Red Phillips has written an article in response to the debate over republicanism we are having on this website, and which has come up many times before on Facebook, which he connects to some recent changes in the League of the South.
In this article, he presents the Southern Nationalist camp as being divided into roughly three factions:
(1) Paleocons who, on the vital question of what the US Constitution really meant, believe that the Constitution wasn’t a radically centralizing document. Like most of the original Southern Nationalists, these people believe that Lincoln subverted the US Constitution and the original American Republic, but they may or may not support contemporary secession from the United States.
(2) Paleocons who, on the vital question of what the US Constitution really meant, believe the Constitution was a radically centralizing document, but who believe the Union was always terrible bargain for the South, and who support contemporary secession from the United States for various reasons.
(3) The “new guard” of anti-republicans who reject Americanism root-and-branch and want to secede for contemporary reasons.
There’s also the “heritage movement” which is centered on the SCV and various flagger groups. This faction is focused exclusively on defending Confederate memory and generally eschews interest in contemporary issues. The vast majority of these people are Rainbow Confederates who oppose modern day secession. They are not Southern Nationalists, but there is so much overlap in these circles that including them in the broader “Southern movement” is warranted here.
Insofar as the League of the South goes, there’s a broad spectrum of views within the organization, but the imperative of seceding from the present day United States is the common ground that unites us. There’s a consensus that “anything is better than this” and other points of contention can be sorted out after secession. We’re also united on the point of opposing the demographic displacement of White Southerners.
In any case, secession isn’t what is being debated here. Instead, it is the rise of the “new guard” and our ideas within the League. It’s true that there are anti-republicans within the League. Since I am closely associated with this faction, I will act as our spokesman and lay out our point of view on several key areas of disagreement:
1.) The US Constitution – Why are we even debating this at a time when the US Supreme Court is preparing to legalize “gay marriage”?
Shouldn’t it be obvious by now that the US Constitution was a failure? If we grant that it was a failure, why should we revere it? Why should such a failure, which has guided us toward this disaster, be our model for moving forward?
Does it matter at this far gone point what the US Constitution “really meant”? If it has been an abject failure in sustaining a culturally conservative society in practice, it was clearly flawed. What’s more, examining those flaws and taking measures to correct them should be our starting point for creating our next government.
2.) The Articles of Confederation – This scheme of government lasted for all of six years – please note this website is now older than the Articles of Confederation – before it was scrapped by the Founders themselves. Why should a form of government that was so unstable and so quickly undermined by speculators inspire confidence as a model for creating a new government?
3.) The Confederacy – Like the Articles of Confederation, the Confederacy lasted all of four years, which was due in large part to its own instability. The Confederacy was an attempt to create a slave-based republic. Otherwise, the Confederate Constitution was a close copy of the US Constitution with only a few minor changes.
The Confederacy lost the war because the South was polarized and divided over slavery. Large swathes of the Upper South were anti-Confederate, indifferent to the Confederate cause, or fought for the Union. But why insist on dredging this up now? Slavery is a moot issue. No one in the Southern Nationalist movement wants to restore slavery. Labeling ourselves “Confederates” or “Neo-Confederates” only accomplishes one thing … linking our cause to a dead republic, which no one can ever bring back, that was fought over a moot issue that no one cares about anymore.
4.) The “Old Republic” – There are a lot of paleocons who romanticize the “Old Republic” that was destroyed by Abraham Lincoln.
Should this “Old Republic” be our model for moving forward with our next government? It’s worth noting here that this “Old Republic” lasted for all of three generations – roughly 70 years – before it too collapsed under its own weight. It died on the battlefield where the winning side was fighting for a “new nation” which was “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Now, the argument will be made by paleocons here that it was Lincoln who subverted the “Old Republic,” but they can’t ignore the fact that the winning side in that war, which represented the majority of White Americans, was the one that fought for abolitionism and an egalitarian proposition nation, and which spent the next twelve years after the war trying to “reconstruct” the South along those lines.
Is this not disturbing? Is this not thought provoking?
5.) Republicanism – This is the core issue that divides the anti-republican camp from the paleocons: upon close reflection, anti-republicans have serious doubts about the stability of the republican form of government, and would prefer a different form of government altogether as a model for moving forward.
The “Old Republic,” which is revered by paleocons, was destroyed by Americans who were convinced that the United States wasn’t republican enough, which is to say, it wasn’t free enough or equal enough. The whole course of American history has followed the leveling trajectory unleashed by the American Revolution. There’s no room for any debate within the “mainstream” in the United States outside of the boundaries of liberalism with its two poles of “freedom” and “equality.” According to Americanism, nothing else in life is good except more freedom or more equality.
Paleocons deny that America is a product of the same Enlightenment liberalism which convulsed all of Europe in the Age of Revolution. In order to do this, they have to deny that America’s philosophical foundations are rooted in classical liberalism – in John Locke, Montesquieu, and the British Radical Whig tradition:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence lays out the most famous statement of “rights talk” classical liberalism in the world: the notion that the sole purpose of government is to secure the individual rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The government here is just a social contract, a grand bargain, between individuals with equal rights that can be abolished whenever the principles of liberalism are felt to be violated.
