Book Review: Cracker Culture by Grady McWhiney

Bottom Line Up Front: Required reading for anyone interested in the origins and essence of Southern culture. Go here to buy.

Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South is an essential book for understanding the “mind of the South” which has flummoxed and eluded outsiders for centuries. Grady McWhiney, born in Louisiana and educated at Columbia, clearly and concisely presents the evidence for his oft-overlooked and underappreciated thesis – that Southern culture, at least that of the lower-class “Crackers,” is primarily an evolution of the ancient Celtic culture of early Southern settlers, who largely came from Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales. Mr. McWhiney goes about his task systematically and categorically, presenting reams of evidence which, while mostly anecdotal, tend to press his points home by sheer force of weight.

For the unfamiliar, it should be noted at the start that there has never existed a singular “Southern culture.” Deep Appalachia, for example, shares few commonalities with the coastal South, and there exists thousands of variations in between, dictated by geographical, historical, and biological peculiarities. With some exceptions, the glue which binds these varieties together is their shared lineage, cultural and biological, with their Celtic forebears. This has also been among the most significant dividing lines between the Northern and Southern cultures. McWhiney uses various methods of analysis, but taken as a whole is seems the South was settled mostly by Scot-Irish and other Celts – among British settlers, the Celtic to English ratio in the South tends to range from 60%-80%, with the ratio more-or-less reversed for the early Northern states.

McWhiney introduces what will become a prevailing theme early – Northern and English abhorrence of Celtic ways. He writes:

The English, in general, found Celtic ways barbarous and disgusting; they spoke of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales as “frightful” places and of Celtic people as being “wicked,” “savage,” and “indolent drunkards.” ….

The New England Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson summed up English as well as Yankee views on the subject when he explained that “what we think of when we talk of English traits really narrows itself to a small district. It excludes Ireland, and Scotland, and Wales…. As you go north into … Yorkshire, or you enter Scotland, there is a rapid loss of all grandeur of mien and manners; a provincial eagerness and acuteness appear; the poverty of the country makes itself remarked, and a coarseness of manners [prevails]…. In Ireland, are the same climate and soil as in England, but less food, no right relation to the land,… and an inferior or misplaced race.”

Celts, in turn, despised the English. They resented English self-glorification, English attempts to outlaw and to abolish Celtic culture and traditions, and English claims that they were responsible for what civilization existed in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Stop me when it starts sounding familiar.

While Yankees felt a special kinship towards England – Emerson said that the Yankee “is only the continuation of the English genius into new conditions, more or less propitious” – Southerners found little to admire. Mary Chesnut was typical when she wrote, “The British is the most conceited nation in the world, the most self-sufficient, self-satisfied, and arrogant.” This was no accident of history. In Mr. McWhiney’s words, the Celtic and English worldviews of the 17th and 18th centuries “were not just different – they were antagonistic.” It was inevitable that their animosity would be imported into the Americas.

The Celts brought with them to the Old South leisurely ways that fostered idleness and gaiety, a society in which people favored the spoken word over the written and enjoyed such sensual pleasures as drinking, smoking, fighting, gambling, fishing, hunting, and loafing. In Celtic Britain and in the antebellum South family ties were much stronger than in England and in the antebellum North; Celts and Southerners, whose values were more agrarian than those of Englishmen and Northerners, wasted more time and consumed more liquor and tobacco and were less concerned with the useful and the material. Englishmen and Northerners, who favored urban villages and nuclear families, were just the opposite; imbued with a work ethic and commercial values, they were neater, cleaner, read and wrote more, worked harder, and considered themselves more progressive and advanced than Celts and Southerners.

Mr. McWhiney does an admirable job of explaining that many of the so-called “negatives” of Celtic Southern culture, such as nomadic lifestyle, indolence, and substandard living conditions, were not byproducts of the slave society but simply imported from the Old World. Even if slavery did suppress white labor, it is not at all clear that these Crackers would have eschewed their leisure time for additional work. When one Yankee do-gooder told a Southern farmer that “a set of books on scientific agriculture” could teach him to “farm twice as good as you do,” the Southerner replied, “Hell, son, I don’t farm half as good as I know how now.” Celtic Southerners commonly worked for only the amount of time it would take to procure the necessities of life and a minimum amount of comfort, preferring to devote the rest of their time to hunting, visiting, drinking, and other leisure activities – little different from 18th century Scotland and Ireland.

