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"Citizenism" vs. White Nationalism (II): Sailer Sums Up
[Peter Brimelow writes: This is the second and final (for now) round in the debate between Jared Taylor and Steve Sailer on the viability of white nationalism, sparked by Steve's review of Jared's new book The Color of Crime, published by Jared's New Century Foundation. Readers interest in this debate has been intense—after all, you won't see it in the MSM!—and we will run some other comments shortly.]
The Story So Far:
I want to apologize to Jared Taylor for not responding immediately to his second statement promoting his white nationalist position at the expense of my "citizenist" alternative.
By "white nationalism", Taylor does not mean white supremacism, but simply that American whites should feel free to follow their own interests, as African Americans, Hispanics, Zionists etc. already do. By "citizenism," I mean that I believe Americans and their government should be biased in favor of the welfare of our current fellow citizens over that of the six billion foreigners.
Because it's been a couple of weeks since Mr. Taylor's last essay, I'd like to begin by quoting a mordant excerpt from it that I particularly admired:
You don't have to have black friends, you don't have to have Mexican neighbors, you don't have to send your children to schools where no one speaks English, and you don't have to invite Hmong refugees to your dinner parties. You can be racially respectable without doing anything. Just gush about the things you, yourself, carefully avoid: integration, multi-culturalism, and diversity.
"This is the Clinton/Kennedy/Bush racket.
"People get away with it because everyone is in on the charade. By any real racial test, by any measure that requires sacrifice, everyone fails, so whites never apply real tests to each other. Mouth the right clichés and you're on the side of the angels. Racial rectitude is therefore the most cheaply bought virtue in American history— and also the most easily forfeited. Because only words matter, not deeds, a single sentence can wreck a career. "
Exactly what he and I have to argue about seems rather limited by this stage. Mr. Taylor concedes my substantive point:
"Nevertheless, Mr. Sailer is probably right to argue that an open appeal to the interests of whites may not be the most successful way to sell immigration control."
But he later stirringly proclaims that little things like practicality and effectiveness don't matter:
"Duty does not calculate the chances of success, as Mr. Sailer would have us do. Duty calls us to what is right."
Readers don't need me to tell you what the right thing is to do. You're more than capable of determining it on your own once you've heard the alternatives. What I do have a certain knack for is figuring out how the world works and identifying the practical trade-offs that these moral choices involve.
So, what I'd like to do here is review some of the deep cultural trends that make citizenism more appealing than white nationalism to white Americans.
This is the conundrum at the heart of white nationalism—that it encourages white Americans to act less like white Americans and more like nonwhites.
Western history has been distorted by the politically correct to emphasize its dog-bites-man aspects—its episodes of ethnocentrism and inequality, which are universals—and ignore its man-bites-dog accomplishments, of which citizenism is one of the most important.
When Mr. Taylor writes:
"I don't believe the traits that characterized whites for all but 50 years of recorded history have disappeared for ever."
He, like the politically correct, is missing the key point: there has been an underlying trajectory to Western history that has produced an America where citizenism is a lot more likely to appeal than white nationalism.
Over the last millennium, something perhaps unique in world history occurred in Europe, especially in its northwestern quadrant (and, in later years, in its offshoots like America): a movement away from the fractiousness of clan and tribe, but without the usual congealment into despotism.
By inventing nationalism, this corner of the world managed to figure out how to make possible the squaring of the circle of combining individual freedom with cooperation on an enormous scale. The results of nationalism included enormous military power, domestic (but not always international) peace, wealth, cultural glories, and at least the possibility of self-rule and personal liberty.
But much had to be sacrificed or subordinated in the process of building nation-states, such as many old tribal identities. Individuals lost their clan status and became subjects, and later citizens, under the nation law.
In contrast, the Middle East is full of ancient ethnic groups like the Yezidis and Druzes that have made group self-propagation rather than the welfare of their individual members their highest priority. For example, a few hundred Samaritans, good, bad, and indifferent, are still around after 2000 years, living on two hilltops in the Holy Land. These groups have preserved their ethnic purity because it is taken for granted that elders will arrange the marriages of the young, and will do it to ensure the ethnic identity and separateness of the tribe rather than the romantic fulfillment of the couple.
Personally, I'm glad the Samaritans are still here. They add interest and color to the world.
