The South and Geopolitics
I. Land and Sea
There is a tendency in world politics to generalize about the peoples of a country. This has happened to the peoples of the United States of America, which is viewed this way by many:
In the last several centuries, “sea civilization” has tended to be identified with Atlanticism, just as the “sea powers” of today par excellence are England and America, i.e., the Anglo-Saxon countries.
Atlanticism embodies the primacy of individualism, “economic liberalism” and “democracy of the Protestant type,” and opposes Eurasianism which presupposes authoritarianism, hierarchy, and the posing of community-based, nation-state principles against small human, individualist, hedonistic, and economic interests. The Eurasian orientation in character is primarily pronounced in Russia and Germany, the two most powerful continental powers whose geopolitical, economic, and, most importantly, deep ideological interests are fully opposed to the interests of England and the USA, that is, the Atlanticists (Alexander Dugin, ‘The Great War of Continents’).
But those in a cultural region of the USA called the South (or Dixie; also known aforetime as the Confederate States of America) would beg to differ with this characterization of themselves. They do not identify with the sea civilization, with the Atlanticism of Washington, D. C., but with the land or Eurasian civilization of Germany and Russia.
Before going further, these terms should be more fully defined. Alexander Dugin writes,
The two primary concepts of geopolitics are land and sea. Just these two elements —Earth and Water — lie at the roots of human qualitative representation of earthly space. Through the experience of land and sea, earth and water, man enters into contact with the fundamental aspects of his existence. Land is stability, gravity, fixity, space as such. Water is mobility, softness, dynamics, time.
. . . At the level of global geopolitical phenomena, Land and Sea generated the terms: thalassocratia and tellurocratia, i.e. “ power by means of the sea ” and “ power by means of the land ” (‘Sacred Geography to Geopolitics’).
He says elsewhere,
In planetary history, two opposing and constantly competing approaches to the mastery of the Earth’s space, the “land” and “sea” approaches, have existed. Depending on which orientation (“land” or “sea”) this or that state, people, or nation belongs to, their historical consciousness, their foreign and domestic policies, their psychology, and their worldview accord with entirely separate rules. Given this peculiarity, it is fully possible to speak of a “land”, “continental,” or even “steppe” (“steppe” is land in its pure, ideal form) worldview, and a “sea”, “island”, “oceanic” or “aquatic” one (let us note in passing that we can find the first hints at such an approach in the works of the Russian Slavophiles, such as Khomyakov and Kireevsky).
In the ancient history of “sea” power, Phoenicia (Carthage) became the historic symbol of “sea civilization” as a whole. The land empire opposing Carthage was Rome. The Punic Wars are the clearest example of the confrontation between “sea civilization” and “land civilization.” In modern history, England became the “island” and “sea” pole, the “mistress of the seas” followed by the giant island-continent America.
England, like ancient Phoenicia, used primarily maritime trade and the colonization of coastal areas as the main instrument of its rule. The Phoenician-Anglo-Saxon geopolitical type generated a special “trade-capitalist-market” model of civilization based on economic and material interests and the principles of economic liberalism. Therefore, despite all possible historical variations, the general “sea” type of civilization has always been associated with the “primacy of economics over politics.”
Unlike the Phoenician model, Rome presents itself as a model military-authoritarian structure based on administrative control, civil religiosity, and on the primacy of “politics over economics.” Rome is an example of colonization not by sea, but by land, a purely continental type which penetrated deep into the continent and assimilated conquered peoples, who automatically became “Romans” upon conquest.
In modern history, the epitome of “land” power was the Russian Empire along with the Central European Austro-Hungarian and German empires. Russia, Germany, and Austro-Hungary are essential symbols of “geopolitical land” in the period of modern history (‘The Great War of Continents’).
Finally, Boris Nad writes,
The principle of the Sea (or Ocean), in the end, symbolizes the blind forces, volatility, inconstancy, chaos – the principle of Land, on the contrary, is static, unchangeable, Order. Symbol of man's existence on the sea is a Ship, a symbol of man's existence on land is static, is Home. From the principle of the Sea we can take the principle of techniques, and techniques which is "separated from all the norms of tradition" (Arnold Toynbee). . . .