Northerners were often perplexed by this perceived Southern laziness. Mr. McWhiney explains:

Like his Celtic ancestors, the Southerner cared little for what outsiders thought of him; he was pleased enough with where and how he lived. Though he was perhaps not as opulent as he might have liked, his condition represented a compromise between the comforts desired and his unwillingness to work especially hard to obtain them. His rural and pastoral traditions shaped his needs and wants in housing as it did in other things.

A far cry indeed from Yankee industry. This satisfied and fulfilled existence is an integral component to John Crowe Ransom’s concept of the “Established Society” – one that makes a steady and conservative peace with nature, rather than one in which the “pioneering spirit” takes a permanent hold. Yankee austerity and industry presented many material benefits, truly, but at the cost of a churning and constant transformation of their lifestyle until it becomes – as today – unrecognizable. Celtic “laziness,” while perhaps not conducive to luxurious civilization on a grand scale, results in a contented person who spends his days in the simple enjoyment of life, rather than an everlasting striving for more, more, more.

Another manifestation of Celtic simplicity was in the use – or lack thereof – of money and economics. Whereas the English and Yankees placed primary importance on monetary worth – one German questioned “the spiritual state of a country which… estimates a man’s value in terms of his income” – Southerners “disdained people who devoted their lives to the making of money.” As one Englishman put it, there was “no part of the world where great wealth confers so little rank, or is attended with so few advantages” as in the South. As a result, many ignorant and trusting Crackers were routinely exploited by Northern “dollar-chasers.” However, Mr. McWhiney cautions against believing that the Crackers were stupid, or simpletons. While they disdained reading and education, they were often very witty, demonstrated a “quickness of comprehension,” and were “well supplied with common sense.” Theirs was simply an intelligence adapted to their surroundings and mode of life – a funny quip was more conducive to their happiness than a library of scientific tomes.

I would not recommend Cracker Culture to a newcomer to Southern history or culture. Because Mr. McWhiney primarily uses contemporary accounts from Northerners and Englishmen to make his case, one can get the impression that the antebellum South was simply a great miserable mudpit in which wholly uncivilized barbarians drank, stabbed, shot, and lazed themselves to death. As I said, Mr. McWhiney is categorical and systematic; he is concerned with his subject alone and does not stray from it. While the case for his thesis is the better for it, this book simply must be supplemented with other studies in order to receive a holistic picture of what antebellum Southern life was like.

Mr. McWhiney discusses in detail Celtic vs. English, and Southern vs. Northern, work habits, drinking, clannishness, fighting spirit, hospitality, values, and morals, in each instance demonstrating the strong connections between the Old World and the New. He closes with an explicit statement on the innate and essential differences between the Northern and South civilizations, something we here at LTC like to harp on. By 1861, both Northerners and Southerners were ready to put their two great worldviews to the test of battle:

In 1860 George Fitzhugh announced that the division between Southerners and Northerners was more than a “sectional issue” – it was a clash between “conservatives and revolutionaries;… between those who believe in the past, in history, in human experience,… and those who … foolishly, rashly, and profanely attempt to ‘expel human nature,’ to bring about a millennium, and inaugurate a future wholly unlike anything that has preceded it.” That same year William H. Herndon proclaimed that “Civilization and barbarism are absolute antagonisms. One or the other must perish on this Continent…. There is no dodging the question. Let the natural struggle, heaven high and ‘hell’ deep, gon on…. I am thoroughly convinced that two such civilizations as the North and the South cannot coexist on the same soil…. to expect otherwise would be to expect the Absolute to sleep with and tolerate ‘hell.’”

The Celtic influence on the Southern mind persists today, even if many of its manifestations have been mitigated by our modern society. “The South” today is strongest in those small towns which have seen little outside immigration and thus have by-and-large protected their Celtic blood. Mr. McWhiney’s book does us a valuable service in tracing our cultural heritage back into the Old World.

Book Review: The Mind of the Old South by Clement Eaton

Bottom Line Up Front: Read it for a good overview of the liberal Southern tradition (with complementary annoying liberal perspective) of the antebellum period. Go here to buy.

