Columnist Mark Vogl has a new article out entitled ‘Why Christianity is Central to the New South in the Modern World‘ which reads like a manifesto of sorts against Southern nationalists. Vogl makes several points which need to be addressed and refuted so that such thinking, being the very antithesis of genuine nationalism and the traditional Southern worldview, is rejected in Southern circles.
NATIONALISM VS UNIVERSALISM
Mr Vogl begins his article by pointing out something that every Southerner today is no doubt aware of – namely, that the South is full of non-Southerners. This, of course, is due in large part to the Immigration Act of 1965 (which opened up the doors to the Third World) as well as amnesties which US presidents such as Ronald Reagan bestowed upon illegal immigrants. In this respect, the South is in the same boat as most Western countries in that we have a declining native population and a rapidly expanding Third World population. Of course, these non-Southerners living in the South should not be confused as being Southern merely because of their present location. A Turk who lives in Germany is not a German. Neither is an Arab who lives in France a Frenchman. Nor is a Mexican who lives in Dixie a Southron. Nationality, based upon ethnicity and culture, is not something one can subscribe to like a book club. A nation is an extended family of people with a common background, culture, language, identity and shared sense of history. This stands in stark opposition to the sort of universalism which the United States promotes today, where anyone from anywhere may join the ‘American family’ and ‘enrich’ us, in the words of US President Obama. Quite obviously, what Obama is describing is not any sort of genuine nationalism at all – it is precisely the opposite of the views held by traditional Southerners.
LIMITED REPUBLIC vs DEMOCRACY
From there, Vogl adopts the linear-history rhetoric of Progressives and appears to address Southern nationalists (such as SNN, the League of the South and large numbers of our readers and friends):
What is worrisome for me is that as I observe the various leaders and components in the Southern movement I see things which could propel the South back a thousand years. Though some critics of the present point to the liberals’ goal to create Utopia, a place of perfection where the liberal priorities end in perfect equality and distribution of wealth, I would submit that some conservatives look for a Utopia of conservatism where their parochial concerns and views are dominant, enforced through a system of nobility or some other fascism with no foundation in the will of the people.
There are many troubling things in this paragraph. One minor point is that Dixie didn’t exist a thousand years ago (it developed from the English colonies created in the 1600s) so there is no way it could be set back to such a point. But beyond this obvious note about the past, what is the future point Mr Vogl anticipates? Notice how he describes our concern for the survival of our people and culture (the two things which combine to form the essence of any genuine nationality) as ‘parochial,’ precisely as Progressives would. Also, notice how Vogl equate a system of nobility (which was an informal, social system in the traditional South) with ‘fascism’ and opposes our ideas because we very clearly reject democracy. Of course, genuine fascists rejected the traditional system of nobility of Old Europe and sought to organise the masses under a centralised, totalitarian state to fight communism. I have no desire to delve into a detailed description of fascism (a subject which I have studied at length) but this use of the words such as fascism, socialism and communism as slurs (which is sadly common in US political discourse) rather than names of definable political systems is anti-intellectual and unfortunate. Needless to say, anyone who has ever studied Southern history knows that fascism has never been popular in our land and today the advocates of such an ideology remain very few in number and restricted to the margins of society. I am unaware of any Southern nationalist organisation that is truly fascist. As for democracy, traditionally Southerners understood the dangers it posed to society and kept it at bay by limiting the franchise (until the Federal Government violently intervened in the 1960s to squash Southern home rule and removed our limitations on the franchise). The great Southern statesman Robert Barnwell Rhett summed up Dixie’s traditional aversion to democracy:
Universal suffrage will give those who have no property, the absolute control of the property and legislation of the country… in all its horrors… the despotism of numbers may be the most terrible that can scourge a fallen people.
NATURAL ORDER vs EQUALITY
Vogl then goes on to argue that Christianity is central to Southern identity and society and should be the foundation of a future free South. The writer will get no argument from me on this point. Most Southerners do identify with Christianity, though sadly the form most dominant in the South today is a Dispensationalism that is in fact new and very different from traditional Christian theology. It’s also true that the South was until the 1820s or so more secular than theocratic New England, but all that changed during the Second Great Awakening when a newer, more emotional form of Christianity became popular with many Southerners. Today, it is certainly true that Christianity has an important place in Southern identity and society and this is reflected in Southern nationalist organisations such as the League of the South, which says on its website: ‘Most League members are Christians, and we base our movement on Christian principles. Trinitarian Christianity can not be separated or removed from Southern society or culture without both ceasing to be Southern.’
