“The Southern Agrarian movement, born in the 1920’s, is rooted deep in Southern soil. It also goes back to the English Cavalier culture with its system of aristocracy and social hierarchy. The need to return to this simpler, more orderly, and self-reliant way of life has never been greater than it is today. Southern Agrarianism is a cultural movement, and that is our primary focus.”
As someone who was born, bred, and is currently living in the northern marches of what has traditionally been known as the “Old South” (antebellum South – Maryland being by history and heritage a Southern state, part of the Tidewater region, and of what was in the 18th century known as the “Tobacco Coast”), I find deep resonances and affinities in the Southern Agrarian movement. This blog, The Southern Agrarian, by Stephen Clay McGehee, is superb. As he writes,
In short, this is about leading the way to a life set free from the bonds of an increasingly complex society and the vulnerabilities that go with it. It is about tradition and social order. It is about growing plants and raising animals and understanding the meaning of husbandry and stewardship. It is about understanding our place in the world – those who came before us and those who will follow after us.
Southern Agrarianism is a Blood and Soil movement. It takes in two of the most basic concepts in all of history: Our People, and the soil that provides the food that feeds our people. It means that, while we wish all the best toward others, our immediate family comes first, followed by ever larger circles of extended family, and then on out from there. There is Our People, and there is Other People.
This being Southern Agrarianism, our people are the Southern people; those who originated in Europe and built the South. Historically, the culture of the South was heavily influenced by the Cavaliers who fled the violence of the English civil war and settled in the South. They brought with them the English high culture which translated into the Southern Plantation culture: a hierarchy-based culture that was deeply rooted in the soil. [I would only add that there was significant influence on Southern culture from the Scots, Irish, and Scotch-Irish who moved into the mountain hinterland, as well, but the Southern Plantation culture of which he speaks was largely English – and Anglican.] There was a sense of kinship that was shared by both the smallest share cropping farmer and the largest plantation owner; they shared the common bond of those who live close to the soil. They were Southern Agrarians.
As you can see from the above, there is a direct historical and cultural connection between the Southern Agrarian tradition and the “Anglophilic Anglicanism” of this my own blog! I commend The Southern Agrarian, and the Southern Agrarian tradition and movement, to your sympathetic attention.
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