Ross Douthat points to an interesting question by John Derbyshire on Korea: why don’t the South Koreans go to war on behalf of their miserable fellow Koreans in the North? Would the U.S., he asked, have stood by had an independent CSA sunk into a similar state?
Speaking of impolitic thoughts, a more interesting counterfactual scenario for me would be whether the CSA, had the Confederacy successfully broken away, would have felt obliged someday to intervene to deliver the miserable Yankees from the yoke of consolidation, wage slavery and corporate corruption. But then intervening in other people’s business for their own good is always such a Yankee thing to do that I doubt it would ever cross their minds. One suspects that the Yankees for their part would have intervened in their neighbour’s affairs regardless of how well or poorly the people there were doing; they would intervene because that is simply what they seem to like to do.
Which reminds me of a great quote from the character of the Southern landowner in Ride With the Devil, Ang Lee’s superb drama of the War of Secession in Missouri:
Before they [the Yankees] built that church they built that schoolhouse. They rounded every pup into that schoolhouse because they fancied that everyone should think and talk the same freethinking way they do, with no regard to station, custom, propriety. And that is why they will win. Because they believe everyone should live and think just like them. And we shall lose because we don’t care one way or another how they live. We just worry about ourselves.