Originally posted at Talk to Action.
I have written a great deal in the past few years about the odd phenomenon of Catholic Neo-Confederatism. Let’s add one more name to the pantheon.
Thomas DiLorenzo is a man of contradictions. He teaches university level economics yet he is best known as an avatar of Neo-Confederatism. He teaches at a Catholic university, but subscribes to economic views that have more in common with the libertarianism of Ayn Rand than anything in Catholic social teaching. He is also a leading loather of Abraham Lincoln and a contemporary advocate of nullification and secession — two zombie ideas that are being resurrected as a means of and religious oppression — often in the name of religious liberty.
Although born in 1954 north of the Mason-Dixon line in Pennsylvania, DiLorenzo has been a vociferous defender of the Southern Lost Cause. He has earned a B.A. in economics from Westminster College in his home state as well as a Ph.D. in the same subject from Virginia Tech. But DiLorenzo’s education in economics is not reflected in his writing (save his allusions to his Austrian school philosophy) which is more devoted to the agenda of nullification and secession. To that end, he serves as not only as a senior fellow to the uber-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute, but also as an associate scholar with Abbeville Institute which promotes a revisionist view of the Confederacy.
DiLorenzo writes from the battlements of history, taking particular aim at the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. He believes the US Constitution allows for the rights of secession and nullification and that the Confederacy fought a just war against the Union.
And like his Neo-Confederate cohort Tom Woods, he is a well-educated man who is oddly prone to hyperbole. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is increasingly cited as a source in the right-wing echo chamber. For example, FOX News host, Judge Andrew Napolitano frequently cites DiLorenzo’s work. So much so that twenty three of the twenty four end notes in Napolitano’s The Constitution in Exile were sourced to DiLorenzo’s work. His Neo-Confederate libertarianism has also gained him recognition by the contemporary godfather of the movement. In 2011 DiLorenzo testified before he House subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve, which was chaired by none other than then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he adheres to many of the crank notions of contemporary libertarianism. He rails, for example, against Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Food and Drug Administration in his book The Food and Drink Police: America’s Nannies, Busybodies, and Petty Tyrants or in the book Cancerscam, that government’s war on smoking is an unnecessary government intrusion. (both co-authored with James Bennett, professor of economics at George Mason University). DiLorenzo teaches economics at the Jesuit-run Loyola University Maryland, but scorns the Catholic order’s progressive economic outlook.
Less well known is DiLorenzo’s involvement with the Neo-Confederate League of the South. But it is not hard to find. For example, in a July 2011 essay in the League’s newsletter, The Magnolia, he defended it against the charge that it is a “hate group” as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the small world department, Michael Peroutka,( the 2004 presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, 2014 Republican nominee for County Council Maryland and a longtime member of the League of the South) once said of his fellow Neo-Confederate:
I read a lot of material, but Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln comes to mind. He makes a convincing case for the fact that slavery, however immoral, should have come to an end in the United States as it did in the rest of the Western, industrialized world-without a war. … As DiLorenzo puts it, Lincoln was the Great Centralizer and Consolidator of Federal power. Now we see the wholesale transfer of Federally usurped powers to the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Import-Export Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, NATO, and the like.
Peroutka not only references DiLorenzo’s works — he currently sells them via his web site — alongside a photo of the professor.
I asked John McKee Barr, author of Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the Present about DiLorenzo’s appeal to the Confederate flag waving wing of the Religious Right. In an e-mail interview, Barr told me:
“Clearly, the idea that the Civil War was a theological war is a very old one and it continues in the writings of Lincoln’s critics today,”he observed. “…[I]n reviewing Ward Hill Lamon’s biography of Lincoln in the early 1870s Albert Taylor Bledsoe (a former friend of Lincoln’s and vociferous defender of secession) said that if the Union’s cause “was the cause of infidelity and atheism, and against the principles and the spirit of the Christian religion, then who more worthy to muster its motley hosts, and let them slip with the fury of the pit, than the low-bred infidel of Pigeon Creek, in whose eyes the Savior of the world was ‘an Illegitimate child,’ the Holy Mother as base as his own.” (p. 88-89 Loathing Lincoln).”
Barr explains that “while DiLorenzo emphasizes these things in his critique of the president,” it is his sense that DiLorenzo “stresses much more his belief that Lincoln was a tyrant, that Confederate secession was constitutional and thus the war was both immorally begun and conducted by the president, and that Lincoln was the founder of (I think these words are Murray Rothbard’s) ‘the warfare-welfare state.’”
Filed under: Catholic Right, Catholic social teaching, Religion and Politics | Tagged: Abbeville Institute, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Napolitano, Austrian School economics, Ayn Rand, Catholic Neo-Confederatism, Catholic Right, John McKee Barr, Laissez-Faire Christian Economics, libertarian economics, Loathing Lincoln, Michael Peroutka, Ron Paul, secession, Thomas DiLorenzo | Leave a comment »