The South is Tradition, Not Progress

The recent back and forth between my colleague Fulwar Skipwith and Hunter Wallace over at Occidental Dissent has been enjoyable reading on both ends. It was nice to see someone attempt to make an actual argument for why Yang should be supported, rather than the standard “THOUSAND BUCKS GET THIS MF’N BAG” which has been circling the toilet bowl that is the Alt-Right. I do not agree with his premises nor his conclusions, but I respect the fact that an effort was made, when so few Yang Gangers have bothered to do so (our own Ms. Scarlett was also in this minority of seriously minded UBI defenders). In the course of Hunter’s argument, however, a rather curious contention was made: Namely, that Dixie was historically a progressive region of the country and that for this reason we ought to support Yang. Wot in Tarnation?

To further his case, Mr. Wallace utilized political maps showing how the South voted for noted progressives Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Adlai Stevenson, and JFK. This is, however, bad historiography and ignores several crucial facts.

There is perhaps no more invidious facet of Imperial political discourse than the idea that the Progressive/Conservative distinction hinges entirely on economics. To the contemporary American, one is either a laissez-faire capitalist (Right) or some variant of Marxist (Left) and persons or regions cannot have a different set of valuations that lead them to support political positions which do not strictly fall along these lines. The almighty dollar, first, last, and always. Ben Shapiro Nationalism. *barf*

Dixie has always been the home of the True Right, which is centered on God, the family, and the nation. We have variously supported or rejected the economic right, which centers on laissez-faire capitalism. Our states are, by default, on the economic right at present. The Democrats are the party of moral turpitude, miscegenation, homosexuality, egalitarianism, and infanticide while, at least on paper, the Republicans are not. Thus do we vote for the economic right, even though pro-business neo-liberal globalism, the only issue the Republicans truly care about, does nothing but injure the South. Trump has somewhat reversed these trends with his threats of tariffs and his economic populism, but I am skeptical that the sycophantic devotees of the Chamber of Commerce will keep those policies around after 2024. They would rather lose in service of their corporate masters than win in service of their Christian constituents. Another reason we must be free of the North and of the Republican Party.

The post-Civil Rights Era is not the only period in American history in which the South supported the economic right. The Antebellum South found itself on that side of the ledger, as well, because the planter class which financed the early growth of the United States did not benefit from the tariffs that built roads, waterways, and railroads in the North and West. We (or rather, our elites) paid, the Yankees (all of them) got; so it was until our failed War for Independence. The fact that the South supported the Conservative Democrats after Reconstruction is hardly worth mentioning in terms of discussing Dixie’s ideological bent. Voting had just been restored to the South after 12 years of occupation. The South would not cotton to voting for a Republican at that point in time, no matter what the Democrat stood for.

After the War of Northern Aggression and the subsequent decade of Yankee rapacity known as Reconstruction, no Southern State again voted for a Republican until 1920, when Tennessee voted for Harding. Four Southern States (VA, TN, NC, and FL) voted for Hoover in 1928, but I suspect this had more to do with rejecting the Catholicism of Al Smith than endorsing Hoover’s overt economic conservatism. Count this as neither progressive nor conservative.

The solid South returned in 1932 and would remain during FDR’s three subsequent campaigns. 1948 is when the fracturing began in earnest. The Democrats under Truman had shifted toward a more progressive stance on Civil rights, signified by his desegregation of the military in the run-up to the election. As a result of the Democrat shift on this issue, third party candidates would carry multiple Southern states in 1948 and 1968. 1960 also represented a divided Dixie, when voters in Alabama and Mississippi picked electors individually and 14 of those electors (all of the MS delegation and 6 of the 11 AL) refused to back Kennedy.

So yes, it is true that the South voted almost exclusively for Democrats from 1880-1964, regardless of what the party and its candidate stood for. But does voting for the Democrats, even when the Democratic candidate was progressive, really indicate that the South is a historical bastion of progressivism? No. No. A thousand times no. Because it is imperative that we take into account what the Republicans were doing at the same time as a frame of reference.

Let us first examine the election of 1912, in which the ultra-progressive Teddy Roosevelt, whose Bull Moose party was far more progressive than Republican TR had been while in office, and the mildly progressive William Howard Taft split the GOP vote, allowing scalawag Southerner Woodrow Wilson to rise to the imperial throne. This was the first time since the War that a man born in the South would do so. He did not, however, speak for Southern interests. Nor has any US President born in the South, or anywhere else for that matter, since. But a special pox on the houses of Truman, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton for their betrayal.

