Editor’s Note: The following speech will be delivered tomorrow at the 2019 League of the South Conference.
At the 2015 Florida League of the South conference, I gave a speech called Blood and Soil: How Southerners Became a Separate and Distinct People. In that speech, I described how the confluence of the Southern environment and the ethnic origins of the Southern people in the British Isles had created a unique people with a strong sense of identity and a strong organic folk culture over the course of three centuries in the American South. By the mid-20th century, both lovers and haters of the South inside and outside of the region agreed that Dixie had become a “nation within a nation” or at least something close to it. It was unquestionably a highly distinct deviation from the American norm.
Toward the end of that speech, I noted that the South began to become unglued after World War II. I said that this was true of the rest of the United States and of all Western nations. There was a pronounced weakening of the dominant folk culture and its historic sense of identity. It wasn’t just Southerners who became demoralized, degraded, deracinated and heterogeneous in the late 20th century. The same story in all of its essentials played out all over what came to be called the “Free World.” What follows is a Southern story but it is merely the local chapter in a larger story about the transformation of the West as a whole because since World War II global events have determined the course of our history.
The South as it existed before World War II was an internal colony of the United States. It had roughly the same relationship to the North as Ireland once did to the United Kingdom. It was a source of raw materials and cheap labor and a market for high-value manufactured goods. The former Confederacy was the largest possession of the American Empire which by that time had to come to include Alaska and Hawaii (both achieved statehood in 1959), Cuba before Castro, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Philippines and various islands in the Pacific like Guam, Midway and American Samoa. Unofficially, Uncle Sam had extended his hegemony over Latin America and the Caribbean and routinely interfered in the internal affairs of these sovereign nations. Some examples include occupying Haiti and creating Panama.
While the South had been reincorporated into the American Empire after the War Between the States, it was still recognizably Southern in culture. In fact, it felt more Southern under Northern domination that it had before and during the war. It is this part of our history, not so much the more distant Confederacy, that feels lost to us. The South as it existed from Redemption through the Great Depression was a totally different world. It was becoming more homogeneous, not heterogeneous. It was poor, not wealthy and middle class. It had a colonial extractive economy based on agriculture and mining, not on services and commerce. It was overwhelmingly rural, not urban and suburban. It was highly personal and deeply rooted, not anonymous and alienated. It was segregated, not integrated. It was strongly Protestant, not agnostic, atheist or apathetic. It had a rural elite that celebrated traditional values based in the county seats, not a metropolitan middle class animated by economic growth. The Solid South was Democratic, not Republican. It was racially conscious, not racially masochistic. It built monuments to the Confederate dead as opposed to tearing them down. Its people got their news from other people at the country store or through the editor of their local segregationist newspaper, not through television.
The New South had aspired to be a commercial, industrialized region rebuilt in the image of the North, but in 1940 on the eve of World War II there was less industry in the region than there had been thirty years before. Some two-thirds of the Southern population lived in rural areas and small towns of less than 2,500 people. The overwhelming majority of the population worked in agriculture and most of them in the great cotton belt that stretched from North Carolina to east Texas. While our ancestors were among the poorest people in the Western world, they were still tied to the land and the rhythm of its seasons like every generation before them. They had a strong sense of identity, strong communities (even in Appalachia’s company towns and the Piedmont’s textile villages) and a strong sense of religious faith. They had a flourishing folk culture – Whites expressed this in country and bluegrass music, blacks in jazz and the blues – which reflected a people who had a sense of themselves and were deeply rooted in the land.
Culture used to be transmitted locally and organically from one generation to the next. A major theme of the poets and writers of the Southern Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s focused on how an individual could exist without losing their own sense of identity in a world where family, religion and preserving the social order counted more than one’s personal and social life. They felt like their culture was overwhelming, oppressively cohesive, unchanging even. W.J. Cash railed against “the savage ideal” and the “proto-dorian bond” of white supremacy in The Mind of the South. They were the last generation of Southerners to feel that way because after World War II that world rapidly began to vanish.
World War II
The year 1940 was a pivotal moment in Southern history.
