The Southern Remnant

‘There has always been this fallacious belief: “It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.” Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.’ – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

‘In each one of us there lurks such a liberal, wheedling us with the voice of common sense. The road to totalitarian domination leads through many intermediate stages for which we can find numerous analogues and precedents…What common sense and “normal people” refuse to believe is that everything is possible.’ – Hannah Arendt

Rod Dreher’s newest book, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, widens his focus from the Czechoslovakian resistance to the anti-Communist resistance throughout the Soviet Bloc. In addition to studying the works of world-famous dissidents like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (from whom the title of the book is borrowed), Mr. Dreher traveled to the former Soviet states of Russia and Georgia, as well as to the former Warsaw-Pact states of Hungary, Poland, Romania, and – of course – the Czech Republic and Slovakia[1] to interview living survivors of Communism. Mr. Dreher believes that these survivors of ‘hard totalitarianism’ (which wielded force to deprive people of political liberty) can teach Americans how to survive the ‘soft totalitarianism’ (which seduces people into surrendering their political liberty for personal liberty) that is creeping through the Western world. The Benedict Option teaches Christians how to resist passive assimilation, but Live Not by Lies teaches Christians how to resist active persecution.

Every member of the Southern Remnant should study Live Not by Lies, because our cultural identity not only significantly intersects with Christianity (we have always been the most-Christian of Americans) but also is threatened by the same soft-totalitarian forces which are threatening Christianity.

In ‘The Power of the Powerless,’ Václav Havel argued that simply ceasing to live by lies (illustrated by the greengrocer no longer putting up posters with party slogans in his storefront) is a revolutionary act:

Let us now imagine that one day something in our greengrocer snaps and he stops putting up the slogans merely to ingratiate himself. He stops voting in elections he knows are a farce. He begins to say what he really thinks at political meetings. And he even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support. In this revolt the greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth.

The bill is not long in coming. He will be relieved of his post as a manager of the shop and transferred to the warehouse. His pay will be reduced. His hopes for a holiday in Bulgaria will evaporate. His children’s access to higher education will be threatened. His superiors will harass him and his fellow workers will wonder about him. Most of those who apply these sanctions, however, will not do so from any authentic inner conviction but simply under pressure from conditions, the same conditions that once pressured the greengrocer to display the official slogans. They will persecute the greengrocer either because it is expected of them, or to demonstrate their loyalty, or simply as part of the general panorama, to which belongs an awareness that this is how situations of this sort are dealt with, that is, in fact, is how things are always done, particularly if one is not to become suspect oneself. The executors, therefore, behave essentially like everyone else, to a greater or lesser degree: as components of the post-totalitarian system,[2] as agents of its automatism, as petty instruments of the social auto-totality.

Thus the power structure, through the agency of those who carry out the sanctions, those anonymous components of the system, will spew the greengrocer from its mouth. The system, through its alienating presence in people, will punish him for his rebellion. It must do so because the logic of its automatism and self-defense dictate it. The greengrocer has not committed a simple, individual offense, isolated in its own uniqueness, but something incomparably more serious. By breaking the rules of the game, he has disrupted the game as such. He has exposed it as a mere game. He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system. He has upset the power structure by tearing apart what holds it together. He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted façade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power. He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can coexist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who stops out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety.

This is understandable: as long as appearance is not confronted with reality, it does not seem to be appearance. As long as living a lie is not confronted with living the truth, the perspective needed to oppose its mendacity is lacking. As soon as the alternative appears, however, it threatens the very existence of appearance and living a lie in terms of what they are, both their essence and their all-inclusiveness. And at the same time, it is utterly unimportant how large a space this alternative occupies: its power does not consist in its physical attributes but in the light it casts on those pillars of the system and its unstable foundations. After all, the greengrocer was a threat to the system not because of any physical or actual power he had, but because his action went beyond itself, because it illuminated its surroundings and, of course, because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination. In the post-totalitarian system, therefore, living within the truth has more than a mere existential dimension (returning humanity to its inherent nature), or a noetic dimension (revealing reality as it is), or a moral dimension (setting an example for others). It also has an unambiguous political dimension. If the main pillar of the system is living a lie, then it is not surprising that the fundamental threat to it is living the truth. This is why it must be suppressed more severely than anything else.

Pardon the two lengthy quotations from Havel, but we, the Southern Remnant, will soon be in the same position that anti-Communists like Havel were in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Although the title of Mr. Dreher’s book comes from Solzhenitsyn, the book itself is dedicated to Tomislav Kolaković, whose life and work inspired Mr. Dreher. Kolaković was a Jesuit priest from Croatia who studied in Russia and fled to Czechoslovakia in order to escape the Nazis just as the Soviets were invading the Third Reich. Although the Soviets promised that they would liberate Czechoslovakia from Nazi rule, Kolaković knew from his experience in Russia that the Communists did not believe in self-determination and could not be trusted. To prepare the Czechoslovakians to resist the imminent hard-totalitarian rule, Kolaković formed a network of small groups called ‘The Family’ where he taught his motto: ‘See. Judge. Act.’ To ‘see’ meant to perceive the realities around you. To ‘judge’ meant to interpret those realities according to what you know is true. To ‘act’ meant to resist realities that you have judged are evil. This is the heart of Live Not by Lies. Mr. Dreher ends every chapter with a summary of how to apply Kolaković’s ‘See. Judge. Act.’

