T h e P a t h t o N a t i o n a l S u i c i d e
An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism
by Lawrence Auster
The Meaning of Multiculturalism
If someone had told me as a boy: One day you will see your nation vanish from the world, I would have considered it nonsense, something I couldn’t possibly imagine. A man knows he is mortal, but he takes it for granted that his nation possesses a kind of eternal life.
The Book of Laughter
In the quest to become a true world nation . . . the United States must break away from its European roots and begin treating Asian history and culture equally with those of the West.
||Kotkin and Kishimoto,
The Third Century
They will take the city and the characters of men, as they might a tablet, and first wipe it clean—no easy task.
The Republic, Book VI
We have seen that the legislators who passed the 1965 reform had no intention of changing the “ethnic, political or economic make-up of the U.S.” When Hyram Fong asserted that under the new law “the cultural pattern of the U.S. will never be changed,” no one challenged him and said that the U.S. must become a multicultural country. Clearly, there was an expectation that the new immigrants would only augment the cosmopolitan mix of minorities in our predominantly white society; clearly, there was a consensus that the United States had the intention, as well as the right, to preserve its “cultural pattern.” Yet today both liberals and conservatives speak the language of cultural diversity, and they seem to look forward with complacency, even eagerness, to the prospect of the U.S. becoming a white-minority country during the coming century. Today, it is unimaginable that any politician, unless he were planning instant retirement, would speak about “preserving the ethnic make-up of the U.S.” What happened to bring about such a reversal in our national consensus since 1965?
In one sense, this revolution can be seen as but the latest stage in the triumph of the philosophical and cultural relativism that has characterized modern thought. “In twentieth-century social science,” Allan Bloom writes in The Closing of the American Mind, “the common good disappears and along with it the negative view of minorities. The very idea of majority—now understood to be selfish interest—is done away with in order to protect the minorities . . . and the protection of them emerges as the central function of government.”(24) Certainly, this evolving attitude toward minorities has served as a rationale for the large-scale immigration of previously excluded groups; but I would add that the evolving attitude toward minorities is also, in its present, radical form, a product of the post-1965 immigration.
The 1965 Act had revolutionary implications that no one, except for a handful of conservative critics like Sam Ervin, understood at the time. The legislators did not see that by extending the principles of equal rights and family reunification—with its unanticipated effect of chain migration—to every country on earth, and by failing to assert any balancing principle of the common good or national self-interest (and reasonable discrimination based on that national interest, as exercised by every other country on earth), they were opening the door to mass Third-World immigration. As a result, when the nation unexpectedly found itself by the mid to late 1970s experiencing unprecedented diversity, it had no remaining legitimate principle—having abandoned traditional notions of self-interest—except for universal equality and humanitarianism; it therefore had no choice but to turn around and endorse diversity as an end in itself. Faced with the seemingly irreversible fact of multiracial change, we gave ourselves a new national myth of diversity to accommodate ourselves to that fact.
Almost overnight, without debate or public awareness of what was happening, mainstream opinion adopted a radical new credo. “We must respect all cultures equally,” “All cultures are equally enriching,” “America’s strength lies in its diversity”—these slogans have become articles of our national faith, without anyone’s thinking too clearly about what they really mean. There is an enormous difference between accommodating ourselves to diversity by saying that the diversity exists, that it presents certain challenges to a liberal order, but that we must deal with it as best we can, and saying that diversity is the highest good, to be pursued as an end in itself. The former position leads to a realistic response to the actual circumstances in which we find ourselves; the latter to a search for utopia. Unfortunately, it is the utopian way of thinking that has become dominant. Thus we keep hearing the strange idea that our nation can become “strong” in the pursuit of unlimited diversity. Two thousand years ago, the historian Polybius voiced the traditional wisdom, that “every state relies for its preservation on two fundamental qualities, namely bravery in the face of the enemy, and harmony among its citizens.”(25) By contrast, today’s progressives seem to believe that the state relies for its preservation on unconditional accommodation to foreigners and maximum diversity among its citizens. They seem to think that since a moderate degree of ethnic diversity (mainly among European peoples along with a black minority) has been by and large a good thing for America, therefore, an unlimited amount of diversity (among all the peoples of the earth) must be even better—which is like saying that since a few glasses of water a day will keep you healthy, a hundred gallons a day will make you a superman.
The myth of unlimited diversity tells us that the mass influx from Latin America and Asia represents, not a departure from our history, but its fulfillment. “Nor is this [demographic and cultural] transformation contrary to American tradition,” write Joel Kotkin and Yoriko Kishimoto. “Throughout our history, America’s racial and cultural identity has been in constant flux, reacting to each new wave of immigration. Today’s immigration, primarily from Asia and Latin America, continues that pattern. . . . From its earliest days, the U.S. has always been something of a ‘world nation.’”(26) In the same vein, James Fallows of the Atlantic assures us: “The glory of American society is its melding of many peoples.”(27) What is neatly obscured by these soothing clichés is the fact that until only two decades ago that “world nation,” those “many peoples,” were almost exclusively European. A revolutionary mass immigration from every race and nation on earth is thus portrayed (and sanctified) as a mere continuance of an established tradition.
The question needs to be asked: Is America’s entire three hundred and fifty year history up to 1965, during which it drew its people and its civilizational roots predominantly from England and Europe, totally irrelevant to a definition of our national character? The multiculturalists say yes. In the words of former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso: “America is a political union—not a cultural, linguistic, religious or racial union.” Now, while there is some truth in this statement, can it not be carried to extremes? Mr. Reynoso seems to be saying that the United States is nothing but a blank slate—a sort of political abstraction lacking any cultural identity that has a right to be preserved. Since, for example, we are not a “linguistic” union, the English language has no special status; we could turn into a Japanese or Spanish-speaking society tomorrow and, according to Mr. Reynoso, this would in no way change America’s essential character, since, in his view, America has no essential character.
The New Cultural Revolution
Among its many sinister potentialities, the myth of a totally open, undefined America provides a sanction for the widening attack on Western culture in our schools. I have written elsewhere about the most recent manifestation of this movement, a “multicultural” curriculum plan proposed by the New York State Commissioner of Education. The report, entitled “A Curriculum of Inclusion,” opens with the declaration that “African Americans, Asian Americans, Puerto Ricans/Latinos, and Native Americans have all been the victims of an intellectual and educational oppression that has characterized the culture and institutions of the United States and the European American world for centuries.”(28) This oppression consists in the fact that a “systematic bias toward European culture and its derivatives” has “a terribly damaging effect on the psyche of young people of African, Asian, Latino, and Native American descent.” The proposed solution is a totally restructured curriculum for the state’s public schools, in which the “history, achievements, aspirations and concerns of people of all cultures [shall be] made an integral part of all curricula.” What the report’s authors have in mind is not merely greater treatment of the historical experiences of America’s ethnic minorities, since such inclusion, no matter how extensive, “cannot counteract deeply rooted racist traditions in American culture . . . [nor] reverse long established and entrenched policies and practices of that dominant culture.” Rather, children will be taught that all cultures are to be “equally valued”; that the contributions of the American Indian, African, Hispanic (and even Asian!) cultures are as important to our civilization’s heritage as the Anglo-Saxon and European contribution. What this “equality” really means is that whites and the West must be consistently vilified. Thus the report recommends that the Age of Exploration shall be portrayed with a view to “negative values and policies that produced aggressive individuals and nations that were ready to ‘discover, invade and conquer’ foreign land because of greed, racism and national egoism.” Meanwhile, the history of African Americans must be presented “so that the heroic struggle for equity waged by African Americans can be an inspiration to all.” Similarly, blacks during the American Revolution were fighting “strictly for freedom,” while whites were only fighting to “protect their economic interests.” My article continues:
But not to worry. To this proposal to divide up the entire student population, every school subject and every idea into official “cultural” designations—with each culture striving for its own piece of the curricular pie—the report has added a reassuring caveat: “Aspects of cooperation and amicability among all cultures should be stressed over conflict and violence.”
But one searches in vain for any sign of amicability in a document that is based on a race-oppression model of intellectual life. “The curriculum in the education systems reflects . . . deep-seated pathologies of racial hatred. . . . Because of the depth of the problem and the tenacity of its hold on the mind, only the most stringent measures can have significant impact.” Doesn’t sound very amicable to me. But how could it be otherwise? Since “European American” culture is by definition exclusive and oppressive, it obviously cannot co-exist with the oppressed cultures that seek equality with it until it has been stripped of its hypocritical pretensions to universality and legitimacy—i.e., until, as a national culture, it has ceased to exist.
At this point, two questions may have arisen in the reader’s mind: how can the ravings of an extremist clique in New York State represent a threat to civilization, and what, if anything, does this cultural radicalism have to do with immigration? Both questions need to be addressed.
First of all, it is understandable that people should not want to take declarations like “A Curriculum of Inclusion” seriously. As philosophy professor Thomas Short of Kenyon College has written, this is a typical response to the cultural diversity movement.
It is a remarkable symptom of the present extraordinary situation in higher education that one segment of the academic community regards such views, so far as they are acquainted with them at all, as sheerest nonsense, and refuses to believe that anyone, least of all any of their colleagues, could take that nonsense seriously, or that it will be taken seriously long enough or by enough people to pose a real threat, while another rapidly growing segment is busily elaborating these ideas and teaching them to their students.(29)
Far from being a mere fringe movement, the diversity agenda, as education historian Diane Ravitch has written, is spreading like wildfire through the education system. State educational departments, university faculties, elected officials, minority groups and mainstream media have all jumped on the diversity bandwagon, while its opponents within the academy are a besieged and intimidated minority.
On the arts front, the multicultural agenda has been adopted by the chief sources of arts funding in the U.S.: the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. According to Samuel Lipman writing in the May 1990 Commentary, these establishment organizations intend to “downgrade and even eliminate support for art based on traditional European sources, and instead will encourage activity by certain approved minorities in the United States and abroad”—the approval being based, of course, on the minorities’ oppressed history and status.
A clue to the deeper implications of the cultural diversity movement can be found in a recent essay by communications professor Neil Postman of New York University. Postman speaks of the “stories, narratives, tales, theories” that serve as moral and intellectual frameworks for individuals and societies.
Human beings require stories to give meaning to the facts of their existence. I am not talking here about those specialized stories that we call novels, plays, and epic poems. I am talking about the more profound stories that people, nations, religions, and disciplines unfold in order to make sense out of the world. For example, ever since we can remember, all of us have been telling ourselves stories about ourselves, composing life-giving autobiographies of which we are the heroes and heroines. . . .
Nations, as well as people, require stories and may die for lack of a believable one. In America we have told ourselves for two hundred years that our experiment in government is part of God’s own plan. That has been a marvelous story, and it accounts for much of the success America has had.(30)
Over a century ago, the French historian Ernest Renan touched on the same idea. Nationhood, Renan tells us, is not a matter of ethnicity (what he calls “race”), nor of religion, nor of the physical and psychological effects of geography and soil.
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things . . . constitute this soul, this spiritual principle. One is the common possession of a rich legacy of memories; the other is the present consensus, the desire to live together, the will to continue to value the heritage that has been received undivided. . . . To have shared glories in the past, a common will in the present, to have done great things together, to want to do them still, these are the essential conditions of a people.(31)
In other words, it is the story shared, from generation to generation, and the will to continue sharing it, that makes a people. It is not the ethnic tie in itself that matters, but the will to go on sharing the national idea—an insight that makes Renan’s thought particularly relevant to Americans. The Columbia History of the World speaks eloquently of the importance of such a common heritage:
“History” means the conscious and intentional remembrance of things past, in a living tradition transmitted from one generation to another. For this there must be some continuous organization, be it the family of the chieftain in the beginning, or the school today, which has reason to care for the Past of the group and has the capacity for transmitting the historical tradition to future generations. History exists only in a persisting society which needs history to persist.(32)
Here we have a key to the fateful significance of the diversity movement. The American people have had a “story” which, despite gradual modifications over the past two centuries, has provided them with a coherent sense of who they are and what their place in history is. Multiculturalism should be understood as an attempt, undertaken in our own schools, to tear down, discredit and destroy the shared story that has made us a people and impose on us a different story which tells us our civilization and past history are essentially evil. The goal, to put it brutally, is the creation of compliant citizens of a new social order, whose feelings toward the pre-1965 America and its heroes (to the extent they know anything about them at all) will be contempt, guilt or indifference.
As for the other problem mentioned above, the connection be-tween multiculturalism and immigration, it is important to understand that the cultural reformers openly describe their movement as a response to the nation’s changing ethnic make-up. In a speech given in October 1989, the godfather of “A Curriculum of Inclusion,” New York State Education Commissioner Thomas Sobol, had this to say:
We are becoming a different people. Our country is becoming more ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse. By the year 2000, one out of every three New Yorkers will be an ethnic minority. By the year 2020, one of every two New Yorkers will be an ethnic minority. In New York City today, one child in every four is the offspring of a non-English speaking parent.
Unfortunately, we are not dealing well with this diversity. . . . The old idea was that it didn’t matter where you came from, that what mattered was being an American. Decent people didn’t talk about race. This was to be truly a new world. The purpose of the schools was the promotion of assimilation, implanting in children the Anglo-Saxon conceptions of righteousness, law, order and popular government, and awakening in them a reverence for our institutions. This prevented the U.S. from becoming an ethnically Balkanized nation. The assimilationist ideal worked for ethnic peoples who were white but is not working nearly as well for ethnic peoples of color. Replacing the old, assimilationist view is a competing ethic—cultural pluralism. Today we must accommodate not only a diversity of origins but a diversity of views. [Emphases added.](33)
In making this remarkable admission, that it is the race and ethnicity of the new immigrants, in combination with their numbers, that is forcing us to abandon the assimilationist ideal, Mr. Sobol seems unaware that he is calling for the very Balkanization which, he acknowledges, the old assimilationism prevented. The diversity of views that the American people are now called upon to accommodate really means a diversity of cultural identities, stories and value systems which are self-defined as being adversarial to America’s historic culture. The irony is that while the multiculturalists fully acknowledge the importance of rapid ethnic change in legitimizing this revolution, those who would defend Western culture have been loath to make that connection, out of fear of being called racist or of admitting that liberal progressivism—including open immigration—must have rational limits.
The absence of rationality, even the contemptuous dismissal of it as a Western bias, is characteristic of the multiculturalist agenda. In a proposal for a huge expansion of bilingual education, the New York State Regents approvingly quote this messianic passage by writer Vincent Harding:
Now, some of us who have been here for thousands of years, as well as some of us who came from Europe and from Asia, from Mexico and India, from Puerto Rico and the wide ranges of Latin America, may join with those children of Africa in the United States . . . together we may stand in the river, transformed and transforming, listening to its laughter and burning with its tears, recognizing in that ancient flow the indelible marks of human blood, yet grounded and buoyed by hope, courage and unfathomable, amazing grace. Keeping the faith, creating new faith, we may enter the terrible and magnificent struggle for the re-creation of America.(34)
Note how in this fantasy all cultures (including the European, which is now just one minority culture among others) are thrown violently together, mystically transformed. One would hardly know that the United States had ever had a distinct polity and society related to Western civilization. All that is now to be cast aside in a Dionysian trance.
