Monday, April 23, 2012

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2012, April 23: John Calhoun and later reactionaries

Today we have another quote from Richard Nelson Current's "John C. Calhoun, Philosopher of Reaction" The Antioch Review 3/2 (Summer, 1943). This one connects the thinking of the godfather of secession to rightwing groups of more contemporary status in 1943. After noting that some defenders of slavery like Jefferson Davis and George Fitzhugh were more crass in their view that the master himself, Current writes:

But it is the spirit of Calhoun, not that of his more forthright followers, which lives on. It is a spirit that may be about to materialize in new and startling forms. Now, if ever, is the time for right-wing Republicans to join with Bourbon Democrats in the sort of reactionary alliance that Calhoun envisaged. The shibboleths of these allies will be not Nullification, indeed, but certainly State Rights; not the Four Freedoms exactly, but Liberty with the connotations it had for Calhoun and for the American Liberty League. The real objects of their attack will be the social controls which liberals will seek to maintain in the interests of world peace, and the democratic aspirations which have been let slip with the cry of havoc but which cannot be chained up again with the dogs of war. The leaders of the new movement will no doubt point with pride to Thomas Jefferson. But the Sage of Monticello is not their man. Let them look, instead, to the political metaphysician of South Carolina, John C. Calhoun.
Today, we see that alliance between what in 1943 were Southern Democrats and conservative Northern Republican fully realized in the Republican Party. It took a long time. But they have finally achieved it.

And, yes, when the Tea Partiers talk about the Founders, it's John Calhoun on whose thinking they draw, far more than that of actual Founders like Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Yes, Andrew Jackson actually fought in the Revolutionary War, so he counts as a Founder!

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