Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Ancient Tribal Conflict

Digby argues that our current national conflicts are not about politics, but about tribe. Resentments as old as the republic drive the emotional intensity of these struggles. This idea certainly resonates with me, since I've long argued that these fights have nothing to do with policy or anything like rationality. They are all about grievance and spite, the deep and ancient resentments that one segment of our population have always cherished against the rest of the country, and against the world.

I notice that this is a very hard thing for most (though not all) outside our country to understand. The rest of the world sees this as a policy argument that has inexplicably aroused such angry passion and gone off the rails.

As usual with Digby, it's a long post with lengthy quotes from some other very interesting essays, but it's worth reading.

So fellow Southerners, read this and see what you think. Since I am from Texas and the descendent of Union sympathizers, and I emigrated to New York (like a lot of other Southerners) my point of view is hardly representative.

William Bauly, The Fate of the Rebel Flag, a widely popular lithograph during the Civil War.


it's margaret said...

oh wow. that would explain a lot.... until I am otherwise convinced, I think he's on to something, indeed.

Thanks Doug!

MarkBrunson said...

Well, I think it is a beginning of insight, but incomplete - a good mind only lightly exercised. He appends too much to location as the "tribe of resentment." Of course, he could respond that I'm one of the 40% and it's sticking in my craw, but it still doesn't satisfactorily explain Bachmann's or Boehner's or Santorum's or Romney's support in their states. On the other hand, John Birch went to the same university I later attended, and yet it was very liberal when I was there (still is, apparently), and Welton Gaddy - who some will recognize for his unceasing opposition to the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptists - was the campus chaplain.

It sounds as if the atavistic tribal resentment victimizes those outstide the tribe of resentment, as in, and, in that resentment, the author and his sources fall into the same bad habit as those within the tribe of resentment, so eloquently expressed by a law professor's explanation to me of a lawyer's job - my fault, your fault, nobody's fault, find someone to blame.

I am, of course, a Southerner - born to Southerners, who considered themselves true Southerners, yet marched with Dr. King and taught me gays were no different than anyone else.

As either Digby (or one of his sources - I'm sorry, but the long quotes and asides became a bit bewildering as to who was saying what) noted, it automatically sticks in the craw, so, I found the essay . . . unhelpful and somewhat provocative, in the negative sense.

There were valid points that deserve inclusion and consideration in a much vaster political/economic/religious dynamic of the current cultural mess that is the U. S., but this essay feels a little too much like an attempt at an easy answer.

IT said...

1) Digby is a "she"
2) I think there is something to this. I point you to the mapping project I did at FoJ a while back here.

At some level I wish the south had succeeded in seceding!

Counterlight said...

I understand how you feel, IT, Michael feels the same way. But I think Lincoln was right.

it's margaret said...

Dang --I thought Digby was a he because of what I thought was the profile pic! --oh well! She's on to something here!

JCF said...

I leave the politics to more capable minds than mine...

...but Doug, can you explain the painting? It sort of looks like a ship going down: a ship called "The Rebel Flag"? But the fact that the burning wreck actually looks like a flag? [But not the Stars&Bars!] I feel like I'm either confused by a metaphor, or there's a story here, or both... O_o

Counterlight said...

This was a popular propaganda print in the north. It's a kind of double image. The fire and smoke of the burning ship take on the form of the rebel flag, the Stars and Bars. This sort of visual double entendre was very popular in the 19th century.

IT said...

The original flag of the confederacy was three stripes and a blue field, quite similar to the US flag. The "rebel flag" we associate with the CSA came about later.