My father introduced me to Fyodor Dostoevsky and Michael Oakeshott. And Hank Williams, who he saw at the Grand Ole Opry, and Johnny Cash and William Faulkner. And barbecue and catfish and boiled peanuts, and planting corn and how to whittle and that Catawba worms were the best bait for bluegill. He prayed with the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King and John L. Lewis, but he prayed with Klansmen because he knew that they deserved a hearing and because they were, like him, of Southern stock. He showed me how the United States used the South as the whipping boy for all imagined “sins,” the locus of Evil for which the sainted Rev. Dr Martin L. King (and George Floyd too, I guess) was martyred. He didn’t think much of the American Empire and its antics. He used to say that had it not been for World War II – he was a medic in the European theater – and the GI Bill he would have been an auto mechanic in the southern part of our state. Sometimes I think he would have preferred that. He said he hated every minute of service in the Army, came out of it with respect for the courage of the German soldiers, and had he been called up for Korea, would have fled for Canada. Like most other World War II veterans I came to know, he looked at me with a combination of disdain, pity and sadness if I invoked the “Band of Brothers” mythology, which in retrospect does seem preliminary agit-prop for the neo-con meddling of the Bush I/II period. And I don’t recall him ever speaking of the Civil Rights struggle – rather, the “Movement,” which is what he called it, pronounced “MOO-vement,” each syllable dripping with disdain – with anything but contempt for the grift it had become. He quit going to church when the pulpit became a megaphone for the latest progressive sloganeering and social-justicing. Everything is political, he said. He was as suspicious of technology and technological systems as Ted Kaczynski.
I think that at some point he realized what the Movement really was, understood the nightmare that lurked behind all of the Makes Me Wanna Holler bumper stickers. I doubt he would be surprised by anything this unhappy millennium has witnessed, from the invasion of Iraq to the destruction of Syria and Libya, the “peaceful protests” of Black Lives Matter to the complete corruption of the media to the blinkered arrogant ineptitude of the governing class and the endless hatred of Southerners by people who are not even descendants of Union conscripts or slaves. The one political figure of whom he ever spoke with respect was Malcom X, who was arguably more realistic in his assessment of the likelihood of a multicultural society, than King.
A few years before my father died, he took a final road trip through the “scary little towns” of the Deep South that were the backdrop of his youth. He wanted to see what was left, I think, what had not been devoured by industrialization and the latest American social innovations.
Because he realized that the Movement had destroyed something. I’m not sure he ever fully articulated what that something was, or that he even could even could. He used to tell me about an uncle to whom he was close, who had a fishing camp back in the swamp. One night they took food and medicine to his uncle’s best fishing buddy, who was sick with a fever; my father described a surreal night passage through a cypress swamp, a waning moon through the Spanish moss and alligators watching with their usual calm hunger. This buddy was black. My uncle going out there didn’t have a damn thing to do with race, my dad said. They did it because they were good human beings.
And because they shared a culture and a history: poor and Protestant, making a tough living farming and fishing and doing whatever one had to do to get by in the reconstructed South, the first nation to fall before the great Leviathan of radical egalitarianism, a blighted and mocked economic backwater of the United States empire, whose liberating hordes hadn’t lifted anyone so much as crushed everyone to the same level. So it wasn’t a race thing, my dad said. It was the Empire against a conquered people. This is why, I suspect, some of those bright words may have at first resonated: he and his uncle, the descendants of Confederate soldiers, had actually sat on clay banks and fished alongside the descendants of slaves.
It would appear, though, that this ship may too have sailed, another casualty, alas, of the Lincolnite dream of equality. Once the blacks and us shared a culture and, despite what one “learns” in school, lived relatively peaceably together after the stupidities of Reconstruction were unwound. And while it’s to the benefit of both peoples that we understand the truth of it, not the Marxist agit-prop developed largely by cosmopolitan liberals, that doesn’t seem in the offing at any time in the near or remote future.
These bouts of madness eventually burn themselves out; this too, shall pass, in God’s good time. But the United States is finished. To deploy a human metaphor that would likely meet with approval from Washington D.C., the United States is a transgender person of color coughing up its last on a seedy futon in a subsidized apartment; no adrenochrome will save it now. Even putative allies have had enough, with some calling it a force for evil. Interestingly, the only world leader to speak on behalf of what might be called “heritage Americans” is Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia.
Here, too, the United States is also “exceptional” in the sheer scale of its contemptible and degraded collapse, like a summer blockbuster with the usual good taste associated with Hollywood and New York. There was a solemn grandeur in the recessional of Great Britain, and tragedy in the British Empire’s dismemberment by Roosevelt and Churchill after the disaster of World War II, and its replacement by all of those ignorant, arrogant and stupid Harvard and Yale men. The United States is ending its existence as an abject, puerile farce, engineered by gutter dwellers and pornographers for a populace much of which is also ignorant and depraved.