Does American Culture Have a Core?
That establishment institutions could approve these visions of cultural suicide shows how profoundly the rhetoric of diversity has already altered our understanding of ourselves as a nation. Indeed, the exclusive emphasis on our diversity in recent years seems to have blinded us to the principles of our commonality. To help restore a more balanced perspective, we turn to sociologist Milton M. Gordon’s Assimilation in American Life. A liberal mainstream view of assimilation written on the very eve of the 1965 immigration reforms, Gordon’s study provides a much-needed counterpoise to the Orwellian myth of diversity that has arisen in the years since those reforms.
Gordon examines the three main theories of assimilation—Anglo conformity, the Melting Pot and cultural pluralism—and he concludes that cultural assimilation along Anglo-conformity lines is the most important thread in the historic pattern of assimilation. But cultural assimilation is only one part of the picture; the other is what Gordon calls “structural” assimilation. Cultural assimilation, in an Anglo-conformity context, is the adoption by an ethnic group of the habits, mores, behavior models and values of the “core” white Protestant culture and the partial or complete abandonment of the ethnic group’s old cultural identity; structural assimilation is a social blending at the level of primary associations such as family, church, community, clubs and so on.
Of course, today’s pluralists, both radical and mainstream, dismiss the very idea of a core culture into which immigrants assimilate; the reputed core, they say, is nothing but the product of successive immigrations. Much depends on how we understand this issue. Does America have a more-or-less persisting historical identity, or is it, as the pluralists insist, a blank slate—to be wiped off and written over afresh by each new generation? What Gordon has to say on this matter is illuminating:
In suggesting the answer to this question, I must once again point to the distinction between the impact of the members of minority groups as individuals making their various contributions to agriculture, industry, the arts, and science in the context of the Anglo-Saxon version (as modified by peculiarly American factors) of the combination of Hebraic, Christian, and Classical influences which constitutes Western civilization, and the specific impact on the American culture of the minority cultures themselves. The impact of individuals has been so considerable that it is impossible to conceive of what American society or American life would have been like without it. The impact of minority group culture has been of modest dimensions, I would argue, in most areas, and significantly extensive in only one—the area of institutional religion. From a nation overwhelmingly and characteristically Protestant in the late eighteenth century, America has become a national entity of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. . . . For the rest, there have been minor modifications in cuisine, recreational patterns, place names, speech, residential architecture, sources of artistic inspiration, and perhaps a few other areas—all of which add flavor and piquancy to the totality of the American culture configuration but have scarcely obscured its essential English outlines and content.
Over the generations, then, the triumph of acculturation in America has been, if not complete, at least numerically and functionally overwhelming. It is with regard to [structural assimilation] that the assimilation process has refused to take the path which the Anglo-conformists, at least by implication, laid out for it. . . . [The picture is of] an American society in which each racial and religious (and to a lesser extent, national origins) group has its own network of cliques, clubs, organizations, and institutions which tend to confine the primary group contacts of its members within the ethnic enclave, while interethnic contacts take place in considerable part only at the secondary group level of employment and the political and civic processes. . . . To understand, then, that acculturation without massive structural intermingling at primary group levels has been the dominant motif in the American experience of creating and developing a nation out of diverse peoples is to comprehend the most essential sociological fact of that experience. [Emphases added.](35)
The key idea, which I cannot stress too strongly, is Gordon’s distinction between structural pluralism and cultural pluralism—a distinction that Americans quite understandably have failed to grasp, since the historic diversity of ethnicity and community in America can be easily confused with the altogether different concept of cultural diversity.
In his analysis of the second model of assimilation, the Melting Pot, Gordon continues to stress the importance of Anglo-conformity. In its fullest articulation, the Melting Pot signified an amalgamation of all the European groups through intermarriage, and a consequent blending of all their cultural forms into a completely new form. This, says Gordon, has not occurred; “what has actually taken place has been more of transforming of the later immigrants’ specific cultural contributions into the Anglo-Saxon mould.”(36) Gordon quotes theologian Will Herberg:
The enthusiasts of the ‘melting pot’ . . . were wrong . . . in regard to the cultural aspect of the assimilative process. They looked forward to a genuine blending of cultures, to which every ethnic strain would make its own contribution and out of which would emerge a new cultural synthesis, no more English than German or Italian and yet in some sense transcending and embracing them all. In certain respects, this has indeed become the case: our American cuisine includes antipasto and spaghetti, frankfurters and pumpernickel, filet mignon and french fried potatoes, borsch, sour cream, and gefullte fish, on a perfect equality with fried chicken, ham and eggs, and pork and beans. But it would be a mistake to infer from this that the American’s image of himself—and that means the ethnic group member’s image of himself as he becomes American—is a composite or synthesis of the ethnic elements that have gone into the making of the American. It is nothing of the kind: The American’s image of himself is still the Anglo-American ideal it was at the beginning of our independent existence. The “national type” as ideal has always been, and remains, pretty well fixed. It is the Mayflower, John Smith, Davy Crockett, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln that define the American’s self-image, and this is true whether the American in question is a descendant of the Pilgrims or the grandson of an immigrant from southeastern Europe.(37)
If this last remark sounds quaint today, that only proves the extent to which we have lost, in the space of a few decades, the myths (and the political and moral principles those myths represent) that helped make us a nation. Anyone whose personal memory extends back before 1970 or 1960 will acknowledge the truth of Herberg’s observation.
Finally, returning to Gordon’s analysis, there is cultural pluralism, the vision of a society in which each ethnic group fully maintains its cultural as well as its structural identity. Horace Kallen compared the pluralistic society to an orchestra, in which “the different instruments, each with its own characteristic timbre and theme, contribute distinct and recognizable parts to the composition. . . .” The various groups would have the same relation that “the Constitution establishes between the States of the Union.”(38) Despite these attractive sentiments, says Gordon, Kallen failed to show “the specific nature of the communication and interaction which is to exist between the various ethnic communities and between the individuals who compose them in the ‘ideal’ cultural pluralistic society. . . .”(39) (We might add that this incoherency still marks the pluralistic slogans of the 1980s.) Gordon concludes that cultural pluralism is only a rhetorical ideal and not a description of, nor serious proposal for, the organization of society. The historical actuality has been “the maintenance of the structurally separate subsocieties of the three major religious and the racial and quasi racial groups, and even vestiges of the nationality groupings, along with a massive trend toward acculturation of all groups—particularly their native-born—to American culture patterns. In our view, then, a more accurate term for the American situation is structural pluralism rather than cultural pluralism, although some of the latter also remains.”(40)
Two conclusions emerge from Gordon’s analysis that will seem heretical in today’s climate. The first is that the United States has always been an Anglo-Saxon civilization; the successive waves of immigrants became Americans in the very act of adopting that civilization (even after people of Anglo-Saxon descent had started to become a minority). The second conclusion, a corollary of the first, is that the cultural diversity myth is historically and conceptually vacuous. As currently used, stock phrases like “This country was built by diversity” and “All cultures are of equal value to our society” imply that America has been primarily built, not by individuals from various backgrounds making their contributions as individuals to an existing if gradually modified American culture, but by minority cultures as such, all joining together in some kind of “equal” mix. As Gordon has shown, this opinion is mistaken. Yet the entire rhetoric of pluralism is based on it. The same goes for the current notion that throughout our history there has been a “constant flux” in America’s cultural identity. “The Ministry of Truth says that American culture was always in flux, which is true,” comments writer John Ney, “but the Ministry does not add that the flux was contained within a general form.”(41) [emphasis added]. We should remember, when we hear conservatives as well as liberals saying that diversity is the very essence of this country, that they are embracing a dangerously one-sided view of our history; by disregarding the central importance in the American experience of assimilation to Anglo-American cultural forms, they are, whether they realize it or not, sanctioning any and all demands made in the name of diversity.
A key to this confusion can be found in Thomas Sobol’s comment, quoted earlier, that “Today we must accommodate not only a diversity of origins but a diversity of views.” As we have said, there is little awareness of the fact that “diversity” has these two quite distinct meanings. When most Americans say, “We must respect diversity,” they are really thinking of a diversity of people, i.e., the assimilation of people of different national and ethnic backgrounds into a shared American culture. But what the cultural radicals and their mainstream apologists mean by diversity is a diversity of “views.” What this signifies is not simply the historical experiences and contributions of various ethnic groups in this country (an interesting area of study which, as we have seen, the radicals reject because it leaves America’s national culture in place), nor simply an appreciation of the variety of ethnic manners, tastes and talents; it means the legitimization and official sponsorship of entirely different, even incommensurable concepts of cultural identity, civilizational norms and history.* In other words, it is no longer through knowledge and love of a common heritage that we come to enjoy a viable unity as a people, but rather, as Thomas Sobol has declared (after giving lip service to the importance of Western culture), it is “only through understanding our diverse roots and branches . . . only by accommodating our differences . . . only by exploring our human variations” that we can “become one society.”(42) [emphases added]. To paraphrase the 1920s critic Irving Babbitt, the difference between the two doctrines described above is of a primary nature and so not subject to mediation. Between the view that unity is achieved by a primary emphasis on our diversity and the view that unity is achieved through a primary emphasis on our cultural commonality, the opposition is one of first principles.(43) In any case, the present discussion ought to warn us against these careless testimonials to diversity; we should realize that by prefacing every comment on this subject with obligatory phrases like “We must respect different cultures,” etc., we have already granted the cultural radicals their major premise. Perhaps more than any other factor, it is this imprecision of thought and speech, by liberals and conservatives alike, that has made an ideological time bomb like “A Curriculum of Inclusion” possible.
Beyond these considerations, Gordon’s and Herberg’s insights begin to fill the void in our self-knowledge that has been created by the propaganda and bad education of recent years; they help restore an almost vanished memory of the cultural roots we as Americans share in common—whatever our ancestry may be. In the words of Hungarian-born historian John Lukacs:
This writer, an historian, has no Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins, and he professes no blind admiration for some mythical virtues of the Anglo-Saxon race and its peoples. He must, however, insist on the obvious matter . . . that the English-speaking character of the United States must not be taken for granted. . . . The still extant freedoms of Americans—of all Americans—are inseparable from their English-speaking roots. . . . the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution—and the consequent prosperity and relative stability of the country flowing therefrom—were not abstract liberties but English liberties, dependent on practical as well as sentimental attachments and habits of English laws.(44)
To avoid being too abstract ourselves, it might be useful to try to specify these Anglo-American liberties and traditions to which Lukacs refers. A few examples come to mind:
• The remarkable degree of freedom from external controls—made possible by the Protestant ideal of moral autonomy and self-restraint. Even Michael Novak, a Catholic critic of the WASP “monoculture,” acknowledges the supreme importance of this value in American life. “America is a Protestant country,” he writes. “Its lack of external restraints is one of the blessings for which Catholics are genuinely grateful.”(45)
• The habits of self-reliance and local government, which, as Chronicles editor Thomas Fleming writes, “are largely absent from Eastern Europe, as they have been largely absent from Western European countries, including Sweden.”(46)
• The belief in natural rights, deriving from the classic liberalism of Locke and the Declaration of Independence. The traditional view, says Allan Bloom, is that it is the belief in natural rights that makes one an American:
The old view was that, by recognizing and accepting man’s natural rights, men found a fundamental basis of unity and sameness. Class, race, religion, national origin or culture all disappear or become dim when bathed in the light of natural rights, which give men common interests and make them truly brothers. The immigrant had to put behind him the claims of the Old World in favor of a new and easily acquired education. This did not necessarily mean abandoning old daily habits or religions, but it did mean subordinating them to new principles.(47)
By contrast, the current view, that cultural diversity (and therefore group rights) is the very essence of America, undermines the shared faith in individual rights that historically has been the basis of assimilation and common citizenship.
• The common law tradition and due process of law.
• The principle against self-incrimination. It is no coincidence that the U.S. and Canada are virtually the only countries in the Americas with clean records on judicial torture.
• The tradition of the loyal opposition and the right to dissent, which stands in such sharp contrast to the power-group warfare that obtains in African, Asian and Arab societies. Lawrence Harrison, a close observer of Latin America, has pointed out that Latin Americans have no apt word for the idea of dissent; disagreement with the powers that be is seen as treason or heresy.(48)
• Freedom of speech and the appeal to reason in public discourse. Even the emerging capitalist nations of Asia, such as Singapore, have little understanding of freedom of speech.
• The traditions of honesty and fair dealing. The sense of fair play.
• The high degree of trust and social cooperation made possible by the above, especially as compared with the expectation of dishonesty—and the mistrust of those beyond the family circle—that obtains in Latin American societies.(49)
• And finally, as the result of high moral standards, cooperativeness, trust and freedom—America’s extraordinarily rich tradition of voluntary associations and institutions, ranging from pioneer communities to churches to business enterprises to philanthropies to political and scientific societies, operating within the law but otherwise free of the state. In particular, the liberal university that embodies the ideal of the pursuit of truth. (Ironically, veritas—truth—is the motto of Harvard University, where professors and students are now being pressured to avoid discussing any idea that may be construed to offend specially designated ethnic groups—a further indication that the official pursuit of cultural diversity is incompatible with a liberal social order.)
As I hope these few examples may suggest, the facts of our Anglo-American common heritage should have a far deeper resonance in the American mind than the bromides of cultural pluralism that now fill the air. Yes, there have been modest alterations in the national culture due to minority group influence, as Milton Gordon acknowledges; but that does not alter the main insight that this country has a persisting, historically defined culture into which its immigrants and ethnic minorities—notwithstanding their enduring structural affiliations—have traditionally assimilated† And here we come to the most significant fact of our recent cultural/ethnic history: It is only since the 1960s, with the great increase in the numbers of people from non-European backgrounds, that the battle cry of cultural relativism has become ideologically dominant. In demanding that non-European cultures, as cultures, be given the same importance as the European-American national culture, the multiculturalists are declaring that the non-European groups are unable or unwilling to assimilate as European immigrants have in the past, and that for the sake of these non-assimilating groups American society must be radically transformed. This ethnically and racially based rejection of the common American culture should lead thoughtful Americans to re-evaluate some contemporary assumptions about ethnicity and assimilation.