What is ‘soft’ totalitarianism? Mr. Dreher defines it as the convergence of ‘the cult of social justice’ with ‘woke capitalism’ and ‘surveillance capitalism.’ An easy way of illustrating the difference between the old, hard totalitarianism and the new, soft totalitarianism is to contrast George Orwell’s 1984 sci-fi dystopia with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World sci-fi dystopia (as Neil Postman did in Amusing Ourselves to Death).In 1984, books are banned by the state; in Brave New World, there is no need for the state to ban books because the masses do not want to read them. In 1984, the truth is censored from the masses by the state; in Brave New World, there is no need for the state to censor the truth because the masses are overloaded with useless information. In 1984, the masses are policed by the state; in Brave New World, there is no need for a police state because the masses are imprisoned by their own distractions. In 1984, the masses are controulled by the state inflicting pain; in Brave New World, there is no need for the state to threaten the masses because they are controulled by inflicting pleasure. In 1984, what we hate is what rules us; in Brave New World, what we love is what rules us. Another apt term which Mr. Dreher uses for soft totalitarianism is ‘the Pink Police State.’

When it comes to ‘social justice,’ Mr. Dreher warns that adults who scoff at ‘SJWs’ and ‘snowflakes’ on college campuses (perfectly satirised by ‘The Simpsons,’ as usual) and assume that they will grow out of it when they become adults are in for a nasty surprise. This generation has indeed gotten jobs in the real world, but what they are doing is turning the rest of the country into a ‘politically correct’ and ‘woke’ college campus. The ludicrous confrontation between two Yale deans and student protestors over Halloween costumes from 2015 is a nationwide phenomenon in 2020 (for an example, check out this video that went viral of a ‘peaceful protest’ from where I live in Florida). According to Mr. Dreher, these SJWs are not just an elite ‘revolutionary class’ like the Bolshevists (i.e. bourgeois youths guilt-ridden over their privilege, radically alienated from their heritage, and desperate for a sense of purpose), but behave the same way and believe many of the same things as the Bolshevists as well (i.e. tactics of intellectual agitation, ideological indoctrination, institutional infiltration, and physical intimidation in the case of the hardcore ‘Antifa’ faction).

When it comes to ‘woke capitalism’ and ‘surveillance capitalism,’ Mr. Dreher warns conservatives who have been conned into voting for Republican pro-corporate policies that ‘Big Business’ has become as much a threat to them as ‘Big Government.’ Capitalism is not the bulwark of American patriotism that it may have been during the Cold War, but has now taken extremely far-left positions on social-justice issues. Mr. Dreher argues that this is all just marketing to younger generations, which is partly true, but it is as much about generating controversy around divisive issues so that people are arguing amongst themselves about policies which will not cost Big Business either way (like abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism) instead of uniting around policies which will cost Big Business (like paid family leave or a universal basic income). This is the one of the most underreported stories of our time, according to Mr. Dreher, as Big Business’ patronage has given the SJWs a permanent megaphone in our ears. Mr. Dreher also warns that Big Business – in how it monitors our behaviour, markets products to us based on our behaviour, and ultimately manipulates our behaviour – has become ‘Big Brother.’ Big Brother (through ‘smart’ technology’ which has become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives) not only monitors our behaviour, markets to us based on the behaviour that it monitors, and ultimately manipulates our behaviour with what it markets to us, but also (because our entire lives are now online) has the power to punish whomever it wants for whatever behaviour it wants without due process. This is another of the most underreported stories of our time, according to Mr. Dreher, as Big Business has become more powerful than Big Government.

Is the concept of ‘soft’ totalitarianism disrespectful of the victims of ‘hard’ totalitarianism? Not according to the numerous survivors of Communism whom Mr. Dreher interviewed. In fact, his idea for this book apparently came from an unsolicited phone call which he received from a first-generation Czechoslovakian immigrant, whose mother confessed to him that she feared that what had happened in her country was repeating itself here. Indeed, if Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt’s 1951 masterpiece, The Origin of Totalitarianism, is any guide, then American conditions are prime for a totalitarian revolution. The first cause is ‘loneliness and social atomization,’ (which ‘staying at home’ and ‘social distancing’ have worsened). Totalitarian movements are, in Arendt’s words, ‘mass organizations of atomized, isolated individuals.’ The second cause is ‘losing faith in hierarchies and institutions.’ Arendt’s ominous term for this is ‘negative solidarity.’ The third cause is ‘the desire to transgress and destroy.’ Totalitarians, explains Arendt, ‘read not Darwin but the Marquis de Sade’ (meaning that they do not try to rationalise their brutality but rather romanticise it). The fourth cause is ‘propaganda and the willingness to believe useful lies.’ Totalitarians, explains Arendt, accepted ‘monstrous forgeries in historiography’ for the sake of offending those whom had ‘excluded the underprivileged and oppressed from the memory of mankind.’[3] The fifth cause is ‘a mania for ideology.’ Arendt describes how, under totalitarian ideology, even apolitical organisations (such as chess clubs committed to ‘chess for the sake of chess’ in the Soviet Union) are perceived as threats to the system which must be politicised. The sixth cause is ‘a society that values loyalty more than expertise’ (‘loyalty’ in this case is synonymous with ‘identity’). As Arendt puts it, ‘Totalitarianism in power replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intellect and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.’ Does any of that sound familiar?

