Thalassocracy

The Internet is a funny thing.  Anyone that’s ever gone down a Wikipedia hole realizes that, pretty soon, that one thing you needed to look up can turn into a two-hour deep dive into barely-related topics.

It’s also weird.  There’s so much content—so much that we can’t really quantify it—you’re bound to stumble upon something interesting.  It is, perhaps, a sad commentary of the human condition that, given unlimited access to information and knowledge, we use the Internet primarily for mundane purposes, and frequent the same dozen websites everyday.

Of course, that’s also the problem of abundance.  People can’t handle that many choices, and there are only so many spare hours to cram in unorganized knowledge.

That’s how I came to stumble upon the topic of today’s post, thalassocracy, or “rule by the sea.”  I recently purchased a very nerdy space exploration strategy game called Stellaris (itself a recommendation from a member of Milo’s Telegram chat).  Stellaris has a steep learning curve, so it’s a game that basically requires the player to do homework to figure out what they’re doing (my race of peaceful, space-faring platypus people has surely suffered from my ignorance).

That homework assignment (no, seriously, it’s a fun game!) sent me down a rabbit hole on the game’s wiki, and one of the in-game events involves a group called the Bemat Thalassocracy.  I’d never heard the term before, and searched out its meaning.  That brought me to a website called Friesian, which is apparently a site promoting the philosophy of Jakob Friederich Fries, an eighteenth-century philosopher opposed to that ponderous windbag Hegel.  The website dates back to 1996, when it began as a community college website.

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Lazy Sunday LXII: The South

Poet Archibald MacLeish wrote that the American “West is a country in the mind, and so eternal.”  The American South may be the same, but it’s more—it’s a country in the soul.  It’s the culture, the faith, the land, the people—these elements truly make the South “the South.”

The South has been changing for a long time, but those old virtues are still present here, even if they are fading.  The wickedness of modernity probes its tentacles into every crevice of every society, and the South is no different.  We’ve managed to capitalize on the material benefits of modernity without sacrificing our souls entirely—yet—but the unrealized dream of the Reconstruction Era Radical Republicans to remake Southern society into the image of the North is rapidly becoming reality.

That said, the South and its more adventurous cousin, the West, have managed to hold onto the important things in life, namely faith, family, and work.  In the United States, the vast belt from my native South Carolina in the east, driving westward to Texas, and up through at least Nebraska (that’s for you, NEO), still maintain sanity in a nation that is increasingly unhinged with an addiction to postmodern progressivism.

Not to say that Northerners don’t love their families or God, but the governing ethos of Yankeedom is materialist efficiency über alles.  Even the terse attitudes and abrupt styles of conversation suggest little room for even the most cursory pleasantries.  The propensity with which Northerners sling around f-bombs is one of the more dramatic reminders of what cultural differences exist between America’s two great regions even to this day (although, alas, I hear more and more Southerners engaging in sloppy manners and foul language).

But I digress.  I’ve made enough sweeping generalizations for one Lazy Sunday.  You can read more of my sweeping generalizations about vast swaths of the country in these essays, all about fair Dixie:

  • Southern Conservatism: John Randolph of Roanoke” – I somehow had never learned about John Randolph of Roanoke (outside of a reference in Richard Weaver’s Southern Essays) until teaching History of Conservative Thought during Summer 2019.  This post was all about the feisty—some might say ornery—Virginia statesmen who constantly strove to keep Virginia strong and the federal government weak.
  • Reblog: Conan the Southern?” – This post looked at better post from The Abbeville Institute about Texan Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian.  Howard’s tough Texas upbringing and Jacksonian derring-do inspired the ferocious barbarian hero, a self-made man in a world of evil wizards and sinister forces.
  • The Hispanicization of Rural America” – After driving through some parts of western South Carolina and noticing there were only Hispanics, I wrote this post, lamenting the replacement of white and black Southerners.  Here’s the key paragraph:

    I don’t like seeing my people—the people of South Carolina—being displaced in their communities by foreign invaders who speak a different language, who don’t care about our Constitution, and who don’t want to adopt our hard-won culture of liberty.  It took from 1215 to 1776 to get from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence; do we really want to throw away 561 years of Anglo-Saxon common law and careful cultural-political development in the name of multiculturalism?

  • The Invasion and Alienation of the South” – The Abbeville Institute is the gift that keeps on giving.  This post discussed an essay called “A Stranger in a Strange Land,” about a young Louisiana woman’s sense of total alienation in an ostensibly Southern city, Dallas.  She also details the leftward shift, politically, of Southern cities, which I have observed in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina—increasingly a colony of Ohio.
  • The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War” – An instant-classic in the TPP archives, this post originated as a LONG comment on “What Do You Think?,” a post on NEO’s Anglophilic blog Nebraska Energy Observer.  I make some bold claims about the good that was lost following the Civil War—like liberty.

