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Neo-Confederates and Free Markets

Why do Neo-Confederates give a nonreflective adherence to the ideas and practices of the free market, when such adherence results in social and political consequences at odds with a a conservative social order?

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The usual reasons traddish types accept the free market today are:

  1. The alternative seems to be control by state bureaucracies that are intrinsically anti-traditional.
  2. Compared to the actual current alternatives the free market decentralizes power and decision-making, and so lets a broader range of experiences, perceptions and understandings play a part in determining the result.

That doesn’t rule out all violations of absolute free-market principle. For example, you could still have protective tariffs and other trade barriers and you could make prostitution and heroin illegal. You could have Sunday closing laws and lots of other things. The big thing is to avoid a system of general bureaucratic administration of economic and social life. A free-market approach gives you a way to do that.

Those are general points and I don’t know the specific neo-confed views. I think they have an inherited bias in favor of free trade (so they can sell their cotton abroad and don’t have to subsidize northern factory owners) and tend to think that blue laws etc. are for Yankee puritans and not for Southern Celtic mountaineers. They’ll have to speak for themselves though.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

The Free Trade position is an historical leftover. We are all ‘factory owners’ now. I suppose that it is something to be measured more by the cultural norms of the old aristocracy looking down their nose at ‘yankee tradesmen’ than by any real objective economic criteria. However, this prejudice against a chamber of commerce mentality is something that needs to be revived by genuine southern conservatives.

If Neo-Cons are “inherently” biased towards free-marketism they are not in tune with their predecessors. Actually, in more than one way, in spite of its many faults, the close the US has ever been to a Christian Republic was the Confederation. Any basic reading of what it meant such as “The Southern Tradition” by E Genovese or any of the books by Richard Weaver would give you a clue free-marketism was not the primary issue. There are certain restrictions to capitalism in a Christian regime, even if vaguely lax, as it could have been under the Confederation.
Truly said, however, the most powerful veneer within the Confederation was also the calvinistic one, as the Kennedy brothers pointed in his already classical book “The South was Right”. There is an intimate connection between certain factions of Protestantism and capitalism, and Max Weber was an outspoken defender of this idea. There were, however, other religious and philosophical components in the South. The fact the Confederation was far more respectful of Catholics than its yank counterpart tells something. The old Episcopalian (certainly not pro-NA) element was one of them, and they would not have been in favour of total free-marketism.
Neo-Cons do not fully assume some historical traditions within the South. They seem to oscillate between economical liberalism and libertarianism and their emphasis is not in principles, not in culture or wide opened politics, but in nationalism. Without a connection to the tradition of themselves they are obliged to throw into this mixture of economic liberalism plus libertarianism in order to counteract what they consider an imposition from the Yankees.
I do agree there is an element of tariff dismissal and a knee-jerk reaction to economical constrictions in the Neo-Confederate movement, but in my opinion this blatant defense of free-marketism by Neo-Cons can only be understood in the breaking away of their own tradition.