July 27, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
NATIONALISM vs. SECESSION:
Should America Break Up?
A couple of weeks ago there was a much-ballyhooed conference in Washington DC (July 14-15, 2019) on what is termed “national conservatism.” Initiated by Israeli “nationalist” scholar Yoram Hazony, the conference was part of an effort to corral the growing and unleashed nationalist tendencies here in the United States and to see if they might be brought under control, that is, into the mainstream of the “conservative movement.”
What was fascinating about the over-priced conference was its list of invitees, or rather the glaring absence of certain significant voices that should have been in attendance but, very pointedly, weren’t invited, including Professor Paul Gottfried, perhaps the world’s leading authority on the decline of democracy and the rise of nationalism and populism globally.
And there was certainly a very good reason for that. For Gottfried represents a discordant note and would have thrown a huge monkey wrench into Hazony’s effort to suborn the unruly nationalist and populist tendencies on the American Right. Gottfried clearly sees through the transparent efforts by figures such as the Zionist scholar and some other members of the establishment to reign in the restive “new Right” which no longer trusts or accepts the failed program of the nugatory and pallid “conservative movement,” what Gottfried has rightly called “the phony right.”
Another acute and on-the-mark critic of the conference and its attempt to neutralize and domesticate the growing reaction of the grass roots against the American Establishment was the brilliant young journalist and critic Christopher De Groot, whose new online journal, The Agonist, is like a breath of fresh air intellectually.
Commenting on the one very fearless conference participant, Professor Amy Wax (University of Pennsylvania Law School), Christopher highlighted her remarks:
“Amy, once again, has been an object of controversy. The reason is that in her talk at the nationalism conference she argued, on cultural grounds, that ‘our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites’…. She also thinks that ‘we must ensure that bad habits from the Third World…are not allowed to infect and undermine the First’.”
Apparently, this was not what most of the attendees had come to hear. These remarks were not, clearly, about controlling the unwashed dissident Right and avoiding issues of division like race and gender, issues the “conservative movement” in its effort to stress national unity and “American Exceptionalism” wishes strenuously to downplay (or even incorporate into its program). Rather they spoke to the necessity of homogeneity and organicism as conditions for national survival, aspects that are quickly disappearing in modern American society. Professor Wax, thus, acknowledged the elephant in the room: a culturally-based recognition of the importance of historical ethnicity and certain shared beliefs as a foundation for any successful polity.
Professor Wax’s presentation and the commentaries by Paul Gottfried and Christopher De Groot highlight and bring up another question, a question that, in many ways, is more profound and more basic than whether a newly-resurgent American nationalism may be harnessed to serve the current conservative movement.
And that question is this: Despite the rise of a new nationalism, given the situation in the United States, can this nation actually survive as a nation, as a functioning entity under its 1787 Constitution in a modern world where the centrifugal forces of division and separation now appear overwhelming and unstoppable, without some form of dictatorship? Has not the disruption and radicalization of polarities advanced too far for even a revived nationalism to put the pieces back together? Is there not another option?
Already there is a movement in California—“Calexit”—for California to secede, to separate from the Federal union. After all, California is, for all intents and purposes, like a Third World country governed by an hysterical Progressivist junta and embracing every insane and mad nostrum that the loony Left comes up with. Why not let them—along with Oregon and Washington State—go their own separate ways (perhaps with, yes painful, population exchanges for those in disaccord)? Wouldn’t things be better for the rest of us if they were out of the union?
These disquieting questions should be raised, and, in some ways they may be as important or even more important than examining a new American nationalism and how it might (or might not) figure in revitalizing the moribund conservative movement.
Yesterday I had a major essay on this topic published by THE UNZ REVIEW, and I pass it along to you. Certain small portions of this piece I had used in the MY CORNER installment of July 24. But this essay is longer and new, and is now a featured article at UNZ (and I see that another Web site, Vox Day, has already linked to it):
THE UNZ REVIEW
Is It Time for America to Break Apart?
BOYD D. CATHEY • JULY 26, 2019
There is a question that increasingly arises, uncomfortably, in our conversations…from brief exchanges at work at the water cooler, at home with family, after church on Sunday, with our email messages to friends and associates. To watch any amount of television news these days, to switch back and forth between, say, CNN and Fox, and to listen to their interpretations of any event or issue, no matter what, that same question clambers in the background like an unchained wild beast:
What has happened—what is happening—to the geographical entity we call the United States, to its people, to its culture? Does it not seem like the country is coming apart at the seams, in just about everything, from its once-established moral base in a more or less historic Christian framework to its very vision of reality, of what is real and what is not?
