united Korea in bed with the United States, with American bases right by the Chinese-Korean border and the highly important industrial region of Manchuria.

The most likely prospect in my opinion is one of Kim Jong-Il’s descendants gradually freeing the economy from state control, stopping the bluster and threats, and developing closer ties with its neighbors and the United States. Kim Jong-Il was the fiercest opponent of capitalism on the world stage. He repeatedly promised to destroy the private markets most North Korean relied on to live. These markets were grudgingly overlooked by the authorities, until a series of fanatical crackdowns and currency reform in 2009 that effectively killed them. This launched a wave of hardship the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1990s famine that killed an estimated two million people. Kim’s four sons have had western educations and traveled widely. Our dear departed elder Kim was a notorious recluse, who wrote about cinema, opera and socialism while rarely leaving his palace. Kim Jong-Nam, his eldest son, was seen as the likely successor until he was arrested trying to visit Disneyland Tokyo on a false passport in 2001. Kim Jong-Chul, the youngest, was the next favorite. A serious effort was made to glorify his mother, a dancer named Ko, who until that point had her existence kept secret. I don’t Know much about the new Kim, Jong-Un, except that he went to a Swiss boarding school and bears the closest resemblance to his father. Like his father, he is said to be a ‘heavy drinker’ who ‘never admits defeat’. Not good signs, I fear.

That Hoover Film

I am of two minds on J. Edgar Hoover. As  a libertarian, I cannot help being repelled by his role in the expansion of the surveillance state and his often illegal methods of getting what he wanted. However, the part of me that looks for Reds under the bed (or Al Guardian) every night gives the man some nudging respect. A man devoted to his country’s safety above all else, and much like Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover exercised the vigilance against communist infiltration of the western institutions that American Presidents often did not. For instance, when the American hero Whittaker Chambers furnished a list of communists in the government, which included some of Roosevelt’s closest aides, FDR himself decided to do nothing. When Hoover informed Roosevelt that the Soviets were running espionage operations out of their embassy in Washington, Roosevelt warned the Soviets that they were being bugged. Is it any wonder Hoover felt the need to go behind the higher authorities to get his vital work done?

There are legitimate arguments to wield against against Hoover the man and Hoover the director of the FBI. For instance, Hoover buried reports of Communist infiltration of the black Civil Rights Movement, and the communist connections to “Dr.” Martin Luther King. However, allegations of cross-dressing and closeted homosexuality are simply nasty fabrications that distract from the real issues. That is why I am angry Clint Eastwood decided to include this tired nonsense into his new biopic film ‘J. Edgar’ and I recommend people simply avoid it. This is coming from someone who has seen the film and happens to like Eastwood’s work. Let me be clear: the rumors about Hoover’s sexual practices are not only baseless, but part of an attempt at character assassination initiated by very, very dark forces, that went viral thanks to a rotten, unscrupulous left. The allegations originate from the ridiculous account of a certain Susan Rosenstiel, a convicted criminal who had previously served time for perjury. Rosenstiel claimed to have seen Hoover at homosexual orgies in a New York hotel, and wearing women’s underwear to boot. Why this woman was present at male homosexual orgies is anyone’s guess. These claims were never substantiated, but the famous Mitrokhin Archive, brought to the West by a KGB defector, indicated that the Soviets worked hard to spread the lies about their bitter opponent. Any person of sound character capable of doing a moment of sound research would quickly realize what a sinister scam this all was. What is worse is that American liberals, those who purport to be tolerant of homosexuality and proud of it, have been so willing to use fabricated and no doubt hurtful stories about a man’s sexuality to undermine and ridicule him. Aren’t these people the least bit ashamed, or able to detect some hypocrisy in their behavior? For shame, the American left.

For shame, Mr. Eastwood.

Saving Gilad Shalit

One has to admire the dedication among Israelis for safeguarding their people. Some people I know have balked at the numbers: over a thousand convicted enemy leaders and fighters for a single captured Israeli soldier (Islamists must surely be comforted at the thought that one of them is worth about 70 grams of a single Israeli). I expected so much. Israel has a record of lopsided prisoner exchanges: the vile Samir Kuntar and several other terrorists freed for two Israeli corpses in 2008;  5,500 Egyptian soldiers following the Sinai campaign of 1956 for the lives of the four Israeli captured Israelis; and the over 8,000 Egyptians following the 1973 Yom Kippur War given in exchange for 240 Israeli soldiers.