All this does not apply to thalassocracy, in which is no trace of the idea of sacred authority of the state. Trade based republics of the Mediterranean, as well as the North American republics, remain completely secular constructs, administered by understanding and interests of those who are, essentially, equal each other. Tellurocratic states, in their final sense, are – Space which is sacralized, sanctified, thalassocracy states are opposite – the Time, with its dynamics, variability, volatility. The ideal type of these second is therefore merchantilistic Republic; but, the ideal tellurocratic form is the Empire, an empire based on the sacred authority of the state and its ruler. The person of the ruler is personification of the sacred principle: he is not only the object of worship, but and of real apotheosis, as the elect of God, God's anointed (‘The East and the West’).
II. Historical Background: Anglo-Saxons and Vikings
Having done that, some further clarifications - about England, America, and Anglo-Saxons - are necessary that will help in the understanding of the South as a land civilization.
It seems that it is not the Anglo-Saxons of England or America who are primarily to blame for the drive towards the shallow unipolar world of money and pleasure. This must be laid at the feet of the Scandinavian Vikings, whose plundering expeditions and new settlements gave rise to two intensely expansive, militaristic peoples, Normans and New Englanders. In all three of them one sees the ‘sea’ element quite clearly.
After a period in the 900s spent settling the area of northern France (Normandy) they (the Vikings) had conquered and mixing with some of the local population, there boiled forth a new people, the Normans, bent on the conquest of as many lands as they could reach: Southern Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Levant, and so on (‘Normans’).
It was only after conquering England in 1066 that England seems to take on the character of an expansive, warlike, sea-faring country. But this is not the character of the native English; it is rather that of the post-invasion ruling class of the Normans.
The Anglo-Saxons, the Old English, were a people of home, soil, and custom. Maurice Hewlett in his long poem The Song of the Plow, put it this way:
Danes and Normans and Scottishmen,
Frenchmen, Brunswickers, son after sire,
They come and conquer, they ruffle and reign,
They rule, they ride, they spend, they grudge,
They bicker their threescore years and ten,
They slay, and thieve, and go; but Hodge
The Englishman stoops to fork and flail,
And serves Saint Use [i.e., custom, tradition--W.G.], and will not budge,
But drives the furrow and fills the pail,
Raining sweat lest the land go dry:
He sees his masters, he gives them hail
With hand to forelock as they ride by—
They that eat what he doth bake,
They that hold what he must buy,
They that spend what he doth make,
They that are rich by other men's toil;
They of the sword and he of the rake,
The lords of the land, the son of the soil!
. . .
Is it not his yet, this dear soil,
Rich with his blood and sweat and tears?
Warm with his love, quick with his toil,
Where kings and their stewards come and go,
And take his earnings as tribute royal,
And suffer him keep a shilling or so?
They come, they pass, their names grow dim;
He bends to plow, or plies his hoe;
And what are they to the land or him?
They shall perish but he endure
(Thus saith the Scripture old and grim),
He shall shed them like a vesture;
But he is the same, his tale untold;
And to his sons' sons shall inure
The land whereon he was bought and sold (ll. 198-215, 330-44, pgs. 10-11, 15).
Furthermore, Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, deeply acquainted with Old English ways, shows their anti-Norman, unsea-ish character in two ways: through the life of the Rohirrim and the life of the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings.
