Claremont Institute Takes up the Secession Banner

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I have to say that after roughly 30 years of preaching the merits some form of secession, full-fledged or lite, as a solution to this nation’s intractable problems, it’s gratifying to see a growing number of Americans, prominent Americans, including those associated with major cultural institutions, picking up the banner.

The group that has weighed in the most and, well, rather improbably, is the Straussian-inspired Clarement Institute in California. Historically speaking, this institution, in keeping with the ideals of its intellectual guiding light, Leo Strauss, has extolled civic nationalism and generally held up the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, as the architect of this civic nationalist vision.

Given that fact, the Clarement Institute undoubtedly will strike many as an unlikely bearer of neo-secessionism. Yet, in one notable respect, it supplies the perfect impetus for this struggle – first and foremost because it is far removed from any neo-Confederate association.

Allow me briefly to share my own experiences with this. Speaking as one who had been plugged into this movement over the last few decades primarily through paleoconservarive and paleolibertarian connections, I have noticed a rather frustrating, if not appalling, tendency to pursue low-hanging fruit rather to cast a wider net.

The League of the South, originally known as the Southern League, essentially a brainchild of paleocons and paleolibs, set out not only with good intentions but also workable ones. The original intention, or so it seemed to me at the time, was simply to reconstruct a constitutional case for modern secession drawing on the talents of a handful of truly eminent, albeit somewhat obscure, paleocon and paleolib writers and academics.

Granted, they were in for a long slog. Even so, they initially gathered some respectful media coverage and even managed to publish a couple of very thoughtful opinion pieces in major newspapers. A couple of more mainstream columnists, notably George F. Will, even offered a respectable comment or two.

Yet, rather predictably, the League wondered off the reservation – that is to say, the reservation of respectable discourse. The League’s founding in the mid-1990’s corresponded roughly with the raging battle over the display of the Confederate battle flag in public venues, notably the Alabama and South Carolina capitol buildings, as well as the incorporation of battle flag motif into the Georgia and Mississippi flags.

At some point early in its founding, the League’s leadership embraced the Southern Heritage activists. In fact, they embraced them so closely that the League quickly became as inextricably linked with the Lost Cause as any descendant group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy.

I had used my small influence within the ranks to argue against this. We were going after low-hanging fruit when the top priority should have been creating a space within which neosecessionism could be discussed as openly and dispassionately as possible and within as wide an arena as possible – a national arena.

Yet, incredibly, the League was drawn into the daily warp and woof of heritage activism, attracting large numbers of people whose preoccupation almost solely was with the battle flag, which became a virtually endless topic of discussion and obsession. The League would pay an egregiously high price for this shortsightedness.

By the late 90’s an effort was made to break out of this impasse through the formation of a Southern Party, an effort that aimed to be disruptive, namely by advocating peaceful secession as the keystone of its platform, one which, in many ways, incidentally, anticipated the nationalist/Republican agenda of the present day.

Yet, this movement quickly succumbed to heritage activism too.

Following the collapse of the Southern party, I effectively exited the Southern movement and conceived my own alternative idea that was dubbed “Home Rule for Dixie,” one that advocated an entirely different approach to Southern identity and secession. I called for nothing less than the abandonment of neo-Confederate dogma entirely.

As I contended, any new expression of Southern identity and secession not only must be built from the ground up but also on new foundations, actually predominantly American ones. As I and a few others in the Southern movement had realized, most contemporary Southerners, while immensely proud of their region as well as being Southern, simply no longer related to the Old Confederacy in any meaningful way. No, for Southerners, any Americans, for that matter, to be won over to the merits of secession, the arguments would have to be marshaled within a distinctly American context and with the firm assurance that American values, including racial tolerance and good will, would be preserved.

This is why I salute the valiant Claremont Institute. It not only has taken up this banner but has resolved to carry on the struggle within a context and employing language that more Americans can understand.

