We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Monuments

But telling the truth about our ancestors should not mean discounting everything they ever did, for if we do that for any person, including ourselves, we all have nothing to do but go home and weep. If we discount achievements because those who perform them are imperfect, there will be no achievements, only darkness. That creates a world of always tearing down and never building up, and the end of it is annihilation. In life is both great joy and great sorrow, and both deserve their due. That is what monuments are for.

Joy Pullmann.

As the author of the article states, while it is legitimate (if not always smart) for a legislature to remove a statue/monument for some reason (preferably to go in a museum so as to protect historical information), it certainly isn’t okay for criminals in the dead of night to smash them up for no other reason than they are, or claim to be (?) offended. Even in the case of say, the former Soviet Union, a decision to take down a statue of a mass-murderer such as Stalin, a totalitarian such as Lenin, etc should be done by the duly elected government of the day, if only to reinforce the fact that an emblem of totalitarian horror was being replaced by an elected, democratic authority. The symbolism of due process actually is as important as the monument being removed or installed. The process, in other words, is as important in some cases as the actual deed.

This being a broadly libertarian blog, it is also worth pointing out that if a statue/monument is in a public place, decisions about its upkeep, creation or removal are public decisions. This isn’t the case with private land, however. For example, if an eccentric millionaire landlord wanted to put up lots of statues of Lenin, say, or to take an example I’d favour, of all the US astronauts from the 50s and 60s onwards, that isn’t and shouldn’t be a public matter. If, say, a Confederate history buff who has a bunch of land near a road wanted to put up a whole rank of generals’ statues, there is no right of anyone to stop that.

When there is a public space, however, the decision is necessarily a public matter, and in a constitutional republic, it is bound to be the case that the choice of what goes up and what goes down might vary over time. The reasons can be good, or they can be silly, as is arguably the case now.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

16 comments to Monuments

  • rxc

    “That creates a world of always tearing down and never building up, and the end of it is annihilation.”

    This is considered to be a feature, not a bug.

  • Ken Mitchell

    With regards to monuments to both sides of the American Civil War, those monuments and statues form something akin to the scar tissue over a great wound. Our ancestors DID fight that long and bloody war – and reforged a new Union in the aftermath. Those statues help us remember what happened.

    Antifa goons trying to tear down those monuments are attempting, in a very real sense, to rip open those scars and re-fight the Civil War. It was bad enough the first time; a new Civil War will be especially horrific.

    But Antifa doesn’t care; they WANT, most of them, to destroy the United States.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “As the author of the article states, while it is legitimate (if not always smart) for a legislature to remove a statue/monument for some reason (preferably to go in a museum so as to protect historical information), it certainly isn’t okay for criminals in the dead of night to smash them up for no other reason than they are, or claim to be (?) offended.”

    This is the nub of it. What is disturbing is how many people seem to think that the rule of law is an optional extra.

  • Thailover

    Where there is smoke, there’s mirrors. I don’t think this has anything to do with public policy and statues.

    I think it’s nothing more than a case of Leftists finding it counterproductive to acknowledge that just prior to the beginning of the civil war, no republicans owned slaves, and all the slaves were owned by democrats. And among the invectives lobbied against the Alt-Right are charges of ‘Nazi, KKK and racist’. Interestingly enough, Nazi stands for National SOCIALIST German Worker’s Party, the KKK was the democrat party terrorist organization dedicated to targeting voting blacks and the republicans that helped them, and nothing can be more racist than slavery based on race. It was the original “Alt-Right”, the so-called “radical republicans” that forced through the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, freeing the slaves, recognizing their citizenship and right to vote. The republican party was founded upon the push to free the slaves, say what we will about Lincoln’s personal dedication or lack thereof for that push.

    I think it’s a case of the Left, not so much “being offended” as wishing to re-write history, like Antifa pretending to be dedicated to liberty of the individual whilst actually being dedicated to the opposite, statism.

    No one hates negative rights, aka Liberty, (the right to act) more than someone who insists that there is actually a right to have (positive rights) instead that enslaves those that earn and produce to the “needs” of the ne’re-do-wells and the self-defeating; “victims” of their own lifestyle choices.

  • Paul Marks

    The much attacked President Donald Trump was correct – if one is going to take down the statutes of slave owners that must, logically, include such people as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The people who created the United States – and the people who preserved the United States such as President Andrew Jackson. If one takes the “Dukes of Hazard” off television – because of the “General Lee” car and the Confederate Battle Banner roof, one must also remove those films which star Charlton Heston (and others) playing Andrew Jackson.

