By Walt Garlington for the Saker Blog
The existential questions regarding the future of the present American union continue to grow more complex and more dire:
At the heart of these questions and others like them is a problem that has plagued the States since their independence in 1776: the belief that a political ideology is enough to create a homogenous cultural identity. Early on, Thomas Jefferson was writing about an ‘extensive’ ‘empire of liberty’; John Adams, about America as mankind’s second chance at the paradise of Eden. These strands of political mysticism merged into a messianic melody sung into existence by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address in which the cause of union and its preservation became a sacred act that all future generations of Americans must take part in if representative government is to remain and ‘not perish from the face of the earth.’
Our eyes have been full of the stars of these philosophical dreams for many years. Until lately – when the weakness of a political creed as a foundation for a lasting culture is being exposed. But this is to our benefit as we can now place the emphasis where it should have been all along: on the various regional cultures that exist within the United States. These have a lasting character; it is on these that we should build our future.
Certain books are foundational for beginning this process of rebuilding, as they reveal the origins and the durable characteristics of those who settled the various regions (reviews of some of these books are linked):
Albion’s Seed by David H. Fischer;
The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau;
American Nations by Colin Woodard; and
Regionalism and Nationalism in the United States: The Attack on Leviathan by Donald Davidson, which made Dr Russell Kirk’s list of ten essential conservative books – high praise indeed.
Through works like these we can begin to see the main cultural materials with which we can build: for New England, the traditions of the east of England (Essex, East Anglia); for the South, the traditions of southwest England (Wessex, etc.), the borderlands of Scotland and England, Northern Ireland, and parts of Africa, France, and Spain; for the Great Plains, the German and Scandinavian cultures; for the desert Southwest, Spanish is a major influence; Hawai’i carries the traditions of the native Pacific islanders, and on from there.
A unified culture is what gives rise to a unified nation, tribe, society, etc. This is what the regions possess, but it is precisely what the United States taken together have always lacked. To the extent that there is such a thing, it is, as Dr. Clark Carlton once said in one of his Faith and Philosophy podcasts (which sadly seem to have disappeared into the cyberspace ether), merely the vapid secular consumerism that overtook all the States after New England and her northern children won the victory in the War between the States. If we add to this the political mysticism mentioned above, we will be very close to the definition of that sad little creature called ‘American culture’.
The idea of separating the current union into smaller, regional confederations is not new. Below is a list of some past proposals to that end provided by Mr Terry Hulsey:
• The Vermont Republic (1777)
• The New York proposal by its Senator Rufus King and Oliver Ellsworth to dissolve the Union (1794)
• Opponents of Jefferson’s 1803 Louisiana Purchase, notably Josiah Quincy III
• The New England secessionists during the War of 1812
• The Hartford secessionists and their supporters in the Essex Junto (1814-15)
• The secessionism of Federalist and former President John Quincy Adams (1839)
• Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and the New England Anti-Slavery Conventions (1834, 1844, 1858)
• The proposed secession of five Middle Atlantic states (1860).
But if the union is to remain in existence, it should be reformed such that it resembles much more the Articles of Confederation or the United Nations, a federation in which the coordinating authority has few powers that it can wield over the region-nations that are part of it, and in which each of those participating will have a veto that it can use to stop any action – legislative, executive, or judicial – from going into effect.
Such a sweeping decentralization (or separation) will yield great benefits at home and abroad. Domestically, it will help put an end to the deeply polarizing cultural battles that constantly inflame anger and tension between the progressive cultures of New England and the West Coast and the more conservative/traditional cultures of the South and Midwest; each region would be able to decide those matters for herself rather than facing the prospect of one or more of the other sections forcing its beliefs about drug legalization, transgender rights, law and order, abortion, etc., upon her.
Internationally, it would help reduce the risk of needless wars by taking out of geopolitics the hegemonic-messianic behavior of the swaggering Indispensable Nation that has tasked itself with converting all the world to its liberal, democratic creed.
Yes, the regional cultures which we have written about have grown very faint after decades of living within the corrosive atmosphere of liberalism. Yet the alternative – attempting to trudge along under the existing paradigm – is worse, for it is a fantastical chimera based on false and failing economic, political, and religious ideas. But our forefathers in these various cultural spaces have left us with plenty of material to help us in our work of restoration: poems, novels, histories, biographies, theological works, geographies, music, recipes, and the like. With these and with a determined will and God’s help (for He is a God of Resurrection), each section can nurse its native life back to health.
The end of the current union seems inevitable for a number of reasons: The instability inherent in the ideology of selfish individualism that reigns in most parts of it; the plans of the globalist technocrats to dismantle it, as detailed by their spokesmen like Jacques Attali in his book A Brief History of the Future; prophecies by Orthodox Saints like the holy Elder Ephraim of Arizona; and so on. Prudence would have us prepare properly to meet this event that seems likely to occur, rather than be caught flat-footed as the maelstrom approaches.
The advantages of reinvigorated regionalism are many; the drawbacks are few. Let the Great Reorganization begin.