Jared Taylor has penned a wonderful new essay for VDARE on Southern nationalism. My thoughts are also on “the War” this evening.
150 years ago, Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter (wouldn’t it be nice if they did so again?), which was the official beginning of the “War Between the States” or the “War of Northern Aggression,” as it has traditionally been called around here.
In the American North, the “War Between the States” is still called the “Civil War,” although Southerners have always disputed that mischaracterization. It was never our object to seize control of the federal government in Washington and rule over the Yankees of New England.
The “War Between the States” was a “civil war” in the South, especially in states like Missouri, in the sense that it divided Southerners into “patriots” and “loyalists.” Thousands of Southerners fought for the Union against other Southerners who fought for the Confederacy.
This was also true of the American Revolution.
During the American Revolution, Southerners divided into “patriot” and “loyalist” militias. If you have ever seen Mel Gibson’s movie “The Patriot,” the “loyalists” in that film massacre their “patriot” neighbors in the South Carolina backcountry.
Like the Lincoln administration, the British attempted to incite a slave rebellion in Virginia as a war measure to crush the secessionist rebellion against the British constitution in the Southern colonies, but they were unsuccessful in that endeavor.
For some reason, Yankee historians never call the American Revolution a war over slavery, but instead prefer to describe that conflict as a dispute over taxation, sovereignty, and self government, even when it became clear that the Continental Army was fighting for the preservation and extension of slavery in North America.
The British who lived back then made all those points about Yankee hypocrisy at the time:
(1) Wasn’t George Washington a traitor and a rebel like Robert E. Lee?
(2) Even if slavery was the occasion of the conflict (like taxes were in the American Revolution), weren’t the 13 Confederate states ultimately fighting for independence like the 13 American colonies?
(3) Hadn’t the Union presided over the expansion of slavery across North America which Britain and France had opposed?
(4) Wasn’t the capitol of the Union named after a traitor?
(5) Weren’t the Founding Fathers all rebels and traitors like the Confederates?
All this seemed obvious to foreign observers. It seems less significant to contemporary historians.
I’m quite sure that Jared Taylor would agree with all the Southern apologetics above.
We are both racially conscious White Americans, but beyond that, we share more in common than grievances and abstractions: ethnicity, culture, history, tradition, a sense of place, myths, heroes, and symbols.
How else can I describe it? An ethnic Southerner is someone whose worldview is oriented around a sense of place. You can read about your history, tour a battlefield, look at a particular flag or a monument and it means something to you.
Maybe your sense of anxiety or relief grows as your distance increases from some central location. It is an intuitive sense that some people in some areas, even complete strangers, are familiar in a way that you can relate to them whereas others are not.
Every Southerner knows it goes well beyond politics and Waffle House into non-verbal cues. Confederates and anti-Confederates, slaveowners and non-slaveholders, Whigs and Democrats felt that way. All of these groups could tell you when a Yankee has violated our unspoken code of propriety.
We dislike everything from miscegenation to immigration to urban sprawl to communism because it violates that sense of place in a fundamental way. You don’t have a gut reaction to Heidi Klum and Seal making out because you have read the Bell Curve.
A deracinated White libertarian can look at interracial pornography and see it as nothing more than a fine example of free enterprise creating economic growth in Southern California, but it horrifies an ethnic Southerner in much the same way that the progressive residents of the West Coast might freak out about Sarah Palin gunning down a caribou in Alaska.
Race is a marker of Southern ethnicity. Environmentalism is a marker of West Coast ethnicity. It defines us.
We are not blacks, Mexicans, or Yankees. A Southerner can look at a city like Baltimore or Detroit and see what a Southern city doesn’t and shouldn’t look like. Georgians are uneasy about Atlanta in the same way they used to feel about New York City.
Atlanta is a mongrelized place where the hierarchy is violated. It moves fast whereas we prefer to take things slow. It is paved over whereas we prefer wide open spaces.
The SWPL eco-snobs in San Francisco and Portland look down at Los Angeles and see the polar opposite of their Earth Day based civilization. Yankees look at the Deep South and see a Bible Belt of ignorant evangelical zealots. Southerners look at Yankees and see insufferable hypocrites drunk on abstractions.
The Nation of Immigrants, which a Southerner can reach from Virginia by traveling north on I-95, or a Yankee can reach by traveling south from New Hampshire, sees itself as the Real America.
Maybe it is. I don’t really care.
The South isn’t what it used to be.
We have been invaded in countless ways: by illegal aliens swimming across the Rio Grande or washing up in South Florida, by legal immigrants from Asia which now seem to own every gas station in the South, by Yankees moving South in search of jobs and a milder climate, by blacks moving back to the South from the North.
The Americanization of Dixie goes on 24/7/365 through television, radio, print, internet, and social media. It has been carried out through the public school system, the churches, the universities, Supreme Court decisions, acts of Congress, and newspapers which have been snapped up by corporate conglomerates.