Nevertheless, the empire, in its dotage, has once again elected to wage war upon the Southern people and our memories. The desecration of the statues of General Lee and Confederate soldiers are no different than the Bolshevik desecreati0on of the relics of St Sergius and other saints and heroes of Russia. One can’t but speculate that some of the same sorts of people are in charge. One can’t but wonder when the cultural genocide spills over into actual genocide.
Southerners must realize that the United States is not our nation. We owe it nothing. No loyalty, no respect, no deference. Not to the government in Washington, the agents of Federal power in our states, and even less its symbols and its “Constitution.” “Old Glory” is the flag of a wicked and brutal conquering power; it is, in the words of the song, “dripping with our blood.” The collapse of the United States is not our problem and should cause us no grief.
The most revolutionary act we can undertake now is to remember. We Southerners must remember who we are: one of the unique peoples of the earth, part of the family of the British Isles – English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish – with our own traditions, our own culture and our own place in the world.
We need to rediscover this tradition to educate ourselves and our children, because we will be tasked with rebuilding from the rubble.
We need to point the truth to our children, and we need to teach them to see through the lies of the United States and its imperial ideology and historians. We need to teach them first and foremost that our ancestors were brave and noble men fighting to defend that one thing that God have man to fight for: our home, our land, our families, our people.
In Russia, organizations have undertaken the restoration of the Orthodox churches despoiled and desecrated by the Bolsheviks. One day we will restore our monuments, all of them. What we must do now is remember. In these dark times, it’s the most revolutionary act imaginable. And we will carry with us knowledge of the courage and heroism of our ancestors, and that their sacrifice has been vindicated by God.
The South Vindicated, Part I may be read here.
I was born in Dixie in the May of 1964, a two-light town in the red clay and tall pines of the hardscrabble country far from the rich bottomlands of the Delta. Precisely two months after that happy event, Lyndon B. Johnson seized a ceremonial pen in one vulpine claw and scrawled the Civil Rights Act into the statute books of the United States. The “down payment,” as the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King called it; in photographs of the world-historical event he does indeed loom like a bill collector behind the slack-jowled, jug-eared President, an eerie half-smile playing across his saintly features. If the Rev. Dr Martin L. King ever uttered a genuine word of prophecy, that was it.
So Civil Rights and I were born twins; what’s more I was, literally, “born of the struggle.” My parents, natives of the Deep South – both of Anglo-Celtic stock that came to Virginia in the 1660s and over generations migrated southward and westward – met the 1950s, that noontime of the American Century, at a university in New England. Then, as now, the Ivy League was a trade school for the Chosen, those who would wage war on behalf of the Exceptional Nation’s God-appointed endless crusade: the conveyance of “light and truth” – which is to say, the universal principles of progressive egalitarianism, scientific education and debt-financed consumption – to the hidebound and primitive. The repair of God’s creation, in other words, the old patriarch having made a made a huge mess with His original effort, all informed by opinion polls and shaped by the principles of advertising developed by Mr Bernays.
My father and mother were foot soldiers, then, on the Southern front. They marched, they taught, they wrote, they protested, they prayed, they sang “We Shall Overcome.” They are among those anonymous half- and quarter-faces one can see in photographs of the period, usually four or five ranks back from the Tabor light of whatever prophet was haranguing at the podium. My father met the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King in Birmingham; my mother met Pete Seeger at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. Myles Horton, Highlander’s founder, was my “Uncle Myles”; John L. Lewis was once a guest at our dinner table, ditto Fannie Lou Hamer and Clarence Jordan and scores of lesser but no less dedicated eyes-on-the-prizers. I have, needless to say, leveraged their experience into virtue points. Southerner? Yes. But one of the good ones. Because we – my parents, rather – repented of the “original sin.” And like many of my generation, I genuinely looked forward to the day when – if I may borrow a well-known phrase from Stanley Levinson – the sons of slaveholders and the children of slaves would sit together, et cetera. I’m sure you know the rest, and like me, you were assured that it was going to be wonderful.
But there were always higher loyalties, deeper traditions, eternal fealties. A compact with the dead, an obligation to the past, born of the blood in my veins and the stories that came from the old folks: a loyalty born of the land they loved and for which they poured out their blood to defend.
