I recently read a book with the above title. It presented some interesting theories and ideas concerning the Great Conflict that tore apart our nation 125 years ago. As I read the book I saw interesting analogies to the internal conflict that our profession has been experiencing for the past sixty years. The straight-mixing conflict has heated up considerably over the past ten years. Although there are some indications that it is lessening, in other areas it appears to be just as violent as ever. Some of the principles outlined in Why the South Lost the Civil War could be valuable to us in understanding our professional strife and being able to better handle it.
Most people think that the South lost because the North had more men, more money, more guns, and the advantage of the industrial complex over the South’s basically agrarian society. While all these are true, the authors contend that it was not so much that the North won, but that the South lost! The loss of the War was largely the lack of the southern leadership’s ability to effectively wage war.
The authors of the book argue the reasons but they generally agree on the cause of the loss, that is, the lack of a will to win. “The Confederate leadership had little concept of mobilizing civilian opinion. Instead, it depended on military success to sustain the public will to attain victory. The South sought to build up the morale by focusing on the defeat of the enemy rather than the principle upon which they fought.” When victory didn’t come, when battles were lost, morale sagged, creating losses, thus setting up a cycle. Confederate leadership always had to keep in mind that a Confederate victory perceived as a loss by the public (perhaps because of great casualties) was indeed a loss because it further eroded the will to win.
The legislative, political, and judicial losses that the straight movement has experienced over the last ten years have had an eroding effect on the movement especially in terms of the financial cost. The anti-trust suits which were started largely as a morale booster have had an opposite effect.
To many in the War between the States (on both sides of the Mason Dixon line) the War was a holy war. Emery M. Thomas says “Southerners believed themselves the last best hope of western civilization.” Lincoln believed that the Union embodied the last hope for mankind. To many straights (and some mixers) the straight-mixing conflict is as much a holy war as the Civil War in which both sides thought that God was on their side because they believed themselves to be right. Many in the South believed God had abandoned them as they lost battles. Similarly, many of the straights have lost faith in the “cause” as the legislature and courts, while far from being God, have adjucated against them.
Karl Van Clusewitz, one of history’s greatest minds on the subject of war said, “the smaller the penalty you demand from your opponent, the less you can expect him to deny it (victory) to you.” Stamp proposes the hypothesis that many Confederates lacked a deep commitment to the cause and that unconsciously “the behavior of some suggested that a Union victory was quite an acceptable result.” Bearing in mind the statements of these two men, what does each side in the “chiropractic civil war” have to gain or lose?
The mixers see their way of life being destroyed if the straights succeed. Laws such as in Washington state, Georgia, and Michigan have altered the way a mixer can practice. Second, many of them have felt the economic effects of large volume, straight practices in their community, i.e., loss of patients. Third, they see a loss of their status as a physician and fear even worse, that the balance of powers would go into the hands of the straight as more of them enter practice.
The straight, on the other hand, sees no loss of his way of life. No mixing law or broadening of a state law has ever forced any straight to change his manner of practice. Not yet! Who has the most to lose? A straight isn’t bothered by a dozen mixers opening up around him. Clearly the mixer is going to make it a holy war. The South, at worst, lost the practice of slavery which only affected a small percentage. Eventually they went back to the status quo. The North saw the dissolution of the union as destroying the United States. Many in the straight movement would be satisfied to return to the status quo of chiropractic which existed twenty years ago, at least with regard to the straight-mixing issue. They feel a loss in this battle would mean only that. But the South found out after the War that things, are never as they were before.