The interstate transportation system has stretched its tentacles across Dixie from Virginia to Texas. The satellites beam their invisible signals of homogenizing content into every Southern household. The air conditioner has removed the geographic barrier of climate to foreign settlement.
I’ve always seen the “culture war” as an internal clash within the South between a thin foreign American “overculture,” the political correctness and Hollywood pop culture being imposed on the South by outsiders, and the deeper indigenous “underculture” which are the ancient conservative folkways of Dixie.
In my hometown, you can walk six miles through the courtly Antebellum mansions and trees of the historic district past the Confederate monument in the center of town and beyond that to the commercial highway strip of fast food joints and discount retail stores that have grown up here since the 1960s.
You can enter any Wal-Mart in the American South and see the “culture war” in action. I often find myself classifying the people that I encounter on an everyday basis by their cultural allegiances. The whiggers, race mixers, and people who disfigure their bodies with tattoos and piercings can be written off to the overculture.
The majority of White Southerners are still recognizably Southern in their way of life. In spite of all these changes, Georgia is still like Alabama. North Carolina is still like Virginia. Dixie is still conservative and politically at odds with New England. Some things never change.
The Confederate flag is still a contentious issue in Georgia and South Carolina. As we saw recently, interracial marriage is still a polarizing issue in Mississippi.
You could say without much exaggeration that the last fifty years of Southern political history has been a reaction by the natives to the Americanization of Dixie and a sectional contest with other parts of the Union over economic development.
Prospects for Nationalism
Admittedly, the prospects for Southern nationalism are dim.
It is easier to take stock of all that has been lost than it is to identify what remains of the Southern way of life and move forward. The case for Southern nationalism always seems to boil down to arguments over whether the glass is half full or half empty.
Let’s take an optimistic view:
(1) The South is full of millions of blacks, but since when has that not been the case? Southerners have always lived in a multiracial society.
In 1910, something like 90 percent of American blacks lived in the South, whereas in 2011 only about 57 percent of them do. South Carolina and Mississippi once had black majorities.
Blacks are now moving back to the South, but at nothing like the rate which suggests that all of them are returning here. The influx of blacks into the South will increase racial conflict over scarce resources and stimulate White racial consciousness.
As hard as it is to believe, many parts of the American South are whiter today than they have been in the recent past. Your great-great grandfather lived in a more racially diverse society than you do.
(2) The invasion of Hispanics across the Mexican border has the side effect of stirring the embers of White racial consciousness. Every Southern state has taken a crack at immigration reform this year.
Human beings define their identity against out groups. It was the presence of blacks, Indians, and Hispanics in the South that made White identity meaningful.
That is why White racial consciousness endured in the South much longer than in other parts of America. Diversity was the secret of our success.
Dixie has always been a binary system when it comes to racial and cultural identity.
(3) The Americanization of Dixie is just as disorienting to White Southerners as illegal immigration and internal black migration within the United States.
This disorientation results in alienation – which has always been like oxygen to the flames of nationalism and conservatism. It is usually the unsettling periods of human history that produce the great breakthroughs in social identity.
The golden age of Southern nationalism wasn’t 1861 to 1865. It was the 1880s and 1890s when the Jim Crow system was created.
The Confederacy was a league of sovereign states. It neither saw itself as a nation or acted much like one. The term refers to a form of government. The South only became a nation after Appomattox when the negro and his carpetbagger allies were installed in power during Reconstruction.
That was when the Confederate flag became the Southern flag, the War Between the States became the Lost Cause, the Klan rose, the monuments were raised in every town square, and Robert E. Lee became Joan of Arc to the Solid South.
In hindsight, after thirty disorienting years of the bloodiest war in history, a military occupation, Radical Reconstruction, negro equality, industrialization, and the spread of sharecropping, the old differences between White Southerners must have seemed far less significant than the similarities.
You could look back at the fights between Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay and wonder what planet they were living on.
We are going through a similar disorienting crisis in our own times. It calls for a similar project of nation building. Now is an excellent time to turn to conservatism and tradition. White people are looking for a meaningful sense of identity and we have one to offer them.
The South and White Nationalism
Like the French or the Irish, this is where Southern Nationalists have a clear advantage over White Nationalists.
White Nationalists have grievances and abstractions. They don’t find the decompiled Americanism and the side order of White guilt being served at the multiculturalist buffet to be all that fulfilling as a source of identity.
Aside from their grievances and abstractions, White Nationalists don’t have much else in common with each other. White Southerners have those things, but we have a nation, a people, a culture, a history, an ethnic identity, shared genes and many other things to fall back on and draw strength from.
A White ethnostate is an idea. Dixie is a place with graveyards. You can draw lines around it on a map, drive through it, taste it, and see it with your own eyes. That is a winning hand to the folks we need to attract.
We are not starting from scratch here. This idea already has an audience. The countless number of things we have in common with our own people makes our persuasive task much easier. It also has the beneficial effect of keeping infighting to a minimum.
As Jared Taylor said, independence is there for any group of Americans that is united in its determination to take it, but I would argue that the more homogeneous groups are in a stronger position to win that race.