It has been said that nationalism is as much a matter of forgetting
as remembering. Were it not for the capacity of Huguenot descendants to
forgive, or, at least, forget, the horrors visited on them by the French
monarchy in the 16th century, French nationalism likely would not be as
vibrant and assertive as it is today. Likewise, American nationalism has
been built, in large measure, on the capacity of Southerners to forgive
and forget the dispossession and humiliation following Appomattox.
This South’s willingness to forgive its conquerors stems in part from
an unspoken agreement worked out between the sections roughly a decade
after the War Between the States. Under its terms, the South was allowed
some residual respect for its symbols and cultural uniqueness in
exchange for a degree of devotion and respect for the Union.
Granted, there were a few diehard radicals in the North who vowed
Southerners would remain on “everlasting stools of repentance,” but for
the most part, this tacit agreement worked reasonably well for most of
the next century. Even as recently as 1959, for example, the U.S. Navy saw fit to name one of its first nuclear-powered submarine after Robert E. Lee.
However, not long after the last veterans of the War Between the
States passed away, this tacit agreement began to deteriorate. Today,
the symbols, monuments and anthems of the South, now condemned as
“odious” in many elite quarters, have been subjected to an unrelenting
campaign of cultural cleansing.
This has corresponded with the rise of two other equally disturbing
cultural phenomena: the era of federally micro-managed social policy and
the de-Christianizing of the public arena, evidenced by the 1962 Supreme
Court decision banishing religious expression from public schools.
These cultural forces, working in tandem, have almost succeeded in
creating a vast cultural wasteland not only in the South but throughout
the United States. As the recent tragedy in Littleton, Colo., and
acquittal of the most corrupt president in U.S. history attest,
something has gone seriously awry in the Land of Plenty. Americans
suffer from an egregious loss of transcendent values, and unless these
values are restored to a central place in modern life, we face a social
and cultural upheaval of far-reaching proportions.
Nowhere is this loss felt more acutely than in the South, once
described by the late great Christian apologist Richard Weaver as the
“last non-materialist civilization in the Western world.”
Fortunately in the South, something happened on the way to social and
cultural oblivion. A series of prolonged and vitriolic attacks on
Southern flags, monuments and traditions, coupled with mounting concerns
about the decline of public virtue and morality, seems to have sparked a
great awakening of long abeyant cultural sentiment and pride.
Southern heritage and even nationalist organizations are popping up
throughout the region like crocuses on a winter-ravaged landscape. The
two principal Confederate descendant organizations, the United Daughters
of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, largely
moribund organizations until the last decade, have undergone explosive
growth. Likewise, Confederate re-enactor groups, part of a cultural
phenomenon sparked by the centennial celebration at Bull Run in 1961,
are cropping up in every corner of Dixie, commemorating Confederate
holidays long since forgotten.
By 1994, with the formation of the League of the South, Southerners
even could boast of their own Southern nationalist movement.
Yet, while the growth of this new nationalism is astonishing by every
measure, most of the efforts, until now, have focused on cultural, as
opposed to political, rejuvenation. Cultural renewal is important, but
to succeed, it must be strengthened and sustained by a corresponding
Southerners, however, should not look to the Democratic or Republican
parties for political salvation.
The Democratic Party, the traditional party of the South, is little
more than a vehicle for
federally accredited victim groups, labor unions and sundry other
special interests. Meanwhile, Republicans, while paying lip service to
Southern values, seem more concerned with safeguarding the interests of
global capitalism than with restoring liberty and fostering cultural
renewal. Indeed, despite all their talk about states’ rights, restoring
our culture and eliminating intrusive government, Republicans have had
little to show for it within the last four years. The federal leviathan
in Washington continues to grow apace, even as the last thin fibers of
liberty are whittled away.
The candidacies of heirs apparent Albert Gore and George W. Bush
speak volumes about the reality of modern American politics: both
parties differ very little on broad principle; both ignore principle for
political expediency; both prefer stop-gap measures to genuine reform.
What has been lacking until now are regional parties working for
social, cultural, political and economic renewal at the grass roots,
beholden only to their states and localities, and fiercely committed to
wresting power away from central elites in Washington.
Americans already have gotten a taste of this homegrown activism.
Several years ago out west, a series of local and state initiatives
aimed at curtailing the power of federal bureaucrats ignited what
journalists have come to call the prairie fire, which eventually spread
from state to state. What the South needs is its own prairie fire — or,
in our case, a forest fire, strong enough to resist federal hegemony and
to restore power back to the states and localities.
With this in mind, a group of Southern activists began exploring the
prospects of forming a broad-based regional/nationalist movement — a
Southern Party — capable of taking this Southern cultural awakening to
the next level of growth.
By April 1999, most of the groundwork for this movement had been
With the formal launch of the Southern Party in Asheville, N.C., on
Aug. 7, 1999, we have every reason to believe this peaceful rebellion
will get under way, eventually taking every courthouse and statehouse in
Dixie by storm.
As devolutionary scholars Donald Livingston and Thomas Naylor have
pointed out, “everything in nature has an optimal size beyond which it
The federal government, bloated and corrupted beyond all recognition,
is in desperate need of reform. Yet, despite the best wishes of the
Republican Party, this much-needed reform will not occur from atop Mount
Olympus, in the marbled corridors of Washington, D.C.
Regional/nationalist political parties, committed to cultural
rejuvenation and genuine state sovereignty — equipped with the
requisite moral and political will to call for secession if these claims
are not secured — offer the only prospect for genuine reform.
George Kalas is chairman of the
newly organized Southern Party, which is currently organizing in the 16
Southern states and has already received extensive coverage by both the
national and international media, including ABC News, C-SPAN, CNN,
Reuters, AP, National Public Radio and WorldNetDaily.