Restoring an organic Southern identity in a collapsing Empire
We Southern nationalists are few in number among those considered Southerners. However, we are sincere in our conviction that the South should be an independent nation. There is nothing to be gained from being a dissenter from the Empire except ostracism and condemnation. But Southern nationalist we are. What is it that consigns our movement to the fringe at the moment? I would say that there are two primary problems. First is the apparent strength of the Empire. Second is that many in the South think of themselves first as ‘Americans’ and then perhaps only on a lesser level as Southerners. In short, our primary problems are pragmatism and identity.
The problem of pragmatism stems from the fact that the great majority of our people have lives to live. There are jobs to work; businesses to run; families to provide for; children to raise; a faith life; and leisure activities to maintain balance. All are normal and healthy and not in the least bit blame worthy. At this time the Empire does not seriously impair those activities for the great majority of Southerners. Furthermore, considering the apparent strength of the Empire, it would be foolish to oppose it. But with the state of the economy and the over extension of the Empire we are soon approaching a crisis that will result in our people not being able to live their lives in the manner in which they have been accustomed. Pragmatism, because of its lack of principle, causes it to be a relatively short run problem. It will not be much longer that pragmatism, absent a total police state and having nearly run its course, will cease to be a problem.
Our greatest problem is that of identity. Many of our people think of themselves first and foremost as ‘American.’ Identity is inseparable from Nationalism and hence politics. I’m using identity here in its general sense. As a matter of autonomy inherent in human nature each of us will develop our own identity. Though heavily influenced by others, ultimately we either embrace that identity prepared for us by family or larger societal forces or reject it for an alternate identity. Interference with this autonomy through manipulation of identity by the placement of taboos or the placement of a stigma upon a particular form of identity is an effort to control the subject by manipulating his politics at the very root, because a man’s identity will determine his politics. There are many foundations for identity: history, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, geography, extended family, etc. But what is it that comprises an ‘American’ identity?
Because of the importance of identity upon politics the elements and how they should be weighed in the ‘American’ identity is in great dispute. Part of ‘American’ identity is based on history as you would expect. The various peoples living here have interacted and developed common customs. But, of course, ‘American’ identity is not based solely on history. First, many of the different peoples’ history have been quite antagonistic. Those antagonisms are well known and do not need elaboration. Also, undermining history as a basis for ‘American’ identity is the common belief that the United States is a ‘nation of immigrants’. Immigrants, particularly recent immigrants, share little history with people whose families have been here for centuries. Again there is no common history on which to base ‘American’ identity.
Christianity is considered by some, relatively few, as a basis of ‘American’ identity. There is some justification for this view in that until recent times the overwhelming majority of ‘Americans’ have professed Christianity as a basis of ‘American’ identity. But there is great diversity of creeds in ‘American’ Christianity, some of which have not always been respectful of the others. And there is thankfully no established Church in the United States. During the last couple of decades the Empire has purposefully brought tens of thousands of Muslims into the United States. Further, in recent times there has been increasing secularization in the broader society and a trend of disengagement in the culture within ‘American’ Christianity. The last few decades have seen the rise not merely of secularization but even organized antagonism to Christianity; therefore Christianity, though it may have once been an aspect of ‘American’ identity, cannot be considered so now.
Culture strongly correlates with history and religion. But with regards to both can it honestly be said that the United States has a common culture? Culturally there are antagonisms. Certainly many eat at the same fast food franchises, consume the same media, and have the same laws imposed upon them. But there are widely divergent moral values. Approximately half approve of homosexual ‘marriage’ and abortion while the other half rejects both. Many ‘Americans’ cannot speak English and see little reason to learn.
Though it is obvious and doesn’t have to be addressed, for the sake of thoroughness I’ll address it. It is only White nationalists who consider race to be an element of ‘American’ identity. At one time race was an element of ‘American’ identity but that is certainly no longer true for the overwhelming majority of ‘Americans.’ The United States is a multi-racial society and the very structures of its laws place a legal disadvantage on being white. Whites comprise approximately two-thirds of the population and are predicted to be ever less of the overall population.
If history, Christianity and race are not primary aspects of ‘American’ identity what is left? It is often said that ‘America’ is a propositional nation. Those propositions are democracy, pluralism, regulatory capitalism, tolerance, diversity, progress, ‘American exceptionalism,’ etc. There are others but that is a good basic list. Of course, individuals and groups put different emphasis on those different propositions. But more importantly, what happens if any of those propositions conflicts with another? What must happen is that one proposition must be sacrificed for one of the other propositions. At one time the rule of law was an important part of ‘American’ identity, but because it conflicted with tolerance and diversity it has been sacrificed or at least relegated to secondary importance. Personally, as a Christian I acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. The propositions that ‘American’ identity is based upon are neither the salvation nor hope of the world. It is a different gospel.
The problem with a propositional nation as a basis for identity is that it is incomplete at best and if forced to be a complete sense of identity becomes totalitarian. Politics ought to be a small part of life. Increasing the problematic nature of propositions as a basis of identity is that outside of a historical and cultural context they become little more than abstractions. As discussed earlier, historically and culturally there have been great antagonisms between groups in the United States and with the recent mass immigration there does not exist an agreed upon historical or cultural context. The propositions become mere abstractions subject to political manipulation. This incompleteness is why we see the rise of hyphenated ‘Americans’. There are African-Americans, European-Americans (some people actually use this appellation), Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and so forth. If ‘American’ were an all embracing identity then these further elaborations would not be necessary. This incompleteness of ‘American’ identity and the impulse for it to be a complete sense of identity is why we have seen the rise of political correctness and the phenomenon of ‘hate crimes,’ both of which demonstrate a tendency for totalitarianism in ‘America.’
