There are two kinds of people who try to bring Heaven down to Earth: the first kind is the man of Faith, who works to prefigure the Kingdom of God on Earth by his works of mercy; the second is the man who has no belief in Heaven, and who settles for a constructed paradise on Earth as a substitute.
Living through what looks like the American equivalent of the Brezhnev Era, with its cultural atheism and millenarian frenzies, we would be well-served to look back on our history and tether ourselves back to reality. It’s easy to lose True North when the captain and crew are drunk; that’s why we need a compass.
Below is a personal account of the South’s vindication. When she decided to join the nations, the South made clear from the beginning that her moral calling card was Almighty God and the natural law. One of the most poignant experiences of this knowledge, worked out in personal experience, follows.
“My parents, natives of the Deep South- both of Anglo-Celtic stock that came to Virginia in the 1660s and over generations migrated southward and westward- met the 1950s, that noontime of the American Century, at a university in New England. Then, as now, the Ivy League was a trade school for the Chosen, those who would wage war on behalf of the Exceptional Nation’s God-appointed endless crusade: the conveyance of ‘light and truth’- which is to say, the universal principles of progressive egalitarianism, scientific education and debt-financed consumption- to the hidebound and primitive. The repair of God’s creation, in other words, the old patriarch having made a made a huge mess with His original effort, all informed by opinion polls and shaped by the principles of advertising developed by Mr Bernays.
My father and mother were foot soldiers, then, on the Southern front. They marched, they taught, they wrote, they protested, they prayed, they sang ‘We Shall Overcome.’
I have lived to see the complete and utter failure of the cause for which my parents struggled.
And I have lived to see the complete and utter vindication of the cause for which my great-great grandfather and so many hundreds of thousands more of our people- my people, our people, the Southern people- suffered and died.” (Read the whole thing here.)
There has always been a millenarian and Jacobin strain in Yankee-Puritan ideology. That ideology has been, since the conquest of the South, the animating idea of North American civilization’s march towards pride and empire. “Make the world safe for democracy,” “gay rights are human rights,” “reproductive rights in Africa.” If we want to ask ourselves as Southerners, “where did it all go wrong,” there’s a stark comparison awaiting any observer between Lincoln, the defender of empire who held a séance in the White House, and Lee, the defender of the local who turned down power to defend his people; between Grant, the man for whom the word “lobbyist” was invented, and the Confederacy, whose constitution banned most of the slush funds that today pass for “social welfare.” Consider the difference between the two prophets of the 19th century, Karl Marx, who wrote letters of congratulation to Lincoln for smashing the “backward” South, and Pope Pius IX of holy memory, who wrote letters of consolation to the illegally incarcerated President Jefferson Davis.
The first step to national healing is national repentance. The first step to national satisfaction is national rectitude. Without righteousness, there’s no future in any nation. What America has become in this day and age does not have to be the South’s future. It has never been her past.
The Poet Laureate of the Confederacy, Father Abram Joseph Ryan, wrote the following:
Yes, give me the land where the ruins are spread,
And the living tread light on the hearts of the dead;
Yes, give me a land that is blest by the dust,
And bright with the deeds of the downtrodden just.
Yes, give me the land where the battle’s red blast
Has flashed to the future the flame of the past.