But I'm also glad I'm not a Samaritan.
And that points out a big problem for American white nationalists: white Americans don't want to act like the rest of the world, as the white nationalists advise them to, they want to act like white Americans. They don't want to submit their individual freedom to their extended families, they want to marry whom they want to marry and then focus on their nuclear families. They want the law to treat them not as members of a clan but as individual and equal citizens under the law.
The normal human condition, though, has been more like that of the Samaritans than of the Americans. In most times and places, you would have to rely for protection from injustice upon your extended family, your mafia. And you subordinate your individualism to the family's solidarity. If an outsider does you wrong, your relatives will fight for you, but you enter into long term business agreements mostly just with your relatives because they are less likely to cheat you. (Today, illegal business, such as drug smuggling, is most efficiently carried out by organized crime families for exactly these primordial reasons.)
"The strength of the family is not only, therefore, the bulwark against disorder, but, at the same time, one of its principal causes. It has actively fomented chaos in many ways especially by rendering useless the development of strong political institutions. This, of course, brings up a complex problem: do political institutions flourish only where the family is weak, or is it the other way around?"
Italy is a profoundly civilized place, but it was the ruder cultures to the north that first began to find the way out of the seemingly inescapable choice between an anarchy of competing mafias and a tyranny: a nation of individuals living in nuclear, rather than, extended families.
"Many key characteristics of the 'modern' family make their appearance as early as the 1300s... He says this era saw the appearance in northwest Europe of small parent-child families, weakened family ties, independent teenagers and marriages between men and women who had chosen each other."
Simultaneously, the northwest Europeans, with the
English and their
common law in the lead, evolved a system of justice that lessened
the need for individuals to belong to Mafias. Their
governments would not only allow private enterprise,
but, through its monopoly on violence, enforce private
contracts, and enforce them fairly.
In turn, this made mutually profitable business dealings between unrelated individuals feasible without the threat of violence to insure the execution of contracts. Over time, vast corporations of cooperative strangers emerged, able to accomplish voluntarily feats that slave-driving pharaohs couldn't dream of.
And governments could tax the wealth they generated to buy weaponry in staggering amounts.
As extended families declined in importance, arranged marriages became less necessary for dynastic purposes, so individuals began to get more freedom to marry their true loves.
And Americans further cultivated the big business virtues, such as friendliness toward strangers to facilitate buying and selling with anybody in pursuit of a profit.
Mr. Taylor asks:
"The great, unanswered question in American—and world—history, is why the white man lost his nerve and went from warrior and colonizer to liberal and loser."
But, as this quick and dirty history shows, it was this traditional momentum toward expansion of the community, openness, and inclusion that had made America the strongest and richest country in the world.
Consider how some of the steps in the dismantling of Jim Crow grew out of these long-term trends that had made America pre-eminent.
- The military was integrated at the beginning of the Cold War, which allowed maximizing the size and effectiveness of the combat arms.
- Segregation was expensive, so businessmen grew tired of Jim Crow, which had held the South back economically.
- Branch Rickey integrated baseball in 1947 by hiring Jackie Robinson. The Anglo-American tradition of fair play put on the defensive everyone trying to deny Robinson his chance.
- California's law against interracial marriage was overturned by the State Supreme Court in 1948, in part because American soldiers were returning from the Pacific War to live in California with their Asian war brides. Americans don't like getting in the way of love and marriage.
But these constructive tendencies toward equal treatment and broadening of the definition of "us" do become self-destructive, even suicidal, if there are no limits.
America's fortunate status as a middle class, homeowning society has always depended on our country being relatively underpopulated, leading to high wages and low land prices. The middle class America we love and admire can't survive without limits on who can enjoy the benefits of being an American.
Nor can our freedoms and our equality of laws and manners survive if we take in too many people of significantly higher or lower earning potential than our current average.
So where do we draw the line over who gets to be an American?
The elites want to keep the line as hazy as possible so they can continue to import massive amounts of cheap labor, which will also provide themselves with sinecures "managing diversity".
Their opponents differ on where to make their stand:
- The white nationalists want to draw the line within America, around whites only.
- And the citizenists want to draw the line at the border.
Mr. Taylor contends that "duty does not calculate the odds of success" but I do.
And I'm betting on citizenism, not white nationalism, as the principle that could save America.