The Southern Gestell
The controversial German philosopher Martin Heidegger transformed a common German word “Gestell” or “lattice work” into a metaphysical paradox which, on the one hand, is that which motivates or underpins the will, as if an inner drive, but which, on the other hand, is something “outside” which draws out the will and gives it form.
Is there a peculiar Southern Gestell: that which motivates from within but also that which draws from without? The word “peculiar” gives the question a unique flavor because is denotation is “that which is special or particular” and its connotation is “that which is odd.” The South presents itself as both: special and odd. The etymology of “peculiar” reveals a deep agrarian foundation. It is an ancient term “peculium” which means “property in cattle,” the very foundation of wealth.
This peculiar Southern Gestell can be apprehended, if not fully comprehended, by those who have the requisite sensibilities or the metaphorical apophenia for such insight.
Southerners, at least the remnant who are still “Southern,” understand that there is a transcendent metaphysical Reality which draws to Itself (one side of Heidegger’s paradox) and demands a response in duty, obligation and responsibility. It is not a coincidence that Robert E. Lee understood “duty” to be the most sublime word in our language. It is the counterpose to the Enlightenment notion of “rights.” The Southerner understand that the Cosmos is a tragedy, a tragedy which begins with the hamartia of the Fall and which finds it resolution in the catharsis of the crucified Christ. Our lives are lived out in this tension field between the Fall and Redemption. We know intuitively that God’s wrath, curse and judgment are working their way through the cosmic timeline while His grace, mercy and redemption are making their way on the same course, both vortexing onto the suffering Christ who embraces the Cross. The Southerner understands that, as the poet stated in “The Dream of the Rood,” the Cross is both Victory-Beam and Doom-Beacon. For the thief on the right of Christ who embraced His righteousness, the Cross was a Victory-Beam; for the thief on the left who rejected His righteousness, the Cross was a Doom-Beacon. Although this metaphysical orientation gets weaker with each generation, Flannery O’Connor comment is likely still valid: the South is at least Christ-haunted.
A corollary to the apprehension of the Divine is hierarchy which means “holy order” and not “pecking order.” The Cosmos manifests itself in hierarchy, from galaxies to bee hives, right down to chickens where it can indeed become a “pecking order.” Each echelon of the hierarchy has unique duties with the requisite authority and power to carry them out, duties which are not to be usurped or overthrown by another echelon of the hierarchy. These echelons of duty within the hierarchy are the manifestation of subsidiary in which the most local have the highest duty, the most local being the family and the Christian parish. Along with them in the Saxon tradition which is one of many traditions in the Southern Gestell is the office of the sheriff. The sheriff is the Saxon “scirgerefa” or “count of the county.” So, at the most local echelon and most important echelon of subsidiary are the sheriff, the bishop (pastor) and the father responsible for community, parish and family.
The Southerner understands that real wealth resides in the earth, in its soil, from which we get all essential sustenance. He understands that although the thorns and thistles of the curse are plagues on his toil, the spirit of Eden is still there; and with its fruit, bread and wine, gifts from the earth in which we have agency, we connect with the Divine in the Eucharist. Here, Heidegger’s paradox of the Gestell proves to be an appropriate metaphor. The Southerner knows, deep in his bones, that the way back to Eden is through the Cross; and that becomes his orientation, be his walk ever so imperfect.
I am outraged that you supported and voted for the latest stimulus bill before Congress. It constitutes theft on a grand scale. Given the fact that all of the money is fiat, you have indebted future generations before they are even conceived. It is a convenient way for members of the Senate and the House to pay their debt to lobbyists and to their corporate donors, not out of their own pockets but out of the very future of those Americans as yet unborn.
This stimulus package, along with its antecedents, constitutes the greatest wealth transfer in history: from Main Street to Wall Street, the greatest ponzi scheme in history; from the struggling middle class to the oligarchs who are already billionaires; and from the American people to aliens at home and abroad.
It engenders a corruption which seeps into our souls and corrupts individuals, institutions and every level of government.