The Mind of the Old South, published in 1967, serves, for the Reactionary, as a moderately-detailed study of the liberal tradition in the South between the turn of the 19th century to the War Between the States, with emphasis on the 1830-1860 ‘Reactionary Enlightenment.’ Eaton, a Southern liberal from North Carolina, strives hard to justify his viewpoint of the Old South, but ultimately his task is too great and his analysis devolves into passive-aggressive sniping couched in strong cognitive dissonance.

The problem which Eaton cannot overcome is that his dual goals, to highlight the nobility, virtue, and open-mindedness of Southern liberals, and simultaneously the “stifling” conservative culture of the Old South, cannot be reconciled. Either his examples serve one stereotype while contradicting the other, or he finds that his subjects are, quite inexplicably to him, liberal in one aspect of their thinking, like business or education, while conservative in others, like slavery or religion. For example, he finds that although Southern businessmen possessed liberal aspects “that arose out of the very nature of business,” as a whole they failed to “emancipate themselves from agrarian ways of thinking… They were much closer to agricultural and agrarian ideals than were Northern businessmen.”

The word “emancipate” demonstrates the author’s biases admirably. For him, the contemporary North is the golden standard by which to judge the Southern civilisation. Areas where the South differed from the Northern ways of thinking are regarded as moral and intellectual failures. This is the defining characteristic of all liberal and Leftist histories of the South.

It does not occur to Eaton that the Southern conservative worldview was held by men just as much possessed of their intellectual and moral faculties as any Southern, Northern, or European liberals. For him, the act of displaying sympathy or allegiance to any aspect of the Old South is a failing which he assigns to the malevolent conservative influences of Southern society. Either he was an honest historian beset by unconscious biases or a dishonest one actively seeking to appeal to the prevailing Leftist interpretations of history of his time.

The latter view is perhaps enhanced by his choices for archetypes of the liberal and conservative Southern worldviews, and the language he uses to describe these representatives. For the former, he chooses John Hartwell Cocke, “an exemplar of the liberal facet of the Southern mind of the antebellum period.” Eaton spends fifteen pages gushing over Cocke, “one of the few social reformers that the Old South produced.” He assigned the driving force for this impulse to Cocke’s religiousness, calling him a “Puritan cavalier” who crusaded against alcohol and even tobacco use and pursued “an enlightened plan of gradually removing the slaves from the state” and promoted the education of slaves. Eaton says,

The failure of General Cocke to carry out his enlightened program of reform illustrates the difficulties of being a liberal in the Old South. The cards were stacked against the liberals then just as they have been in most periods of history. The inertia opposed to change was extraordinarily powerful in the Old South. The overwhelmingly rural condition of society, the existence of slavery, the masses of illiterate and provincial voters, the strongly orthodox religion of the people were allied forces to defeat liberalism.

Of course, we can easily infer Eaton’s proscribed antidote from this passage – to urbanize society, free the slaves, educate the voters, and destroy the religion. These things have now been done, and we are living the resultant dysfunction.

As Cocke’s conservative counterpart, Eaton chooses the flawed James Henry Hammond, a man of “unsurpassed intellectual equipment” who failed to live up to his potential due to his adherence to the Southern way of thinking. Eaton goes on to conduct a detailed (and not wholly undeserved) character assassination campaign:

His fortune made him indolent and gave him the leisure to indulge his immoral tendencies, his self-pity, and his morbid taste for being sick… Ever ambitious and self-seeking, Hammond accepted the values of the conservative and aristocratic society into which he had been born.

What’s interesting is that Hammond was not born into the upper-crust of the aristocracy, coming from the less-refined upcountry of South Carolina and marrying into the planter class. Cocke was in fact more immersed in the aristocratic mindset; but, of course, he refused to “accept those [debased] values.” Eaton fails to rise above the petty attacks Hammond’s personality, simply attributing his personal failures to the intellectually and morally impoverished state of the society in which he lived.

Hammond was certainly a Southern conservative, and certainly a flawed man. Why did Eaton choose him to represent the Southern conservative mindset as a whole? Eaton spends very few words on George Fitzhugh, Albert Bledsoe, R.L. Dabney, John C. Calhoun, or any of the perfectly honorable defenders of the Southern tradition. It is easy to see why – to shed more light on these figures damages the carefully constructed narrative of the Southern mind which Eaton is attempting to put together.