Live Not by Lies is more than ‘a manual for Christian dissidents’ and can be a manual for any dissidents in a soft-totalitarian system, including the Southern Remnant. Unfortunately, although Mr. Dreher is a Southerner himself, he does not have an honourable record when it comes to defending the American South, even from the soft-totalitarian attacks which he knows better than most.

For example, in a blog post from the summer of 2015 titled ‘Driving Old Dixie Down,’[4] Mr. Dreher celebrated the social-justice and woke-capitalist attack on the Confederate flag. ‘Be of good cheer, the flag is coming down all over, and it’s coming down because Rand Paul is right,’ proclaimed Mr. Dreher. ‘It is inescapably a symbol of bondage and slavery, and it is inescapably a symbol of white contempt for the humanity of black people.’

In ‘The Flag Controversy: We Did It To Ourselves,’ John Devanny chided Mr. Dreher for his foolish short-sightedness:

Mr. Dreher, who has written intelligently on a host of religious and social issues and who has positioned himself as a defender of local communities, must be warned of the path he trods. Aside from subscribing to a faulty and over-simplistic, indeed even Manichean perspective on the flag, I believe him to be gravely unaware of the danger his argument contains. Allow me to edit Mr. Dreher’s words quoted above, ‘Be of good cheer, the cross is coming down all over, and it’s coming down because it is inescapably a symbol of anti-Semitism, bigotry, and medieval superstition, and it is inescapably a symbol of Christian contempt for the humanity of Muslims and gays.’ Don’t think it would not or could not happen. Mr. Dreher has written well about the rapid secularization of the culture and the hostility towards Christians; he should know better than to dabble in the arts of the Manichean enemy. Indeed we have seen similar arguments used against Christian symbols in the past that follow Mr. Dreher’s reasoning and phrasing with respect to the Confederate flag.

Five years later, Mr. Dreher has apparently learned nothing. In a blog post, ‘Black Lives Matter Comes Home,’ Mr. Dreher described how his SJW niece created a petition on Change.org protesting the ‘Audubon Pilgrimage,’ a festival in their family’s home of West Feliciana Parish celebrating the life and times of John J. Audobon (who lived there with his wife when it was still the American western frontier).

Mr. Dreher promptly signed the petition and proudly commented:

This needs to happen. It’s not a conservative or a liberal thing: It’s about human decency, and justice. I didn’t realize until I was a grown man what a one-sided myth our local history was, as my generation was taught it. I had no idea until 2012 what the Civil Rights Movement was like in our parish (e.g. that there had been a white near-riot on the courthouse lawn when a black pastor registered to vote on Oct. 17, 1963…just four years before I was born). Our common history is not only one of slavery and oppression, but those evils were real, and must be acknowledged, and repented of. How can the parish have a historic festival that leaves out half the people of the parish, and not only leaves them out, but celebrates an era and a culture that enslaved their ancestors? I hope there is a way to go forward with a new Pilgrimage that is truthful and fair, that celebrates the good that we share in common while acknowledging with sorrow the evil that is also our legacy.

The West Feliciana Historical Society panicked under the pressure and canceled the festival permanently.

A festival which celebrates a person who lived in a period and place in which there was slavery is no more a ‘celebration of slavery’ (what an outrageous and preposterous phrase!) than a ‘Renaissance Faire’ is a ‘celebration of feudalism’ or a ‘Dickens Faire’ is a ‘celebration of industrialism.’ Is an ‘Oktoberfest’ a celebration of German culture and civilisation[5] or is it a celebration of anti-Semitism? After all, was German culture and civilisation not, as early as the Lutheran Reformation, increasingly anti-Semitic? And was anti-Semitism not what differentiated German fascism from Italian and Spanish fascism? Ergo, any celebration of German culture and civilisation – like an Oktoberfest – is a celebration of the Holocaust, you Nazi! Is Saint Patrick’s Day a ‘celebration’ of the infamous Irish-American mob violence against black people in Northern cities, including ‘The Greatest Lynching in American History’? (Not to mention Irish-American mob violence against Chinese immigrants in San Francisco and other Californian cities, as dramatised in Jet Li’s show, ‘Warrior.’) And of course, we all know what the Italian-American holiday Columbus Day is ‘celebrating’: Genocide! The truth is, of course, that no one is ‘celebrating’ any such thing and that libelous/slanderous language such as this is used only to infuriate mobs and intimidate the mob’s victims. If this false premise is conceded, as Mr. Dreher rashly conceded it in this case, then logically there is nothing stopping soft-totalitarians like his niece from further purging our history.

Furthermore, just because the parish’s black population does not participate in the Pilgrimage does not mean that it is ‘excluded.’ Black people are free to participate – it is not as if it is segregated – but choose not to do so for whatever reason. How many black people participate in the ‘Walker Percy Weekends’[6] (also in West Feliciana Parish) which Mr. Dreher posts about on his blog so much? Black people have cultural and social events within their own community from which white people are not necessarily ‘excluded’ but in which they nevertheless do not participate – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Maybe it is true that the local black population does not participate in the festival because, as Mr. Dreher puts it, the festival celebrates a person who lived in a period and place in which their ancestors were enslaved and that is awkward for them, but – and please excuse me – so what? Just because there was black slavery in the American South (as there has been slavery throughout human history regardless of race) that does not mean that white people in the American South are forbidden from having a heritage forevermore. As our friend Mr. Devanny cautioned Mr. Dreher five years ago, he is ‘gravely unaware of the danger his argument contains.’