Succumbing to the Socialist Temptation

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I think my parents, particularly my mother, once thought that I was destined to live a dissolute life. After a certain age while attending public school, I became rather ambivalent about pursuing academic excellence. I was content to stay in my bedroom all day long reading and playing board games.

It drove my folks to utter distraction. They insisted I participate in sports, for which I had little talent or interest. As far as academics went, I rarely ever studied and got by with B’s.

I can even remember being called out of class by teachers and asked what accounted for my dogged indifference to school.

“All of us are talking about it after school and we just can’t understand why a reasonably intelligent kid from a good family is so disengaged,” I recall a couple of teachers relating to me.

Something – I really can’t say what – shook me out of my lethargy after high school graduation. It finally occurred to me that I had one shot at life – one attempt to earn a decent living and to give something back to a society that had treated me reasonably well.

I enrolled in my local state university and applied myself. I not only attended class but also took meticulous notes and read all the assigned reading. I began turning in lots of A’s.

I also got engaged in a number of extracurricular activities – notably the college debate team, which turned out to be one the most rewarding and enlightening experiences of my life.

My parents were a bit incredulous. Yet, I really came to enjoy school. And I developed a keen sense of appreciation for the handful of professors who discerned in me a modicum of talent and began offering encouragement.

I became so caught up in school that I stayed an extra year to earn a second B.A. and then enrolled at another state university to complete my master’s degree.

I ended up finishing a 29-year career as a communications professional at a another public research university reporting on research findings and writing things such as opinion columns for faculty and annual organizational reports for logistics and other stakeholders. I retired early so that I could return to my real passion: deep reading, which I strive to supplement each day with several hours of disciplined writing.

I will never be rich or famous, but I am quite content and, most of all, I derive a great deal of satisfaction reflecting on how my own hard work and persistence got me to this point.

Not conventionally religious, I am a true believer in something that bestselling author and New York Times columnist David Brooks once observed: that the measure of an person’s life is how easily one in the final days or months of life can lie peacefully and contentedly in one’s sick bed and reflect back on one’s legacy.

That advice was seared into my consciousness and not a day passes without my reflecting on how important it is to make every day count – to prepare for the period of life when I will be confronted this reality.

Yet, I am also reminded of how far I have come – how fortunate I was to shake off the ambivalence and lethargy of my youth. And, yet, when I read accounts such as this about the socialist legacy, I am reminded of how little removed many people are from the dissolute inclinations of my youth.

I recall the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe as if it were yesterday. Moreover, I can still vividly recall the accounts of the gray, shabby drabness that characterized most lives in the former Soviet client states of Eastern Europe.

Yet, the most remarkable thing of all is that there are plenty of people in this country who would be perfectly content to live in such a social order, providing it involved less work but provided a measure of the material goods to which they are accustomed.

I know, because I have succumbed to the same temptation a time or two in my own life. This sort of mediocrity appeals to something deeply embedded in the human psyche. And that, I think, is why socialism possesses such resilience, despite all of its shortcomings and its appalling historical legacy.

Post-Russian Revolutionary Redux

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Every now and then one runs across a very good, thoughtful and even intellectually courageous Quora submission. This is one of them. 

Two thoughts came to mind while reading this splendid piece. First, a few on the left are beginning to catch a glimpse behind the curtain. Recall that many Western communists in the 30’s and 40’s defected because they felt as if they simply were trapped on a treadmill of lies and self-contradiction. 

We are beginning to see this now among at least a few on the left.  A Few younger people are peering behind the curtain. What they discover are the same sorts of scabrous, self-aggrandising people associated with earlier iterations of the left who employed rhetoric purely with the intention of securing and remaining in power. 

I also was reminded of something I read in Barbara Branden’s bio of Ayn Rand. Rand left the Soviet Union after it became apparent that she, as a bourgeois, college-educated Soviet citizen, would be enlisted throughout her life solely to work in an auxiliary role, consigned despite, her gifts, to menial tasks to serve the needs of the vanguard (working) class. 

