At a loss for anything else to say, Mr. Peterson at Claremont’s blog has pointed to my approving link to the League of the South and misrepresented my statements to claim that I “[disagree] with the Declaration of Independence,” whatever that is supposed to mean. I disagree with parts of it, because I regard some of its philosophical claims as untrue, as did no less an estimable Founder than Gouverneur Morris (who found its affirmation of equality and its neglect of property rights disturbing), but Mr. Peterson would be well advised to note that this actually puts me out of sympathy with the League of the South, which is nothing if not firmly, undeniably Jeffersonian in its inclinations. Someone engaged in something more than an attempted smear job would have noticed that.
The League of the South is a reputable organisation dedicated to the very same principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and, unlike some, actually takes the reference in that document to the “consent of the governed” seriously. They reserve the right to withdraw their consent, just as their ancestors did and Jefferson did before them. I may find the underlying notion of “consent of the governed” to be an invention of philosophers and not a true statement about the origin of government, but I certainly prefer opponents of consolidated government to those who laud the authors of usurpation. Mr. Peterson regards the ideas of the antebellum South as “radically modern,” which suggests that Mr. Peterson does not know very much about the Southern intellectual tradition or indeed the political philosophy of half of the Founders whose “Founding” he claims to adore. No doubt he would regard much of European conservatism, with which the Southern tradition has some affinities, as “radically modern.” I leave it to the readers to judge whether this is a well-informed judgement of 19th century conservative political thought.
I have never made any secret of my membership in the League of the South, and the link to its site has been up ever since Eunomia first started, so I have to assume Mr. Peterson’s sudden discovery of this fact stems from a complete lack of anything else to say. I have previously defended them once before on this blog when critics of Prof. Tom Woods thought they could make some hay by pointing to his association with the same organisation in a pitiful attempt to discredit his new book on American history.
Mr. Peterson has entitled his post “Crunch With Caution.” The message to “the crunchies” is not subtle: beware of the people who actually share your view of the world because of associations they have that we, who mostly mock and belittle your ideas, find unworthy or unpalatable. Of course, self-identifying “crunchies” and their friends can repudiate me if they so desire, and that is their prerogative if they feel that my approval of a group that happens to affirm the fundamental principles of the Declaration of Independence while also affirming a distinctive Southern culture and the right to self-government mars or tarnishes their association with me, but how desperate must Mr. Peterson be that he has to resort to a vain attempt at what he thinks is proving some kind of guilt by association?