Paleocons strangely deny that the American Revolution was an ideological war while turning a blind eye to how the legacy of the American Revolution, the toxic ideology of Americanism, was invoked by each and every single successful leveling movement that followed in its wake, whether it was Jeffersonianism that leveled the “Old Republic” into a full blown democracy (while the ink was barely dry on the US Constitution), or the abolition, free love, and women’s suffrage movements which drew their strength from the radical legacy of the American Revolution, or the Civil Rights Movement, which first became an issue after the war, or contemporary feminism and women’s rights and the ongoing struggle for homosexual liberation.
Maybe Yankees are to blame for all of this though and separating from them would have sufficed to check this downward spiral into the dark pit of “social justice”? That’s a comforting thought, but it fails to take into account that republican extremism, and the historical absence of a culture that blossomed in the bosom of slavery, is the reason why Yankees are like that in the first place. Without the practical reality of having to manage millions of negroes in their midst, Yankees set out about following the destructive abstract principles of Americanism to their ultimate radical conclusion.
The French took republicanism to even greater extremes during the French Revolution where the same conflict that played out in the United States between the South and the North over slavery, white supremacy, and “rights talk” was replicated in the conflict between Saint-Domingue and metropolitan France. The course of republicanism in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Ireland and other Western countries should raise even graver doubts about the stability of the republican form of government.
The bottom line here is that it is hard to look around the modern world and see much hope for a stable, conservative society in the numerous examples of countries that have adopted the republican form of government. Wherever we look (Lincoln’s America, Jacobin France, and Weimar Germany being only three of the worst examples), we see nothing but a landscape of social decline in the West after countless elections.
6.) The Confederate Battle Flag – See the Confederacy.
See also the “New Confederate Army” and CSA.Gov. We have no objection to 1.) defending Confederate memory or 2.) honoring our ancestors. At the same time, we fail to see the point of living in the past and getting bogged down in debates over moot issues when our very future existence as a people is now under threat. Also, it doesn’t help matters that the last two generations have spent so much time trashing the aesthetic of the CBF and ghettoizing its appeal into a symbol of a degraded subculture:
7.) Focusing on the Present – We believe that our cause, which is a fight to secure the future existence of our people, dwarfs the cause of the Confederacy in its importance. Existence matters far more than independence. Our existence is under threat and nothing else remotely comes close in our priorities.
8.) Ethnonationalism – Ethnonationalism emerged during the 19th century Romantic movement in reaction to the 18th century civic nationalism of the French Republic. The US was founded on the older concept of civic nationalism, which is to say, the ideal of the union of free men against tyrants. The American Founders rejected their English heritage and Anglophobia dominated the US until the twentieth century when the rise of Germany forced an Anglo-American rapprochement.
9.) The Proposition Nation – From the very beginning of American history, Americans thought of their country as some kind of shining beacon of republican freedom, a “City on a Hill,” that other European countries were supposed to emulate, or else.
To say that America wasn’t driven by ideological fervor requires ignoring inconvenient facts like how Jefferson cheered on the French Revolution, or how Americans glorified European revolutionaries like Kossuth and Garibaldi, or how the US clashed with the Holy Alliance, which represented the old order, or supported the spread of republicanism in Latin America, which culminated in an intervention in Cuba.
America as an ethnonationalist republic makes even less sense considering how Britain was America’s primary antagonist in the 19th century. The fact is, Americans have always wanted to spread their cherished “institutions” overseas – and here too, remember, because the Yankees came here to teach us the true meaning of “freedom” and “equality” after the war. The postwar South was not up to their “republican” standard.
10.) True Southern Nationalism – For some reason, Red has convinced himself that only republicans can be Southern Nationalists. It’s as if the history of the South begins in 1776 and is synonymous with the United States. Nothing else that happened before that date counts on the republican calender.
In reality, the formative years of Southern culture were in the colonial era when slavery and the plantation system were introduced. The South already had a distinct culture before the American Revolution. What made the South distinct from the Northeastern colonies is due to the legacy of that time period, not to republicanism, which was adopted by both sections of the United States. The primary difference was that the Southern colonies were slave societies which led to the same sort of cultural conservatism found in the British and French West Indies which also proved resistant to the excesses of republican ideological fervor.
By the 1850s, George Fitzhugh and other Southern antebellum writers had become severely critical of the suffocating influence of Jefferson’s republicanism.
America has now evolved into its final form as a cultural and political dung heap of liberty and equality – just like every other republican experiment in the modern West. No one has any reason to believe that rolling the dice again on republicanism will produce a result any different from what we can see on display right now.
Those who are alienated and miserable underneath the results of republicanism (we won’t get into the Jew issue here, which is a can of worms republicanism made possible) would like to consider our options before making a leap of a faith on the basis of a romanticized fancy. Conservatives who revere the past believe they can vote their way to an America, one that has never existed, which is not embroiled in a perpetual state of social revolution. Good luck with that!
Note: For the record, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Waffle House have nothing to do with this debate.