The old Civil War and its causes

NY Times:
A statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House.

With Civil War Remark, a President Who Doesn’t Go by the (History) Book


The president’s comments about the Civil War underscored what seems to be a tenuous understanding of the events that preceded his ascension to power.
While Andrew Jackson and the nullification issue with South Carolina were an interesting precursor to the Civil War which showed the tenuous nature of keeping unhappy states in the union,  the issues that really pushed the country toward war was a conflict over what one side saw as a moral issue and the other side saw as an economic issue.

Slavery, like communism, was a bad economic model because the only incentives to the workers were negative where things happened to them if they did not work as told.  If someone innovated are became more efficient there were few rewards for their efforts.  But the opponents of slavery never really made that argument.  They simply argued that slavery was immoral and therefore the slave states elites should just give up their "assets" and go broke.

If a deal was to be made, between the sides it would have required the opponents of slavery to compensate the owners of slaves for freeing them.  But because they saw the issue as solely a moral issue, they probably would have believed that compensation the owners was also immoral.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of men died on both sides.  I think the chances that Jackson could have bridged that divide were probably remote.

Today there are similar conflicts in some areas.  Those who oppose abortion see it as a moral issue.  Proponents of abortion see it as an economic issue as a matter of personal freedom.  There are conflicts over whether healthcare is a "right" or a matter of personal responsibility.  There is also an intolerance on the left of speech with which they disagree.  This latter issue has already produced violent demonstrations by fascists on the left.  There is a visceral hatred on the left of voters who oppose the point of view of the left.  This has the makings of a modern conflict and the left is losing it in more ways than one.

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