American Civics Goes Tribal

Submitted by Chet Rollins


“These new textbooks are just terrible. They don’t teach them the values of the Founding Fathers and Lincoln.”

Those words coming from a homeschooling acquaintance is still the common refrain coming from middle-aged rural whites, even outside the homeschool community, and one would hear the same argument twenty years ago from the same people as they witness our educational institutions drift more and more away from the values taught in their youth. Their thought that if we just went to a time when schools were good and taught the values from a few generations ago, the societal ills of our current society would be much improved, still lingers.

As the left is executing another consolidation of their cultural and political victories, the right has finally realized they aren’t so much of a silent majority as a conquered people, and the America of their childhood years is never coming back. Their framework to see the world collapses, and the values and morals they were taught in school and through the media of their childhood are shown to be woefully inadequate to deal with the current realities. Many are with children in the home, and are wondering how to teach their children how to navigate the new cultural reality.

One’s experience with civics in school will depend on the decade of schooling. As the disconnect between the civic principles of the parents and what their children are taught has become so pronounced, there’s an understandable yearning for a time when things weren’t so bad. The right wing wants to go back to 80’s Civics, or 70’s, or 60’s, when people were really taught what it was to be an American. The homeschooling movement is a prime example of this reaction with a massive influx of people opting out of the education system altogether to vie to recreate an older, more innocent time. The problem is, civics education has always been subversive.

Going back to the first public schools in the 1800’s, the purpose of Civics education was always gradual homogenization. Public schools began by moving the youth from a community of various histories and protestant sects to a generic White protestant ethos. After a couple of generations, the White protestant ethos made way to a generic White Christian ethos. After the two great wars, it morphed to a generic deism still largely based on based on the values of the Founding Stock of the country. After the cultural revolution of the 60’s, religion was tossed away as irrelevant to Education, the cult of equality made it’s ascendance, and the reverence given to the Founding Stock began a sharp decline.

Then the 70’s began the heavy diversity indoctrination. Look at a textbook and you’ll notice the change in tone regarding who was considered to be an American. They also had the ideal being striven for, as they became inundated with diverse pictures of people of multiple ethnic backgrounds living in harmony. The 80’s and 90’s began the large diversity push in American History Curriculum, and the elevation of minor minority players as near equals with presidents, settlers, and inventors. The 2000’s is racial grievance and full deconstruction took its roots, and modern curriculum pushes racial grievance even harder while beginning to glorify a post-national identity.

The subversive force of American Education has always been specifically designed to deracinate children and move them from the ethnic and religious identity taught to them at home to a more bland and homogenized Americanism. This was as true generations ago as it is now, it’s just the level of atomization Americans have been through have allowed the atomization to accelerate rapidly. Modern Curricula is just an extension of the same general principle of this that has been going on since the beginning of Public Education. Our country is a melting pot, right?

As homogenization reaches its final phase, it becomes harder to even define what a people even is. If one asks, “What does it mean to be an American?”, can anyone think of anything beyond banal platitudes? The best many can come up with is an anti-definition, like being an American is to embrace diversity. Of course, anyone knows something is defined just as much by what is left out as what is left in, and any society must be by its very nature exclusionary. Some old-school types may say Freedom, but even they don’t really believe it anymore. So if an American is defined by diversity, can you think of any reason to die to defend diversity? What would that even mean? As the events of the past weeks force your average rural white to reassess what the nation is now with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, what is left to teach our children of the country they inhabit? What is the Great American myth that will be propagated to our next generation when we are, in essence, a conquered people?

A small vanguard trying to reinstate one of the classic mythologies, Evangelical Homeschoolers, are still largely right-wing. If one goes through the catalogs, the majority of the textbooks try to mimic the civic spirit of the 1950’s with a little bit of diversity mixed in to ease modern white-guilt. Even a lot of the illustrations try to mimic the mid century styles of textbook art. This makes sense, as the common opinion of American Education from the right states is that it was after this time that education went downhill in this country.

In these packages one sees books with the glowing portraits of the Founding Fathers battling for freedom against a tyrannical foreign empire, the moral crusade to end slavery, the land of immigrants, and a fairly level assessment of the Western Settlers and native Americans. We see different sects combatting and clashing over the centuries of American society, only to finally come to peace after great conflict. It hits home the underlying theme “We are all Americans, and we should be proud of our country”.

It all seems so surreal to pore through them, not only because the look and feel they are going for is old-fashioned by design, but they speak of a mythology that is not capable of dealing with the struggles and tribulations Heritage Americans are going to come up against in their daily lives. It’s silly to talk about us all being Americans with a common vision when 13% of our country is foreign born, and less than half can even trace themselves back to founding stock. It’s insane to wave the American Flag and wear a flag lapel when so many of your countrymen want to replace even the American Flag.

