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A Triton Among Minnows

Northern Capt. John William DeForest of Connecticut was employed in the postwar as an officer in the Freedmen’s Bureau at Greenville, South Carolina.  A man fully unsuited to his task and condescending to his charges, he referred to his district as “his satrapy” and fully-acknowledged his “native infamy as a Yankee” among South Carolinians who understandably despised he and his government. Nonetheless, he did recognize those at the top of the South’s social scale — “chivalrous Southrons.” He knew that this aristocracy – not unlike this own aristocracy in Connecticut – enjoyed the advantages of tradition and breeding. He appreciated their sense of noblesse oblige, consideration of others, grace of bearing, genuine courtesy, and personal courage. And he did not miss the hot tempers which he termed “pugnacity,” and emphasis on virility.

A Triton Among Minnows

“Southern chivalry, you see, Madame,” said Mr. Calhoun Burden of Greenville, South Carolina to the wife of a United States surgeon.

Mr. Burden, a stoutish, middle-aged gentleman, richly flavored with Durham tobacco and Pickens whiskey, and as proud of himself in his suit of homespun as if it were broadcloth, had called in a reconstructing spirit on the Yankee family and in the course of conversation had found it desirable to put a question to the colored servant-girl.

Making a solemn bow to the mistress of the house, he said, “With your permission, Madame”; then added, in an impressive parenthesis, “Southern chivalry, you see, Madame”; then delivered his query.

That no such delicate behavior was known among the Vandals north of Mason and Dixon’s line; that it could not easily be matched in Europe except among the loftiest nobility; that it was especially and eminently Southern chivalry – such was the faith of Mr. Calhoun Burden.

It was a grotesque and yet not a very exaggerated exhibition of the ancient sectional and personal pride of the Southerner. He never forgot that he represented a high-type of humanity and that it was his duty not to let that type suffer by his representation. In the company of Yankees and foreigners he always bore in mind that he was a triton among minnows, and he endeavored to so carry himself as that the minnows should take note of the superiority of the triton character.

In men of native intelligence and high breeding this self-respect produces a very pleasing manner, an ease which is not assumption, a dignity which is not hauteur, consideration for the vanity of others, grace of bearing, and fluency of speech.”

(A Union Officer in the Reconstruction, J. Croushore/David Potter, Archon Books, 1968, pp. 173-174)

 

 

War for a Certain Interpretation

“We talk of peace and learning,” said Ruskin once in addressing the cadets of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, “and of peace and plenty, and of peace and civilization, but I found that those were not the words which the muse of history coupled together, that on her lips the words were peace and corruption, peace and death.” Hence this man of peace glorified war after no doubt a very cursory examination of the muse of history.”

 War for a Certain Interpretation

“The surrender of the armies of Lee and Johnston brought the struggle to an end. The South was crushed . . . “the ground of Virginia had been kneaded with human flesh; its monuments of carnage, its spectacles of desolation, it’s altars of sacrifice stood from the wheat fields of Pennsylvania to the vales of New Mexico.” More than a billion dollars of property in the South had been literally destroyed by the conflict.

The palpable tragedy of violent death had befallen the family circles of the South’s patriotic not merely twice as frequently as in times of peace, or three times as frequently, or even ten times, but a hundred times as frequently. Within the space of four years was crowded the sorrow of a century. Mourning for more than 250,000 dead on battlefield or on the sea or in military hospitals was the ghastly heritage of the war for the South’s faithful who survived. The majority of the dead were mere boys.

Many strong men wept like children when they turned forever from the struggle. As in rags they journeyed homeward toward their veiled and stricken women they passed wearily among the flowers and the tender grasses of the spring. The panoply of nature spread serenely over the shallow trenches where lay the bones of unnumbered dead – sons, fathers, brothers and one-time enemies of the living who passed.

War is at best a barbarous business. Among civilized men wars are waged avowedly to obtain a better and more honorable peace. How often the avowed objects are the true objects is open to question. Avowedly the American Civil War was waged that a certain interpretation of the federal Constitution might triumph.

To bring about such a triumph of interpretation atrocities were committed in the name of right, invading armies ravaged the land, the slave was encouraged to rise against his master, and he was declared to be free.

