America is an Idea and the First Universal Nation. So say the bedizened oracles and prancing shamans of the American Empire—empire, for what is universal cannot be a nation.

But people don’t live on an idea. They live on land—lush or dry, rocky or fertile, according to their fates. If they are lucky, it is land watered by the blood, sweat, and tears of forefathers and foremothers. Those other imperialists, the Romans, made a splendid empire, and lost it when too many of them forgot, or never knew, the genius loci and the lares et penates.

The one Universal Idea is not liberty or equality or fraternity. The one Universal Idea is Money. But no human being ever lived by Money alone. Remember Scrooge? As my little daughter, wise beyond her years, used to say: “Man does not live by bread alone. He must have peanut butter.” Human man lives by song and story, custom and ritual, country and community. If you want to see the future of the Universal Nation, look at the cookie-cutter strip malls and nearly cookie-cutter slums of your nearest city. Or watch one of those near-future flicks like Blade Runner or Starship Troopers. Men and women, young and old, all races and faiths and nations, are equal—and indistinguishable. And all are rich—in gadgets of mass destruction. In contrast to the self-flattering public voices of American Empire, Chronicles has been a tireless, eloquent speaker for humanity. Even amidst all the cacophony of the Universal Nation, it has been heard by discerning ears. Chronicles has, from the first, known and spoken for the real America. It has not forgotten, as Bill Kauffman and others so movingly remind us, that we wake up every morning in real places, not in the Universal Nation; it has affirmed the reality of a Heartland that officially does not exist except in phony sentimentalized evocations of Utopia (No Place).

Chronicles has even remembered there is a Dixie, officially unknown except as a blemish to be eradicated, but always threatening to break through the stage makeup of the painted harlot of the Universal Nation. And Chilton Williamson, Jr., evokes for us beautifully a West which has set men’s minds free with challenges. The West is a kind of idea, but far from a universal one.

Thanks to Chronicles, we know we are not alone as ciphers in the Universal Idea, but men and women in America. We know that America began not as the United State but as the States United. We know that our forefathers proclaimed an idea of liberty they hoped would encourage mankind, but that they pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honour to their own lands and liberties. Contrary to the marketing slogans and sophistic declarations of official public discourse, we know that America is not Anybody and Everybody, but many lovely lands for our children and our children’s children.