Manifesto part 6

Exercising Our Sovereignty

This brings us back to our original questions. What should we do? What can we do? We can choose to do nothing but “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” We can ignore the looming crisis, failing in our responsibility to God, to our neighbours, our children, and ourselves while wringing our hands and blaming others. Or, we can start acting as if we’re not helpless victims, mere sheep waiting to be sheared or cattle to be butchered, and take responsibility for ourselves. We can show a little courage and initiative and intelligence and old-fashioned guts – traits the South used to be known for. We can use the freedom we have left and exercise sovereignty over the areas where we do retain control. We have control over our own opinions, our own voices, our own dignity. We can decide to whom we give our consent and with whom we choose to cooperate.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian Jew and survivor of the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps, a witness to the worst a man can endure and still live. In his classic work Man’s Search for Meaning he wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms -- to choose one’s attitude in any set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Three centuries before Frankl, John Milton, a Christian Englishman and one of the great names in English letters, expressed the same idea that no alien force can bind a man into submission against his will. In Paradise Lost he wrote:

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

The SNC is an effort to apply this most powerful principle: that ultimately, despite what anyone says about us or does to us, we really are free -- free in our minds, free in our will, if only we will exercise this inherent freedom. We Southerners have to find the solutions to our problems within ourselves. We have to start taking responsibility for ourselves. The political process no longer serves us; it is a rigged game. No one is going to ride to our rescue, certainly not the Democratic or Republican Parties. We really are on our own, and it’s up to us to take charge of our own destiny -- ourselves alone.

Giving or withholding our consent is our strongest weapon. With our present lack of numbers and resources, it’s virtually our only weapon. Even a tyrannical government rests on the consent, or at least the acquiescence, of the governed. Why else would dictators invest so much time and effort propagandizing their subjects? But refusing to give our consent, while a necessary first step, is not enough. We also have to act affirmatively and collectively. We must first withdraw our consent and cooperation from the Regime, then we must give our consent to alternative structures or institutions that empower us. We don’t ask permission from our enemies or seek validation from those who hate and despise us, from those who have marked us for extinction. We confer upon ourselves our own validation. We create our own moral authority by asserting it. We grasp our own legitimacy by exercising it.

How do we do that, in specific, practical terms? First, we have to regain confidence in ourselves that we have sound solutions to the ills described above that flow from a distinctly Southern worldview, one that is validated by the long sweep of Western history, by our own experiences, by the core beliefs and principles that we have cherished in our hearts despite all attempts by the Regime to extirpate them. Then we have to decide to act, and that means coming together to pool our voices and resources, organizing ourselves in a way that is most true to who we are.

This next step makes a practical reality of the understanding that we re-claim our sovereignty on our own behalf. We exercise it by creating a forum, giving flesh to the idea and providing a megaphone for our individual voices. And this forum, this megaphone, is the SNC.

A Positive Vision

Convening a Southern congress is an opportunity to assert a positive vision of the South and our identity, to show that we are more than grievance-mongers, that we have valid issues besides the Confederate Flag. Our vision is of a country that nourishes the human spirit, based on love of God and obedience to His eternal law, and from which flows our commitment to human dignity, individual freedom, and self-government -- not worship and empowerment of the state. Thus the SNC is intended to be a restorative act, not a destructive one.

The SNC recognizes politics is a necessary evil, since man is a social and political being who lives best under good laws and some form of limited civil government. But it also recognizes that the fullness of life transcends politics. Our politics is rooted, rooted in our soil and our culture and our faith. It seeks harmony with our Christian heritage and is congenial to our families and communities. It recognizes forms of authority other than (and higher than) the state – custom, family, church, and synagogue, for example. It aspires to be minimally intrusive, giving place to the truths lodged in the heart’s core, the sublime things that can’t be expressed, the unbought grace of life.

And while we may be staunch believers in free enterprise, we feel no loyalty to the oligarchs of soulless corporate capitalism. We oppose gigantism and consolidation in both government and business. We know the moneyed elites of the Hamptons, Nantucket, and Palm Beach, and now also regrettably the moneyed elites of Duck and Hilton Head and Sea Island, care far less about us than they do about the illegal aliens they bring in to cut the grass inside their gated communities, while they ship the jobs that used to be ours -- jobs making useful things and contributing real wealth to America -- while they ship those jobs off to India and Red China. Yes, we believe in private property, free labour, and free enterprise. Call it capitalism if you like, but our capitalism will have a humanity of scale and will not be the engine of destruction of our families and communities.

The Power of Symbolic Speech

Through the SNC, Southerners can reaffirm ordered liberty and moral self-government in our respective States. If the Congress accomplishes nothing else, it will at least make a statement that we reject the world made by Jacobins, Fascists, Communists, socialists, totalitarians, and tyrannies of all stripe – including the soft tyranny of America’s centralised, bureaucratic, secular-humanist state in alliance with unaccountable money and corporate power.