The cognitive dissonance mentioned earlier reaches its highest crescendo in the chapter entitled “The Mind of the Southern Negro.” Here the author meets with quite the dilemma – he attempts to show both that slavery “greatly retarded the normal development of Negroes in the South” and that “a considerable number of slave and free Negroes in the South… were able to rise above the general level of the culture of their race and confute the prevailing Sambo image.” Each example given for one hypothesis works against the other. The true story is that slavery generally aided in civilizing the Africans, who were undoubtedly better off than if they had been left as slaves in Africa, and the “remarkable individuals” which Eaton highlights were indeed able to use their proximity to white society, and the humaneness of Southern slavery, to capitalize on their natural gifts.

Eaton uses as an example Reverend John Chavis – a truly remarkable man of which I’ve unfortunately not heard of before, and who does more to hurt his hypothesis than help it. Chavis, a free Negro born in North Carolina, was educated at Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University) in Virginia, and likely also studied at Princeton. Being perfectly free to travel where he might (except, of course, those Northwestern states which had outlawed Negro immigration) he chose to return to North Carolina to preach and teach. He went on to teach both black and white pupils – including some of the most influential and prominent political leaders of his state, referring to US Senators and former students as “My Son” in letters. Unfortunately but necessarily, his school was shut down in the aftermath of the Nat Turner slave revolt, but North Carolina still paid him his salary until his death. Wiki states that he was killed by a mob of whites, though I doubt there is evidence for that other than “local legend.” Eaton does not mention it.

The society which capitalized on Rev. Chavis’s gifts, and which Eaton wishes to characterize as inherently backward, was defended by Rev. Chavis himself. He was strongly opposed to abolitionism, writing, “I am clearly of the opinion that immediate emancipation would be to entail the greatest earthly curse upon my bretheren [sic] according to the flesh that could be conferred upon them especially in a Country like ours.” He goes on to invalidate the slaves’ feelings on the matter: “I suppose if they knew I said this they would be ready to take my life, but as I wish them well I feel no disposition to see them any more miserable than they are.”

The Mind of the Old South is not all bad. It is a good, if slanted, history of the liberal Southern tradition of the antebellum period, and very readable if you can overlook the subtle unsubstantiated and tiresome language employed to denigrate Old Southern society. It is simply another in a long line of works dedicated to psychoanalyzing “the Southern mind” which has apparently perplexed liberal historians for decades. Like the rest of these works, the conclusion is that “the Southern mind” is backward, overly emotional, stupid, or worse. And like the rest, this conclusion is attained through an inability to question Enlightenment notions of How Things Should Be accompanied by some impressive mental gymnastics.

Book Review: A Disquisition on Government by John C. Calhoun

Bottom Line Up Front: Required reading for any Southerner or American interested in the question of good government. Writing can be bit difficult for modern eyes, though fine if you’re used to older texts. Go here to buy.

Disquisition was written as Mr. Calhoun’s introduction and elaboration on his theory of the concurrent majority. This theory would allow minority factions within a constitutional federal government negative, or veto, power over federal government actions, simply by securing a majority within the respective faction. Mr. Calhoun presents this as an alternative to the numerical majority, which would allow government action with a simple majority of citizens or representatives of the entire political body. Mr. Calhoun’s theory has been called the largest real contribution to political science to come from the New World.

The first thing that jumps out is Mr. Calhoun’s entirely accurate critique of the numerical majority, of which the United States government consists, more or less. He points out its tendency to slide from a constitutional government to an absolute one, based on the incentive for the majority to consolidate power by removing the restrictions on itself, as well as concentrating power into a diminishing number of hands in order to wield power more efficiently. What’s more, the numerical majority acts as a force of progress or liberalism over conservatism, as a simple majority will be easier swayed by new, half-baked ideas, while the veto ability of a concurrent majority would theoretically force new legislation to act for the benefit of all.

Any quick perusal of US history will vindicate Mr. Calhoun’s criticisms. Minority factions, like the South, were trampled as the numerical majority wielded the federal government to frightening effect, even prosecuting a horrendous war in order to maintain control over its vassal. The South was, in effect, made a colony to the majority, exploited and abused while the North grew fat and happy. Clearly the negative powers entrusted to the checks and balance system of the Constitution were not sufficient to preserve minority interests, and early Southern leaders were misguided to hitch their respective states to it.

