Metamorphing Lincoln

Metamorphing Lincoln

The original intent was to get this out on President’s Day but it snuck up on me. Then I thought I’d do it for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday which I’ve incorrectly believed to be the 22nd for years now. Yes, that’s Washington’s birthday. I know that now. I’m already sufficiently embarrassed but go ahead and make fun of me for it in the comments. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I didn’t quite finish it yesterday before I had to take off for some volunteer work I had been scheduled for. So here it is late enough to seem completely off topic.

Excerpts from Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address

First Lincoln attempts to ease the minds of secessionists by insisting that he’s no threat to the institution of slavery in the U.S.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

And a little further down–

I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.
In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.

An excerpt from his second inaugural address during which he talks about how God must be on the side of the North due to slavery even though the North still has slaves themselves, just not as many

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.

Discussion (36)¬

  1. Cassidy N. says:

    Thanks for this one, Dale. Better late than never. The lesson of Lincoln was one of the most important ones I learned when I moved here. The first time I heard someone say a disagreeing word about Lincoln, I was very confused. But after listening, and banishing the public school propaganda, it all made sense.
    Just one little step on the road to personal sovereignty, and I hope this cartoon can spread beyond the realm of New Hampshire and make some people do some research.

  2. Aeon135 says:

    theres a link at the sode of this page “vote for palin 2012?” dear oh dear!
    while i’m here…
    Dale, how do you think anarcho capitalism should come about?
    do you consider criticizing other branchs of anarchism?

  3. Puke says:

    Hilarious as always. I want to see this cartoon in textbooks!

  4. Dale says:

    @Aeon, I think I need to answer your 2nd question first. I don’t really buy into the extensions to anarchism or libertarianism, capitalist, socialist, communist, etc. I tolerate all kinds of them and chalk it up to preferences for what people value, but I find them kind of annoying.

    And as for how I think anarchy will come about, since I see it as a state of mind* of the individual, I think it comes about when a person’s illusions about statism are dispelled and they take a rational approach to human interaction, particularly dispute resolution.

    * Hence Anarchy In Your Head

  5. Less Antman says:


    I’m not Dale, of course, but I doubt he can provide a blueprint for getting to a future society that operates without central planning. If he could, that would be a heck of a good argument in favor of central planning!

    But if I may be even more presumptuous, the idea of Anarchy In Your Head is that everyone who accepts the basic anarchist principle that other people are not their property will be a part of the process of changing institutions and relationships in society, whether or not they intend it. As mutual respect grows, institutions that are inconsistent with that will weaken and fail, while institutions that support the idea will strengthen and succeed.

    I also think that’s the answer to anarcho-capitalist vs anarcho-communist dispute over property rights. Property rights will arise when they aid social peace and cooperation and fail when they hinder them.

  6. Less Antman says:

    Sorry, Dale: you posted while I was writing. Looks like I guessed reasonably well.

  7. Kurt says:

    Dude, you are da schiz! I think you hit the nail on the head.

  8. Calpurnia says:

    What is this pulsing blue object that hurts my eyes so? Aaaah, it’s ANIMATION in an AIYH comic! Aieeeee!

  9. geniusiknowit says:

    One of your best ever.

  10. Pat K says:

    Nice Dale.

    As a man from Georgia once told me.
    “My great gran daddy was not shooting
    Yankee’s over slaves, he did not own any slaves.
    He was shooting Yankee’s cause Yankee’s were in his yard!”

  11. Core says:

    Very interesting. I normally learn something new when I view this comic.

  12. Core says:

    @Pat K

  13. Core says:

    @Pat K

    That’s pretty funny. I liked it.

  14. MaineShark says:

    @Less Antman:

    All rights are property rights. Or, rather, all rights are facets of the single property right: self-ownership.

    Property rights aren’t a convenience that can come and go as needed. They are the basis of all liberty. Those who disbelieve in property rights, disbelieve in all rights. They come up with privileges conferred by some outside entity (eg, “the collective”), and pretend that’s the same thing.

  15. Lord Metroid says:

    Alright, lets say that you are right, as we both know rights are a concept humans inbetween. How do you property rights be established?

  16. MaineShark says:

    If you could go ahead and translate that to English, I’ll be happy to respond. But I’m really not at all certain what you’re asking.

  17. Lord Metroid says:

    @MainShark, have a little bit of imagination.
    How do you envision property rights to be established?

  18. Less Antman says:


    It is possible for self-owners to have a coherent system for dispute resolution that isn’t based on assigning title over every external object. Alternation (you got the car last night, so I get it tonight) is coherent. Consensus (we don’t cut down the tree if anyone objects) is coherent. Mutualism (use it or lose it) is coherent. Utlimately, property rights developed because they were effective problem solvers, and they aren’t ALWAYS the most effective problem solvers (witness the absurdity of intellectual property in the age of the Internet), or even necessary (hey, do you have title to the air molecules you just breathed in?).

