I’ve written several times about the possibility of secession—of a (hopefully) peaceful dissolution or separation of the United States. To be clear, I do not want that to happen, and I fear such a separation would be anything but peaceful. But if it means a world where the progressive crazies can test out their wacky theories and policies in their own land with its own borders—and I am well outside of those borders—then it may be the best possible of all options.
I tend to disagree with Daniel Webster’s assessment that “Liberty and Union” are “now and forever, one and inseparable.” While I think the Union of the States did at one time strengthen the defense of liberty, it increasingly seems that the Union—as manifested through the power of the federal government—is trampling those liberties. I prefer John C. Calhoun’s rejoinder to Andrew Jackson: “The Union, next to our liberty, most dear. May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States and by distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union.” The Union is great, but only so far as it preserves liberty and the rights of States.
Quoting John C. Calhoun favorably, of course, is dangerous in these woke times, as he was an evil slave owner (per the social justice warriors) and argued that slavery was a “positive good.” Of course the man wasn’t right about everything, but he was right about States’ rights and the importance of liberty. I can acknowledge that Truth without accepting his other beliefs.
But I digress. It seems that secession or peaceful separation is not merely a conservative pipe dream, a distant hope for some second chance at liberty. The progressives are getting in on the action. The ultra-progressive publication The Nation has a long op-ed published entitled “The Case for Blue-State Secession.” Most of the piece is ridiculous Leftist dogma, but the fact that the totalitarian Left is toying with the idea is intriguing.
The American experiment in self-government is at perhaps its lowest ebb since the 1850s, a decade whose division and partisan rancor rival our own. That decade’s statesmen’s failures to address sectional tensions—and, ultimately, to reconcile two fundamentally incompatible views of the world—resulted in the secession of eleven States that no longer believed the national government was acting in accordance with the Constitution.
It brings me no joy to make such a grim assessment, nor to contemplate what comes next as a result, but it is a necessary task. My sincerest wish is that our great Union remain intact, and that we see some restoration of constitutionalism. An increase in States’ rights and federalism—greater sovereignty at the State level and less power at the federal level—would go a very long way in resolving at least some of our national issues.
A major theme of this blog has been the restoration of rural America, and the promotion of the idea that the future of the United States rests in its rural areas and small towns. I have often touted the affordability and the decency of the country as major selling points to those looking for a change of scenery.
So this piece at The Abbeville Insitute—Travis Holt’s “Thirty Pieces of Silver“—grabbed my attention. Holt is a native son of the Ozarks in Arkansas, and he writes movingly about how his ancestors carved a livelihood out of the rough mountains of a challenging wilderness. He details the sweat and toil that went into improving the land, and of gradually expanding small family plots.
Holt also describes a process all-too-familiar in the New South: the commercialization of those hard-won family plots. Holt does not denounce the sale of family lands in general, as he recognizes the economic hardships and the lure of better lives, but he does lament the sacrifice of heritage, history, and family to the whims of the market. His essay grapples with the complexity of that loss, and his own determination to keep his familial lands.
Yesterday, I wrote about the destruction of statues of American leaders—the destruction of American history. My position is that tearing down virtually any statue—Confederate, Union, Theodore Roosevelt, etc.—is the untenable erasure of our nation’s history. Further, the historic illiteracy of the woke SJWs has seen the defenestration of statues of abolitionists—an absurdity for groups that claim to be fighting against the legacy of slavery.
In that context, I made a big deal about the toppling of a statue of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln has assumed something of a demigod status in American history, one that glosses over some of the thorny issues of how to respond to the secession of the Southern States (a real question at the time was, having opted into the Constitution, could States later opt out; for a good biographical read on that issue, check out “A Voice of Reason” by John Marquardt at the Abbeville Institute). Lincoln was certainly a man with many noble qualities, and a keen constitutional mind. The toppling of his statues is the height of insanity—or nearly so.
Poet Archibald MacLeish wrote that the American “West is a country in the mind, and so eternal.” The American South may be the same, but it’s more—it’s a country in the soul. It’s the culture, the faith, the land, the people—these elements truly make the South “the South.”
The South has been changing for a long time, but those old virtues are still present here, even if they are fading. The wickedness of modernity probes its tentacles into every crevice of every society, and the South is no different. We’ve managed to capitalize on the material benefits of modernity without sacrificing our souls entirely—yet—but the unrealized dream of the Reconstruction Era Radical Republicans to remake Southern society into the image of the North is rapidly becoming reality.
That said, the South and its more adventurous cousin, the West, have managed to hold onto the important things in life, namely faith, family, and work. In the United States, the vast belt from my native South Carolina in the east, driving westward to Texas, and up through at least Nebraska (that’s for you, NEO), still maintain sanity in a nation that is increasingly unhinged with an addiction to postmodern progressivism.
Not to say that Northerners don’t love their families or God, but the governing ethos of Yankeedom is materialist efficiency über alles. Even the terse attitudes and abrupt styles of conversation suggest little room for even the most cursory pleasantries. The propensity with which Northerners sling around f-bombs is one of the more dramatic reminders of what cultural differences exist between America’s two great regions even to this day (although, alas, I hear more and more Southerners engaging in sloppy manners and foul language).
But I digress. I’ve made enough sweeping generalizations for one Lazy Sunday. You can read more of my sweeping generalizations about vast swaths of the country in these essays, all about fair Dixie:
“Reblog: Conan the Southern?” – This post looked at a better post from The Abbeville Institute about Texan Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian. Howard’s tough Texas upbringing and Jacksonian derring-do inspired the ferocious barbarian hero, a self-made man in a world of evil wizards and sinister forces.
