On Monday 22 October 2012 I was invited to speak to the Statesboro, Georgia League of the South. Below is a transcript, the audio (mp3) and a video of my presentation, entitled ‘Status Quo Conservatism and Southern Nationalism.’
Click here for the audio (duration: 32:31)
Last time when I was here and spoke to the Statesboro, Georgia League of the South, I gave you a tool to defend yourself in advancing our goals. That tool was the terms ‘anti-White’ and ‘anti-Southern.’ And I gave you a mantra which you could use to defend yourself, the last part of which is: ‘Anti-racist is just a code word for anti-White.’ I hope you have been using these tools and that they have made you more effective Southern nationalist advocates. I have been using them every day and I’ve found them to be very powerful tools. I’ve also noticed that Dr Michael Hill, the president of the League, is using them, along with many other Southern nationalists.
Today, I want to again give you something else to make you more effective Southern nationalist advocates. However, it’s not a phrase or a mantra that I want to give you; it’s a perspective and understanding of our tradition.
I’d like to begin by sharing with you a very short quote from Professor Alexander Dugin’s recent book, The Fourth Political Theory. Professor Dugin is not a Southerner but he is an ally and a fascinating man and someone whose work and message mesh extremely well with Southern nationalism. He writes here about what he calls ‘status quo conservatism’ or ‘liberal conservatism’ and I think this perfectly describes the sort of conservatism that has such a grip on most Southerners today. He writes:
‘It is liberal because it says “yes” to the main trend that is realised in modernity. But at each stage of this trend it attempts to step on the brakes: “Let’s go slower, let’s not do that now, let’s postpone that. …[I]t is good that there is the free individual, but this free post-individual, that’s a little too much.’
Dugin goes on to say that status quo or liberal conservatives are in ‘agreement with the general trends of modernity, but disagreement with its more avant-garde manifestations, which seem excessively dangerous and unhealthy.’
A bit later Dugin writes that ‘liberal conservatism principally does not protest against those tendencies which constitute the essence of modernity and even postmodernity….’
I think that professor Dugin is right.
It’s typical in the US media and US educational system to portray the United States as divided politically between liberals and conservatives, with the North being predominantly liberal and the South being predominantly conservative. Many Southern nationalists, or people who believe that they are Southern nationalists, use this same analysis and language. US liberals and conservatives are seen as political enemies, as opposites, each with their own ideology.
However, Professor Dugin makes the point that really they agree on their underlying principles (such as democracy, equality, universalism, globalism, human rights, and so forth). US liberals represent the more aggressive form of this belief system while conservatives a slightly more restrained version of it, arguing for the liberal status quo of America. They both fully accept Modernity and the worldview that grew out of the Enlightenment (which Dr Hill has said should really be known as the Endarkenment). Alabama Governor George Wallace famously said of the two US parties which represent these Modernist, liberal ideologies, ‘There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them.’At the core of these political labels, Wallace was right.
Because we Southern nationalists are pro-Southern and obviously against US liberalism, it’s common to portray us as conservatives. I frequently hear Southern advocates describe themselves as conservative. What I want to do is demonstrate that Southern nationalists are not conservatives and never have been at any point in the history of our tradition. This is important because it distinguishes our tradition; it carves out a unique position for us in the political landscape.
Typically these days you will hear US conservatives, even many Southern conservatives, pining for the days of George W Bush. For many younger people in particular who came of age in the Bush years – as well as many older folks with a very short-term memory and political perspective (and that is one of the things that defines US politics in general) -Bush IS conservatism. If you are against Obama and the liberals you MUST be FOR Bush, right? Are we Southern nationalists George Bush fans or supporters? Of course not. Though we are few in number right now, there was no more consistent voice against George W Bush and the Republicans across the political landscape in the United States than we Southern nationalists. We were far more consistently critical of him than US liberals. Consider just three of Bush’s policies which were anti-Southern and which we protested. In 2006, he signed a 25 year extension to a part of the Voting Rights Act which requires Southern States to get approval from the Federal Government before they can change the way their voting districts are drawn up (several Southern States are now challenging this in the US Supreme Court). This is just one of many ways that the South is treated differently by the US Federal Government from other regions of the US. Bush strongly supported this anti-Southern legislation, as did most Republicans, self-described ‘conservatives’. Obviously, Southern nationalists opposed this. Bush also started needless foreign wars. And who did the fighting and dying in those wars? Disproportionately it was Southerners, who unfortunately make up a massive portion of the US military. Fighting wars to make the Arab world safe for democracy (or at least safe for US oil companies and safe for the Likud Party and AIPAC) is not something that Southern nationalists supported. We certainly didn’t want our young people sent around the world to fight in George Bush’s wars. Bush and the conservatives were also very strong supporters of Third World immigration, which is displacing Southerners in many parts of Dixie. This was a part of Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ in which he attempted to gain the votes of Third World immigrants. There is probably no issue that Southern nationalists are more passionate about than stopping the ongoing genocide of our people (and that is exactly what it is under international law; the purposeful replacement of one ethnic, cultural, racial or religious group with another is genocide). George Bush and the conservatives think it’s great. Southern nationalists were not conservatives during the George Bush years.
