Michael [Krechmer] Malice seemed an unlikely trailblazer to locate slavery and race at the center of National Divorce theory to liquidate American Empire into discrete federations of red-states and blue-states.
The Ukrainian born, Russian-speaking, Jewish anarchist turned Libertarian argued that since its founding, America remains divided by two irreconcilable cultural worldviews; one championed by Abraham Lincoln, the other by Alexander Stephens during the Civil War.
America's founding myth as a 'proposition nation,' "conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," was advanced by Lincoln at Gettysburg as the lynchpin of American national identity. It tethered the American ideal to the Declaration of Independence.
Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens' 1861, 'Cornerstone Speech,' maligned Lincoln's doctrine saying, "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery --subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." Stephens and the Confederate States of America attached primacy to the Declaration of Independence clause stating, "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it and to Institiute new Government." Stephens meant the 'right of white people," and the Slavocracy to abolish governments.
Lincoln and Stephens' worldviews evolved into two diverging imperial notions of American Empire. Today, the first envisages America as a multi-cultural/multi-ethnic corporately managed 'democracy.' The second hastens America's return to a dominant 'legacy' white/European heteropatriarchal oligarchy.
Like the biblical "prophet that is never welcomed in his own country,' National Divorce advocates remain indifferent if not dismissive of Malice's 2016, call for engagement on the fractious issues of racial politics.
Despite the Trump-directed January 6, white nationalist assault on the U.S. Capitol, National Divorce activists continue to play-to-type. They contend America's political chasm is so vast on issues like abortion, gun control, vaccination, and gender equity that its governing institutions can no longer navigate the partisan terrain. Thus, they compartmentalized the coup to validate the narrative that only a partition of American Empire into sovereign red-states and blue-states can avert a civil conflagration.
Author Stephen Marche disagreed. In 'The Next Civil War,' he posits, "Regions don't tend to secede over political differences. The main factor that drives the desire for independence, that makes it possible, is having a separate or ethnic identity."
New Black Nationalists' concur with Marche's view. We reject the National Divorce red-state versus blue-state model as exclusionary on the one hand, and a proxy for race and heteropatriarchy on the other.
Any reconfiguration of American Empire that erases the right of self-determination and autonomy for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Indigenous Natives, and women becomes a 'vanilla' project by default or design.
New Black Nationalists don't claim to speak for all or even most of the Black Commons in this regard. With the dissolution of American Empire many Blacks will prefer to live in a blue Democrat state and some in red states. We get that. We respect that. The new Black-led polities the Vesey Republic contemplates are consonant with an alternative social vision and national destiny that vibrate to our historic and organic cosmos. The principle here is the right to self-determination.
The indifference of National Divorce supporters to race, ethnicity, and culture has opened the door to Libertarian factions, Republicans, and MAGA elements to subvert the movement.
As we predicted last month, MAGA cretin Marjorie Taylor Greene recently followed up her December 2021, tweet floating the idea of Republican support for National Divorce. On October 21, 2022, Greene said "national divorce" is coming after the Centers for Disease Control added COVID-19 shots to its recommended vaccine schedules for children and adults. What MTG really means is MAGA is coming to National Divorce's neighborhood irrespective of the issue.
National Divorce advocacy of partisan-based state secession and libertarian notions of decentralized federal government are high-value targets for political capture by the Trump, Republicans, and white power militias of MAGA's regime change coalition.
Few words evoke the historical memory of the Southern Confederacy, civil war, and white supremacy like 'secession' and 'states' rights.' In December 2021, Supreme Court Justice Sonja Sotomayer's issued a prescient warning foreshadowing Roe v Wade being overturned when the court refused to block Texas Senate Bill 8, going into effect.
"This is a brazen challenge, she said, to our federal structure. It echoes the philosophy of John C. Calhoun, a virulent defender of the slaveholding South who insisted that States had the right to “veto” or “nullify” any federal law with which they disagreed... Lest the parallel be lost on the Court, analogous sentiments were expressed in this case’s companion: “The Supreme Court’s interpretations of the Constitution are not the Constitution itself—they are, after all, called opinions.... The Nation fought a Civil War over that proposition, but Calhoun’s theories were not extinguished. They experienced a revival in the post-war South, and the violence that ensued.
Justice Sotomayer sounded the alarm six months before the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision green lit the resurrection of states' rights and nullification. The bridge to state secession was but a stone's throw away.