Sure, Wilson was a progressive, and wound up following a political platform domestically that mirrored Taft and internationally one that towed the Roosevelt line (the worst of both worlds), but the South’s support of Wilson can hardly be seen as evidence of progressivism. That election had three flavors of progressive candidate, two of whom were Yankee Republicans. Given those choices, it seems obvious that the South would vote for the Virginian born Democrat. When bad options abound, pick the local boy. The Republicans were, after all, the party of Lincoln and there were still many war veterans around. Party loyalty meant something to the Dixian, even when his vote meant nothing to the men who received it.

It is worth noting, as an addendum to the comments on 1912, that Teddy Roosevelt is more or less the originator of the idea of civic nationalism. He believed that all people (he did mean European peoples, so let’s not get carried away) needed to drop their hyphenated identity and be American only. It was Roosevelt who first promulgated the belief that to be American was a set of ideas rather than an ethnic identity. This represents progressivism distilled into its most destructive form. While TR would certainly blanch at the current reality, in which peoples from all corners of the globe are told that they can be American if they accept our ideals, this was always an inevitability of “dropping the hyphen.” Progressivism never reaches an equilibrium and stops. It must continue to feed.

Teddy’s dicta applied as much to Southerners as it did to Italians and Irishmen. It was a domestic cultural imperialism to match Roosevelt’s foreign bravado. Small wonder the sons and grandsons of the Revolution of 1860 rejected him.

Flash forward 20 years and the Great Depression which had been hammering the South since the end of the War of Northern Aggression had begun to affect the parts of the country which “mattered” to the power brokers in Washington. FDR’s rhetoric of rebuilding shattered communities appealed to many Southerners whose homeland had never fully recovered from the fires of Sherman nor the rapine of the Reconstructionist carpetbagger. Maybe we were finally about to get a taste. Of course, that was not how it went. The Tennessee Valley got some electricity and many people got flooded out of their land, but the lion’s share of the federal relief dollars went to the cities and the farmers of the Midwest and West. As with all relief programs, the real winners were the contractors who provided the services. The people got a mere sliver of the action. *Daddy was a veteran and a Southern Democrat. They oughta get a rich man to vote like that*

Once the New Deal had revealed itself for what it was, another payout to Yankees (albeit not financed by Southern money as the pre-war versions had been, for we had no money to take), there was war looming in Europe and the South electorally stayed put in 1940 and 1944, the latter being the final time the South uniformly voted Democrat (though Carter would come close in ’76, losing only Virginia). There were larger forces at play than an endorsement or rejection of progressivism, as again the South stuck by the party which had done nothing for it since the 1850s for want of a better option. However, dark portents were on the horizon signaling a break with the Democrats which was some 40 years in the making by this point.

With the ascendancy of another scalawag (we here at Identity Dixie claim Missourah as ours) to the imperial chair in the form of Harry S. Truman, we can see an overt rejection of progressivism made by Southern voters. Truman, to the shock and disgust of the people of the South, integrated the armed forces of the United States. For a people that had served as Uncle Sam’s Janissary since the 1880s, his slave warrior elite, this was an unconscionable affront. The message was clear: The Democrats were soon to embrace civil rights; the solid Jim Crow South be damned.

Why, then, if the South could see the writing on the wall, did it embrace the progressive Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and ’56 over the ostensibly conservative Republican Ike Eisenhower? Simple. Eisenhower also had signaled support for civil rights. He supported Truman’s move to desegregate the military and time would show the South was right not to trust him. It was Eisenhower who would deploy federal troops to enforce the Supreme Court’s order to desegregate our schools. Had Ike been an Andrew Jackson, willing to tell the Court to kick rocks, that might have been a different story.  But bad Democrat vs bad Republican, bad Democrat gets the votes. Just like ol’ Woody Wilson.

Rejecting Eisenhower does not a Southern progressive make. Eisenhower was a progressive in every sense of the word. It was he who signed the law raising the top tax bracket to 91% that we hear the modern liberal mewl so much about during any discussion of tax policy. And it was he who attacked the traditional society of the South by enforcing at gunpoint an unlawful Court order to desegregate our schools. To say nothing of his role in appointing justices Warren and Brennan, who would deliver body blow after body blow to traditionalism and the power of the States during their judicial reign of terror. Short of the Tyrant himself, there are few men who have been more disastrous to the South.