The quaint, antiquated feeling is because there is no longer an American nation to reinvigorate, and therefore no universal civics to embrace. Any attempt to reinstate an older civics from a time long gone will be subject to the same poison, only in a smaller portion, that inevitably led to our current situation. Even worse, it will create a cognitive dissonance that will teach one’s child to treat any American Citizen as an American who will share the same classic values. They won’t, as the social trust that allowed the old civics to work is no longer applicable to our modern times. The 1950’s are gone, long with society they lived in and the values they shared. We replaced social trust for economic gain, and turned our country into a shopping mall. How does one go about teaching civics around a shopping mall?

In a different time, a limited homogenization process would be a useful message for social unity. One can even make an argument that it was a social good to push children from a strong ethnic and religious identity to a more tolerant position of other views if just for social cohesion. If the Irish and Italians are being forced to live within a few miles of one another, it was not unreasonable to enact measures to ensure that even if the current generation is at each other’s throats, the next generation will be less so. From the perspective of the Founding Stock, such compromises were perfectly reasonable to expect from foreigners who wanted to make America their home. For a while, biology made cohesion possible to a limited extent, but as the genetic diversity of your average citizen increased, so was the inability to keep a cohesive unity.

So how is a parent to instill civic mythology on his children?  If American Civics has always been a homogenizing element, how does one go about protecting one’s loved ones from being homogenized to the final phase of simply becoming a soulless and rootless global consumer?

One interesting facet is how many homeschool materials, in addition to classic civics, also instill a story of the specific people it is catered for.  For example, the ultra-Catholic Seton program has a substantial focus on Catholic immigrants and their place in American Society.  It states how the Catholic changed the landscape of the largely protestant nation, telling the stories of prominent figures in the faith and how they overcame a hostile terrain.  There’s a refreshing us/them dynamic that gives more meaning and sense of place than any general curriculum from any age of Public Education.  There is a similar dynamic in others such as Rod and Staff, an Amish based program with a strong focus on a way of life and an implicit rejection of greater American Society.  They make it clear those are your fellow human beings who you can show respect to, but they are not your people.

For the founding stock, many people of which can trace their lineage back to the Puritans or Quakers who inhabited the land.  Many have roots in the Revolutionary War and have memorabilia from ancestors fighting in the civil war.  Why do they have to pretend recent immigrants from 50 years ago, with wildly different values and mindsets, are their people?  Why do they have to pretend the recent Indian immigrant is one of their people just as much as one who can trace their ancestry to the French and Indian wars?  The word loses its meaning along with one’s sense of self when taken to that extreme.  There’s a good history and respect in those others, but there’s no reason for your own history to include their stories as one and the same with yours.

The right needs to get over trying to pretend that people living a completely alternate lifestyle with contradictory values are really your people just because they have a legal document expressing citizenship.  We need to accept post-Americanism as much as our enemies do, but seek strong bonds in families, communities, and institutions that will enable us to live by our values and are willing to protect us.  As our enemies move towards a globalized interchangeable part depleted of all uniqueness, our answer is to become more tribal, and more unique, embracing each of our unique heritages and banding with others who have the same ancestors, or at least can show the same deference and respect to them.

This delineation of the tribes doesn’t need to be in a strict Schmittian friend/enemy distinction.  There’s not necessarily a need, for example, for recent Hispanic immigrants and Heritage Germans to be enemies, and there are many situations where they can be strong allies, but they will be an other, a people outside one’s own community, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This simple assessment of personal obligation in your tribe shows where your main priorities are towards, and keeps your mind local towards your direct neighbors.

Being an American may mean nothing anymore, but being of Puritan, Dutch, Irish, or Catholic heritage still does. You still have a tribe, and it’s time to allow the American story to sunset and revive the story of your own people through your children.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. OneGodOnly says:

    “America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, ‘You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won’t become a German or a Turk.’ But then he added, ‘Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.'” – some shitlib

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stallard0 says:

    The assimilation of Puritan stock and various other Protestant refugees, intrepid pioneers etc. created a coherent identity– simply and purely American– that was no more or less stable than any European nationality forged from various tribes, and managed to embody many of the high-minded ideals of the Revolution. That this was systematically dismantled by immigration and manipulating those ideals and institutions founded thereon to weaken and destroy the bonds that glued these people together hardly demonstrates some inherent weakness in the American identity when it serves as the blueprint for the deracination of every other Western nation, by all accounts well succeeding even against near totally homogeneous peoples on their own soil they dwelt on for millennia.

    We cannot seriously expect to withdraw into some long-lost Polish or other backwater identity to protect ourselves. For one, our enemies are not stupid, and do not cede that Whites (the derogatory label now borne by erstwhile Americans) can escape that mark by putting on a stupid looking costume once a year and belligerently asserting that you have more to do with a people you know nothing about and cannot so much as communicate with than the community in which you were born and raised. Every liberal who plays the Uncle Tom is shattered the second a black fittingly points out that no matter how much they struggle they will never be anything but lily white. Race will always be the dividing line when you have peoples who so visibly and sharply differ.