In April 2022, former military general and January 6, co-conspirator Michael Flynn cast that stone. Flynn told an Ohio audience that state governors can declare war and "we're going to probably see that." Flynn is hinting at a civil war scenario we outlined in Robert Kagan's Short Telegram in the 2024 elections where a few red-state governors defy election results and mobilize the national guard to deter federal encroachment. The confrontation cascades into a nationwide existential standoff between the federal government still under Biden's control and red-state governors.
Since the January 6, Capital Coup, hard right-of-center forces from school board candidates to Proud Boy street thugs to reconstituted trends like National Conservatism are rethinking the Republican Party and conservative movement agendas. Trump's 'politics of chaos' shattered the conventions of both to the wind. In truth, the old Republican Party and conservative orthodoxies of low-taxes, free trade, and no regulation were already dead-on-arrival when Trump took office in 2016.
At the same time, the Marjorie Taylor-Greene/Mike Flynn regime change wing is groping for a broader political framework to seize power by violent and extra-constitutional means. Flynn has emerged as the oracle of Radical Christian Nationalism. Greene's quest for a place in the sun as Trump's minister-at-large is leaning forward to secure MAGA world's National Divorce portfolio and a Republican Caucus leadership position if the GOP wins the House in November.
In our view, the construct that broadly embraces the solar system of white nationalism, states' rights doctrine, secession, Great Replacement Theory and Orbanist [Hungary's President Victor Orban's illiberal modal] governance structures is Lost Cause mythology.
Secession, The Confederacy, and the "Lost Cause" Moment
Since 2016, the corporate media, intellectuals, political theorists, and activists across the spectrum have clamored to explain Trump's white nationalist phenomenon with comparisons to Germany's Nazi Party, Italy's National Fascist Party [PNF], and more recently, Victor Orban's illiberal Fidesz Civic Union.
New Black Nationalists disagree. In our view, Trump's authoritarian regime change coalition is firmly rooted in American white supremist traditions. Thus, we argue the following.
1) Mid-nineteenth century white supremist ideology reached its meridian with the articulation of Southern Nationalism and Lost Cause mythology. These constructs are still the central reference point and baseline of MAGA Nation, the Republican Party, and White Power militia groups' sedition wing.
2) Secession doctrine was inscribed in Jefferson and Madison's Compact Theory articulated in the Virginia (1798) and Kentucky (1799) resolves. It holds that the United States was formed through a compact agreed upon by all the states. Virgina, New York, and Rhode Island ratified the U.S. Constitution reserving the right of secession. These are referred to as the “Resumption Clauses.” Compact Theory asserts the states are the final judges or arbiters if the federal government oversteps the limits of its authority enumerated in the compact.
3) The state-building project of the Confederate States of America by the Southern Slavocracy envisioned something more profound and radical than anything conceived in the Western Hemisphere or Europe. As historian Stephanie McCurry suggested, the C.S.A. created the first modern pro-slavery anti-democratic state dedicated to the proposition that men were not created equal. C.S.A. Vice-President Alexander Stephens stated the Confederate Republic was based on the latest scientific data proving the inferiority of the Black man. White women in the new republic had no political rights and were bound by the conventions of coverture.
4) Having seceded from the Union and suffering defeat in the Civil War, C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis, nor any Confederate public official or military officer was charged with treason or sedition. Other than the warden of Andersonville Prison (GA), who was hanged for murdering Union troops, every confederate soldier and official was granted a Christmas Day amnesty in 1868. The historical lesson for Trump, and white nationalists, was that sedition and violence in defense of white supremacy is no crime.
Lost Cause - The Book
Edward Pollard was the Editor of the Richmond Examiner, the capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War. In addition to completing the Lost Cause in 1868, he wrote several books on the Civil War that were all sympathetic to the Confederate cause. One year before the war, he published 'Black Diamonds Gathered in the Darkey Homes of the South in 1859.' His childhood memories of "happy and contented" slaves on his families' Virginia plantation became an enduring theme of Lost Cause mythology.
The Southern Slavocracy class was the author and finisher of its own self-inflicted apocalypse. They did so by two means. By seeking independence through a state-sanctioned war borne project they guaranteed the Confederacy's demise would be swift, comprehensive, and visit maximum destruction on its short-lived republic.
E.A. Pollard's 1866, history of the Confederate States of America's rise and fall in the "Lost Cause" sought to justify the monumental blunder and tragedy of the Southern planters' decision to prosecute a war of choice. The War Between the Sections claimed 300,000 Southern lives and left Dixie a conquered and humiliated province.
Hailed as one of the greatest propaganda coups, Lost Cause mythology is a rare instance in history whereby the loser of a war dictated the narrative of the conflict's causes and effects. For the next one-hundred and twenty years, Lost Cause mythology was taught and depicted in America's schools, literature, and film. Its central themes included the following.