The Problem of Cultural Identity
The history of assimilation has not been, as our mythology now tells us, a simple, glorious progress. Each wave of immigrants, especially the “new” immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, brought dislocation and conflict as well as new vitality; loss as well as gain. But the important thing was that the “new” immigrants still had much in common with the earlier Americans; the fact that they were of European descent and came from related cultures within Western civilization made it relatively easy for them to assimilate into the common sphere of civic habits and cultural identity that Milton Gordon has described. Americans thus remained a people—though obviously not (because of persisting ethnic distinctions) in the same sense that the Japanese, the English or even the French are a people, The relative degree of similarity helped make it possible to stretch America’s cultural fabric without ripping it. For example, it was eastern and southern European immigrants— men like Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Frederick Loewe, Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer, Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Michael Curtiz, Ben Hecht—who gave us many of the songs, plays and movies that are our twentieth century popular classics; who, in fact, created Hollywood. There was no insurmountable obstacle preventing these individuals from identifying with, and giving artistic expression to, the Anglo-American archetypes of our common culture; they so deeply identified with the American ideal that they created new and powerful forms of that ideal.
But it is not immediately apparent that people from radically diverse backgrounds and cultural identities—a Central American indio, a Cambodian peasant, a Shi’ite Muslim—can feel the same sort of ready identification with American myths and ideal figures. David M. Hwang, author of the racial morality play “M. Butterfly,” pinpoints the psychological dimension of this problem: “Growing up as a person of color, you’re always ambivalent to a certain degree about your own ethnicity. You think it’s great, but there is necessarily a certain amount of self-hatred or confusion at least, which results from the fact that there’s a role model in this society which is basically a Caucasian man, and you don’t measure up to that.”(50)
To the extent that David Hwang’s views on the wounded self-image of racial minorities in predominantly white America are representative (and such views have indeed become commonplace), he may have pointed out a human dilemma that the ideal of cultural assimilation can no longer fully obscure. Generally speaking, human beings most readily identify and feel comfortable with people (and cultural figures) similar to themselves, a fact that explains the successful assimilation of European immigrants into Anglo-American culture. It follows that if the new Americans from Asia and the Third World are to feel truly comfortable as Americans (and if white Americans are to be cured of their own race-consciousness and not experience the massively increasing numbers of Asians and other minorities as a disturbingly alien presence in this society), then America’s role model, its ideal figures and unifying myths, must change, diversify, embrace all the races, ethnic types and cultures on earth. This implies a metamorphosis in our art, our drama, our popular entertainment, our literature, our teaching of history—a mutation of our very identity as a people. And the force that creates the irresistible demand for this cultural change is—it must be emphasized again—the sea-change in America’s ethnic and racial character. In David Hwang’s words: “Sophisticated American whites realize their group is in the process of changing from an outright majority to just a plurality in the U.S., and are beginning to be ready to hear what the rest of us think”—i.e., admit Asian values, images and cultural idiom into the heart of American culture.(51) Paradoxically, while he admits that “M. Butterfly” is anti-Western, Hwang insists: “But it’s very pro-American, too.” Translation: Hwang is “pro” a future, multicultural America—an America that has become “good” by surrendering its historic identity.
Ironically, even as the new pluralism is transforming America’s cultural landscape, there has been a sort of sentimental persistence of the old assimilationist ideal, updated to include all the peoples of the world and not just those of Europe, which continues to deny that ethnic and racial pluralism poses any kind of problem. According to this “post-1965 assimilationism,”—subscribed to by progressive conservatives as well as liberals—it is not just that ethnicity and race are of little importance to a person’s cultural self-identification; they are absolutely irrelevant;‡ hence America’s capacity for the cultural assimilation of peoples of widely diverse races and cultures must be infinite; somehow (this wildly hopeful vision tells us), the U.S. population will become ethnically Asian and Latin American indio, but America will go on being the same Western society it has always been. To doubt the likelihood of this scenario is not to argue that “race determines culture,” nor is it to deny that cultural adaptation has occurred in a myriad of individual cases, thus demonstrating a certain permeability in ethnic/cultural identities; but surely it is unrealistic to expect such adaptation to continue when (1) the U.S. is receiving a never-ending mass immigration of non-Western peoples, leading inexorably to white-minority status in the coming decades; (2) a race-based cultural diversity movement is attacking, with almost effortless success, the legitimacy of our Western culture; and (3) American society has lost its intellectual moorings, is no longer passing its cultural tradition and historical memory on to its children, let alone to immigrants, and as a practical matter has given up on the assimilationist ideal.
This last point should make it clear that uncontrolled immigration is not the only factor in the suicidal trend I have been describing. Even if there were no immigration at all, America would still be experiencing what can only be called a terrifying social and moral decline. Concerns over mediocrity are hardly a new thing in this country, but surely the attack on the intellect, the decay of family and individual character that have occurred over the past 25 years are phenomena of an entirely different order, posing a very real threat to the freedoms and the high level of civilization this country has enjoyed. The combination of both factors—progressive degeneracy and divisiveness of the existing society on one hand and perpetual mass immigration on the other—must be fatal. History offers many examples of nations that have recovered from overwhelming catastrophe; Ancient Israel recovered more than once from spiritual decadence and conquest; Europe recovered from the death of a third of its population in the Black Plague; the French recovered from the ravages of the French Revolution. Renewal was possible in such cases not least because the national identity of those peoples, and the spiritual spark of their civilizations, remained intact. But if America continues “the slide into apathy, hedonism and moral chaos,” as Christopher Lasch has called it,(52) and at the same time its present population is replaced by a chaotic mix of peoples from radically diverse, non-European cultures, then there will be no basis for continuation or renewal. Like ancient Greece after the classical Hellenes had dwindled away and the land was repopulated by Slavonic and Turkic peoples, America will have become literally a different country. There will be no American Renaissance—except perhaps as some faceless subdivision of the global shopping mall.
The decisive factor, ignored by almost everyone in our sentimental land, is the sheer force of numbers. The United States has shown that it has the capacity to absorb a certain number of ethnic minorities into its existing cultural forms. The minorities, so long as there remains a majority culture that believes in itself, have powerful incentives to accept the legitimacy of the prevailing culture even as they add their own variety to it. But as they continue to grow in numbers relative to the whole population, a point of critical mass is reached. The new groups begin to assert an independent peoplehood, and the existing society comes to be seen as illegitimate and oppressive; what was once (granting its flaws) applauded as the most beneficent society in the history of the world, is suddenly, as though by a magician’s curse, transformed into an evil racist power. That the point has already been reached can be seen from the following comment which appeared, not in some organ of the far left, but in the New York Times:
How can teachers blindly continue to preach the virtues of “our” cultural tradition in classrooms where, in regions such as California, most students are now African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, whose families’ main experience of Western civilization has been victimization?(53)
If it is the sheer number of non-Europeans in places like California that obligates us to abandon “our” cultural tradition, is it not an inescapable conclusion that the white majority in this country, if it wishes to preserve that tradition, must place a rational limit on the number of immigrants?
Black Separatism as a Warning
The potential for the breakdown of cultural assimilation can be seen in the increasing ambivalence of black Americans toward the majority culture. It is one of the saddest ironies of recent history that many black people, rather than drawing closer to the mainstream culture now that the legal obstacles to participation in American life have been removed, are increasingly defining themselves in opposition to it. Blacks are among the most vocal members of the multicultural movement. Many have adopted the fantastic racial myth that Greco-Roman and Western culture were really descended from black Africa, that such figures as Socrates, Hannibal and Cleopatra were really black, and that there has been a conspiracy by white historians to cover up these facts. Ironically, far from whetting the interest of blacks in Western culture as a putative close relative of ancient African civilization, these notions merely serve as a pretext for dismissing Western civilization as illegitimate and oppressive. Black educators speak of the psychological harm done to black children when they are taught Western culture. Never mind that the greatest black leaders have been shining products of that culture. In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois wrote of his education in white, northern schools that “changed the child of Emancipation to the youth with dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect.”(54) But today, Jesse Jackson leads the mindless chant, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture has got to go,” while Louis Farrakhan urges his followers to find their true identity by rejecting white people and overturning their “evil” society.§ A recent television documentary on the 1960s civil rights movement showed a young black man speaking at a rally. “We love this country,” he said, “and we want to be part of it.” But today, in their values and political ideology, even in the names they give their children, more and more black people seem like inhabitants of some new Third World nation. The adoption of the title “African-American” clearly denotes a withdrawal from membership in this society. As one black writer has commented: “‘African-American’ announces a global context for black identity, no longer confined to simply ‘minority’ status in the United States. Most important, this different world view places African heritage at the center rather than at the margin of experience.”(55) [emphasis added]. Now if a significant number of black Americans, who have been (albeit oppressed) members of this Christian, Western society for hundreds of years—who are part of the historical soul of this country—now feel compelled to reject America’s common culture and assert a separate racial/cultural identity with a Third World perspective, is it not reasonable to fear the same thing in the case of many Third World immigrants who have no cultural links with Western civilization? Thomas Fleming has remarked:
As a nation, we have barely survived the existence of two separate populations, black and white, and we have a long way to go in working out better relations between those two groups. What shall we do when the whole of America becomes a multiracial Alexandria?(56)
As suggested earlier, pro-immigration conservatives and liberals deal with the looming threat to national cohesion by imagining that it doesn’t exist; America, they believe, has an infinite capacity for the assimilation of diverse peoples. This astounding conceit can be made credible only at a great cost—that is, by flattening our idea of American society to the most superficial image of consumerism and pop culture. American culture is thus made equally accessible to all—and equally meaningless. “The process of assimilation is inexorable,” writes Time. “As these students become Americanized, they want to eat hot dogs and hamburgers and pizza. . . . They want designer jeans and bicycles and calculators and digital watches.”(57) By reducing American culture to the idea of its material accoutrements, Time makes the acquisition of that culture seem as quick and easy as an over-the-counter purchase. Similarly, Wall Street “conservatives” and free-market economists reduce America’s essence to the pursuit of maximum activity in the global marketplace. From this point of view it makes no difference whether a person can participate in the culture of this country or even if he speaks English; holding a job and paying taxes become the sole criterion of being a good and useful citizen. The strictures of contemporary debate force even cultural conservatives into the materialist fallacy; thus the lobbying group U.S. English bases its defense of our common language on utilitarian grounds, rather than on the ground of the survival of a distinctive American civilization. What all these reductionisms have in common is that they disregard the intangible and affective dimensions of human society. Participation in commerce or science only requires the appropriate human activity and talents, which are, modern thought tells us, equal among all the peoples of the earth. But participation in a particular culture requires a degree of identification with that culture, the potential or desire for which is manifestly not equal among all men and nations. “It is the easiest thing in the world,” wrote Arnold Toynbee in a slightly different context, “for commerce to export a new Western technique. It is infinitely harder for a Western poet or saint to kindle in a non-Western soul the spiritual flame that is alight in his own.”(58) If America is to survive its present decline, it needs to rediscover, and learn to articulate, this spiritual flame of which Toynbee speaks. The answers to our current problems lie within the still-living but neglected roots of our own civilization—not in giving up that civilization for the sake of some utopian global order.
This brings us to yet another kind of reductionism we ought to beware of: the tendency to see our society as a mere abstraction of freedom and human rights. Yes, America stands for, and is based on, certain universal principles; but we must insist that America also happens to be a country. Surely the Founding Fathers saw no contradiction between being devoted as philosophers to universal principles of republicanism and the rights of man, and as patriots to a particular nation, a particular people. To ignore our national individuality—in an effort to make America seem instantly accessible to every person and culture on the planet—is to turn our country into the blank slate of which we spoke earlier, on which the social engineers and all the migrating masses of the world can write whatever they please. In other words, America needs to revive the original name and meaning of the Statue of Liberty (now quite forgotten): “Liberty Enlightening the World”—a shining example for other nations to achieve in their own lands and in their own ways what we have achieved here, not a simply a mindless invitation for the whole world to move here.
The argument presented in these pages is that the combined forces of open immigration and multiculturalism constitute a mortal threat to American civilization. At a time when unprecedented ethnic diversity makes the affirmation of a common American culture more important than ever, we are, under the pressure of that diversity, abandoning the very idea of a common culture. “We are asking America to open its linguistic frontiers,” one multiculturalist spokesman has said, “and to accept an expanded idea of what it means to be an American”—a standard that, in terms of immigration and language policies, seem to include everyone in the universe.(59) Whether we consider America’s porous borders; or the disappearing standards for naturalization; or the growth of official multilingualism; or the new “diversity” curricula aimed at destroying the basis of common citizenship; or the extension of virtually all the rights and protections of citizenship to legal and illegal aliens; or the automatic granting of citizenship to children of illegals; the tendency is clear: we have in effect redefined the nation to the point where there is no remaining criterion of American identity other than the physical fact of one’s being here. It is, to quote Alexander Hamilton, “an attempt to break down every pale which has been erected for the preservation of a national spirit and a national character.”(60)
The irony is that most Americans support immigration as “liberal” policy. That is, they want America to remain open and to help people, and they also expect that the new immigrants will assimilate into our existing society. It was on this basis that the opening of America’s doors to every country on earth was approved in 1965 and continues to enjoy unassailable political support. But we are beginning to see, simply as a practical, human matter, that the successful assimilation of such huge numbers of widely diverse peoples into a single people and viable polity is a pipe dream. It is at this point that multiculturalism comes along and says: “That’s not a problem. We don’t want to assimilate into this oppressive, Eurocentered mold. We want to reconstruct America as a multicultural society.” And this radical pluralist view gains acceptance by retaining the moral legitimacy, the patina of humanitarianism, that properly belonged to the older liberalism which it has supplanted. We have thus observed the progress, largely unperceived by the American people, from the liberal assimilationist view, which endorses open immigration because it naively believes that our civilization can survive unlimited diversity, to radical multiculturalism, which endorses open immigration because it wants our civilization to end.
What has been said so far will doubtless offend those who see unlimited diversity not as a threat to our society, but as a glorious enhancement of it. I do not deny that there are many apparently positive things associated with our expanding demographic character: the stimulus of the boundless human variety in our big cities; the satisfaction of welcoming people from every country in the world and seeing them do well here; the heady sense that we are moving into a New Age in which all barriers between people will disappear and humanity will truly be one. But the question must be asked: is all this excitement about a New Age, this fascination with the incredible changes occurring before our eyes, a sound basis for determining our national destiny? Is all this idealism without its dark side? Is it not to be feared—if the lessons of history are any guide—that the “terrible and magnificent struggle” to recreate America is leading us, not to the post-imperialist age of peace and love the cultural pluralists dream of, but to a new and more terrible age of ethnic imperialism?
