Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction

By Euan Hague; Edward H. Sebesta et al. | Go to book overview
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Neo-Confederacy and Its
Conservative Ancestry


In this chapter we explore the emergence of neo-Confederacy amongst a group who identify themselves as paleoconservatives.1 Much of this intellectual effort, developed in a series of writings in the 1980s and 1990s, was located within the Agrarian tradition of Southern thought, a tradition that paleoconservatives envisioned themselves as inheriting and continuing. We focus on a few key figures who articulated a neo-Confederacy that we propose has since spread beyond these self-appointed articulators of paleoconservatism. These individuals became influential precisely because they wrote books, founded think tanks and institutes, published magazines, spoke at conferences, and disseminated their ideological positions and interpretations of the United States. It does not mean that these writers were the only proponents of this conservative ideology—indeed, Nancy MacLean, amongst others, suggests that such opinions were widely held in the 1950s and 1960s by those opposing civil rights.2

The Changing Political Landscape and
the Reaction to Civil Rights

The changes initiated by the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation ruling Brown v. Board of Education, the 1955–56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the activism of Martin Luther King Jr., and legislation such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act continue to transform U.S. social and political landscapes. In the 1950s and 1960s they were fiercely resisted, not just by police with snarling dogs on the streets of Selma, but also in elite political and intellectual circles. MacLean, for example, argues that defense


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