Bless your heart,

TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: The Conservative Revolution

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.  NEW TIER: $3 a month gets one edition of Sunday Doodles every month!

Friday’s post, “The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War,” has enjoyed more traffic than my usual posts thanks to a.) the controversial topic of the American Civil War (gasp!—someone’s not denouncing the South!) and b.) and Dr. Rachel Fulton Brown graciously sharing the post far and wide.  Thanks, Doc!

It’s put me in a bit of a historical mood.  In history, the important points—the Truth—is often in the details, but I’ve always appreciated the contemplation of the philosophical implications of historical events.  Thus, my mini-essay on the American Civil War focused more on the cultural and political costs of the war than the nitty-gritty details.

The costs were, of course, considerable.  Historians of a conservative bent will sometimes refer to “reconstitutions” in United States history, with the Progressive Era and its immediate offspring, the New Deal, often cited as a major “reconstitution.”  The 1964 Civil Rights Act, which elevated anti-racism and social justice above the freedom of association, was another such reconstitution.

Similarly, the American Civil War, as I detailed yesterday, resulted in a reconstitution of the Constitution, as it served to centralize more power in the hands of the federal government, curtailing States’ rights in the process.

An observant reader will note that each of these “reconstitutions” reflected some revolutionary fervor or upheaval:  the horror of war, the agitation of Progressive reformers, the privations of the Depression, and the struggle for equal rights.  They almost all resulted in an increase in federal power, too, often to intrusive degrees.  In each instance, the ratchet turned towards more centralization and fewer liberties overall.

But the American Revolution—which made the Constitution possible—is nearly unique in the annals of modern history—much less American history—in that it was a conservative revolution.  That is, it was a revolution that sought to conserve—or, perhaps more accurately, to preserve—a set of traditions and privileges, rather than to tear them up, root and branch.

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The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War

On Wednesday, 13 May 2020, blogger Audre Myers posted a piece at Nebraska Energy Observer entitled “What Do You Think?”  The piece prompted readers to answer the question “Would we be the America we are if the Civil War had never been fought?”

Below is my response, which you can also view here.  The TL;DR summary of my answer is that, while it was good that the Union was preserved and that slavery was abolished, it came with some heavy fees—the expansion of federal power (and the loss of liberty inverse to federal expansion), the erosion of States’ rights, and—most importantly—the triumph of Yankee progressivism over Southern traditionalism.

The temptation is always to reduce the American Civil War to being ONLY about slavery.  Slavery was, obviously, a huge part of the Southern economy and culture, and motivated a great deal of Southern politics at the national level.  But slavery was not the be-all, end-all of the “Lost Cause.”  There were legitimate constitutional questions at play.  Indeed, an open question—one the American Civil War closed by force of arms—was that, having opted into the Constitution, could States later opt out?  John Randolph of Roanoke, among others, seemed to believe this question was legitimate, and such an exit was allowed—even acknowledged.

Of course, the slavery narrative serves modern progressive ends.  It allows for throwing the baby—States’ rights—out with the bathwater.  Suddenly, States’ rights becomes “code,” in the progressive mind, for justifying slavery or segregation.  Yes, States’ rights was invoked to support wicked things.  Nevertheless, it is fully constitutional—just ask the Tenth Amendment.

Nullification and secession were dangerous doctrines, but the loss of them also meant that the federal government could expand with far fewer limits on its power.  The States lost the nuclear option, so to speak, of bucking unconstitutional acts (although, to be fair, States can challenge such acts more peacefully through lawsuits against the federal government—even if those cases are heard in federal courts).  Seeing as we’re living in times when a peaceful separation between fundamentally opposed ideologies may be the most attractive option for the future of our nation, it’s worth reviewing the history of these ideas.

Well, that’s enough preamble.  After two days of self-indulgent, girly navel-gazing, it’s time for some substance:

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Post-Trump America

Well, the craziness of yesterday has subsided, and I’m almost finished with report cards.  Student-musicians apparently did quite well at their Music Festival, and life is (hopefully) about to calm down a bit before getting insane all over again in about five or six weeks.

All that said, I’m still pretty worn-out today.  Fortunately, my good blogger buddy photog, proprietor of Orion’s Cold Fire, wrote a post yesterday, “Building on Trump’s Revolt,” which raises some interesting questions.  Foremost at the back of every Trumpist’s mind:  who takes over after Trump?