Americans are being told that to redeem themselves from their past sins, they must give way to, and even merge with, the cultures they have oppressed or excluded in the past. But for a culture to deny its own “false” legitimacy, as America is now called upon to do, does not create a society free of false legitimacy; it simply means creating a vacuum of legitimacy—and thus a vacuum of power—into which other cultures, replete with their own “imperialistic lies,” will move. Training Hispanic and other immigrant children in American public schools to have their primary loyalty to their native cultures is not to create a new kind of bicultural, cosmopolitan citizenry; it is to systematically downgrade our national culture while raising the status and power of other cultures. As James Burnham has shown in The Machiavellians, we need to see the real meaning (a concern with power) that is concealed behind the formal meaning of various idealistic slogans. The formal meaning of “diversity,” “cultural equity,” “gorgeous mosaic” and so on is a society in which many different cultures will live together in perfect equality and peace (i.e., a society that has never existed and never will exist); the real meaning of these slogans is that the power of the existing mainstream society to determine its own destiny shall be drastically reduced while the power of other groups, formerly marginal or external to that society, will be increased. In other words the U.S. must, in the name of diversity, abandon its particularity while the very groups making that demand shall hold on to theirs.
Thus understood, cultural pluralism is not the innocent expansion of our human sympathies it pretends to be, but a kind of inverse colonialism. Time, in a special issue put together by its Hispanic staff writers, speaks buoyantly of the coming “convergence” of American and Hispanic cultures, a convergence that Americans should welcome “unconditionally” as an enrichment of their own society and as an opening up of their “restricted” identity. “We come bearing gifts,” Time says on behalf of the growing Hispanic presence in the United States.(61) But, stripped of its sentimentality, isn’t this what colonial powers have always said? The only difference is that, in the Age of Imperialism, it was the strong powers that took over the weak; in today’s Age of Diversity, it is the weak who are taking over the strong, with the strong’s invitation and blessing.
An additional irony is that the call for cultural pluralism is often accompanied by a call for globalism—which would obviously tend to weaken national diversity. If diversity has a true and positive meaning (as distinguished from its Burnhamite meaning), it is that each nation maintains its own identity. If different societies blend together, or if one of them, through mass migration or cultural imperialism, imposes its identity on another, the result is a loss of national identity and therefore a loss of diversity. As John Ney has observed: “In any objective study of cultural dynamics, is not cultural co-existence a myth? Does not one culture or the other triumph, or merge in a synthesis in which neither (or none) survives intact?”(62) If it is diversity we really want, we should preserve our own and each other’s distinct national identities. But if the relationship we desire between foreign cultures and our own is “convergence” (Time’s upbeat motto for the Latin American invasion), then we should recognize that this means the end of American civilization as we know it.||
The Loss of Cultural Identity
To picture the spiritual impact that the multicultural revolution will have on our society would require an act of historical imagination that is frankly beyond the power of this writer. Indeed, it is this inability to “imagine” our own cultural heritage and what its loss would mean to us—largely a result of several generations of relativist education and the triumph of pop culture—that makes it hard for us to articulate or defend that heritage. As John Lukacs has written: “It is a problem of existing cultural essences and assets that cannot be quantified or computerized. . . . What is threatened is not just our nation’s body, but its soul.”(63) Perhaps I can illustrate what I mean through the example of art. When we look at an ancient Greek sculpture, or a Renaissance painting showing a group of people gathered around the Christ child, or, for that matter, a Hollywood classic from the thirties, we are seeing profoundly resonant images of our own civilization and culture, images that have made us what we are. Looking at the Renaissance painting or the Greek sculpture, we realize that we are partakers of the same Classical, Judeo-Christian, Western heritage, actors in the same drama. This vital communication of one generation, one age with another is the soul of civilization. From it we derive the sense of being part of a continuum which stretches back to the ancient past and forward to the future. From that vital intercourse with the past each generation renews itself.
But now this continuum, which is the body of our civilization extending through time, is about to be broken forever. Under the pressure of multiculturalism, Americans will be denied their own heritage and prevented from handing it on to succeeding generations. Because that entire cultural heritage, which (before the opening up of massive Third-World immigration) was taken for granted as “our” heritage, is now considered to be merely an exclusive, “white” heritage and therefore illegitimate. Deprived of its good conscience, American/Western culture will lose the ability to defend itself and will be progressively downgraded to accommodate a bewildering array of other cultures.¶ “In its Third Century,” Kotkin and Kishimoto write, “American culture may no longer be based predominantly on European themes. Its motifs may be as much Latin or Asian as traditional Anglo-American.”(64) As the image of our civilization, as expressed in the arts and literature, changes to a multiracial, multicultural image, what kind of art will result? Movies and plays, instead of portraying the relationships of individuals within a community or family, as drama has done time out of mind, must focus self-consciously on race relations. Established literary works that have formed a living bridge between one generation of Americans and the next will fall into oblivion, to be replaced by works on minority, Hispanic and Asian issues. The religious paintings of the multiculturalist society, instead of portraying a group of individuals chosen from the artists’ imagination, would follow a statistical formula; the figures gathered around the Christ child would have to be x percent brown, x percent black, yellow, white and so on, all chosen on the basis of racial balance rather than their individual character. Diversity would so overwhelm unity that the idea of diversity within unity would be lost. If you think this is an absurd prediction about the future of art and of society, just look at any television show or advertisement. The formulaic racial balance imposes itself everywhere, even to the point of inventing multiracial families on television that don’t exist in the real world. It is the new image of America, popularized by Time covers and ABC News graphics—a brown, mixed people, painted in a heroic, proletarian style that might be called Multiracialist Realism.
The Political Consequences
(1) Homogeneity and Assimilation
Apart from the spiritual dislocation—the catastrophe—implied in such profound changes in art, literature and drama, we have barely begun to think about the effects that a radically diverse population will have on our political institutions. The first of these is a loss of that social cohesion, that practicable homogeneity without which, history teaches us, a free society based on individual rights cannot survive. The Founding Fathers understood this danger very well. Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1802:
The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.
The opinion . . . is correct, that foreigners will generally be apt to bring with them attachments to the persons they have left behind; to the country of their nativity, and to its particular customs and manners. . . . The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities.(65)
Thomas Jefferson also worried about the impact of non-assimilable immigrants:
In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass. . . . Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we believe that the addition of half a million foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.(66)
During the anti-immigration movement in the early twentieth century, the president of Harvard University, A. Lawrence Lowell, wrote:
It is, indeed, largely a perception of the need of homogeneity, as a basis for popular government and the public opinion on which it rests, that justifies democracies in resisting the influx of great numbers of a widely different race.(67)
Of course, it is commonly believed today that the anti-immigration sentiment in the past, particularly in the post-World War I years, discredits similar concerns in the present; that is, just as the earlier fears of an unassimilable mass of immigrants proved to be unwarranted, so will the present fears. But this argument ignores the fact that the great wave of the “new” immigration was brought to a halt in 1922. This reduction in immigration vastly eased the assimilation process in the following decades and led to a dramatic decrease in the nativist fears that had been the prime motive for the 1920s legislation. “Somewhere, in the mid-1930’s,” writes immigration historian Oscar Handlin, “there was a turn. Americans ceased to believe in race, the hate movements [against the European immigrants] began to disintegrate, and discrimination increasingly took on the aspect of an anachronistic survival from the past, rather than a pattern valid for the future. . . . In the face of those changes, it might well have been asked: ‘What happened to race?’”(68) It is revealing that, among the explanations Handlin offers for this sudden and welcome drop in the nativist fever, he says nothing about the most obvious cause: the fact that immigration had been drastically lowered by the 1920s legislation (and later completely stopped by the Depression); such acknowledgement would undercut Handlin’s own moralistic criticism of the restrictive 1920s laws. Whatever we may think of those restrictions from a humanitarian point of view, their importance in advancing the assimilation of white ethnics in the mid-twentieth century cannot be denied. Certainly, the United States would not have been nearly so strong and united a society as it was from the beginning of the Second World War until the 1960s if the country had received, as had been feared, two million immigrants per year during the 1920s and beyond.
It ought also to be mentioned, in light of the present habit of blaming everything on racism, that the Founders were concerned about the divisive effect of white Europeans from monarchical societies, who they feared would resist American republican principles. Similarly, the anti-Irish feeling in the mid-nineteenth century had nothing to do with race.(69) It was only with the rise of the new immigration from southern and eastern Europe in the 1880s, along with the Chinese and Japanese immigrations, that the fear of unassimilability began to focus on race. The concern common to all the historical stages of anti-immigrant sentiment was not race as such but the need for a harmonious citizenry holding to the same values and political principles and having something of the same spirit. Now, certainly, our experience with cultural assimilation in the twentieth century has widened our sense of the ethnic parameters of a viable polity far beyond what either the Founding Fathers or the 20th century nativists thought possible; but the question we forget at our peril is, how far can those parameters be expanded while still maintaining a viable cultural and political homogeneity? The importance of harmony, of a “radius of identification and trust,” is still paramount for a free society.(70)
(2) Unlimited Diversity—A Threat to Equality
As diversity continues to expand beyond the point where genuine assimilation is possible, the ideal of equality will also recede. “Iceland’s population of 240,000 is a notably homogeneous society,” writes the New York Times. “Like these other well-off homogeneous nations [i.e., Scandinavia and Japan] Iceland’s wealth is evenly distributed and its society is remarkably egalitarian.”(71)
Even liberals seem to recognize the cor
relation between homogeneity and equality—for every country that is, except the United States, where we have conceived the fantastic notion that we can achieve equality and unlimited diversity at the same time. A far more likely result is a devolution of society into permanent class divisions based on ethnicity, a weakening of the sense of common citizenship, and a growing disparity between islands of private wealth and oceans of public squalor. America’s effort to create a society that is both multicultural and equal may end by destroying forever the age-old hope of equality.
(3) Unlimited Diversity—A Threat to Liberty
Finally, unlimited diversity threatens liberty itself. The inequality, the absence of common norms and loyalties, and the social conflict stemming from increased diversity require a growing state apparatus to mediate the conflict. The disappearance of voluntary social harmony requires that harmony be imposed by force. As historian Robert Nisbet has argued, the demand in this century for ever more innovative forms of equality has already resulted in a vast enlargement of the state.(72)
Radical pluralism raises to a new level this threat to our liberty, since now the state will be called upon to overcome, not just the inequality of individuals, but the inequality of cultures. The inherent vastness and endlessness of such an enterprise matches the intrusiveness of the state power that must be exercised to achieve it. The signs of this new despotism are all around us:
• the de jure and de facto repression of speech dealing with racially sensitive subjects;(73)
• the official classification and extension of privileges to people according to ethnic affiliation;
• the expansion of judicial and bureaucratic power to enforce racial quotas in more and more areas of society;
• the subjection of the American people to an unceasing barrage of propaganda telling us we are all brothers, that we must “respect all cultures,” etc., even while government policies are unleashing a wave of cultural diversity and ethnic chauvinism that is making spontaneous brotherly feeling a receding dream. In other words, the “family” that Governor Mario Cuomo keeps telling us we all belong to is really—the state.
The End of American Civilization
I have been attempting in these pages to suggest a few of the myriad potential effects of mass immigration and multiculturalism on this country’s future. There are darker scenarios I have not explored—the spread of Third-World conditions in parts of our country; the collapse of civic order (nightmarishly portrayed in Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities), or the disintegration of the United States along regional and ethnic lines. Whatever the future America may look like, it will not be a country that we—or our forebears whose legacy we are so carelessly throwing away—would be able to recognize.
In the years and decades to come, as the present American people and their descendants begin to understand what is happening to their country; as they see their civilization disappearing piece by piece, city by city, state by state, from before their eyes, and that nothing can be done to stop it, they will suffer the same collapse of spirit that occurs to any people when its way of life, its historical identity, is taken away from it. Beneath all the hopeful names they will try to find for these changes—diversity, world-nation, global oneness—there will be the repressed knowledge that America is becoming an utterly different country from what it has been, and that this means the end of their world. But the pain will not last for long. As the clerics of diversity indoctrinate new generations into the Orwellian official history, even the memory of what America once was will be lost.
Finally, if we want to consider “cultural equity,” there seems to be an extraordinary kind of inequity in the proposition that the United States must lose its identity, must become the “speechless, meaningless country” that Allan Bloom has foreseen, while the countries that the new immigrants are coming from are free to preserve their identities. In a hundred years, the United States will have become in large part an Hispanic nation, while Latin America will still be what it has always been; Mexico has strict immigration laws even against other Latin Americans. China, Korea, the Philippines and India will still have their historic cultures intact after having exported millions of their people to America, while America’s historic culture will have vanished. If the situation were reversed and North Americans were colonizing Latin America and Asia, it would be denounced as racist imperialism. Why, then, does every other country in the world have the right to preserve its identity but the United States has not? The answer, as I’ve tried to show, is that the end of multiculturalism is not some utopian, “equal” society, but simply the end of American civilization.
So much for America; if other Western nations continue their openness to Third World immigration, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of Western civilization as a whole. And this defeat of the West will have been accomplished, not by the superior strength or civilization of the newcomers, not by the “forces of history,” but simply by the feckless generosity and moral cowardice of the West itself. In the prophetic words of social psychologist William McDougall:
As I watch the American nation speeding gaily, with invincible optimism down the road to destruction, I seem to be contemplating the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind.(74)
‘Cult of diversity’ a blueprint for national suicide
Ed Iverson has a column in today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
I’ve included the text of Dick Lamm’s speech I Have A Plan To Destroy America in a separate post.
Dick Lamm is a Democrat. He served as governor of Colorado from 1975 to 1987. Several years ago he gave a short speech that became widely circulated and somewhat famous. It was never circulated by our tamed media, mind you. Our castrated journalists make a great fuss about a free press; but you only have to be about half clever to see this is strictly limited to a very narrow range of acceptable “news.” Were it not for the Internet and the bloggers, this little 5-minute speech would have gone down the memory hole designed for such heresies.
The ideas expressed by Lamm are so blasphemous that detractors have resorted to claiming a highly placed elected official of national stature never made such a speech. The speech has been the subject of numerous “urban legend” investigations and fraud-alert Web sites. The inconvenient truth is that a prominent Democrat did indeed affirm such heresy. Furthermore, when questioned today, he stands by its content.
Recent attempts by both Democrats and Republicans to institutionalize our open borders and grant amnesty to illegal immigrants has given this “blueprint for national suicide” fresh legs. Lamm gave his speech shortly after Victor Davis Hanson wrote “Mexifornia.” That book describes how free-wheeling immigration is destroying the entire state of California. Hanson warns that this unregulated process will march across the country until it destroys all vestiges of the American Dream. With that scenario in mind, Lamm outlined the following checklist for destroying America:
Richard Lamm’s interview with Ed Sardella — Part 1
“First, turn America into a bilingual or multi lingual and bicultural country.” History cannot be more clear. National unity is threatened and eventually destroyed by competing loyalties of language. For confirmation, one has only to look at modern bilingual experiments. Pakistan and Cyprus are two examples of nations that were unable to survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of competing languages. Beginning with Latin, we should teach languages in our schools. But we must not subject America to the curse of two or more “official” languages.
