The Riots and the Destructive Failure of the Egalitarian Myth: A Vindication of Secession
Increasingly, I try to avoid news-binging, watching assiduously all the compiled, feculent bilge that passes for news reporting these days, those authorized “stories” fed to us like tasteless, industrial-strength pablum to non-rational infants, or more, to non compos mentis inmates of the giant asylum which is what our country is quickly becoming.
Viewing just a few minutes of Fox’s coverage of the reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past week, I was struck by the essential sameness of what could have been seen—and was, in fact, seen—over on MSNBC or even CNN. First, the cries and jeremiads about “racism”: Will we ever overcome that “problem” which seems to be endemic in our history, in our character, the broadcasters exclaimed in virtual unison? Then, the hand-wringing about the destruction of property, the “wrong way to express revulsion at Floyd’s death,” again said by almost all the pundits, although a few of the more exalted social justice types at CNN expressed degrees of sympathy for the rioters (after all they were just exhibiting their “justified rage”).
Just as for CNN and MSNBC, Fox has its own agenda, which goes like this: “racism” exists; it violates the “Ideal of America” and the American Founding wherein to quote the Declaration of Independence (and they fatally misunderstand its meaning), “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”; the Democrats have historically opposed “equality” and “equal rights” for minorities (cf. the ignorant musings of Dinesh D’Souza); and, so, only Republicans and “conservatives” can actually realize that Ideal of Equality.
Yet, that whole conversation is tragically misconceived, based on an almost complete misunderstanding of human nature, American history, and the very founding of the old American republic. Our Founders and Framers loathed egalitarianism. They knew—and foresaw—the ravages and destruction it would cause if ever imposed or enacted into laws of the republic. Equality does not exist in nature, does not exist under Natural Law, and attempts to legislate it are bound not only to fail, but cause tremendous and perhaps fatal consequences to the society where it is imposed.
It has been the objective of restless revolutionaries for centuries to get people to reject Nature and to reject the God-given order that must exist if a stable and moral society exist. Simply because my neighbor has more property and possessions than I, does not mean that I have the “right” to go seize them at my pleasure. I have only the “right,” indeed, the obligation to work hard and use my intelligence, and, as St. Matthew tells us in the Parable of the Talents, to achieve to the fullest what pertains to me (and not to anyone else but me). In so doing, I accomplish what God has allowed me in this life, and which should not and must not be compared invidiously to the achievements of anyone else.
The great accomplishment of the history of revolutionary madness, whether of the Cromwellian variety, of the French Revolution, of the Soviets, or, indeed, of our modern social justice “insaniacs,” has been to convince vast numbers of our population that orders in society, the inherent natural inequality is somehow wrong, or as we hear now on all networks and from almost all pundits, “racist.” Yet, that natural inequality in no way inhibits a man’s essential and real, God-given dignity (again, re-read the Parable of the Talents).
What happened in the streets of Minneapolis (and elsewhere) after a single (and rare) example of one policeman’s use of excessive force was not a sign of the reaction against “institutional racism” lurking just beneath the surface, but of an intellectually corrupted population, infected by generations of egalitarian venom, being told constantly by our cultural and political elites that they are victims. And, also, in a very real sense an invitation to rebel against the laws of Nature and of God.
Can any society, any social order survive in this template? Is civil life and comity possible when large portions of that society reject its very bases and foundations? Ilana Mercer in her excellent nationally-syndicated column of May 28, 2020, writes “…courtesy of its globalist elites, America is no longer a society, much less a serious one…And America, it's fair to say, is no longer a people in any meaningful way; it is a Walmart with missiles, where [we direct] fusillades at one another.”
I have written previously about the potential, even probable break-up of the creaky old American nation. What has happened on the streets of major American cities in recent days has far less to do with an imagined “institutional racism” than with the fact that there is no longer anything, other than perhaps geography, that binds us all together. A (decreasing) portion of our citizenry still believes in the old traditions and standards, and in that Natural Law that produced our fragile experiment in constitutional republicanism; but a large (and growing) portion rejects that inheritance and has joined in the immemorial rebellion against God and Nature. Between the two there can be no peace. In such a conflict one side must win, the other lose…either that, or they must separate. No nation can continue this way for long, no nation can avoid the essential questions and the ironclad laws of Nature itself.
Ironic, isn't it? Abe Lincoln pushed the United States into a war to suppress the South in the name of Union, but what he really did was set into motion the conditions for the massive disturbances and disunion—now spiraling out of control—which cannot be stopped.
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.