The policy has deep roots in Jewish history. Jewish communities were often vulnerable to bandits and governments who kidnapped for high ransom. Duty to a captured Jew always prevailed over fears of encouraging future kidnappings and the financial burden. From Israel Abraham’s classic Jewish Life in the Middle Ages:

When toward the end of the fifteenth century Alfonso V of Portugal captured the African seaports, Arzilla and Tangier, he carried off 250 Jews of both sexes and every age, and sold them as slaves throughout the kingdom. The Portuguese Jews applied to Yechiel of Pisa, financier and philanthropist, and he generously assisted his brethren. Lisbon Jews formed a representative committee of twelve members, and the famous statesman-scholar Don Isaac Abrabanel himself travelled over the whole country and redeemed the Jewish slaves, often at a high price. The ransomed Jews and Jewesses, adults and children, were clothed, lodged, and maintained until they had learned the language of the country and were able to support themselves.

Such acts are the definition of people-hood, of a nation. It is similarly good policy in a country where most of its Jewish youth must sacrifice years of their lives in its defense. I always knew Shalit would come home, no matter what the price. Gilad is everyone’s son, everyone’s brother. It was impossible not to get emotional on seeing the footage of a son embracing his father for the first time in five years.

Gilad looked gaunt. “He suffers from several light wounds that persisted as result of lacking treatment, shrapnel injuries and the implications of not being exposed to sunlight,” Noam Shalit said. “He came out of some dark pit or dark cellar and encountered such commotion out here.” The Israelis were dignified in their treatment of a young man who hadn’t even seen sunlight in several years. There was no intensive questioning, and he was quickly escorted to his home in northern Israel.

That was a great contrast to the unscrupulous Egyptian television reporters and the awful BBC (which should really adopt a more accurate name, like Palestine Update or PUTV). The Jerusalem Post reports that Gilad’s interview was used as propaganda. Behind him was an intimidating minder in a balaclava and a Qassam Brigade green headband. The journalist interviewing him sat by an Egyptian flag. He had already fainted once on his journey to Egypt. Yet he faced bizarre, intense questioning and had his answers deliberately mistranslated by both Egyptian and BBC/Palestine Update interpreters.

‘“During all that time of captivity, you did just one video to tell the world and your family that you’re alive,” she tells the soldier. “Why just once? Why didn’t it happen again?”  Rather than letting him answer, however, Schalit’s Hamas minder-cum-interpreter scolds Amin for asking the same question twice (a peculiar accusation, given the footage shows the question hadn’t been asked before).

‘The resulting argument between interviewer and minder is one of the interview’s more regrettable scenes. Amin says Schalit appears unwell, and “that’s why I’m asking the question again” – as if drilling him repeatedly will have a salutary effect. The question is itself absurd, roughly tantamount to asking a hostage victim why he or she didn’t escape sooner.

‘… Amin proceeds to ask Schalit what “lessons” he learned in captivity. After asking for the question to be repeated, he says he believes a deal could have been reached sooner. Here the Hamas minder renders his response as praise for reaching a deal “in such short time”- a mistranslation repeated by the BBC’s own interpreter.

‘”Gilad, you know what it’s like to be in captivity,” Amin continues as the painful charade drags on. “There are more than 4,000 Palestinians still languishing in Israeli jails. Will you help campaign for their release?”

‘Schalit’s answer, after a few seconds’ stunned silence, is superior: “I’d be very happy if they were released,””he says, then adds the caveat, “provided they don’t return to fighting Israel.”’

‘Again, the Egyptian interpreter fails to translate the sentence’s second clause, and again the omission is repeated by the BBC’s translator, though he too was apparently translating from Hebrew in real-time. ‘I will be very happy for the prisoners to go free, so that they can be able to go back to their families, loved ones and territory. It will give me great happiness if this happens,’ the BBC’s interpreter relays.’

The bias of the BBC/Palestine Update was just as evident when Jon Donnison interviewed one of the freed Hamas terrorists, Ahmad Abu Taha, and says to him:

You are 31 years old, ten years in prison, serving a life sentence for being a member of Hamas. I mean, how do you feel today?

Well, Abu Taha was in fact involved in preparing explosives for Hamas terrorists in Ramallah, including the car bomb that exploded in Giva’at Ze’ev in Jerusalem on 29 July 2001. A member of the Ibrahim Abu Rub and Ballal Baraguti organizations, he transported the suicide bomber Ra’ad Baraguti from Ramallah to Jerusalem, where he exploded on Hanevi’im Street on 4 September 2001 and injured 14 people. Yet on the planet of the BBC/Palestine Update he was arrested just for ‘being a member of Hamas’.