Before 1940, the South was still essentially the same place it had been since colonial times: rural, agricultural, content and traditionally conservative. After 1940, it became urban, industrial and commercial and agitated as its organic folk culture dissolved in a sea of liberalism. To put this in perspective, the War Between the States was less disruptive to the Southern way of life.
The decision of the leaders of the American Empire to enter World War II on the side of the Allies was the fountainhead of nearly every negative trend that followed in its wake. This is because World War II was cast as an ideological struggle against fascism. It was fought as a crusade in the name of liberal democracy, free-market capitalism and anti-imperialism. This struggle within the West between liberal democracy and fascism was incredibly polarizing and had the effect of defining everything that fascism was thought to stand for as “evil” and everything that liberal democracy stood for as “good.”
Before World War II, things like racial science, Nordicism and eugenics were more commonly associated with the United States than Germany. The British Empire upheld white supremacy and colonialism all over the world. The Anglo-Saxons were synonymous with settler-colonialism. There was also nothing peculiarly German about anti-Semitism as resentment against Jews had been building in the United States and other Western countries. Nationalism was also common to all Western countries. The victory of liberalism in World War II meant that all these things were henceforth stigmatized as being associated with fascism. Nazi Germany became a sort of photo negative of the postwar liberal world order.
The term “racism” was first used as an adjective in the English language when it was officially condemned by the American Anthropological Association in 1938 which was reacting to the rise of Hitler’s Germany. From 1938 to 1945, American racial attitudes were dramatically transformed as a direct result of World War II propaganda. By 1945, the majority of White Americans, particularly upper middle class Northern and Western professionals and suburbanites, were convinced for the first time in history that racial differences were purely cosmetic, cultural and environmental and were the result of prejudice and discrimination and that something called “racism” existed and it was a personal moral failing best exemplified by the Nazis. The Swedish social scientist Gunnar Mrydal framed the issue of “racism” as a conflict with the “American Creed” in his highly influential 1944 book An American Dilemma.
Among other things, the victory of the Allies in World War II meant that the Soviets had conquered half of Europe, the coals of the Jews had been raked out of the fires of Auschwitz and that the American Empire inherited the British Empire’s leadership role of the liberal world order. The typical Southerner had fought World War II because Hitler and Hirohito had declared war on us and didn’t believe the war had any larger ideological implications that would disrupt the status quo on the homefront. He did not appreciate or understand how the balance of power in the world had changed.
The American Empire Goes Global
A critical decision had to be made after the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and the Allies had won World War II. Would the Americans spike the ball and go home?
The answer was “no.” The American Empire had won World War II and had become a superpower in the process. Western Europe and East Asia laid at the feet our elites. We went from being the top dog in our own hemisphere to the top dog in the world. Liberal democracy was ascendant. Only the Soviet Union and the territories it had conquered in Eastern Europe and East Asia laid outside our sphere of influence.
The fear at the time among the Western Allies was that a precipitous American withdrawal from Western Europe and East Asia would leave behind a war torn Europe and East Asia that would quickly succumb to communism – a fear that was justified both by the fall of China to communism and the Soviet detonation of an atomic bomb in 1949. Now that the war against fascism had been won with the assistance of “Uncle Joe” Stalin, the rationale of the perpetuation of the American Empire shifted to making the world safe for liberal democracy and American corporations.
The Bretton Woods system and the World Bank which governed the postwar world economy was negotiated in 1944. The United Nations was formally brought into existence in 1945. The Truman Doctrine which announced the containment policy of the Soviet Union and the first round of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) was negotiated in 1947. NATO was organized in 1949. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) officially condemned “racism” for the first time in 1950. It was through these global liberal institutions, agreements and policies which were created after World War II that the United States exercised its military, economic and cultural hegemony.
The Cold War
In 1941, the American Empire went to war on behalf of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism, and the war didn’t officially end until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. For half a century, liberal democracy and free-market capitalism contested the world with fascism and communism and throughout this entire period domestic policy in America took a backseat to foreign policy. Every American president from Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush is best seen as a foreign policy president whose overriding imperative was the ideological struggle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
America was permanently changed by this conflict. In order to compete with the Soviet Union and the universal appeal of communism, particularly in the non-White parts of the Third World, it went from being a White, Christian and free nation to being a universal empire of liberal democracy and capitalism. America and the West were intentionally deracinated and stripped down and sold as an ideology. The key was that anyone could subscribe to this ideology and belong to it. The United States redefined its own national identity in this era as being a miniature version of the liberal and cosmopolitan United Nations.