Unfortunately, Mr Vogl is not content with advocating Christianity as being important to Southern identity and culture, but attempts to use the religion to promote his political goal of equality. He writes:
Because Christians believe God is in each person it forces one to consider that whatever one does to another, he does to God, and must therefore face His wrath should those actions be based in sin or a lack of equality in terms of politics.
… [I]f we accept that God is in each person and that God gave each man his liberty and his political equality with all others, and then let us embrace the form of government created by the Southern patriots. Let us recognize equality for all people….
This is a reoccuring theme with Mr Vogl and one we have already discussed at length with him (see here and here). Notice that this part of his article sounds more like the rhetoric of Quaker abolitionists or New England Unitarians than it does anything that could be found, for instance, in Thomas Aquinas’ the Summa (click here for an excellent summary of the Summa in audio form). As we have noted before in responding to Vogl’s calls to associate the Southern movement with equality, the iron law of nature is inequality. No two living creatures are equal. No two groups of living beings are equal. The traditional South has never embraced political equality and has violently resisted on multiple occasions attempts by outsiders to impose their egalitarian fantasies and ideology upon us. Leonidas Spratt, secession commissioner from South Carolina to Florida in early January of 1861, noted that this was one of the major differences between Yankee (Enlightenment-based) civilisation and Southern (classical-based) civilisation: ‘The one embodies the social principle that equality is the right of man; the other, the social principle that equality is not the right of man, but the right of equals only.’ Any political system which treats unequal people as if they were equals is unjust. From a Christian point of view, any attempt to equate the Creator of the natural universe with equality and claim that He who created the natural order of all things is in favour of eliminating that order and imposing equality is nonsense. This is not traditional Christianity. It is not a traditional Southern point of view.
To summarise, I do not doubt that Mark Vogl means well and believes that he is promoting what is best for the South and the Southern movement. However, the values that Mr Vogl are advancing are anathema to the traditional South. Ours is not a Progressive civilisation based upon universalism, democracy and equality – quite the opposite. Ours is a classical civilisation built by an organic national community and based upon natural law, inequality and a traditional order. The ideology that Mr Vogl is advancing is not new. We can find similar sentiments in the French Revolution, New England abolitionist societies and later in the rhetoric of radicals from the 1950s and 60s. Such views were put into practice in Revolutionary France and resulted in great horror and destruction. More recently, these values were inflicted upon South West Africa, Rhodesia and South Africa, with disastrous results in each case. When brought to multi-national societies (which would unfortunately have to include our own society today) where Third World and First World populations lived side by side, the ideas that Mr Vogl is promoting resulted in chaos, destruction, poverty and eventually slaughter. Once thriving societies (as we have written about in the case of Haiti and Guadaloupe) were destroyed. Indeed, if we look to our major cities and even some of our small towns around the South today we see what democracy and equality have brought upon us. Areas of Atlanta, Birmingham, Columbia, New Orleans, etc. are no longer part of the civilised world. We see everywhere an ongoing process in which neighbourhoods and eventually whole cities are surrendered; people flee to the suburbs and there are forced to rebuild the city only to have the process play out all over again as they flee to rebuild once again. Look at the suburbs that ring our ruined city centres and you can see one of the results of democracy and equality. Our Southern ancestors only two generations ago would have rightly thought this cycle of chaos, surrender and destruction to be utter madness. This is just one of the negative results of universalism, democracy and equality; we could easily dive into a whole list of unfortunate results but that would make this article entirely too long. If people elsewhere in the United States wish to continue the present experiment with universalism, democracy and equality, let them do so – and let them suffer the inevitable consequences. However, let us in the Southern movement not buy into the folly of such ideas. We have a more healthy tradition to fall back upon in order to rebuild the South. Once free from the Federal Government, we can again make the South a thriving, stable home for the Southern people.