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The significance of the Culture Frontier in 2013

The significance of the Culture Frontier in 2013

As we all seek out ways to restore our country to the right path, I believe there is one area that has been neglected: culture.

In 2013, my organization The Frontier Lab is excited to continue its study of the facets of the American character–how Americans understand and relate to the tenets upon which our country was built–as well as focus on the application of these insights in ways that can help revive that same exceptional character.

The American character is under attack. Rather than a united nation devoted to the founding principles, we are told how we are different from one another, how our American character is flawed, and why the great American experiment ought to be cancelled.

The Frontier in American history was one of the greatest forces that proved the opposite was true. And it was historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” that provided the lens through which The Frontier Lab seeks to influence and revive the American character.

In 1890, the U.S. Census bureau declared that a contiguous Frontier line no longer existed. When Turner presented his thesis at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he cautioned that this force, where the American character had been forged, may be hard to replace.

Turner had found that it was the Frontier that essentially provided the heat under the “melting pot” of America. It was where ideas and philosophies met survival, and where immigrants of many different lands worked together and with the native populations to forge a new community, America. It is where we became a land of many people with one vision: freedom.

As The Frontier Lab conducts scientific market research to understand the state of the American character, it is providing a roadmap to all those who are attempting to reestablish a respect and love for freedom, individualism, faith, and hard work. In 2013, as we seek to implement those insights with direct education and outreach to Americans, we are bringing our works to the Frontier of 2013, which is culture.

Turner wrote that the most significant aspect of the Frontier was that it lies on the edge of free land, not dense population as was the case in Europe. That free land is not an easy place to exist, but rather first changes those who come into contact with it before they themselves leave their mark.

The Culture Frontier is the place in our day and age closest to the fight. It is the most exciting and invigorating landscape, and where we must pitch our tents in order to regroup in the battle for America.

If you’re interested to learn more, join The Frontier Lab in 2013 as it applies private-sector market research to understanding just how we can revive the American character.

From Turner’s essay:

Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails.

Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs, anymore than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American. As successive terminal moraines result from successive glaciations, so each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the region still partakes of the frontier characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history.


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I think the cultural rift in America is the same as always – the city culture vs. the country culture. Ever read Edward Abbey’s 1991 classic, Good News? It’s the story of – as Abbey calls it – “the oldest civil war of all — the city vs. the country”.

In “Good News,” Edward Abbey’s acclaimed underground classic, the West is wild again. American civilization as the twentieth century knew it has crumbled. In the great Southwest, a new breed of settler, white and Indians together, is creating a new way of life in the wilderness – a pastoral economy – with skills and savvy resurrected from the pre-industrial past. Meanwhile, in a last surviving bastion of urban life, the remnants of the power elite are girding their armed forces to reimpose the old order. This is a land of horses and motorcycles, high-tech weaponry and primitive courage, and the struggle for the American future is mounting in intensity. No quarter is asked or given, and the outcome hangs in perilous balance against a background of magnificent nature and eternal human verities.

I’m all in – for more wild west and less out-of-control east (Washington).

Anne Sorrock: In 1890, the U.S. Census bureau declared that a contiguous Frontier line no longer existed. When Turner presented his thesis at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he cautioned that this force, where the American character had been forged, may be hard to replace.

Which is why the Greeks, Italians, Russians, Jews and the multitude of others who immigrated after 1890, never integrated.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | January 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

You may find this brief study intresting.

“An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West”

Bravo! The more work that can be done in identifying and correcting the big cultural chasms the better. And by big, I mean ‘what is an American’ and “what does it mean to be an American”, not gay rights, abortion, immigation and other divisive issues.

In a sense, the BO victory is about a lack of assimilation, a lack of common cultural values.

The people who voted for BO do not, in general, see the USA as the land of opportunity for individuals, for opportunity through private action. Instead, the typical BO voter sees the government as the solution.

Seems like many of the BO voters also cling to his/her ethnic identity – hispanic, black, jewish — as the principal source of identity, and do not view themselves as “Americans” first.

So the more than can be done to educate and assimilate the disparate parts of America (while still honoring and valuing each group’s heritage), the better we will be. You know, good old fahion nation-building.

    Rick in reply to george. | January 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I agree with all you wrote except for the “still honoring and valuing each group’s heritage” part, although that is probably just a matter of degree. In the public square, Americans should be Americans. The excessive honoring of various heritages has led to our disunited states of America.

Fascinating! I’m really beginning to think the key to selling conservative/libertarian principles is through re-awakening Americans’ love of FREEDOM & LIBERTY. Think how this could resonate with the American soul, so deadened by bureaucratic institutions, regulated beyond recognition, locked into politically-correct meaningless “conversations”, etc. Count me in!

It seems that part of the equation is challenge, conquering the new land along the frontier. Would Pearl Harbor represent a similar challenge? It seemed to galvanize the American people pretty well… but what happened after 9/11? Why was this different?

Phillep Harding | January 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I think most are looking in the wrong place.

Consider: The people who settled the colonies did not have to pay rent or taxes on what they produced, and were very wealthy compared to people of the same social classes in Europe. The frontier meant that the commoners could pack up and leave if they thought they needed to, so the politicians did not even try to bleed them.

Taxes and the power of the state increased once there was no more free land to settle. The increase had to be slow to sneak up on us, but here it is.