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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Southern Gentleman

I don't know Sara Robinson, and the futurists I've met over the years have been self aggrandizing idiots.  But...I rather liked this piece on    It more or less says exactly what Philip Agre's seminal work "What is Conservativism and What is Wrong with It?" says.  Namely that conservatism has nothing to do with the size of government, or individual liberty, the moral majority or any of that other claptrap.  It's about the preservation of an old world aristocracy.

Here are two excerpts from Robinson's piece for your Fourth of July reading pleasure:

In the old South, on the other hand, the degree of liberty you enjoyed was a direct function of your God-given place in the social hierarchy. The higher your status, the more authority you had, and the more “liberty” you could exercise — which meant, in practical terms, that you had the right to take more “liberties” with the lives, rights and property of other people. Like an English lord unfettered from the Magna Carta, nobody had the authority to tell a Southern gentleman what to do with resources under his control. In this model, that’s what liberty is. If you don’t have the freedom to rape, beat, torture, kill, enslave, or exploit your underlings (including your wife and children) with impunity — or abuse the land, or enforce rules on others that you will never have to answer to yourself — then you can’t really call yourself a free man.

When a Southern conservative talks about “losing his liberty,” the loss of this absolute domination over the people and property under his control — and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws that he was once exempt from — is what he’s really talking about. In this view, freedom is a zero-sum game. Anything that gives more freedom and rights to lower-status people can’t help but put serious limits on the freedom of the upper classes to use those people as they please. It cannot be any other way. So they find Yankee-style rights expansions absolutely intolerable, to the point where they’re willing to fight and die to preserve their divine right to rule.

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