In Defense of the Lost Cause 2

Recently, on another blog, a somewhat well-known figure in the “left-libertarian” milieu attacked the circle around the Ludwig von Mises Institute for their association with so-called “neo-Confederates”. I don’t like to attack other radicals/libertarians/anarchists publicly unless they attack me first (like ChuckO Munson and Daniel Owen), so I’m not going to name any names, but these comments raise some important questions.

You’re right, neo-confederates don’t have to be racists. They just have to be tribalists who care a great deal about their blood-and-soil attachment to a particular mythologised collective of molding ancestors. And they have to be specifically attached to a cultural nationalism which happens to be a particularly patriarchal and conservative, order-and-rank closed society. And in order to do that, they have to hop evasive rings around the hideous and widely publicised historical consequences of that kind of society.”

Most human beings are tribalists of some sort, including cultural leftists. The specific sets of rituals and taboos may be different, but the capacity for herdthink, groupthink and intolerance of the Other is the same. For instance, liberals and leftists frequently speak of poor whites in the same manner as racists speak of blacks.  And what is so wrong with an attachment to “blood and soil”? As opposed to what? Impersonal and remote abstractions like “humanity”, “the world”, “society”, etc.? How are these any more legitimate than “blood and soil”? As for patriarchy, ever spent any time around urban black males, Latino, Arab, or Asian immigrants? The average Joe White Guy is a committed feminist compared to some of these. And what about the “hideous historical consequences” of Lincoln’s war to “save the Union”? Six hundred thousand or so dead, for starters? The end of the federal republic in favor of a centralized nationalist regime, followed by the growth of the American empire, US entry into WW2, Versailles, Nazism, WW2, the Holocaust, the Stalinist seizure of Eastern Europe, the Cold War, the arms race, present day American foreign policy and other minor details of history?

“No, neo-confederatism isn’t essentially about racism- it’s about anti-thinking tribalist romanticism of America’s most closed society in the face of mountains of real-world evidence as to the nature of this kind of culture.”

Yeah, as opposed to the PC hysterics in your typical university sociology department.

 “Some leftists just will not face the reality of atrocities which occur in non-Western cultures, because it affronts a certain naive picture of the world which they wish to believe in disregard of all facts. Neo-Confederates do the same- but without any possibly equivalent excuse of ignorant idealism or good intentions.”

So leftists who gloss over clitoridectomies, honor killings, or, presumably, human sacrifice are merely misguided idealists while southerners who claim pride in their heritage while overlooking the brutality of slavery or the maliciousness of Jim Crow are sinister monsters.

“Why would anyone who believes in the free spirit and the creative original mind ever get involved with this kind of movement? What kind of mentality would you have to adopt in order to feel a deep, fundamental attachment to the legacy of Dixie? What kind of individualist could care this much about any traditional, inherited identity instead of who they might be and ought to be as an individual?”

What about all the supposed freethinking leftoids who idealize Third World tyrants like Castro or Mugabe? What about the leftoid obsession with identity politics?

“And of course, most neo-confederates are in fact racists, and everyone knows this. One obvious reason for this is the brazen fact that slavery and racism were defining structural features of antebellum Southern society, and that anyone who truly holds these evils in the proper horrified contempt would never desire to sanction a movement even partially infected by that kind of taint.”

Why is this any special sin as opposed to, say, Enlightened Liberal Christopher Hitchens’ support for aggressive war, or Black Liberal Charlie Rangel’s support for the draft, or racism-hating but drug war-loving Liberal Democrats Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer?

“In the long run the only cure for racism and other forms of prejudice is to learn to see people as choosing, thinking, independent, individuals. Neo-confederates revolt deeply against a broader American society with at least some respect for this “I” in the name of a particularly nasty “we”; ugly persecution of anyone who won’t go along with maintaining fake self-esteem which is the purpose of that “we” is just a consequence. Deeply racist societies are deeply racist because they are anti-individualist; anyone who tries to romanticise anti-individualist cultures while denying that racism has anything to do with it is either dreaming or just plain lying.”