This was the global context in which the South found itself joined at the hip with the American Empire in its global struggles with fascism and communism. It is important to keep in mind that during the previous 75 years the South had been begrudgingly tolerated and treated as an internal colony of the United States. The province of Dixie became even less important afterwards to American policymakers in Washington in the larger scheme of their new global empire. The role of the South was to shut up and fall in line like all of Washington’s other satellites no matter what the consequences.
A major consequence of the arrival of the era of big government under the New Deal coalition was the impact that federal spending had on the South during the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War. It was this more than anything else, not the magic of the free-market, that finally kickstarted and revived the Southern economy which had been moribund for the past 75 years.
The federal government sunk countless billions of dollars into the South to accomplish its policy goals from the Great Depression forward and the spigot of federal dollars has never stopped. It was the farm subsidies provided by New Deal agricultural programs that gave large landowners the capital to mechanize their operations, reconsolidate the land and abolish sharecropping in the Cotton Kingdom.
It was the military bases that were built all over the South during World War II and the Cold War, the new wartime industrial infrastructure that was built here and payrolls of federal soldiers that began to transform the Southern economy. As a direct result of military spending, Southerners began to move en masse off the farm to sleepy towns like Huntsville and Mobile in Alabama or Pascagoula in Mississippi or Norfolk in Virginia or Charleston in South Carolina or Columbus in Georgia.
Once this process started and the rural areas began to depopulate and the large metropolitan areas and the winners among the smaller towns began to grow, the shift gained momentum and became unstoppable. The “modernization” of the South had begun.
The Interstate Highway System which was begun during the Eisenhower administration fully integrated the South with its traditionally poor infrastructure into the national economy. The creation of these federal superhighways picked winners and losers among American cities and funneled commerce between the emerging large metro areas and stimulated their growth.
President Eisenhower had been the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and had come to admire Germany’s Autobahns. The interstates were, of course, also a gigantic federal stimulus to the American automobile industry and car culture which could be rationalized as a public works project necessary for national security. It was also a major stimulus to tourism and made the South much more accessible to other Americans had previously been before.
Industrialization and Development
The New South had long chased the dream of industrialization, but it was only realized after World War II when the collapse of sharecropping, the return of veterans from the wars in Western Europe and the Pacific and the influx of federal spending on the South’s infrastructure such as the cheap electric power in the Upper South which was made possible by the TVA caused the South’s political leadership to go all out in courting Northern investment and industrial development. The Southern states cut corporate taxes, created state industrial development boards, passed right-to-work laws and began to offer subsidies and incentives to lure Northern factories to the postwar South. Research Triangle Park which was created in North Carolina in 1959 was one of the most successful state led development initiatives.
Northern corporations responded to this opportunity and began to open branch plants in the South where they could ditch their Northern workers. The South at this time had a number of things going for it: cheap, abundant and pliant non-unionized labor, a milder climate, cheap land, lower taxes and a pro-business political class and workforce that was eager and grateful to attract almost any industry. Some of the major obstacles to industrialization like a lack of critical infrastructure were quickly removed by the federal and state governments which heavily invested in good roads and highways. Northern factories came to the South and began to fan out along the new Interstate Highway System.
Having either destroyed or taken over its industrial rivals during World War II and assumed global dominance as the world’s leading superpower and the primary architect and keeper of the postwar liberal international order, the American Empire which emerged from the conflict nearly unscathed was well positioned for an economic takeoff. The postwar boom that followed and into which the Boomers were born came to be known as the Thirty Glorious Years.
The boom lasted even longer in Dixie which grew even more rapidly during this period than the rest of the United States. From the 1940 to 1960, the South went through an epochal transition from being an overwhelmingly rural region with few cities to one in which the majority of Southerners came to live in urban areas. The petrochemical industry in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma thrived during the energy crisis of the 1970s. By the 1980s, the overwhelming majority of Southerners lived in metro areas and only 4 percent of the Southern population worked in agriculture. The rural South became oriented toward wage work in the small towns or the larger metros. Alexander Hamilton’s vision of commerce and industry finally triumphed over Thomas Jefferson’s agrarian vision in the South: virtually no one in the South in Ronald Reagan’s time was still a fiercely independent family farmer living in a rural area.