Party loyalty does mean something in American political behavior, in Dixie as well as among the Yankees. Because they lack a better alternative, we see countless voters stick by the party of their fathers and grandfathers. A modern example can be seen among white laborers in the Rust Belt. Labor had long been a key component of the Democrat coalition but was summarily dismissed as important during the Clinton years (Dixie knows those feels). That rejection did not shift their political behavior, though, due to the fact that the Republican party was also advocating for open borders and offshoring. Enter Trump and his calls for protecting American workers and punishing China, and all of a sudden cover exists for a political shift. First in small numbers, then perhaps more in subsequent elections.

1964 was that sea-change year for the South. Scalawag Final Boss Lyndon Johnson, with his overt attacks on Southern society and states rights in the form of grasping Civil Rights legislation coupled with his embrace of urban socialism, saw four Southern states vote for Barry Goldwater, the most conservative candidate ever to run as a Republican. Johnson’s successful fear-mongering that a Goldwater win would increase the possibility of nuclear war with the Russians is the only thing that kept the rest of the South from following suit. However, the spell was broken and not a single Southern state voted Democrat in 1968 or 1972. If Hunter Wallace were correct that the South was a traditional stronghold of progressivism, one would think that Johnson would have been seen as a favorable candidate: his promises of dollars for the poor would have meant relief for all of Dixie’s poor, not just the blacks. Well, on paper, anyway. As with all other welfare handouts, the recipients of Great Society benefits found themselves and their communities broken, burned out, and subjugated to the will of the Empire. The inner cities and Appalachia don’t lie on that score.

In the main, Hunter is not wrong that Dixie voted for many progressive Democrats. The vote tallies are right there to be seen by anyone. But he conveniently ignores the reasons that this occurred so as to further his argument, and that is poor form. First three pages nationalism. Credit where it is due, I did have a laugh at “Identity Pellagra,” but overall, the claim is specious at the national level.

What then, of the state level politicians (who admittedly had wider ambitions that were curtailed by bullets) who did not advocate for economic? What of Huey Long and George Wallace? Were they progressives?

If one goes no further than the outward face, these men might seem like avowed leftist progressives. They did, after all, frequently attack big business. But digging a little deeper, a different picture comes into focus. Long made a populist name for himself attacking railroads and Standard Oil in Louisiana. Yankee businesses both, granted favoritism and fat contracts by progressive governments in Washington and by the machine Democrats in Baton Rouge who were and are, at least, as corrupt as their counterparts in Chicago. These businesses and the politicians who enabled them abused the people of Louisiana and so Long saw a means to power in taking these Yankee interests and their paid scalawags head on.

The man was a populist, not a progressive. The former is one who genuinely cares about the well being of the people and is not afraid to attack the powerful interests in order to defend the little guy. The progressive, as shown by Roosevelt (both of them) et. al., is someone who hears the complaints of the little guy and tosses them a bone so as to shut him up. Gnaw on that and suck out the marrow after the large and powerful are done chewing off all the meat. All while undermining the traditional pillars of society so that those who receive the bone become dependent on it. Weaponized welfare is a concept which dates back to the Roman Empire and has been used to great effect in pacifying and subjugating dissident groups in the United States. A fact that Yang Gang would do well to remember. Those who know history are doomed to watch others repeat it.

Was Huey a progressive? I’ll let the man speak for himself:

“They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side, but no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.”

Huey Long

In no way does this sound like a progressive mantra, which typically calls for minor reforms that leave the powerful unmolested. Indeed, more often than not it is the powerful who write the reforms and in a perverse way, benefit from whatever noble intent fueled the progressives at the grass roots level before the proposal reached the avaricious businessmen and their venal lackeys in Washington.

There might be some commonalities in my words and those of men such as Long and those of the progressives, but some overlap does not prove Hunter’s thesis. Wanting a fairer shake for the common man and having a loathing for the monied interests of Wall Street does not make one a progressive. Progressives exist to serve those monied interests, no matter what good they believe themselves to be supporting. Indeed, I’m disinclined to give them even the slightest benefit of the doubt, because at this point, if one cannot see that progressivism is malignant rather than palliative, one is being deliberately obtuse. Or to put it in a less fancy way: they’ve purposely stuck their heads up their asses. Dixie has forever been at odds with these progressives and their monied masters, going all the way back to Alexander Hamilton and the first Bank of the United States. Dixie will remain the enemy of these interests until we are freed from the yoke of Yankeedom.