As horsemen living on the hills and plains of Rohan, which they cherished and guarded but did not try to enlarge by foreign expeditions, long attached to their place and seeking no other, the Rohirrim are a picture of Old English life before the Norman inbreaking (Higgens, Anglo-Saxon Community, p. 61). In the words of one of their own, the high-born Éomer, which were said to Aragorn,
. . . we desire only to be free, and to live as we have lived, keeping our own, and serving no foreign lord, good or evil (Tolkien, The Two Towers, in The Lord of the Rings, p. 433)
And the Hobbits, ‘who love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favorite haunt’ (Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, in The Lord of the Rings, p. 1), who are suspicious of any who go about on boats at all (ibid., pgs. 22-3) or who go on ‘adventures or did anything unexpected’ (Tolkien, The Hobbit, p. 4) are likewise a picture of the non-Norman English in Tolkien’s day (Higgens, Anglo-Saxon Community, pgs. 147-50).
Clearly, some English have betrayed their own people by working with the Norman invaders and accepting the Norman mindset, but we think it is unfair to identify all Anglo-Saxons, all England, with the Atlanticist ‘sea civilization’. That identification must be made first and foremost with the Normans, or their Viking forebears.
In like manner, it is not quite accurate to say of all citizens of the USA that they are Anglo-Saxon Atlanticists. For the same kind of conquest that happened in England has happened in the territory of the United States, with the New Englanders invading and gaining dominion over the Southern States.
The people who first settled the South and gave her the main features of her culture were largely from southwest England, where rural farming life, hierarchy, large manors, few cities, and tradition in religion (high-church Anglicans) and politics (royalists) were highly valued (Fischer, Albion’s Seed, pgs. 240-6).
Those who settled the New England States were quite the opposite. They came mainly from the southeast coastal counties of England, where industrialism, densely populated cities, equalitarianism, and rebelliousness in religion (Puritanism) and politics (Cromwellian roundheads) held sway (ibid., pgs. 42-9). Just as importantly, these coastal areas had seen the greatest settlement of Scandinavian invaders in England (ibid, p. 44).
It is no surprise, then, that the most iconic representations of the South should be images of the land - the plantation home or the Southern gentleman with his horse:
Likewise, the images most representative of New England are those of the sea or commerce, like the schooner or the factory:
Howsobeit, the South was bested in that War and forced to remain in the union, and from thenceforward the sea element predominated in America, though Southerners continue to be a voice of protest against it.
Here again, we see that it is not primarily the Anglo-Saxon or English people at the root of the militarism of the modern American Empire, but the Viking/Scandinavian folk. As they had done with the French earlier, their intermingling with a people they had invaded and settled amongst (the southeastern English), gave birth to a restless people (New Englanders) bent on conquest. Southerners were among the first to encounter their rising battle lust but nowhere near the last.
III. The South and Land
Now that these forewords are finished, let us say a few things about the South as a ‘land’ people, and how this should guide her relations with other countries going forward.
The knowledge of a difference between the land and sea types has been persistent in the South, though its expression has changed at times. Oftentimes, one will find the ‘sea’ equated with fiat money, industrialism, and other such terms.
The Revered Robert Lewis Dabney, who served under Gen Jackson during the War, wrote in 1866,
The Northern were maritime States; the Southern were, by population, climate, habits, and geographical position, inclined to agricultural pursuits (Life and Campaigns, p. 137).
Miss Flannery O’Connor, Georgia’s great novelist and short story writer, put the distinction this way in her story ‘The Life You Save May Be Your Own’ (p. 1875):
“A body and a spirit,” he repeated. “The body, lady, is like a house: it don’t go anywhere; but the spirit, lady, is like a automobile; always on the move, always . . .”
Nearer to our own time, Wendell Berry, the Kentucky writer and farmer, wrote in 2002,
The fundamental difference between industrialism and agrarianism is this: whereas industrialism is a way of thought based on monetary capital and technology, agrarianism is a way of thought based on land.
Agrarianism, furthermore, is a culture at the same time that it is an economy. Industrialism is an economy before it is a culture. Industrial culture is an accidental by-product of the ubiquitous effort to sell unnecessary products for more than they are worth (‘The Whole Horse’, pgs. 238-9).
The self-sufficient house is always central to Southern thought. Again from Mr Berry:
An agrarian economy is always a subsistence economy before it is a market economy. The center of the agrarian farm is the household (ibid., p. 239).