I, quite frankly, do not believe that you lack discernment: you know very well what I have laid out supra. You and your colleagues in the Senate and in the House do, however, lack integrity. It is quite obvious that your allegiance is not to the people of Louisiana but to the lobbyists, your corporate donors and to the Republican Party of Mitt Romney, John McCain and the Rockefellers.
For thinking Americans, and there are millions of us, this stimulus package and its antecedents, coming in the context of a fraudulent election, have swept away all of the pretenses: America is not a republic; America is not a democracy; America is not a we-the-people entity; America is not an exceptional nation; America is not an indispensable nation; America is not a “city on a hill;” America is not a nation of law; in America, legal votes do not count and illegal votes do.
I will not be voting for you or your colleagues in any future election, assuming that there will be future elections. You, of course, will likely not take this letter seriously, even if you see it. It is a mere gnat buzzing in the ear of a braying jackass.
Pray for you I will. My prayer is that you will repent of the evil which you have done to generations of Americans, but particularly to those of Louisiana who are your only moral and legal constituency.
The one America is the America predicated on an abstraction; this America is a propositional or creedal nation, anchored to those famous words in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. Out of that spring the "understanding" that America is exceptional, even indispensable for some or "a city on a hill." The irony is that this America is accessible to all, all humans, who genuflect to the abstraction; however, those who refuse to genuflect to the abstraction are outlaw: they are not Americans.
The other America is the America predicated on patrimony. One is an American because one is born into a cultural imagination which reaches back, not just to 1607, but to the traditions, customs and habits of pre-modern Europe. This America lives historically through the nurturing of home and hearth, kith and kin and the inherited cultural imagination. If the alien or foreigner enters into this America, he can, over time, as he seeks his niche in the social ebb and flow, become himself "an American." He does not have to subscribe to some abstraction.
That is why Americans of the first sort can assert that General Robert E. Lee was a traitor because by being a Virginian, he was defending a state which had rejected the abstraction though secession. The abstraction does not tolerate rejection. Lee, on the other hand, his American identity defined by patrimony could fully embrace any Union soldier as a fellow American.
This runs deep folks. Much of the turmoil we are experiencing today the a result of a clash between these two Americas. The fault line runs through regions, families and, if we are honest, ourselves. Which America is dominate in your perception of the world?
The Bolsheviks are Coming!
The Bolsheviks are coming on two fronts.
In the introduction to I'll Take My Stand, a book all Americans should read, the Southern Agrarians assert that Bolshevism will not come to America through the communist party but through the managerial elites. Here I suggest that you also read Who Owns America, a book to which some of the Agrarians also contributed.
The managerial Bolsheviks have managed to do the following:
1. Essentially close our churches.
2. Close our schools.
3. Close and bankrupt thousands of businesses and put nearly 40 million people out of work.
4. Divide us over the wearing of masks, social distancing, etc.
5. Get Americans who love the country off the streets with a draconian lockdown; while thugs who hate America are given a secular dispensation to murder, rape, plunder, and destroy on a massive scale, all behind the convenient disguise of the mask which would otherwise be outlawed in most states.
6. Monger fear and make false promises in the fog of that fear.
The other front, already mentioned, is that of the Red Guard: BLM and ANTIFA along with much of Congress, the Media and the Entertainment Cartel.
Given the cover provided by the managerial Bolsheviks, as we cower in fear from a virus which is no more deadly than viruses which we have faced in the past, they have taken the streets, the museums, businesses and even private homes. The roots of BLM and ANTIFA go back to radicals of the 60's and 70'.s. In fact, some of those very people are the organizational intelligence of BLM and ANTIFA. They are, in turn, being supported by such as Soros and other billionaires who mutual hate the Deplorables, Old Narnians, and Hobbits.
These people know what they want: the Election of 2020. For if they indeed "win," and they likely will, then what little which is worthy of America, clinging to the flotsam and jetsam swirling in the current flood, will be swept into the abyss. And, by the way, if the Bolsheviks win the election, COVID-19 will disappear over night, as if it had never been.
