I love it when Richard Williams links to my blog, especially when the point to be made is so trivial and reflective of his own insecurities. Richard seems to think that I believe the Confederacy to be the “the forerunner to the Soviet Union. They loved centralization of power.” The closest I came to suggesting such a comparison was in quoting John Majewski, who described the Confederate political experience as “Confederate War Socialism.” My point was that the Confederate government’s wartime policies do not add up to anything approaching the limited government image that some people choose to remember.
Richard also took the opportunity to remind me (as if anyone needs to be reminded) that the Confederate government never knew anything but war.
Of course, Kevin seems to forget this was a war-time government fighting what they viewed as an invasion. The CSA never knew anything other than a war footing. The war drove every decision and there is no other time nor circumstance with which to compare. That tends to skew any discussion or comparison regarding centralization of power in the Confederate States.
No argument there. The policies of the Confederate government reflected the needs of a modern state at war. Unfortunately, Williams seems to be completely unaware of the move toward centralized governments across the western world. The Confederate experience is not an aberration, but part of a much broader trend, which has been addressed in one way or another by a number of historians, including Paul Quigley, Andre Fleche, and Peter and Nicholas Onuf. It’s safe to assume that Richard will not bother to read these books.
Finally, I love the fact that Richard makes it a point to identify me as an academic historian. I guess he has trouble with the books I read or what I write, though I’ve never seen an actual critique of one of my publications. Today he placed me alongside David Blight, which is quite an honor. By the way, I recently learned that Blight is going to blurb my forthcoming book on the Crater and historical memory. I guess I am guilty as charged. To make matters worse, tomorrow I head to Milwaukee to take part in the annual meeting of the OAH and you can bet that I am going to get in line with my fellow historians.