That is precisely what a few whites and principled people of color are realizing. A relative mentioned to me recently that this topic even comes up in the Showtime series White Lotus, which satirizes white privilege, guilt and all the other sundry pathologies allegedly bound up in Western culture.

Many affluent and middle-class whites are beginning to perceive that citizenship in the future will mean assuming middling jobs – support roles to serve what the elite class regards as vanguard groups, namely, people of color.  

Indeed, I think that we will begin to see a growing number of middle-class whites foregoing college entirely in favor of trade-school, knowing full well that college, even elite colleges, no longer will afford aspiring whites upward mobility. This country will come more and more to resemble the post- Russian revolutionary world that faced Rand and other products of bourgeois backgrounds. 

Liz Cheney’s Brief Moment of Fame

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Congresswoman Liz Cheney

Two things are worth pointing out about the imminent passing of the Liz Cheney media phenomenon.  First, she is the type of elite that our Founders, namely, Jefferson, warned us about: The sort of person who, once ensconced in the capital city court culture, acquires most or all of the affectations and vices of the very  governing elites he or she previously had sworn to oppose.

This has always been a temptation for newcomers to Washington, even those who start out as brash conservative or populist firebrands. Indeed, two of the most reviled anti-Establishmebr figures in American nation politics, Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater, both yielded to these temptations. And why wouldn’t they?After years of assiduously seeking and holding onto power in the capital of the most powerful and influential nation on earth, men and women expect a return on such a long investment and, even more, r-e-s-p-e-c-t from their peers.

They have rubbed elbows with colleagues, mostly liberals, who are lionized after retirement or death, by the court (i.e., Mainstream) media. How can they help but envy that? They’re politicians, after all.

Many conservatives from former presidents to sitting Supreme Court justices have yearned for some measure of hagiographic treatment – an acknowledgement within elite quarters that they have “grown in office” and, in the course of which, acquired a measure of the intellectual depth and gravitas afforded their more (in the opinion of elite media) deserving liberal counterparts.

Recall that the late Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Nixon appointee and the graduate of night law school, embraced affirmation action dogma, apparently with the intention of brandishing his intellectual bona fide.

But again, they’re only human.

Yet, in many cases, this grudging respect or tempered adulation, however it is expressed, is invariably extracted at a price. And in Cheney’s case, she can virtually rest assured that the media will consume and digest her, disregarding every bit that can’t be extracted to their advantage.

She will be briefly hailed as a thoughtful and courageous GOP maverick, perhaps invited as a speaker at the 2024 Democratic Party Convention, and then tossed aside and forgotten until, some 30 years from now, when she’s afforded a limousine ride from her assisted living facility to the Kennedy Presidential Library to receive a “Profiles in Courage” Award presented by some distant Kennedy descendant.

Of course, that is what our elite class and their media enables do: They enlist and rehabilitate for temporary political expediency conservative political leaders whom they have previously reviled as reactionary, if not racist.

Deserving only Our Searing, Unbridled Contempt

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Democratic Party Logo

In the poem “Die Lösung,” written after the East German Communist state’s brutal suppression of the June 17, 1953 Workers Uprising, playwright Bertholdt Becht pointed out the remarkable fact that the regime actually distributed leaflets stating that “the people had forfeited the confidence of the government and [that they] could only win it back by increased work quotas.” Brecht then employed this brilliant rhetorical punch, phrased as a question, which struck at the very heart of this autocratic, self-serving regime:  “Would it not in that case be simpler for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”

Reflect on this for moment: The U.S. Democratic Party is proceeding with a remarkably similar objective firmly in mind. It realizes that its path to permanent power – that is to say, vanguard party status not all that different from the East German Socialist Unity (i.e., Communist Party) – lies in demographic replacement of current voters with immigrants, overwhelmingly illegal immigrants. And here is the really frightening part: It very likely will achieve its goal.

Even so, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson has summoned the gargantuan fortitude to call out this strategy. And, predictably, all facets of left, particularly its agit/prop organs (i.e., Mainstream Media, Silicon Valley and unofficial censorship bureaus)  are baying for cancelation of Carlson’s program.