In a time of widespread atomisation and deracination(phenomena which readers of Live Not by Lies are warned is one of the preconditions for totalitarianism),Mr. Dreher ganged up on a small community to kill a part of its local life. In a time when we are forgetting and even erasing our own history (phenomena which readers of Live Not by Lies are warned is a tactic that totalitarians use to rule people), Mr. Dreher ganged up on a small community to kill a part of its cultural memory. In a time when families are supposed to be giving us the strength to resist soft-totalitarianism, Mr. Dreher’s desire to be a good uncle (and probably one of the ‘good wypipo’) lured him into collaborating with soft-totalitarianism. Canceling the Pilgrimage did not improve race relations one iota and if anything likely made them worse: Black people are no better or worse off than they were before and white people now resent black people more than they did before. It is unnecessary to belabour the point. When Mr. Dreher signed his niece’s petition, that was equivalent to the greengrocer placing a ‘WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!’ sign in his window. He lived by a lie.

Despite Mr. Dreher’s cowardice when it comes to the American South, Live Not by Lies is a profound book from which the Southern Remnant can learn ways to resist the soft-totalitarian forces threatening our culture and civilisation.

First, ‘value nothing more than truth.’ In his valediction to the Russian people, ‘Live Not by Lies,’ Solzhenitsyn encouraged them that even seemingly powerless individuals have the power to resist a seemingly all-powerful totalitarian system. Solzhenitsyn explained that totalitarianism is an ideology of lies and he argued that totalitarianism continues to exist only because the people are too afraid to challenge its lies. It is the belief that the people have no choice but to obey which is the ultimate lie which gives all the other lies their power. Not everyone is capable of speaking truth to power as Solzhenitsyn did – it got him 11 years of imprisonment and 20 years of exile – but if enough people simply refuse to say what they know is not true, then the lies will lose their power and the system will implode.

How can the Southern Remnant value nothing more than truth? We must learn for ourselves the truth about the lies that are told about the American South – who is saying these things about us, what they are saying about us, and why they are saying it about us – and then teach the truth to as many fellow Southerners as possible. We may not be able to say exactly what we know to be true in public without getting ‘doxxed,’ but at the very least we must never validate anti-Southern lies. That means not repeating anything about the American South that you know is a lie, not participating in any collective action that lies about the American South, not participating in any public events where lies are told about the American South but where the truth cannot be spoken in reply, not voting for candidates who have told lies about the American South and not yet apologised (especially ‘conservative’ politicians who count on Southern voters), and not supporting entertainment or news media that propagates lies about the American South (especially from the ‘conservative’ press which counts on Southern readers/viewers).

Second, ‘cultivate cultural memory.’ Cultural memory is not the same as ‘historical memory’ (i.e. what is written in the history textbooks), but is comprised of the stories which a people tell about themselves which forms their cultural identity and establishes their social order. Cultural memory is as mythical as it is factual. According to George Orwell, ‘The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history,’ but what does that mean? It means that a people without cultural memory have a weak cultural identity and a weak social order which totalitarians can easily replace with their own cultural identity and their own social order, hence the reason why totalitarian revolutions always target cultural memory. ‘“Children, never look back,”’ Czechoslovakian dissident Milan Kundera recalled the President telling a group of Young Pioneers in his novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, ‘and what he meant was that we must never allow the future to collapse under the burden of memory.’ It is especially disturbing, then, that last year the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s annual survey found that 36% of Millennials have a favourable opinion of socialism (up 8% from the previous year), that 70% of Millennials are likely to vote for a socialist (with the ‘very likely’ category doubling to 20% from the previous year), and that only 57% of Millennials believe that the Declaration of Independence ‘better guarantees freedom and equality’ than the Communist Manifesto.

How can the Southern Remnant cultivate cultural memory? We must be ‘living models’ of the truths contained in our traditions. Cultural memory is not mere history and cannot be kept alive just by teaching history to the next generation. Cultural memory must be lived out by men and women within their communities. We must ‘create small fortresses of memory.’ Families and other fellowships which are safe from the outside world should be spaces where the truth is kept safe. Although we are unfree in public, inside these private communities we are free to be living models of the truth. We must ‘make the parallel polis into sanctuary cities.’ By ‘parallel polis,’ Mr. Dreher is referring to Václav Benda’s concept of an underground social structure with its own art, education, media, and politics. Among the most important institutions of Havel’s parallel polis was the educational seminar where subjects necessary for preserving and renewing cultural memory were studied. In an interview with Mr. Dreher, Sir Roger Scruton (the conservative English philosopher who participated in these seminars and even helped establish an underground university) described how the Czechoslovakians ‘were determined to cling to their cultural inheritance because they thought that it contained the truth, not just about their history, but the truth about their soul, about what they fundamentally are.’ We must ‘bear communal witness to future generations.’ In his book, Mr. Dreher describes his visit to the Butovo Firing Range outside of Moscow, which was one of the sites which the NKVD used to execute and bury many of its victims. Today the site belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church, which it has turned into a graveyard with a chapel and a monument on which all of the names of the 20,761 victims are inscribed. On Russia’s ‘Day of Remembrance’ honouring the victims of Communism, Russians gather at Butovo to read the names of the victims there. We still have holidays on the books in ex-Confederate states (‘Confederate Memorial Day’ here in Florida is on 26 April) which would be the perfect occasions for such ‘rituals of collective memory.’ Imagine the symbolic power of non-violent marches and vigils at historic monuments (or, even more symbolically, the sites of what were once historic monuments) across the American South every Confederate Memorial Day! Although it is difficult for social minorities to cultivate their own cultural memory under a social order founded on a different cultural memory, the Southern Remnant has one advantage for the moment: The American social order is currently riven in a ‘culture war’ between left- and right-wing Lincolnians and far-left Cultural Marxists.

