The instant media consensus is in: the Confederate flag atop the South Carolina statehouse has got to go. The battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, we are told, just doesn’t represent who we are as a nation anymore.
But if we are going to take the Confederate flag down because it no longer represents us, then there is no reason why we shouldn’t take the American flag down, too. Not just from the government buildings in South Carolina, but from every home, ship, office, and church throughout the entire American territory. Because neither flag has anything to do with who we are anymore. Old Glory is now just as much a meaningless relic as the republic that created it -- as obsolete as the Stars and Bars became in April of 1865.
Cohesion based on any form of natural community -- the sine qua non for a political grouping of any size -- is rendered impossible by our radical rootlessness. We move so easily from one identity to the next that the past, whether our own or our nation’s, can have no possible meaning. Who or what we might have been yesterday has no bearing on our self of today. If a flag represents some form of shared memory, some kind of conscious decision to belong to and remain in a particular place, then all the flags throughout the continent -- with the exception of the rainbow flag that once stood for God’s merciful covenant but now mocks the idea of ordered creation itself -- should be cast down into the dust.
We are entering a phase, now, of diachronic civilizational lysis. The borders that give us identities are dissolving, just as the histories that stabilize us as a people have been rejected. We are a mutually antagonistic anti-herd of Proteuses, shape-shifting through the hours and coming increasingly to hate everyone who bears allegiance to anything other than violent revolution. The only permanent thing left to the American people is outrage, but even that is not content to dwell in any one place for more than a day or two at a time.
Although we take our nation-state for granted, it is good to remember that a nation-state is not an organic creature. It does not form naturally from its constituent parts. A nation-state is very much a mass fiction, held together largely by a history, a language, a set of values, a religion, a common project, an economic system, a cultural heritage, a political arrangement, and a shared regard among its members. The Southern states whose leaders and symbols are now roundly despised seceded from the still fledgling American nation-state not one hundred years after its birth. But those Southern states had more in common with the North than any of us have in common with one another now. The nation-state forged in civil war is crumbling around us in pre-civilizational recrudescence.
The great catalyst of this out-of-control dissolution is the demiurge of equality. The Southern states seceded mainly over distinctions and hierarchies. As glad as we may be to see slavery expired, the excess of equality that eventually resulted has had a cost. Equality, if pursued to its logical conclusion, is the guaranteed death of the nation-state.
Why is equality the hemlock of the national polity? Because if everyone is equal, then everything is permitted. (Who are you, after all, to judge?) And if everything is permitted, then there can be commonalities that bind together the people who are supposed to make up the nation-state.
Let us say, for instance, that a floodtide of people begin to enter the nation-state who refuse to learn its common language. Or who abide by a religion that advocates the enthusiastic murder of infidels. Or who find that religion itself is toxic, and crusade as an army of nihilists. Or who prefer an economic system utterly antithetical to the one on which the nation-state has been constructed. Or who find the nation-state’s history to be a conspiracy against one’s own chosen associates. Or who feel that hedonism is better than shared sacrifice, mutual consideration, and the slow, laborious work of building a livable home. If all things are equal, then none of these things can be forbidden. The nation-state will lose its cohesion as its constituent parts increase in entropy. Eventually, each individual will be so riddled with conflicting identity claims -- varying from one day to the next, driven by the desire to achieve ever greater distinction, but frustrated in that desire by the iron law of “equality” -- that the nation-state will become unrecognizable mush. It is not that the center will not hold. It is that there is nothing of sufficient inertia or mass to seek a center in the first place.
If we really want to be honest with ourselves, we will display other symbols in our public squares. Down with the Confederate flag, symbol of a once-proud patrimony and reminder, too, of the suffering of so many who worked thanklessly to sustain it and died to defend it. Down with the American flag, too, symbol of oppression and injustice to those who live in the highest level of material comfort ever achieved by mankind. A white flag of cultural surrender might be better, a kind of semaphore to our enemies to invade and take over. But it would also be redundant. Our enemies already know of our surrender, and they are long since living among us, spinning their Gramscian webs.
Instead, if we wish to be honest with ourselves about what we value as a people, we should fly sheets of food stamps and fiat currency from our flagpoles. Or long strips of condoms. Or posters of Miley Cyrus with her lesbian lover. Or the cover of Vanity Fair featuring a lost, mutilated man silently confessing that he finds himself utterly unlovable. Or Hugh Hefner’s robe, perhaps.
Or, perhaps best of all, we should run up our flagpoles, in grisly succession, the dismembered remains of the thousands of children whom we have deemed unworthy of membership in our current “inclusive” utopia. One tiny limb, one severed head at a time, let us hoist on the flagpoles of our nation-state the ultimate symbol of its conception of unity, diversity, and justice.
If the argument is that no one identifies as a Confederate anymore, then the counter-argument must be that no one could possibly identify as an American. What was glorious about us is just as dead as Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln alike. The invaders and anarchists who run wild in our streets are now in control, and they have made it clear that whatever the United States of America used to be -- whatever its citizens once held dear, which in turn held them together -- is worthy only of contempt.
Take down all the flags, for there is nothing left that makes us a nation.
Jason Morgan is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin. His work has appeared in venues such as Modern Age, Crisis, and Public Discourse.