Speaking as an avid Star Trek fan, I’m reminded of the Borg collective’s  awakening and perfervid activity in response to anything it perceives as a threat to its vital functioning. And make no mistake: While at this point Carlson is little more than David battling Goliath, he has laid bare the Democrats’ paramount operating strategy: demographic replacement.

And let’s consider all of this alongside all the other advantages that the Democrats also have now secured. Not unlike the East German Communist Party in the decades following the suppression of its workers, the party has drawn close, horrifyingly close, to its ultimate goal of controlling the narrative through its command of all the major sources of cultural power: Mainstream Media, Silicon Valley, Big Entertainment, most of the federal  bureaucracy and, even more alarming, the national security apparatus.

The Democratic Party is now even poised to squelch all forms of dissent, largely by applying the labels “Racist!” and “White Supremacist!” to them.

Underscoring the extent to which the party controls the narrative and displays many of the traits of a vanguard party, its leaders now openly extol a future in which this will be achieved – when states are transformed from red to purple and eventually to solidly and reliably blue states. Its objectives are hiding in plain sight and its operatives even feel confident enough to express this aspiration publicly, albeit in slightly veiled form.

As Carlson stresses, the party’s no longer interested in winning over voters through conventional rhetorical appeals, which have distinguished party politics in this country for more than two centuries, but rather, in unmistakable East German regime style, stacking the electoral deck unscrupulously and in ways that virtually guarantee their political hegemony for generations to come.

The Democratic Party now harbors such unbridled contempt for U.S. voters that it now has set about replacing them with an  electorate of its own. And it is so caught up in it sense of entitlement and historical inevitability that it can’t even brook one lone political commentator who has summoned the temerity to call them out on it.

That is why Democratic Party should be regarded for what it is: a throughly corrupt, proto-totalitarian party, one that deserves nothing but our searing, undying contempt.

Oblivious to Facts

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One of many books exploring the “problem” of whiteness

The incomparable Victor Hanson Davis weighs in again on the deeply disturbing trend of rising intolerance of whites.

He raises a point, one that has always fascinated me, about how rhetoric, particularly political forms of it, are subject to endless mutation. And as he stresses, one of the most disturbing examples of this is reflected in the increasing use of the term “whiteness” among liberal and progressives to describe the underlying pathology with American society.

Until recently, the common term was white privilege, though it ultimately proved inadequate in the face of everyday reality. After all, as Hanson observes, it’s simply untenable to argue that “a white Dayton, Ohio tire-changer is innately blessed in a way an unfortunate Eric Holder or Jay-Z purportedly is not.” So, consequently, white privilege has given way simply to “whiteness,” which, needless to say, evokes disturbing parallels to “Jewishness,” of which the Nazis made such ready use in the years leading up to their seizure of power.

Plenty of ordinary people, certainly when engaged in private discourse with family and friends, readily discern the genocidal implications of this rhetoric.

Yet, there are legions of whites, even those from comparatively stereotypical “deplorable” socioeconomic backgrounds, who remain insouciant in the face of this of this rhetoric and the horrifying effects it likely will produce over the next few generations.

Indeed, reading Hanson’s account earlier this morning, I was invariably reminded of a family of especially rabid “yellow-dog Democrats” in my native Northwest Alabama hometown who incongruently remain committed evangelical Christians but who still eagerly regurgitate whatever tripe their ancestral party puts in front of them.

They still hold maniacally to this identity even today as their region’s economy, largely as a result of their party’s neoliberal policies, has undergone headlong decline.

Northwest Alabama, once one of the country’s most obstinate bastions of yellow-dog Democratic sentiment, now stands as one of the reddest of red GOP bastions in the country, even as this family still waves the blue flags of dissent on social media. One even embarked on a pathetically obscene Trump rant a few months ago, invoking the f-bomb multiple times.

They are proverbial Kool-Aid drinkers. Will they ever be awakened to what is unfolding.

