Saturday, February 10, 2007

Thomas J. DiLorenzo - SVR Advisory Board Member


As odum has noted in his post at Green Mountain Daily, there's a lot of ground that I intend to cover on one particular SVR advisory board member.  I’d like to add a little more in one area on that member today, that being to the Second Vermont Republic advisory board member Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s rather slim entry on the SVR's advisory board website page that reads,
“Professor of Economics, Loyola College, and author of The Real Lincoln.”
To start, there's this from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, "The Ideologues:"
"DiLorenzo is also a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a hard-right libertarian foundation in Alabama, and teaches at the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, a South Carolina school established by the League of the South to teach its unusual views of history." [1]
I've also learned from SourceWatch that earlier on, DiLorenzo had worked as an academic hatchet man for Big Tobacco. [2]  Working with Thomas T. Bennett he assisted in formulating a plan intended to undermine the work of the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, in conjunction with work being done by the Capital Research Center.  I should also note that the CRC has launched similar baseless funding broadsides against “liberal” civil rights advocacy organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center [3] and it became embroiled in its own controversy over its funding while launching attacks on health advocacy groups. [4]  CRC receives the bulk of its funding from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, controlled by the right wing money bag, Richard Mellon Scaife
“In December 1993… Thomas J. DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at the Chattanooga campus of the University of Tennessee penned a proposal to R.J. Reynolds. (His) first report, (he) state(s), "revealed for the first time that so-called health research charities have a far broader and more insidious agenda than sponsoring research on disease and aiding the afflicted, which are the basis of their fundraising appeals to the American public".

According to… DiLorenzo, "there is a large and growing commitment to political advocacy aimed principally at anti-smoking legislation" amongst such charities. What (he) proposed was to trawl through lobbying disclosure forms of the Lung, Cancer and Heart Associations in California and Masschussetts in the hope that a "'credibility gap' can be created to undermine the public image of these groups".

"Our work will be aimed at the general public and specifically at the donors who support health charities with their contributions," (he) proposed. With CRC (he) suggested they would produce a series of reports and, based on those, spin off a series of op-eds and articles for the media.

… DiLorenzo stressed that what (he) proposed would not be dispassionate research work. "Our ultimate goal is twofold: (1) to discredit the voluntary health agencies in the minds of the public so that they are forced to return to their charitable 'roots' and abandon political advocacy and (2) to raise so many questions about the true goals and objectives of health charities that the media will take up the task of investigating these groups.'" [5]
DiLorenzo is better known today for his revisionist histories of Abraham Lincoln, "The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War" (March 2002) and "Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know about Dishonest Abe" (October 2006).

Lincoln historical revisionism is one of the pillars of secessionist theory and there has been a lot written about this tactic and its being so necessary to the successful argument for secession. [6]

Unfortunately for the secessionists, they’re about the only ones who're buying into its silliness.  SVR's founder and co-chair, Thomas Naylor, has written a glowing review of DiLorenzo's most recent revisionist history:
Dishonest Abe
Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Lincoln Unmasked. New York: Crown Forum, 2006, 223 pp., $22.95
"SVR Advisory Board Member Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s latest book Lincoln Unmasked lays to rest once and for all the myth that Abraham Lincoln was our best president. Indeed, DiLorenzo provides substantial evidence to suggest that if Lincoln was not our worst president, he was surely our most dishonest head of state.
[...]
Lincoln Unmasked is much more hard-hitting than its predecessor, The Real Lincoln.
[...]
Lincoln Unmasked is a must read book for any one seriously interested in secession and the peaceful dissolution of the Empire."

Thomas H. Naylor
November 1, 2006 [7]
SVR’s co-chair, Rob Williams, a Champlain College educator, has similarly climbed aboard the Lincoln revisionist bandwagon with his own favorable review of DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln."  It is one of the few reviews that I could find that hadn't been churned out by some associate of DiLorenzo's at the Abbeville Institute or the Ludwig von Mises Institute or the League of the South or some other group that he's connected with.  In Williams' review he gets right down to the necessary business of attacking the Lincoln myth:
"For any Vermonter (or American) considering the “secession question,” the mythology surrounding Abraham Lincoln is mighty indeed.
[...]
How could anyone but the disgruntled great-grandnephews of slave-loving Southerners possibly challenge Lincoln’s political legacy or his hold on our popular imagination?[...]
Yet Loyola College professor of economics Thomas DiLorenzo does just this, in his provocative book The Real Lincoln.  DiLorenzo argues that... (much, much more of the same)
[...]
As DiLorenzo shows, Lincoln and Clay’s “American System” proved demonstrably anti-capitalist, generated stupendous corruption, and further cemented the alliance between an emerging corporate class and national political leaders. Sound familiar?
But Lincoln’s great genius in his own time was using the Civil War as bloody vehicle for solidifying the American System as the United States’ dominant economic model.
[...]
DiLorenzo’s book raises important questions about one of America’s most powerful political leaders, questions that take on a new urgency in an age which Lincoln himself set in motion, one of unbridled corporate power, militarism, violence, and Empire-building. And it is little wonder that DiLorenzo’s book has been most savagely attacked by today’s neoconservatives, themselves disciples and practitioners of Lincoln’s own brand of imperialist and mercantilist politics.
[...]