There is another interesting analogy. David Potter points out that the “one party system” of the South helped lead to its downfall. In contrast, the North with its radical republicans and the democratic party, who fully expected to defeat Lincoln for re-election, provided an avenue for dissent. In chiropractic, we have a “two-party system” for the mixers: those who diagnose and adjust, and those who do everything under the sun. Actually, there is also a third group: those who give lip-service to diagnosis and only adjust. While these groups have differences, the ability to have and express differences, ironically enough, keeps them together. The straights, on the other hand, leave no room for dissent. I am not suggesting that they should or should not. This fact of life, however, creates major defections or at least a non-supportive attitude among many straights. There are many straights who are non-supportive of the straight movement because of the personalities of the leadership and because of the techniques espoused by those in leadership positions. The political organization of the straight movement leaves very little room for differences of thought. It is made up of a rather close-knit, relatively small group. It is barely a dozen or so people who wear different hats within the straight organizations. This is not meant to be a criticism. They are by and large a selfless and dedicated group. However, the singleness of mind in the straight movement gives chiropractors the impression that if they do not practice exactly as the leadership does, they are not wanted and are included in “the enemy.” This impairs the effectiveness of the movement. The Southern will to win was no doubt further eroded by economic factors. Soldiers for the Confederacy deserted when they realized their families back home were starving without them to run the farms. It is surprising, given the hardships that the civilians of the South suffered, that more did not simply walk away from the War. The economic factor is also affecting the straight chiropractor. However, this time it is not a matter of starving but of attaining wealth. Many have deserted the straight ranks for the get-rich-quick schemes of some of the mixer element. This depletes the straight movement. But, what is worse is that it demoralizes, many straights in positions of leadership. The sacrifices of time and money that they make for the cause are great and made greater when they see their friends and former college classmates literally making millions. This particular problem is evident in the straight chiropractic college. Very few are willing to make the sacrifice of teaching, especially when they see their former students mixing. The straight chiropractor begins to wonder whether the issue of principle is really worth it when even those that should be standing shoulder to shoulder with them have deserted the ranks and by their manner of practice, for all intents and purposes are giving aid and comfort to the “enemy.” When General Braxton Bragg marched into Kentucky with the hope of “freeing” the inhabitants of Yankee control and raising recruits for the Confederate cause he was met by virtually no support. Kerby Smith, Bragg’s Adjutant, told General Cooper that “the love of ease and fear of pecuniary loss are the fruitful sources of this evil.” Simply stated: Support for the Confederate cause was grossly inadequate and much less than the leadership of the South had anticipated. Consequently, the bulk of the war effort fell to a few. There are numerous other interesting analogies to problems of the southern war effort. Southerners were disenchanted with the totalitarian views of Jefferson Davis. He was not a very likable personality. Straight chiropractic’s hard line and the personalities who are strong and somewhat abrasive tend to create disenchantment. In the South there was a basic philosophical/practical problem, that is, the confrontation between faith and reality. Could states rights work? It was the major issue in secession yet many found they had merely exchanged an oppressive government (in Washington) for another (in Richmond). Straight chiropractors take a position on medicine and medical procedures. Then they find that in practice many of their patients seem to need therapeutic or medical procedures. This creates a problem that only a strong understanding of the philosophy can resolve and frankly many do no have that strong understanding. To many in chiropractic the philosophy is not a reality. The issue of states rights and slavery brings up another analogy. Some authorities believe that the Confederacy functioned as a nation only in a technical, organizational sense and not in a spiritual sense. They lack a oneness or a concession on why they fought. For example, there arose dissension when it was proposed that slaves be pressed into military service and in return given their freedom. Those fighting for slavery said that slavery was the issue. Those fighting for states rights said if they did not use slaves they would lose the war and have nothing. There was dissension in the South and apparently a lack of agreement as to what the war was really all about. Perhaps with the straight movement there is confusion as to what we really want from this war that has raged for six decades or more. One last point in this rather lengthy “book report.” On page 80 of the book the authors state “Southerners did not really want a separate destiny, but rather wanted recognition of the merits of southern society and security for the slave system.” When the price of the above became too great they abandoned the Cause. If their goals were great enough they could have extended the war for years in the mountains and eventually wore down the North. The Vietnamese were able to do it to a much stronger Union, 100 years later. The South surrendered because they lacked the will to continue the fight. Is there sufficient will and desire among the straights to develop a separate and distinct profession from mixing chiropractic? “The Confederate nation was created on paper, not in the hearts and minds of its citizens.” Unless straight chiropractic is in the hearts and minds of its citizens it will meet the same ending as the Confederacy. As one of the authors said, the Confederacy’s tombstone should read, “Dead of Failure of the Will.” Can the same malady befall us? Is it already upon us? v3n5

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