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“”"If at first you don't secede, try, try again."
Neo-Confederate (not to be confused with neocon) is a label for several fringe political groups that believe that the states that made up the Confederacy during the American Civil War (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas and in some cases Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri despite not actually being members of the Confederacy) should once again secede from the Union and form their own nation. These people believe that Southern interests have diverged so far away from Northern interests that it merits forming two countries.
The origin of the term is unclear, but it was used as early as 1949 by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in his book The Vital Center to describe Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats, and in 1954 by Leonard Levy in a book review published in The Western Political Quarterly. The modern use of the term as a self-identifier dates from Southern Partisan magazine in 1988.
The modern neo-Confederate movement got a boost with the publication of the 1991 book The South Was Right by James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy. That book used the occasion of the breakup of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia as an excuse to assert that the time had come for the Southern states to once again secede, arguing that the South was culturally and historically a separate people from the North. The South Was Right is also filled with "slaves-didn't-have-it-so-bad" arguments alongside blaming Northerners for the slave trade, the use of Yankee, Scalawag, and Carpetbagger as insults on almost every page, and claims that Southern people are of primarily Celtic ancestry while Yankees are primarily Anglo. This is, at best, a gross twisting of history. In the early European settlement of North America, the Celtic peoples (Scots, Scots-Irish, and Welsh) settled in Pennsylvania and the Appalachian region — the latter of which was a stronghold of pro-Union sentiment during the Civil War, to the point where northwestern Virginia counter-seceded from Virginia and remained loyal. This is before you get into later migrations of Irish Catholics to the Northern industrial cities. Meanwhile, the coastal regions of Virginia and the Deep South, the core of secessionist and pro-slavery sentiment, were (and still are) primarily Anglo.
The League of the South is one of the most visible neo-Confederate organizations, founded in 1994. In 1999, members of the League of the South formed the Southern Party, a minor political party with a Southern nationalist/secessionist platform which ran candidates in the 2000 elections but disbanded in 2003 due to internal squabbling, although a few state chapters remain.
Neo-Confederates believe and promote the Lost Cause of the South mythos. They tend to be racists and Dominionists, and there is some degree of overlap with Christian Identity. They believe that the South has a primarily Christian and European background (usually "Anglo-Celtic") and that it should take steps to preserve this. While their literature is silent about the issue of Jim Crow, and they claim that they do not want to reinstate slavery, it is a pretty safe bet that being a black person in a new Confederacy would not be a comfortable life. It should be noted that these people vociferously deny that the Confederacy was founded to protect slavery, instead maintaining that the secession was due to some nebulous idea of "states' rights" and protecting against the rise of centralized tyranny in the North.
Strange Yankee bedfellows
Despite (or perhaps because of) their antipathy for Yankees, many Neo-Confederates vocally and, on their websites, blogs, and message boards, vociferously support the small group spawned by the Mississippi-born creator of the Second Vermont Republic (SVR), Thomas H. Naylor. During an hour-long interview on his Holocaust-denying, neo-Confederate Internet radio program The Political Cesspool for Confederate History Month, James Edwards, League of the South leader and author of Racism Schmasism, said that Naylor was "obviously a good Confederate". Naylor and SVR are a topics of frequent discussion on Stormfront, the message board of ex-Klansman Don Black. Kirkpatrick Sale, a co-founder of SVR and current delegate to the neo-Confederate Southern National Congress, delusionally spoke of his friend Naylor's "successful" efforts and his frequently proposed plan for a confederation of states from a secessionist New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
“” "The people in Vermont, who have been very successful in their secession efforts, talk about a New England secession, which might make sense. They could form an alliance with certain of the coastal provinces of Canada. That might make a viable kind of nation.
In 2007, shortly after the Vermont Secession blog revealed the SVR's ties to numerous neo-Confederates like Thomas DiLorenzo and LOS board of director member Franklin Sanders (who served on the SVR advisory board), controversy broke in the Vermont blogosphere over the disclosure concerning one board member, Donald Livingston, who headed up the neo-Confederate Abbeville Insitute, so named for the plantation of the mid-19th century slavery advocate James C. Calhoun, and where Naylor serves as an "associate scholar". Livingston had been the first director of the League of the South's Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, as well an adjunct faculty member at the libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama. Champlain College professor Rob Williams, then co-chair of SVR and managing editor of the now defunct companion journal of SVR, Vermont Commons, responded to questions about racists from the League of the South and specifically about VTCommons contributor Livingston by saying,
“” "Is (Livingston) a racist? I don't know. And frankly, it is none of my damn business, at a personal level."
Thus began the SVR policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Care" concerning racism amongst its Southern neo-Confederate allies.
- Ku Klux Klan
- League of the South
- Lost Cause of the South
- Second Vermont Republic
- Thomas DiLorenzo
- Council of Conservative Citizens
- R.J. Rushdoony
- For an accurate and much better overview than the not even wrong history one will find in The South Was Right, see Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer on Celtic and Anglo migration patterns and cultural influence, Our Southern Highlanders by Horace Kephart on the culture specifically of the ancestrally Celtic peoples in the southern U.S. and how it differs from the Anglo Deep South, and finally Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War by David Williams to demolish any lingering myths that the Southern people were ever united behind the Confederacy in the first place.
- Hour-long interview of Thomas Naylor on The Political Cesspool for Confederate History Month James Edwards, April 23, 2007.
- Naylor vid on American Socialism, Burlington Telecom cable access show Stormfront.org, February 18, 2011.
- Yes, the same Kirkpatrick Sale who wrote the definitive history of Students for a Democratic Society. An example of someone who has gone so far to the left — specifically in his case Luddism — that he has common cause with the far-right on shared "decentralist" grounds.
- Kirkpatrick Sale interview The Post and Courier, South Carolina, November 24, 2012.
- Vermont Secession blog February 2007 archive
- Second Vermont Republic Pushes for Independence in Vemont Southern Poverty Law Center, Beirich, Heidi, Summer 2008.
- The Ideologues: Donald Livingston Southern Policy Law Center Intelligence Report, Winter 2004.
- Rob Williams tirade at his VTCommons website where he also screws up American history, as well as who, in fact, was writing the Vemont Secession blog February 11, 2007.