“The end of the State is therefore peace,” concluded Plato in his Laws – “the peace of harmony.” The gentle and reasonable man of today has not progressed much beyond this concept. “War is eternal,” wrote Plato “in man and the State.”

The American Civil war strangled the Confederacy and gave rebirth to the United States. It brought forth a whole brood of devils and also revealed many a worthy hero to both sections. Seen through the twilight of the receding past a war is apt to take on a character different from the grisly truth.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, William Watson Davis, Columbia, 1913, pp. 319-322)

Civil, Human and Natural Rights

1964 Presidential candidate Goldwater was the last Old Right conservative to emerge after the marginalization of Robert A. Taft by the leftist Rockefeller wing of the Republican party, who cheered on political-waif Eisenhower as their candidate. Ike’s contribution after eight years as president was to appoint Earl Warren Chief Justice as a political payoff, and warning Americans of the military-industrial complex he helped create.

Civil, Human and Natural Rights

“[The authority of individual States] are easy enough to define. The Tenth Amendment does it succinctly: “The powers not delegated to the United States [government] by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Civil rights should be no harder. In fact, however, thanks to extravagant and shameless misuse by people who ought to know better – it is one of the most badly understood concepts in modern political usage.

“Civil rights” is frequently used synonymously with “human rights” – or with “natural rights.” As often as not, it is simply a name for describing an activity that somebody deems politically or socially desirable. A sociologist writes a paper proposing to abolish some inequity, or a politician makes a speech about it – and behold, a new “civil right” is born! The Supreme Court has displayed the same creative powers.

A civil right is a right that is asserted and is therefore protected by some valid law . . . but unless a right is incorporated in the law, it is not a valid civil right and is not enforceable by the instruments of the civil law.

There may be some rights – “natural” or “human”, or otherwise, that should also be civil rights. But if we desire to give such rights the protection of the law, our recourse is to a legislature or to the amendment procedures of the US Constitution. We must not look to politicians, or sociologists – or to the courts – to correct the deficiency.”

(The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater, Victor Publishing Company, 1960, excerpt pp. 32-33)

Lincoln’s Triumph over the States

Contrary to the following passage, there was no “constitutional riddle of the American federal system” to be discovered as it was crystal clear in the document, but certainly the Founders’ constitution was powerless against designing men and a lack of virtuous citizens. The Founders’ created no nation – but a federated system of sovereign States which had delegated specific powers for a federal agent to exercise, and strictly forbidding any others. The years 1789 through 1860 were filled with steady encroachments and usurpations by the federal agent of the States.

Observing and experiencing the faults of that constitution, the Southern Founders’ altered the former document to better serve those it was intended to govern and protect, with more chains and locks affixed to the agent.

As President Jefferson Davis departed Richmond in 1865 with federal armies at the gates, he mused: “The principle for which we contended is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form.” (Lost Cause, Pollard, pg. 749)

Lincoln’s Triumph over the States

“The election of 1864 demonstrated, conclusively and finally, that Abraham Lincoln had made a nation. At the same moment on the battlefields of the Civil War the constitutional riddle of the American federal system was being resolved.  Within a few months of the election Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Courthouse, and the Southern Confederacy – which had been founded upon the dogma of States’ rights, collapsed. But in the North, Abraham Lincoln had already determined that the nation was supreme and States’ rights outmoded in theory and practice.

Under Lincoln’s leadership the national government had won military control over the manpower of the States. A national economic system based on national banks, the nation-made financial centers, government-subsidized railroads, and a protective tariff had grown strong during the war. And, of necessity, State politics revolved in the national orbit.

In 1860, the [United States] had been on the eve of dissolution. In that year the Republican party, which Abraham Lincoln was to make into a new nationalizing agency, had only a nominal existence. In 1860 the Republican platform had solemnly declared that “the Rights of the States . . . must and shall be preserved,” and had added: “the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment . . .”

Within four years the exigencies of the Civil War had made a mockery of these platform phrases. The governors of the [Northern] States had elected Lincoln and had demanded war upon the States of the South. The governors had failed to raise men for the armies by their unaided efforts, and they had failed to keep political control of their States.

As the governors’ influence declined, Lincoln’s grew. By suspending the writ of habeas corpus, by conscription, and by the use of troops at the polls, Lincoln had saved the Republican party and had made it an instrument to save the Union.

