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02 May 2019

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blue peacock

Col. Lang

Having read your trilogy I really do appreciate this note. You have a much more nuanced view on the conflict between the North & South in the mid-19th century than the "common knowledge" narrative that it was about slavery.

There are centrifugal forces across the globe. If you have the time & inclination I am sure the SST community would appreciate your opinion on if the brewing conflict within and among several nation states leads to global military conflict.

I'm reminded of a quote by Rudi Dornbusch who studied the loss of confidence that create currency collapses:

“In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”

I believe this applies to even societal cohesion.

Lynn hue

Faster, Faster.... about time that this, the most atrocious criminal enterprise ever on planet earth, must be dismembered soonest, and should collapse and disappear for the sake of humanity.

turcopolier

BP

Did you like the trilogy or just find it a case of special pleading?

Julian

Col., you know the contours of the Southern elite(s) better than many, so my question is this: Where are they in the political contest, which you describe in almost Schmittian terms (the 'friend-enemy' distinction)?

"[B]oth groups, in their hearts have much in common and despise the Yankees of today and their alien culture."

How are they resisting the impositions of the coastal regions beside voicing objections? Trump stirred the ordinary people of flyover country, but there is little if any mobilization apparent in the strata of local elites. The state and local GOP in deep red states can seemingly only generate consensus and political will on economic matters, some of which are at odds with the populist agenda the deplorables signed up for. The liberals/yankees/urbanites, whatever you want to call them, wage wars of political aggression, but at best, all we see from their opposition inside and outside the political apparatus is a managed retreat.

Take a look at #MAGAtwitter. These people aren't in contact with the reality of the situation they're in. They're given over to impotent conspiracy theory posting ('cultural Marxism', Qanon, deep state 'white hats'), or are serenely confident Trump throwing Obama out on his ear has fixed the Republics problem, which were never deeper than some bluehaired freaks on the campus. Their morality is up, their social metrics are nosing ever downwards much like Indian populations of yesteryear. This is the sign of a spiritually and psychically defeated group of people. And nobody has stepped forward to rally them.

Perhaps I'm missing some information here, in which case I'd very much like to know where I'm wrong.

PacificaAdvocate

In China, local administrative divisions are not along the lines of counties-which-contain-cities, but according to cities and their surrounding areas, which are called "counties" but have entirely independent governments from the cities.

Cities regulate urban matters, while counties regulate rural matters. The two do not coordinate except on shared issues like transportation, utilities, and so forth. It is possible--as with the Taipei region--to have two cities within a single county.

The arrangement has it's own problems--for instance, cities generate a much larger tax revenue than do the counties--but these are managed by the national government, which can redistribute funds when appropriate or necessary.

It seems to me that the US administrative divisions--where cities often dominate county politics, and county politics are often turned to the service of the city's needs--might well benefit from a reform along these lines.

Fred

Lynn,

And leave 20,000 nuclear weapons for the good people who will come.

turcopolier

Julian To the extent that it is possible to generalize, the old establishment Southern elites hold themselves somewhat aloof from the processes of migration and urbanization in places like Atlanta and Houston. They are regional, i.e., Virginia elites are not connected to Tennessee elites. They are more concerned with issues than party politics. They seldom run for office. They are often related to each other over many generations and are a kind of separate society who usually do not wish to be made public figures. They have institutions within which they operate to pull strings in the larger world. Privately held banks, certain colleges, private clubs, certain fraternities, the boards of certain foundations and corporations etc, constitute their world. You understand that I am not speaking of "New Money." A defeated people? No. They are descendants of the leaders of a defeated people. If they have a choice, you cannot see their houses from the road.

Bill H

Having lived in Atlanta for a bit over twenty years I can echo that viewpoint entirely. "You cannot see their houses from the road." Nicely put. You also do not see them in the media, other than the "social events" pages.

Bill H

I should add that they are concerned about Atlanta, about national events only to the degree to which they effect Atlanta, and are utterly indifferent to events in, say, Houston.

turcopolier

Bill H The same thing is true here in Alexandria where the hidden hand of the old elites is quite discrete and concerned with city or state matters.

turcopolier

Bill H In New Orleans Mardi Gras crews are an acceptable activity. Here a local private bank is the center of "old power." If the politicians do something not approved a well dressed soft spoken representative of the bank shows up at a hearing to ask that the City Council reconsider.

