The American Scapegoat
IS THERE a more reviled section of the United States than the South and is there a more loathed region of the South than Appalachia? The entire stretch of the old Confederacy is often stereotyped as a hotbed of ignorance, dysgenics, backwardness, and the most evil of all sins — “racism.” Ever since Hollywood got its start back in the 1910s, the South has been endlessly scapegoated for the so-called sins of the entire country. The question we must ask ourselves, dear reader, is why Appalachia and indeed the entire South has been cast into the wilderness for Azazel to claim.
As a son of the Appalachian South, I believe I am uniquely qualified to answer that question.
The South is the region of the country which preserved aristocratic values for the longest period of time. The virtues of honor, courage, military prowess, integrity, stratification of society, and respect for property have informed Southern culture for all of its existence. There is also a large degree of rugged individualism that informs the character of the region and which increases as ones ascends the mountains.
The Northern states on the other hand quickly transformed into a bourgeois and working class culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. The values of equality, fairness, humanism, trade, and industrialization became dominant in the North and much of the rest of the country. These opposed and incompatible values were destined to lead to conflict.
Bourgeois culture is antagonistic to the aristocratic ethos, and the Civil War was a microcosm of what was to overtake the entire world within 50 years of its end. The rising bourgeoisie cannot tolerate the values of the old aristocracy — and so the old order falls in order to make way for a new one. This pattern repeats in every society: A new order destroys the old order, which in turn becomes the old order that is in turn destroyed by another. The southern gentry represented something that the northern merchants hated; thus we had the American Civil War which was in a sense repeated on a wider scale in World War 1: Governments based, at least in principle, on the noble virtues were toppled by regimes based on shopkeepers’ fancies.
Though she was defeated, broken, and demoralized by her conquerors, the South largely retained her traditions. For this, she paid by being vilified in the northern press who were later to be joined by Hollywood. The South was the land of “rednecks” (an ethnic epithet), Hatfields, McCoys, “Strange Fruit,” Deliverance, and oppression.
So successful was the campaign against the South that most people wince at the sound of a Southern accent or simply assume that the bearer is a provincial idiot (a typical middle-class assumption). Another “victory” is that the people of the South have either largely abandoned their regional distinctions or have adopted the very stereotypes that the Media Industrial Complex has imposed upon them; a sick joke played against a once proud and aristocratic people.
As current society degenerates further into decadence and homogenization, the values of the merchant class will be swept away like the values of the gentry before them. As this happens, the persecution and propaganda arrayed against the South will become simultaneously more intense and more cartoonish. Those of us who continue to practice the values of our forebears — courage, honor, discrimination, and politesse — will appear ever more anachronistic and “unacceptable” to the powers that would destroy us. But these values give us strength to endure the coming onslaught — and catalyze our rising sense of identity and peoplehood.
The hate for us is already intense and the time is short for what little toleration we are still extended.
José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses tells us that “The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated.”
We are living in the end of the current order. Are you ready?
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