Next on Lamm’s list was “Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture.” Multiculturalism and the bilingual (or multilingual) cult are joined at the hip. The former serves as the fertile growing medium for the latter. Multiculturalism claims to celebrate differences. That is a smokescreen. An overwhelming effect of multiculturalism is the functional denial of central differences. If you want to be a modern heretic, quietly suggest that some cultures are superior to others. The cult of multiculturalism explains every difficulty experienced by blacks or Hispanics by prejudice and discrimination. Failures of the American civilization explain the murderous intent of every radical Muslim. Lamm charges that “every other explanation is out of bounds.”
Gov. Lamm went on to say, “I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture.” He criticized those who insist upon championing a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. England and France are high-profile examples of nations that are already in the process of self-destruction because they embrace the salad bowl metaphor. It is indeed true that our nation has profited greatly by past immigration. But it cannot be emphasized too strongly that prior generations of immigrants arrived at a rate that allowed for assimilation. In addition to that, they really wanted to immerse themselves in American society. We are now experiencing a reversal of all that and it does not bode well for our future. The former governor also criticized an education establishment intent on reinforcing the reigning folly. He decried government and corporate efforts aimed at getting minorities to see themselves as victims. He deplored the expanding discipline of “victimology.” He denounced any plans for dual citizenship and extolled the virtues of a national unity that promotes cultural peace and stability.
Finally, Lamm lamented the political correctness that places “all subjects off limits – making it taboo to question the cult of ‘diversity.’ “ He scolded those who manipulate words like “racist” or “xenophobe” to end discussion and paralyze thinking – just as the word ‘heretic’ did in former ages.
This Democrat has my vote.
Ed Iverson is the head librarian at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow.
He earned a master’s of library science at the University of Southern Mississippi
and studied theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC.
In 1990, he ran for the Idaho Senate as a Republican from Mullan.
He lives with his wife at Viola.
They have two children and six grandchildren.
OUR COUNTRY COMING UNDONE
By Frosty Wooldridge
November 2, 2004
This article examines seven destructive points being injected into America by over 10 million illegal immigrants already in this country and 3 million arriving annually. This massive ‘unarmed Army’ manifests at an ever increasing speed—the undoing of America.
For the first time in history, the United States suffered a crippling attack inside its borders on 9/11. Three years later, because our government leaders refuse to protect our southern flank, we are being attacked by an ‘unarmed army’ of millions who have invaded our country by crossing our borders.
Time Magazine, September 12, 2004, “Who Left The Door Open?” documented 4,000 illegal aliens crossing nightly and over three million intruders will cross in 2004. It’s an invasion unprecedented in the history of the United States. Worse, it’s being facilitated by our elected leaders to the highest levels in the White House.
Even more distressing is a concerted push by both major parties to assist this army to not only enter our country against our laws, but also to gain access to everything we have built with the blood, sweat and tears of American citizens.
Today, millions of illegal aliens are causing accelerating damage to our schools, hospitals, social programs, highways, language, sprawl, standard of living and our way of life. Should illegal aliens enjoy driver’s licenses, amnesty, welfare and schooling of their children on our tax dollars? Just because they came here to work for a better life?
The sobering reality is that two billion people would move to America if given a ticket today. However, it’s impossible. We are a nation of laws and we have horrific problems of unemployment at 18 million people, $7.4 trillion debt, collapsing hospitals, diseases and growing language conflicts.
Somehow, the media and the ‘elite’ of this country have forced us into this accelerating crisis. Polls show 70% of Americans want illegal immigration stopped and serious reductions in legal immigration down to fewer than 100,000 per year.
Astoundingly, 10% of Mexico now lives in our country. Fully 75% of all drugs cross over from Mexico. We pay $68 billion in expenses for immigrants annually. They send home hard currency of $10.5 billion to Mexico, $25 billion to Latin America, $16 billion to Asia thus draining our country. In short, illegal immigration is killing this country.
We MUST create a dialog on the future prospects of our nation by addressing seven major points: If you own a home, you maintain a door. You welcome guests after they knock and you lock it to keep out unwanted incursions. Just as every house needs a door, every country needs a border to maintain its right to privacy, self-maintenance and personal freedom. Our nation’s door has been invaded by over 10 million people who broke the latch and marched in as if they had the right to such a crime. They continue at 1 million per year.
However, this is a nation where the ‘rule of law’ is the most important brick in the foundation of our constitution. The ‘rule of law’ allows our freedom, our integrity and our right to choose what and whom we want or don’t want in our nation. We don’t want terrorists. We don’t want border crashers who bring drugs. We don’t want illegal aliens who suppress wages, over run our schools, usurp our language and overwhelm our social services.
Illegal immigration hurts America’s poor. In a recent account in the New York Times, black children suffered 50% greater poverty in the past 10 years due to immigration. Illegal immigrants compete for jobs normally done by America’s poor. A study by the Center For Immigration Studies wrote, “Mexican immigration is overwhelmingly unskilled and it’s hard to find an economic argument for unskilled immigration because it tends to reduce wages for U.S. workers.”
Cheap labor from illegal immigration is not ‘cheap.’ It’s subsidized by all of us in the form of our tax dollars paying for their services. It makes a few employers wealthy at the expense of all of us. The National Academy of Sciences found “…a significant fiscal drain of $7,000 per student per year paid for by U.S. tax dollars.”
These newcomers do not respect our English language. Adding more salt into our national wound of this invasion, there is not a single bilingual country in the world that is at peace with itself. Dozens of languages cause educational confusion, conflict and violence. When people move to this country, but maintain their language, their culture and their old loyalties, it’s a recipe for the undoing of our nation.
With that demise, our cohesive national fabric shreds as ethnic ghettoes advance across our nation with rituals such as female genital mutilation, cock fighting and violent groups espousing clashing cultures. Too many unskilled, uneducated, non-English speaking people living in too much poverty will not advance our nation. The Center for Immigration Studies points out; “The lower educational attainment of immigrants persists across generations as two thirds of immigrant workers lack a high school diploma.” Democracy is a delicate form of government that demands an educated populace with similar moral and ethical standards and a single language.
And finally, illegal immigrants crossing our borders without being health screened have brought us 7,000 new cases of leprosy in the past three years. Additionally, they brought 16,000 cases of incurable (multiple drug resistant) tuberculosis, thousands of cases of hepatitis, head lice, Chagas Disease and Exotic New Castle. Since 1.1 million illegal alien children attend U.S. schools, our children are at risk.
“The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, or preventing all possibility of its continuing as a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.” — President Teddy Roosevelt, 1902.
Without a national debate on illegal immigration, our country will continue its downward spiral into conditions resembling the Third World.
Their numbers will burgeon from 10 million to 20 million and beyond. If we don’t take action today, we won’t be able to take action tomorrow.
MULTICULTURALISM & DIVERSITY: NOT IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD!
By Frosty Wooldridge
July 31, 2008
Anyone may look across the world landscape over the last 1,000 years to witness that racial conflict injects itself into every aspect of human life.
Such and such a group hates some other collection of people. Religious groups bomb other religious groups such as the Protestants and the Catholics in Ireland. Muslims hate the Jews in the Middle East with thousands of killings.
You never hear about racism in mono-ethnic societies like China or Japan. Why? Everyone enjoys a similar background of values and cultural cohesion.
In America, with hundreds of different ethnic groups, especially black, white, brown, red and yellow, we exist in a tenuous but tolerant dance guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
It’s not been easy with Jim Crow Laws, the KKK, Watts Riots, separate but equal, anger of Malcolm X, white flight to the suburbs, smoldering and seething ghettoes and Pastor Jeremiah Wright in Chicago with “God D*** America….”
In 1965, Senator Teddy Kennedy created an even more tense society by immigrating millions from incompatible cultures that now call America home: Muslims, Hmongs, Koreans, Somalians, Ethiopians, etc. Additionally, he created even greater racial tension from competing and growing cultures that fail to assimilate into America as Americans.
We now designate Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Russian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, while our national identity drains into confusion and tension.
This week, in D Magazine, Texas journalist Trey Garrison wrote a piece titled: “Why I don’t want diversity in my neighborhood.”
“When I made the hard decision to forgo buying a house in Dallas, I knew I was gonna’ get it,” Garrison wrote. “The thing is, I really wanted to live in Dallas, but we just couldn’t do it. So we chose Plano.
“Once we pulled the trigger, the judgments came a-flyin’. Mainly it was from friends who are, well, urban yokels. You know the kind – hipper-than-thou provincialists, for whom where you reside in relation to a municipal taxing boundary defines you. This was fine. Friends tease you like that. But then I started getting comments from readers at one of my other publications about “diversity,” whatever that means. Apparently, in choosing a house in one of the top school districts in the country, in a suburb where the poverty rate is low and the median income is high, I was guilty of the high crime of ‘white flight.’
“My humbled, guilty reaction consisted of two words: “So what?”
“I mean, what the heck does diversity mean? Some of my new neighbors in Plano include people from Thailand, Armenia, India, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Colombia and the Ukraine, but apparently that doesn’t count. And when a school is 85 percent white, it’s not diverse, but when it’s 85 percent Hispanic, it is?
“I was scolded that my daughter, by being in a Plano school, would be sheltered from – nay, ill-equipped for – life in the real world.
“Well, yeah. Probably. The real world is a lot bigger than Dallas, bigger than Texas, and bigger than the United States. The majority of the real world is dirty, violent, poor and absent indoor plumbing and two-ply toilet paper. More than half the world’s people live on something like $1 a day.
“I don’t think attending Woodrow Wilson High equips you any better for that kind of outdoorsy, back-to-nature lifestyle than Plano West, but I admit I don’t know much about Woodrow’s elective courses. I want a school that will prepare her for living in a professional, high-paying world so daddy won’t have to pound out columns in his dotage.
“I was also told, most oddly, that by subjecting my kid to suburban life and suburban schools, she’d get no exposure to people from other cultures. That’s when it got silly. So I’d harrumph in my best Ted Baxter voice that’s crazy – why, the lady who does her nails is Vietnamese, and our lawn guy is a Mexican from Costa Rica or Panama.
“Seriously, if the only exposure to other people your kid gets is when she’s sitting in a place where you move about like cattle at the sound of a bell and have to ask permission to go to the bathroom (i.e. school), what kind of sheltered life are you giving your kid?
“We’ve made “diversity” into some kind of totem, an end to itself, and we haven’t even defined what it is. Do I learn more about a different perspective chatting with my Ukrainian neighbor, or from a guy brought up five miles from me who happens to be black? I’m not entirely sold that diversity is automatically good.
“Look, diversity is great when it comes to nightclubs, workplaces, cultural experiences, restaurants and all that. But I don’t want diversity in my neighborhood.
“Now, put down the pitchfork. I don’t mean the superficial diversity of skin color. I mean diversity of values. That’s what I don’t want in my neighborhood, or my neighborhood school.
“I want uniformly boring neighbors with uniformly boring, middle-class values who spend Saturdays working on their lawns and whose kids know to stay off mine. I want neighbors with Home Depot on speed dial. That’s how I choose to live. Your mileage may vary. And isn’t that diversity, too?”
I agree with Garrison since I grew up in America with shared values, with love of country, with investment in my culture, language and neighbors. I refuse the moniker of hyphenated-American.
Hyphenated-Americans cannot pretend to be Americans because of their former countries take a position in front of this country. Iraqi-American? What’s that? Indonesian-American? Who’s that?
Do any of them know who George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Joe DiMaggio, Susan B. Anthony and Mickey Mantle are? Doubtful most of them can even speak and read English.
Most do not share American values because their former cultures indented them with other loyalties counter to American society. We Americans, and soon, must stop unrelenting, massive and unending legal and illegal immigration before we fracture our culture into a seething, tenuous and incompatible ‘diverse’ mustard/strawberry/squash soup. Sounds terrible? Tastes worse!
We inject ourselves with more and unworkable ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’, which doesn’t work, won’t work, and given enough time and population overload, degrades into civil confrontation. You can see it in race riots in Los Angeles schools today. You can see it with Americans moving out of Mexican strongholds in major cities. You can see it in daily rapes of 12 year old girls by Mexican immigrants (it’s normal in their culture), honor killings by Muslims here in America (two in the last week) and a dozen other examples. It proved unfair and unworkable to the Native Americans whom we invaded, it proves unfair and unworkable to the French who now stand in the crosshairs of cultural/linguistic destruction, and most other first world countries that allow unending incompatible immigration.
Finally, the world grows by 77 million annually. Most of those third world humans arrive into horribly miserable circumstances. Endless millions line up to immigrate into America. We cannot sustain unending millions of people added our country—environmentally or culturally, as well as food and water! If we do continue–out of the next added 100 million people into America in three decades—over 70 million will be from third world countries. Do you want that for your children?
At some point, those people, those cultures and those nations must be responsible to their citizens, their populations and their futures. They must value their lives, their families, their countries and their personal responsibilities—more than accelerating birth rates.
We cannot save the world, but we’re on a path that most assuredly will destroy the United States of America. Cultural suicide leads to national suicide. We’re well on our way!
Do liberals think they won’t be harmed by national suicide?
(Note: this long discussion moves beyond its opening topic to the question of the future of the West and the purpose of traditionalism.)Alex M. writes:
Thank you for this thought provoking thread, “Is it wrong for me to talk about race?” I’m relatively new to your site so you may have addressed this question before.Given the scenario you paint of a vanishing Western white race/culture–the cynical rationale of those on the left, and the state of denial of those on the right–what’s in it for leftists? Why would a people willingly, knowingly wish to commit suicide? Do the Clintons, Bushes, Blairs, and Wall Street Journal types, i.e. the elites of the world really think that their families will be spared the deluge in the long run?
This is one of the great mysteries, which we’ve discussed a lot: what is the left actually thinking? While I can’t put my hand on any previous posts on this subject at the moment (if anyone can, please point me to it), the short answer is that people on the left, including many “conservatives,” define society AS openness and tolerance, and place no value on the historic society as a society. As a result, they cannot even conceptualize the idea that excessive diversity can harm society.For a liberal, there are no frames of reference outside liberalism and its assumption of complete human equality. Therefore liberalism cannot be wrong, just as, for a Muslim, Islam cannot be wrong. I gave an example of this yesterday regarding Duke President Brodhead: even when he was apologizing for having been part of an ultra-liberal lynch mob, he could only conceive of the wrong he had done as a failure to be sufficiently liberal. In the same way, liberals can only conceive of any problem resulting from liberal immigration and diversity policies as resulting from a failure to be sufficiently liberal. If Muslims in the UK are increasing pro-terrorist, it’s because Britain is not being inclusive enough of Muslim concerns. If there are ethnic tensions resulting from mass immigration, it’s because of majority prejudice. If white and black co-workers are distant from each other, then (according to the NY Times in a notorious series on race relations a few years ago), it’s because of whites’ self-centered refusal to be honest with blacks about their feelings about race (not because the whites know that if they did speak frankly to their black co-workers about their feelings about race, particularly race preferences and racial double standards, they would lose their jobs).