Still, it has been an inspiring couple of days. Gilad, I wish you well and I am delighted you have slept in your own home for the first time in almost 2000 days. Congratulations are also due to all those who played a part in Gilad’s release, and to the Israeli people, who never abandoned him.

Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa

No White Male Appointments For The Rest Of The Fiscal Year – Memo from Human Resources Dept. of Eskom, supplier of most of South Africa’s electricity.

There is a very interesting moment in journalist Kevin Richburg’s “Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa“. Richburg, who was was the Washington Post’s African bureau chief from 1991 to 1994, filed a report from the scene of a tribal-motivated killing. It was shortly before South Africa’s fist democratic elections, and the Xhosa and Zulu were embroiled in pre-election violence and intimidation. Twelve people had been shot to death. Richburg had described Africa as a continent where “black bodies are stacked up like firewood”. This was a small massacre, and a non-story by African standards, he thought. So imagine his surprise when “the police, mostly officious looking white officers with ruddy complexions –  came and did what you might expect police to do in any Midwestern American city where crime has occurred. They cordoned off the area with police tape. They marked the spots on the ground where the victims had fallen”. A full investigation was promised to the press.

Such a civilised routine was utterly out of place on the continent where blood can flow like water, where massacres go undocumented, and where charging a man with murder is like “handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500”. The quaint practices of Afrikaner rule were shocking to western liberals like Richburg. He had taken for granted that the apartheid regime was an evil like no other. The civilised norms of Apartheid South Africa are still out of place on the African continent. Most unfortunately, these practices are now out of place in the South Africa of the ANC. The quality of the South African Police Service, SAPS, has so declined that serious crimes, even murders, are often not responded to for days, or not at all. The ANC has faced up to the serious law-enforcement challenges in their country by disbanding the elite, highly-regarded anti-corruption squad known as ‘the Scorpions’, to spare itself hearing some uncomfortable truths.

Ilana Mercer’s most recent book could be described as a tidal wave of uncomfortable truths for comfortable planners and pundits in the developed world, a place South Africa was once a part of. Mercer, the daughter of anti-apartheid activist Rabbi Ben Isaacson, seems to slaughter every sacred cow of discourse on South Africa. She’s blunt in informing the reader that during the decades of apartheid, a few hundred Africans perished due to police brutality. The ‘freedom fighters’ during apartheid ‘necklaced’ over four hundred innocent civilians, and murdered many more, often singling out Zulus. More people are murdered in one week under the ANC’s watch than died under the detention of the Afrikaner government over the course of roughly four decades. The infamous Sharpeville massacre was indeed an awful event, where panic-stricken policemen shot and killed 69 black demonstrators. Yet in democratic South Africa, that is often the daily quota of carnage. Under apartheid, the annual number of murders on average reached 7,036. Under the ANC, its gone up to 24,206. Its hardly surprising that there has arisen a kind of apartheid nostalgia, even among many blacks in South Africa. Having a democratic and egalitarian constitution doesn’t seem like such a fantastic result of years of struggle if you can’t go to work safely, unemployment is twice as high as it used to be, and your life expectancy has gone down by several years.

A truly wonderful aspect of the book is Ilana’s sympathetic history of the Afrikaner people and her respect for their social habits and devout religious outlook, despite being an irreligious woman herself. It makes one want to proclaim: “Ik ben een Afrikaander”! when you read of the heroic exploits of the voortrekkers, those Afrikaners who left the British controlled territory by the coast and sought freedom in what would become Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The parallels between these people and the American colonists are striking. The poor Afrikaners! They never did gain the status of Designated Victim Group.  Afrikaners are a minority that happens to have led an early anti-colonial struggle against the British Empire while being imprisoned en masse in concentration camps. We’ve all seen the pictures of the emaciated Afrikaner victims from that time, and we all know what it brings to mind. Its truly a tragedy that the Afrikaners are vilified purely for living in Africa, which they have inhabited for as long as British stock has been in North America. In fact, the Bantu people, who include Mandela’s tribe, the Xhosa, migrated southwards from outside today’s South Africa around the same time as the Trekboers were journeying inland from the coast, including the eleven-year old Paul Kruger. Its funny to think Eugene Terre’blanche’s ancestors were probably in South Africa before Nelson Mandela’s.