Yet all of this merely confirmed the facts that Lincoln had triumphed over the governors, and the nation had emerged victorious over the States.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knoph, 1955, excerpt pp. 385-386; 389)

Truth, Bromides and Sales Talk

Truth, Bromides and Sales Talk

“It has hardly been grasped that the media have assumed a strange and dominant role in American politics. They have constituted for more than half a century an impermeable barrier between the voters and the candidates. Nothing has been presented without their prior censorship. Whatever this may be, it is not democracy.

Who are these people who proliferate in print, airwaves, and the internet, and who pass down imperious moral pronouncements without any known credentials to do so? Who voted for them? Who gave them such great and irresponsible power?

Merely by speaking the truth, by refusing to bow to their pretensions, [Donald] Trump has weakened their power. That is all it took. Simply speak the truth, and the “commentators” and “reporters” are revealed as the malicious ignoramuses that they are.

The Republicans have never had the courage to do that. They follow consultants, who warn them not to look unattractively mean-spirited. Don’t speak to the people, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t listen to them. Give them bromides. Anything else will upset the smooth pursuit of office, the only goal that has ever been sought by Republican “leaders” other than protecting and enhancing wealth.

A baker’s dozen of presidential wannabes all spouted identical sales talk. “Conservative” means nothing to them except as a popular advertising slogan.”

(Sounding the Trump, Clyde Wilson, Chronicles Magazine, October 2016, excerpt pg. 16)

Soviet Cultural Revolution in Education, 1928-1931

The long American descent into Marxism is reminiscent of the 1920’s Soviet Union as the Bolsheviks consolidated their revolution and restructured culture and society.  In the late 1920s the term “cultural revolution” was redefined to mean aggressive class war, considering it anti-revolutionary to accept cultural change as a peaceful, evolutionary process. Stalinists adopted this class warfare, as opposed to class conciliation, official Party policy.

Further, in education, “credentialism” became official policy as non-Party indoctrinated faculty were purged, library shelves examined for books by anti-revolutionary authors, and research grants awarded only for ideologically pure scholarship.

Soviet Cultural Revolution in Education, 1928-1931

“The Fifteenth [Communist] Party Congress held in December 1927 had called for the mobilization of economic resources on behalf of industrialization . . . and a greater share of resources for educational programs.

The new political climate affected educational institutions and policies  . . . [as it] touched off a vast wave of purges at all levels of the educational system, which [conservatives] tried in vain to halt. At institutions of higher learning widespread purges of faculty and students were accompanied by drives to enhance ideological purity.

At Smolensk State University the Cultural Revolution was launched in the spring of 1929. Party organs forced the replacement of key administrators with trusted Party figures and ordered the new leadership to improve the social composition of the student body, to communize the leading organs and scientific workers of the university, and to create conditions “which would aid to the maximum the task of training cadres of real builders of socialism.”

Party members now dominated the governing board of the university as well as the faculty of social sciences . . . [and were encouraged] to press forward with expulsions of “socially alien and hostile students and reactionary scientific workers.” Further purges of “reactionary” faculty followed.

Massive expulsions of students of intelligentsia and bourgeois origins took place . . . to increase the representation of students with proletarian background. The extension of rabfaks [worker’s faculty] designed to prepare poorly educated workers for entrance into the university and the effort to recruit students of designated social background or political affiliation to fill assigned quotas began to have a dramatic impact on educational statistics.”

(Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928-1931, Sheila Fitzpatrick, editor, Indiana University Press, 1984, excerpts pp. 89-92)

Paying Tribute to the North

The prewar national dominance of the North eventually gave rise to those who thought that economic and political measures were not sufficient to put the South on a par with the North. They saw that the only way the South could rid itself of subservience to the North was to leave the Union, and do so with the Founders’ Constitution.  The South’s attempts to reduce tariffs had been increased in 1842, and in 1846 with the help of a Southern president and secretary of the treasury, forced through Congress the Walker Tariff which was so low as to be practically revenue only.  Additionally, President John Tyler’s vetoes of a national bank were upheld by Southern votes in Congress.

Northern commercial interests were determined to reclaim their government subsidies and establish national banking, with Lincoln and his new party a convenient vehicle to permanent national dominance.