The underlying idea is that the more racial problems are created by liberal race policies, the more racist whites are. I first worked out this idea in my speech at the 1994 AR conference. Another way of expressing this idea is my First Law of Majority-Minority Relations. Also, here is a blog discussion from last July, “What would happen if liberals admitted that Muslims are unassimilable?”, that is relevant to this topic.
However, I haven’t yet addressed Alex’s real question: what happens when the social deterioration resulting from diversity continues and starts to harm the liberals themselves, and the liberals can no longer deny that this is happening or that it is going to happen? I invite readers to jump into the breach.
–end of initial entry–A flood of comments has arrived.
Simon N. writes from England:
To committed cultural Marxists, “saving us from Western civilisation” is presumably going to require the equivalent of economic Marxism’s “dictatorship of the Proletariat,” i.e. a period when the victim groups finally take power and purge us oppressors, prior to the eventual arrival of utopia. Another way of looking at this is that cultural Marxism actively seeks civilizational annihilation and harm to cultural Marxists themselves is necessary. If you consider the reaction of e.g. feminists to black on white rape, you see that harm to left-liberal (C-Mers) does not deter them.A more interesting question perhaps is how right-liberals like the editors of The Economist, neocons, “usual suspects” and others who do not avowedly seek the Death of the West will react as things progressively worsen. A few, like myself, may move into the paleoconservative camp–I know I’ve been pretty much forced to abandon my right-liberal mindset over the past couple of years. Others may gravitate towards cultural Marxism–I see this happening in the UK Conservative party currently. The Rockefeller Republicans like Bush seem to be looking forward to a sort of neo-feudalism where they, the white plutocratic elite, rule over a “browned” global society.
South Africa is an excellent case of this syndrome, because it is so advanced.See, for example, this article by Rian Malan. Or this one. Malan, at least for a liberal, seems to have an unusual attachment to reality. It’s probably worth rereading his excellent book on apartheid from the ’80s, My Traitor’s Heart. I guess he really was a traitor after all!
You’ve probably also read this by Anne Paton, Alan Paton’s widow. The message is: no matter how much destruction they cause, or even suffer personally, liberals will accept their fate as predestined. Of course this is because liberalism is a mutant version of Calvinism, but that’s another discussion.
Mike Berman writes:
The more liberal an individual is on the subject of race usually involves an inverse relationship to The Problem on a geographical basis. Residents of Great Neck will tell you they moved out there because they love to be surrounded by trees. They proudly proclaim that blacks are welcome to move into their community so long as they can afford a house there. In the cities liberals typically insulate themselves with doormen, chauffeurs and private schools. Wealth goes a long way in buying protection from the banana republic which they are creating as they benefit from the cheap labor.
Gintas J. writes:
After 40-plus years of liberalism in the face of social disintegration, the answer seems to be yes.Then you ask,
“What happens when the social deterioration resulting from diversity continues and starts to harm the liberals themselves, and the liberals can no longer deny that this is happening or that it is going to happen?”
What happens, and this is seen over the last 40 plus years, is that we get more liberalism, not less.
Short answer: “No, they don’t, because they don’t think.”Long answer: To the extent that liberals give any thought at all to long-term social/cultural issues (which appears to be a very rare thing), it is likely that they do not expect to suffer any harm from such an event. From the multiculturalist point of view, as you note, any bad outcomes from unlimited immigration must, must, be due to white racism. Since liberals do not believe themselves to be racist, they don’t expect to suffer from the evils of racism. Therefore they don’t expect to suffer any ill effects from, to pick one policy, mass immigration.
There is also an elitist angle. Rather a lot of modern liberals are above average in income, even wealthy. Thus they can afford to not live in neighborhoods crammed with people from, say, Chiapas. Also they can afford to live in places that are not even close to such neighborhoods. Therefore, they can feel they are safe from the ill effects of mass immigration (which, remember, are only the result of lingering white racism) by segregating not by race, but by income level. Since poor white people are by definition racist, when mass immigration displaces them from jobs, from neighborhoods, even from towns, liberals need not feel any sympathy for them, as they deserve what they got.
There is also a logical fallacy that all humans are prone to, but liberals in my experience perhaps more so than others, and that is “confirmation bias.” They expect mass immigration to lead to certain good things, such as more racial integration. So when, for example, a school goes from 90 percent white to 40 percent white, that is a “trend,” and liberals recognize & celebrate it. When a liberal is carjacked, or has their home invaded in a “hot” burglary by a gang of illegal aliens, that is an “isolated incident.” No matter how many bad things happen, they are always “isolated incidents.” Eventually, as we have seen in parts of California, the number of “isolated incidents” may rise so high as to cause liberals to move out of their house and go somewhere else. But based on conversations with emigres from California, this move is never, never because of the effects of mass immigration. It’s always something else, such as “pollution,” or “crowding,” or “to get to a better school for the kids.” The fact that every excuse really ties back to mass immigration cannot be even considered, because to the liberal mass immigration is always a good thing, a good “trend.”
I once asked a liberal friend of mine this question: “How many “isolated incidents” does it take to make a trend?.” He never really answered, and the question troubled him a bit, perhaps because it pointed to logical errors in his thinking. But it didn’t change his mind, or his way of thinking. I find this to be typical of liberals; for all their blather about “challenging premises” and “reconsidering ideas,” they do not want to actually reconsider their own fundamental notions. No, they want all the rest of us to “challenge ourselves” until we agree with them.
In conclusion, I expect liberals to engage in denial as long as possible, because they don’t expect to suffer any ill effects from the policies they are forcing on the rest of us. Why? Because those policies are liberal, and thus by definition “good things” that can only result in more “good things.” Of course, viewed this way, one finds liberalism is less of a political or philosophical point of view, and more like a religion, or cult …
Richard W. writes:
Here is my take:First off, for many of the real elite, the editors at the NY Times and TV network pundits, high priced consultants in Washington and captive Congress-kids, that day is very, very far off.
While even upper middle class professionals might notice things like more crime in their neighborhood, or realize they need to send their kids to a private school to avoid the multicultural crime factory that is the formerly nice public high school down the block, the real elite don’t suffer these problems.
I’m reminded that John and Theresa Heinz Kerry owned five or six houses, many estates on large pieces of land (far larger than even a successful professional can buy in most places where the liberal zoning czars they support have fully take control). With those types of “options,” living in those neighborhoods (or countries, not the popularity of Tuscany, Italy with the Hollywood and Washington axis), flying on private planes–it’s not likely that they are going to encounter diversity’s downside, unless they get a bad Thai meal at that cute place in town.
And if some of them do wake up they are likely to make big mistakes. I’m reminded that the entire neo-conservative movement owes its existence to the terrible wake up call that Communist true believers had when the full horror of Stalin was revealed.
Say what you will about the Neocons, the most amazing fact is that there are so few of them! That is that many liberals went on (and go on) ignoring the nose on their face. A close friend of my teenage daughter gave me this reply when I asked him about socialism: “well, it’s the best system invented, but it’s never been properly implemented.” This was in 2006, not 1976, though I heard the same exact answer in my high school, I am sure.
This, of course, was straight from his 11th grade Social Studies teacher. That this level of denial is an everyday occurrence on the left says that most will not admit what is happening when they are literally choking on it. It’s hard to believe. Rightists just won’t ignore all available facts forever, even if we’d like to.
But getting back to the neo-cons, they have made some simple correct observations (Communism is bad and must be defeated) (Islam is scary) but lacking the ability or desire to re-examine some of their basic axioms (state power can fix everything, smart guys know best and need to run things) take actions that are either ineffective or harmful.
Finally if it gets really bad the left will snap all the way to fascist ideology.
Of course all the historic fascists were exactly that: leftists and socialists who had become disenchanted as socialism failed to meet the excessive hopes and dreams they held for it. They jumped full bore into complete support for a visionary leader, one who was great at communicating to the people, and had a plan to fix things. They plan involved a lot of vilification of a minority that was easy to identify and punish. (That will be “corporations” , conservatives, and white men this time.)
I think they will follow this pattern again. More reasonable and thoughtful (real conservatives) might just say: the world is a hard place and not everyone can have a perfect life. It’s probably better that we don’t create an all powerful state to try. That never works out. Libs will never make this simple inference, and will harness the every-more-powerful state to deliver the updated, now-we’ve-got-it-right plan.
Essentially that is how Spain got Franco and Italy got Mussolini. Maybe Hillary really can make the trains run on time. What else do you want?
Ralph P. writes:
That’s easy. They will do what Brodhead did in his “apology.” They will act as if they were on the right side of the issue all along. They will chastise those that were for not having done enough and they will forget their own opposition.If they are among minorities, uh, majorities they will appease and bow their head and go headlong into Stockholm Syndrome, at least as long as they last, which won’t be much. A few will confront what they’d done and find their spine.
More will commit suicide, as it will all be too much for their poorly developed personalities. They will all be deeply shocked. The whole bunch of them will go through the five stages of grief:
Denial. The stage they’re in now.
Anger. First reflexively towards their own but when reality hits them then at themselves and finally at the people responsible and last of all at non whites.
Bargaining. Dhimmitude, either towards the newly vitalized whites if they live with us or towards their non-white captors if they don’t.
Depression: They will not take part in the defense but go sulk in their rooms until it’s all over. Perhaps they will develop some form of gratitude for those that took part but more likely they will be silently resentful of them for revealing to them their own cowardice.
Acceptance: Probably only a few will come to true adult realization. The rest will fake it.
John Savage writes:
The short answer to Alex’s question is: Most likely the elites, at least in America, won’t particularly suffer, and that’s because the future generations of their families won’t be white.Alex might want to read this article from VDare about the way that Bush already conceives of his family as largely Mexican.
Whether the British leaders can do the same thing, given the nature of Islam, is more doubtful, but I’d guess they imagine they can. (Since they have not the slightest understanding of the “Religion of Peace,” of course!)
SR writes from England:
In an article entitled “Secularism and Islam” which appeared on the New English Review website in February 2006 and again in April of 2007 Rebecca Bynum put forth the idea that it is the refusal to countenance anything transcendent that made the Liberal/Left mindset impervious to danger and therefore the need to defend civilization. She had this to say:According to modern secularism however, man himself has become the measure of all things and his reasoning power alone is thought to be sufficient in determining good and evil. Religion, when it is considered at all is assumed to consist of interchangeable, comforting fairy tales essentially based on man’s own “inherent” goodness. The transcendental, far from being independent, is though to be completely dependent upon man’s own sensibilities and judgement … â€¦The only comfort derived from religion is the thought that no one really believes it anyway. All believers are the enemy. Morality is thought, at best, to be the expression as some underlying hypocrisy. By the light of this secularist viewpoint too, we draw comfort by imagining ourselves at the pinnacle of human striving and also by imagining that progress is inevitable. Thus we feel under no obligation to protect civilization, much less to define it in terms of transcendent value.
Later on in the article she comments that:
For as moderate Muslims and secularists learn the truth about Islam’s bloody doctrine and history, they must each individually make a moral decision concerning their status as Muslims or secularists, and this they wish to avoid at all costs. Secularists mistakenly view division itself as evil and so they work to minimize difference with a smooth coat of “we are the world” sentimentality. In the absence of truth there is no necessity for division; therefore truth itself becomes the enemy and secularists unwittingly become the emotional defenders of lies.
Because the left/liberal mindset regards division itself as evil, and because their very identity is based on the idea of themselves as “good” people–(in my experience the inability to believe consciously in any kind of transcendent reality doesn’t negate the need to believe in some kind of transcendent reality–they unconsciously find some kind of substitute religiousity, in things like in environmentalism or art) . Therefore they don’t even know that they are behaving suicidily.
In my experience, and I work with such people, they are usually not really very intelligent â€“even if they have reasonably high IQ–they lack the organs of perception when it comes to any kind of transcendent truth. And even when they do good things, they do them for the wrong reasons but are stunningly unaware of it.
They will only wake up when the Islamists are at the door brandishing cutlasses and then it will be too late.
David B. writes:
Some years ago, I had a co-worker from the Boston area named Steve. Steve was a right-winger. Like most people I have met from Massachusetts, he was rather politically minded. The others were liberals, however.I asked him this very question. Steve answered, “They think it will never touch them.” He said that Massachusetts liberals will continue to be for “integration” and “diversity,” while keeping themselves and their families insulated from it. Steve insisted that liberals are oblivious to the danger they would face in the long run from their own policies.
Kristor L. writes:
You know what they say: a neo-conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Only when they begin to feel pain will people begin to question their fantasies, which have been allowed to perdure for so long by the enormous surpluses of wealth and security conferred upon us by the civilization we have inherited. Those surpluses have made it a lot easier to live life while pretending that things are nicer than they really are.Paradoxically, the softness of Western middle class existence has also made us more tentative and fearful; scared of alar, market corrections, global warming. That’s why the popular magazines always have an item on the cover about health scares.
What will happen? People are shocked when tragedy strikes, but it brings out their nobility. Once the West finally awoke to the dangers of the Nazis and the Japanese, we were terrible adversaries. I feel sure that we will again be able thus to rise to the demands of the historical moment. Fortunately, our adversaries this time are quite weak, as compared with those we faced in the last three world wars (who all shared most of the virtues of our civilization). The first, easiest and most efficacious thing we need to do, in order to quash our adversaries this time, is stop writing them checks (nothing like income you didn’t earn to accommodate insane fantasy). Once that happens, they’ll start to collapse from within pretty fast.
The thing to remember is that both liberalism and Islam are based on propositions about reality that are simply false. Take away the cushion provided by money, and their illusory world view will quickly collapse, and they will flip quickly to something else. Look then for Muslims to consider apostasy, and liberals too. Our job right now is to provide the philosophical framework that will make Christianity and traditionalism, respectively, seem like the most reasonable course for them. Once they convert to a truly reality-based paradigm, their fervor will outmatch ours; this is what generally happens with converts. That’s why this moment of great danger for the West is also a chance to rejuvenate it, and open an even greater chapter in its history.
Terry Morris writes:
Wow! What a great thread on “Do liberals think they won’t be harmed by national suicide.” I have to put some reflection to the question, but it seems that the unprincipled exception might give us a little insight into what might be the final result. Speaking of which, have you ever heard of a phobia called “truthophobia?” Perhaps I coined the term this morning in my blog post.