Third, ‘families are resistance cells.’ Mr. Dreher praises the Benda family as a model of anti-totalitarian resistance and interviewed Václav’s widow, Kamila, and many of her children and grandchildren at their home in Prague, for his book. The Bendas were deliberate about fostering family life and through how the Bendas supported each other under totalitarian persecution demonstrated why the institution of the family is, historically, the building block of society. Václav himself wrote theoretically about the role of the family, which according to him is where we learn how to love and respect others.

How can the Southern Remnant make family resistance cells? We must ‘model moral courage.’ Teach your children through your actions how to do what is right even when others are telling you that it is wrong. Although this has been the moral of so many Disney movies and shows that it seems cliché, for children to see their own parents doing this is an entirely different experience and a lesson that they will never forget. We must ‘fill their moral imaginations with the good.’ Today, the pop culture that is marketed to our children is shockingly depraved, particularly the increasing sexualisation of children.[7] Yet there is plenty of modern as well as classic literature, music, cinema, and television that is as edifying as it is entertaining (especially Southern literature and music), and this is what we should be reading, listening, and watching along with our children. We cannot ‘be afraid to be weird in society’s eyes.’ If we raise our children to be good Southern boys and good Southern girls, they will seem ‘weird’ to their homogenised American peers and will be peer-pressured to conform. Our children should feel that what others see as ‘weird’ about them is actually something that makes them special. We must ‘prepare to make great sacrifices for the greater good.’ Sacrifice by moving somewhere with a clean, safe community where your children can thrive even if it means you have to commute to work. Sacrifice by tightening your budget to afford keeping your children out of the public-school system, whether that means paying tuition or homeschooling. We must ‘teach they are part of a wider movement.’ The Southern Remnant is, by definition, a tiny minority even within the American South, so just as the Christian Benda family built bridges with non-Christian liberals and Marxists critical of the Communist regime in their country, so we should connect our families to others with whom we may not have everything in common but with whom we nevertheless have a greater cause or a greater enemy in common (Mr. Dreher is himself a good example of this). We must ‘practice hospitality and serve others.’ In a disintegrating and stratifying society, bringing people from different demographics to socialise together is a form of resistance. This socialisation is especially important between the young and the old, as it is an opportunity for the latter to impart ‘cultural memory’ to the former. Old-fashioned ‘Southern hospitality’ can be a revolutionary act!

Fourth, religion is ‘the bedrock of resistance.’ According to Mr. Dreher, all of the surviving anti-Communist dissidents whom he interviewed for Live Not by Lies reported that their Christian faith gave them an inner peace in the face of persecution. ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace,’ Christ told his Disciples. ‘In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Although all of these dissidents had every right to be bitter over the damage that Communism had done to their churches and their countries, not to mention to their own families or themselves, their faith not only gave them the strength to fight their enemies, but also gave them the strength to forgive their enemies. ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,”’ Christ preached in the Sermon on the Mount. ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of the Father in heaven, for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’

How can the Southern Remnant make religion the bedrock of resistance? We must pray to God to keep our Christian culture and civilisation alive, but even if it is God’s will for our people to go extinct and for all of the evidence of our existence to be erased, then that is this world’s loss, not our loss.[8] To quote George Orwell, even if a totalitarian dystopia in which ‘every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street has been renamed, every date has been altered, and the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute’ triumphs in this world, we can take heart that our hope is in another world anyway. We must resist this dystopia, but we must remember that even it would not be apocalyptic. So when our enemies try to hurt our feelings by, say, dumping the remains of Confederate statues at a wastewaster treatment plant, we should respond with mercy and nobility by praying for them. (That is not just what any proper Southern lady knows to do – ‘kill ’em with kindness’ – but what Solomon and Jesus told us to do.) We know that Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Confederates were good Christian soldiers who have ‘crossed over the river and are resting in the shade of the trees,’ so to speak, and that nothing done to their names or their images in this world can change that truth. We must still speak the truth about what our enemies are doing, of course – ‘bless those who persecute you,’ yes, but feel free to speak as you ‘turn the other cheek,’ too! – but our protest must be in a Christian spirit of grace, love, and peace, as opposed to their un-Christian spirit of self-righteousness and spitefulness. We white Southerners can especially benefit from the experience of our black brothers and sisters, for whom religion has been a bedrock of resistance under oppression that we cannot even imagine.