If conservatives are not pining for George W Bush, they are typically invoking the glory days of Ronald Reagan. Rush Limbaugh does this pretty much every single day on the radio. Conservatives often look back on the Reagan years as sort of a Golden Age of conservatism. This is the same Ronald Reagan who signed the Martin Luther King Jr Day into law as a Federal Holiday over the objection of Southerners. This is the same Ronald Reagan who put sanctions on the Afrikaner government of South Africa, ultimately leading to the downfall of that government and the rule of South Africa by the ANC – a communist and anti-White terrorist group, and the ongoing genocide of White Christians in that country. A stable, advanced Western country with values far more traditionalist than USA was destroyed – in part because of the actions of Ronald Reagan. This is the same Ronald Reagan who gave amnesty to two million illegal aliens, equaling the recent amnesty of Barack Obama. And what of the South then? Was the South free in the 1980s? Were we able to control our own immigration policies? Were we even treated equal to other States in this so-called Union? No. We were not. Southern nationalists were not conservatives during the Ronald Reagan era.
Let’s go back a little further. George Wallace was a popular Southern conservative in the 1960s and 70s. He won several Southern States when he ran for US president. He won every county in Florida, actually – which shows you the extent to which Southerners in Florida have been replaced since the early 70s since today Florida is evenly divided between supporting the likes of Obama and Romney. There’s lots of good things we could say about Wallace. He was pro-Southern. He used our symbols. He quoted our great historical figures. He attempted to defy the US Federal Government’s take-over of our educational system. But, as good as Wallace seems compared to the likes of Obama, Romney, George Bush and Ronald Reagan, he was not a Southern nationalist. He was a conservative. He wanted to maintain the status quo in the South. Was the South then free? Could we control our immigration policies? Did we have our own media? Were Southern soldiers controlled by a Southern government which used them to defend Southerners? No. They were not. The media then was even more controlled than it is today and was entirely anti-Southern and anti-White. There was a major war going on in Vietnam in which thousands of Southerners were being killed for a cause that had nothing to do with defending Dixie. Additionally, several years earlier, the US immigration laws had been changed to open up US borders – and the South – to millions of Third World immigrants. Southern nationalists were not conservatives during the George Wallace era.
Let’s go back further still to the Dixiecrats era. It was 1948 and these were Southern conservatives led by Strom Thurmond who opposed Federal intervention in Southern society. They wanted to maintain the status quo of that era. They were openly pro-South. They used our symbolism. Just as with Wallace, there are a lot of positive things we can say about them. Thurmond won four Lower South States (plus a single electoral vote from Tennessee) that year in the US presidential race. But again, was the South free? Sure, the immigration system was far better back then. Demographically, the South was in a vastly superior position than we are today. But just a couple years earlier WWII had ended – a war in which tens of thousands of Southerners were sent around the planet to fight and die for the United States Government. This had nothing to do with defending Dixie. The media and economy of the South then was centrally-planned and controlled by Federal authorities who were no friends of the South. We had massive unemployment and economic suffering in the South – even people starving in a land as fertile as ours – because of the awful economic, fiscal and political policies forced on us by Washington, DC. Southern nationalists were not conservatives in the Dixiecrats era.
How about if we go back 72 years before that to 1876, the year that Reconstruction was ended in the South and the Federal army which had been occupying our people was withdrawn and the occupational governments and disenfranchisement of White Southerners was ended? This was the year that in South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana White Southerners retook power. In South Carolina they were led by a hero of mine, Wade Hampton. He was a former Confederate General. A hold-over from the Old South. I could stand here and laud Wade Hampton, the Red Shirts and the anti-Reconstruction forces of the South all evening, but let me ask you, was the South free? No, we were permitted a small measure of autonomy, that is all. Our cities were in ruins, having recently been burned down by the United States military. Hundreds of thousands of our people were dead, having been killed by the United States military. The South was a conquered land. Robert Barnwell Rhett, my greatest hero, died that year of cancer. He had been the leading Southern nationalist in all of Dixie since 1828. On his death bed he wrote about how Southerners should refuse to cooperate with our conquerors and not help them put chains on our own limbs. He noted that they had the power to force us to comply with their demands, and that we should make them force us. Rhett said that this would create a revolutionary atmosphere and encourage resistance in the South, and after thirty years of rebuilding, he predicted, the South would rise up and throw off US rule and again be free. Rhett wrote in his memoir: ‘The people of the reunited States – South and North – are the heaviest taxed civilized People in the world; and their Government, one of the most despotic and corrupt, staining its annals. Does not hypocrisy and contempt, usually go together? And will the echoes of Revolution throughout the land ever die away, until the South is independent; or the South is free?’ Unfortunately, most Southerners did not take Rhett’s advice. Southern nationalists were not conservatives in 1876.