What good is that, you ask? Well, symbols and symbolic speech are important. They teach, they reproach, they move hearts and minds, they possess great inherent power. If not, why is the Regime going to such lengths to destroy our Southern symbols and all that represents our culture, our heritage, our heroes? While we are still able to exercise some control over our own symbolic speech, we must use it to assert our beliefs without getting permission from our detractors.

Changing the Paradigm

By appropriating the powerful reality of our inherent sovereignty, the SNC will be a first step -- perhaps an unaccustomed step -- for Southerners to stop reacting to the initiatives of those who despise us. We have to change our paradigm. We need to end our futile arguing with Those People. They have no heritage of their own and they hate ours. Rational argument with them is wasted, for no one can refute a sneer. Instead of letting our enemies define us, we need to show we believe in ourselves and not in their slanders.

The SNC will enable Southerners to stop fighting on the enemy’s choice of ground. We have to opt out of his game and play our own. This means first of all no more defence. We must seize and hold the initiative, and we start by refusing to let those who hate the South set our agenda. We start fighting smart, and that means refusing to take the bait of entering every controversy over a Southern symbol that they initiate.

We need to ask ourselves, is it the symbols we want to preserve, or the priceless reality they represent? While we’re fighting a rear-guard battle for the Flag, the enemy is pillaging our spiritual and cultural homeland, killing off the last vestiges of ordered liberty and constitutional self-government and obliterating our Southern identity. Ultimately, the only successful way to preserve our Flag, symbols, heritage, and culture is to assert our sovereignty, to withdraw our consent, to establish our own alternative legitimate institutions. We must break out of the defensive mode and take the fight to them by discrediting the despotic and corrupt Regime they have created. We must come together in mutual support and to magnify our voice, for “when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle,” in the words of Edmund Burke.

We also emphasize that we are not by any means trying to replace or duplicate any of the fine Southern organizations engaged in defence of our heritage or advancing our pro-South causes, like the SCV, the League of the South, the SLRC, the Southern Party, and others. We hope all of them, and others, will be a part of the SNC. But we are not simply trying to create another organization. Lord knows, we have enough organizations, but not enough impact.

No Foreordained Outcome

We expect the first Congress to be a modest affair. There is no pre-ordained outcome, other than to meet and get itself organized -- on a permanent basis, we hope. It is not a rubber stamp for anyone, not a puppet organization, and not a new political party. In fact, we hope many parties and many points of view and diverse interests will be represented. The SNC is not being called to issue an ordinance of secession or any other pre-determined manifesto. A Southern congress will exercise sovereignty over its own views and will speak in its own voice, thus no one can say in advance what might actually do. The possibilities range from deciding to do nothing and go home to our football and beer and NASCAR races, to taking a bold aggressive stand. The first meeting will plant the seed. If the seed is watered and fertilized, and if the plant is pruned and cared for, no telling what good fruit it might bear eventually. That’s why the SNC is sovereign, at least over itself, because no one is telling it what to say or do, or what the outcome must be.

Let the Past Be Past.

This may disturb some Southern patriots who feel compelled to mount a defence of every symbol under attack, but the focus of SNC is not The War and The Flag. We have to re-orient ourselves to the future, not the past. Forget slavery and racism. We need never apologise for what we were, or what we are. When our detractors throw slavery and racism at us, we needn’t fall into the trap of responding. Instead, we must turn the argument back on them. It’s today’s wretched Regime that deserve condemnation for all the reasons stated above, not the last bastion of Christian culture and ordered liberty -- the South.

So let it be understood, by ourselves as well as by our inevitable critics: we are not trying to reconstruct the Confederacy of 1861. We don’t apologise for it, and indeed we are justly proud of the courage, sacrifice, and dedication to principle our Confederate forefathers demonstrated. But the South is more than just a huge battlefield park. It existed before 1861 and after 1865. The cause of the South is not expressed solely in the tragic events of The War Between the States. We Southerners of today have legitimate interests, grievances, and solutions that have little to do with The War, and we need a forum relevant to today to express them.

But before we leave The War behind entirely, it does offer a lesson we should take to heart: we must submit ourselves humbly to each other and to the Southern cause. There is no room for personal agendas, ambitions, and egos; these must be subordinated to our higher purpose. We have to learn how to cooperate, to make allowance for each other’s flaws (so our compatriots will do the same for us.) Of course, we must behave in a principled way, but without standing so staunchly on our rectitude that no one else is deemed worthy of labouring alongside us. If our squabbling Confederate forefathers had learned this lesson, the War of 1861 might have had a different outcome.

previous section, Part 5
Guard Us From Our Guardians, O Lord
Republicans and Conservatives Will Not Save Us

next section, Part 7
But Will It Work?
The Few Always Decide
Peaceful Means
Jeers and Scoffing -- and Worse
A Great Adventure

Worth Quoting

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace.  We ask not your counsels nor your arms.  Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.  May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Samuel Adams


What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue?   

Edmund Burke