Southern professor, author and conservative political philospher Richard Weaver wrote in his essay “The South and the American Union” (which appears in The Southern Essays of Richard Weaver) of what he saw as the Apollonian worldview of Dixie that its people shared with the ancient Greeks and Romans. Weaver contrasts this with the Faustian mentality of the North:
The Southern world-outlook was much like that which Spengler describes as Apollonian. It knew nothing of infinite progressions but rather loved fixed limits in all things; it rejected the idea of ceaseless becoming in favor of “simple accepted statuesque becomeness.” It saw little point in restless striving, but desired a permanent settlement, a coming to terms with nature, a recognition of what is in its self-sustaining form. The Apollonian feeling, as Spengler remarks, is of a world of “coexistent individual things,” and it is tolerant as a matter of course. Other things are because they have to be; one marks their nature and their limits and learns to get along with them. The desire to dominate and to proselytize is foreign to it. As Spengler further adds, “there are no Classical world-improvers.” From this comes the Southern kind of tolerance, which has always impressed me as fundamentally different from the Northern kind. It is expressed in the Southerner’s easy-going ways and his willingness to let things grow where they sprout. He accepts the irremediability of a certain amount of evil and tries to fence it around instead of trying to stamp it out and thereby spreading it. His is a classical acknowledgment of tragedy and of the limits of power.
This mentality is by nature incompatible with its great rival, the Faustian. Faustian man is essentially a restless striver, a yearner after the infinite, a hater of stasis, a man who is unhappy unless he feels that he is making the world over. He may talk much of tolerance, but for him tolerance is an exponent of power. His tolerance tolerates only the dogmatic idea of tolerance, as anyone can discover for himself by getting to know the modern humanitarian liberal. For different opinions and ways of life he has not respect, but hostility or contemptuous indifference, until the day when they can be brought around to conform with his own. Spengler describes such men as torn with the pain of “seeing men be other than they would have them be and the utterly un-Classical desire to devote their life to their reformation.” It happened that Southern tolerance, standing up for the right to coexistence of its way of life, collided at many points with the Faustian desire to remove all impediments to its activity and make over things in its image.
I don’t think the Apollonian description is entirely accurate. Afterall, Southerners did seek to expand their domain and were quite inventive in several fields of study. And racially they were of similar Northwestern European ancestry as the Yankees.
However, Weaver’s point does get at the deep cultural distinctions between the regions and their Modern and Neo-Classical roots. And the Apollonian nature of our culture is another potentially interesting area of exploration for those in the Alt-South.
NOTE: As Hunter Wallace has explained, “[t]he Alt-South isn’t a membership organization. It is… a space for everyone in Dixie who isn’t some kind of leftist or mainstream conservative (i.e., nationalists, populists, reactionaries) to come together to discuss our past, present and common future. Southern Nationalists [are] at the core of the Alt-South.”
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