Would the Southern people now uprooted and living in sprawling metro areas and working as soldiers in the standing armies of a global empire or as employees in commerce, industry and services in a culture that was oriented toward GDP growth become corrupted and cease to be virtuous as Jeffersonians had long feared would happen? The answer is yes.
In the years after the Second World War, the South came to be dominated by its new upper middle class of professionals and managers who lived in the wealthier suburbs around the growing metropolitan areas. The lower middle class which had fought in World War II moved to downscale suburbs around the metropolitan areas with their federally sponsored housing loans.
The era of the bulldozer creating the suburbs, pavement covered shopping malls and commercial highway strips – this landscape that Southerners thoughtlessly flocked to en masse, which was neither the city or the country, but where they expected to enjoy the benefits of both – had begun. The defining characteristic of this place was that it was inorganic. It seemed inauthentic. We created these highly artificial communities segregated by class which were full of strangers and which were not worth caring about. Their main attraction had been proximity to employment and shopping.
The Big House on the antebellum plantation had been the center of a very tight knit community. The planter exercised enormous authority over his wife, his children and his hands. He carried enormous responsibilities in both public and private life. In contrast, the postwar upper middle class which came to live in their suburban McMansions around our metropolitan areas lived in atomized neighborhoods and the head of the household, such as he existed, was rapidly losing his grip over his wife and children. Insofar as he had employees, he had no responsibilities toward them and what had previously been the hands of his ancestors were long since abandoned and geographically isolated in urban ghettoes.
From the Eisenhower administration forward, it was this class of people in the wealthier suburbs and metro areas who became the foundation of the Republican Party and mainstream conservatism. They were the people who came to dominate and shape the South in the late 20th century.
It is difficult to overstate the impact that technological change had on the postwar South. The bulldozer began to transform the cities and suburbs and create the superhighways between them. The tractor and mechanical cotton picker destroyed sharecropping in lowland South. Coal mining was mechanized in the 1950s in Appalachia. Traditional Southern crops like tobacco in Tidewater and sugarcane in south Louisiana and south Florida would also be mechanized. The traditional Southern economy which had been based on agriculture and mining no longer needed millions of superfluous workers.
The invention of the air conditioner and refrigeration in a single stroke homogenized the traditional Southern climate. For centuries, the climate of the South had shaped the culture of its people, but that was no longer the case after the mid-20th century. Florida and Texas rapidly became the largest Southern states in the Sunbelt era after the spread of air conditioning. Southerners began spending more time indoors in their air conditioned homes in the suburbs and became physically softer.
The middle class woman who moved to the new suburbs in the postwar era found herself uprooted and separated from kin and raising her kids in an artificial community. Much of the labor that traditionally had been performed by women was being eliminated by refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and cheap textiles imported from abroad. The introduction of the birth control pill in the 1960s gave women much greater control over their sexuality and opened the door to feminism.
The collapse of the traditional Southern economy led to a period of upheaval as the vast majority of Southerners became uprooted and unsettled. Millions poured out of the coal mines of Appalachia. Millions more poured out of the rural areas of the lowland South.
The emerging Sunbelt South was accessible by the interstates. It was air conditioned. The Southern economy was growing faster than the rest of the United States as new factories opened up in the low-tax, low-regulation, right-to-work South that was “open for bidness.” As a result of this, millions of Northern transplants began to move to the South in search of employment in a reversal of traditional migration patterns in which the South had historically exported its people to the North and West.
The White population became much more heterogeneous in origin than it had been before World War II when the Great Wave of immigration had almost totally bypassed the impoverished region. In addition to their toll roads, Yankee transplants brought with them their Northern racial and cultural attitudes and have dramatically changed the politics and culture of much of the South particularly along our coastline. At the same time, millions of Southerners moved to the Midwest and West which had the effect of further integrating the South into the American mainstream.