Ah, that sainted shyster Nelson Mandela, the man with more dubious humanitarian awards than Bono can ever hope for (including Qaddafi’s human rights prize). Alright, I’ll say it: its a good thing he was imprisoned for so long. If Mandela  and his ilk had come to power in the 1960s and implemented their full-blown socialist program, Zimbabwe today might look enviable from the other side. Interestingly, the moonbat Naomi Klein has criticised the ANC for softening the program they had in the ’60s. I hate the ANC with a passion, but Ilana Mercer was amazingly able to make me even angrier at them. Not only is crime, unemployment and corruption far worse than pre-1994, the place isn’t even much of a democracy as we like to think of the concept here. The ANC runs South Africa like its a one-party state. Demographics dictate it will never lose power to its tokenistic opposition. The ANC political machine makes Tammany Hall look like kindergarten. Since 1994, over 95% of people vote along racial lines. This is not much of an improvement over apartheid, which I can assure you I believe is a rotten system. Now what we have is tyranny of the majority, rather than a minority. In most ways, the former is worse.

Mercer’s book is billed as a warning to America, a warning against the kind of wealth redistribution along racial lines that has so spectacularly damaged South Africa. I believe she is being over-alarmist in her comparisons, given how different the American demographic situation is to South Africa. Yet her warnings on politically-dictated egalitarianism in American institutions ring true, especially in light of Professor Steven Farron’s hard-hitting work exposing the disaster of affirmative action in the United States. Mass power failures are now a common occurrence in South Africa, something unheard of under Afrikaner rule. While the New York Times will claim “the country’s power company [Eskom] unfathomably ran out of electricity and rationed supply”, its very clear what’s really going on if you care little for political correctness: skilled engineers have been purged due to the Black Economic Empowerment. If Eskom wants to purchase coal, it has to procure it from black sources if even remotely possible. South Africa has recently become a net importer of food for the first time. While land redistribution has not been as severe as in Zimbabwe, Boer farmers are highly vulnerable in the face of squatters who have the affections of the black authorities. Not to mention the fact they are being murdered at genocide levels: around 10% of their numbers have been slain, often in brutal farm attacks that involve torture and rape. Boers are being murdered at four times the rate of the rest of the population (South Africa’s Indian community also suffers disproportionately). The ANC is punishing the Boers further, by stepping up the rate of farm redistribution. Their quota for 2014 is highly ambitious, despite the fact some in the ANC admit over 90% of legally plundered white farmland is now unproductive. Lets not make the same mistakes South Africa did, even if on a much smaller scale. A small upside, should such policies continue, is that the ANC may end up with a country and reputation so broken that they just might earn the pariah status of Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF. It took a long time for the West to wake up to what was going on in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s slaughter of 20,000 people of a rival tribe during the early years of his rule in the 1980s was completely ignored. Indeed, he had resolute defenders in the Western left up until very recently. Yet I shudder to think what fate could befall the remaining Afrikaners should they be bled of their resources until they are beyond use to the regime.

Ilana Mercer faced rejection from all major publishers. Its not surprising that a book against majoritarianism faced such hostility. In many ways, the book is about the failure of democracy, an makes an ideal follow-up case study to Hans Herman Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed. I don’t think I can praise a book higher than that. I can only imagine the difficulty of Ilana’s task. Recently I approached an employee in the South African embassy here in London. I asked him about the farm murders, the corruption, the crime. He replied that “there are people in the media and the universities” that “handle those matters” for them. In other words, they have the Guardians of Acceptable Opinion to suppress debate on the ‘Rainbow Nation’ (which is now less diverse than it was under apartheid). Mercer notes that anti-racism think-tanks, such as the South African Institute of Race Relations, engage in serial abuse of statistics to serve the interests of the ANC, particularly by refusing to accurately report the appalling level of sectarian murders of whites and Indians in the country. Their estimates of the number of the number of murdered white farmers is one-third of what other sources report. Until 2010, SAIRR refused to acknowledge the slayings were part of anything but normal criminal banditry, as opposed to being racially motivated. The media and academia forgot all about South Africa after Mandela came to power. Its time for debate, after which I hope most will acknowledge that South Africa is not a positive example for the rest of the world.

I would like to finish with a little note the publisher included at the beginning of Into the Cannibal’s Pot:

This is a book about ideas and ideology. When losing an intellectual argument, there are despicable people who point an accusing finger and shout racism. In our dark times where mob rule and collectivist ideas resonate with so many, this appalling strategy can be very effective.

