Fauquier Heritage Institute presents “The South: A Prophet of Culture in the Anti-Culture” by Dr. Robert M. Peters
WARRENTON, VA – The 2010 edition of the annual Fauquier Heritage Institute Lectures in American History features an interesting lineup of local historians and nationally acclaimed scholars to address a variety of topics of local and national significance. The monthly lectures take place on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM in the John Barton Payne Building, located at 2 Courthouse Square, on Main Street, in Old Town Warrenton, Virginia. Admission is free to the public and the lectures are sponsored by the Fauquier County Public Library.
On Sunday, 13 June 2010, the Institute will present a very special program, “The South: A Prophet of Culture in the Anti-Culture,” presented by Dr. Robert M. Peters, University of Southern California, University of Vienna, and scholar with the Abbeville Institute for the Study of Southern Culture.
Dr. Robert M. Peters is a native of Louisiana, born in Natchitoches Parish and reared in Grant Parish. He received a B.A. in German with a minor in Russian and philosophy from Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana; and earned an M.A. in German from Southern Methodist University. He was granted a Ph.D. in German from the University of Southern California and completed further studies at the University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria (German, history and philosophy); the University of Texas at Arlington (French); the Catholic University of the West in Angers, France (French and French culture); the University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany (German, Danish and European history); College of Eastern Studies, Königstein, Germany (Marxism); the University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany (political science); and Louisiana State University in Shreveport (teacher certification and secondary principal certification); and currently serves as the headmaster of a small private school in Grand Cane, Louisiana.
For this special presentation, Dr. Peters defines culture as, “The set of symbols, institutions and processes which restrain the compulsions of the individual, and emancipates him from them, so that he can fulfill his duty and obligations to God, to his family, to the Church and to the local polity.” Dr. Peters further notes, “The key element to any culture is religion, from the most primitive expressions thereof to Christianity, the faith of our fathers in its European milieu and in its American idiom. In a culture, religion can never be just private; it must be expressed and lived out in the community and its polity. The process of restraining the compulsions of individuals, i.e., making civilized men out of barbarians, is the teaching in the commonwealths of a culture- family, Church and community- of the three sets of virtues, cardinal, capital and theological, the internalizing of those virtues and then the living out or confessing of those virtues as we live our lives in those commonwealths.” Dr. Peters further observes, “The initial product of this cultural process is character, a virtuous man, ready to due his duty. Ultimately, freedom in a culture is defined as the emancipation from compulsions, desires, lusts, and impulses so that duty and obligation can be performed. The anti-culture is antithetical thereunto.” Peters continues, “The anti-culture defines freedom as the emancipation from the institutions, symbols and processes which would restrain the compulsions of the individual and from the virtues thereof. The anti-culture rejects character and lifts up personality. It rejects virtue and extols values or mere opinion, informed or uninformed. Religion, in an anti-culture, is relegated, if tolerated at all, to the private domain; and the private domain is drastically reduced through positive law and social pressure.” The presenter concludes, “The anti-culture rejects man as a creature of relationships in an organic world reflecting a cosmic order of divine origins and asserts that man is an ‘autonomous’ individual, an abstract person outfitted with abstract rights. This ‘autonomous’ individual of the anti-culture does not become a Prometheus or Nietzsche superman, but rather an estranged and alienated individual, a shriveled self. Jefferson Davis understood this when he said that Southern adversaries were a country of strangers.”
In his presentation, Dr. Peters will demonstrate with fact and reference that America was diverging into and now is two distinct societies: one of the anti-culture, the North, the new and emergent culture according to the late Phillip Rieff; and one of the ancient culture, the South, a product of a long historical process based on a understanding of the Aristotelian republic as the best expression of a polity, of common or Germanic law (negative law) or nomos to the Greeks, and of the Church whose function it is to inform (literal meaning) a given social order with those virtues, particularly the theological virtues, with which men acquire the character necessary to fulfill duty and obligations. Dr. Peters observes the American South- what is left of it- prophesies against the prevailing Weltanschuung. That the cultural prophesy of the South is effective is made evident by the ire and the anger of its modern-day opponents.
The Fauquier Heritage Institute was created to promote the study and love of Virginia and American history. To that end, the Institute hosts a yearly series of public lectures that seek to provide knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our local, regional and national history.
Additional program and Guest Lecturer details for each month will be posted via the Fauquier County Library web site, in addition to local and national papers throughout the year. The Fauquier Heritage Institute welcomes and encourages all volunteers to aid our special events programs and lecture series in a variety of capacities. Contact Program Chairs, Mr. Gar Schulin at 540-349-5864; Mrs. Paula Johnson at 540-341-7019; or Mrs. Jackie Lee at 540-347-0607, for additional information.