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Moral Outrage about Moral Outrage

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Teaching is a profession that attracts complainers.  Teaching requires some risk-tasking, but it’s fundamentally a job for folks that want great degrees of stability.  When that stability is disrupted, teachers, being creatures of habit and order, get ornery.

That might explain, in part, the high turnover in the teaching profession.  We live in an increasingly disordered world, even in the classroom.  Part of that disorder is the assumption that children are somehow wiser and more morally pure than their elders.

That’s a notion that goes back at least to the counterculture movement of the 1960s (not to blame, pedantically and predictably, all of our problems on that misguided, suicidal decade):  the youth a moral vanguard, crusading against the long-established order and its absurdities.  The outraged shrieking of a youngling carries with it, the culture suggests, greater weight than the elderly master with decades of experience and accumulated wisdom.

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Lazy Sunday XLVII: Winning

Need a soundtrack to go with all the winning conservatives are enjoying under President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson?  Download Contest Winner – EP for just a few bucks, or download the legendary title track.

As I wrote yesterday, it’s been a good week for populism and national sovereignty.  It’s easy to get caught up in the myriad defeats on our side, and it’s frustrating that we seem to rally only at the last possible moment to prevent total catastrophe, but it’s worthwhile to look back at our victories from time to time.

To that end, this edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to looking back at some conservative victories.  One of the pieces looks back at our greatest Secretary of State, who although was a part of the totalizing New England faction that dominates progressive thought today, also helped created our national borders with his diplomatic finesse.

  • Independence Day” – This post was a brief celebration of Great Britain’s final exit from the blight that is the European Union.  Hip, hip, hooray!
  • Trump Stands for Us” – This piece linked to an essay from my blogger buddy photog, “The Unique Value of the Trump Presidency“; both photog’s original and my commentary are worth reading.  There’s a popular meme that shows President Trump sitting sternly, pointing directly at the viewer, with a caption that reads something along the lines of, “They’re not after me, they’re after YOU; I’m just in the way.”  Boy, does that speak volumes.  As photog points out, President Trump truly does stand with us, the American people.  In part, he does that simply by not despising us the way our elites do.
  • Mueller Probe Completed, Trump Vindicated” – Before the Ukraine impeachment hoax, there was the Russian collusion hoax.  How soon we forget.  While Mueller declined to write in his report that Trump could be fully vindicated, he also couldn’t make a case for Russian collusion.  Trump did nothing wrong!  After the Senate acquits GEOTUS this week, I wonder what scary Slavic country they’ll pick next.  Maybe they’ll allege that President Trump is in league with Viktor Orban in Hungary?  That would make me support him even more!
  • #MAGAWeek2018 – John Quincy Adams” – A bit of an outlier here, but I wrote a fairly lengthy rundown of John Quincy Adams—probably our best Secretary of State, and one of our worst presidents—back in summer 2018 as part of #MAGAWeek2018.  JQA and his New England Puritan ilk can probably be faulted for many of the one-size-fits-all solutions progressives plague us with today (although he would have recoiled at what progressives want), but he was a genius in terms of foreign policy, and he was a sincere nationalist, in the best sense of that amorphous term:  he wanted to make American great, physically and economically.  It’s a worthwhile read to get some more insights into a largely forgotten historical figure.

That’s it for today!  Let’s keep winning in 2020, and KEEP AMERICA GREAT!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Trump Has Soul

President Trump may be embattled amid the impeachment witch trial, but at least he “is the blackest president we have ever had.” That’s according to Antwon Williams, a lovably chubby black man. It’s a title that’s even better than President Clinton’s (care of Toni Morrison) anointing as “America’s First Black President.”

Williams credited President Trump’s “realness” with his honorary title of “The Blackest President.” He also argues that his family is better off under President Trump. Per Mr. Williams, c/o Infowars:

“Like, dude, he’s helping me and my family. We never owned a house before Trump came into office; now we own a home. I own cars. Our family is doing great, you know? So, the hell with what people say.”

Trump’s policies have certainly helped restore what Gavin McInnes calls America’s “economic libido.” Beyond that, though, it’s easy to see that President Trump has soul.

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Blog Spotlight: Salt of America

Here’s something a bit lighter for your Tuesday.  I was poking around on the Internet looking for—well, I don’t know what—and I stumbled upon this charming little blog, Salt of America.  It has an “early Internet” feel in terms of layout, with a few banner or sidebar ads, and an archaic system for logging your ZIP code so the site can get sponsors.

Other than the ads for Mobil 1 engine oil and Campbell’s Soup, the site includes all sorts of articles and documents pertaining to rural living in the American past.  The site features a series of local and regional histories that explore the development of various American cities and States.  I’m particularly interested in checking out a two-part series on America’s first State to ratify the Constitution, Delaware (Part I, Part II).

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