On Community, Christianity, and Southern Identity

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Modern American “conservative” rhetoric tends to celebrate “individualism” over “collectivism,” equating the collective with “tyranny” or “socialism.” A lot of people have lost sight of the fact that individualism is just the weapon that government uses to divide people off from their organic institutions, like their family, their culture, their heritage, their church, their social networks, and their kinfolk. The fact is, government doesn’t like competitors, so it appropriates individualism in order to smash opposing centers of power (say, States’ Rights) while holding the mantle of the thing everyone needs nowadays more than ever: Community.

Southern culture is communitarian. The Church is the central vector of society, morality, networks, your Faith, your friends, and your folks. Being the religious center of the United States, the South has always held up the Christian religion as vital to Southern identity. Individualism is a commercial and cosmopolitan mentality; communitarianism comes from people who live in real communities.

The Abbeville Institute discusses the idea of a “people” from an academic perspective. Sometimes the things people on the ground take for granted need explaining for the people in the ivory towers; thank goodness the institute gives voice to the basics of Southern culture. Here’s their discussion of the implications of Southern communitarianism and Christianity:

““Who’s your people?” Though now somewhat rare, one still hears that question in Dixie, usually uttered from the lips of older or rural Southerners. Much is implied by the question.

There is the implicit belief that one’s extended family — or clan, given much of the region’s Scotch-Irish roots — serves as an inextricable part of one’s identity. Also implied is that one’s clan says something about you, whether for good or for ill. But perhaps most saliently, it communicates the fact that Southern culture is in important respects intrinsically communitarian, and rejects the sort of radical individualism that has often defined the broader American ethos.

Southern historians Eugene and Elizabeth Fox Genovese in their 2005 book The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview, devote an entire chapter to this quality of Southern identity. Titled “Between Individualism and Corporatism: From the Reformation to the War for Southern Independence,” the chapter explores the way Southerners sought to make sense of themselves both as members of a particular American subculture and participants in a broader socio-political project. Like much of the Genovese’s scholarship, their expert research exposes the inadequacies of popular caricatures of the South, while also serving as a catechesis and warning for those seeking to defend their way of life…

Prominent Presbyterian theologian Robert Lewis Dabney likewise attacked liberal Protestantism’s tendency to promote rebellion against tradition and orthodoxy, in his latter years even admitting that the Catholic Church was more effective at combating this.

Though Southern clergy were largely in agreement regarding the evils of individualism, they diverged over where to place blame. Bishop Richard Wilmer of Alabama railed against the Disciples of Christ: “Individualism bursts into full-bloom under their favoring auspices. Every man can be a preacher, and every woman if she claims the privilege.” Ironically, the Disciples offered that same indictment against others. Disciples preacher and professor Franc Carmack declared: “Under the new covenant men cannot live to themselves, but they are connected together in a social capacity…. The Kingdom of Heaven is eminently a social institution.”

Some Southern Protestants sometimes went so far as to question their own ecclesial traditions, which originated in Martin Luther’s rejection of Catholic hierarchical supremacy. The Genovese’s explain: “Protestant Southerners increasingly wondered aloud: Did the Reformation bear responsibility for the individualism that was now careening out of hand?” Multiple contributors for the Richmond-based Southern Literary Messenger expressed increasing reservations about Luther’s “bluntness and impetuosity” and “incoherence and vanity.” (We strongly encourage you to read their entire piece at this link.)

What happens when community and ethnic identity breaks down? America is awash in race riots and a strange new idolatry at the altar of hating “White people.” Obviously “White people” exist and deserve dignity, but dividing Americans into “White” and “non-White” is a big part of how the Left obliterates important things like “Southern,” “Christian” or “Catholic,” “Georgian” or “Virginian,” and family ties. People get reduced to a couple of ticked boxes, and real organic identity breaks apart. This is essential to Catholic teaching on how God values tribe, community, family, kinship, ethnicity, heritage, and locality.

Communists realized, post-Lenin, that they had to take the subtle route when trying to destroy “reactionary” societies where people, say, loved their families, their churches, and their heritage. In place of Bolshevik mass murderers like Dzherzhinsky, Kaganovich, and Trotsky, we got Menshevik mass deceivers like Martin Luther King Jr (a Communist and adulterer who denied the divinity of Christ, as we have reported), Nelson Mandela (a convicted terrorist; look up his wife) and Barack Obama (Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, anybody?). They played the long game.

And if that’s the long game, here’s the end game: Reckonin’ publishes a piece by Ilana Mercer on what a society looks like when racial socialism takes over:

““Democracy is especially dangerous in ethnically and racially divided societies, where majorities and minorities are rigidly predetermined and politically permanent…”

For centuries, British, Boer and Bantu had been clashing and alternately collaborating on the continent.

Now, however, South Africa is an Afro-American multicultural society, united by an affinity for MacDonald’s and mobile phones and a strict enforcement of progressive “thinking,” attendant speech codes and cancel culture.

South Africa has been made over in the image of America, and the outcomes are not good…

In the Afro-American society, particularism and tribalism are forcibly replaced with state-approved national identities. So, the ANC is indisputable king in the dominant-party state that is South Africa—just as the Democratic Party will soon command and control the burgeoning dominant-party state that the USA is fast becoming…

America had demanded a strong centralized South Africa, with ANC revolutionaries at the helm. It got its wish.

The Afro-American multicultural society has prevailed in South Africa.

America: Don’t look down on South Africa. It is quite likely that, had former Officer Derek Chauvin not been convicted for the murder of George Floyd—America would have erupted much as South Africa has. Our saving grace being only that the rioting cohort responsible for the “blocking of roads, looting, damage to property and burning of trucks” forms a minority in the United States; a majority in South Africa.” (Read here whole piece at this link.)

Racial socialism is the Globalist Left’s preferred implement for mass chaos. You can’t have mass chaos without mass confusion, and you don’t get mass confusion if you’ve still got a healthy, organic society.

You can’t have that without God.

The people tearing down our statues know who our people are. The people burning our parishes know who our people are. Do we?

Saint Bede, Patron of Historians, and of the English-speaking Peoples, ora pro nobis!