Fifth, we must ‘stand in solidarity.’ Mr. Dreher provides numerous examples of anti-Communist dissidents who resisted totalitarianism through the power of human relationships. By ourselves, we are weak and easy to rule (which is why atomisation causes totalitarianism), but in solidarity with others we become stronger and freer (which is why totalitarianism causes atomisation). Small groups of families and friends can rescue isolated and lonely individuals from demoralisation, practice informally that which formal institutions are unwilling or unable to practice themselves, build bridges between otherwise-unrelated types of people, and maintain collective morale when the news is bad. In an interview with Mr. Dreher, Roger Scruton (the conservative from Cambridge who aided the Czechoslovakian resistance) explained that social groups organised around apolitical activities were just as important as the politically active cells.

How can the Southern Remnant stand in solidarity with each other? By making fellowship with family and friends one of the largest parts of our lives. Everything about modern American life – alienation, diversity, media segmentation, political polarisation, suburbanisation, technology, etc. – has the effect of separating families and friends as well as preventing such relationships from forming in the first place. Aside from immigrants from other, older parts of the world with more conservative traditions, Southerners more than any other Americans have resisted this Gesellschaft way of life and have managed to retain some version of the Gemeinschaft way of life. Indeed, whether white or black, we have always been belonged to large social networks (real social networks, not the simulacrum of ‘social media’) where we all know each other and care about each other unconditionally. However much we need educational seminars in which we study our heritage, educational seminars cannot help us overcome the anger and despair of witnessing the destruction of our heritage. If anything, learning about how beautiful and valuable that which is being figuratively and even literally torn down and set on fire is actually makes it harder to overcome those emotions. For that, we need solidarity, which can only come from fellowship.[9]

Sixth, we must welcome ‘the gift of suffering.’ Suffering is a healthy and necessary experience in life which builds character and thus makes us better people. ‘But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope,’ Saint Paul wrote to the Roman church. ‘Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ A life without suffering would be a shivering, shriveled-up thing not worth living. Yet in our modern ‘therapeutic’ culture, where all that matters in life is individual happiness, suffering is seen as just another form of unhappiness, which is unnecessary and unhealthy. This mentality has produced generations of psychologically stunted people whose impulses are to escape from their problems rather than to endure them. This therapeutic aversion to suffering (which can be any form of self-sacrifice and is not necessarily the worst-case scenario of totalitarian persecution) is why a recent WSJ/NBC poll reported that only a small minority of Millennials and Zoomers believe that religion, patriotism, and family are important parts of life, as opposed to the large majority for ‘self-fulfillment.’[10] Suffering is not an experience to which we should be expected to submit unnecessarily – even Christ prayed before his arrest in Gethsemane, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will but Yours, be done’ – but it is something to which we must be prepared to submit if and when it is necessary.

How will suffering be a gift to the Southern Remnant? As painful as it is to accept in the short run, the suffering that we shall be enduring for the time being will make us all stronger Southerners in the long run. Before, our flags may have been flying high and our statues may have been standing tall, but our people had become Southerners in name only. Culturally, we consumed the equivalent of junk food from Hollywood like the rest of the American masses, showing as much concern for what we put into our brains and souls as what we put into our bodies (which is to say not much at all). Economically, we sold out to the Chamber of Commerce, leveling our mystical natural spaces and quaint urban spaces in order to build strip-malls full of chain stores and condos like the rest of the American masses. Politically, we made our states ‘Republican’ rather than ‘Southern’ (and are now making them ‘Democratic’ due to the nü-South gentrification process). Socially, we behaved like bourgeois Yankees with nothing but Southern accents to distinguish us from the American masses (and, in some cases, our elite classes deliberately repressed their Southern accents). Much like the ancient Israelites and Judeans, we forsook the god of our fathers for the gods our foes and will now be punished for our infidelity. Yet suffering will be a gift to the Southern Remnant because for every old monument to a dead Southerner that the mob tears down, new living Southerners will rise up in response.

The destruction of our monuments – first just Confederate, then anything Southern, and finally all American – is just the overture of the revolution. Destroying our monuments is a symbolic act of tribal supremacy to quench the mob’s bloodlust, on the same ethical and intellectual level as a book-burning. The entr’acte will be an unprecedented usurpation of power, epitomised in the progressive cause célèbre ‘The Green New Deal,’ which uses environmentalism as a Trojan Horse for the top-down destruction and reconstruction of our economy and society (but which will not, on its own terms, help the environment). At the same time, since RussiaGate has successfully set the precedent of ‘The Resistance’ colluding with Silicon Valley and ‘the U.S. Intelligence Community’ to manipulate the public (Glenn Greenwald’s recent resignation from the media organisation that he co-founded for censoring him illustrates this trend), the news will become increasingly propagandistic. ‘Anarcho-tyranny’ will also worsen, with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Antifa’ mobs increasingly acting as paramilitary forces terrorising the public and even the police.

The revolution’s finale will be the abolition of our federal and republican system of government. Although the Constitution’s limitation and separation of powers is more honoured in the breach than in the observance, the structure of the government as established in the Constitution has remained the same for the past 232 years. Indeed, after the constitutions of the original Thirteen States, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest constitution codified by a popular convention in the world. According to the revolution, however, our historically successful system of government is just another form of ‘systemic racism’ which belongs on the ‘ash heap of history.’ Bit by bit, they will subvert each non-egalitarian convention, institution, and tradition as yet another ‘relic of Jim Crow’ until they have replaced the system with a unitary national state with plenary power. The judicious work of Founding Fathers like Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison will be overthrown by a generation which thinks that it knows it all but which, in fact, knows nothing at all.