The Second Reconstruction
The Second Reconstruction was a series of Supreme Court decisions and lower federal court rulings and federal civil rights laws passed by Congress that eliminated segregation and white supremacy in the South. The most important of these were Smith v. Allwright in 1944 which struck down the white primary, Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia which integrated interstate transportation in 1946, Shelly v. Kraemer which ended restrictive covenants in housing in 1948, the Brown decision in 1954 which integrated public schools, Gayle v. Browder in 1956 which integrated public transportation, Loving v. Virginia which struck down the South’s anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 and Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in 1971 which began forced busing to achieve desegregation.
Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to eliminate segregation. All of these bills were passed only by lopsided sectional majorities. Over 90% of Southerners in Congress opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which brought down Jim Crow. The near unanimous opposition to integration by the White minority in the South was overwhelmed by near unanimous support for it by the White majority in the North and West.
In popular memory, the event that we remember as the Civil Rights Movement is presented as a mass grassroots uprising led by blacks that overwhelmed the Jim Crow system. In reality, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a creature of the liberal establishment who was portrayed as a hero by the liberal media. He framed the argument for civil rights and against racism in the same moral terms that had entered the mainstream through Gunnar Mrydal’s book An American Dilemma. The liberal establishment had officially pushed civil rights reform since the Truman administration and most of the time civil rights activists like the Freedom Riders were challenging state laws that had already been struck down by federal courts.
As with everything in this era, it was primarily foreign policy concerns about how segregation was being used in Soviet propaganda against the West in the Third World that motivated the liberal establishment to dismantle the Jim Crow system. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a useful tool precisely to the extent his agenda overlapped with the agenda of the liberal establishment
When Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement turned their attention to the hypocrisy of the North, to opposing the Vietnam War and the Poor People’s Campaign, the movement stalled and support for it swiftly dissipated. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was a tribute to King that was passed after his assassination. By that point, King was more useful dead than alive to his benefactors.
The Black Vote and Reapportionment
The long term effect of the black vote and reapportionment of the Southern state legislatures was that the Black Belt and major cities like Atlanta and Birmingham fell under black majority rule. The enfranchisement of millions of black voters created a new multiracial electorate that effectively offset and nullified the electoral power of the White working class.
Power shifted away from the county seats and the rural areas of the South and toward the growing metropolitan suburbs. By the 1970s, Southern politics was dominated by upper middle class professionals and suburbanites who were business-oriented racial moderates. These people had rebelled against the segregationists when they threatened to shutdown the public schools. They were the group who led the White South into the Republican Party and mainstream conservatism.
It is hard to say what was the single most devastating blow to our civilization that came out of this era of liberal democracy at high tide given that there are so many to choose from, but most would agree that the changes to our legal immigration system and the lack of enforcement of our immigration laws were the most transformative and will have the greatest legacy.
As with the Jim Crow South, the American establishment began the process of dismantling the immigration laws that had shaped and created America’s White majority out of foreign policy concerns during World War II. The Magnuson Act of 1943 repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act because Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese nationalists were an American ally against Japan. The War Brides Act of 1945 and the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 granted naturalization rights to Indians and Filipinos and allowed American soldiers to bring their Asian war brides back home to the United States. The McCarran-Walter Act lifted the ban on Asian immigration established by the Asian Exclusion Act and abolished the racial restrictions found in immigration and naturalization statutes going back to the Naturalization Act of 1790.
As everyone knows, the Immigration Act of 1965 which was signed by LBJ, the lack of enforcement of our immigration laws, the 1986 IRCA amnesty signed by President Reagan and the Immigration Act of 1990 signed by President George H.W. Bush which further intensified legal immigration has had the cumulative effect of demographically changing large swathes of the South beyond recognition due to the tidal wave of legal and illegal immigrants from Asia and Latin America. The Refugee Act of 1980 and the granting of Temporary Protected Status to groups of non-White immigrants who never leave has further compounded rapid demographic change. The arrival of millions of legal and illegal immigrants has further diminished the relative political power of the White working class on top of the changes to the electorate wrought by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
So far, I have talked about how foreign policy considerations dominated this new era of the American Empire, technological change and how the economy was transformed and our politics and living patterns changed. Many of my readers are no doubt by now screaming IT’S THE JEWS.
