August 22, 2019


Pirates, Not Puritans (TITUS TECHERA, 8/02/19, Law & Liberty)
David Milch's Deadwood is a rarity among our prestigious TV series for reviving questions about the American founding. The series places it not in 1776 and the Declaration of Independence, but instead with the foundations of American wealth and commerce in 1876. The setting of Deadwood, South Dakota matters because it depicts the bloody borders of American civilization, and seeks to demystify how Americans really conquered the West. On HBO, Milch shared this vision of American life in a show that ran for three seasons (2004-6) before getting canceled. Now, Milch returns to HBO to conclude his story with Deadwood: The Movie.

To understand Milch, we should start from Tocqueville's contrast between the egalitarian Puritans who founded communities on the doctrine of Christian equality, where freedom meant self-government, and the other, more unprincipled foundations in the American South and elsewhere in the New World. These were colonies based on slavery or love of gold and silver, where freedom meant having one's own way. Like these earlier colonies, the town of Deadwood is decidedly piratical. Whereas the Declaration talks about self-evident truths, our shared human nature, Milch presents instead "a lie agreed upon," and he shows us a community built upon violence and wickedness, as well as the ways people must conceal that truth from themselves in order to go on with life.

Since we can say the Puritans were primarily about equality as a natural and divine gift to all human beings, we see immediately that the pirates are about freedom without equality. 

One of the most difficult truths for Left and Right to wrestle with is that the End of History had occurred by 1776 and was then imposed both within and without the Anglosphere.  Our Imperialism was directed inwards before it ever was directed outwards.

Posted by at August 22, 2019 12:00 AM