My Bottom Line
There are those people in this alleged COVID-19 crises who place themselves in the cauldron of fear and intimidation, and because they have placed themselves there, they attempt to justify their fear on the one hand and their cowardice in the face of intimidation by claiming the pseudo-moral argument that they are more virtuous than those would are not stunted by fear and intimidation because they would not go out an infect the innocent.
I embrace the quarantine because of my own volition, given my underlying conditions, it is prudent and rational for me to limit my contacts. I abide by the lockdown on the other hand for two reasons: I can get fined or jailed if I don't, and the angry condemnations of those described above are simply not worth it. I do not respect cowardly politicians and established bureaucrats with ideological and power agendas.
Were I to venture out an visit someone vulnerable, I could not give them COVID-19 if I do not have it; I could not give them COVID-19 if I had had it but now have well established antigens and the corresponding antibodies; I would not go out if I had symptoms of COVID-19 or any other virus or pathogen such as active strep; but could conceivably pass it on if I have an active case but am asymptomatic. We deal with that every flu season and every round of strep.
COVID-19 is not killing as many people as flu viruses in the late fifties 115,000 Americans one year, in the late sixties 100,000 Americans one year and in the most recent large death rate 80,000 Americans in one year.
So, what have we done? We have let politicians and bureaucrats shut down our schools, our churches, our businesses, even our farms, destroy thousands of business, ironically destroy our medical infrastructure, undermine what is left of our political structure, create economic conditions which destroy marriages and families, make people destitute, increase suicide, divorce and general violence and on the other hand empowering and enriching an elite class of bureaucrats, ideologues and oligarchs.
What is most distressing to me is that there are those who saw through the lies "these people" mongered about WMD's in Iraq, about the "Russian invasion" of the Ukraine, about "Assad's chemical attacks" in Syria, about "Russiagate," about the Kavanaugh hearings, about the railroading of General Flynn, but those same folks believe those very people in this COVID-19 narrative.
If we were an open society, committed to fact and truth, which we are not, then we would demand that Mr. Fauci with all of his experts marshaled present their case with real science, historical data and current data, and then allow epidemiologists, virologists and doctors who have gone through this present with historical data and current data the counter narrative. So much is being destroyed with this draconian lockdown, they owe it to us. Will we have the courage to demand it?
The title to this post is also the title of a new book published by the Abbeville Institute and written by my friend and mentor Dr. James Everett Kibler, Jr., a poet, a literary critic, and fiction and non-fiction writer and professor emeritus of literature at the University of Georgia.
Dr. Kibler documents in his erudite volume what Southern scholars and writers have lived out for generations, at least up to WWI: the South was steeped in the Classical tradition, which by the end of the 17th century had begun to wane among New England intellectuals.
There seems, in fact, to be a nexus between the strong Classical tradition in the South and the orthodoxy which Southern Christian confessions maintained while their Northern counterparts fell into heterodoxy - neo-Arianism, Unitarianism and Universalism.
After the War and Reconstruction, the Prussian/industrial educational system, utilitarian and secular, was systematically imposed on the South; yet, the Classical tradition and Christian orthodoxy held on, not waning to a measurable degree until WWI.
Even after WWI, the influence of the Classical tradition remained strong among Southern intellectuals, best seen in the works of the Vanderbilt Agrarians/Fugitives and then in the Southern Renaissance which followed hard thereon.
Southern symbols, totems and icons and Southern "ways" are indeed important and are worthy of our defense; yet, our Classical tradition and our Christian orthodoxy constitute the metaphysical bedrock of Southern culture. Unless these are quickened and lived out in our daily lives, making themselves manifest in how we relate to the Created Order, the defense of those other things which are markers of our "Southernness" becomes meaningless.
If you have a heart for the Classical tradition, Christian orthodoxy and "things" Southern, you should read The Classical Origins of Southern Literature.
Robert Peters was born in the town of Natchitoches, Louisiana, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. He was, however, reared in the Republic of Pollock situated in the eastern march of Grant Parish, carved out of Winn Parish and Rapides Parish for the purposes of looting by carpetbaggers, a fact betrayed by the name.