The Jews played a major role in embroiling America in World War II. The Jews created and spread communism. The Jews were behind the Civil Rights Movement. The Jews were the vanguard of the New Left and had their hand on the wheel of every negative Left-Libertarian trend of the late 20th century that weakened the White Christian South whether it was civil rights, abortion, feminism, divorce, miscegenation, free love, pornography, Third World immigration, refugee resettlement, gay liberation, secularism, “Judeo-Christianity,” multiculturalism, drug abuse, political correctness, modernism, identity politics or the counter-culture ethic of expressive individualism.
I find all of this to be true because one of the most important consequences of World War II was that “anti-Semitism” became taboo, Jews became immune to criticism and the old WASP elite of the early 20th century crumbled and was replaced by our “meritocratic” elite. The story of the late 20th century in America is how Jews became wealthy and powerful and how their disproportionate influence in America’s cultural, political and economic elite set us down the course to where we at today. Underneath every rock that you turn over that is found to be in the process of either demoralizing or degrading our people and sapping their will to exist you will invariably find this race of cultural termites.
The Television and Mass Media
Far older and wiser men than me who lived through this era have pointed out for two generations that the ultimate source of Jewish power over our culture is their ethnic stranglehold over film and the television. This has been the primary delivery system of their cultural poison although it has also come down to us through the consolidation of newspapers and magazines by the same handful of media giants. The Civil Rights Movement was essentially a made for television movie.
Future historians will remember the mid-20th century as a time when the media was unusually consolidated and the power to control the narrative and bamboozle and manipulate the masses was concentrated in a few hands. The television vertically delivered mass culture down into nearly every household in the United States from a distant place and in the process eroded organic folk cultures which have traditionally been passed down from generation to generation at the local level.
The generation of World War II veterans who came home from Europe and the Pacific and who moved their families to the new suburbs with their federally subsidized low-cost housing loans and started small businesses with their federally subsidized low-interest loans also flooded into our colleges and universities as a result of the G.I. Bill which paid for their tuition and living expenses. Veterans of the Korean War and Vietnam War also attended college through the G.I. Bill. Millions of Boomers enrolled in college to avoid being drafted in the Vietnam War. The Higher Education Act which was passed as part of LBJ’s Great Society program and which has been renewed since the 1960s has provided low-interest loans for college students. The college degree came to be thought of as a passport to the middle class.
There has been an explosion in the number of colleges and universities in the United States since World World War II. College enrollment and the number of Americans who have either some college experience or have a bachelor’s degree has also exploded. Whereas in 1940, 64% of the American population had failed to finish high school now only 12% lack a high school education. Whereas in 1940 only 13% of the population was a college graduate or had attended college, now 60% of the population has some college experience. In the years after World War II, going to college and being exposed to fashionable ideas from outside of their folk culture became normal for the brightest young adults in America.
There is a simple explanation for the student activism and cultural radicalism of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is when the Baby Boomer generation came of age who were uprooted and raised in the suburbs and metropolitan areas on the values of the television and who were the first generation in American history to attend college en masse. By 1970, the number of Americans attending college had doubled to 8 million. More and more of these college students, not just in the United States, but all over the West, were majoring in the social sciences where they were exposed to the cultural ideals of the New Left. In Britain, more students were studying sociology than law or economics at the time.
The triumph of the Civil Rights Movement over the Jim Crow South, the abstract ideals of liberal democracy (liberty, equality, tolerance, rights, etc) and free-market capitalism (consumer choice) and the demonization of “racism,” which were identified with the liberal establishment during World War II and the Cold War, opened the cultural space within the mainstream to the triumph of other radical social movements: discontented suburban women condemned “sexism” and patriarchy and embraced feminism and the Sexual Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement continued to radicalize into the black power movement and the triumph and mainstreaming of black identity politics in turn inspired American Indians, Asians and Hispanics to embrace identity politics. Homosexuals took the initiative after the Stonewell Riots of 1969 and the gay liberation movement was eventually absorbed into the liberal mainstream as well. The discourse of multiculturalism and the celebration of “diversity” after the Bakke decision of 1978 which upheld affirmative action emerged as a sort of blessing of all of this.