This market economy
. . . substitutes for the real economy, by which we build and maintain (or do not maintain) our household, a symbolic economy of money, which in the long run, . . . cannot symbolize or account for anything but itself (‘The Idea of a Local Economy’, p. 252).
. . . the global economy is based upon cheap long-distance transportation . . . . Whatever may be said for the “efficiency” of such a system, its result (and I assume, its purpose) is to destroy local production capacities, local diversity, and local economic independence (ibid., pgs. 254-5).
Thomas Jefferson wrote some two centuries earlier about the land economy vs the paper economy of the sea civilization:
“We are now taught to believe that legerdemain tricks upon paper can produce as solid wealth as hard labor in the earth. It is vain for common sense to urge that nothing can produce but nothing; that it is an idle dream to believe in a philosopher’s stone which is to turn everything into gold, and to redeem man from the original sentence of his Maker, ‘in the sweat of his brow shall he eat his bread” (Kimball, ‘Thomas Jefferson vs. Paul Krugman, Alan Greenspan, et. al.’)
With this emphasis upon the homeplace and the real products of the earth, technology is not looked upon as a savior. Mr Berry again gives a good example of the Southern temperament when discussing his experiences with a hand scythe and a gasoline-powered scythe:
. . . I never took the least pleasure in using the power scythe, whereas in using the Marugg scythe, whatever the weather and however difficult the cutting, I always work with the pleasure that one invariably gets from using a good tool. . . .
The power scythe—and it is far from being an isolated or unusual example—is not a labor saver or a shortcut. It is a labor maker (you have to work to pay for it as well as to use it) and a long cut. Apologists for such expensive technological solutions love to say that “you can’t turn back the clock.” But when it makes perfect sense to do so—as when the clock is wrong—of course you can (‘A Good Scythe’, pgs. 174-5)!
It is plain that in the South there is still a strong current of the sentiment voiced by the North Carolina statesman Nathaniel Macon in the early 19th hundredyear:
Why depart from the good old way which has kept us in quiet, peace, and harmony—everyone living under his own vine and fig tree, and none to make him afraid? Why leave the road of experience, which has satisfied us all and made us all happy, to take this new way . . . of which we have no experience (Evangelicals and Conservatives, p. 169)?
This sentiment may be seen in two other areas, hierarchy and religion.
Hierarchy was present in the South from the start:
. . . the feudal concept of aristocracy was expressed in the development of slavery and great estates, and in the growing belief that the slavemasters were the descendants of the Cavaliers (Simkins, A History of the South, p. 58).
It reached its highest development as the War approached, when public calls began to be heard for the crowning of a king in the South. For example:
In Georgia, the unionist Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel . . . proposed a constitutional monarchy for the new southern Confederacy (Fox-Genovese and Genovese, Mind of the Master Class, p. 705).
This progress before the War in politics was matched by a similar advancement in religious thought:
Protestant Southerners increasingly wondered aloud: Did the Reformation bear responsibility for the individualism that was now careening out of hand (ibid., p. 652)?
This movement away from an atomistic individualism in politics, religion, and economics was stopped abruptly by the War, Reconstruction, and so forth.
Eliza Frances Andrews of Georgia cried [after the South had been defeated in the War--W.G.], “In another generation or two, this beautiful country of ours will have lost its distinctive civilization and become no better than a nation of Yankee shopkeepers (Genovese, Consuming Fire, p. 104).”
