The South is America’s Hope

Count Herman Keyserling (1880-1946) was born in Estonia and married the granddaughter of Otto von Bismarck. He was an aristocrat who interested himself in philosophy and the natural sciences; Keyserling deeply believed that gifted individuals were born to rule.

The South is America’s Hope

“Count Herman Keyserling, philosopher and psychologist, world traveler and author, writes in the November Atlantic Monthly that the South is the hope of America, and proceeds, from the philosopher’s and ethnologist’s standpoint, to prove his assertion.

Count Keyserling sets up the contention that the theory of the North and East is that success comes through dynamics, through working feverishly; that if one only works a little harder, one will be more successful.

The Southerner, upon the other hand, fulfills the dictum that man is essentially the child of the earth, even though he rules it; that the Southerner realizes that there is no lasting happiness for man unless he is in harmony with the rhythm of the earth and that the only state that can endure is one which is comparatively static. That is, the restless, feverish dynamic state is apt to fade from the earth.

Alexander and Napoleon were vanquished; the Huns died out in a short while; the Normans overran Europe and even England, but the Norman culture was absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon culture of England, and the Angles and Saxons predominate to-day in England. It is not, therefore, the feverish and restless people who predominate in the end, but the more static people. “Speed is not an expression of strength and vitality,” it is an expression “merely of neurotic restlessness.”

The Northerner will continue to exist, Count Keyserling grants, but “in days to come he will be recognized as the poorest, the least superior type; he will mean to America at large what the most narrow type of Prussian means within the German nation. The Middle West will in all likelihood continue to represent America’s national foundation. But if a culture develops and the stress is laid on culture, then the hegemony will invariably pass over to the South. There alone can there be a question of an enduring culture.” (Macon Telegraph)

In this compliment to the South there is much for sober thought. There is a strong movement to commercialize the South, to create here the same money-seeking atmosphere, to change her distinctiveness into a likeness of other sections, in fact, to destroy those characteristics upon which our “culture” depends. Such effort should be combated and the South should remain distinctive among the sections. In that is distinction and culture and hope for the future.”

(“The South – America’s Hope,” Confederate Veteran Magazine, February, 1930, pp. 63-64)

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