I am named for my great-great grandfather. He was a small farmer in a cotton state, one of the first seven to secede. In May 1861, 24 years old and married, he and his 18-year-old brother enlisted for the duration of the war in a regiment formed in the southern part of their state. That summer the regiment joined the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Robert E. Lee.
My great-great grandfather, then, was among those hard and wolvish Southern soldiers that unleashed the Rebel Yell and stormed the U.S. lines at Gaines Mill and Frazier’s Farm. He stood under heavy fire at Second Manassas, joined in the capture of Harper’s Ferry; the regiment fought with what the official record describes as “ferocious obstinance” at Sharpsburg. He was granted sick leave, his condition described as “phthisis,” in November 1862; his son, born in 1863, was conceived during time. He returned to the Army of Northern Virginia in time for Chancellorsville, where his regiment routed the U.S. troops at Salem Church and marched behind General Lee when he rode into that clearing at Chancellorsville Court House as the U.S. Army collapsed beneath the fury of Stonewall Jackson’s assault.
Half of the regiment fell at Gettysburg, with my great-great grandfather’s younger brother losing a leg on the second day in the assault on Cemetery Ridge. My great-great grandfather was captured, escaped, and rejoined General Lee in Virginia. The regiment was “hotly engaged” at the Wilderness and “suffered considerably” at Spotsylvania as Grant hurled Lincoln’s German and Irish mercenaries and the draftees of the Yankee states into the massed fire of Confederate rifles like a drunkard flinging peanut shells. “The regiment was under fire every day as the Federal army pressed to Richmond,” according to the official record, and suffered severe losses at Cold Harbor and Petersburg.
My great-great grandfather died in a Richmond hospital in January 1865. The cause of death is listed as tuberculosis. I can only conclude, based on his sick leave, that he fought the war with this condition.
He is buried in one of the mass graves in Hollywood Cemetery.
At Appomattox, according to the official record, the soldiers of his regiment “indignantly denied the first rumors of the contemplated surrender, many wept like children at the announcement, and the survivors tore their battle-rent banner into shreds to retain as a memento.”
His wife died in the summer of 1865. His son, my great grandfather, was raised by the younger brother, who survived three amputations and Union imprisonment and the long road home from Virginia through a desolate and crow-picked Dixie.
I have lived to see the complete and utter failure of the cause for which my parents struggled.
And I have lived to see the complete and utter vindication of the cause for which my great-great grandfather and so many hundreds of thousands more of our people – my people, our people, the Southern people – suffered and died.
“The United States of America.”
Let us be charitable and grant the “patriots” this: “the United States of America” is, to be sure and no question about it, an “Exceptional Nation.” The first to be founded on explicitly rationalist principles, as English conservative Michael Oakeshott sagely observed. The Founders, he writes, were “disposed to believe that the proper organization of society and the conduct of its affairs were based upon abstract principles, and not upon a tradition which, as Hamilton said, ‘had to be rummaged for among old parchments and musty records.’”
For U.S. conservatives, that abstract principle is, of course, “equality.” In the words of their prophet, the Straussian Henry Jaffa, human equality is the “ancient faith” of the United States. Per Jaffa, Abraham Lincoln – putting aside for a moment whatever bit of business he was transacting for his railroad and banker clients, and in the loneliness of the Illinois night brooding on the nature and destiny of man, the organization of society and the promise of the New Land – discovered that human equality had been the intent of the Founders all along. It was merely hidden, a sort of secret knowledge, like the coded messages that Strauss and his various neocon disciples discover in Plato and Hobbes, accessible only to the adept. “All men are created equal” thus became the Rail-splitter’s lodestone, his compass, his banner; and thus anointed by the Daemon of History, he rode at its bidding to smite the Southern heretics and return them to the fold of the Last Best Hope of Mankind; from which triumphant battlefields the March of Progress commenced with the Stars and Stripes fluttering and Sousa marches tootling in the background.
Jaffa’s abstractions are, of course, a sort of gnostic Koran, a mighty fortress of unassailable, unquestionable truth for the conservatives, lending intellectual (of a sort) support in Introduction to Philosophy language for any and all manifestations of Exceptionalism and its various appurtenances. Thus, on the American Greatness web site, and duly tagged with a rubric called “Greatness Agenda,” Dan Gelernter, a “writer and entrepreneur living in Connecticut calling for war with Russia and China because. . . well, it’s hard to understand why, but apparently it has something to do with Hitler’s re-occupation of the Rhineland? And some thundering oration from Winston Churchill, delivered in his usual sham-Augustan prose? And because otherwise the American Empire will appear “weak” and the world will self-destruct in an apocalypse of Munichs? His views seem little different from those of David Gelernter, a computer scientist at Yale and lost the use of his right hand an eye to one of Ted Kaczynski’s bombs. Back in the neocon salad days of Gulf War II, Mr. Gelernter composed a strange little tract called Americanism: The Fourth Great World Religion. Americanism, Mr Gelernter proposed, is a secular form of Zionism a “militant creed,” a “fighting faith” dedicated to spread liberty and equality around the world.
