Unzism–The (New) Doctrine Of American Decline
Ron Unz is California`s most interesting and adventurous political entrepreneur. An ultra-high IQ physicist turned Silicon Valley software baron turned politician, Unz, who is not yet 40, has already had a lifetime of electoral adventures. In 1994 he polled an impressive one third of the vote in the California Republican primary against sitting Governor Pete Wilson. In 1998 his referendum to abolish bilingual education in California public schools won in a landslide. (See my VDARE column here. In March, though, his campaign finance reform referendum got, in his words, “clobbered.”
Undaunted, he is writing articles outlining his grand strategy for the Republican Party and America. In the November 1999 Commentary appeared “California and the End of White America” and now the April/May American Enterprise is running his “The right way for Republicans to handle ethnicity in politics” (not on-line).
The GOP, Unz argues, should push a two-pronged strategy:
1] “a strong and forthright stand” in favor of mass immigration; and
2] the revival of the assimilation techniques that worked so well (he says) in turning Jewish and Italian immigrants into patriotic Americans.
Unz advocates three main policies to revive the Melting Pot:
A] abolish bilingual education.
B] get rid of classroom diversity-pandering: “In history and social studies classrooms, `multicultural education` is now widespread, placing an extreme and unrealistic emphasis on ethnic diversity instead of passing on the traditional knowledge of Western civilization, our Founding Fathers, and the Civil and World Wars.”
C] replace racial quotas with special programs for people of all races from the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
Unz prophesies that such a plan would attract Asians and even Hispanics to the Republican fold. Jews, too, might be amenable, since his plan would kindle nostalgic memories of their immigrant grandparents` experiences at P.S. 213 back in 1911. Best of all, he believes, it would reduce whites` complaints about immigration: “Under an assimilationist framework which supports and expects integration into American society, many public concerns about immigration will disappear.”
Unzism would of course alienate African-Americans. But he`s complacent about that. Hispanics, buoyed by legal and illegal immigration, plus higher birth rates, will soon outnumber blacks.
This is in many ways an impressive strategy. Many of the details are admirable. Nonetheless, it`s radically flawed, both as policy and as politics.
Unzism is analogous to Henry Kissinger`s foreign policy strategy of the Seventies. Kissingerism assumed that American power was in permanent decline. He thus advocated détente as an artful means to manage our decay. Dr. K`s remarkable tactical skills allowed him some limited accomplishments. But overall, détente proved to be a disaster.
Kissinger`s mistake was that once he had conceded the key point — that America`s military might would continue to decline — momentum swung catastrophically against us. From the Fall of Saigon until the day Ronald Reagan took office, America suffered one insult after another, not only from the resurgent Soviet Union, but also from medieval pipsqueaks like Iran. Our “allies” rushed to appease our presumptive heirs: the Soviets and various Third World upstarts from OPEC to Idi Amin.
Kissinger was no doubt a patriot. He would certainly have preferred an ascendant America. But as a foreign-born intellectual, he felt himself unable to personally fight back the defeatism that enveloped American elites in the mid-Seventies. The best he could do was make the best of bad situation. Unfortunately, his palliatives only made it worse.
The point Kissinger forgot was that when you let people think you`re turning into a 97-pound weakling, they kick sand in your face. Expectations are everything — in foreign affairs, in the stock market, and, maybe most of all, in professional politics.
Unz has forgotten that too. If the politicos feel that the traditional American voter is headed for insignificance, Unz`s traditional American policies are likewise dead on arrival. Just as America`s perceived military weakness was central to America`s strategic decline then, immigration is the keystone of domestic politics today.
Note that two of Unz`s planks have already been passed into law by California voters: Proposition 209, which outlawed affirmative action by the state, garnered a solid 54% majority. And Unz`s own Prop 227, which abolished bilingual education, received a landslide 61%.
These sound like winning issues, the kind any ambitious politician would want to get behind, right? So where are the pros? They`re staying away in droves. The smart money is betting that the old-fashioned assimilationist policies of Unz are doomed – for the precise reason that the old-fashioned white majority that voted for them is doomed.
Gazing at the burgeoning throngs of immigrant voters (in California Latinos and Asians doubled their share of the California vote between 1990 and 1998), and the drubbing Republican candidates took in California in 1996 and 1998, the Republican establishment turned its back on assimilationist ideas. Instead, they immediately signed on to George W. Bush`s multiculturally-friendly Presidential bid. During the Presidential primaries this year, the only aspect of Unzism that any of the four major candidates advocated was Hooray for Immigration.
“These dusky hordes are going to overwhelm us whites eventually, so you`d better placate them now with affirmative action and bilingual education and other multiculturalist handouts. Otherwise, well, let`s just say that things could get ugly, if you get my drift …”
Now, it`s crucial to understand that in reality whites remain by far the dominant political power in America, just as the U.S. was inherently far stronger than the Soviet Union in the Seventies. Let`s say seven out of ten American residents are white. But keep in mind that voter totals lag well behind population totals. Voters must be citizens and age 18. In general, the highest voting rates are found among the old, the native-born, the English-speaking, and the well-educated: in essence, whites. At present, there is no shortage of traditional voters.
Yet, in America`s domestic politics today, America`s white elites feel the way they did in foreign affairs during the Ford Administration: fated for triviality and morally unworthy of exercising power. The danger is that prophecies of decadence tend to become self-fulfilling. The longer we continue with our present immigration policies, the harder it becomes to change them.
Yet, it has become almost unthinkable for America`s white majority to explicitly act on its own behalf. Is there an alternative to whites having to descend to the philosophical mat and mud-wrestle in blatant racial politics? I believe there is. In a future column, I`ll outline an approach to controlling immigration stemming from a philosophy of colorblind American patriotism. In the long run, it may prove both better for America and better for the GOP than Unzism.