Just the other day, I heard two TV writers interviewed on NPR positively contrasting Germany with the U.S.A., since the former has ‘reinvented itself’ throughout its history and the latter have had the same system of government throughout their history. Could there be a worse comparison than Germany? The reason that Germany reinvented itself in 1990 was because 45 years earlier, in 1945, it had been defeated in a world war and occupied by enemy forces which reinvented it as two separate countries. The reason that Germany was conquered in that world war and reinvented as two countries was because 12 years earlier, in 1933, it had reinvented itself under a totalitarian and genocidal revolutionary party. The reason that Germany reinvented itself as totalitarian and anti-Semitic was because 15 years earlier, in 1918, it had been defeated in another world war and was forced to reinvent itself as a democracy. The reason that Germany lost that world war and reinvented itself as a democracy was because 47 years earlier, in 1871, the loose confederation of German principalities which had lasted for over a thousand years was reinvented as an autocratic and militaristic empire. The point is that conditions in the U.S.A. are not comparable to conditions in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik and that ‘self-reinventions’ of entire countries are chaotic processes which are usually caused by and the cause of more chaos. Yet according to enlightened, progressive liberals at NPR, Germany is a model of ‘reinvention in the face of chaos and huge changes.’

There is nothing that the Southern Remnant can do to stop this revolution. We are ‘prophets without honour’ in our homeland. All that will remain of our culture and civilisation will be whatever we remember. All that we can do – and all that we must do – is live in truth, learn from history, rebuild ‘hearth and home,’ trust in God, reunite with ‘kith and kin,’ and let the pain strengthen us. Ironically, if we live this way, then we will lead better lives than we did when times were better.

Last Sunday, the pastor at my family’s church preached a resonant sermon with this very message. He began by putting one of the most favoured verses from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, into historical context, and explaining that it does not mean what those who often quote it out of context seem to believe that it means. That famous verse comes from a letter which the prophet Jeremiah sent to the remnant of the Jewish population which had been captured from Jerusalem and taken to Babylon. There, in Babylon, the false prophet Shemaiah was deluding the Jewish captives that they would be back in Jerusalem after a couple years. (At the same time, back in Jerusalem, the false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah were goading the Jews into revolting against Babylon, which would culminate in the final conquest of Jerusalem.)

First, Jeremiah encouraged the Jews to make the best of their captivity by leading flourishing and fulfilling lives in Babylon and serving as loyal subjects of Babylon:

Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters – that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. For thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.

Then, Jeremiah instructed the Jews that while they should make the best of their bad situation, they should not forget about their identity and inheritance as Jews and become Babylonians, because if they kept faith with God then they would ultimately be restored to their homeland:

For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

In my pastor’s summary, Jeremiah’s message to the Jews was to ‘be faithful,’ ‘be fruitful,’ ‘be useful,’ and ‘be hopeful.’ Although my pastor did not yet mention them (this is the start of a series of sermons), Shadrach/Hanania, Meshach/Mishael, and Abednego/Azariah were examples of Jewish captives who followed Jeremiah’s advice: They served on the Babylonian court, but because they would not forsake their god and worship a golden idol of the king they were thrown into a fiery furnace – where God was with them and kept them from harm. We, the Southern Remnant, should be as faithful, fruitful, useful, and hopeful as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We, the Southern Remnant, should apply Jeremiah’s prophesy to our own lives, because we are more like the Jews exiled in Babylon than we are like the Jews at home in Jerusalem. Our captivity in the nü-South will not be as dangerous as that of the Jews in Babylon, but unless a modern-day equivalent of the Persian Empire liberates us from the U.S.A., our captivity will likely last much longer. Indeed, several generations of Southerners may live and die in captivity in the nü-South without ever seeing our equivalent of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s temple and city walls. Therefore, our only option is, in the words of my pastor, ‘To learn to like where you are and to learn to live where you are.’


[1] Despite the Lincolnian theory that secession must necessarily degenerate into anarchy, Czechoslovakia, after its ‘Velvet Revolution’ (the peaceful liberation from Communism), peacefully separated into two different countries (the Czech Republic and Slovakia) in the ‘Velvet Divorce.’ That was a thoroughly Jeffersonian act.

[2] According to Václav Havel, ‘I do not wish to imply by the prefix “post” that the system is no longer totalitarian; on the contrary, I mean that it is totalitarian in a way fundamentally different from classical dictatorships, different from totalitarianism as we usually understand it.’ Hannah Arendt, the greatest scholar of totalitarianism, defines ‘totalitarian’ as an ideology which replaces all preexisting institutions and traditions with itself in order to redefine society totally. Hitler’s Third Reich, Stalin’s Soviet Union, and Mao’s People’s Republic are examples of totalitarianism. Dictatorships in which a party or a single person monopolises political power but does not undertake a total transformation of society Arendt categorises as ‘authoritarian.’ Mussolini’s Italy, Dollfuss’ Austria, and Franco’s Spain are examples of authoritarianism.

[3] Rod Dreher cites ‘The 1619 Project’ as an example of totalitarian ‘propaganda’ and ‘useful lies’:

Here’s an important example of this happening in our time and place. In 2019, The New York Times, the world’s most influential newspaper, launched the ‘1619 Project,’ a massive attempt to ‘reframe’ (the Times’ word) American history by displacing the 1776 Declaration of Independence as the traditional founding of the United States, replacing it with the year the first African slaves arrived in North America.