Michael B. writes from Sweden:
The reason liberals appear so clueless is that they don’t care. They don’t have to care. They have never been taught to care. Or take responsibility for their actions or ideas. The silent, understated understanding between liberals, is the fact that words don’t have to be factual or reality-based. Slogans, proper cliches, and proper posing is far more important. Because liberalism is not about facts. It’s about emotions. It’s about feeling something, anything. One of the basic paradigms of the modern liberal mindset is “it’s always someone else’s fault.” We are watching the mentality of never, ever, having to take responsibility for one’s own ideas, values, actions, and ultimately, life. That also explains one of the basic motivations behind what is happening to modern society and why were are increasingly living in an age of irrationality. An age of unaccountability.Much in the same manner as the stereotypical global capitalist “robber baron” who moves from country to country when the going gets tough, so does the liberal move to another neighborhood, another town, or another part of the country when faced with uncomfortable consequences of his or her own ideas. The liberal never owns up to his own delusions. If that were to happen, he would of course cease to be a modern liberal. Unaccountability is an integral part of modern liberalism and multiculturalism–the two ideologies make up the state-sponsored religion of our time: cultural Marxism.
What is driving all those relativistic notions and delusions about culture, races, nations and religions is the liberals’ own ignorance of, and distance to, these topics. What is the cause of this ignorance? It is the liberals themselves: Well-off, middle-class Westerners ridden with guilt and noblesse oblige, sheltered in cozy white neighborhood areas, far removed from the shadier parts of town. Young liberal middle class girl with fantasies of noble savages coming to rescue her from herself and all her inherited self-loathing. This is probably where the theatrical and disingenuous part of modern liberalism takes hold. Everything around this little girl, from TV to news papers feeds and reinforces this cultural psychosis. An environment such as this is the perfect petri dish for cultivating modern liberalism–high flying ideals, far removed from reality, far removed from her own experience. Because that is part of the paradigm: hypocrisy is an integral, unstated part of the liberal experience–you say one thing and do another. The liberal never has to interact with these cultures, races, nations and religions for any length of time, in their own environment, free from the liberal shelter of white majority. Had they faced these different variables in their own natural environment why would, of course, not have these liberal notions, but would instead have a much more realistic, and critical stance, towards non-Western cultural and racial manifestations. Statistics seem to bear this out: The more a working class white is exposed to non-white, non-Western majority cultures, they quickly stop being cultural relativists and start espousing Western values and cultures. We see this over and over again, when well-meaning liberals move into minority neighborhoods. They either get the hell out quickly or, if self-hating and clueless enough, actually assimilate into the minority culture. The ones who actually face the reality of the ghettos quickly become conscious of the need for Western cultural homogeneity in Western societies.
So hypocrisy is the engine that drives the psychological need for overcompensating, by striving even harder for ever more insane ideas. It’s a never-ending attempt to escape one’s own guilt of what the liberal is truly feeling. One could therefore view the modern liberals’ frenetic defense of vague, non-specific concepts and buzzwords such as “pluralism,” “openness” and “tolerance” as psychological reactions to their biggest underlying fears–fears of their own inherent biases towards their own culture and race. The more they sense this creeping bias, the more they will try to overreact, overcompensate, reach out. Anything to avoid admitting the truth, to the outside and to oneself. That is the big taboo. In other words, we are watching a typical totalitarian reaction to the foundations of human nature. In that sense, part of the liberals’ psychological makeup is fear and hatred towards one’s own humanity.
At the heart of it all, the modern liberal is based on never having to say you’re sorry, never having to take responsibility. The ideological core of modern left-liberalism is a deeply contrarian behaviour: Whereas traditional conservatism is a fight FOR something, the liberal finds his of her raison d’Ãªtre in the fight AGAINST something–against anything and everything. Against anything that gives the majority culture pride and tradition. And this is why facts and arguments don’t matter. This is why liberals are never happy. Their world-view is simply based on pure, unadulterated, emotion-based contrarianism. Logic has no place in that kind of environment. This is where we start to see the silhouette of the metaphorical child in liberalism: it reveals a deep distrust, if not actual hate, of adulthood, maturity, and ultimately–knowledge itself. I refer to this as the great contrarian trap of liberalism: not only is the liberal fighting against his own nation and culture, ultimately the liberal is fighting against himself.
John B. writes:
This discussion has reminded me of the little-remarked fact that the ex-wife of F.W. de Klerk was murdered in 2001 by a black security guard at her Cape-Town-area apartment building. When informed of the killing, de Klerk himself was in Stockholm, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he and Nelson Mandela shared in 1993 for ending apartheid.
“Ex-Wife of De Klerk Murdered: S. African Police” (Includes spokesman’s statement that South African President Thabo Mbeki learned with “great shock” of the “untimely death.”);
“Guard confesses to de Klerk murder” (includes de Klerk’s statement that, “We, as a country, are being damaged by every murder. No one murder is more serious than the other. The one on my former wife, Marika [sic], however … sends out such a negative, damaging message.” Also includes pathologist’s report that Marike de Klerk had been hit in the face at least twice, stabbed in the back, and strangled to death.);
“Security guard guilty of killing De Klerk’s ex-wife”;
“Marike killer may face life behind bars” (Includes photo of the killer, Luyanda Mboniswa.);
“De Klerk’s Ex-Wife Found Slain in Apartment Near Cape Town”.
Nobel Peace Prize, 1993.
Alan Levine writes:
I think your explanation that present-day liberals can no longer even conceptualize outside the liberal framework has much to be said for it. Many do not see the deluge, or rather think that it is not a deluge, or at most there are some unfortunate temporary byproducts of what is Basically A Good Thing. The way in which many Communists and Nazis brushed off various aspects of their respective new orders is not dissimilar.However, you have omitted a point to which you have frequently adverted to in the past, namely, the disarming effects of the inculcation of a general guilt complex, which leaves them feeling (I do not think this is formulated on a conscious level) that they have no right to defend themselves or their society and perhaps more clearly experienced, thinking that the past and even the “reformed” present of Western society are not worth defending. Another point which helps explain their inability to think “outside the box” is simply the overwhelming bias of the MSM, which is pretty good at fulfilling Dr. Goebbels’ ideal of propaganda, i.e., keep things simple and never allow anything like an actual argument with the adversary..
Re the comments of Simon and Mike: the problem is not explaining the liberal views of the elite (or rather, that is a problem but a specialized one) but explaining the verifiable fact that most liberals and leftists are not elite and are not insulated by distance or money.
Further, my own observations are that, at least in NYC, it is questionable whether non-elite liberals actually LIKE immigration, or for that matter, affirmative action, truckling to ethnic group whiners like al Sharpton, etc. Rather, they think (I am using the word loosely), again, that they really have no right to oppose these things, or doing so will cause them to fall into the hands of agents of darkness, etc.
I think it is true, as N. says, that most of these people cannot think, but then, as a teacher and historian I have increasingly wondered whether many people think.
Re Kristor’s remarks: Most fascist leaders were not ex-Communists or socialists. Mussolini, Moseley and Doriot were, but most were men of the right–not conservatives to be sure, but men of the hard right.
Alan Roebuck writes:
You asked… what happens when the social deterioration resulting from diversity continues and starts to harm the liberals themselves, and the liberals can no longer deny that this is happening or that it is going to happen?
It is useful here to distinguish between leftists (i.e., consistent liberals) and ordinary liberals. The leftists are aware that the goal of liberalism is the destruction of America as it has been, and its replacement by something radically different. They have faith that the process of change they have unleashed will result in an improvement so when they observe something bad that their liberalism has caused, they attribute it to other factors, chiefly conservatism. They have confidence that when conservatism is finally eliminated as a significant force, then all problems will be manageable. And since conservatism (i.e., the correct view of reality) will never be entirely eliminated as a significant force in public life, they will always be able to deflect blame for any catastrophe away from their worldview.
The (moderate) liberals are different. Although they understand things generally through the lens of liberalism, they are usually not aware of exactly what liberalism is, so they fail to grasp how radical it really is. They think that their position is nothing but common sense and common decency. They probably have a vague sense that somewhere, wise people have validated the liberal program, but in their ordinary thinking they simply take it for granted that their positions are true and good.
Therefore a significant number of non-leftist liberals can be reached with the gospel of traditionalism, if we can articulate a persuasive alternative to their liberalism, and if some sort of undeniable catastrophe gives them reason to doubt their worldview. But as social deterioration worsens, non-leftist liberals (and an occasional leftist with integrity) will begin to doubt liberalism only if they hear people articulate a persuasive non-leftist worldview. Otherwise they will blame society’s troubles on those who do not share their liberal worldview, or, in the best case, they will simply see a mysterious catastrophe about which nothing can be done.
This is not to say that all, or even most, liberals will begin to doubt liberalism under the above conditions. When challenged to clarify their worldview, some liberals will decide to become consistent leftists and some will refuse to think at all, continuing in their soft-headed liberalism.
I realize the open-ended nature of my question invited long-ish replies, so I’ve posted a bunch of comments that are a bit longer than I would normally prefer. However, I ask commenters to remember that this is a discussion, and those extra few minutes of effort that it takes to condense a comment to fewer words will greatly improve its readability for others.
From my socializing within alternative circles in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have met a number of Chomsky-reading, androgynous-acting, degree-in-the-humanities-having uber-left-wingers who do indeed live among violent minorities, for example in artists’ warehouses in the black parts of Oakland. And many of these folks indeed have been mugged, otherwise violently attacked, or at least verbally harassed for being white.A few seem to have a level of self-respect where such incidents bring anger to them. These folks will resist their attackers, and speak ill of them later. Most victims, however, seem to empathize with their attackers. These crime victims view the wallet they gave over as a sort of privilege tax (while wishing, of course, that a more wealthy white, one more “deserving” of a mugging, would have been the one attacked). I’ve heard such people say concerning their mugging and beating, “I’d feel that way, and do the same thing, if I was black.”
It’s like the wounds of their childhood, such as stern admonishments from a Republican father, or getting beat up in junior high school by the football player who later went on to run the local Hummer dealership, or simply being unpopular or different in school, still live on as a seething anger towards mainstream society. Their childhood created an emotionally-fueled world-view of right and wrong (and white, male, capitalist, Christian, heterosexual society is always wrong) that no adult experience can overturn.
This of course leads to bizarre twists of logic, as Lawrence has pointed out for years, where minority attacks on whites are evidence not of the moral wrongness of minorities’ actions, but somehow for the moral wrongness of whites, for of course having done “something” to deserve these attacks. The 9/11 attacks, Robert Fisk getting beaten along the road in Pakistan, black gangsters firing at rescue helicopters post-Katrina, the Jenna Six beatings–one would think that these ugly acts of violence would wake folks up, and be a challenge to the simple narrative of minority victims and white villains. But, no, even those event get bizarrely twisted by lefties to torturously fit the simple narrative of the race-Marxism catechism.
I also think that plenty of white people benefit from, and perhaps enjoy, the practice of minority physical violence on other whites. It is my impression for example that the elite Government/corporate/media power structure uses minority violence to keep mainstream whites in line. The unspoken warning is, don’t commit a felony, or you’ll end up in jail, and don’t skip out on your office job, or you’ll end up living near the projects. Keep in line and do what we tell you, or you’re gonna get it.
Similarly, the culture-hating left has plenty of their own uses for minority violence. Many angry, revolutionary types enjoy black and brown thugs as bringing the muscle against police, businessmen, etc, which is muscle that spectacle-wearing, book-reading white radicals lack. The thinking seems to be: if a few Marxists get mugged in the process, it can’t be helped, but at least those thug-muggers are “on the same side” in a bifurcated, polarized society.
John Hagan writes:
I always liked Steve Sailer’s take on this issue He has often remarked on the toxic mix of irrational liberal hatred of conservatives, and the moral preening liberals engage in concerning how much better “they” supposedly treat minorities. I don’t think that it’s too far-fetched to say that many liberals hate George W. Bush more than they hate Osama Bin Laden !Liberals are fixated on exposing the racism that they are sure dwells deep in the hearts of all conservatives. Of course in real life…. they live as far away from minorities as they can possibly get. The liberal kingdom of Vermont comes to mind off-hand.
The liberal elite are playing a perverted game of social status, or one-upmanship with conservatives using minorities, and immigrants as status symbols, moving them around like chess pieces to try and humiliate, and destroy their fellow citizens. The fact that they will perish too seems to be a price that they are willing to pay.
Mark J. writes:
This is a long comment but take it for what it’s worth, if you have time.As “Mencius” said, we can look at the behavior of white South African liberals to see how our own will react as liberalism destroys society.
They’ll be increasingly depressed by events that run counter to their hopes for a peaceful multiracial society, just as South African author Rian Malah was “cast into abject gloom” by news that the UN selected Zimbabwe to be in charge of “Sustainable Development.” Time and again they will be disappointed by the actions of the non-white leaders with whom they had envisioned building a mulitracial society.
Their prescriptions will increasingly be only limp platitudes like Anne Paton’s: “I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it.” Liberals will sense that more government spending and more exhortations for people to “come together” don’t work, but lacking any other ideas, like Paton, they’ll retreat into vagueness.
Their attitude towards their own race will be contemptuous. Like Malah, white liberals will dismiss White people’s complaints as “whining” and “groaning” and say that “whites are finished.”
They’ll become increasingly cynical, defeatist, and apathetic when they realize that their vision of the Good is unworkable or mistaken. They’ll withdraw and won’t want to talk about it, like the South African anti-apartheid writer (I’ve forgotten his name) who not long ago abandoned the country to move to Australia, and when asked why responded that it was a private matter and no one else’s business.
And like the South African, they will move somewhere else as long as they can.
When they can no longer leave many will be willing to work as white cogs in the non-white governing machine. Demoralized, their hopes for a multiracial utopia now dashed, they will be like the East Germans under communism: resigned, morosely going along to try to survive. There will be abundant alcoholism, drug use, and other forms of destructive escapism. They will be the ones willing to keep the dysfunctional society creaking along by working as lickspittle second-class citizens in key skilled positions that non-whites just can’t fill in sufficient numbers. And some will do their quisling work with relish, persecuting whites like ourselves out of a sense of misdirected anger and hopelessness.
Before a liberal could come over to our side and begin to feel hopeful and strong and able to fight for his survival again, he would have to realize that it is not immoral to identify with one’s own people and want to see them flourish. That is the watershed realization, and it is the opposite of liberals’ core belief in “inclusiveness.” I believe that means that only people who are still intellectually flexible will be able to abandon their liberalism; mainly, younger people.
I pointed out recently to an elderly, life-long Democrat that if the trend continues, whites will become a minority and be victimized by a non-white government. She acknowledged that she doesn’t want to see whites become the minority, but said that she just can’t vote for a Republican because they want to make abortions illegal and jam their fundamentalist religion down everyone’s throats. I pointed out that compared to becoming a minority in our own country these things were trivial. She didn’t have an answer to that, but I could see she wasn’t convinced. She has despised Republicans for so long–60 or 70 years–for what she perceives as their Holy Roller, big-business immorality that she can’t yet bring herself to prefer Republicans over anything, even non-white rule.
