Miles’ Southern warning against global interventionism

William Porcher Miles (1822-1899), a socially-counscious Southern nationalist intellectual who served as a medical volunteer, Mayor of Charleston and USA and CSA Congressman from South Carolina, warned against trying to apply political ideas universally. He noted, as a Classically-minded Southerner, that humans are inherently flawed and limited. He also pointed out that no single political system is best for all people everywhere. Instead, the best political systems are organic and developed over many generations in accordance with the cultural and physical conditions of different and unequal peoples.

In 1852, Miles gave an address before the Alumni Society of the College of Charleston. His warnings in that speech applied the plantation world’s Classical values to various problems born of Modernist ideologies. In the wake of the mess (which resulted in a migrant crisis, terrorism and trillions of dollars wasted in regime change attempts) made by the USA and its NATO allies in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lybia and elsewheres, Miles’ warnings read prophetic about the horrors unleashed by Neo-conservatives and liberal interventionists seeking to topple monarchs to bring radical republicanism to the Muslim world:

Political Crusades are impolitic and dangerous, and are apt to be productive of as small permanent results as the Religious Crusades of the Middle Ages. The true policy of a nation is to a great degree selfish. Let her chief aim be to conserve or to perfect her own Constitution; to elevate and improve the condition of her own people. The finite intellect of man is incapable of marking out for them the destined of all races and Peoples.

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  1. Sir, I believe that being a Southerner means having respect of limits, and, perhaps the most important one is NOT to stick your head in other people’s business – unless askt, and, even, then, you, still, might not do it:!

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  2. ‘…warned against trying to apply political ideas universally…’

    Yes. I mean, doing so is like cooking with the same spice scheme, no matter what the dish.

    Cultures are different, and, because of that, they evolve the sort of government that arises from their peculiar needs.

    That we look at other systems of governance and maybe shiver, neither gives us the right, nor invokes a moral imperative to intervene, interfere, or impose our will – unless it is a vital matter of national sovereignty.

    Sir, in all the wars in which Uncle Sam has gotten involved, since 1865, I can only think of one that was necessary (WWII), and even that would NOT have occurred, had we not stuck or noses into WWI!

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