By Hunter Wallace
The SJWs who are reading this blog are already certain that they have the answer:
“It is because you’re a raaaacist!!! It’s because you “haet” black people!!! It’s because you support slavery!!!”
I can’t help what simpleminded people think, but hear me out. I don’t believe I have ever expounded on this subject before. This seems like a good occasion to do so. It is the July the 4th weekend and the Confederate Battle Flag is under siege.
The truth of the matter is that I support the Confederate Battle Flag for a number of reasons: immediately, the War Between the States was the defining moment in Southern history, 1 out of every 4 Southern White men died in that war, 1 out of every 3 Southern families lost a loved one in that war, and one of my own ancestors who fought the damnyankee was captured at the Battle of Chickamauga and spent the rest of the war as a POW at Camp Douglas in Chicago.
I’ve already said that what happened in Charleston was tragic, but the War Between the States still looms over Southern history like the Grand Canyon whereas Dylann Roof’s actions in Charleston might be compared to a mere gully. If we didn’t live in a country of historical illiterates, no one would be saying that Roof’s actions are of greater significance than the heroism of the Confederate soldiers who fought and died for the Army of Northern Virginia or the Army of Tennessee.
We know why the Confederate soldier fought too: it was because he had no choice in the matter. Even before the Confederate government passed laws to conscript White men into its armies, Southern White men were expected to fight to defend hearth and home from a hostile Yankee invader. It was considered dishonorable not to take up arms in defense of the homeland and anyone who refused to do so was publicly shamed and humiliated. In spite of Hollywood movies, the Union soldier fought to “preserve the Union,” not to “fight racism” or “abolish slavery.” Union soldiers were also conscripted and were motivated by a sense of honor and patriotism.
In the 1860s, hundreds of thousands of White men weren’t shooting each other for the cause of “social justice.” They were moved by all the things which typically move men in all ages to take up arms: honor, duty, patriotism, loyalty to comrades, a sense of wrong, an intense attachment to their “rights,” defense of home and family, lack of other options, fear, material gain, and a passionate hatred of the enemy. The shared motivations and sacrifices of both sides and the mutual respect that was earned on the battlefield is the reason why the North and South were able to reconcile after the questions of slavery and secession were settled and strong passions had ebbed with time.
There are also deeper, more philosophical reasons why I support the Confederacy, and not just the Confederate Battle Flag, which is primarily a war emblem. The Confederacy had its own states’ rights philosophy of government which is far more amendable to my tastes than the Union cause. Robert Barnwell Rhett, a leading fire eater who has been named “the father of secession,” raged against the “consolidation” of the states by the central government in Washington. In his postwar memoir, Rhett was still nursing his constitutional grievances long after the abolition of slavery. The same is true of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens who both insisted that slavery was “incidental” to the Confederate cause and that the war had come over deeper questions of state sovereignty and the nature of the constitutional compact.
If Davis and Stephens were right and slavery was “incidental” to the conflict, then the abolition of slavery never settled the fundamental question that was contested in the War Between the States: is the United States a voluntary compact of sovereign states, or is it a consolidated nation in which the federal government is sovereign? Can we pretend that this is still not an open question when one unelected federal judge is able to unilaterally redefine the nature of marriage for 319 million people? Slavery has been a moot issue for 150 years, but other issues have become a source of sectional conflict.
This brings us to an even deeper, even more philosophical level of why I support the Confederacy, and not just the Confederate Battle Flag: it was a conservative counter-revolution against Americanism. The Southern Nationalists of the 1850s were determined to create a better, more perfect union, one without the negative and alien influence of the Northeast that had marred the US Constitution. This worldview was articulated by a number of poets and political theorists who wrote for journals like The Southern Literary Messenger and DeBow’s Review.
Here’s one example of their work, the “Southern Cross” by St. George Tucker:
“Oh, say can you see, through the gloom and the storm
More bright for the darkness, that pure constellation?
Like the symbol of love and redemption in its form,
As it points to the haven of hope for the nation.
How radiant each star! As they beacon afar,
Giving promise of peace, or assurance in war;
‘Tis the Cross of the South, which shall ever remain
To light us to Freedom and Glory again.
How peaceful and blest was America’s soil,
‘Till betrayed by the guile of the Puritan demon,
Which lurks under Virtue, and springs from its coil,
To fasten its fangs in the life-blood of freemen.