How about if we go back to 1861. Surely, some people will say, Southern nationalists were conservatives then, right? After all, the South was independent. Actually, the Fire-Eaters, those Southern nationalist leaders such as Rhett, Yancey and Ruffin who had worked for decades to make the South free, were largely cast aside in 1860. Rhett went from being a celebrity very briefly in the winter of 1860, his life’s dream of an independent South becoming a reality, to being a marginalised and bitter critic of the Confederate Government a few months later. The same, to a lesser extent, was true of Yancey and other Southern nationalists. The men who had convinced the South of the necessity of independence were pushed aside and the reins of the new Confederacy were given to moderates and conservatives such as Jefferson Davis, who had opposed secession or only recently come to accept it after it was all but inevitable because of popular opinion in the South. Southern nationalists did all they could to ensure the South prevailed in the military conflict forced upon it by the US invasion, but they fought daily against the conservative Davis Administration on everything from trade policy to military plans to even the symbols which were chosen to represent the independent South. Notice that the capital of the Confederacy was placed as close as possible to capital of the USA. Notice that the flag of the Confederacy – the first national Confederate flag – was a slightly modified version of the US flag. Notice that George Washington, the first president of the USA, was put at the centre of the Confederate seal. Notice that the Confederate Constitution was almost a carbon copy of the US Constitution, with minor changes. Southern nationalists were not conservatives in 1861.
Quickly, let’s go way back to 1828. The South was a wealthy, confident land then. The US Federal Government was a miniscule nuisance compared to what it would become decades later, much less in the modern era. Were Southern nationalists conservatives then? The South was locked in a bitter dispute with the North over tariffs which taxed Southerners to build internal improvements mostly in Northern States. This tariff protected Northern industry by artificially raising the prices on goods purchased by Southerners. Our region was far wealthier than the North, but even Southern conservatives like John C Calhoun, who opposed secession, compared Southerners to slaves, toiling away for the benefit of Northerners. Nor was the South able to expand in equal proportions to the North, ensuring that eventually our people would be at a disadvantage in the US Senate and US presidential races. Robert Barnwell Rhett and a few other Southern nationalists, mostly centred in the South Carolina Lowcountry around Beaufort and Charleston, pushed for Southern independence. They did their best to convince Southerners of the folly of staying in a Union such as the United States where Southern interests were pushed aside in favour of Northern interests. Southern nationalists also pointed out then that they were locked in a Union with people prone to fanaticism who took up one social crusade after another. And they were right. This fanaticism grew from the values of Modernity that came out of the Enlightenment, which Southern nationalists (and even Southern conservatives of that era) rejected. A few years later the USA showed its true colours, pushing through a Force Bill which gave the Feds power to use military force against Southerners to collect their tariff. This prompted Robert Barnwell Rhett to say, ‘‘Do you tell me of “Union,” when I have seen the cannon of ships and fortresses pointed at your towns, and the insolent soldiery of an angry tyrant lording it in your streets? …I can not love, I will not praise that which, under the abused names of Union and liberty, attempts to inflict upon us every thing that can curse and enslave the land.’No. Southern nationalists were not conservatives in 1828.
Let’s look back at the establishment of the US Constitution, which conservatives today practically worship and revere above all else. Southern patriots of that era such as Patrick Henry said they smelled a rat in the US Constitution – a document which has been called ‘Hamilton’s coup’ or ‘Hamilton’s curse’ (see Dr Thomas DiLorenzo’s book on this subject). The US Constitution centralised power in the Federal Government to a much greater extent than did the first US Constitution – the Articles of Confederation. The Articles were hated by Northern industry and finance because they were not sufficient to create a centralised state. We have seen what Henry’s ‘rat’ has led to today. As some of my libertarian friends have pointed out, the US Constitution either created the mess we have today or was unable to stop it. Either way, it’s a failure. Even in those early years of the USA, just after the US Constitution was passed, Southern nationalists were not conservatives.
One final point, and this is something I am researching now for a book project I am beginning, the American Revolution itself, celebrated by those across the political spectrum from Left to Right, could be seen as an anti-Southern movement. It severed the mainland South from the plantation societies of the Caribbean – one of which, Barbados, had colonised the Lower South at Charleston in 1670. This division of what Southerners in nineteenth century called ‘The Golden Circle‘ doomed both the mainland plantation societies of the Southern States and the Caribbean plantation colonial societies (which shared a common culture and social structure for the most part) to destruction in the long run. This is a point I’d be happy to come back and talk with you about another time.
As you can see, from the foundation of the United States to today, Southern nationalists have never been conservatives. We have always been at odds with conservatives who have wanted to preserve the status quo – the Modernist values and social order today based on democracy, equality and universalism – which we suffer under today. We Southern nationalists have our own tradition which is distinct from status quo or liberal conservatism. We are not US conservatives. We are Southern nationalists. This is not a society or system or set of values we wish to preserve. We do not look northward to Washington, DC , the US Constitution and the Federal Government. We are connected to an entirely different tradition based on a different civilisational model and a completely different culture and value system.
In closing, let me briefly quote Robert Barnwell Rhett, the Father of Southern nationalism, once more:
‘The star-spangled banner no longer waves in triumph and glory for me. …If a Confederacy of the Southern States could now be obtained, should we not deem it a happy termination – happy beyond expectation, of our long struggle for our rights against oppression?’