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In traveling across America, the Scots Irish have consistently blown my mind as far and away the most persistent and unchanging regional subculture in the country.
Their family structures, religion and politics, and social lives all remain unchanged compared to the wholesale abandonment of tradition that’s occurred nearly everywhere else.
Though they may not have had the wealth of lowland planters, the Scots-Irish were part of the aristocracy of skin.
But ultimately this system, which waxed around 1900, has left us in the 21st century in a confused state when it comes to talking about race and class.
The academic ‘discourse’ about white privilege acknowledges rhetorically the reality of class differences amongst whites, but in practice this issue never realizes itself in any actionable manner.
The importance of class in England, and more or less in Europe as a whole, is contrasted with its relatively lower salience in the United States. One can make a classic materialist argument that in a labor scarcity-land surplus regime which characterized the early American republic the ossified class systems of the Old World simply could not develop.
After 250 years they have only the vaguest recollections of the nature of their British antecedents.
In Ornamentalism David Cannadine makes the case that the British saw their Empire through the lens of class as much, or more than, race.
Their’s was part of the founding culture of the United States, and it still leaves its stamp on our society in its politics and mores, for good or ill (that depends on your perspective! But one aspect of Scots-Irish identity is that to a great extent it has decoupled itself from any “Old Country” consciousness.
A broad swath of the Eastern American Uplands is dominated by people who give their as American.