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They Will Call This the Valley of Slaughter: Spengler, Cities, and the South

 “Long, long ago the country bore the country-town and nourished it with her best blood. Now the giant city sucks the country dry, insatiably and incessantly demanding and devouring fresh streams of men, till it wearies and dies in the midst of an almost uninhabited waste of country.” – Oswald Spengler

One of the most haunting books of the 21st century is Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road. It is a story about a father and a son journeying across a landscape devastated by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization, and over time, most life on Earth. Those humans that are left (except the boy and his father) have turned to vicious, almost zombie-like, cannibals.

McCarthy got the idea of his novel from a 2003 visit to El Paso, Texas, with his young son. He imagined what the city would look like in fifty to a hundred years into the future. He said that he pictured, “fires on the hill” and thought of his son. He ended up dedicating this novel to his young son. McCarthy’s book isn’t so much a story about survival as it is about the relationship of father and son in the midst of that survival.

From the point-of-view of Spengler’s fatalism, Cormac McCarthy’s novel can be viewed as a metaphor. It is a symbol of our struggle in the “postmetaphysical” era and utilizing our relational bonds to not only survive, but to find meaning, particularly in a world ruled by urbanites in their decaying habitat.

Spengler’s timeline places us in the winter of Faustian civilization. As with all civilizations that ossify in Spengler’s model, cities, which were once centers of culture, art, economics, and innovation, begin to break down. In this process the city becomes a kind of leech, sucking the work, lives, and culture of the men who work in it and around it. Humans who live in her become nameless drones (think New York City) and those around her are deemed insignificant. Instead of a reciprocal relationship, the city saps the countryside, until it kills its host, and it too dies. The cities are depopulated, people return to the countryside, and the entire process begins anew.

Although we are not living in a post-apocalyptic world with cannibals, there does exist a kind of parasitism, particularly in our once great Southern cities. This parasite comes in the form of social justice.

One of the marks of the decline of civilizations in Spengler’s model is the emergence of people who are “outside” of the founding culture. We see this with large swaths of immigrants, as well as Negroes, who contribute very little to the civilization that has adopted them. Spengler says that you can attempt to assimilate them. You can try to offer any type of incentive to integrate into the culture. However, in the end, they are not of us. Ultimately, it is through this social justice paradigm that we become the host. On one hand, you have immigrants, who have come to make a buck off the fat produced by our people with no intent to call this their home or to contribute to its advance; on the other hand, you have Negroes and other minorities who demand social welfare (“gibs me dat, craka!”). This effectively turns us, the descendants of the founders, as almost a host people, a kind of satrap who has been guilt tripped to slavishly serve.

The other mark is the emergence of urban decay. This week I had to make a trip to Baton Rouge, the capitol of Louisiana, and it was almost as if Spengler’s fatalism had been painted in all its ugly colors. If the decaying modernist architecture and rundown neighborhoods do not make you want to carry a revolver in your glove compartment, then Baton Rouge’s citizens most definitely will. Watching them walk the streets is almost like looking zombies in the face or in some cases, the ignorant onion-eating plebes who killed the nobility during the French Revolution.

Baton Rouge is an ugly city, but it wasn’t always. I have seen pictures of the city in the 1930s and 1950s, and although it was never an impressive capitol city like Denver or Austin during those times, it had some charm. But all that has changed. Neighborhoods that once belonged to working class whites are now dominated by blacks, many of whom I assume were unemployed as several sat on their stoops (possibly waiting for drug deals to go down). In these neighborhoods, businesses are dominated by payday loan establishments, hair salons offering “ethnic” styling, and business offices have been replaced by shelters, food banks, and social service programs. In other words, these neighborhoods are no longer producing. This misery is all compounded by the recent flood that devastated Southern Louisiana back in August. It is now almost mid-January. While driving I saw homes that still had insulation, ruined furniture, wood, and sheet rock piled on the side of the curb, still awaiting sanitation to come haul it away. Signs that state “We Buy Flooded Houses!” abound, a reminder that even the dead can always be eaten. One can make the assumption that if it weren’t for Baton Rouge’s struggling oil refineries or the fact that it is the capitol of Louisiana, the city would be just an insignificant shithole on the Mississippi River. 

And who supports these urbanites? Well, those outside the city, of course. In Alt-Right Southern circles, we often make the cry “Crush the Urbanite!” A lot of times this is done in jest and is nothing more than the fulcrum of some pretty dank memes, but there are many “normy” people who live out in the country or the suburbs who have a disdain for the city. Houstonians are looked upon with distrust. The denizens of Baton Rouge are seen as entitlement babies. New Orleanians are viewed as hedonists.

This all may seem as bleak as McCarthy’s story. And I do not have an easy solution. In most great epics there is no quick fix anyway. But like the dad in the novel, I give you the message that he gave his son: we are the “good guys” who are “carrying the fire.” It is this “fire,” the drive to create, produce, and to thrive, that can either jump start civilization or create a new culture. This is why it is so important, now more than ever, to carry the fire and to pass it down to the next generation. This is why family is paramount. This is why friendship should be treasured. This is what it means to have tradition.

And if we lose that, then we are truly doomed, and the world with us.  

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