    Which brings us to the next point, that letting our identity fracture into a million pieces can only weaken us, even if they were based on something more substantial than your surname. Were the various Balkanoids better off when they hewed together under the name Yugoslav, or now that they have their own 100 acre countries consisting of them and their extended family? Do you think the Indians would have been so easy to conquer if they were a united people spanning the continent and not scattered tribes living in teepee villages? Yet some labor under the delusion that by throwing mud on the peoples that comprise the founding stock a stronger identity can be forged around the peripherals. They bring in people from literally every corner of the globe to ensure that no united identity could possibly cohere and control society again, thus remaining subjugated under the American millet system, and you’re suggesting to divide the one they put you in.

    If there is any hope at all of countering the enemy, it can only lie in reclaiming a full, American identity for the lifeless serfs who bear the shame of being a second-class White under minority rule. The other option is settling for being a dying tribe out of hundreds who care about nothing more than making hay from the fields they usurped.

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  3. nc says:

    American= 1A the right to offend/or be offended by another american. 2A the right to defend 1A. 3A the right to defend 2A. 4A the right to defend 3A ……10A. After that it is all BS added at no real gain.

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  4. Ireneo Funes says:

    Thank you for this a fantastic piece, one of the best I’ve seen at the Sun for quite a while. While you focus on education, I appreciate that you touched on an issue which has plagued the dissident right for years… the myth of a “wholesome American identity” of yore. The mainstream conservative/’cultural boomer’ types who view the 50s as some kind of perfect society are a great example of this. The fact is that not only is the term “American” meaningless now, it has *always* been meaningless. Contra Stallardo, a “simply and purely American” people never existed, anywhere. Even the founding stock were always extremely divided, not only between North and South, but even within those regions between Appalachia and the Deep South and Virgina, between New Englanders and the Mid-Atlantic, and so forth. (Also, the “high-minded ideals of the Revolution” were radical leftism, but, that’s another discussion.)

    In many ways, these regions were as different from each other in culture and customs as European nations were from each other. Only when the elites of this country were, through the process described by Mr. Rollins as well as at least one brutal and horrific war of subjugation, finally able to break down some of these regional differences, did we finally get what we may call the “generic American.” This would be around the turn of the century at the earliest, and only spread to the masses after the mixing effect of WW2. And who are these “generic Americans?” Well, by and large, they constitute the great mass of cultureless suburbanites and exurbanites, who have no unifying ideals besides a sort of dreary, unaesthetic materialism whitewashed by the faintest veneer of an inoffensive, milquetoast “Christianity.” This was by design.

    Is it any wonder these people were so easily beguiled by multiculturalism and the ‘diversity cult?’ How could they oppose an alien set of beliefs when they had no real beliefs themselves? This is why even conservative suburban moms have to resort to whining about “crime” as a justification to vote for a Romney instead of a Democrat: “crime” is the only consequence of diversity that fits within their materialist worldview.

    Many people, especially in the Rust Belt, still retain surprisingly close ties to their ethnic European roots,and it is not at all unrealistic to aim for a return to those traditions. Other areas like southern Appalachia seem to have gone through a sort of legitimate ethnogenesis independent of their European origin. Both are good options to separate ourselves from mainstream American “culture” (really the lack thereof), which in addition to its shallowness also incidentally serves as the primary vector of poz.

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    1. stallard0 says:

      Intra-ethnic divisions and specific regional identities don’t disprove any overarching ethnic identity outright, or else there has literally never been a single nation-state in history. You thought the English were a people? I suppose you think a Cornishman, Londoner, Tynesider, and Brummie are all the same. The French? Haven’t you heard of the Bretons or the Nicois? Italians? Don’t make laugh. The Germans? Now you’re being silly.

      The American identity, as much as we can rattle off the meme about the states being as culturally diverse as Europe, was absolutely at least as coherent as any of these nations, and even when you consider really divergent parts (e.g. Louisiana) it only looks divided compared to the aforementioned three-fields-and-a-village “countries”.

      You allude to the Civil War, which is obvious as divided as the country has come, but even then you had men of similar stock, of similar faith, similar tongue, similar institutions, both drawing legitimacy from the same American mythos, divided over one specific political issue they were much more alike on than later historians would like, and a broader one that represented two strands firmly of the American political tradition.