“The Hispanicization of Rural America” – After driving through some parts of western South Carolina and noticing there were only Hispanics, I wrote this post, lamenting the replacement of white and black Southerners. Here’s the key paragraph:
I don’t like seeing my people—the people of South Carolina—being displaced in their communities by foreign invaders who speak a different language, who don’t care about our Constitution, and who don’t want to adopt our hard-won culture of liberty. It took from 1215 to 1776 to get from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence; do we really want to throw away 561 years of Anglo-Saxon common law and careful cultural-political development in the name of multiculturalism?
“The Invasion and Alienation of the South” – The Abbeville Institute is the gift that keeps on giving. This post discussed an essay called “A Stranger in a Strange Land,” about a young Louisiana woman’s sense of total alienation in an ostensibly Southern city, Dallas. She also details the leftward shift, politically, of Southern cities, which I have observed in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina—increasingly a colony of Ohio.
I’ve also been interested in the potential cultural impact. Already there seems to be a minor revival in interest in gardening. Part of that is prudent: we need to have some food to fall back on should the supply chains face further disruption.
But I also suspect some of it is spiritual. Modern man has become divorced from his roots in the soil—in Creation. Modernity has liberated us from the constant fear of want, but that liberation came with a price: we traded the liberty of the soil for the chains of comfort. Growing a little vegetable garden, however meager, is a way to reconnect with the land, and with the beauty of God’s Creation.
“The Future of Barbecue” – The inspiration for this post was a piece at the Abbeville Institute, which detailed the deleterious effect of “mass,” or mass-market, barbecue chains on mom and pop barbecue joints, as well as the tradition of community barbecue. It’s one of the many interesting chapters in the negative consequences of unbridled economic growth and efficiency at the cost of tradition and community.
“Shrinkflation” – Another SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive, this piece examines the shrinking size of beloved foodstuffs. Did you know a two-liter Coke isn’t really two-liters anymore? Ever noticed how Twinkies don’t seem as big as they used to appear? Well, in an effort to cut cost (and, presumably, to bamboozle consumers), many food processors cut the sizes of their products in order to hide cost increases from customers. I’ve had the gnawing feeling lately that the future we live in is far less amazing than it’s supposed to be; here’s another example of reality disappointing us yet again.
“Bologna” – I was really stretching when I wrote this post (just this past Friday), but, well, I love bologna. In our current age of hyper-politicization, even the sandwich meat we consume says something about socio-economic status and our outlook on life. Bologna is the humble mystery meat of the workingman, and I cherish its delicious, cost-effective flavor.
That’s it! I’m looking forward to stuffing my face with gleeful abandon over the next few days (you know, to celebrate the Birth of Jesus). Then I’ve got to reverse course; my jeans are ever-snugger, and my double-chin has slowly made a comeback. Yikes!
The Lazy Sundays roll on! Today marks the first Sunday of Advent season, as we metaphorically prepare for the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But instead of doing a compilation of heartwarming holiday posts, we’re soldiering on with our “Best of the Reblogs” (see Part I and Part II).
“Reblog: The Normalization of Ugliness Inevitably Becomes The Denigration of Beauty” – This post was a reblog from the ultra-controversial Chateau Heartiste website, which was so full of edgelord red pillery that the SJWs at WordPress finally pulled the plug. While there was some truly despicable stuff at CH, it also hosted some hard, gut-punching Truths. The original post argued that we’ve gone to the extreme of accepting all sorts of grotesqueries not just as people, but as the new standard of beauty—to the point that having objectively beautiful people in advertisements is seen as “hate speech.” Of course we should love all people, but we don’t—and shouldn’t—pretend that everyone is pretty, or that every lifestyle is healthy.
“Reblog: Conan the Southerner?” – One of the many great posts from The Abbeville Institute, this bit of literary history detailed the development of Conan the Barbarian, and the muscular barbarian’s creator’s origins and upbringing in hardscrabble Texas. Conan is not just a wildman from the steppes; he’s a man of the Old South.
“Galaxy Quest II: Cox Blogged” – I wrote a post, “Galaxy Quest,” about our attempts to understand the vastness of our own galaxy. Longtime blog (and real life) friend Bette Cox linked me to some of her own work on astronomy and cosmology, and this post was an attempt to bring those writings to a (slightly) wider audience. I’ve been reading Bette’s material for about a year, and had no idea how much she wrote about astronomy, cosmology, and space.
That’s it for this week’s Lazy Sunday. Enjoy the start of the Christmas season.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changing, dying rural communities I observed on a trip through western South Carolina. You’re not supposed to say as much, but I don’t like that the culture and the world I grew up in are changing. I’m not sure when it became taboo to say, “This is my home and these are my kin,” but apparently that’s no longer acceptable if you’re a conservative Christian in the American South, especially if you’re a white man.
Around the time I wrote that post, I stumbled upon two excellent posts from the Abbeville Institute that express that sentiment beautifully. One, “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Leslie Alexander, is a poetic, heartbreaking glimpse at a personal sense of alienation: the writer, a Louisiana native with deep roots, finds herself adrift in Dallas, a land that lacks not only has “no regional culture here—one of common language, mores and manners–there is not even an American one.”
The other, from Nicole Williams, is a more technical and historical dive into the emergence of the “New South,” the story of how an economically devastated postbellum region, in a search for economic opportunity, ultimately sold its culture and identity for a mess of pottage. The title says it all: “What Price Prosperity?”