The Twisted Genius

These old elites operating quietly and locally in the shadows are certainly not just a southern phenomenon. They're present in the northeast and probably even in fly over country.

I think there's a lot to be said for this bar stool democracy. I remember the first true southerners I ever talked with for an extended period of time were in Georgia in 1976. This elderly couple operated a visitor center for the Providence Canyon State Park in southwest Georgia. This was the first excursion SWMBO and I made after arriving at Fort Benning for IOBC. Here the grease was common courtesy rather than beer and whiskey. We were as Yankee as can be and the elderly couple lived in this southwest Georgia county all their lives. We sat and talked for hours sharing sweet tea and boiled peanuts. We had a similar, but shorter experience last summer in an ice cream parlor south of Fredericksburg. We started talking with a group of early 20 somethings about movies and such. Again it was common courtesy that greased our conversation. The ice cream also helped. I could tell one young man, especially, was earnest in his southern pride as if it was still the 1860s. He could have been a time traveler. We were very different, but the conversation remained friendly. We all made the necessary efforts to respect our differences.

These conversations are much easier in face to face situations like on adjacent bar stools. I think social media and hyper-fractured news sources are destroying our ability to conduct bar stool democracy. That and the eclipsing of common courtesy by the self-centered "selfie" culture. I cannot understand the lure of taking pictures of oneself, just as I could never fathom the appeal of the "obnoxious in victory, bitter in defeat" attitude.

turcopolier

TTG

I am sure they were nice people but not of the "elites" as the term is being used here. there are similarities but the elites of the South and those of places like Connecticut do not communicate much. They are different communities. Was the ice cream place, "Carl's?"

The Twisted Genius

Oh no. That nice old couple were as far from the elites as SWMBO and I are. We have no desire to rub elbows with the elites, northern or southern and I'm pretty sure those elites have no desire to be seen with the likes of us. I agree with your assessment of the "localness" of these elites.

No, this wasn't Carls. I wish it was. That's the best ice cream I've ever had. We make the short journey south to Carls often. I gather you like it as well.

turcopolier

TTG
I love the place. Best soft serve I have ever had.

The Twisted Genius

We stop at Carl's whenever we go to Fredericksburg, sometimes that's the only place we go. We even stopped there after SWMBO's first hip replacement years ago. Here's how Carl's describes their secret, "The difference between ice cream and frozen custard is eggs - A much higher concentration of eggs, Butterfat, and no air, make the cream much richer and thicker."

rjj

Who has actually experienced incivility (as opposed to preoccupation with or distraction by hand-held devices) in face-to-face [noncommercial] interactions? My encounters during six months in Deplorajistan (cross country, Seattle, Portland, back road small towns in both states) were similar to TTG's. City people were generally less available, but that has always been the case.

Last week dusted off Joan Didion's Political Fictions after deciding not to buy Post-Truth.

The Porkchop Express

Could not agree more. Just sitting and chatting with people is always way easier and far less scary than social media or elites (whether from north, south, midwest, or west) make it out to be. Elite behavior, elite differences, and elite conditioning are more the problem than any actual differences between regular Americans.

I'm a prickly, sarcastic, and sometimes rude New Yorker (though these attributes are usually more an expression of affection rather than dislike) and was just in Culpepper, VA this past week. If you make the effort, even if your politics or personality are anathema to the person/people with which you're speaking, it goes a long way to realizing that even our differences shouldn't create the massive political cleavages that we presently have. As an aside, the same can be said when you're out of the country as well. Genuineness and earnestness go a long way, just so long as you aren't being a genuine asshole about it.

On the other hand, was at a dinner in Georgetown later that was full of well educated left leaning professors and social strivers. Their fear of the South and Republicans bordered on the maniacal. Would not even deign it worthy to think of interacting or even speaking to the very same people in Culpepper. Just scratching the surface, and combined with alcohol, and their true feelings came out: they are better than these people and believe that their social/educational status puts them above everyone not knighted in the same way. No matter how you explain it to them, they refuse to accept or even embrace the differences that, at least in theory, they celebrate. That they refused to ever sit and discuss anything with anyone outside of their little cult is one of the roots of the problem and were quite angry with me for even suggesting that their behavior was problematic to say the least.

