“In order to be free, we must be respected: and to this end we must defend our good name.”
Robert Lewis Dabney
If you hang around here long enough, you’ll often read me defend today’s traditional Southerners, a marginalized and shrinking group they may be. I was pleased to hear this sentiment expressed in the Neoreactionary podcast Ascending the Tower: Episode 1, produced by the Hestia Society. John Joel Glanton, a Tennessean and writer for Social Matter, brought up some excellent points about contemporary Southern culture. I’ll quote a part of their exchange, which begins around the 10:00 mark:
Nick B. Steves: Basically, I’m a culturally conservative Christian, have been all my life. This is something I’ve come to call a natural reactionary, and I do find that a lot of Southern conservatives have an issue with Neoreaction, sometimes it seems like almost an allergy. Can you get a little bit behind that mindset that causes that, that Southerners and Neoreactionaries you’d think would be on the same side on a lot of issues, and yet there’s enormous hostility.
John Glanton: I think a lot of what gets dismissed as anti-intellectualism in the South is kind of a healthy skepticism of academia, and I think a lot of that is the same sort of instinct that makes folks suspicious of, you know, if I go off to the internet or the great beyond and come back calling myself a monarchist neoreactionary, well people are going to be a little skeptical of that, just like if I went off to college and I came back and said, “Now I’m an intersectional transfeminist” or something. You call it an allergy, and I don’t think that’s incorrect, its kind of a defensive mechanism, you’re suspicious of that sort of discourse because that discourse is consistently hostile to you. That’s the reason why I’m not really in a hurry to call myself a neoreactionary or a reactionary or a traditionalist, I’ll just call myself a conservative or a Southern conservative. Those are my folks and they’re kind of rightly and justifiably suspicious of people that ‘talk fancy.’
Mr. Glanton brings up something I’ve touched on in the past, namely that the traditional Southern culture is alive and possesses strong inherent prejudices against outside influences. This attitude is a strength because it makes us naturally resistant to manifestations of Leftism, while it can be a weakness because it ensures we are relegated to irrelevance, at least in the contemporary milieu.
It’s undeniable that a certain amount of intellectual philosophy will be necessary when the time comes to overturn the current Leftist establishment and rebuild a society grounded in traditionalist principles. But we should be vigilant to ensure we do not stray from our principles while theorizing and analyzing, something that some in the reactosphere have been wont to do. As George Fitzhugh put it in 1854:
“Philosophy is always wrong and instinct and common sense always right, because philosophy is unobservant and reasons from narrow and insufficient premises, whilst common sense sees and observes all things, giving them their due weight, comes to just conclusions, but being busied about practical every day matters, has never learned the process of abstraction, has never learned how to look into the operations of its mind and see how it has come to its conclusions. It always judges rightly, but reasons wrong.”
The lesson here is to not easily dismiss the seemingly ignorant prejudices of the common folks. As Rightists, we should remember that we are ultimately their representatives, not in the democratic sense, but in the custodial sense. We work on the premise that reinstating a traditional society is ultimately beneficial for (nearly) all the people of our respective thedes. Many in the reactosphere, particularly those with no real thede to defend, seem to get caught up in the idea that they are coming up with a “new school of thought,” when in reality we are simply trying to breathe new life into the oldest school of thought there is. We are not here to be edgy, original, or cool. We are not here to become the new aristocracy or appoint a monarch for the sake of having a monarchy. We do what we do for God and the homefolks. Those are our ends. Everything else is a means.
The white traditional South is my thede. We are distinct from every other group of people on the planet, and therefore a civil code, economic system or government structure perfectly fitted for Massachusetts or Nigeria will undoubtedly be ill suited for us. We have a base of people still entrenched in the traditional mindset, and we have a centuries-old (mostly) Rightist political tradition. These make our position a relatively strong one. What we lack is a real aristocracy which is tied to the people; a cadre of explicitly Southern, and explicitly Rightist, leaders. Conservatism Inc. poaches just about everyone we produce who cares about politics, ultimately diverting our intellectual energies towards helping those who would destroy us for good.
I have posted my humble plan for digging ourselves out of this hole and preserving our way of life. There are those who say this is an impossible task, that our time has passed and we are merely counting days until we are relegated to the historical dustbin. I don’t deny it; indeed, I concede that it is likely. But that doesn’t absolve us from anything – worthiness of defense always supersedes odds of success.