--- Secession had little or nothing to do with the institution of slavery. --- Southern states seceded to protect their rights and their homes from a tyrannical Union government.
--- Slavery was a positive good; submissive, happy, and faithful slaves were better off in the system.
--- Lincoln's election would end slavery and destroy white rule.
--- The white race is the superior race, and the black the inferior.
--- Southern women played a large role in perpetuating the Lost Cause.
Two 'Big Lies'
"Lost Cause" mythology and the Stop the Steal election narratives share the legacy of the Big Lie. Lost Cause mythology was riddled with half-truths and shameless embellishment: Stop the Steal was a total fabrication.
Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential race by seven million votes, the electoral college by a 306 to 232 margin, and 59 of 60 court cases alleging voter fraud. Nevertheless, Donald Trump persuaded almost 70% of Republican voters that the election was stolen from him. The new popular element Donald Trump introduced into American white supremacy's pantheon of Big Lies was the dark arts of disinformation, post-truth, post-factual world of communication.
The Language of Grievance and Masculinism
Trump's revanchist white power doctrine to Make America Great Again, and the language of Lost Cause mythology both drip with grievance, hatred, victimization, and revenge to restore white male domination.
In today's world, partisan politics is not defined by what you stand for but what you stand against. Social media is driven by disinformation and content designs that generate moral outrage and hate. Political internet sites tap this moral outrage and hate to build a sense of family, community, and tribal belonging to fend off existential challenges.
For the Confederacy, the Civil War was a profoundly male enterprise in which women had no political rights. The laws of coverture dictated that a married woman's legal status was merged with her husband, leaving her with no independent legal existence.
Women were casts as the virtuous symbols of the South protected by chivalrous white men in the Cavalier tradition. But when ninety percent of the white males between 15 and 55 years-old left to serve on Civil War battlefields, women--many with children--were left by themselves. In 1863, mass starvation rampaged across the South. Women were forced to engage in food riots, raid storehouses and granaries, and organize militant protests against the C.S.A. government.
As American Empire lurches toward an existential crisis, the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v Wade represents more than the restoration of states' rights. It is a raw power reassertion of male domination over women's autonomy and their bodies. So too, white nationalist shock troops and militias like the Patriot Front, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Boogaloo Boys are all-male misogynist organizations.
In many ways, the tone and tenor of Lost Cause mythology is well suited to the universe of MAGA Nation and white nationalists' messaging.
White Nationalist State Building
Donald Trump and Southern planter oligarchs both set out to accomplish something never attempted before in American history. Through a hastily concocted coup and other extra-constitutional means, Trump attempted to impose an autocratic white nationalist regime on American Empire.
Jefferson Davis and the Southern aristocracy imagined presiding over a novel new power envied by Europe and the world -- an explicitly pro-slavery, anti-democratic oligarchy. Southern Slavocracy claimed to have solved the great problem of capital, labor, and democracy led by educated, cultured, aristocratic white men.
Both of these counterrevolutionary white nationalist projects were long shots to succeed. They met and exceeded those expectations by failing spectacularly.
Indeed, Trump's motley crew hatched a plan that was so haphazard it almost worked. The January 6, Capital Coup failed for two reasons. The assault didn't generate enough violence and death for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807. Nor, despite trying, could the Secret Service force Vice-President Pence to leave the Capital, thereby indefinitely suspending the Congressional Electoral Vote Certification process to confirm Joe Biden as president.
The question has to asked, why did they do it? Why did Trump and the Confederacy take the risk? Quite simply, they believed they had the opportunity, the means, and the support of their social base. Most important, they were hostage to hubris.
Wars and Coups of Choice:
The Southern slavocracy's decision to secede and prosecute the War Between the Sections was a war of choice. There was no immediate need to secede from the Union. There were no plans of a Northern invasion to forcibly overturn slavery. Lincoln's policy was to restrict the expansion of slavery in the new Western territories. Slavery may well have survived another decade or two before the planter class had to cross the Rubicon of ending involuntary servitude by war or other means.
The Slavocracy class chose war because they were flush with cash. They had the power to secede and thus the power to wage war. They believed they had the manpower to carry the battlefield, while compliant Black slaves sustained the South's agricultural production. None of that happened.
The C.S.A. had powerful international allies and markets. Their reading of history convinced them not to wait and suffer the fate of European colonizers in the West Indies and the calamity that befell the French in Haiti.