What if the theory of concurrent majority had been adopted? It is an open question. Certainly it would have retarded the onslaught of Progressivism which ground the South up. Would it have enabled the antebellum US government to function? I think not in the long term. The antebellum South and North were two strikingly different societies, and it didn’t take long to figure out that the two shared very little common ground as to which government policies could benefit the whole. But it is an interesting thought experiment. Mr. Calhoun does outline several historical examples of the concurrent majority theory, namely 17th Century Poland and the Iroquois Confederacy of North America.

In the former example, the concurrent majority theory was taken to the utmost extreme, as any individual member of the Polish legislature had the power to veto any legislation, and call an end to any specific session simply by shouting “Nie pozwalam! (I do not allow!).” See: Liberum veto. This ideal of unanimous assent for any law has been rightly criticised (Mr. Calhoun’s suggestion is much less stringent), and Mr. Calhoun acknowledges its role in the eventual deterioration of the Polish Commonwealth, but also points out that the rule was in place and worked for nearly 200 years, covering the zenith of Polish power.

Perhaps the strongest example for the working power of the concurrent majority is the trial-by-jury system practiced everywhere in the West, in which twelve unrelated citizens are forced to come to a unanimous decision in order for anything at all to be accomplished. Mr. Calhoun notes that, when practiced by reasonably intelligent and moral common citizens, this encourages sober analysis and reflection and nearly always results in a just rendering.

Does this idea translate to today? I think, if the United States were to revert to a concurrent majority system tomorrow, it is doubtful that it would do much good. For one, the mainstream (that is to say, white) US no longer consists of very distinct societies with reasonable autonomy, as it did in Mr. Calhoun’s time. Regions and states today are barrelling towards the cultural homogeneity dictated by the Progressivism infection, which has its claws, to some extent, in every state. That said, the racial thedes which exist under the mainstream social layer are of such foreign and alien character to the prevailing white society that no constitutional government would have much hope in aligning the various interests under one roof.

Additionally, it’s doubtful that the concurrent majority model could be optimized for a federal government divided into 50 states, stretched over a quarter of the globe (seriously, why is Hawaii a state?). How many common interests do Alaska, Connecticut, and Alabama have, after all?

I think the best bet for the concurrent majority model to see the light of day in North America, if at all, would be post-US breakup, in a reasonably culturally homogenous region consisting of maybe 10-15 polities. Coincidentally, a near-future independent South would fit this hypothetical bill. While I tend to endorse Mr. Calhoun’s praise of the concurrent majority theory, the first question we must ask is: Do we need a constitutional or absolute government? I think this question is impossible to answer, until we know what the political, moral, intellectual landscape post-USG may look like. Our best bet for the time being is to oppose Progressivism in all of its forms, foster the traditional mindset, and work towards rebuilding the missing piece of the Southern social puzzle – the aristocracy. If this is ably done, the vexatious questions that may come after the downfall of the Leftist Establishment will just about answer themselves.

Book Review: The Southern Tradition by Eugene Genovese

Bottom Line Up Front: Read it for a good, brief introduction to 20th century Southern conservatism. Go here to buy.

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservativism, by Eugene Genovese. Harvard University Press, published in 1994 as part of the William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization.

Regrettably, this is the first I’ve read from the great slavery scholar Eugene Genovese, a New York City-born former socialist turned traditionalist conservative. This short (103 pages) book was the first to come after his “conversion,” and it is a good one which treats its broad subject with balance and candor. Unfortunately, you will encounter some progressivist language, as Genovese couldn’t help but excoriate his subjects with charges of “racism” several times though he avoids sounding shrill or unreasonable. Genovese is a good writer and the book is an easy read, even for those with a limited economic-political vocabulary.

The book is broken into a Preface, Introduction, and three Chapters. I’ll briefly summarize each and sprinkle some choice quotes about.


The author states his bio, and bias, immediately. Surprisingly, although having spent “all except the last eight of his sixty-three years as a resident of New York State” he admits to pretensions to being a (little s-) southerner. I found myself liking this Yankee from the start:

“There are a great many reasons for my southern partisanship, the most important of which arose from my early recognition that the people of the South, across lines of race, class, and sex, are as generous, gracious, courteous, decent – in a word, civilized – as any people it has ever been my privilege to get to know.”

He takes a page or so to outline his conversion from Marxism, establishes his non-racist credentials, etc. Not much to see here.