Well, so was the French Revolution, for that matter, and one could describe “human equality” as its ancient faith, as well. Thus, the Jacobins saw the liberated slaves of Haiti as a revolutionary vanguard that would “carry revolt and independence into the New World,” in the words of their commissioner M. Sonthonax. Well, they certainly eliminated the pandemic of whiteness, in the words of The Root’s Damon Young, on the isle of Haiti. One can imagine the forces of Dessalines arming themselves with the “Prayer of a Weary Black Woman,” composed by Chanequa Walker-Barnes of the Mercer University’s School of Theology. “Dear God, Please help me to hate white people,” Chanequa implores. “I want to stop caring about their misguided, racist souls; to stop believing that they can be better, that they can stop being racist.
I’m not sure why this should surprise anyone. While “all men are born equal” may mean “equality under the law,” in the abstract world of Henry Jaffa and Republicans who cheer on the likes of Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) at Lincoln-Reagan Dinners, in this sad, bloodsoaked world, burdened as it is with sin, corruption and stupidity, “equality” always advances to and resolves as a brutal levelling, accompanied by mass slaughter, in the name of “equity.” The poisonous seed planted by Lincoln has borne fruit in greater and greater harvest since Appomattox, and like kudzu, is suffocating the entire Western world. His brutal war – rather, the railroad- and bank-backed Republican Party’s war – on the Southern people, their grubby economic conquest tarted up with the abstractions of Unitarian, progressive virtue, and the absolute lie that it was a noble and righteous crusade done for the sole purpose of liberating the oppressed, has permitted the imperial ideology of the United States to metastasize without let or hindrance into an absolutist empire which seeks to rule and bind every single aspect of human existence, and destroy everything that opposes it.
“I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy,” Lord Acton wrote to General Lee. “I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”
General Lee wrote back: “The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”
General Lee was, truly, prophetic – and far more so than the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King at any point in his via dolorosa, based as it was upon a profound understanding of man and history as they are, and not how they should be.
Mr. Lincoln’s Empire: aggressive abroad, despotic at home. A profoundly sinister form of Gnosticism and while less brutal than the Bolshevik monstrosity, far more vile and degenerate by several orders of magnitude. The rulers of Mr. Lincoln’s empire, from the corrupt drunkard Grant to the interventionist Wilson to the Stalin-admiring FDR to Bush I/II, Obama and the pathetic Biden with their gangs of neocon advisors, seek to create a Kingdom of God on earth in the form of a perfectly egalitarian society. They seek, like the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky’s fable, to “correct God’s work.” And have thus like the Inquisitor declared their allegiance to the wise and evil spirit who in the desert tempted Christ with earthly bread and the promise of earthly power.
Dostoevsky, the great Russian Orthodox prophet, saw the structure of their Kingdom, too. In The Possessed, his novel about the revolutionists of 19th century Russia, the gloomy, sullen long-eared theoretician Shigalov proposes a solution to the problem of an unjust society. One-tenth of the population will enjoy unbridled power over the remaining nine-tenths. For the nine-tenths, the surrender of all individuality; they will become an ignorant herd, slaving to support the elite, gradually devolving to a state of primary innocence. Soulless drones, in other words, without memory or tradition, without history or a spiritual life, drifting in a sort of screenlit twilight, their choices driven by Google Ads and Instagram influencers, every action tracked by mobile devices, existing only to consume and bolster the balance sheets of the elite.
This is the “telos” of the United States, the “justice” toward which it is bending the arc of history. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature; this is and has always been the final state of “equality.” Conservatives are partially correct in blaming the alien Marxists of the Frankfurt School, but the soil tilled by the egalitarian twaddle of Abraham Lincoln was eager to receive them.
This “United States” is the beast that my great-great grandfather faced on the firing line; this “United States” is that beast that he fought for four years with a tubercular condition; this “United States” raped and plundered his home. My great-great grandfather and all of them – his comrades, his commanders, the officers and men of the Confederate Armies, General Lee and General Jackson and General Forrest and General Cleburne all of them – are even more heroic and noble than we ever dared imagine. They fought to defend us, and our children, and our history and our land, from the “United States” and egalitarian nightmare. To preserve the South and Southerners, as Boyd Cathey once put it, from becoming American.
The South Vindicated, Part II may be read here.