The continuing English Civil War in North America
March 4, 2012
Understanding the North-South conflict
One way of looking at the conflict of the 1860s is to see the two sides as representing completely different models of civilisation (as we have discussed many times on SNN) and the war of 1861-65 as a continuation of the English Civil War of 1642-51. In fact, the struggle goes back to before even that time and pitted the egalitarian, anti-Medieval and universalist forces of the Puritans against the traditional, anti-egalitarian forces of the English aristocracy.
Competing Civilisations & Mutual Hostility
Confederate President Jefferson Davis clearly understood the mis-named ‘Civil War’ in the United States in such terms, as is obvious from a speech he gave in December of 1862 before the Mississippi legislature excerpted below:
Our enemies are a traditionless and a homeless race; from the time of Cromwell to the present moment they have been disturbers of the peace of the world. Gathered together by Cromwell from the bogs and fens of the North of Ireland and of England, they commenced by disturbing the peace of their own country; they disturbed Holland, to which they fled, and they disturbed England on their return. They persecuted Catholics in England, and they hung Quakers and witches in America.
Notice that President Davis twice mentioned Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the Puritan forces which opposed the monarchy and its allies in the English Civil War. Davis claimed that the Union aggressors, whom he referred to as ‘dirty Yankee invaders’ and ‘worse than vandal hordes’ elsewhere in the same speech, were in fact the same ‘homeless race’ which ‘disturbed England’ two centuries earlier. His language was openly contemptuous in reference to the United States forces. He called them ‘miscreants,’ ‘barbarous enemies’ and said they are a people ‘devoid of every mark of civilisation.’ This theme that Yankees had ‘a disregard and a contempt of the usages of civilisation, entirely unequalled in history’ is one that Davis returned to again and again.
Northerners had a similar disdain of Southerners and their civilisation. US General William T Sherman wrote in an 1864 letter to the US Secretary of War, ‘There is a class of people men, women and children, who must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order.’ On another occasion Sherman wrote, ‘To the persistent secessionist, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better.’ Notice that in both cases Sherman makes no distinction between military forces and civilians. Sherman referred to ‘men, women and children’ of the South in the first quote and ‘he or she’ in the second. Sherman also made it clear that he particularly hated the Southern aristocracy. ‘The young bloods of the South; sons of planters, lawyers about towns, good billiard players and sportsmen, men who never did any work and never will. War suits them. They are splendid riders, first rate shots and utterly reckless. These men must all be killed or employed by us before we can hope for peace.’ Notice that Sherman, with his Northern mentality, hates the Southern upper class because of what he perceived as their life of leisure and their war-like nature. Even though the South was the wealthiest region of the United States, Sherman criticises the Southern upper class for not being hard workers like those who toiled away their lives in the factories of the North. Though he was an Ohioan who spent a lot of time in the South, Sherman’s mentality in this regard is very New England, very Yankee or Neo-Puritan. In true Yankee or Neo-Puritan fashion Sherman also rejected the traditional Western view of warfare developed during the Middle Ages (see: ‘Democratic total war vs traditional Western warfare’) and advocated total war by an unrestrained state against his enemies. He wrote, ‘The government of the US has any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war – to take their lives, their homes, their land, their everything… war is simply unrestrained by the Constitution.’ These beliefs in an all-powerful central state and total war against the enemies of that state are also integral to the Yankee world-view which developed from New England culture and are in diametric opposition to the traditional Southern world-view.
From the above quotations by Davis and Sherman we have some idea that at the very least different cultural values and identities as well as antagonistic populations were in conflict in North America in the 1860s. It was a war of secession but was also a modern ideological war in many ways between two competing views of civilisation.
Tracing the Origins of the Conflict: Two Peoples, Two Models of Society
The ideas discussed above were recently explored on The Sunic Journal by former Croatian diplomat and author Dr Tomislav Sunic and professor and author Dr Kevin MacDonald. In talking about professor Andrew Fraser‘s recent book The Wasp Question, Dr Sunic and Dr MacDonald dove into the competing views of civilisation which were brought to North America by the Puritans (see: ‘The Great Inversion: From Puritan to Yankee’) and the Southern colonists. They began by quoting Professor Fraser’s assertion that ‘The spiritual core of American constitutional faith is a cosmopolitan conception of revolutionary universalism.’ Dr MacDonald generally agreed with Fraser’s assessment and traced this mentality back to the Puritan immigrants who came to North American in the seventeenth century. He called them ‘a different breed’ and said that they were ‘quite radical’ (see: ‘The intolerant Puritans of New England’). MacDonald went on to assert that Lincoln’s war pitted the ‘Puritan, radical revolutionary force against the Southern forces which were basically the traditional model of the aristocracy.’ He says that Fraser has the idea that traditional civilisation in England (and MacDonald makes the point that this also existed in the Old South) was based on an ‘Indo-European tripartite model where you have people who work, people who fight and people who pray. [Fraser’s] idea is that that is what the Puritans overthrew in the seventeenth century and they were really able to carry that revolution through in the United States. The Civil War [sic] was a watershed event in American history where that model was then thrust to the forefront. The sort of model of the Southern aristocracy was swept away. So the Indo-European model was completely destroyed in America.’