    Indeed it must also include all the figures of the Classical World – Marcus Aurelius, Cicero, Cato the Younger…. we must take all the statues of Classical Civilisation down, and burn the books written by the slave owners (i.e. all the books of Classical Civilisation).

    This is NOT to say that slavery is good – slavery is not good, slavery is evil and needed to be destroyed. But to say that the entire life of someone is discredited by slavery discredits many of the great figures of civilisation – which is exactly what the Marxists of the education system (the schools and the universities) and the “mainstream” media want to do. They want to discredit civilisation in order to make way for their collectivist utopia – where EVERYONE would be slaves.

    Generations of American soldiers (from the NORTH) and Americans in general have been inspired by such figures as General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson – not inspired by slavery, but inspired by their personal honour and their ability as soldiers. The Marxists (the Frankfurt School types who control the education system and the “mainstream” media) know this – which is why they want to take down their statues and rename military bases.

    When paratroopers shout “Geronimo” as they leap out of aircraft are they endorsing the slavery practised by the Apache tribe?

    For it is not just white people who practised the evil of slavery – the little secret that the Marxist education system and the Marxist “mainstream” media do not want people to know, is that almost EVERY culture practised the evil of slavery.

    If slavery discredits white Americans (as the Marxist education system and “mainstream” media teach) then it also discredits those people whose ancestors were (for example) Islamic slave traders in East Africa.

    People such as BARACK OBAMA.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    During the 2nd Gulf War, didn’t the Iraqis pull down such monuments without any due process?

  • Jacob

    The second of the Ten Commandments states:
    “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.”
    Statues of people are forbidden under Judaism, and, seems to me, under Islam too. That is a good idea.
    There will always be controversies about which personages deserve statues and which not. It’s better to avoid statues altogether.

    Instead of statues of people we have in Israel just abstract, modernist monuments to historic events (for example: the holocaust). In true modernist style these usually are just heaps of twisted, rusted irons and concrete. I wish all these monuments were torn down (due process or not), but, alas, no one bothers.

  • EdMJ

    For it is not just white people who practised the evil of slavery – the little secret that the Marxist education system and the Marxist “mainstream” media do not want people to know, is that almost EVERY culture practised the evil of slavery.

    Not only that, but they also don’t want you to know that slavery is more prevalent (in numerical terms – 45.8 million in 2016) now than at any time in history. And that the places where it is prevalent are nearly entirely non-white.

    “The countries with the highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by the proportion of their population are North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar. 58% of those living in slavery are in 5 countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan.”

    “The countries with the lowest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by the proportion of their population are Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Belgium, the United States and Canada, and Australia and New Zealand. These countries generally have more economic wealth, score higher on government response, have low levels of conflict, and are politically stable with a willingness to combat modern slavery.”

    Source: https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/findings/

    Heatmap: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery#/media/File:Modern_incidence_of_slavery.png

    Do the Marxists give a damn about any of these poor souls – ACTUAL slaves? Of course not, it doesn’t fit their narrative of “White = Racist”. Case in point: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DE0ba6bXsAAQjXq.jpg

    This is the only way to deal with this sort of nonsense: http://cernovich.com/alt-leftist-groin-pepper-ball-meme/ #PepperBall

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I think it’s nothing more than a case of Leftists finding it counterproductive to acknowledge that just prior to the beginning of the civil war, no republicans owned slaves, and all the slaves were owned by democrats.

    True; I wonder how many of the fools smashing/defacing statues/other have a clue about the politics of the pre-Civil War south?

    Wobbly: During the 2nd Gulf War, didn’t the Iraqis pull down such monuments without any due process?
    Well, it was during a war, and things like this happen. The Coalition did not have enough time to create a museum of horrors to mark the vile rule of Saddam. Time also has something to do with it: Saddam was still on the run, and memories of his crimes were fresh among the families of his victims; this is not quite the case with statues of those who led battles a century-plus ago. Time and wounds, etc.

    (Wobbly: you live in Singapore, if I recall. I remember the very fine statue of Raffles there. Great man.)

    EdMJ: definitions vary, but yes, slavery today remains a major issue, and deserving of more coverage than it gets. Needless to say, PC concerns are a reason why the causes of much of it don’t get more coverage. We need another blog posting on that subject alone!

  • I have nothing against tearing down monuments per se, provided it is part of ‘the now’, rather than simply an attempt to rewrite or deny history.