To those who support colorblind civil discourse, rule of law, equality of opportunity, freedom, the golden rule (do unto others as you wish them to do unto you) liberty, freedom of expression and religion and private property rights… regardless of skin color or ethnic background (black, red, white, yellow, brown, green or violet) we extend the hand of friendship

To those who support all forms of thuggery – including totalitarianism, collectivism, fascism, extremist fundamentalism, unequal treatment under law, income redistribution, nanny state government programs and the soft bigotry of low expectations – your skin color and ethnicity are irrelevant… and your ideas belong in the dustbin of history.

Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa [Hardback] [Kindle Edition]

Fugitive Slaves in Ancient Israel

How great it is to incorporate some lessons and issues from the Bible into this blog, even for a short post tying in with something I wrote here earlier. I couldn’t resist bringing this up after studying some of the Laws of Deuteronomy earlier today. In Deuteronomy 23:16-17, Israel is given an obligation concerning the treatment of escaped slaves, reading (from the Tanakh of the Jewish Publication Society):

You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases; you must not ill-treat him.

What a remarkable departure this is from the norm of the Ancient World. The Code of Hammurabi stipulated that all escaped slaves be returned to their owners, on pain of stiff penalties. The Fugitive Slave Law in America lasted until the end of the War Between the States. In his excellent Pentateuch & Haftorahs, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Joseph H. Hertz, noted in his commentary that despite the noticeable laws surrounding slaves in the Torah, slavery in Ancient Israel & Judah was appears to have been very rare. Throughout Scripture, there are no references to slave markets in the Land, and scant indeed are mentions of slaves among Israelite society.

The obligation to shelter escaped slaves and treat them kindly might explain this situation, along with the commandment to free slaves on the Jubilee year, as well as to release a slave upon his seventh year of service (Exodus chap. 21 and Deuteronomy chap. 15). This relates to the libertarian and humanitarian arguments I mentioned in favor of the Secession of the Confederate States of America. In the libertarian scholar Jeffery Rogers Hummel’s Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War’, the author argues that slavery would not have lasted very long in the Confederacy, given that the United States would no doubt have quickly repealed the widely hated Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. This in turn would have created a flood of runaway slaves from the South in the direction of freedom, making slavery more costly to maintain where it existed. Famous abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison actually advocated before and during the war years that the free states secede from the slave states for this to happen. Hummel uses the example of Brazil, where slavery was outlawed in some areas but not in others. Free regions became such a haven for runaways that the costs of runaways on slave-owners became far too much to bear. Slavery was abandoned all over Brazil in 1888, without a shot fired. Human beings forced into slavery simply don’t start acting like cattle or pieces of furniture.

Interestingly, if unexpectedly, it seems that there is good evidence to support the position of Hummel and Garrison from the Bible itself.

Libertarians for Secession: Answering Michael Lind

It seemed every libertarian was up in arms this week over the rather silly piece attacking those of our persuasion penned by Michael Lind in Salon. Unsurprisingly, the old chestnut about Hayek and Freidman’s tenuous connections to Pinochet cropped up, along with fairly standard misrepresentations of the words of Ludwig von Mises on fascism, something very common nowadays among left-leaning hacks. The main focus seemed to be criticisms of democracy and majoritarian tyranny laid down by the brilliant libertarian scholar Han Hermann Hoppe and others. Over at the Adam Smith Institute blog, Sam Bowman addressed all this quite extensively.

I want to focus on Lind’s discomfort with libertarians who sympathise with the cause and struggle for Southern independence from 1861-65, as I happen to be such a person and associate with many others. Lind, let us not forget, was the man who warned us in Salon that “neo-Confederate” Tea Party “fanatics” are apparently attempting to “destroy America’s credit rating unless the federal government agrees to enact Dixie’s economic agenda”. It’s fairly clear Lind’s picture of his Southern countrymen is not an enlightened one. One can almost imagine Michael Lind gleefully day-dreaming of murdering thousands of Dixie’s residents while burning its crops and cities in the anti-Semitic General Sherman’s genocidal march through Georgia. All for human rights, of course.

Now Lind writes:

When it comes to American history, libertarians tend retrospectively to side with the Confederacy against the Union. Yes, yes, the South had slavery — but it also had low tariffs, while Abraham Lincoln’s free labor North was protectionist. Surely the tariff was a greater evil than slavery.

