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Abstract

This article examines the convergence between clerical fascism and proto-fascism in the Antebellum South of the United States. The author employs Roger Griffin’s theories of palingenetic ultranationalism and clerical fascism to understand the worldviews of Southern intellectuals. The author argues that a cadre of Southern theologians rejected the liberal heritage of the United States and redefined the relationship between the individual and state. Southern clerical fascists reconceived of an alternative modernity that reflected God’s precepts. Slaves, laborers, and slave masters all had a mandate to guide secular and spiritual progress. Furthermore, these Southern clerics believed the best hope for securing God’s order was to be found in the birth of a new Southern society – the Confederate States of America. This study builds upon the works of other historians who discerned the illiberal and authoritarian qualities of the American South while also contributing to delineation of the protean qualities of clerical fascism.

Open Access
In: International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity

Abstract

This article examines how the Southern proslavery defense produced a distinctly proto-fascist ideology. Rather than comparing the Antebellum South to twentieth century racist regimes, this study compares Southern fascist thought to Germany’s nineteenth century Völkisch movement. The author uses Roger Griffin’s Palingenetic Ultranationalism to explore how the Antebellum South promoted an illiberal vision of modernity. The author argues that proto-fascists rejected liberalism, had a profound sense of social decay, and advanced a vision of a new man, new political structure, and a new temporality. The striking similarities between nineteenth and twentieth century fascist movements mandates that the Antebellum American South should be included in comparative fascist studies. The results of this study contextualize the comparisons made between American racism and fascism along with deepening our understanding of fascism’s protean qualities.

Open Access
In: Fascism