Highly unlikely.

When their grandchildren are singled out some day in public places and beaten senseless merely for bearing white skin, they likely will still be eagerly, even perfervidly, propagating ther party’s line.

But then, some people, irrespective of political conviction, will never yield to reality, especially when the truth proves too painful to accept.

America’s Judicial Impasse

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I wrote a piece along very similar lines weeks ago, only this writer has said it much better.

In terms of the Supreme Court, we have witnessed a fascinating playing out over the past two centuries. In many respects the heightened prestige of the court and, even more significant and troubling, our increasing reliance on it, speaks volumes about the breakdown of American federalism. In many notable respects the court has come to redress the ineffiencies of the legislative branch, which the Founders envisioned as serving as the principal, if not sole, source of domestic policy making.

However, the legislature simply is ill-equipped to serve a federal system this vastly extended and, frankly, unwieldy and increasingly inefficient. Yet, as this columnist stresses, political and cultural divisions in this federal union are now so acute that the Supreme Court has to be extremely judicious about the issues it adjudicates, lest it destroys its remaining reservoirs of legitimacy.

The consequence has been increasing judicial branch impasse. And this raises the question: What element of federal power is capable of resolving what ultimately could prove to be an existential black swan crisis, one that even may involve the viability of the Federal Union?

Bonhoeffer’s Warning

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This characteristically trenchant observation by Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  the late Lutheran theologian and martyr s ss.06p  Nazism, speaks to a egregious failing of of modern society, certainly the way it is expressed today in the digital age.

Simultaneously inspired and troubled by what I have witnessed over the past two generations, I have spent the last few years developing a concept I have come to call the “Networked Human Exoskeleton.”

I argue that not only human progress but also humanity itself sprang from a networking phenomenon that started with simple forms of technology (e.g., clubs and cutting tools) the effects of which  over a long stretch of time were augmented by rudimentary language, followed much later by writing and mathematics.

Over many millennia the fusion of these four concepts not only shaped our hominin forebears into fully developed human beings but also enclosed our species into a kind of cocoon – an increasingly dense network that sustains and protects us but from which we are unable to escape.  For several reasons, I settled on the term networked exoskeleton to convey the sense of ensconcement that characterizes our species. While some of it is quite tangible and reflected in the technology that we use, much of it is incorporeal in nature, though all of these elements are fused together to provide our species with the protection that corporeal exoskeletons provide crustaceans and insects.

Yet, by its very nature it is like no other exoskeleton on earth –  a remarkable achievement that sets us apart from every other species on the planet. It’s growth within the past seven decades following the end of the Second World War has been nothing short of astonishing. We now inhabit an exoskeleton that extends it conceptual reach into the deepest reaches of our planet’s oceans and even beyond our solar system.

Yet, our exoskeleton, despite its age and enormous complexity, essentially is no different from the survival strategy of any other species in the sense that it represents only an improvisation across a very long stretch of time. Like every other evolutionary strategy on earth, our networked exoskeleton is only approximately rather than ideally suited to our species’ needs. Indeed there may come a day decades, centuries or millennia from now in which the evolutionary strategy embodied in our exoskeleton runs into an effective brick wall.

As I have expressed a few times in this forum, we very well may be fast approaching such as impasse. For many millennia, human beings were governed by overarching narratives supplied by myth and religion or a mixture of the two.

However, within the last few centuries, largely through rapid advances in scientific knowledge, these over-arching narratives have undergone steady erosion, perhaps most aptly embodied in Nietzsche’s observation about our having killed God. Consequently, society is now ignorant of a great many moral and ethical insights that were regarded as essential to the functioning of a healthy society only a few decades ago.

The Bonhoeffer quote above adequately expresses this unsavory fact of contemporary reality better than most others. All the more troubling to me and many others is the fact that so many moral and ethical appeals are now lost within a network that has now become so vastly extended and multifaceted. Indeed, it leads one to wonder if humanity will ever succeed in developing anything resembling a new over-arching narrative.