Rob Williams
June 2005, Vermont Commons, Issue 3 [8]
The only other local favorable review of DiLorenzo’s Lincoln revision is by UVM’s own professor of education, Robert Griffin. Griffin has his own sordid association with various white supremacists, racists and neo-Nazis, and writes occasionally for Jared Taylor’s racist website American Renaissance [9] on "Rearing Honorable White Children" [10] [11], has written a "fawning biography" of William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries [12], and has written for a "racist journal," The Occidental Quarterly. [13]
"The real Lincoln? You mean he wasn't the martyred American hero who freed the slaves and saved the Union established by the Founding Fathers? That wasn't the real Lincoln? No it wasn't, offers Thomas DiLorenzo in this worthwhile and readable book..."

Robert S. Griffin
The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 1 [14]
A review in the conservative National Review of DiLorenzo’s book isn't quite so kind as those above:
"To get an idea of how truly awful this book is, consider that its author sneers at what he calls some "pledge of allegiance to the central government." (He means, of course, the pledge of allegiance to the flag and "to the republic for which it stands.") This offhand remark epitomizes Thomas DiLorenzo's feckless treatment of his subject, Abraham Lincoln and his place in the American political tradition. We should, nevertheless, treat this shabby work seriously, because it offers an occasion for reflection on the place of Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence in contemporary conservatism -- which has been wary of both.

DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at Loyola College in Baltimore, claims to offer "a new look" at Lincoln, in contrast to the prevalent "myths" about him; but what he actually does is recycle the articulate pro-Confederate views of Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, Edgar Lee Masters, and Claude Bowers. He charges Lincoln with being a racist, a war criminal, and the decisive centralizer of the constitutional order and destroyer of American liberties.

In making the charge of racism, DiLorenzo sounds like an especially nasty liberal. He frequently distorts the meaning of the primary sources he cites, Lincoln most of all..."

Ken Masugi
Natonal Review, October 2002 [15]
As important as Lincoln historical revisionism is to the secessionist argument, the fact is that you won't find anyone but secessionists thinking that DiLorenzo's work is much more than junk history, and not at all entirely unlike, in its goal, the stuff that he cooked up for Big Tobacco in the past.

6 Comments:

At Saturday, February 10, 2007 at 6:17:00 PM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

Nope. Unfortunately I recently have been reading quite of few of his online essays, along with numerous postings he's made at a neo-Nazi messageboard. It's not likely that I'll be wasting my money on something that'll be just a flaky.

Here's a sample of something he recently wrote at a paleocon site, lewrockwell.com:

"I always suspected it was either the gay rights, the drug legalization, or the pro-choice movement that was responsible for 9/11. I'm glad D'Souza has apparently proven it in his new book." (on Dinesh D'Souza's "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11")

I've never read a Falwell book, either.

 
At Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 4:40:00 AM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

>>so I think you can see from this that DiLorenzo actually loathes the neo-cons including D'Souza and the comments that he made to his friend and colleague Thomas Wood were actually sarcastic...

btw - Lew Rockwell is a self-described paleo-libertarian not a paleo-conservative.

Patrick Buchanan is a paleo-conservative.<<

I am well aware that DiLorenzo despises neocons. He really can go on about it. I don't have a great deal of interest in paleo-hairsplitting though. Tomato, tomato. They're equally toxic. Thanks for posting, anyway.

 
At Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 8:24:00 AM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

If, as you say, you at SVR are so "squarely at odds with the likes of DiLorenzo," then why do you have him on your advisory board? I'm certainly not the only Vermonter who wonders what's up with that.

You've obviously read here and elsewhere about his seriously bigoted connections. I'm seeing a lot of bobbing and weaving, and stepping around the issue, as well as all sorts of deflections and answers to "charges" that haven't been made by anyone but the SVR insiders who are meaninglessly rebutting them but I wonder, frankly, what are you guys waiting for?

If you stand by his retention on the advisory board, why not just say so? This dialectic fan-dance in lieu of some direct answers isn't going to serve you so well, in my estimation. You certainly don't need to satisfy me or anyone else asking these questions and pointing out these facts, if that's how you want to handle it. But I think that's a mistake. That's only my low-brow, average kinda guy opinion.

Given the attention that SVR has managed to garner for it, I think secession is worthy of discussing. How much discussion? There may not be many people who'll want to be at that table if you persist in having people like DiLorenzo "advising" the discussion. A racist group as one of your primary site links? A convicted sales tax criminal who to this day still denies "do(ing) anything unlawful" and who has lost all appeals, writing in your publication on money matters? Don't you see any problems here at all?

 
At Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 11:15:00 PM EST , Blogger J.D. Ryan said...

Methinks begreener is a Free Stater, not a member of SVR. But I could be wrong.

 
At Monday, February 12, 2007 at 12:56:00 AM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

>>and that the SVR borrows from both the southern agrarian and catholic distributist analysis but we also borrow from mutualism, georgism, and bio-regionalism on the left that puts us squarely at odds with the likes of DiLorenzo<<

I just went by what he said, JD. My mistake. ;)

 
At Monday, February 19, 2007 at 9:11:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Williams wrote in his review:

> But Lincoln’s great genius in his own time was using the Civil War as bloody vehicle for solidifying the American System as the United States’ dominant economic model.

Right.

But as far as I know, Lincoln fought to preserve this economic model because the other one was based on slavery!

Although the economic system Lincoln preserved was by no means perfect, the vile oppresion and outright abuse of human beings for slave labor should not be tolerated in any way shape or form. OF COURSE it should be abolished and no country should accept that.

Call me innocent but am I right?

 

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