The Prophetic Voice of Donald DavidsonnRegionalism and Nationalism innthe United States: The Attacknon Leviathannby Donald DavidsonnIntroduction by Russell KirknNew Brunswick, New JerseynTransaction Books;n368 pp., $19.95nN o idea is more central to the Americannpolitical tradition than that ofnlimited government. As a nation wenbegan with our commitment to the libertynof commonwealths, of communities,nand of citizens. When we collectivelynrejected the remote, arbitrary, and potentiallynhostile power that, in its “benevolence,”nclaimed a right to govern usn”in all cases whatsoever,” we chose thenadvantages of local and provincial self-governmentnover those of anything morenthan a minimum of collective security.nAnd, in the process, we rejected thennotion of a self-admiring, ambitious, generaln(or national) authority, able to supervise,nfor “our own good,” both our publicnand private lives. Yet, say the friendsnof government, such an engine may beninstrumental in realizing seemingly worthwhilenobjectives—goals not to benachieved in a large and various Republicnwithout submission to some absolutenauthority. Thus the impulse to creatensuch an engine has among Americansnalways represented a species of “noble temj>ntation,” appearing usually in the subsetnof our inherited politics connected withnthe Puritan/Federalist/Republican minoritynof our public men: of those willing tonset the liberty of citizens aside if there aren”lofty reasons” for the sacrifice. Evennthough in 1776, and then again in 1787-n1788, we rejected such meliorist concentrationsnof power and resources asnpotentially tyrannical, what we hadnM.E. Bradford is writing the authorizednbiography, Down This LongnStreet: The Life and Times of DonaldnDavidson.nby M.E. Bradfordn”Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook?”n—Job 41:1nleamed in the Revolution, we (followingnthis minority) swiftly forgot in hearing toonmuch about making the nation “all onenthing or all the other.” And then, in thensubsequent stages of statism following then1865 triumph of Union, we left that lessonnfurther and further behind, untilninternational adventurism, industrialism,nand collective vainglory brought usnfinally, in 1933, to the instmmental state.nIntermpting this dismal record of a heritagenslowly (and by regular stages)nbetrayed, when the declension hadnreached its nadir, the Nashville Agrariansnappeared. Tbe witness in behalf of thentraditional regional regime rendered bynthese 12 Southemers commenced in 1930nwith their manifesto, I’ll Take My Stand,nand, for all intents and purposes, had itsnnnsummary and concluding statement innDonald Davidson’s The Attack onnLeviathan: Regionalism and Nationalismnin the United States, first publishednby the University of North Carolina Pressnin 1938. Richard Weaver rightly describednthis book as “the clearest and most courageousnof the Agrarian documents.” However,nthere could scarcely have been anmore inauspicious moment for recommendingnresistance to centralizing powernthan the middle of Franklin D. Roosevelt’snsecond term as President. Yet,neven though his publisher abused thenbook, the man met the moment. Fornthere was never a political thinker morenindifferent to what notions were, in hisnday, fashionable in New York, Boston, andnthe colleges of the Ivy League than ProfessornDonald Davidson of VanderbiltnUniversity: no student of American culturalnhistory so absolutely unaffected bynthe anomaly of his situation as one of thenfew conservative voices to be heard in hisncountry. Dr. Russell Kirk of Michigan,nthe Sage of Mecosta who is a perfectnNorthern counterpart of this most resolutenSouthern Agrarian, has written ansplendid introduction to this reissue ofnhis old friend’s book—in this editionnwith the parts of its title reversed for thensake of clarity. Kirk speaks of Davidsonnas the “stalwart defender of America’snpermanent things during an era of radicalnchange,” which is true both of thengeneral impact of Regionalism andnNationalism in the United States andnof the book’s specific components.nNo writer is more Southem than DonaldnDavidson. Yet what he teaches in thisnbook is a truth for all the sections ofnour country. “There are,” he writes,n”unreconstmcted Yankees, too, and othernunreconstmcted Americans of all imaginablensorts, everywhere engaged in preservingntheir local originality andnindependence.” One of the best of thesenessays comes directly out of his almostnforty summers at Bread Loaf in Vermont,nwhere he taught frequently in the BreadnLoaf School of English. “Still Rebels, StillnMAY 1992/29n