      Yes, after WWII culture was so broken down and mixed as to leave deracinated people who have no beliefs beyond peremptory pseudo-Christian ones, but that was after a great period of immigration of Europeans really foreign to the Western European milieu (Poles and Italians as opposed to Danes and Welshmen), which not coincidentally preceded global immigration in many other countries too. That these peripheral identities that were markedly un-American by 19th century standards survived where the others do not only demonstrates the coherence of earlier people. The Appalachians, despite being close to monolithic ethnically, have never been the Applachians contra the American people, and indeed, they are the last stalwart of being hyphenless Americans as opposed to your totally German-American neighbors who funnily have a surname starting with Mc and whose ancestors are all buried at the Presbyterian cemetery.

      Do you seriously believe the very last vestiges of divergent peoples, the towns where the 80 year olds can speak garbled German to each other or whatever are a template to mobilize the defeated people we call Americans, or is this simply a strategy to jump ship? If the latter, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming Amish (it is possible) and well insulating you and your family from the poz of America for as long as the grotesque functionaries of the government permit. If the former, it is dead in the water. People already have fake personal identities that mean nothing. Even if you moved heaven and earth to turn a middle American city into a genuine Scandinavian-British-German potluck, what would that accomplish? Our foes are rallied under one banner assailing us. Division, even if it bought time, is totally counterproductive.

      PS: You also chose the only time period where “radical leftism” categorically cannot be used to mean “lib-leaning ideas I don’t like”. The Founders, though many Deists and Masons, were not Jacobins, and none of them advocated destroying churches and setting up explicitly pagan idols in their stead (from one form of idolatry to another in the case of France, but that’s a different story), proto-socialist programs, or executing the landed gentry (which they by and large were).

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      1. Ireneo Funes says:

        I actually agree with you in that prior to the 19th century, most European states didn’t constitute “nations” in the ethnic sense either. As you say, Bretons were very, very different from Alsatians. For most of history, your primary political loyalty was personal in nature (to your local community and to some kind of aristocrat, say a count or duke) rather than ideological in nature (to a “nation” or to “the proletariat” or “human rights” or whatever). That was the superior system imo. The consolidation of nation states in the 19th century was a cultural catastrophe which annihilated all of these local identities everywhere, not just in the US. “Nationalism” was absolutely a form of proto-globalism, destroying the diversity of traditions within states just as globalism is doing so between them.

        The main difference between the US and Europe was that the end result of this process in Europe led to a sort of hybrid culture (often dominated by one region) while in the US it led to… basically nothing at all, as you yourself agreed. So I stand by my statement that there is no “American” culture in the sense of a French or Italian one, even though I readily admit that those cultures were themselves only spread widely in the past few centuries.

        Is immigration, as you claim, to blame for this? Partly yes, although the fact that northern WASPs were far and above the most fervent liberals and “unifiers” (and e.g. ethnic Irish and Italian enclaves sided electorally with the South from the Civil War until their demise) casts considerable doubt on your irrational hatred of of Catholic and Eastern Europeans. I think ANY mass immigration, be it from Wales or Bavaria or Ukraine, will lead to a cultural degradation as long as the different peoples end up mixing and interacting. This is the huge, gaping blind spot in modern “I heart diversity” leftists: they think that mixing together Pakistanis with Scots will lead to a city with both cultures, when it reality it will lead to a city with neither.

        But there was also a *conscious effort* on the part of those same northern WASP elites to destroy these different identities by encouraging mixing and cultural uniformity through education. That is the whole point of the article. And the reason was largely ideological, out of a (justified) fear that these new immigrants would retain personal loyalties rather than loyalty to the US Constitution. This is what the oh-so-hated ‘machine politics’ was all about. The soulless monstrosity we today consider “America” was intentionally created; it was made soulless so that, computer-like, its residents might worship words on a page written 100 years before.

        So basically, we have to re-establish personal loyalties. Any American who would put the good of their country above their that of their own immediate surroundings has, I’m sorry to say, been infected by the enemy. This describes 90%+ of ‘conservatives’. You think European ethnic identities are a lost cause. I disagree, possibly because of where I live, but that’s honestly fine. What’s important is, as Mr. Rollins says, to establish a sense of “us versus them,” with “them” being mainstream American society. Maybe that means Appalachian, maybe trad Catholic or fundy Protestant, maybe it even means a fucking survivalist right-wing hippie commune, it doesn’t matter. If you think that is less feasible than “taking back” mainstream America, then you, not I, are the delusional one.

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  5. This is a great article but I’ll take exception with the last penultimate sentence.

    “Being an American may mean nothing anymore, but being of Puritan, Dutch, Irish, or Catholic heritage still does.”

    Being an American means what it always meant, and as an actual American, I also welcome a new tribalism where various groups will stop culturally appropriating my heritage – American – and instead identify as whatever non-American identity they wish.

    “American” means Laura Ingalls Wilder and Andrew Jackson. If your ancestors didn’t fight on one side or the other in the Civil War, you aren’t an American.

    We make exceptions for European Ellis-Islanders who married into our families but they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

    The rest are simply Passport-Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

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