    And even if it were true that all rights could be described in terms of property rights, that doesn’t settle matters. Anarcho-communists DO, in fact, believe in property rights: even the assertion PROPERTY IS THEFT is meaningless in the absence of a theory of property rights (theft implies another legitimate owner).

    The main difference between anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists can be explained as a disagreement over the “stickiness” of ownership. Cappies and commies agree that a user homesteads property, but commies believe that a person who stops using property has abandoned it, thereby placing it back into a state of nature for the next person to homestead. Cappies allow for a much longer period of non-use prior to the assertion of abandonment, but still acknowledge that principle.

    And how do we decide when a person’s behavior has indicated abandonment? Custom and expectations in a community. We recognize the validity of many different rules as to abandonment that differ from state to state, because the rules themselves change expectations. Nothing in theory resolves whether the length of time for abandonment is 3 seconds, 3 days, 3 years, or 3 decades. The cutoff point is based, purely and simply, on the expectations of a reasonable person in the context of the particular case. And there are gray areas.

    Which is why I believe that the differences between anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists do not mean eternal enmity, so long as the “anarcho” part of their identities is the stronger one. Polycentric law is polycentric law, and we no more need uniformity for a peaceful world than I need to resolve with my British friends whether we are all obliged to drive on the right side of the road or the left side of the road.

    There may be capitalists who fit the caricature of the property dictator who believes he is judge, jury, and executioner over anyone who steps onto HIS property, including the person whose property he has completely surrounded with his own, and there may be communists who fit the caricature of the guy who claims you abandoned your home when you left to go to work that day, but I’ve never met either. Sane people know that reasonable expectations guide behavior and that those expectations are not set in nature, but in custom and expectations from past dealings, even among people who universally recognize the right of self-ownership.

    At least, that’s the way I interpret Dale’s cartoon about Lincoln. ;)

  19. Matt says:

    Less antman, i thought the description you gave for commies(assuming these people are peaceful) was a description of mutualism. While I always thought Anarcho-syndicalism, was unions controlled means of production, but could own other things, and i thought anarhco-communism was everything was communally owned(or could possibly) and anything needed for the general public or a means of production would be collectively owned. Thus in all likelihood you could own and paint with you brush, but if they needed your wooden brush for firewood then they could own what was your brush.

  20. Less Antman says:


    Your point is well taken. My experience with self-described anarcho-communists in the real world is that they accept ownership by possession and would not dispossess the painter of his brush. Maybe a sincere commitment to anarchy does, in the real world, move communists to the mutualist camp: that might well be my point. I also think a commitment to anarchy, in the real world, moves capitalists away from extreme propertarianism on issues such as intellectual property, common pool resources, and roads.

    I found the discussion of “Anarcho-Communists for Private Property” at the Austro-Athenian Empire to be very much to the point of my post. The arguments of db0, both on the AAE blog and in the linked article on his own site, struck me the same was they did Roderick Long, as a basis for reconciliation on property, even among people insisting there could be none. See

    Also, Bryan Caplan’s discussion of the areas controlled by the Spanish Anarchists seemed to suggest that, in practice, anarcho-communists always ended up either abandoning their anarchism or abandoning their communism.

    My view is that people committed to anarchism (self-ownership, individual autonomy, mutual respect, or however you prefer to express it) will resolve their disputes using theories of property when useful and other methods when it is not useful. Most importantly, I don’t believe we’ll end up with one property system for the world, but that custom and expectations will produce different systems based on local conditions. Just as Hayek would have wanted. ;)

  21. MaineShark says:

    @Lord Metroid: Property rights exist as a matter of nature, like gravity. No one “establishes” them.

    @Less Antman: How some particular individuals choose to solve disputes has nothing to do with property rights (other than that they must respect property rights). If you and I have some dispute, we can settle it in any mutually-agreeable manner.

    Abandonment exists only when there is intent to abandon. Taking a vacation for a day or a week or a month or a year doesn’t constitute abandonment of your house; you have intent to return. Putting trash out at the corner is abandonment, because it demonstrates the intent to abandon.

    Anyway, anarchy doesn’t come in flavors. If you believe that you can violate someone’s self-ownership (whether it’s “to make a buck,” or “for the greater good”), you’re not an anarchist of any sort.

  22. db0 says:

    @Less Antman: Have you seen my reply to AAE? In there, I explain why there can be no reconciliation. As for the Spanish Anarchists, the voluntarily collectivization of villages that happened goes against what you claim. It didn’t require them to discard either their communism or their anarchism.

    However I agree that people in different parts of the world after a potential international revolutionary movement, will choose their own ownership systems that work for their ideologies and temprament but as long as they use private property as their basis, it won’t be anarchism.

