Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Offsite Post: ‘Constitutionalism: A Yankee Errand in the South’

Our thanks once again to the Geopolitica web site for posting an essay of ours.  It begins,

I. Introduction

Southerners place a high value on written political constitutions and think highly of their contributions to the understanding of them.  Many books and articles about either the [u]nited States Constitution of 1787 or the Constitution of the Confederate States have been and continue to be written by Southerners.  The origins of this tendency, however, ought to dampen their enthusiasm:  It is not native to Dixie but instead has its roots in Puritan beliefs that drifted southward in the 18th hundredyear.  The Southern fervor for written constitutions is in fact a secularized version of Puritan millennialism:  the Southern version of the ‘city on a hill’.

II. The Southern Tradition of Government

To understand this it is necessary to know the earlier political practices of Southerners before this change took hold.  They are of two kinds, neither of which resembles the obsession with written charters of New England and later Southerners:  the view of the Royalists/Cavaliers from southwest England who settled the coastal regions of Virginia and the other Southern colonies, and the view of the northern Irish, Scottish, and northern English who settled the backcountry of the South.

For the parts of the South settled by the Cavaliers, the system of government of county and vestry gentlemen, House of Burgesses, Royal Governor and Council, and King (Fischer, pgs. 407-8) was not one sprung from a philosopher’s pen:

This system of government developed in Virginia by a process of prescription.  As early as the year 1679 it was spoken of as “the constitution of the country,” in the traditional British sense of unwritten customs and established institutions, rather than the future American sense of fundamental written law.  This “constitution” was radically different from the polity of Massachusetts.  But the gentlemen oligarchs of Virginia thought of it as the ordinary and natural way in which English-speaking people ordered their political affairs.

William Fitzhugh wrote in 1684, “The laws we have made amongst us here since our first settlement, are merely made for our own particular Constitution, when the laws of England were thought inconvenient in that particular, and rather disadvantageous & burdensome . . . Our continual usage and practice since the first settlement, hath been according to the laws and customs of England.”  Any other idea of “laws and customs” was not merely uncongenial to Virginia gentlemen.  It was literally inconceivable (p. 410).

As for the backcountry folk, they disliked any overly formal arrangement of government:

This system of order gave rise to a special style of backcountry politics which was far removed from classical ideas of democracy and aristocracy.  It was a highly distinctive type of polity which Charles Lee appropriately called “macocracy”—that is, “rule by the race of Macs.”  This system of macocracy was a structure of highly personal politics without deference to social rank.  In that respect it was very different from Virginia.  In the early eighteenth century, William Byrd observed of the back settlements, “They are rarely guilty of flattering or making any court to their governors, but treat them with all the excesses of freedom and familiarity.”  It was also a polity without strong political institutions, and in that regard very far removed from New England.  There was comparatively little formal structure to local government—no town meetings, no vestries, no commissions, and courts of uncertain authority.  But within the same broad tradition of self-government common to all English-speaking people, the borderers of North Britain easily improvised their own politics.

 . . . 

The politics of the backcountry consisted mainly of charismatic leaders and personal followings, cemented by strong and forceful acts such as Jackson’s behavior at Jonesboro.  The rhetoric that these leaders used sometimes sounded democratic, but it was easily misunderstood by those who were not part of this folk culture.  The Jacksonian movement was a case in point.  To easterners, Andrew Jackson looked and sounded like a Democrat.  But in his own culture, his rhetoric had a very different function.  Historian Thomas Abernethy observes that Andrew Jackson never championed the cause of the people; he merely invited the people to champion him.  This was a style of politics which placed a heavy premium upon personal loyalty.  In the American backcountry, as on the British borders, loyalty was the most powerful cement of political relationships.  Disloyalty was the primary political sin.

 . . . 

 . . . For many generations, backcountry politics were mainly a collision of highly personal factions and followings, rather than ethnic blocs or ideological parties or social classes.  Charismatic appeals carried elections, which tended to be decided on questions of personal style (pgs. 772, 775, and 776).

 . . .



It is worth noting that for the first time in recent memory, the Sept. 11th news cycle wasn’t dominated by the usual phony pageantry of honoring the victims of the so-called terrorist attacks.  Instead the [u]. S. media was stuffed full of hurricane coverage.  Is this a turning point in the globalist agenda?  Will ‘extreme weather events’ (manufactured by the military-industrial complex, http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/links-to-geoengineering-patents/, via www.naturalnews.com) now share center stage as an existential threat to the ‘chosen people’ of America?  We will have to wait and see. 

In this same vein, Alan Jackson, please stop being a useful idiot for the CIA/deep state/banksters:


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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