Then loudly appeal to each heart that can feel,
And crush the foul viper ‘neath Liberty’s heel;
And the Cross of the South shall forever remain
To light us to Freedom and Glory again
‘Tis the emblem of peace, ’tis the day star of hope;
Like the sacred Labarum, which guided the Roman,
From the shores of the Gulf to the Delaware’s slope,
‘Tis the trust of the free and the terror of foemen –
Fling its folds to the air, while we boldly declare,
The rights we demand, or deeds that we dare;
And the Cross of the South shall forever remain
To light us to Freedom and Glory again. …”
Here’s another example, Frank A. Alfriend’s “A Southern Republic and a Northern Democracy”:
“It is no disparagement of the wisdom and patriotism of our forefathers, for us who have survived the wreck of the government of their creation, to ascribe its destruction to certain radical errors of principle, which escaping their penetration are revealed in the calamities which afflict posterity. It is no ungrateful denial of their merited fame, to avail ourselves of the lights which experience has given us, while reading the philosophy of the failure of the Union, in the events which marked its career, and culminated in its downfall. …
We advance no new theory in the interpretation of the philosophy of this revolution, when we ascribe the necessity of separation to the irreconcilable antithesis and utter incompatibility of the civilization of the two sections. That Cavalier element predominating in Southern civilization, and giving tone to Southern society, and character to Southern politics, had its representatives in the early days of the Union in those who opposed the surrender of the liberties of the States to a necessary inimical, centralized power. That Puritan element which underlies the fabric of Northern civilization, clearly manifested its antagonism to the other, by seeking in the very incipiency of the government, to deprive the States of all their power, and to establish with an irresponsible supremacy, a monster consolidated empire, which like that of Augustus, should have the name of Republic, but the character of an unmitigated despotism. …
It will not be denied that the two Confederacies, as they now confront the world, represent, approximately at least, essentially different establishments – the one a Democracy, with a redeeming feature of regulated liberty, the other, in its social character, eminently Patrician, and utterly opposed to a system thoroughly popular.”
Here’s another taste of the “metapolitics” of the Confederacy, William Falconer’s “The True Question: A Contest for the Supremacy of Race, as Between the Saxon Puritan of the North, and the Norman of the South”:
“The hour of that hybrid thing, a democratic republic, for the government of two different races, has passed away forever, and we must now direct our attention to those ethnological facts, from out of which the next government is to flow. …
The peculiar form of government, under which we have for many years been living – call it by what name we may, whether a democracy or a republic – has been well calculated to demoralize, to some extent, the native, high character, of the South, and to vitiate its progress in statesmanship. There has been too much individual freedom, license rather, conferred upon the masses, through the agency of which fact, the lighter and less worthy material of society has floated to the surface. Men of actual merit, who are generally less adapted to popular approbation, have been compelled to come with their opinions and claims before the same volatile tribunal, with the worthless and flippant demagogue; and they, too, as far as was possible for them to do so, have been compelled to resort to the same vitiated means of success.
Our late form of popular government was doubtless, at the time of its adoption, essential to our progress as a people. In time, however, that very progress developed its organic errors and its longer in adaptation to our wants and welfare. It had conferred such privileges upon the masses, as to cause it to be difficult, now that it is gone, to effect suitable changes – under a continued presence of peace. …
In the new system which is to be organized after all the slave states shall come together, and the present tempest somewhat subsided, all sources of public corruption are to be cut off, as far as is possible; and prominently among the subjects for consideration will be those of universal suffrage and the naturalization laws. In either of which lie concealed great sources of trouble to our national peace, dignity, and strength.”
Here is one of the most explicit statements of ethnic and cultural division in America, J. Quitman Moore’s “Southern Civilization, or, the Norman in America”:
“But, when the eye was turned from the contemplation of these social phenomena to a survey of the political institutions of the country, it required no remarkable strength of observation to discover that there were two distinct nationalities existing on the soil of Great Britain; and of the two, the Norman was the ruler.
The Teutonic and the Latin – the Northern and the Southern – types of civilization, with their diverse social systems, their incompatibility of ideas, opinions, and institutions, and their ineradicable national prejudices, were brought into the presence of each other, under the exigencies of a compulsory political union; and so long as the dominant race maintained the principles and institutions that were the native outgrowth of its civilization, its ascendancy was complete.