Older liberals like her will probably never get past cynicism and resignation. Our hopes will lie largely with the younger half of the white population who are not yet cemented by long habit into liberalism and who have their lives ahead of them and want to raise children and make their dreams come true. They will come to see that they can’t afford liberalism if they want those things. I think it’s already happening among a growing share of young whites. I know someone who has mestizo children in an Arizona school district who says that the level of racial tension between whites and mestizos in those schools is incredible and that the white children are quite vocal and assertive in their racial identities despite the efforts of the school district to brainwash them otherwise. Her mestizo children prefer to live in the Great Plains among an almost entirely white population rather than live in the mixed-race SouthWest where the tensions are so high. So I think that while the 60’s generation of liberals is mostly never going to change, we will be pleasantly surprised by the gumption of the young who aren’t resigned to losing their identities and being persecuted in their own country.
Sean R. writes:
I think I have a few insights into this.First of all, liberals simply refuse to think about the consequences of their policies. If you read their blogs and news outlets, they never talk about where this country will be in ten, twenty, fifty years. If you ask them directly, they will usually either call you a racist or try to change the subject. Either way, they show extreme distaste for the issue.
Second, this begs the question–will they, in fact, be harmed by national suicide? Probably not. Liberal policies will lead to a white and Asian elite, maybe mixed together, maybe parallel to each other, ruling over a mostly brown underclass (although there will still be a significant non-elite white minority). That’s the same situation that every Latin American country has had since the Spanish conquest, and it’s been pretty stable there. Occasionally a mostly-white upper class gets its comeuppance, like the Cubans after the revolution, but the majority of elite whites south of the border have done well. As for the non-financially-elite liberals, they aren’t very vulnerable to the depredations of diversity. Children are the most vulnerable segment of society, since they’re forced to interact other children they wouldn’t otherwise associate with, they don’t have cars, and they tend to be more violent with each other than adults. Since non-elite liberals tend to be childless, that’s not their problem. Crime will increase as society transforms, but we have a long way to go before it doesn’t seem like some horrible thing that always happens to other people to they typical childless hipster. Probably such a long time that today’s adults won’t live to see it. And since they are childless, they don’t have much of a reason to care about the future beyond their own lifespan.
The importance of the divide between parents and childless adults is probably much bigger than you would think, based on how little attention is paid to it. I was a typical liberal before my son was born. The first shocker that helped wake me up was realizing that my son was the only white baby in the neonatal unit. Within a couple of years, I had made a 180 degree turn. I doubt that would of happened if my son hadn’t been born.
LA writes to Alex M.:
Do you see what your innocent question has triggered? My gosh, it’s too much even for me to take in.
Alex M. replies:
Thank you for indulging my query, and thank you for permitting all the well thought out, if longish replies.Here’s another twist: As a naturalized American who came here from Ecuador at age four, did all my schooling here, married a lovely WASP girl, and produced two gorgeous kids, I see myself as culturally white and Western. I detest hyphenated Americans and think back longingly on those days of my childhood on Long Island when we referred to each other as “Italians” “Irish” “Germans” without the need to iterate our common identities as Americans. It irritates me no end that the liberal reductionism formula is now that I’m either an “assimilated” Hispanic (bad) or a card-carrying Ecuadorian-American (double plus good). My parents left the s__thole of Guayaquil for a good reason, and I’ve no desire to return to the lawlessness, shiftlessness, and hopelessness of that environment. As Mark J. relates, I too am much more comfortable among God-fearing white people of the Great Plains than in any Latino neighborhood.
I am invested in the survival of Western civilization and by extension the survival of the white race which made it possible. I wholeheartedly agree with your thesis that the two are inseparable.
Thank you for seeing this. You’ve made my day.
Another great thread. You are fortunate to have attracted so many brilliant minds who freely give of their thoughts and time. I appreciate their efforts and yours.Having adopted your view that thought and clever analysis are not enough, that we must improvise modes of action, I found this excerpt from Alan Roebuck to be especially cogent:
“But as social deterioration worsens, non-leftist liberals (and an occasional leftist with integrity) will begin to doubt liberalism only if they hear people articulate a persuasive non-leftist worldview. Otherwise they will blame society’s troubles on those who do not share their liberal worldview, or, in the best case, they will simply see a mysterious catastrophe about which nothing can be done.” [emphasis mine.]
There can be no doubt that having a conservative foundation, something more unified than what we have now, in place to counter social decline is of paramount importance. It is likewise essential to have a known, traditional philosophy established during any period of history. For me this brings a new and heartening dimension to conservatism–working to establish its ready usefulness and giving it a greater purpose, beyond seeing it only as the defining ingredients of a particular worldview.
Hannon, following up on Alan Roebuck’s point, has articulated something very important here. What is the purpose of traditionalism? It is not just to provide a critique of liberalism, though it is that. It is not just to provide us with a basis for personal and spiritual resistance to the prevailing liberal order, though it is that. It is to provide the governing philosophy for a post-liberal Western social order. Therefore the long-term task of traditionalists is to build up such a philosophy and make it an active and living part of society.Quite a tall order, for a bunch of bloggers and essayists with no institutions, influence, political skills, or anything. But we have no choice but to start from where we are. There are certain things that we know to be true. We know that the reign of liberalism is destroying the West, and we know that the reign of liberalism cannot survive. Something must ultimately replace it. What will that something be? Multicultural distintegration? Leftist tyranny? Muslim tyanny? Neocon global democratism? Some combination of the above? Don’t like any of those choices? How about a renewed Western/Christian social order? That’s something worth striving for–both for us and for those who come after us.
Kristor L. writes:
Chiming in again to second Alan Roebuck. The key thing for us to do right now–and also, unfortunately, almost the only thing we can do–is to articulate an adequate, compelling and attractive traditionalist philosophical perspective that is ready and waiting for disillusioned non-leftist liberals to slide into, once they begin to second-guess their native liberal dogmas. Given how hard it has been for me to arrive at traditionalism myself, given how much work I have had to do, how many basic assumptions I have had so painfully and fearfully to question, I think our work is cut out for us. So also for Christianity. I thought for the longest time that Christianity was the boring old normal religion, and stuff like Buddhism was so much more sophisticated and cool. And I was raised a reflective Christian! It was such an amazing thing to discover that Christianity is the weirdest, most magical, philosophically sophisticated thing out there. It was like the scales falling from my eyes to understand at last that the “sophisticated” critics of Christianity I once so much admired were really only ignorant Sophists. We have a lot of work to do, refining our polemic, and making it available to the wider culture.To second also Michael B. from Sweden’s profound analysis: He says, “This is where we start to see the … metaphorical child in liberalism: it reveals a deep distrust, if not actual hate, of adulthood, maturity, and ultimately–knowledge itself. I refer to this as the great contrarian trap of liberalism: not only is the liberal fighting against his own nation and culture, ultimately the liberal is fighting against himself.” Amen. This prompted a recollection of something that occurred to me the other day while ruminating over a VFR item in which Lawrence talked about the liberal rejection of the European People, of the Western physiological inheritance: The liberal attempt to deracinate the liberal idea is in effect to disembody it. No idea–no idea whatsoever–can exist sui generis. This is a metaphysical, a necessary truth. Ideas can’t have themselves. The only way ideas can exist in any way at all is if they are embodied in concrete entities. The West, including the nexus of memes known as liberalism, is the product of millennia of work performed by, and suffering endured by, particular human bodies, with particular characteristics, and coping with particular environmental challenges and historical inheritances. The West is the fruit of a titanic struggle for survival undertaken by a particular group of peoples. It survives only in and through the bodies of their children. The West is as much a physiological inheritance of Europeans as it is a cultural inheritance. NB that cultures cannot exist sui generis any more than ideas can, but exist at all only insofar as they are expressed in particular concrete human bodies and their experiences. Thus if there are someday no more Europeans, there will then be no more West. Not as we have known it, anyway. So Michael B is onto something important when he notes that “ultimately the liberal is fighting against himself.” Indeed: he is at war with his own body, and with those of his children. So infanticide seems to him not unreasonable.
But note also that this war of the liberal with the facts of his own body, and with his love for his children, is liberalism’s great weakness.
Kristor L. continues:
A further thought: the liberal war with the body, and with the evil and tragedy inherent in creaturely existence, is essentially Gnostic. It involves a rejection of the world as it actually is, in favor of an imagined perfect existence. So liberals such as I once was are repelled by Christianity, and attracted to religions that abhor the body and the material world, such as Buddhism, etc.And, finally, the body of the liberal, and his love for his children, are the last redoubt of his sanity. They are the source of the exceptions he makes to his principles, such as living in gated communities and sending his kids to private school.
Man, what a fantastic thread. It is so, so right that we need to start building a positive, attractive, thrilling vision of a post-post-modern traditionalist society, with a coherent, elegant philosophical underpinning. It’s not enough to carp about Liberalism. That can only be the prolegomena to the real work.
I agree with Alan Roebuck.We must distinguish between ordinary, middle class white liberals, and the 200 proof, die hard left leadership, in the same way we should distinguish between right liberal leaders like Limbaugh and the Republican rank and file. The left middle class and the hard left are two linked, but distinct, entities.
Most ordinary white liberals support liberalism without having a deep understanding of what the true implications of their ideology are. These are potential recruits to traditionalism as our crisis deepens, and perhaps reaches a climax.
Re the true hard left, most of them are like Lenin, evil but still operating under the assumption that what they are doing is good. Like Lenin, they can’t believe that they are wrong, just as you said, they assume liberalism is true in the same way Muslims take it for granted that Islam is true. They cannot imagine a different world view, and so they don’t.
Mark P. writes:
I loved the particular thread on liberals and national suicide. Most of the entries are good summaries of the psychological/fantastical/hypocritical elements of liberals that portray them as either retarded, naive, stupid or evil. While I agree with all of these assessments, here’s my own. Liberals are the way they are because conservatives made them that way. The conservative took the role of the proverbial liberal parent and adopted a laissez-faire, over-indulgent approach to child-rearing (yes, liberals are children). The liberal, now matured into a head-strong teenager, is more incorrigible than ever and considerably more dangerous.Much is written about the liberal never understanding consequences. But how will the liberal ever understand consequences if he is constantly bailed out? Lawrence, you write extensively about the magical moment when, one day, the liberal turns on the “unprincipled exception” to extricate himself from the mess he creates. I got news for you … that will never happen because the “unprincipled exception” is the very conservative establishment that happens to exist today. It is they who enable the liberals. [LA replies: Yes, this is right out of Atlas Shrugged. It's the heros of the story, Dagny and Rearden, the productive ones, who, in their loyalty to the society, keep bailing out the statist parasites, and it's the heros' finally realizing that this is what they have been doing that is the key turning point in the novel.]
9/11 is the perfect example of the conservative liberal-enabling phenomenon. In the cyclical, national-security “off-season” before 9/11, the liberal was in full force with his various projects. We got the usual hyphenated Americanism, the anti-white bias, the “diversity” nonsense, the popular propaganda about conspiracies and cover-ups, and the never-ending lambasting of the Southerner as the in-bred, ignorant redneck. Heck, a vibrant, conservative literature (really, the proverbial parenting cry sessions about why Johnny is what he is) coolly documented all of this.
When 9/11 came along, an important teaching opportunity was lost. In its place, the liberal parents swept in to clean things up. The hyphenated Americanism project was cast aside for the brand-spanking new “We are all Americans” coloring book. The alien abduction/JFK conspiracy DVD’s were put away and replaced with the Al Qaeda learning tapes. And the redneck was picked up off the ground, dusted off and repackaged as The Greatest American since the Greatest Generation, to be cannon fodder in a “Make America Safe for Liberalism” war.
Had I been president in 2001, with my sense of pride and my knowledge of history intact, I would’ve given New York City the finger, told them that they should learn to appreciate “diversity,” and sternly remind them that if they don’t like it, they can leave … preferably to Canada, like many of them promised.
In exchange for being vilified by the Pravda on the Hudson or ending up on one of David Letterman’s top ten lists, I would’ve gladly spent the next 100 days at Fort Bening educating American soldiers about the liberal portrayal of their people and communities since Deliverance.
As long as conservatives keep bailing the liberals out, these problems will continue.
Ben W. writes:
Quite a few excellent posts and analysis regarding this question.So now that history has taken this leftward turn, is it possible that certain societies and governments that are now disparaged were in fact right? E.g. the pre-civil war American south, the colonial imperialist British administrations of the 19th century, the apartheid government of South Africa. Is it possible these administrations knew something about tribal social reality and acted in a way to ensure civilized order and contain the reversion to violence and savagery? Gone with the wind, eh?
Ralph P. writes:
To second (or third, by now) what Hannon has said about the primary role of traditionalism it has been my personal experience that the distortions of these times has actually strengthened and refined my understanding and identity with my Western roots. I was never a liberal except on a very few issues like environmentalism, in which case it was because I had not been forced to think the thing out. I basically took my heritage for granted and, not being a professional scholar would have been content to just live in it peacefully. But when my Queens neighborhood was destroyed by third-worlders it snapped me into actually considering in detail what was being lost. A side effect, for example, was that I began rereading and relistening to the classics, which I might not have done otherwise. If we survive this (and I am hopeful) then it will be salutary long term.Kristol L.’s experience with Christianity has also been mine. He writes: “A further thought: the liberal war with the body, and with the evil and tragedy inherent in creaturely existence, is essentially Gnostic.” This is absolutely correct and I could only appreciate this after I had dated a white woman who was a disciple of a Hindu guru, been repulsed by it, had gone onto read much about Buddhism, was not repulsed but unconvinced and finally onto reading Christian history and philosophy. Then I understood that there were profound reasons for Gnosticism and Manicheanism having been declared heresy. The fact that modern liberalism is both Gnostic and Manichean in nature only points up for me the truth of my own faith, having had to suffer as I did the consequences of these ancient errors. My Catholic upbringing had stood up after all.
Alan Levine writes:
A further comment on why liberals think they won’t be harmed by national suicide:I was particularly impressed by Ian’s and Sean R’s comments. I believe they brought out something I failed to do, namely the psychopathic elements in liberalism, though Sean R. did not, I think, quite absorb the implications of what he himself said, as though he could not appreciate how irrational the impulses of liberals are.
After all, what could be more insane than wanting to turn the United States into a society like those of Latin America?
Kristor L. writes:
Alan Roebuck has been talking about this for some time now, and I just haven’t been getting it, until last night when I read his comment shortly after writing my first of the thread, which must have put me in the right frame of mind to understand him. He’s absolutely right. If all we do is whine about liberalism, how attractive can we possibly be as exponents of traditionalism? Don’t get me wrong, I learn a lot from dissecting liberalism–after all, in doing so, I’m dissecting myself. Tricky, no? But taking apart the broken machine is just the first step to putting it back together again, so that it works properly.You note that articulating this happy, hopeful aspect of the traditionalist polemic–its positive proposal, as distinguished from its withering critique–is an ambitious project for a gaggle of bloggers and essayists. True. But that’s what Paine, Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson were, when they got started. So it can be done.
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