    I always cheer when a statue of Marx is torn down in Ukraine these days, or in Croatia in 1992. Blowing up the swastika over Zeppelinfield right after WW2 also made sense. But I would hate for them all to be torn down, and really hate for them to be torn down decades later when it is essential that what they represented be remembered and pondered for all manner of reasons.

  • Shirley Knott

    It’s really much simpler.
    This is simply ‘the tragedy of the commons’ writ large.

    It is not, quite explicitly not, the government’s job to erect monuments. It is always a bad sign when they do.

    Tear them all down, without exception. Or better, sell them off. Let those who think Lenin or Lee or Washington or Walpole or Disraeli or Nelson or whomever or whatever deserves a monument pay for it and sustain or maintain it themselves.

    Even if 99% of the populace think a monument is warranted and would cheerfully fork over their own money to make it happen, there is no justification whatsoever for taking any money at all from the remaining 1% who do not think a monument is warranted or who simply do not care to fork over any of their money for it.

  • John B

    ‘When there is a public space, however, the decision is necessarily a public matter, and in a constitutional republic…’

    Except it is not a public matter, because the public en masse won’t wake up one day and decide and demand some statue be removed.

    It is then a tiny minority matter, bigoted morons with a ’cause’ to promote in order to justify their dreary existance and then it becomes a decision made by the gutless invertebrates in ‘power’ who are incapable of standing up to the zealots for fear of unfavourable news coverage.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    John K, you miss the point. It is a public matter because decisions about what to do with public spaces rest with the elected representatives of the people. They can listen to a noisy minority complaining about something, or ignore them (as I would). If criminals try go deface/destroy things, they should be punished with full force of the law.

    But elected representatives are entitled by their status to take decisions, we hope wisely; if they vote to remove a statue, and the electorate is angry about that, the proper outcome is to vote them out.

    Bear in mind that an equal issue is the amount of grotty, ugly public art that gets up in our town squares, etc.

  • Paul Marks

    Did the Slave States respect Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press – and I mean for WHITE people.

    No they did – as any white person trying to deliver an anti slavery speech or publish an anti slavery newspaper discovered. And years BEFORE the war.

    One could speak in favour of slavery in the Free States and one could publish a pro slavery newspaper in the Free States – but one could not speak against slavery and publish an anti slavery newspaper in the Slave States. One could in the Founding Era – but not for years before the Civil War.

    In their believe in censorship the Democrats of the Slave South had a lot in common with modern Democrats – they might want to censor different things, but they are both pro censorship.

  • Jacob

    Yes, the Southerners were not “nice” people. The civil war was a terrible catastrophe, 620,000 dead, millions crippled, whole regions destroyed. And it was the South that caused it.

    The attempt to “rehabilitate” them is fake history.

  • Paul Marks (August 25, 2017 at 10:01 pm): “Did the Slave States respect Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press – and I mean for WHITE people. No ….”

    Paul has a point but it will bear discussion.

    The situation changed gradually from 1831, when the Virginia legislature’s debate on abolition was very public and open on both sides, to a period in some ways like the left-wing bias of today, when advertisers would vanish, papers would withdraw visibility of one side of the debate, dishonest reasons would be given for preventing debate, etc. A newspaper became sure to lose advertisers and subscribers if it gave too much space to slavery-questioning arguments. You could no longer rely on the mails to transmit material regarded as abolitionist. And if you became too prominent, there was the possibility of an antifa-like mob turning up to trash your printing presses.

    In the years running up to the civil war, it was essential to be a competent duellist if you were sympathetic to abolition in a slave state – but it was pretty necessary to be a competent duellist if you were a politician or newspaper editor in the south, whatever your views on slavery. Every southern state had laws condemning duelling in harsh terms with strong punishments. And every southern state had many duels. Governor James Hamilton of South Carolina reputedly fought 14 duels and invariably at least wounded his opponent – apparently quite un-inconvenienced by the state’s law mandating a year in prison and a $2000 fine for any who participated in a duel, plus a homicide charge if it were fatal (and those penalties were mild by the standards of most southern states). Another governor of South Carolina produced a manual of duelling etiquette, both his free speech on the matter and his political career quite unhindered by the laws against it.

    So, while loud abolitionists were sure to be formally challenged repeatedly if they had the social status of ‘gentleman’, and had to be able to deal with more impromptu trouble if they had not (Cassius Clay, who played the key role in recommending Lincoln over Seward at the 1860 republican convention, was reputed a fearsome knife fighter – and needed to be, as a republican in a slave state), the most fervent slave-supporting southern democrat politician could also expect to be challenged from time to time.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>