Paying Tribute to the North

“There were other methods by which the profits from the cotton crop found their way into Northern pockets. Since two-thirds of the cotton crop went to England, the freight charges on its transportation across the sea amounted to a large sum.  Although the river boats of the South were generally Southern-owned and Southern- built, the South never engaged in the building or operating of ocean-going ships, principally because capital could more profitably employed in agriculture.

Most of the cotton sold was carried on coastwise ships to New York, and the great part transshipped from that place to England. All the coastwise ships and most of the ocean-going shipping was Northern-owned and consequently the freight charges went into Northern pockets. In 1843 this amounted to nearly a million dollars. In addition the insurance costs while the cotton was in transit were generally paid to Northern firms.

Not only did the cotton growers pay “tribute” to the North through their exports, but through their imports as well. The imports to the South came through Northern ports; the exports of the South amounted to two-thirds the total of the United States but her direct imports were less than one-tenth. The freight charges to New York and Boston, the tariff duties, and the cost of transportation on coastwise vessels to the South all added to the cost of merchandise.

In the hard times of the forties, Southern economists were prone to find the explanation for their distress in the “tribute” paid to the North. They came to believe that the economic progress of the North depended on this “tribute,” and epitomized their opinion in the phrase “Southern wealth and Northern profits.”

By the phrase “operation of the federal government” the South meant bounties to New England fisheries, internal improvements in the North such as harbors, roads, canals, and public buildings, tariff duties, and deposits of government funds.”

(The Old South: The Geographic, Economic, Social, Political and Cultural Expansion, Institutions and Nationalism of the Antebellum South, R.S. Cotterill, Arthur H. Clark Company, 1939, excerpts pp. 192-199)

A Progressive Empire, Left and Right

It can be argued that the end of American republican government ended in 1861 with the industrialized state warring upon the Constitution and the agricultural South. The triumphant North launched its Gilded Age combine of government, corporations, millionaires and financial manipulation, as well as foreign imperialism, which brought the country to European military intervention. Then came the Depression. The first European military intervention set the stage for another even more costly; an American president then warned of a military-industrial complex that had emerged.

Progressive Empire, Left and Right

“If the American Republic is defunct, and if most Americans no longer subscribe to the classical republicanism that defined the Republic as its public orthodoxy, what is the principal issue of American politics?

Ever since the Progressive Era, the issue that has divided Americans into the two political and ideological camps of “Right” and “Left” has been whether or not to preserve the Republic.

The Progressives (at least their dominant wing) argued that the small-scale government, entrepreneurial business economy, and localized and private social and cultural fabric that made a republic possible was obsolete at best and at worst repressive and exploitive.

They and their descendants in New Deal/Great Society liberalism pushed for an enlarged state fused with corporations and unions into the economy with massive, bureaucratized cultural and educational organizations. In contrast, the “Right” pulled in the opposite direction, defending the Republic and the social and economic structure that enabled republicanism to flourish, but with less success and with ever-diminishing understanding of what they were doing.

Today the conflict over that issue is finished. The Progressive Empire has replaced the old American Republic, and even on the self-proclaimed “Right” today, virtually no one other than the beleaguered “paleo-conservatives” defends republicanism in anything like its pristine form.

The collapse of the conflict over republicanism is the main reason why the labels “Left” and “Right” no longer make much sense and also why – much more than the end of the Reagan administration and the Cold War – the “conservative coalition” of the Reagan era is falling apart.

Mr. Reagan’s main legacy was to show his followers, who for decades griped against “Big Government,” that they too could climb aboard the Big Government hayride and nibble crumbs at its picnic. With such “conservatism” now centered mainly in Washington and its exponents happily dependent on the federal mega-state, the historic raison d’etre of the American “Right” has ceased to exist.

Such conservatives no longer even pretend to want to preserve or restore the old Republic, and it now turns out that even when the said they did, it was all pretty much a charade anyway.”

(Revolution from the Middle, Samuel T. Francis, Middle American Press, 1997, excerpts pp. 90-91)

Modernist Architecture’s Immense Damage

What is called “Modernism” in architecture was simply a response, primarily Marxist in its call to eradicate Western symbolism and meaning, to the rise of industrial manufacturing as man’s chief economic activity. The factory workers were deracinated country folk and their descendants bound to a new kind of slavery; their homes an industrial slum. But Marxist ideology would lift this new industrial man, who would attain control of “the means of production” with all class distinction abolished as life is reorganized by the Politburo.