Here the author traces a very brief sketch of the Southern tradition – “Richard Weaver and his successors have had every right to speak simply of the southern tradition [emphasis in original]” – from the Roman sympathies of the early Southern aristocracy to the poetry of the Southern Agrarians to the Southern conservatives rallying behind Patrick Buchanan in the 1992 Presidential election. Choice quote:

“The argument of this book does not depend upon the political fortunes of the southern conservatives. Rather, it insists that their critique of modernism – and, by extension, of postmodernism – contains much of intrinsic value that will have to be incorporated in the world view of any political movement, inside or outside the principal political parties, that expects to arrest our plunge into moral decadence and national decline.”

Chapter One- Lineaments of the Southern Tradition

Pretty self-explanatory. The author devotes most of this chapter to the Agrarians’ battle against modernity, and late 20th century figures, like M.E. Bradford, and their struggle against the increasingly liberal tendencies of mainstream American conservativism.. He touches on the philosophical roots of Southern hierarchy, anti-capitalism, environmentalism, religious influences, suspicion of science, and the positive connotation given to the words “prejudice” and “discrimination” in the Southern lexicon. He links Southern conservatism to the initial European resistance to the French Enlightenment and the French and Industrial Revolutions. Some quotes:

“Tate and Bradford were eventually driven to proclaim themselves ‘reactionaries,’ for, as Bradford put it, ‘reaction is a necessary term in the intellectual context we inhabit late in the twentieth century because merely to conserve is sometimes to perpetuate what is outrageous.'”

“What goes largely unnoticed is that, on much of the American Right, the conservative critique of modernity has largely given way to a free-market liberalism the ideal of which shares much with the radical Left’s version of egalitarianism. The traditionalists are entitled to gloat, for they have always regarded socialism and radical democracy as the logical outcome of bourgeois liberalism.”

Chapter Two- Political and Constitutional Principles

Here Genovese delves more deeply into the antebellum growth of the Southern tradition. A reactionary eye can here begin identifying the Leftist elements within the post-Revolution South, while noting how the result of Northern pressure was to push most Southern intellectuals to the Right. Slavery morphed from an evil in the eyes of Jefferson and Taylor to a good in the eyes of Calhoun and Fitzhugh. An interesting topic covered here is the latent Southern discontent with the doctrine of States’ Rights, which Genovese posits was simply a tactical position and not integral to the Southern tradition, which he also demonstrates (perhaps not willingly) as inherently incompatible with the Constitution. The egalitarian and demotic document (“We the People…”) simply couldn’t be reconciled with the Southern way of life, and Southerners like Calhoun spent their lives trying to delay the inevitable.

“The constitutional theorists (Mason, St. George Tucker, Taylor, Calhoun, Upshur, Henry St. George Tucker, Bledsoe, and Stephens) could prevail in most of the battles in the textual and historical criticism of the Constitution, much as the proslavery theologians could prevail in the debate over the Biblical sanction for slavery. But they could not refute the fundamental political premise laid down by the Marshall Court and elaborated in Story’s Commentaries – the premise that the Constitution, to undergird a modern republic, had to facilitate capitalist development.”

Chapter Three- Property and Power

Here the author returns to the 20th Century, concentrating on the increasingly difficult choice which Southern conservatives were forced to make – stay true to increasingly deprecated principles, or compromise to stay within the Overton Window? Most chose the latter, especially with regards to the rightful place of slavery and Jim Crow; the repudiated their “white supremacist” ancestors, openly proclaiming a belief in racial equality, which necessarily deconstructs the entire Southern traditionalist position. To make the dual ideals of equality and traditionalism consistent with each other is impossible.

“The perspectives offered by southern conservatives, which I have hastily sketched, remain alive, if at bay: opposition to finance capitalism and, more broadly, to the attempt to substitute the market for society itself; opposition to the radical individualism that is today sweeping America; support for broad property ownership and a market economy subject to socially determined moral restraints; adherence to a Christian individualism that condemns personal license and demands submission to a moral consensus rooted in elementary piety; and an insistence that every people must develop its own genius, based upon its special history, and must reject siren calls to an internationalism – or, rather, a cosmopolitanism – that would eradicate local and national cultures and standards of personal conduct by reducing morals and all else to commodities.”


This book presents a fair, balanced, and informative look at the major strains of the Southern political tradition, and I would’ve liked for it to be longer and more thorough. Still, it is just about the perfect candidate for a short and quick introduction to the subject, and I recommend it for those who are looking to get knowledgeable of the roots and primary facets of the Southern tradition.