H/T Michael Hill
Faith and Heritage has a great post on Dabney’s take on Northern conservatism as it confronted the women’s suffrage movement in 1897:
“It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This [Northern conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy ,from having nothing to whip.”
Here is George Fitzhugh quoting Thomas Carlyle in Cannibals All!, or Slaves Without Masters:
“Further study, too, of Western European Society, which has been engaged in continual revolution for twenty years, has satisfied us that Free Society every where begets isms, and that isms soon beget bloody revolutions. …
Have men considered whither all this is tending, and what it certainly enough betokens? Cut every human relation that has any where grown uneasy sheer asunder; reduce whatsoever was compulsory to voluntary, whatsoever was permanent among us to the condition of the nomadic; in other words, LOOSEN BY ASSIDUOUS WEDGES, in every joint, the whole fabrice of social existence, stone from stone, till at last, all lie now quite loose enough, it can, as we already see in most countries, be overset by sudden outburst of revolutionary rage; and lying as mere mountains of anarchic rubbish, solicit you to sing Fraternity, &c. over it, and rejoice in the now remarkable era of human progress we have arrived at.”
Now we plant ourselves on this passage from Carlyle. We say that, as far as it goes, ’tis a faithful picture of the isms of the North. But the restraints of Law and Public Opinion are less at the North than in Europe. The isms on each side the Atlantic are equally busy with “assiduous wedges,” in “loosening in every joint the whole fabric of social existence;” but whilst they dare invoke Anarchy in Europe, they dare not inaugurate New York Free Love, and Oneida Incest, and Mormon Polygamy. The moral, religious, and social heresies of the North, are more monstrous than those of Europe. The pupil has surpassed the master, unaided by the stimulants of poverty, hunger and nakedness, which urge the master forward.”
Here is Rhett lashing out at the North’s “fondness for novelties, misnamed progress” in the final issue of the Charleston Mercury:
“The South now lived under a despotism of consolidation, the states and their sovereignty abused by Washington. With universal male suffrage it would only get worse. “Swelling the multitude of voters” would not make liberty but be its downfall, while the military Reconstruction now in place attempting “to put the half-savage negro over the civilized Caucasian, may not be forgotten or forgiven.” History would remember it as an act of abject hatred and bigotry. The South, a more tolerant and congenial region, did not like change and revered the past, while the North, “fond of novelties, misnamed “progress,” was the slave of its own dogmatism.”
Note: This was obvious to Rhett and Fitzhugh in the 1840s and 1850s, Dabney in the 1880s and 1890s, Bilbo and others in the 1940s and 1950s, and it is still obvious to us in the 2000s and 2010s. As long as the Union exists, the dystopian slide into BRA will continue.
I don’t even have to watch television to know that Republicans/Conservatism Inc. either have already or soon will surrender on the fiscal cliff, amnesty for illegal aliens, gun rights, climate change, gay marriage, the “Violence Against Women Act,” the “Sequester.” I don’t even have to be told over the phone that their mouthpieces like Sean Hannity are slobbering over the likes of “Dr. Ben Carson” or that idiotic conservatives are behind the “What Would Django Do” campaign.
Every single bit of it has always flowed from the same source: the original mistake made by the Founders, which is the existence of the Union with the Northeast, and the dominance of liberalism over conservatism across that broad swath of Yankeedom in the Northern state.