Modernist Architecture’s Immense Damage

“When speaking of the faults of our surroundings we are naturally inclined to blame “bad architecture,” because buildings are easy to see in the landscape. Architects, just as naturally, inclined to dismiss this point of view as boobery. It is true that the mess we’ve made of places where we live and work is not solely the result of bad buildings, though there are plenty of them.

But that hardly lets architects off the hook. Rather, with the hubris of religious zealots, they set out on a great purifying mission that damaged the whole physical setting for civilization in our time.  The dogmas that guided them went by the name of Modernism. Heretics and skeptics were anathematized as systematically as the opponents of the fifteenth-century Vatican.

Modernism did its immense damage in these ways: by divorcing the practice of building from the history and traditional meanings of building; by promoting a species of urbanism that destroyed the age-old social arrangements and, with them, urban life as a general proposition; and by creating a physical setting for man that failed to respect the limits of scale, growth, and the consumption of natural resources, or to respect the lives of other living things.

The result of Modernism, especially in America, is a crisis of the human habitat: cities ruined by corporate gigantism and abstract renewal schemes. Public buildings and public spaces unworthy of human affection, vast sprawling suburbs that lack any sense of community, housing that the un-rich cannot afford to live in, a slavish obeisance to the needs of automobiles and their dependent industries at the expense of human needs, and the gathering ecological calamity that we have only begun to measure.

(The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape, James Howard Kunstler, Simon & Schuster, 1993, excerpts pp. 59-60)

A New Nation of Men of Lesser Minds

The brief Gettysburg address of Lincoln was described by listeners as “a wet blanket” after Edward Everett’s stirring oration, but it did announce the end of the original confederation of States. While Northern governors expected words of appreciation for the sacrifices of the various States supporting his war, “Lincoln rose at Gettysburg to talk of the nation.” He did not “mention that four score and seven years before, the Father had brought forth thirteen independent States.”  As Lincoln spoke of government of the people and by the people, few were aware that a hundred miles away General Robert Schenck’s blue-clad soldiers were patrolling the election polls in Delaware.

A New Nation of Men of Lesser Minds

“Only three times did groups of [Northern] governors assemble to formulate policy. The Cleveland meeting of Western governors and [Pennsylvania’s Governor] Curtin in May 1861 came at the height of initial enthusiasm for the war, and the governors merely demanded that more attention be given to the West.  Lincoln accepted their pledge of cooperation and gave the governors so much work in raising troops that they had no time for further consultation over campaign strategy.

The Providence meeting of New England governors sent a committee to Lincoln to demand cabinet changes, but the President skillfully . . . turned them away. [Massachusetts Governor] Andrew led his neighbors from Providence to Altoona, but was unable to get agreement from other governors for schemes to use Negro troops [to avoid drafting white men] and replace McClellan with Fremont.

On the eve of the conference Lincoln issued the preliminary emancipation proclamation and cut the ground out from under Andrew’s radical plot.  Thereafter the governors attempted no meeting, and Lincoln dealt with them separately.

Lincoln had an enormously swollen patronage to dispense . . . but no part of the patronage was at the disposal of the governors. Moreover, the military patronage was at the President’s disposal. Governors might appoint company and regimental officers, but promotions from grade to grade and the selection of general officers depended on the President. The army and the civil patronage – as the experiences in the Border States, in Ohio in 1863, and in the campaign of 1864 proved – put the Republican Party exclusively in Lincoln’s hands.

But in the long run Lincoln’s victory over the governors was the triumph of a superior intellect. Of the sixty-three chief executives of the States only [New York’s] Horatio Seymour could approach the President in quality of mind. Seymour’s partial success in blocking conscription was a tribute to his intellectual power [and he] might have prevented the destruction of States’ rights [in the North].  But Seymour stood alone [and most] of the others were mediocrities who owed their positions to “availability” rather than to ability.

And this, above all, made Lincoln the architect of the new nation. The victory of nationalism over localism, of centralization over States’ rights, was, in the last analysis, a victory of a keener intellect over men of lesser minds. The new nation that emerged from the Civil War was not solely the result of the military defeat of the armies of Robert E. Lee. It was equally the result of the political victory that Abraham Lincoln’s mind and personality won over the governors of the Northern States.”

(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Albert A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 391-392)

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