On Mainstream Southerners and the Asking of Questions

“Mainstream” Southerners today – that is, Southerners who are largely accepted by polite American society despite maintaining some overt Southern signalling – are quite the curious breed. Most are true thedish Southerners, born and raised in culturally strong Southern areas. Perhaps strangely, most must necessarily actively choose to retain their Southerness; on television, in books, and in school, Southerners are almost without exception presented as the Other. This awkward self-awareness presents the intelligent Southerner with a choice to be made very early on in life: actively resist the often unconscious impulse to suppress Southerness, or actively purge Southern characteristics which may out one as Other. Fortunately, more than a few choose the former.

However, this presents additional difficulties. One who hesitates to jettison all Southern signalling will often be made an object of derision; harmless joking at best, or outright ostracizing at worst. The strong-willed will nonetheless hold the course, to their credit. Unfortunately, even for the non-history-minded there is one large spectre which will always hang over them, preventing them from going too far in overt endorsement of their homeland and their ancestors – racist slavery. The sin of sins.

This creates a strange creature. The mainstream Southerner can only stay mainstream by maintaining a highly irregular, psychologically speaking, interpretation of his people’s history. He can appreciate only a very limited and self-flagellating view of the past. He may endorse his grandfather as a good man, perhaps his great-grandfather, but to go farther back than that is to get into some very morally murky water – racism! the Klan! Jim Crow! lynchings! and ultimately… slavery! How does the mainstream Southerner come to terms with this?

In short, he doesn’t. He is forced to divorce himself from his not-so-ancient ancestors, in much the same way a regular American is divorced from his European origins. To him, the slaveowners were not us; they were fundamentally different, perhaps a mutation of some sort; a primitive or maybe degenerative people with whom we only bear a passing resemblance. We share a geographical region and maybe some blood – if I could count how many times I’ve heard said “Of course my family didn’t own slaves” – at most. This may be all well and good, were it true. In reality, we are them. The slaveowners, the Klansmen, the Confederates are our close ancestors and differ from the modern Southerner in few, if any, appreciable ways. To study them honestly is to study ourselves. To divorce from them is to confound our understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit. Further – it is to ensure the ultimate destruction of our worldview.

To even ask the question – was slavery actually an evil practice? Was Jim Crow segregation driven by anything other than blind hatred? Could there have been – gulp – noble Klansmen? To even contemplate the question is to reveal yourself as not simply the Other, but the Enemy. You are one of those vile racists who have polluted the Southern image! The mainstream Southerner is practically obligated to battle against The Asker of Questions if he has any hope of retaining his mainstream status. This creates a strong incentive against the Asking of Questions and ensures that the Southern worldview, deprived of historical nourishment, will continue to fade.

Slavery, Jim Crow, KKK, etc. are currently used as cudgels to bludgeon mainstream Southerners from straying too far outside of the progressivist interpretation of the South by preventing those Southerners from even questioning it in the first place. “Oh, you think the Old South had some points in its favor? I guess you want to bring back slavery!” Normal people don’t want to be accused of these things and thus find it is far easier to just. Not. Ask. Questions.

How to undermine the power of these cudgels? It’s quite simple, but it requires two things not so easily attained: a willingness to be forcibly removed from the mainstream, and an truly open mind. They are both necessary to allow oneself freedom of movement to investigate these matters in full and gain confidence in your conclusions. Let’s say you find that slavery was, in the end, as great of a moral evil as Garrison would have you believe. Even though your view of history may not have radically changed, the very act of giving Fitzhugh, Hammond, Dabney, and Bledsoe a fair hearing will magically remove the power of the cudgels to influence your thought in any direction whatsoever. This assumes, of course, that you don’t use your newfound perspective to empower the cudgels’ usage on others.

Having performed this same procedure, as near as I might, I have arrived at nearly the opposite conclusion. I may say in honesty that the cudgels have no power over me. Of course, my views are as far from mainstream as you can get, but I may posit that I’ve acquired enough perspective to be able to intrigue people I converse with enough so that they begin questioning some of their deeply-held beliefs. Our initial task with regards to recruitment should be to promote the simple Asking of Questions, rather than immediately winning all of our acquaintances over to our side. To do this ably requires a strong knowledge and perspective on both the Leftist and Rightist interpretations of Southern history.

For those interested in sources, I may refer you to my Recommended Reading page. Additionally, I have a How to Become a Southern Reactionary post in the works, but I will have to put it off for the time being, as I’ll be travelling for the next week. See y’all when I get back.

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11 thoughts on “On Mainstream Southerners and the Asking of Questions

  1. Unrelated to the above, why does a Southern reactionary provide a link to the queer Jack Donovan? Just askin.

    [Admin: Unnecessarily vulgar language removed.}

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    • Steve: I edited your comment because your language is not necessary or appreciated.

      To answer your question, Jack Donovan is an important member of the manosphere/alt-Right who is doing excellent work. For me, he bears much of the responsibility for snapping me out of my liberal-nerfball outlook and getting my journey to the Right started. It wasn’t until much after I read The Way of Men that I learned he was gay – he doesn’t exactly emphasize it.

      I don’t need to endorse everything a person believes or does in order to link to their work. Discerning readers can read for themselves and make their own judgments.

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  2. One thing to remember is that the Klan was a manifestation of Southern Populism, which itself is a reaction to the Reconstruction’s attempt to disintegrate Southern culture. While one can understand the Klan as a reaction against the disenfranchisement and destruction of community wrought by Reconstruction, the Klan is no more a healthy manifestation of culture than a scab is healthy skin. It was a reaction to a wound which itself demonstrated unhealthy demotic aspects. True southern culture is anti-demotic and rejects mob rule in favor of ordered, hierarchical liberty. The Klan can no more be a part of such a society than any other demotic or populist group, and its existence was a sign of the rot in the South, not an essential element of it.

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    • You express my thoughts on the Klan pretty much exactly, though I think some distinction should be maintained between the First Klan of Reconstruction and the 1920s version.
      I hope my meaning in the post isn’t misconstrued though – once people fully understand things like slavery, the Klan, etc, no matter what conclusions one ultimately draws, the magical power wielded against one disappears entirely.

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  3. I’m from the South, although I live outside it and have for many years. This afternoon, I was asked by a friend to compare Abraham Lincoln favorably to a person who was the topic of our conversation. I replied directly, “I’m from the South, and my family history is different from that of people in the North. In my family’s history, Lincoln was the president of a foreign country who made war on us. He sent General Sherman to lay waste, burn, rape, and loot his way through Georgia, where my family is from. By contrast, my ancestors did not invade the Union and never sought to subjugate it. I don’t feel that Lincoln was a particularly admirable statesman, and there’s no reason I should, given my family history.”

    I never take the slavery bait. Slavery was something that was the norm back then, and not just in the American South. If someone tries to tar the South the the brush of slavery, I retort, “I don’t care.”

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  4. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/04/17) | The Reactivity Place

  5. Pingback: The Confederacy Vortex | Losing The Creek

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