The January 6, Capitol Coup to overturn the presidential election was also an act of choice. There was no national security emergency, financial meltdown or any crisis remotely justifying Trump's attempt to seize power. He provoked the coup because he believed he was entitled to the presidency for life and thought he could pull it off. Trump's Social Darwinist reading of history dictated fortune goes to the brave and the predator.
Just as the Confederacy dreamed of being a new type of world power based on a perfected slave system, Trump entertained fantasies of being the most feared and powerful white nationalist autocrat on the planet. Less we forget, white supremacy is a disease that consumes it adherents.
Southern and Northern Nationalism and Culture
We conclude this opening thought paper by returning to Michael Malice's opening statement about the irreconcilable cultural worldviews attendant to America's founding architects. Beyond slavery and states' rights, the issue of conflicting distinct Southern and Northern cultures is a matter that should not be dismissed.
There is also the vexing problem of how to interpret these cultural overlays with Southern and Northern nationalism. Had the Confederacy won the war, there is no reason to assume that two sovereign "American" nations would have co-existed for quite some time.
New Black Nationalists have always asserted there was no distinct Southern American culture, just as there was no distinct Northern American culture. In short, we hold there has never been an American culture created by whites descended from Europe.
Moreover, we posit America, was never a nation forged by common ancestry, a common territory, common culture, common psychological makeup or common religion. American national identity was not forged by centuries of human blood, toil, and deep statecraft, but elegant rationalist phrases of "Enlightenment" theory scrawled on parchment. Words alone do not bind a people into an organic whole. Lincoln's "proposition nation" speech at Gettysburg became the national credo only by virtue of the North winning the war, thereby transforming sectional Northern nationalism into American nationalism.
As Susan Mary Grant outlined in 'North over South,' in the 1840s and 50s the editorials, travel writings, and news reporting of Frederick Law Olmsted, William Cullen Bryant, and Horace Mann savaged the South in a relentless campaign of orchestrated attacks and tropes.
The anti-South campaign went beyond defining sectional difference to castigating the South as an existential threat to the North. The North's cultural war against the South combined with the rise of Abolitionist organizing and incendiary rhetoric became the bricks of mortar of the Republican Party's creation as the sectional war party of Northern nationalism and industrial capitalism.
Just as the North defined its nationalism against a Southern cultural template, the South did the same. Pollard's description of Northern culture below in Lost Cause is a variant of European sub-culture which in no way belies the escalating resentment in the antebellum period between the North and South. Pollard thus avers,
"Differences between the Northern and Southern colonies had already been strongly developed. They had come not only from different stocks of population, but from different feuds in religion and politics... The civilization of the North was coarse and materialistic. The intolerance of the Puritan, the painful thrift of the Northern colonists, their external forms of piety, their jaundiced legislation, their convenient morals, their lack of sentimentalism... Their unremitting hunt after selfish aggrandizement are traits of character which are yet visible in their descendants."
On the other hand, the colonist of Virginia and the Carolinas were from the first distinguished for their polite manner, their fine sentiments, their attachment to a sort of feudal life, their landed gentry, their love of field sports and dangerous adventure, and the prodigal and improvident aristocracy that dispensed its stores in constant rounds of hospitality and gaiety. Slavery established in the South a peculiar and noble type of civilization. It was not without its attendant vices... If the relief of a large class of whites from the demands of physical labour gave occasion in some instances for idle and dissolute lives, yet at the same time it afforded opportunity for extraordinary culture, elevated the standards of scholarship in the South, enlarged and emancipated social intercourse, and established schools of individual refinement.
The Lost Cause
'The North Jealous of Southern Superiority'
Lost Cause mythology didn't just dominate the historical narrative for one-hundred and twenty years after the Civil War because Southern historians, veteran's groups, historical societies, academics, and descendant organizations fanatically pursued its perpetuation.
The post-Civil War century of Jim Crow segregation maintained the patina of white dominance and supremacy of the Confederacy while allowing what passed as 'Southern culture' to marinate in the souls of the defeated. The 1950s and 60s Civil Rights movements revived the call by Lost Cause believers to once more defend states' rights.
This explains in-part the strength and attachment of whites to Lost Cause mythology today. It also illuminates why Lost Cause mythology has been transferable to whites beyond the South and the fact-free ease in which they consume Stop the Steal, Browning of America and Great Replacement conspiracy theories from New Hampshire to Arizona.
For all these reasons and more, American Lost Cause mythology, not European fascist or Victor Orban's illiberal white nationalist ideology will undergird states' rights secession, civil war, and White Power doctrine in the 2020s. Whether the residue of Lost Cause mythology overruns the National Divorce movement remains to be seen.