Dr MacDonald then pointed out that there were two dominant strains that came from the British Isles to America. There was the Puritan strain (see: ‘Cotton Mather & the Yankee do-gooders’) which he identified as partially ethnic on the basis that many of the Puritans came from East Anglia and before that from Jutland in Denmark. MacDonald referred to them as Angles, the people who established the Kingdom of East Anglia. He identified the other strain as largely West Saxon in composition which he says was much more Indo-European and had an aristocratic model of social order. Historians who study the Old South have frequently written about the heavy influence of English immigrants from the Wessex region of England. MacDonald then states that he believes the East Anglian/Puritan/Yankee mentality can be traced back to the Ice Age. He says, ‘My view is that this is a particular ethnic group. These people date from prior to the Indo-European invasions; that this is part of the Ice Age, egalitarian, hunter-gatherer model of European society. This is ethnic. Hunter-gatherer groups are very egalitarian. There is a profound egalitarianism at the basis of that kind of society. Then you had the Indo-European invasions which is a much different model. It’s much more aristocratic….’
The professor then delves into a defence of the Puritan’s rejection of the social order of the Middle Ages. He argues that there are many positive aspects to the Puritan’s worldview but that the egalitarian impulses have to be checked, that they have gone too far and produced a culture of guilt today. He says that the Puritans created the modern world in a sense with their emphasis on communities of people who have a similar moral view of the world. This contrasts with the older structure of the world based on kinship and hierarchy. He notes that this tendency towards egalitarianism exists not only in the United States but also in northern Europe, especially Scandinavia. MacDonald says that there is an unfortunate tendency towards self-destruction (through policies like affirmative-action, Third World immigration, etc) that comes from this way of thinking but clearly he is affectionate towards them. Here it should be noted that Dr MacDonald was born and raised in Wisconsin, a State settled by Yankees from New England and later by immigrants from Scandinavia and northern Europe. Perhaps this explains some of his sympathy or understanding for those with this tendency towards egalitarianism.
MacDonald and Sunic then connect their discussion of the ethnic origins of the Puritans to conflict in the 1860s, making the same point that Southern nationalists have long made: that the struggle between North and South was an ethnic and ideological struggle between two distinct peoples. The various issues of that era (States’ rights, slavery, the tariff, etc) were merely the occasion for the war, not the true cause of the conflict. The roots of the conflict, as discussed in this article, go far deeper.
The Struggle Continues
The implications of the Yankees’ victory in the 1860s are also profound. The culture of guilt which has been imposed upon the United States and much of the Western world is destructive. Look at the South today and compare it to the Antebellum South. The Southern States were perhaps the wealthiest society on Earth, certainly the most prosperous in North America. Crime was minimal. A culture of honour prevailed. The family and church were the central institutions of society. Natural elites (see: ‘Wade Hampton & natural elites of traditional society’) provided moral, social and political leadership. Third World immigration was not permitted. Compare that classical model of civilisation to the literal mess which has been imposed on the South today. Our cities are unsafe and alien. The family is in decline. The traditional Christianity of the church has been replaced by Dispensationalism and modern liberalism. The upper classes make plenty of money but no longer provide moral, social and political leadership for the good of the community. The natural elites are pushed down while degenerates are lifted up. Local autonomy has been replaced by the all-powerful central state. Historic populations and cultures are being pushed aside by mass immigration from the Third World. It should be obvious that what we have today is a disaster. It is a failure. If allowed to continue it will result in the destruction of Western Civilisation in North America. The self-destructive nature of our enemies’ ideology is apparent today and provides us with an opportunity. The Yankees’ victory has to be undone. The Puritan worldview has to be defeated. The alien values of today must be replaced. The English Civil War goes on. It did not end in 1651. It didn’t end in 1865. It continues.