Aristocracy, based on the feudal relation, is the natural expression of the political thought of the Norman – a social condition, resting on the principle of subordination, and recognizing the family as the primary basis of social union. Democracy, founded on the idea of an unlimited individualism, and without any reference to the conservative organism of institutions, is the fundamental conception of the political philosophy of the Teuton or Saxon.
The English constitution is the result of a compromise between these two hostile systems, with the Norman element always in the ascendant, save during the brief reign of Cromwell.
But the Roundhead, at once a religious fanatic and a political agitator and reformer, could conceive of no government but the rule of the Saints, and form no other idea of the principles of civil liberty than what the levelling philosophy of the covenant taught. A bigot in faith and an idealist in speculation, his sentiments were violent and his convictions impracticable. A visionary from principle and a revolutionist from interest, his prejudices allowed no compromise, while his passions fed equally the flame of his cupidity and ambition. Austere in his morals and inflexible in his principles, he set up his own conduct as the standard of right, and sought to dictate the opinions and control the convictions of others. Rude in his manners and morose in his disposition, he practiced the profoundest dissimulation, while attaining credit for sincerity, and concealed his real character and designs under the cloak of hypocrisy. . . .
Opposite under the banner of the king, stood the Cavalier – the builder, the social architect, the institutionalist, the conservator – the advocate of rational liberty and the supporter of authority, as against the licentiousness and morbid impulse of unregulated passion and unenlightened sentiment. No idealist, enthusiast or speculative system-builder, upheaving ancient landmarks and overthrowing venerable monuments; but a realist, a practical and enlightened utilitarian, bowing to the authority of experience and acknowledging the supremacy of ideas, forms and institutions that had received the hallowing sanction of time . An institutor by genius and a ruler by race, his pride was at once the sword of his most eminent virtues and greatest weaknesses, while honor was the touchstone of his character. Chivalrous in sentiment and magnanimous in deed, glory was his ambition, and loyalty the inspirer of his every thought, impulse and action. Elevated in his ideas and tolerant in his views, his selfishness was vicarious and his very faults wore the semblance of virtue. Unyielding in his principles, but compromising in his opinions, his conduct was governed more by sentiment than reflection, and more by association than either. Courtly in his manners and splendid in his tastes, a knightly generosity he practiced even toward his foes, and never lost his faculties in volumptuousness. Without being an abject advocate of passive obedience or a supporter of arbitrary power, he yet took ground against the revolutionary party, not as an enemy to liberal institutions or a well-regulated liberty: but, discovering in the doctrines and principles of the revolution a greater danger to the social and political system than from the alleged existing abuses, he preferred yielding his loyalty rather to institutions than abstractions, and felt it a duty to attempt to quench the lights of the incendiary philosophy, whose torch had been applied to the noblest monuments of civil wisdom yet erected by the genius of man …”
Union sympathizers want to scream “slavery, slavery, slavery” in order to shout down their opponents and obscure two fundamental truths about the Confederacy: the first being that the abolition of slavery didn’t settle the real issue, which was the nature of the Union that brought about secession; the second being that the Confederacy was a conservative revolt against Americanism, and that the real object of the Confederate war effort was the ultimate defeat the North’s system of liberal democracy and all the misguided abstract Enlightenment nonsense that had inspired it.
Might we have been better off in the long run as an independent nation with our own government? What if our armies had triumphed in 1865 and we had defeated American democracy which is “founded on the idea of unlimited individualism” and which had “demoralized” the “high character” and statesmanship of the South?” What if we had replaced the Enlightenment-inspired system, and its unqualified embrace of the progressive creed of Modernity, with a more traditional, European-style of civilization that looked to Antiquity and the Middle Ages for inspiration?
Aristocracy, the “natural political expression of the political thought of the Norman,” rests on “the principle of subordination.” This is a full throated defense of a hierarchical social order which goes far beyond slavery and racial issues and completely rejects any conception of “equal rights” or “social justice.” Moore is referring here to the classical metaphysical concept of a Great Chain of Being which subordinates mankind to God, wives to husbands, children to their fathers, the individual to the family unit, etc. This understanding of the universe used to be taken for granted in European Christendom and leaves no room for any mythical “social contract” as the basis of social order.
In our own times, the Confederate Battle Flag is becoming a symbol of rebellion against political correctness. In the past, it is better understood as a symbol of a rebellion and worldview which left no space for political correctness to germinate. For both of these reasons, I support the Confederate Battle Flag.