American Nations: How rival cultures fight for federal power
By Joe Jarvis - July 28, 2020

Full Transcript:

So America doesn’t feel very united right now.

And a lot of people kind of pined for this old-timey, maybe 1950s when the United States was like all in the same page, all in it together or maybe even further back, like the Revolutionary War when we all banded together.

And these are supposed to be reflections of the American culture. This one cohesive culture for the three hundred and twenty million Americans that have variously been here from before Europeans settled at the early ages of European settlement and then all the way up through giant might immigration of Italians, Irish in the early 20th century and then continued immigration, large portions of South Americans, Mexicans, Indians and even a lot of Asians today.

So somehow that entire sea to sea gigantic, almost continent wide country with all these different immigrants from different areas settling different areas of this country, somehow that’s all supposed to boil down to one cohesive American culture.

And then today we’re all upset because somehow that culture is fighting with each other and we need to unite and find common ground. The thing is, America has never had a united culture.

I read this really interesting book called by Colin Woodard called American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.

As the author points out, it’s not like these are the only eleven cultures in North America, but they actually account for a huge amount of the differences that you see in politics. For instance, like a lot of people think, it’s all red versus blue, Republican versus Democrat.

And what you’ll actually see is these eleven different nations of North America aligning with each other in order to basically exert their control in Washington, D.C. and try to force their views and their culture on the rest of the nations, multiple nations, because we’re you know, we’re one country, but we’re different nations. And that’s the thing about sort of like the American empire is that it encompasses a lot of different nations.

He starts with Yankeedom. What is like the Massachusetts colonies? And this was settled by Puritans.

I’m actually from Massachusetts. So it’s really interesting hearing him talk about this culture that still persist to this day. So it’s this Puritan and everybody really thinks that they know better. They really value education. You know, you still have Harvard, Yale and these and the people that were originally settling these colonies in Massachusetts, you know, Plymouth, Salem, they were actually Cambridge educated and started this shining city on a hill which was meant to be God’s country.

So they’re trying to create this perfect utopian society in the image of their God, of course. And they’re the ones interpreting the Bible and they’re the ones that are gonna get to say what God wants in his settlements on Earth.

It’s not that the religion has persisted in New England, but the culture of valuing education and then wanting to convert, wanting to go out and spread this word because it’s what God ordained.

So maybe these days it’s not like what God ordained. But it’s like we know better. And that is so. Yankee Dome has always been struggling to control Washington, D.C., to exert their authority. There will God’s will on the rest of the colonies.

And I say this as somebody from New England, I can see that bits of this culture in me, I do value education. I do consider myself an educated person. I mean, not necessarily in the. So it’s like I have a bachelors degree. That’s not what I mean. It’s more about like the books you read, the lifelong learning and everything. And I think that’s a good part of the culture.

But there’s also these negative parts of the culture where it’s like I know better than you is sort of like an elitist attitude that you get from New England. And that’s why, for instance, it doesn’t mix very well with for, say, the Deep South.

But that’s not to say that the Deep South is any better.

So the deep self was settled by Barbados slave lords. They loved feudalism. They essentially wanted to revive old feudalism in the south. There wasn’t really a racial thing to them. They were like, we’re better than everybody. And what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna convince the white people, the poor white people working alongside the slaves and really pretty similar conditions to the slaves with the indentured servants. It was pretty much the exact same thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong the black slaves definitely had it worse. But the whole racial thing was really these deep self want to be feudal lords trying to convince the white people that were poor and working for them, that they were better than the slaves.

So it’s like a divide and conquer sort of thing.

They these these slave lords thought they were better than everybody else. We’re at the top of society. We own the land. You guys work for us. You are peasants. You are serfs. And just to throw the poor white people a little bone, you’re better than the black people. Let’s just say that.

And then that essentially, again, the same sorts of cultures have survived to this day. And that’s that’s the point of this book. The American nations. It’s that these cultures were set a long time ago. The cultures persist. And they can inform us about the divisions that we’re having in this country today.

So that’s a major rivalry as Yankee dumb northeast New England and the deep south of the old slave owners, the big plantation owners, the big industrialists of the South.

But I was talking about up in New England, the Puritans, like I said, the Puritans settling Massachusetts. They didn’t really care about religious freedom. They wanted their own religious freedom. They were being persecuted in creeper. And so they came over here to start their own city, but they weren’t like free if you actually really wanted freedom.

There were a couple options on. What’s so cool about like this time in history when everybody was settling is that there weren’t many different options for the type of freedom in the new world that you wanted.

Obviously, this is going to bring up the fact that Native Americans were not always treated very well, obviously, in New France. Up in Montreal, settled by a lot of poor French people. Was this society where the Native Americans got along great with the French people. They would intermarry, they would trade. And then they had this term called Going Native, where a lot of these French peasant men would end up just going off into the woods. They would just bounce into the woods and be like, you know what? Screw it. I’m going native.

