State's Rights and the Hope of Liberty
By Tom Ridenour
The South faces the best of times, and the worst. Those outside the Southern tradition believe the times to be uniformly bad. In themselves, the times are bad––very bad, but they are pregnant with hope. For instance, recent events indicate that ultimate independence may not necessitate a direct and bloody confrontation. The whole imperial scheme, rooted upon the perilous and plastic philosophy of “equality,” is being discredited daily as the central government collapses under the weight of its own corrupt policies and overreaching, unconstitutional acts.
Most gaze in disbelieving horror at this slow-motion Imperial train wreck. Few know what to do or where to turn. What if the world woke up tomorrow and saw the Empire has no clothes (a.k.a. money) and a collapse followed fast upon such an epiphany?
PREPARING FOR CHAOS
Most regions would fall into chaos at first, not unlike 1775. In that protracted tumult some won and some lost. The winners won because they knew what they were fighting for. They were prepared. Oh, not with so many days of food, water and ammunition; they were prepared intellectually, with a sustaining vision in their hearts and clear understanding in their minds. We, too, must prepare, but how?
There are many good texts and sources that can help shed light on the national delimma. But few writings illuminate the present as well as those of the anti-Federalists. With amazing insight they lade bare the proposed constitution’s centralizing tendencies and exposed the weaknesses that are now leading inexorably to national collapse. Who can deny that history has vindicated their fears and insights a thousand times over?
In the writings of anti-Federalists, Virginian Patrick Henry or New Yorker Robert Yates (Brutus), one can find a common devotion to State's rights, self-determination and personal liberty. Clearly, they saw these concepts as allies: preserve them and tyranny is held in abeyance, separate them and liberty is lost.
UPROOTING THE HEDGE OF STATE'S RIGHTS
Today State's Rights is dismissed as “provincialism”––a mere means of perpetuating “racist policies.” Few see State's Rights as did anti-Federalists and Federalists alike: the protective constitutional hedge preserving individual and societal liberty.
As we all know, that hedge was ruthlessly uprooted by the unconstitutional invasion of the Southern republics. When Lee surrendered Lincoln-appointed Supreme Court chief justice, Salmon P. Chase, all but danced on Jefferson's grave, publicly proclaiming, “State's rights died at Appomattox.”
Chase's words laid bare the true purpose of the war. Lincoln's Secretary of State, Edwin Stanton echoed Chase, declaring that it was now the federal government's intention to make men love their country more than their state or region. In other words, Jefferson had won the debate, but Hamilton had won the war. Therefore, the patriotism of locality was to be supplanted by an imperialist nationalism. The rest, as they say, is history.
THE WAR TO END LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Present day political correctness tries to justify the struggle between North and South by portraying it as nothing more than a war to end slavery. But unbiased examination of the historical record reveals something quite different.
That “something different” is clearly disclosed in the words of Confederate Vice President, Alexander Stephens, who lamented,
“If centralism is ultimately to prevail; if our entire system of free Institutions as established by our common ancestors is to be subverted, and an Empire is to be established in their stead; if that is to be the last scene of the great tragic drama now being enacted: then, be assured, that we of the South will be acquitted, not only in our own consciences, but in the judgment of mankind, of all responsibility for so terrible a catastrophe, and from all guilt of so great a crime against humanity.”
Jefferson Davis later echoed Stephen's sentiments, saying simply, "The principle for which we contend is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form."
That principle Davis spoke of was not slavery but slavery's very antithesis –– self-determination. Self-determination, not union or equality was the American Revolution's conceptual bedrock.
Today it is commonly said that we live in Jefferson's America on paper, but in Hamilton's America in practice. This intolerable and unsustainable contradiction was not wrought by the express will of the people through constitutional means. Rather, it was forced upon American by Mr. Lincoln's brutal and unconstitutional war. By such tyrannical means the free nature of the American Compact was changed to one characterized by coercive force. The seceding states were not knitted back into the Union Flag with knitting needles but with the points of bayonets extended beyond the ends of rifle barrels.
With that tragic change Self-determination was swept aside and replaced with Mr. Lincoln's “Proposition Nation,” founded on the shifting sands of randomly evolving visions of Equality as interpreted through the distorted lenses of black robed, elitist oligarchs and Jacobin-style revolutionaries.
They give us slavery and call it freedom.
SLAVERY OR FREEDOM?
Within a decade of the War’s end taxes quadrupled throughout the nation. Today, before we earn a penny to care for our families, we labor over half the year to feed the Empire’s gluttonous appetite. In the Middle Ages a lord could take only a quarter of his serf's production. We surrender much more of the fruit of our labors to our governmental lords. No Medieval lord could treat his serfs as tyrannically as our imperial masters and hope to have workers for his land. Yet, somehow the serfs were slaves and we are free.
Picture this! What thrall is more hopelessly enslaved than one tricked into believing he is free? Diabolical as it is, this encapsulates the yankee political genius. By this means Southerners are charmed under the spell of Stockholm Syndrome, in which the victims identify and sympathize with their Imperial captors.
By such convenient means Lincoln-worshiping centralizers have done their worst to turn America into a Godless, materialistic culture; a land inhabited by a lazy and impatient people, strangers to critical thought. Is it any surprise that Americans are so easily manipulated and controlled? We have become, in fact, a passive people––a people who King George would have greatly preferred to the firebrands for Liberty whom God raised up to oppose him.
PIERCING THE VEIL: THE SOUTHERN VISION
Will follows intellect. St. Paul knew as much. He knew what he fought for, because his mind had been renewed. If Southerners are to protect their families and their culture we must labor to achieve a like renewal: the truth that enlightens and frees our minds will also unite us as a freedom-loving people.
Alone we can do little, but with a common vision we can fearlessly stand together, mutually aiding each other, while the Empire crumbles around us.
Practically speaking, effective resistance requires a rebirth of State's Rights, local patriotism, and reviving local institutions and economies. Hopeful signs hint that all these things may come to pass––but not if people are passive and disengaged.
Yet neither unity nor numbers are in themselves sufficient. We cannot hope to be free and remain ignorant. We must prepare ourselves with the understanding of free men––there is no option here. Once we do we will contend, not “wildly beating at the air,” but with clear purpose. We will, in fact, become that people “at another time” President Davis spoke of, contending for the priceless jewel of self-determination.
For liberty-loving Southerners the present is the most hopeful time since 1865, yet how tempting it is despair in the face of difficulties. When you are so tempted, recall the words of Jesus speaking of the end times: “When you see these things come to pass rejoice, for the time of your salvation draws near.” If that applies to momentous and eternal things, how much more does it apply to temporal things?
This is not to say that we ought not recognize and admit the many difficulties. We must see, face and overcome them. But they must not overshadow our vision: the end of tyranny in our Southland and the birth of the Free Republic we hope to establish in its stead. Ω