It has not quite gotten that bad. Something more than dull democratic equality and uniformity and the truncated, deformed Christianity of Fundamentalism (both New England imports into the South) has survived in Dixie, especially as one gets away from the big cities and finds himself in the midst of an extended family with a patriarch or matriarch at its head. Or as he reads the fiction and non-fiction of Flannery O’Connor, Richard Weaver, Walker Percy, M. E. Bradford, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and others. To speak more specifically of religion, however -
The Uncreated may be known through the created: Many Southerners still believe this to be true at some level. For them the creation still has a sacred quality to it. Why else would the image of Eden appear so often in Southern literature? To illustrate, Alexander Meek in 1857 opened one of his poems, ‘Come to the South’, thusly:
Oh, come to the South, sweet, beautiful one,
'Tis the clime of the heart, 'tis the shrine of the sun;
Where the sky ever shines with a passionate glow,
And flowers spread their treasures of crimson and snow;
Where the breeze, o'er bright waters, wafts incense along,
And gay birds are glancing in beauty and song;
Where summer smiles ever o'er mountain and plain,
And the best gifts of Eden, unshadowed, remain (Songs and Poems of the South, p. 1).
IV. The South and Rome
The South follows the Roman pattern of land civilization described above fairly closely, but there is one other important tie between the two: The South sees herself as having relived in a way the ancient Roman experience itself. Professor M. E. Bradford wrote about this in the following way. Alluding to a poem on Southern origins he quoted from earlier in his essay, he said,
Drayton envisions no attempt to improve upon the dominant culture of Britannia. The plantation of Virginia will be new in the sense of extension or re-creation—as Rome was a fresh but minimally different Troy, made out of the residue from a particular stream of history and for the sake of its perpetuation, with the possibility of felt discontinuity reduced to whatever comes from the experience of setting as opportunity sans impiety. . . .
The allusion to Aeneas, looking both back and forward, is therefore an expected commonplace in the serious literature of the South (‘First Fathers’, p. 172).
How natural, then, should it be for the South, who identifies herself so closely with Old Rome, to seek an alliance with Moscow, the Third Rome, the leader of the land civilizations in the world today, as she seeks to free herself from Carthage - from the yoke of the sea civilization of Washington, D. C.-New England? To quote Mr Dugin again,
In modern history, the epitome of “land” power was the Russian Empire along with the Central European Austro-Hungarian and German empires. Russia, Germany, and Austro-Hungary are essential symbols of “geopolitical land” in the period of modern history (‘The Great War of Continents’).
Elsewhere he elaborated,
The “Rich mondialist North” [the ‘First World’, i.e., USA and Western Europe--W.G.] globalizes its domination over the planet through partition and destruction of the “Second world” [Russia and other former Soviet satellites--W.G.]. In modern geopolitics this is also called as the “new world order”. The active forces of antitradition consolidate their victory over the passive recalcitrance of southern regions, preserving their economic backwardness and defending Tradition in its residual forms. The internal geopolitical energies of the “Second world ” are put before a choice — either to be incorporated in the system of the “civilized northern belt” and definitively to tear off any connection with a sacred history (project of leftist mondialism), or to turn into an occupied territory being allowed a partial restoration of some aspects of tradition (project of the rightist mondialism). In this direction the events today are developing and will develop in the near future.
As the alternative project it is possible theoretically to formulate a different path of geopolitical transformation based on rejecting the North – South mondialist logics and on returning to the spirit of genuine sacred geography — as far as it possible at the end of dark era. It is the project of the “Great Return” or, in different terminology, of the “Great War of Continents”.
In its most general features, the essence of this project is as follows.
1) The “Rich North is opposed not to the “poor South” [the ‘Third World’--W.G.], but to the “poor North”. The “Poor North ” is an ideal, the sacred ideal of returning to the nordic sources of civilization. Such North is “Poor” because it is based on total ascetism, on radical devotion to the highest values of Tradition, on the complete despise of the material for the sake of the spiritual. “Poor North” geographically exists only on the territories of Russia, which, being in effect, “ by the Second world ”, socio-politically resisted until the last moment to the final adoption of a mondialist civilization in its most “progressive” forms. Northern eurasian lands of Russia are the only territories on earth which have been not completely mastered by the “rich North”, inhabited by traditional peoples and being a terra incognita of the modern world. The path of “Poor North ” for Russia means the refusal of incorporating in the mondialist belt, of achaicizing its own traditions and of reducing them to the folkloric level of an ethno-religious reserve. “Poor North” should be spiritual, intellectual, active and aggressive. In other regions of the “rich North” a potential opposition of the “poor North” is also possible too – which can be shown in a radical sabotage on part of the intellectual western élite to the establishied course of the “mercantilistic civilization”, in the rebellion against the world of finance for the ancient and eternal values of Spirit, equity, self-sacrifice. “Poor North” starts a geopolitical and ideological fight with the “rich North”, rejecting its projects, blasting from the inside and from the outside its plans, bating its stainless efficiency, crashing its social and political manipulations.