It wasn’t the Baby Boomer generation that gave us the Civil Rights Movement. The Boomers were in college or about to enter college at the time. It was the Greatest Generation who gave us integration. It was their children the Boomers who gave us the counter-culture.
The Boomers grew up in the new cities and suburbs in an age of affluence. They were the first generation raised on the television and to be bombarded with commercial advertising. Their parents generation were engaged in an epoch defining struggle with the Soviet Union – capitalism vs. socialism – and embraced the materialism and consumerism of postwar America. Growing up in such a world, life seemed like a corporate rat race. The Boomers had never known the poverty of the Great Depression and the formative years of their youth were the postwar boom: the Thirty Glorious Years.
The Boomers rebelled against their parents by rejecting the idea that the meaning of life was being a “cog in a machine” or working for “the Man.” They rejected the materialism and conformism of their parents, the alienation of the artificial communities in which they were raised and especially being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War for the sake of containing communism. The Boomers embraced the radicals of their day on the New Left who told them to do drugs, experiment with their sexuality, to live off the “fat of the land,” to embrace “love” and “peace” and “tolerance” and reject “racism,” to find authenticity in non-White minority cultures, to reject norms like being clean cut and dressing in suits in favor of wearing blue jeans and men growing their hair out and especially the left-libertine ethic of expressive individualism which glorified the lifestyle of individual autonomy and self expression and chafed at any kind of limits to both. Long after joining and becoming the liberal establishment, they maintained their self-image as rebels. The Boomers inherited an affluent country and basically squandered it. As the Boomers aged and joined the workforce, the values of the counter-culture became the mainstream culture.
The rate of social change rapidly accelerated in the 1960s due to the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement, the Sexual Revolution and the counter-culture. In 1973, the liberal majority on the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion. Between 1969 and 1983, 48 states passed no-fault divorce laws as well. The American nuclear family began to disintegrate.
Naturally enough, all this social change which was sparked by an excess of liberal democracy whether it was blacks burning down our cities and shouting black power or young people rebelling against cultural norms produced a backlash. This backlash gave us the Nixon presidency which quelled this social revolution, but mainstreamed it and did nothing to reverse it. Similarly, the economic crisis of the 1970s which ended the Thirty Glorious Years gave us the Reagan presidency. Backlash politics was the rocket fuel that launched mainstream conservatism into orbit as the dominant force on the Right.
The origins of mainstream conservatism go back to the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression which discredited classical liberalism and free-market capitalism. From FDR through LBJ, the New Deal coalition dominated America. LBJ defeated Barry Goldwater in 1964 in a landslide who only carried his own state of Arizona and several Deep South states due to backlash politics against the Civil Rights Movement. The goal of mainstream conservatism as an “anti-state” philosophy the core of which is libertarianism has always been to reverse the New Deal. Thus, it had no problem being accepted into the liberal mainstream in the context of the Cold War against communism as it is a species of liberalism. Mainstream conservatism after the Reagan presidency became the dancing partner of the American Left.
For the last 40 years, mainstream conservatism has used power to singularly advance the project of neoliberal economics, which began with Reagan and was inspired by the canon of Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand. It has focused on cutting taxes, deregulating big business, trimming the welfare state, getting rid of environmental laws, breaking unions, expanding free trade and preserving the American Empire by passing the largest possible military budgets. Mainstream conservatives stands athwart history, yelling can you please pause or slow down for a minute while we normalize and assimilate the last bout of leftwing social revolution.
This has been the history of backlash politics and mainstream conservatism in power from Reagan to Trump. The Trump administration has focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy, catering to Jewish donors and beefing up the military while mainstreaming and assimilating the LGBTQ identity politics revolution into conservatism that took place under Barack Obama.
The abstract, atomistic, anti-statist philosophies of mainstream conservatism and libertarianism which glorify the entrepreneur, the free-market and economic growth and are both centered on maximizing the freedom of the liberated, deracinated middle class individual and consumer are fully compatible with the ethos of modernism – the dominant intellectual trend of the era, which was mainstreamed by its popular music – which rejects authority and tradition in favor of self-interest, self-expression, self-achievement, self-realization, self-fulfillment and self-advancement. It produced a generation of narcissists uninterested in the past and oblivious to the future who lived their entire lives in the present.