This is a joke. Individualism is a dirty word to many leftoids and liberals. How are “neo-Confederates” any kind of special offenders?

“Then there’s the practical point: what do you think a revived Confederate States of America would mean for black people. gays and lesbians, women, non-Christians, etc. trapped in the South? An independent South would ban abortion and reinstate state persecution of homosexuals on the second day after independence. I doubt they’d re-establish slavery, but some how I doubt life would improve for human beings of the browner variety.”

What about Enlightened Liberal California with its huge prison industry and where the Prison Guards Union practically runs the state government? Somehow I doubt California’s prison system is filled with Capitalist Pigs and Reactionary Enemies of the Peoples’ Revolution. What about Enlightened Liberal New York with its Rockefeller drug laws? What about the Upholder of our Sacred Constitutional Rights US federal government with its massive police state the components of which are too numerous to list? What about the US empire and the mere million or two people it has killed in Iraq over the last couple decades?

“especially given that an independent South would be one ruled even more thoroughly ruled by the class-based old-boy networks who form the South’s real power structure.”

As opposed to the models of government with integrity that reign in the blue states and in Washington, D.C.?

“The only good thing I can imagine coming out this situation is that it might allow the rest of the United States to recover the institutions of the open society (might, being the key word; the South is far from the only thing devouring the soul of “the land of the free” right now). But it would not justify abandoning every women, queer, young-person, and non-white to the fate which would be in store for them behind the closed doors (or the iron curtain) of the Mason-Dixon line.”

Yes, it’s those damn southern hillbillies who are responsible for turning the federal government into the fascist monstrosity it’s become. And all this time I thought they were busy trying to find a job and feed themselves. And all those black city officials I see here in the capital of the old Confederacy are just an illusion, and the thriving gay counterculture that exists in my city is a figment of my imagination. And I guess it’s just the federal government and the Enlightened Example of the Yankee and West Coast Bolsheviks that keeps all those young female college students who run up and down my block in shorts and halter tops out of the burkhas and veils.

“Neo-confederates, in short, are not white hats. The principles of 1789 and 1968 just do not mix with the mythology of the Lost Cause.”

Yes, those great liberators and anti-authoritarians, the Jacobins and their favorite invention, the guillotine, and the Trotsky, Mao and Castro loving Paris rioters.

Isn’t it amazing that those who talk the loudest about “tolerance” have least amount of it? “Tolerance” Fascists are just the Moral Majority of the Left.

2 comments

  1. Yep.

    The place where moral philosophy and psychology meet is increasingly turning up support for the primacy of the place of COMMUNITY, one among apparently 5 moral “senses” described by Jonathan Haidt, Steven Pinker, et al. The others: AUTHORITY, PURITY, HARM and RECIPROCITY.

    Haidt describes wealthy, educated liberals (both of the Reason/”Cyberselfish” type as well as The New Republic/”Creative Class” type) as being primaritly concerned only with Harm and Reciprocity, to the neglect of the others. Of course, as you point out, Community animates many of them too, and most certainly Purity has alot to do with the hysteria over transfat and salmonella, etc., probably a bigger bugaboo on th left than the right.

    Someone like Will Wilkinson, whom I respect (I’ll admit, I’m one of those Reason types as far as lifestyle and temperment go), thinks that states should have a hand in bolstering purely HARM and RECIPROCITY, while trying to squash the others. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! When “even” someone like Obama signals his preference for the Harvard bright young things by completely reducing the hinterland anger to purely economic grievances brought about by a lack of proper educatin’, we’re seeing more of the in-group/out-group action that right-minded secular humanists think can be overcome. Again, good luck with that.

    My preference – and it’s just that – for possessive individualism, hedonism and a commercial society is just that, a preference. Decentralize! I’ll have my Amsterdam while the neo-confederates, Mennonites and Green communitarians get their ideal “village”, if that be the stereotype attributed to them.

    I mentioned this in the yahoo forum, but Slavoj Zizek has a book out with the same title as this post. Interesting to see what he has to say.

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