We have spent a lot of time this summer (while there is nothing else to do during the American election season) discussing the cultural origins of the Lower South and deconstructing the myths of Americanism.
It is already very clear that the idea of a homogeneous American people who existed in some kind of mystical perpetual union either before or starting with the 1776 Declaration of Independence is absurd.
The Yankee experiment in New England had nothing to do with the emergence of the Southern colonies – Southerners didn’t come over on the Mayflower and break bread with Squanto.
Instead, it is very clear that the type of society that would later that spread across the Lower South can be traced back to South Carolina, and from there it can be traced back to the British West Indies.
The “Deep South” and “Tidewater” (to borrow Colin Woodward’s terminology for the SC and VA-based subcultures) are really the northern most cultural extension of the “South Atlantic System”:
“As emerging Caribbean plantation economies became incubators of what the historian Philip Curtin (1969, 3) influentially defined as the South Atlantic System – “a complex economic organism centered on the production in the Americas of tropical commodities for consumption in Europe, and grown by the labor of Africans” – a truly horrific social experiment began to unfold.
Colonial control by the great European powers was integral to the South Atlantic System. Conquering the native Caribbean peoples and forcing them to work, exploiting the islands’ valuable minerals, producing high-value agricultural staples, and, when it became necessary requiring the overseas deployment of organized institutionalized force on an unprecedented scale. As the Spanish, English, French, and Dutch sought to obtain wealth and geopolitical influence, only the military and related commanding devices of colonial states could muster the necessary force and legitimacy. State power, disguised at first by private capital when the first European colonists arrived in the Caribbean, invariably expanded in scope over time.”
That explains a lot.
The Golden Circle was the sum of the “South Atlantic System” which the American South – as a slave-based and race-based plantation society, and exporter of agricultural commodities like rice, indigo, tobacco, and long staple and short staple cotton to Western Europe – had always been a part.
The American Revolution artificially severed the Southern colonies from the British West Indies and created an unworkable republican Union with the Northeast whose licentious egalitarian culture and economic interests were naturally opposed to our own.
The South was ruled from Washington whereas the British West Indies, Spanish West Indies, French West Indies, and Dutch West Indies were ruled from London, Madrid, Paris, and the Hague.
The inability to shake off metropolitan rule and negotiate from a position of collective strength would later doom the whole region to utopian liberal social experiments which would destroy their prosperity.
All this makes sense to me.
Note: The excerpt above comes from Stephen Palme and Francisco Scarano’s mammoth The Caribbean: A History of the Region and Its Peoples.