If you believe the highest goal in life is individual freedom and in a social ethic in which everyone’s self-defined quest for individual freedom and self-expression is tolerated, then you will be indifferent to abortion, adultery, drug addiction, gender dysphoria, hedonism, miscegenation, divorce, gay marriage and sodomy which are nothing but individual lifestyle choices.
As the Boomers grew up and replaced the Greatest Generation and Silent Generation, the counter-culture and its ethos of expressive individualism, modernism and multiculturalism became the American mainstream. God was displaced from the center of our culture by the Self. Nothing less than a new secular moral system was needed to enforce a new moral code.
Christian morality and the classical virtues were tossed in the garbage alongside older versions of Americanism. Political correctness with its laundry list of recently created -isms and -phobias came to fill the void as a mechanism of social control. Those who dissented from the status quo became secular heretics guilty of a host of new secular sins. The “mainstream” came to be the political space where people conformed to the new values and the “fringe” the place of those who dissented from them. These people would be branded as “hate groups” or “extremists” in the liberal West. No one but an irrational “hater”or “bigot” could dissent from the wonderful utopian society created by the liberal “mainstream.”
Mainstream conservatism enforced the new values and purged dissenters from respectable society on the grounds that “racism” or “sexism” or White identity and the like was a form of “collectivism” and a sin against classical liberalism and deracinated individualism which was enforced as the norm for White Americans. Self fulfillment was to be found as a consumer in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, Christianity is often conflated with Christian Zionism or “Judeo-Christianity” by disaffected Millennials who have left the faith.
Judeo-Christianity, however, is a Boomer religion which barely existed until the mid-20th century. It is inseparable from the rise of radio and televangelists and the cultural collapse of the 1960s and 1970s. This level of apocalyptic social change caused some disgruntled American evangelicals to wonder whether they were living in the Last Days. This is also a uniquely American phenomenon and likely to be a passing phase. It is something that conservative Boomers found on television in the 1970s and 1980s and which has been cultivated and pushed by mainstream conservatism for their Zionist donors.
The Evil Empire won the Cold War.
It was the American Empire of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism which was just as bad as the Soviet Empire of communism. Both liberalism and communism are soulless and based on materialism. Communism only boasted about being a more modern and historical advance on capitalism.
The Cold War had been fought to make the world safe for liberal democracy and free-market capitalism. Now that the Cold War was over and the Soviet threat had crumbled, the American people would continue to take a backseat to foreign policy concerns. The American liberal establishment made the decision to take advantage of its “unipolar moment” as the world’s sole remaining superpower to remake the entire world in the image of neoliberalism for American multinational corporations.
This was the source of NAFTA, the European Union and the expansion of NATO. The Gulf War and the wars in the Balkans were police actions. The WTO was created to advance neoliberal economics for an American Empire which had come to be dominated by high finance since the deregulation of the financial sector under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. China was brought into the WTO in 2001 based on the smug assumption it would become another Japan or South Korea and embrace Western values.
We’re now almost 20 years into the 21st century.
The bill for all of these unproven social experiments is rapidly coming due. Neoliberalism has deindustrialized America and plunged us into debt while creating a superpower out of China. It has created extremes of wealth unseen since the Roaring Twenties. The various social revolutions have created an unenviable hellscape of rapidly mounting social problems for millions of liberated and deracinated individuals like nihilism, meaninglessness and mass shootings – the world of Joker or American Psycho – as the unraveling of all the human attachments which previously comprised our traditional common culture has accelerated and paralyzed the government. After the Boomers pass away, everyone knows the deluge will come and no one knows how that crisis will shake out.
The South of the 1940s was poor. It had its problems like lynching and sharecropping which were on the way out. Whatever its problems though, the South of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show was still the South and the America it was a part of was still America. It had all kinds of things going for it. Over the past two generations, the Southern people have gone from being poor in material wealth, but rich in identity, religion, community and folk culture to being relatively wealthy, but poor in everything else. We have the liberal establishment and its dream of universal empire to thank for it.