A review of Writing on the Southern Front: Authentic Conservatism for Our Times (Routledge, 2017), by Joseph Scotchie.

Joseph Scotchie’s knowledge of Southern thought in the 20th century and beyond is both encyclopedic and insightful–a rare combination. He surveys a body of Southern writing that is a major unrecognised achievement of American culture.

This collection of reviews, articles, and talks gives us fresh perspectives on such great figures as Donald Davidson, Andrew Lytle, Allen Tate, Richard Weaver, M.E. Bradford, Thomas Fleming, Samuel T. Francis, and Mark Winchell, among others. A multiplicity of thinkers who, each in his own way, reflect an allegiance to the heritage of Christendom–alive in the South but increasingly absent from the American mainstream.

A bonus essay  is “Southrons First:  Dixie Democrats Revisited,” which shows the statesmanship of such men as Richard Russell, Sam Ervin, and J.W. Fulbright. There are no longer any Southerners in Congress, only Republicans and Democrats. But these men did great service in their time by  restraining the craziness that arises periodically in the territory between Salem, Massachusetts, and Salem, Oregon, and seizes the power of the federal government. It is the lack of such men that allows the accelerating debasement of American politics and culture that we now endure.

Scotchie’s knowledge of creative literature is an added gift to this collection. He has something to say about Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, Larry Brown and other Southern authors; certain Northern writers who he is fond of; and there is a section devoted to Patrick Buchanan for whom he has been a literary spokesman.

It is true that politics is downstream from culture, that politicians mouth the ideas of thinkers of a previous generation. But the ruling elements of America today are post-literate, post-Western, and post-Christian. Genuine thought on human affairs is completely outside their  universe. They have learned nothing from a profound and eloquent Southern tradition.

Writing on the Southern Front is Joseph Scotchie’s ninth book. His tenth, a memoir, The Asheville Connection, is now in press with Shotwell Publishing

Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews and is co-publisher of www.shotwellpublishing.com, a source  for unreconstructed Southern books.


  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    I like the article, Dr. Wilson. But, if I may, I would like to offer a breakdown of a well-stated line above from your text.
    Southern: They are jealous.
    Tradition: They do not understand.
    Eloquence: They are an army of drunkards.

    • Dan says:

      Mr. Yarborough,

      I’d follow up Dr. Wilson’s succinct summary of modern politicos as “post-literate, post-Western, and post-Christian” by adding that they’re also post-modern, post-truth, and maybe even post-civilizational. I’d chalk it up to the ultramodernist obsession with annihilating the past. Tradition, to them, is not something to be preserved or learned from, it’s meant to be mocked, denigrated, discarded, and ultimately forgotten, and “truth” is only what the popular, collective will chooses to define it is.

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