The Prussians (a German people) were a people that are by and large no more because once uprooted from your ancestral homeland you cease to be that people. Just like the British that settled the American South became Southerners (or today just plain Americans) and ceased to be English or Scottish or Scotch-Irish.
And peoples are similar to individuals because they are by nature composed of individuals, individuals that collectively are a people because they share space through time that has produced commonalities, or a unique culture. Peoples, like individuals, have their own personality that is easily observed by other peoples. Southerners are, or Southern culture is, no exception.
The poor Prussians! The long march of history would make of the Prussians a warlike, relentless, and efficient people that would bring them to the greatest catastrophe and triumph of modern German history, namely the crushing Prussian (slash-German) victory over the French in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.
‘But Mark, fool. How could their victory be a catastrophe?’
Because victory can be transformative, confirming, and addictive. Ask any failed gambler.
Their victory over the hapless French (who honestly earned that ass-whipping) confirmed the military temperament and culture of the Prussians and addicted the German people generally to marshal glory and gave them an inflated idea of themselves, which would encourage them to go all-in in 1914 and then again in 1939, chasing that winning hand and victor’s high.
The rest is history. What is not well known is that after 1945 the Prussians, along with their border, were relocated en masse westward and Prussia for all practical purposes ceased to exist.
The classic example of living and dying by the sword.
Southerners are not Prussians but we are the warrior people of America and America has never fought a war that we did not approve. But we need to temper our war-like temperament. If Uncle Sam says ‘Boys, lock and load!’ we must insist that he tell us why, and not speak to us as though we are a high school football team about to take the field, but rather as adults who can understand geo-politics, and the need to make collective sacrifices from time to time.
This piece was published at Look Away on July 18, 2023.
Mark Atkins has six wee bairns who are all seventh-generation Henry County, Tennessee, and all from the same doe. It is the people of Henry County that he most wants to reach but writes to Southerners generally. He is without credentials but rather dares to speak by the same authority as the little boy who cried 'The king has no clothes!' His core belief and starting point is that like everything, we humans have a nature, it is not so hard to understand, and to pretend that it is other than it is, is to jump off a cliff. Which is what we Americans have in fact done.