But this was like a like a a dream. It’s like a wild dream to go out there and there and and get along with the Native Americans, live amongst those tribes, integrate their marry. Some of these poor French peasants were marrying Native American chieftain’s daughters and they’re marrying up.

They were they had better prospects going into the woods of Canada and and integrating with the Native Americans. And so that wild, wild freedom, what we kind of think of of that American value. Actually, it was it was new France. It was modern day Canada where you got the most of that type of just raw freedom at the very beginning.

We’re talking like 1590s into the mid 1600s.

Another place that you could find a lot of freedom, though, in contrast to New England, was New Netherland.

So as I mentioned, New Netherland was in the New York City area. New Amsterdam was the particular settlement on the tip of Manhattan, and they valued business freedom and they were very tolerant.

So at one point, these Jewish refugees from South America who had originally settled there and a Dutch colony were sailing to New Netherland. First of all, Jewish people had been persecuted across Europe, kicked out of Portugal, Spain, England, France three times, and they were not allowed in New France. They were not allowed in the Puritan Yankeedom.

So they were sailing for New Netherland. And the anti Semitic governor of New Netherland was like, we don’t want Jews here either. And the West India Company, which owned New Netherland, a lot of these colonies at the beginning were corporate settlements. So the West India Company says to the governor, listen, buddy, the Jews invested a lot of capital into our company and into this region. And you’re not going to turn them away.

So it wasn’t like we have to tolerate them for religious freedom. It wasn’t like we really value the diversity. It was like, buddy, you’re getting in the way of our profits. So stop being anti-Semitic. Let them in. And it was a business. It was really a business freedom.

But it was also a freedom of association, freedom of press, freedom of speech. In the 17th century, sixteen hundreds. Half of all the books published were published in New Amsterdam, modern day New York City. And that’s because there was not there was the Catholic Church in Europe was suppressing free speech.

They could print, you know, their religious texts that the Ottoman Empire said they could print. But basically you couldn’t get books there. So seeing a market opportunity where every else is suppressing free speech and freedom of the press. New Amsterdam says, all right, have that. You’re free to do this. Brings tons of business to New Amsterdam.

And that’s not always a good thing. I mean, they also traded in slaves. Again, not going to make excuses for that. Comparing the governments at the time, this one, I would still say, is better than like the deep self slave lords, because you could actually still be a free black man in New Amsterdam.

They welcomed free black men. It wasn’t like everybody. Black is a slave or everybody black is lesser. It was like, these are slaves. These are free black men. And there was also a third class, which which was black men who had bought their freedom or paid a lease on their own freedom.

So back to the point being is that they knew Amsterdam was tolerant. But they didn’t celebrate, diversity is about profits and but but it’s OK because that freedom is what allowed it to flourish, that freedom is what made it the wealthiest city in the world. And in my opinion, that’s exactly the freedoms that they’re losing now, which is going to be its downfall.

That’s not really part of the book, but it’s more about the culture, that business culture, even though it was renamed New York when I was taken over by the British. That all still goes back to New Amsterdam, to the new Netherlands. That was the culture of the Netherlands.

That business, pro-business, pro capitalism, pro tolerance, not necessarily celebrating diversity, but in the name of profits. That’s it leads to freedom. The freedom and the economic success grew in tandem.

So those are three of the examples I saw. I was talking about, you know, New France in Canada, Yankee Dome in New England, New Amsterdam in New York. So these are some of the rival cultures of North America that Colin Woodard is talking about in his book, American Nations Yankee team ended up settling basically the left coast, California.

And that’s why to this day, Yankeedom and the Left Coast, are natural allies in politics, it’s really the same sort of culture with a few nuances.

Once the West was settled out in Wyoming, that’s one of the most libertarian parts of the country because it’s just this like, leave me the hell alone. I’m out here doing my thing and I don’t need to listen to Washington, D.C.

And then the Midlands is like that heart of American culture, heartland American values.

William Penn, when he founded Pennsylvania, almost made this like perfect society where they outlawed slavery from the beginning and everybody got along. They were religious. They were Quakers, but they didn’t force it on everybody. There was a lot of Germans and I think Scandinavians outside of that area, too.

And the Quakers found these people natural allies because they they got along. They were industrious. The Germans were like bringing farming innovations there. It was just like it was great, like almost utopian society. But they didn’t protect themselves. So they couldn’t remain this beautiful, you know, wonderful society because they were few. They were pacifists. They refused to protect themselves. And actually, Ben Franklin got really pissed about that at one point. And but that’s that’s a subject for another one.

What’s the point? The whole point is basically that these different cultures in America that you’re seeing really play out in this angry fight centered around D.C. trying to take power in DC and then exert more control over the rest of the country. That’s the problem. And there’s always been this difference in culture. So to expect that this culture suddenly going to go away, we’re going to like unite is stupid. That’s not going to happen.