With regards to George Wallace, I am reminded of his appearance on Firing Line with Yankee conservative William F. Buckley. Wallace goes into great detail talking about how in the years after the War, Yankee business worked to keep the South down by buying the government and enacting onerous shipping prices for Southern goods transported on Yankee rail lines. To ship from Mobile to New York cost three times what the reverse trip cost. To ship from Mobile to Montgomery cost the same as Mobile to Pittsburgh. These rail regulations were sold to the public as progressively minded reform. The people were told that the regulations would help keep the prices down for consumers and producers. And they did – in the North and West, Dixie made up the shortfall for the railroads but we did not matter then or now to Yankee politicians. Wallace decrying this unjust law was not progressive– it was ANTI progressive, for it was the progressives who had subjected Alabama and the rest of the South to those prices. Because Alabama and the South were and are “backwards” and traditional, so who cares about us? Progress has its winners and losers, and the South should be made to be the loser. All while the champions of progress feign stupefaction at the audacity of Southerners to reject their program. HOW DARE WE.

To afford Wallace the same courtesy I did Long:

We are faced with an idea that if a centralized government assume enough authority, enough power over its people, that it can provide a utopian life. That if given the power to dictate, to forbid, to require, to demand, to distribute, to edict and to judge what is best and enforce that will produce only “good”.  And it shall be our father and our God. It is an idea of government that encourages our fears and destroys our faith . . . for where there is faith, there is no fear, and where there is fear, there is no faith. In encouraging our fears of economic insecurity it demands we place that economic management and control with government; in encouraging our fear of educational development it demands we place that education and the minds of our children under management and control of government, and even in feeding our fears of physical infirmities and declining years, it offers and demands to father us through it all and even into the grave. It is a government that claims to us that it is bountiful as it buys its power from us with the fruits of its rapaciousness of the wealth that free men before it have produced and builds on crumbling credit without responsibilities to the debtors: our children.

George Wallace

Again, we see a populist and one far more traditionally oriented than was Long. These words drip with disdain for Yankee progressivism. Wallace was an ardent defender of what he dubbed the Anglo-Saxon Southland. A Southland whose values were and are anything but progressive. Traditionalism now. Traditionalism tomorrow. Traditionalism forever. Sorry, Occidental Dissent.

Progressivism can take many different forms, it can be economical, social, societal, or any combination thereof. At all turns has the South rejected progressivism in any of its forms. We might share a dislike of the bankers with the Yankee progressives, hippies, and socialists, but our reasons are different. They hate the bankers for their wealth, we hate them for the power they wield over us. Wealth in and of itself is not the problem for the Southern populist, ill-gotten wealth acquired in unholy congress with the Yankee government is the problem. This type of collusion is antithetical to the ideals of Dixie, just as socialism is, for both interfere with the natural hierarchy of mankind that has traditionally served as the backbone of the Southland. I will close with some words from John Crowe Ransom in his essay “Reconstructed but Unregenerate” from “I’ll Take My Stand.”

“Progress never defines its ultimate objective, but thrusts its victims at once into an infinite series. Our vast industrial machine, with its laboratory centers of experimentation, and its far-flung organs of mass production, is like a Prussianized state which is organized strictly for war and can never consent to peace. Or, returning to our original figure, our progressivists are the latest version of those pioneers who conquered the wilderness, except that they are pioneering on principles from force of habit, and without any recollection of what they are pioneering for.”

Eternal war and endless, rudderless progress for its own sake. This was written in 1930 and has turned out to be depressingly prescient. I can think of no ideology more antithetical to the South and her interests than the nebulous cancer that is Yankee progressivism. We are not, never have been, and never will be progressives. Don’t believe me? Ask a Yankee prog yourself what they think of the idea of Dixie being a historically progressive part of the country. The ensuing guffaws will last as long as it took you to read this article. Maybe longer. Which, full disclosure, was my initial reaction to the contention made by Occidental Dissent. But Hunter put forth effort and so I must as well. Cheers, OD.

Deo Vindice

4 comments

    1. I do appreciate the compliment. As far as footnotes go…The Long quote I found on goodreads, Wallace’s pull quote is from his first gubernatorial inauguration speech (more famously known for Segregation now, segregation tomorruh, segregation forevuh). And I cited the Ransome quote. Everything else came from my noggin.

      What do you feel I left out?

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