  23. Lord Metroid says:

    @MaineShark: What are you talking about, property rights do not exists as a matter of nature. If you really believe so, please explain to me what a property right is.

    I have always believed that property rights are agreements between people that establishes concepts and a framework for the common good of a more peaceful and productive society. From which one can derive from what people own and who was at fault when conflicts do occur.

  24. MaineShark says:

    Self-ownership is logically-derived. It’s like prime numbers - immutable aspects of the laws of logic. The derivation is too long to fit into a comment section on a cartoon, but I’m sure you can look it up.

    All other rights are merely aspects of self-ownership. If you own yourself, you have the right to use that self-ownership to create property by homesteading unowned matter, or to trade goods in your possession with another, or do absolutely anything else that does not violate the self-ownership of another.

    All rights are property rights, starting with ownership of self. That absolute private property right is all there is. All other rights are just aspects thereof.

  25. Less Antman says:

    @ MaineShark

    And who judges intent? Doesn’t the prevalence of “reasonable person” standards in common law demonstrate that the application of anarchism to different circumstances depends on custom and expectations? Even if there is one type of anarchy, based on self-ownership, there is surely not only one type of contract between those self-owners.

    Two anarchists who respect each other’s self-ownership will resolve all disputes by agreement or by agreeing to third party arbitration. ESPECIALLY if you believe all rights are property rights, arguing that disputes should be decided by the property owner begs the entire question.

  26. Less Antman says:


    Yes, I read it, and I’ve been a subscriber to your feed ever since the AAE blog post to which I referred. You’ll notice my post here acknowledged your insistence that reconciliation isn’t possible. Perhaps others will be persuaded, and I hope they’ll click on the link you provided.

    We view the lessons of Spanish anarchism differently: people should read Bryan Caplan’s analysis and the various rebuttals from anarcho-communists and then come to their own conclusions.

    A private property regime is entirely consistent with anarchism if (a) enforced by reputation systems, ostracism, and, boycott, or (b) violent enforcement only follows arbitration which is selected by the disputants or a refusal to arbitrate, rather than being based on a claim of territorial jurisdiction by one side that is not acknowledged by the other. I agree that some forms of absolute propertarianism are not anarchistic, but believe your analysis fails to acknowledge Lockeans with more nuanced views (such as Long and Chartier).

  27. Less Antman says:

    @ Dale

    Please accept my apology for unintentionally hijacking this thread with the final paragraph of my original post. I considered not responding to the challenges I inspired, but it didn’t feel right to ignore them. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

  28. This succinctly sums up Lincoln. Not quite what the public schools teach now is it. Why do we worship our dictators so?

  29. db0 says:

    @Less Antman: Fair enough, I got the impression from your post that you hadn’t read my follow-up post.

    I might be hijacking this discussion but I have to insist that PP is not compatible with anarchism, even when accepted voluntarily, because it leads directly to situations of wage-slavery and landlording which are by themselves incompatible with anarchism which requires no rulers. That necesitates the absence of bosses and landlords.

  30. MaineShark says:

    @Less Antman: How a perfect logical philosophy gets applied to an imperfect world is a separate issue from the philosophy, itself. Intent is what matters, in the case described. The actual guilt or innocence of an individual is based upon that. Whether an outside observer can ascertain the truth of the matter is an important -but distinct- issue. Individuals and societies will find various ways to work out disputes. Sometimes they will make mistakes. Ends don’t justify means, but bad ends will negate the best of means. If individuals and societies are at least working towards good ends, they won’t have their methods immediately negated the way they do when they work towards evil ends (like statism), even if they were to use the best of methods.

    @db0: No voluntary interaction can possible me incompatible with anarchism. Once you try and mandate how others are allowed to voluntarily associate, you’re a Statist. I have no interest in being a cog in some mega-corporation, but if someone else does, that’s his free choice. If you will stop him, you cannot possibly be an anarchist.

  31. db0 says:

    MaineShark, just because I oppose something does not mean that I wish to violently prevent people from doing it. That’s a very black&white perspective and pure rhetoric.

    And no, just because something is voluntary does not make it anarchistic. Anarchism is more than just voluntaryism.

  32. Dale says:

    Guys, this back and forth has gotten way off topic for this subject. Could you perhaps pick a forum and start a thread and then post a link to the thread here for anyone that wants to follow the discussion? Alternatively continue the conversation on another comic where it’s more relevant to the comic or the blog post and link it from here. It’s just that it appears it’s going to be getting rather drawn out and it might be better targeted than here.

  33. DinnerBoi says:

    @3rd panel: I knew it.

  34. Pridiot says:

    By March of ‘65 he could say whatever the hell he wanted against the south. and slavery. That he would speak so mutedly as he did is what amazes me.