Basically, what I think is the best thing is for more autonomy of these cultures. And I think the state governments give us a really huge opportunity to sort of move away from this federal DC controlled system without some sort of collapse or chaos. These state governments can all do their own thing and then go in league with each other.

You know, Appalachia, that’s a classic one that has never been served well by Washington, D.C. And they’ve always thrown their support behind whatever country, whatever nation, sorry, in this country that they think is going to get D.C. off their back because it hasn’t been very fair to them ever since the Whiskey Rebellion.

Ever since the very beginning of the United States, when Hamilton and Washington marched out west to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, they were forcing these guys to pay taxes in coin. These guys use whiskey as a medium of exchange and then they were taxing the whiskey more. If you are a small distiller, you didn’t have to pay as much taxes, relatively speaking.

If you were a large distiller, it was a business interest. And even back then, there was these rich bankers trying to screw the little guy and pay off their friends with political favors. This was the very beginning, the seventeen nineties, very beginning of the United States, and it’s kind of been that way ever since. So we’re still getting those problems.

We still have this D.C. elite, the New England elite, controlling it. We still have these underserved places, these places that just want to be left alone and they can all link up together like West Virginia and Tennessee if they want to link up and form some sort of coalition.

I mean, that’s what the original intent of the 13 colonies linking together. And that’s another interesting thing that’s in this book about the first rebellions and how these this wasn’t like some cohesive like we’re going to rebelled against England sort of thing during the Revolutionary War. It was the Yankee led. It was mostly led by New England.

And then the other one sort of fell in line for different reasons. Again, let’s talk about that a different time, because there’s so many different little rabbit holes that we can go down from this book.

But the main point I want to make in this video, as I’ve been dancing around and getting to, is that the different nations of North America could go their ways very peacefully, be some of the still, the largest, most industrious countries on earth, and that would be a benefit, would just be beneficial.

You know, I think we’d get along better because we wouldn’t be trying to force our ways on each other. We would have to do it through diplomacy before the United States Constitution, as it is now, was the Articles of Confederation.

And this was more of like a loose, you know, join it if you want. The states could join together and form a defense pact or a diplomacy pact or something like that, but you wouldn’t be able to force their will on the other states and and nations of North America as much as would also be really beneficial for.

Like I’ve been saying, the underserved, the underrepresented portions of the population in North America. So don’t feel bad that the United States is all fighting and broken up right now. It’s always been this way. It’s always been different cultures clashing, and it’s always been the fact that we’re trying to smoosh us all together into this D.C. led forced grouping. That has been the problem.

And I think as soon as we moved beyond that, realized that D.C. isn’t the best representation, it’s not the best vehicle for us to move forward. We’re gonna have a lot of different options for these little nations that we can move to. And that’s gonna be so beneficial it’s easier to move than ever.

You know, and we can organize ourselves, vote with our feet, organize ourselves into these groups that have more interests aligned. And that actually allows us to get along with the other groups better because we’re not constantly clashing, trying to fight over who’s ruling from D.C., trying to control other people. We can just live our lives and live together peacefully.

It’s not necessarily that I think any of these places will necessarily be better.

You know, it’s like quite possible that the deep self goes back and starts being more oppressive and repressive in certain ways. But the point is, you can move out of that right now if if D.C. oppresses the entire nation. There’s nothing you can really do.

But under this scenario, you’d have so many more options that would set their own policies and you could really shop around for the best government. And it’s not that I think all these little governments are gonna be better, as I think one or two will be better and then ensues the competition among the other governments.

You know, once you got one offering low tax rates, Great Society benefits for everybody. The other ones can’t keep doing these horrible, you know, wasting the money, you know, only caring about the bankers and the corporations and leaving the little guy. Just like I was talking about the Whiskey Rebellion.

Yeah. In the end, it’s like more peaceful if we just go our separate ways and do our thing. So I hope you like that.

My take on calling Woodward’s book, American Nations definitely follow the link below to an Amazon affiliate link.

So you’ll be helping me out if you follow that and purchase the book. I listen to these on Audible usually just because that you can actually, I’ve listened to this one a few times and the second third times around I put it up two to two times the speed and then just kind of get the review.

(Click here for two free audiobooks from Audible with a FREE 30 day trial)

So that’s a really good way to take in a lot of this information without spending as much time, or if you never really feel like you get the time to sit down and read a book or something.

Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and hit like throw me a comment.

This is all from memory, so don’t know if I’m if you’re like, oh, you wrong about this one point. Let me know the little rabbit paths I mentioned that you want me to go into in more depth or or talk a bit more in a different video. Just let me know.

I find the stuff super interesting. Always looking to solve problems, create the best society we can. So that must be that New England pier to me. But I’m not going to force my ways on everybody else. That’s the difference, I think.

Anyway, come back and see me again soon.

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