2) The “Poor South”, unable to counter itself the “rich North”, engages a radical alliance with the “poor (eurasian) North” and starts a liberation struggle against “northern” dictatorship. It is especially important to strike the representants of the ideology of the “rich South ”, i.e. those forces which, working in the “rich North”, stand up for “development”, “progress” and “modernization” of traditional countries, which practically will mean only an increasing withdrawal from the remains of sacred Tradition.
3) The “Poor North” of the eurasian East, together with the “poor South”, extending on a circle around the whole planet, concentrate the forces struggling against the “rich North” of the atlantist West. Thus an end is forever put to the ideologically vulgar versions of Anglo-Saxon racism, hailing the “technical civilization of the white peoples” and echoing the mondialist propaganda. (Alain de Benoist expressed this idea in the title of his famous book “The Third world and Europe: the same fight” [L’Europe, Tiersmonde — même combat]; its argument is, of course, “spiritual Europe”, the “Europe of the peoples and traditions”, instead of the “Maastricht Europe of goods”.) Intellectuality, activity and the spiritual profile of the genuine sacred North make the traditions of the revert to a nordic Source [‘nordic’ in a metaphysical sense, not a biological sense, as Mr Dugin says in this same essay--W.G.], and raise the “South” to a planetary revolt against the only geopolitical enemy. The passive recalcitrance of the “South” acquires thus a fulcrum in the planetary messianism of the “nordics”, radically rejecting the degenerated and antisacred branch of those white peoples which followed the path of technical progress and material development. Flares the planetary supra-racial and supra-national Geopolitical Revolution based on the fundamental solidarity of the “Third world” with that part of the “Second world” which rejects the project of the “rich North” (‘Sacred Geography to Geopolitics’).
It was not so long ago that Southerners described New Englanders in these kinds of words:
This reflected the widely held opinion that Northerners were temperamentally unstable, incapable of distinguishing between the superficial and the fundamental, and consequently always victimized by fads and notions (Weaver, Southern Tradition at Bay, p. 139).
. . .
In broad outline the victory of the Yankee was viewed by the South as a triumph of the forces of materialism, equalitarianism, and irreligion. Richard Taylor, who spent much of his time after the war in the North interceding for Confederates in distress, was appalled by the saturnalia he witnessed there. It appeared to him that the masses had “lost all power of discrimination.” The new men of influence were those who had just acquired fortunes, and who showed themselves ‘destitute of manners, taste, or principles.” The great moral crusade had ended in a mockery:
The vulgar insolence of wealth held complete possession of public places and carried by storm the citadels of society. Indeed, society disappeared. As in the middle ages, to escape pollution, honorable men and refined women (and there are many such in the North) fled to sanctuary and desert, or, like the early Christians in the Catacombs, met secretly and in fear (ibid., pgs. 205-6).
But after decades of brainwashing by America’s public schools and popular culture (all dominated by New Englanders), many Southerners have proudly taken on some of these same traits that they used to bemoan in New Englanders. But if the Yankeefication of the South is not yet complete, if there is a flicker of a memory of the better ways of the Old South still living in the hearts of Southern men and women (and we believe there is), they need to disengage from Washington, D. C., stop trying to reform and change it (for the principles its government, economy, etc. are founded upon are at odds with their own culture), turn their gaze to Russia, and begin a long dialogue with her on how they may take a place in a multipolar world where their own culture is valued and allowed to develop and flourish to its highest degree.
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