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This talk was delivered on Friday, February 26, 2016 at the Abbeville Institute Conference “The PC Attack on the South.”

We are here to deal with the PC attacks on Southern Tradition. We have become so familiar with PC in everyday life that our perception of what it actually is has been dulled.

PC is a deceptive cover name for fellow traveling Cultural Marxism.

Let’s remind ourselves what Marxism is. It is a mélange of crazed abstractions designed to destroy and remake society by eliminating Christianity, private property, and economic freedom. Its fruits have been horrendous quantities of lies, oppression, and death. It is obviously fueled by a hatred of Western civilization. Its true evil nature has been recognized everywhere except among American college professors.

By the way, Marxists never had any quarrel with centralized capitalism. They rightly regard it as a giant step in their direction. Part of the Southern tradition, from Jefferson to the Agrarians and beyond, has been recognition that centralized capitalism is like Marxism an enemy of Christianity, private property, and economic freedom. It is no mystery that the great capitalists embrace Cultural Marxism. Indeed, they collaborate in enforcing and financing it.

So what is Cultural Marxism? The Devil never rests in his machinations and has countless disguises. Economic Marxism having failed, he invented Cultural Marxism. Western civilization could be destroyed by a long march through its cultural institutions—press, education, religion, morals, national identity. The ideal of Cultural Marxism is to denounce as bad everything good and venerable in our life and praise everything bad and destructive.

In truth we must recognize that Cultural Marxism has been a tremendous success among the rootless American public and the shallow American intelligentsia. It has gone from victory to victory. It controls the press, the educational system, many of our religious institutions, the Supreme Court, one political party and much of the other. It has gathered strength daily. The regime of Political Correctness has no room for antiquated notions of free thought, free speech, and the democratic will of the majority.

The South, though increasingly attenuated, is a reality created by Providence through history. It came into existence in the combining of Tidewater and upcountry frontier long before anyone had ever heard of something called the United States of America. It still is a source of an identity different from the American mainstream to millions of people. We can debate definitions and boundaries, but Southern includes history, speech, manners, customs, religious faith, music, literature, cuisine, a distinct idea of the proper dividing line between public and private matters, and what Richard Weaver called “social bond individualism,” that is honourable behavior through shared values without a need for government intervention.

When we say Southern we know what we mean. But what about that American mainstream? Does it exist any more? If we give up our Southern tradition what will we be left with? Think about it. What is “American” identity? Is it not disappearing as we speak? Some people say it is a “proposition nation” defined by common values. But there is no such thing as an abstract nation, and those propositions rest upon a fraudulent reading of the Declaration of Independence.

America means rule by a machine in Washington which issues orders that we must obey, whether we like it or not, a machine more answerable to Wall Street and the media than to the people. The machine includes armed forces that are increasingly employed in foreign aggressions by our petty rulers crazed with delusions of world dominance, which aggressions are accumulating incalculable payback to blight our future. These armchair warriors even send into harm’s way women forced into the ranks by poverty, something no Southerner would ever be guilty of.

Americans share a standard of living which was once the envy of the world but is now fast deteriorating. Americans share a popular culture which, if you look closely, has become abominably sordid and trivial. America means a multicultural celebration of all groups except those which founded it. In this regime there is no core and a great deal of hatred simmers under the official inclusiveness.

Is there anything in Politically Correct America that, in contrast to the South, represents a civilization offering any substance and comfort to human beings?

I see opponents of the present massive immigration saying that they want to preserve “the historic American nation.” Some of them, alas, are too ignorant to understand that the South is the core of that historic nation.

America is a creature of the moment, ever transforming itself. It has no ancestors and no posterity. The South has a soul—a soul a little sad and cynical, perhaps, from hard knocks, but still brave and realistic. As for America, it has no soul at all.

PC has chosen the Southern tradition for its heaviest assaults because it is the most concentrated unconquered remnant of Western civilization yet remaining in North America. Let’s remember that speaking up for the Southern tradition is nothing less than engaging in a desperate defense of civilization.

It is entirely possible that our rulers will continue to make this speaking more difficult than it is already, which is all the more reason to keep it up.

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, a source  for unreconstructed Southern books.

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