No serious person denies the importance of slavery in U.S. history. But that’s not the point of the 1619 Project. Its goal is to revise America’s national identity by making race hatred central to the nation’s foundational myth. Despite the project’s core claim (that the patriots fought the American Revolution to preserve slavery) having been thoroughly debunked, journalism’s elite saw fit to award the project’s director a Pulitzer Prize for her contribution. Equipped with this matchless imprimatur of establishment respectability, the 1619 Project, which has already been taught in forty-five hundred classrooms, will find its way into many more.

[4] Skip this glibly titled article and re-listen to the beautiful song instead. Whatever you do, however, do not make the mistake of listening to Early James’ nü-Southern cover, with rewritten lyrics completely changing the song’s story from a Southerner mourning the conquest of his country (as almost any human being who was not sociopathic would do) to a self-hating Southerner celebrating that conquest and insulting his ancestors (as someone dehumanised by totalitarianism would do).

[5] I am aware that this is likely too generous of a description of what an Oktoberfest actually is to most Americans. Indeed, it is doubtful that many of the men pigging out on beer and bratwurst or the women dressed up in sexy dirndls are there to celebrate German culture and civilisation. Not that I am complaining, of course: I always have a good time at Oktoberfest!

[6] In the course of rationalising his decision to sign the petititon, Rod Dreher shares a letter to the editor that Walker Percy wrote to The New Republic in 1957, responding to an article critical of Southern liberals like himself:

But what seems to me nothing less than monstrous is to couple the case against segregation with an ideological hatred of the South and Southern tradition. Mr. Ryan says he doesn’t understand how a Southerner can oppose segregation and at the same time cherish his heritage. I don’t understand how a Southerner can do anything else. Mr. Ryan sneers at Southern tradition, at ‘that breed of men, indigenous to the South, who are capable of approving integration and then, in practically the same breath, falling into a state of almost religious ecstasy as they hysterically extol the glories of the Old South of slavery, of mockingbirds, hominy grits, and bourbon whiskey…’ This really seems to me to be gratuitously offensive. If Mr. Ryan wonders why the Southern integrationist is discouraged, he needn’t look any further. If the rite of initiation into liberalism requires one to swear a blood oath against his native land, then the proposed initiate is going to take another look at the club.

In the first place, even the best-disposed Southerner knows that this sort of charge is not only insulting; it is false. There is a Southern heritage, and it has nothing to do with the colonel in the whiskey ad. It has to do with the conservative tradition of a predominantly agrarian society, a tradition which at its best enshrined the humane aspects of living for rich and poor, black and white. It gave first place to a stable family life, sensitivity and good manners between men, chivalry toward women, an honor code, and individual integrity.

If one wishes to sneer at such values, let him; but I can’t help wondering if the sneer does not conceal a contempt for all traditions. It is a tradition which even Wilbur J. Cash recognized as stemming not from the Virginia aristocracy but from the frontier and the farm, and which, Cash goes on to say, possessed a prevalent democratic temper that to an amazing degree destroyed class feeling…

The argument from religion and the law is in the long run unanswerable. The Southern segregationist knows in his bones that he can’t continue to profess Christ on Sunday and then draw a racial line to keep his fellow Christians in their place – and his churches are beginning to move. He knows in his bones that the Supreme Court decision will never be reversed and must in the end be obeyed. He has a bad conscience. But the one sure way to give him ground to stand on and to salve his conscience is to attack not only segregation but him, his people, and his past.

Perhaps the best imaginable society is not a countrywide Levittown in which everyone is a good liberal ashamed of his past, but a pluralistic society, rich in regional memories and usages. I sincerely believe that the worst fate that could overtake the struggle against segregation would be its captured by a political orthodoxy of the left. I share Mr. Ryan’s dismay at the present mood of the South.

Mr. Dreher, your actions speak louder than quoting Percy’s words.

[7] ‘Cuties’ is a French film which purportedly criticises the sexualisation of children in modern Western society (from the perspective of an African and Muslim immigrant family), but the film itself is guilty of the very thing that it purportedly condemns. Making matters worse, when Netflix acquired the rights to the film, it played up the sexualisation of the child-actresses in its marketing. Film critics, responding to the public outrage at Netflix, got the wrong message and praised the film for further mainstreaming/normalising ‘child sexuality.’

[8] Personally, I have found the ‘Wisdom literature’ from the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job) and the Psalms to be especially inspirational during this American Kristallnacht. I have rededicated myself to a project which I have been working on intermittently since college arguing that theism in general (i.e. belief in a god) is a rational belief and that the belief in the Christian god in particular has been the greatest force for good in human history.

[9] What is happening to our heritage is too horrifying for any individual to face by himself/herself, and alone we will feel helpless and powerless. I have struggled with these emotions myself through this annus horribilis and if it were not for my wife and our newborn daughter I cannot imagine where I would be.

[10] To use myself as an example, right now, my wife and I are hard at work taking care of our very first child, and while it is certainly a form of ‘suffering’ in the sense that it is emotionally and physically exhausting, it is also a ‘self-fulfilling’ experience which has brought us even closer together while also giving us a new love even greater than our love for each other.

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