Nationalism and Regionalism
For the first years of it's life America wasn't thought of in terms of one large nation, headed by a centralized government. We began as separate colonies with different and diverse peoples, interests and land. The sense of regionalism was strong and, though we bonded together as a nation, the strong feelings of independence, individualism and localism remained a part of the majority of Americans. One of the reasons the USA was so successful was the allowance for differences within a single confederated goal of preserving unity, with diversity. A benefit of this attitude was the "American Dream"--for lack of a better word--that you could become, be or do anything you set your mind to, as opposed to the "enlightened" communistic ideas running through Europe--in which no one was better than anyone else and they all served the state and large government. In essence we combined the ambition and pioneering spirit of the West, the industrial power of the North and the Conservatism and traditionalism of the South to create a diverse land of opportunity. However, not everyone was in favor of this mindset. At the time of the American War for Independence people were divided into two main factions--Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The Federalists wanted a larger central government while the Anti-Federalists wanted to preserve the sovereignty of the states and only allow the federal government only the specific powers signed over to it by the states. Both groups would fight for dominance for the first 35-40 years of the this nation and these quarrels would come to a climax in the Civil War which would shake our beautiful land to its very core. So how did this issue reach a boiling point? Well first we must see the differences of each section of the USA at the time and it will give us more insight into the true causes behind the Civil War.
The North was as diverse as any other part of the nation the difference being in the industrial thinking that permeated it. Everyone was eager to provide supplies and manpower to expand commerce and industry and this mindset led to a highly industrialized, highly productive attitude. Everyone thought in terms of what they could contribute to advance the country to greater accomplishments and comfort. This led to a bustling energy and activity not as common in other areas of the country. The downside of this progressive attitude was the shifting of faith from God to man. Man was going to build his own future. Man was going to improve things through his own strength. Anything requiring time and patience was overlooked as too tedious and faith/religion was looked down on as an old-fashioned concept not fitted for the modern, fast-paced North.
The South was as different in mindset as... well as North is from South! The South more laid back and relaxed. taking time to notice those small, important things in life. Now this definitely doesn't mean that Southerners were lazy--simply that they were agrarian in nature, as opposed to progressive. Not only was the South agricultural--providing up to 70% of the nations food supplies--but agrarian meant something more. They were lovers of the land and felt that they're entire lives, destiny and future was tied up in the land. Because of this ideology Southerners were more relationship based, and not so focused on experiences. They were content to remain at home, put roots in the land and raise their families to do the same. They fostered heritage, culture, and relationships and considered their past to be vital to their future. Their heritage, along with their faith, is what shaped the South and made it pretty much the exact opposite of the North in every sense. Although it is clear that not every Southerner was a Christian, faith and christianity held much greater importance and value in the South-- Morals and standards were higher and the acknowledgment that God was supremely in control was pretty much universally accepted in the South.
The third main section of the states, which we often forget to mention, is the western part of the US. Oh the West! The West took the best traits of both North and South and combined them to forge the ambitious, happy-go-lucky, care-free attitude of the Western pioneers. They were not as independent, economy wise, as the North and South--depending on both for materials, food and manufactured goods-- but they made their own way in a rough environment which helped create a sense of self-sufficiency that made the westerners a fiercely independent individual. Faith was part of their life but wasn't of primary importance or rigorously followed as in the South--churches were few and often far away--but it still held value to them. The West was the combination of ambitious progressives and calm relationship-building people.
Now that we know that each region of the US was completely different in their pursuits, beliefs, ideology and worldview--in contrast to the myth propagated, that North, South and West were alike in most ways--it is crucial to understand the concept of nationalism and the role it played in leading the US to the Civil War. John J. Dwyer defines nationalism as: "A modern ideology that emerged in the 19th century. In contrast to national pride or patriotism, nationalism operates on the premise of a centralized state, a politically controlled economy, and a synthesized and amalgamated culture. Where the patriot says 'I love my country,' that nationalist says 'my country is better than yours.' "
The ideology of nationalism sprang up through the enlightenment and rationalism and my study of these two philosophies has been enlightening on how dark they actually were. In all points the enlightenment--which should more appropriately be called the "endarkenment"-- collided with a biblical worldview. Man began to deny God's authority and law and turned to his own reasoning and feelings. Man set himself up as the rule of what was right and wrong and therefore, in the words of Judges 21:25b "every man did what was right in his own sight." In such a society law is subject to the whims of people and justice is virtually non-existent. Anyone can take control if he thinks he's right and he employs any means he thinks good to achieve his ends. This ideology exposes a nation to tyranny, anarchy, socialism and communism. This enlightenment led to nationalism, which in turn led to a push for large-centralized government--a government that "takes care" of you--and egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is an interesting concept that sounds really good, but once you begin to dig deeper into it the full extent of what it really means sinks in. Quoting from John J. Dwyer, he defines egalitarianism as: "The doctrine of equal political, economic and legal rights for all citizens. A distinguishing characteristic is that is seeks to force equality upon everyone in every sphere of life." Wow! equal rights, equal positions and equal incomes--sounds great, right? Well the reality is that God created us all in His image with functioning mind, body and soul. He gives us abilities--diverse abilities--but the fact of the matter is that if we don't put forth an effort to develop these abilities and excel we will never be equal to those who do make that effort. If a diligent man accumulates wealth it is due to his hard work and perseverance and the lazy oaf who wants everything handed to him has absolutely no right to demand equality with, or the rights of the hard working. Neither can we punish the hard worker for having more money--and consequently, more opportunities and benefits-- than the. It is his hard earned right and we cannot punish one person for succeeding because others are too slothful to get up and work to advance themselves.
God created authority and set people over others--this is the only way order can reign and "complete equality" throws order out the window. For example a business cannot function on complete equality-- there would be total chaos with every man demanding his/her rights. A well run business requires leaders and executives who have more power and authority than the worker--therefore they are not "equal" in the sense that the workers are under the authority of the leaders and must submit to they're rules and regulations whether they like them or not. Another truth about equality is that when everyone is "equal"or has equal rights-- then nobody does. An "equal rights" situation leaves the door open for anarchy, tyranny and subjugation--after all everyone has the "equal right" to claim power. Inevitably this leads to communism and where there is communism the only equality people have is that everyone is equally miserable. We've seen this throughout history in Germany, Russia and Cuba--to name a few-- yet we seem to forget these examples and America is following these "enlightened" trends at break-neck speed. These ideologies were the back drop of the Civil War and we rarely view the events of the war in light of these concepts--and yet they are SO crucial to understanding the truth of the war and the ideas that motivated each side. In essence the Civil War was a battle of worldview.