This is one of the most ignorant insults I have ever seen directed against libertarians who claim the War Between the States was a war that should never have been waged. I know absolutely zero libertarians that side with the Confederacy because of its tariff policies. Instead, it is the issue of secession that overwhelmingly dominates libertarian debate on the topic. Now, libertarians often point out the differences in the Confederate Constitution to the original document that still existed in the Union (despite Lincoln’s subsequent complete disregard for it by suspending habeas corpus, closing down hundreds of anti-war newspapers and locking up the Mayor of Baltimore and much of the Maryland legislature). Those differences being the Confederacy’s ban on protectionist tariffs, government subsidies to private enterprises and the requirement of a two-thirds legislative majority for any tax increase. Libertarians do this to demonstrate the strongholds of Jeffersonian limited-government that many Southern states were, compared with the Hamiltonian big-government North. When first running for office in Illinois in 1832, Lincoln, already a famous lawyer, proclaimed:

I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by my friends to become a candidate for the legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favour of a national bank… in favour of internal improvements and a high protective tariff.

‘Internal improvements’ was the term at the time for large-scale spending programs on infrastructure, something I have written about here previously. Unsurprisingly, Lincoln carried no Southern state in the election of 1860, and very often did not even appear on the ballot. Lincoln was the most divisive electoral candidate in American history, even after guaranteeing the rights of slave-owners to keep their slaves throughout his campaign and First Inaugural Address.

Returning to Lind’s argument, it’s very difficult to see what libertarians he is talking about. That is, libertarians who would accept slavery for lower tariffs, as well those who induct “Jefferson Davis into the libertarian hall of fame”. The original and most well-known study of the War Between the States from a modern libertarian viewpoint is undoubtedly Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War’ by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. In this book Hummel happens to be fiercely critical of Jefferson Davis as well as Lincoln, and sees no inconsistency in supporting the right of secession while uncompromisingly opposing slavery. In fact, one of Hummel’s most interesting arguments is that secession would have helped defeat slavery, as it would have allowed the Union to repeal the fugitive slave laws, and thus have legally made the North a haven for escaped slaves. Other chattel slavery-based economies such as Brazil could not sustain the vile institution due to the problem of runaways. Conscious men, even in bondage, do not act like cattle or furniture. If you believe this is a radical original proposition, it is interesting to note that the abolitionist movement itself was fiercely split before the war due to this very point. In fact, the most famous abolitionist, the editor of The Liberator and social reformer William Lloyd Garrison, actually advocated long before as well as during the war that the Northern states should have seceded from the slave states for this to happen. Hummel estimates slavery would have collapsed in the Confederacy before the end of the century, possibly even in under five years.

All sane libertarians can agree that the death of slavery was a positive result of the war. The fierce Lincoln critic Tom DiLorenzo, of the Mises Institute, calls the end of slavery the “one unequivocal good” that came of it. However, libertarians also lament the loss of the right of secession, which is most relevant considering secession, not slavery, was the reason Lincoln launched his destructive war in the first place. Several states in the Union actually had slavery, and they were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation (which only applied to “rebel-held territory”). Even the head of the Union Army, Ulysses S. Grant, was an overseer of slaves on his family’s Missouri plantation. Lincoln actually demanded in the early stages of the war that captured slaves be returned to their owners, until many figures in the Union Army persuaded him this was aiding the Confederate war effort, and that these slaves could be used for menial tasks around Federal army encampments.

Libertarians always prefer peaceful alternatives to war, even when it comes to ending the evil of slavery. Why not peaceful Emancipation, as occurred in every country except Haiti, over a war where more Americans would fall during one battle at Gettysburg than in all previous American wars combined? Buying the freedom of every slave, along with forty acres and a mule for each freed man would have cost a fraction of what the brutality of 1861-65 did. Libertarian critics of Lincoln simply argue non-violent options and less bellicose forms of persuasion should have been tried.

Lind seems shocked that Lord Acton wrote to Robert E. Lee to express support for his lost cause after the war. I find that as unsurprising as Karl Marx’s letters of congratulations to Lincoln and his ardent support for the Union war effort. I don’t know about you, but the letters of Acton and the gentleness in the response of Lee bring joy to the heart of this proud Neo-Confederate.

Acton to Lee, Nov. 1866:

I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.

Lee’s response, Dec. 1866:

While I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.

The full correspondence can be found here.