Julian

I did grasp these were historical lineages, and to further clarify, when I referenced a 'defeated people', I meant the everyman of those parts, not so much the higher echelons. Arguably though, in the modern era, if an elite can't secure politically the ethos of their society, what actually makes them elite? Social hierarchies are context dependent.

"They are often related to each other over many generations and are a kind of separate society who usually do not wish to be made public figures."

This makes it sound like they're a vestigial force who can buy into contemporary intrigues so long as their diminishing legacy position allows. Or are you implying they are taking steps in their own private way, invisible to outside observers?


turcopolier

Yes.

turcopolier

Pork Chop - it seems you are proud of being "prickly, sarcastic and rude." Why are you proud of that?

rho

"These days the cultural and political fissures are just as much "flyover America" vs. the Big City people as they are North vs. South. CNN/MSNBC/NY Times/Washpost/Bill DeBlasio and friends vs. everyone else."

Same story in every Western European country. How exactly it unfolds varies from nation to nation, but the basic conflict is always big metropolitan areas versus the countryside, even in countries that used to be relatively decentralised like Germany.

For France and UK, there are even two books, which have been discussed very controversially but got the analysis right in my opinion, describing the respective domestic conflicts in slightly different frameworks, but always with the same theme of rural people and city people getting more and more alienated from each other:

David Goodhart, "The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics"
Christophe Guilluy, "No Society. La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale"

jdledell

I will agree that there is a distinct cultural difference between urban and rural societies. I think this is much more important aspect of American divisions than the North vs South. Whether is it the historical disdain many feel for Yankees or the Yankee disdain of country bumbkins - both are wrong. Having lived in several American cities as well as Madrid, Brussels, Milan, Tel Aviv, New Delhi, Tokyo and Brasilia, I have come to welcome differences. If you look for the best in people, no matter who they are or what their political, religious or cultural beliefs are, it leads to an invigorating and interesting life. The differences between Americans pales in comparison with America and the rest of the world, yet it is possible to establish life long friendships with people who are as different as a baseball and a football.

I believe in the future an American politician will come along who will work at strengthing the bonds between us as people, which are many, and characterize our differences as some have red hair and some brown hair, who the heck cares.

Julian

That's good to hear Col. If they do grasp they are in an existential fight, and that what is at stake transcends their narrow interests of legacy financial privilege, then operating in the shadows is probably advisable. No need to announce yourself to the enemy like Steve Bannon's risible purchase of a monastery in Italy to train 'right wing populist gladiators in the Judeo-Christian tradition.' What a clown show.

(link: https://www.ft.com/content/d38ffde2-6bf6-11e9-a9a5-351eeaef6d84)

While prudence dictates a subaltern forces should stay off the radar, it has to have a genuine will to engage in hegemonic contest. I want to cast aspirations on people doing their best, but time and again we've seen conservative forces irresolute in the face of the progressive onslaught.

Here's a rather interesting excerpt from Tracey B Strong's introduction to the Concept of the Political, in which the friend-enemy distinction is defined:

'Schmitt writes somewhat chillingly in The Concept of the Political that “if a people no longer possesses the energy or the will to maintain itself in the sphere of politics, the latter will not thereby vanish from the world. Only a weak people will disappear.” He thus closes his article with a truncated citation from Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue: “Ab integro nascitur ordo.” This full line is “Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo,” which translates as “a great order of the ages is born from the renewal.”

Schmitt’s abbreviated line means “an order is born from the renewal.” It is worth noting both that this line served as the origin for the motto on the Great Seal of the United States devised by Charles Thompson (an eminent Latinist), and that Vergil’s following line speaks of the coming of a new child (understood by medieval Christianity to be a prophecy of the coming of Christ). Schmitt ends his posthumously published Glossarium with “With each newly born child a new world is born. God willing, each newly born child will be an aggressor!”'

I hope that last lines describes the disposition of these notable families. In an elimination round, no other subjectivity is acceptable.

turcopolier

jdledell Yes. I know. Everyone should be like NY City people. If they are not they must just be ignorant and "smelly."

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