America is Not a Propositional State

Tory Scot has a great post up about the true foundation of the American nation,

“…What mainstream conservatives have largely forgotten is that ideas can shape societies and peoples, but they don’t create them.

 

America wasn’t built by the ideas of John Locke, or the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, or by the ink in the Constitution. Jamestown wasn’t settled by books, or words, or philosophies; Jamestown was settled by the English. America’s cities, roads, towns, literature, industry, and, yes, even her form of government, were built by people.

 

When the first English settlers arrived, the country we now call the United States was practically empty. The population of the tribes within the United States was, in comparison to the size of the country, rather small. The people already present lived as hunter-gatherers and practiced almost constant tribal warfare. They didn’t have a written language. They wrote no books and recorded no history. They didn’t build cities, or roads, or machines of any type. The history of America as we recognize her doesn’t begin with them, it begins with the European settlers.”

In short – and what many conservatives forget – the Constitution did not beget America, America beget the Constitution.  Americans crafted it because of their already-extant conceptual history of self-government, freemanship, and natural law that was derived from their English culture dating back centuries.  There is a reason that English colonists crafted a Constitution based upon the ideas which it contains, rather than Frenchmen in Quebec or Spaniards in Mexico.

America is not a proposition.  America is not an idea.  America is an organic nation made up of a core substratum of British (English, Scots, Welsh, Cornish) founders upon which successive waves of other peoples were added and assimilated into what is, still, a fundamentally Anglo-Saxon culture.

“But wait,” the skeptic might say, “the fact that America absorbed these immigrants proves that America is a concept, a universal brotherhood of mankind!”

Wrong.  What that shows, instead, is the fundamental strength of the Anglo-Saxon culture with which America began, both in terms of its relative fitness vis-à-vis the cultures which the immigrants brought with them, as well as in terms of the confidence which Anglo-Saxon America had in itself (contra the sort of diversity/multiculti garbage that infects our social consciousness now).  Also, it demonstrates the relative success that America had in consciously and actively working to assimilate immigrants by requiring them to learn our language and adopt to our mores.  America’s success in assimilation prior to 1965 did not produce a “universal brotherhood of mankind.”  Instead, it produced a nation of people whose last names may be Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, etc., but whose fundamental culture was Anglo-Saxon.  Hence, while our genetic legacy was a bit more varied than the typical Anglospheric nation, our culture, mores, ethos, and cultural psyche were still firmly Anglo-Saxon – and these are the things that really determine a nation, an ethnos.

It would be wrong to presume that America at the time of the founding, or even earlier in the colonial era, was uniformly British in population.  In fact, it was not.  There were Dutchmen in New York City and the Hudson valley.  Pennsylvania was full of Germans and Swiss, both of the Mennonite and non-Mennonite varieties.  There were Irish through from Massachusetts to Georgia.  But in each case, these populations assimilated themselves to one or more of the four British folkways that made up the British colonisation of the new world, which David Hackett Fisher speaks of in his work, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (which I would like to review at some point in the near future).  The Dutch of the Hudson Valley assimilated to their close Calvinist cousins in New England.  The Germans and Swiss followers of Menno Simons who became the later Amish and Mennonites of Pennsylvania Dutch country were very like William Penn’s Quakers in culture.  The Irish adapted to whomever was the dominant folkway in their region, but played a large part in helping the Scots and English Borderers conquer Appalachia.

Each adopted themselves to the fundamentally Anglo-Saxon culture of the colonies, and each played a part in founding America as an organic culture, not a proposition.  America was consciously assimilationist, which is why she retained her original vigour and culture for so long.

And then 1965 happened.  But that’s another issue for another post.

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