During the height of the Cold War, the expatriate Russian novelist and sage Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed that free speech, so widely affirmed as a sacred pillar of Western society, now essentially amounts to a dead letter because in a vastly extended and multifaceted consumer society such as ours, dissident speech has been rendered effectively meaningless.

So much has changed in the four-plus decades since Solzhenitzyn offered that observation. Indeed, due to advances in digital technology our network is now so vast and complex that all manner of philosophical and political appeals, even those issued with moral and ethical contexts, have been rendered effectively meaningless.

Consequently, Bonhoeffer’s warning about the propects of morality winning out in the face of rank stupidity seem more cogent and prophetic than ever before in history.

The Irony, Oh, the Irony!

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Screen capture of The Nation Article

Why is it that so much of what is written today in the victimhood genre strikes me and many others as parody?

One of the most notable examples of late is a screed in The Nation written by a person of color who describes how he has ensconced himself within a dense web of material and technological comforts while anticipating the day, the dreaded day, when he reluctantly will have to emerge from this cocoon to confront once again all the indignities of white society.

Incidentally, he refers to this cocoon as his “whiteness-free castle.”

Hell, forget the parody and consider for a moment the irony bound up in all of this. But then, I doubt that he perceives any irony at at all – the fact that virtually all of the contemporary comforts in which he has enveloped himself all these months were achieved by the very civilization that he so obviously despises.

It’s also worth mentioning that this writer also possesses a singular educational pedigree, having graduated with a B.A. and J.D. from the educational institution that most embodies historic whiteness: Harvard.

Well, let’s just hope that the screen door, invented in 1887 by an Iowan named Elizabeth C Harger, presumably of European extraction, and, for that matter, refined over the past century and mass produced and marketed within a global economic system regarded as one of many crowning achievements of Western civilization doesn’t hit him in the ass on his to way to his first post-covid outing.

Who Will Speak out against this Genocidal Rhetoric?

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Damon Young as featured recently in an American Conservative column by Rod Dreher

I’ve spent the last view decades engaged in a strange intellectual pursuit: studying the conditions that gave rise to the totalitarian dystopias of the 20th centuries.

As as the first discernible fissures set into the foundations of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe in the late 80’s, I undertook a rather assiduous study of the factors that ultimately contributed to the collapse of Soviet communism. I became an avid reader of the International Section of the New York Times, which provided superb coverage of all the subtle ways that rot was setting into this conquered domain, particularly within the Soviet Union’s imperial crown jewel, East Germany.

I complemented this with deep reading of a wide range of books dealing with how both forms of totalitarianism, Communism and Nazism, became rooted in Central and Eastern Europe in the first place.

I was also treated to a knock-on effect, because this reading yielded remarkable insight into how both of these systems invariably required bogeymen, essentially the manufacturing of existential threats, which supplied these regimes with the two essential and invaluable tools, which not only served to create a perpetual siege mentality among the masses but also provided the regimes with an effective strategy for diverting public scrutiny away from their manifold shortcomings and failures.

Indeed, this proved to be one of the major insights driven home to me via all this reading: that all ideologies require stategies that afford a means of both focus and deflection, and that is why bogeymen have proven such valuable tool.

Small wonder why I am simultaneously fascinated and repelled by the rhetoric of wokism, which evinces many, of not most, of the traits of incipient totalitarianism. But then, wokism, like all hard ideologies, is inherently weak, because it demands a radical departure from real-life realities.

Given this fact, it’s not surprising at all that one especially scabrous polemicist of wokism, Damon Young, seems to be employing language smacking of the same rhetoric that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Kulaks in the Soviet Union and millions of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

It’s horrifying, to say the least, and should be regarded as a wake-up call – a deeply troubling portent of the dystopia that awaits the Western world, at least, what remains of it. But I wonder: How many of us not only are willing to acknowledge this rhetoric for what it is – genocidal speech – but also to speak out against it?

That remains one of the most vital questions as we move into the second quarter of what is shaping up to be a very troubled century.