There is one aspect of ‘America’ that causes many of our people to strongly identify with it. That is its apparent strength. People love a winner because vicariously when they identify with it then they become a winner. Southerners feel strong because they perceive the Empire as strong. They believe themselves virtuous because they believe the Empire to be virtuous. Their patriotism is based upon the superlative. They still believe ‘America’ to be the greatest, freest, wealthiest and most powerful country on Earth. As discussed in the pragmatism section soon the true nature of the Empire will become undeniable except for the most rabid ‘patriot’. It is ‘patriotism’ founded on a lie and will fail. In fact it will not surprise me to see many of those whose ‘patriotism’ was based on the superlative to become strongly anti-Empire.
The United States as we can see is a ‘propositional nation’ but what is the basis of Southern identity? The South in contrast to the United States is most definitely not a ‘propositional nation’. Those aspects of identity listed above that the United States lacks the South possesses. The South does have a shared history. The overwhelming majority of Southerners descend from ancestors who arrived prior to the American Revolution. There is simply not the scale of later immigration or the retention of distinct ethnic enclaves that will be found in the North. Additionally Southerners have a history that is far less antagonistic internally than what is found in other regions. Nearly all Southerners have ancestors who pioneered and settled the South, experienced the Revolution, and went through the War of Southern Independence and Reconstruction and the ensuing decades of Northern domination.
The South, unlike the United States, is Christian. It is not called the ‘Bible Belt’ for nothing. The South has the highest rates of attendance and membership across churches primarily in the Protestant traditions. The Social Gospel never gained a stronghold in the South, unlike the North. Certainly you’ll find un-churched Southerners just as you’ll find them in any Christian country. But the un-churched are not antagonistic against Christianity in the South. Additionally, I would argue that the secularism present in the South does not originate from the South but instead comes from outside the South.
Just as the South has a shared common history and in a broad sense is Christian, so can it also be affirmed that the South has a common culture. Besides being, broadly speaking, an outpost of the West, there are a number of ways in which the South is distinct. Traditionally, we have been an agrarian people. Most of us continue to live in small towns and maintain a connection to the land whether it is gardening or hunting and fishing. The South is a culture built on honour and shame. Politeness and manners continue to have a place in Southern culture. Southern hospitality continues, although at this point we are reeling under some of its negative consequences. Despite the inroads feminism has made into the United States the South still understands that the differences between men and women are complimentary and not antagonistic.
The role of race in identity these days has become a controversial subject, but we must not allow fear to rule our lives. Race is obviously a part of being a Southerner. It is not the only thing but it cannot be denied that it is an important part. This fact comes from two things. First, traditionally Whites have been dominant in Southern society. All recognise this though there is disagreement as to whether it was proper or not. It was Southern Whites who were political leaders, religious leaders, leaders in business and leaders in the arts. The second undeniable fact is that besides the honourable few, not many Blacks in the South self-identify as Southerners. We cannot force anyone to be a Southerner.
As stated earlier, the South is not a ‘propositional nation’ but the South does possess certain traditions. The difference is that the ideals of the South developed within a shared culture and history. They are not abstractions. The South’s major contribution to knowledge is in politics. Those traditions all elevate liberty within a social order as the ultimate political good. Our political tradition can be summed up as being counter-revolutionary. The constitution or structure of government must reflect the constitution or structure of society. Should government become revolutionary then it will remold society to suit its purposes or more specifically the purposes of the elites who dominate it. That was and is the genius of the South’s political tradition and it has long been in place, although it has never been followed perfectly and the acceptance of democracy in the 1830’s created later distortions. This is not the adhered- to proposition in the United States. The political philosophy of the United States is one of permanent revolution. It attacks the very roots of the West’s civil order (Christianity, private property, freedom of association, family, the rule of law and hierarchy) and elevates the inverse.
The differences between Southern identity and ‘American’ identity can best be demonstrated in the heroes of both. The ideal for the South is, I put to you, General Robert E Lee. He was a man who always put duty first and foremost. He was a man of great integrity and courage. If he had moral failures we do not know of them. He was a faithful husband and father and a devout Christian. He was a natural aristocrat but one who would not sell his honour for great wealth. Who does the United States hold up for its ideal? I put to you that there are two contenders: either Lincoln or King. Lincoln though an intelligent and eloquent man was always driven by ambition. Prior to his election as president he was a rail road attorney/lobbyist and quite a successful one at that. As president he engineered a war that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands including many civilians, a war that saw war crimes as policy and additionally he had a complete disregard of the Constitutional rights of US citizens. King was frankly a fraud. He was a man who claimed to be a Christian minister but was instead a known plagiarist and adulterer. He claimed to advocate non-violence yet endorsed the use of state violence for his own ends. It was not daisies that those National Guard troops carried. He claimed to want all to be judged on the ‘content of their character’ but in fact advocated discrimination against Whites.
Pragmatism in time will solve itself. But the South will not be free until enough people in the South are restored to a Southern identity. When the Empire collapses the ‘American’ identity will cease or be greatly reduced. The ‘American’ Empire is incapable of providing a sense of identity that can embrace the entire person. It is simply overbroad and attempts to encompass all men. To do so it must divorce concrete bases of identity in favour of abstractions. Ultimately those abstractions will show themselves false and totalitarian efforts must occur to maintain the force of identity based on those abstractions. To be an ‘American’ you have to embrace lies and become a lie yourself. The South in contrast offers an identity based on the real and authentic, a reality based on faith, family, history and culture. The Southern identity so interwoven with a love for liberty possesses vitality because it accepts and is open to God’s providence and His Grace.