By Wayne Allensworth
We are strangers in our strange-and-getting-stranger land. Alienation? That’s not quite what I’m thinking of, though what we see seems alien to any sane mind. The country is, in fact, largely unrecognizable, though flashes of our past appear occasionally in our collective line of sight. Landmarks remain, but they are glimpses of an exhibit at a museum.
Unlike Moses, we are not sojourners, but natives, in a land that was once our own. By the rivers we weep for thee, our lost land, but a return from our internal exile is not possible — internal secession is what we should seek. Those who hold us as unwilling captives require of us a song, but like the exiles in the psalm, we refuse to sing for modern Babylonians. How can we sing our song in this strange land? But if we forget …
“We” in this case being members of our American Remnant who are not merely vaguely conscious somnambulists. We are only too aware of what has happened and what is coming.
Not everyone is, and therein is a huge problem. In fact, a large segment of our people, probably a majority, helped bring this on themselves.
Your humble servant has previously discussed “People From Nowhere” across the wide expanse of post-America, a phenomena I wrote about back in the 1990s. It had become obvious that housing developments in one part of the country were much the same in the North, South, East, and West. “Woodland Villages” … where there were no woodlands and no villages. Manicured lawns, and accentless people who could have been from anywhere. Drifters always on the lookout for a place with better weather, “nice” restaurants and amusements for their 1.5 children. “People From Nowhere,” I wrote, were “a peculiar version of nomadic mass man” that a “consumer-commuter culture breeds.” Yet that was then. These days, middle-class drones often have no children, nor do they want them. People From Nowhere going no place special, abandoning their past, oblivious to a future they will have no stake in.
If one of you members of the Remnant, someone who retained their sense of identity and even a regional accent, have worked in one of the centers of the global empire, say, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C., maybe you’ve experienced what I did. I was treated very well, had a good career, and made a number of friends in a decade spent in the imperial capital. At times, though, I felt a little like an exhibit, the Wild Man from the Heartland, and thus an object of others’ curiosity. Some of them loved hearing me speak. Some of them were apparently surprised that this Texan was not an ignorant yahoo. It was as if some of the more deracinated drones—I called them “pod people”—had never seen a real American. I detected a wistful longing among the better ones, the ones I liked, as if a vague folk memory was tugging at them.
It was odd. The most rootless specimens of all really loved going on about their trips to the hinterlands. They had enjoyed the gumbo or heard the local fiddler, seen the antebellum mansions, and generally enjoyed the wildlife. As if on safari. They could observe genuine culture, but not really participate in it. What I never understood was how they could enjoy the attributes and products of a particular culture and people, but disdain particularity, the very phenomenon that created good food, great art, regional accents, and memorable music. Everything that makes life interesting and provides a web of relationships essential for the realization of a grounded personality. Some of them yammered about authenticity while supporting a system that erased rooted cultures. They genuinely seemed to believe that self-realization was about careerism.
Radical individualism is the enemy of individuation.
In 1994, James Howard Kunstler published The Geography of Nowhere about a land that produced People From Nowhere. I quoted him extensively in an article that appeared in the June 1995 issue of Chronicles. The people he was criticizing were often, lamentably, my own:
Through the postwar decades Americans happily allowed their towns to be destroyed. They would flock to Disneyland at Anaheim, or later to Disney World in Florida, and walk down Main Street and think, gee, it feels good here. Then they’d go back home and tear down half the old buildings downtown and pave them over for parking lots, throw a parade to celebrate a new K-Mart opening—even when it put ten local merchants out of business—and turn Elm Street into a six lane crosstown expressway…They’d do everything possible to destroy good existing relationships between things in their towns, and put their local economics at the mercy of distant corporations whose officers didn’t give a damn about whether the these towns lived or died. And then, when vacation time rolled around, they’d flock to Disney World to feel good about America.
My Chronicles piece was prompted by the usual suspects — “conservative” Republicans — denouncing those of us who protested plans for a taxpayer-subsidized development near the Manassas battlefield in Northern Virginia, appropriately designated “Disney’s America.” Virginia Governor George Allen and his minions blasted opponents of the project as anti-capitalist leftists, green extremists, and selfish landowners who wanted to prevent Joe Sixpack from getting a minimum-wage job at Disneyland East. The GOP drones were themselves People From Nowhere who lacked the imagination to believe that genuinely rooted Americans might oppose the proposed Disney atrocity, an octopus that would probably have spread its tentacles all around the area, threatening battlefield sites and the tranquility and sense of community in the local small towns.
The GOP D.C. organ at the time, The Washington Times, even scoffed at the opposition to the project, sneering that, “No, it can’t be in Virginia, where Civil War horse droppings might have fallen.” This kind of garbage, which was just as rootless and anti-conservative as anything the official Left ever spouted, was why your humble servant was quite reluctant to call himself a “conservative,” for American “conservatism” was merely another form of progressive modernism.
When the present globalist construct collapses, as it will, genuine patriots can hopefully crawl out from under the rubble and build something new, something that does not hate itself or the past it must be built on.
Chronicles contributor Wayne Allensworth is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.