Millions of “woke” social justice progressives now control the Democratic Party and most of our media; they dominate our entertainment and sports industries; they push for open borders and what amounts to “population replacement” of natives by illegal aliens; and they have a stranglehold on the near entirety of our educational system, from the primary grades to our colleges.
Each year those institutions turn out millions of freshly-minted automatons—intellectual zombies—who think like their unhinged teachers and professors have trained them, and who then take up responsible positions in our society and increasingly support and vote for a type of veritable madness which, like an unstoppable centrifugal force, is tearing this country apart, creating unbridgeable divisions that no amount of misdirected pleading or faux-compromise can repair.
The progressives loudly tout their support for “equality” and what they term “liberation from arbitrary restraints.” They tell us that they are working against historic “racism and sexism.” But, in actuality, their program turns real liberty on its head, inverts rationality, and enslaves millions in unrequited passions and desires, unbound and unreasoned, cocooned in a pseudo-reality. It is, to paraphrase the great English essayist and poet G. K. Chesterton, the definition of actual lunacy.
In his volume, The Poet and the Lunatics (1929), Chesterton’s character Gale asks the question: “What exactly is liberty?’’ He responds, in part:
“First and foremost, surely, it is the power of a thing to be itself. In some ways the yellow bird was free in the cage…We are limited by our brains and bodies; and if we break out, we cease to be ourselves, and, perhaps, to be anything.
“The lunatic is he who loses his way and cannot return…. The man who opened the bird-cage loved freedom; possibly too much… But the man who broke the bowl merely because he thought it a prison for the fish, when it was their only possible house of life—that man was already outside the world of reason, raging with a desire to be outside of everything.” [bolding added]
The social justice fanatics who demonstrate in the streets, who appear nightly on our news channels broadcasting the ideological virus they call news, who parade before a House or Senate committee (or serve on that committee!), and who indoctrinate gullible and intellectually-abused students in supposed centers of higher education, are, to use Chesterton’s parable, lunatics. They are “already outside the world of reason,” and their unrestrained rage to destroy is only matched by their profound inability to create anything of real and lasting value.
They partake of a virulent cultural post-Marxism that, despite slogans of “defeating racism, sexism, homophobia, and white supremacy,’’ and establishing equality, is ultimately unachievable. Its advocates are, measured by the historical reality of two millennia of Christian civilization and by the laws of nature, insane.
They sloganize about “the fruits of democracy” and “equal rights,” where in some future utopia “racism” and “sexism’’ will finally be banished….but where, in fact, the very contrary will exist, where democracy will have become a totalitarian dystopia a thousand times worse and more oppressive than anything George Orwell envisioned in his phantasmagoric novel Nineteen Eighty Four.
This element, this force in our country, which now numbers many millions of votaries, works feverishly and tirelessly to achieve its objectives. And, as we have seen, especially since the presidential election of 2016, it will do anything, use any tactic, including defamation, lawsuits, censorship, even violence to achieve its ends, to turn back what it perceives even in the slightest to be “counter-revolutionary.”
The question comes down to this: Is the fragile American experiment in republicanism begun in Philadelphia in 1787, which required a commonly-shared understanding of basic principles, now over, or at the very least is it entering its agonizing death throes?
One can certainly trace a progressively destructive trajectory in American history since the overthrow of the American constitutional system in 1865. And the results of that history are now reaching almost an unimaginable breaking point.
Increasingly, we live in a country that has become de facto little more than a mere geographical entity. True, it is still formally a nation, but a nation where there are in fact at least two very distinct Americas, with radically differing visions of what is real and what is not real, radically differing conceptions of what is moral and what is not, radically differing views about truth and error, and radically differing ideas about using whatever means are available to reach a desired and posited end. For all the talk of equality and racism, the revolutionary side in actuality seeks to replace one oligarchy—which it calls “white supremacist”—with another oligarchy of its own making, in fact, a brutal, vicious and soulless “utopia’’ that would make Joseph Stalin’s Communist state seem like a Sandals Retreat in the Bahamas.
At the base of this revolutionary movement is the critical use of language. Ideologically-tinged words—“devil terms”—now occur with amazing regularity and frequency: racism, white privilege, sexism, toxic masculinity, equality, democracy, and so on. These terms have been weaponized and are now employed by those on the Left—but also adopted by many elitist movement conservatives (“conservatism inc.”)—to disauthorize, condemn, and damn anyone who would offer effective opposition to the rapid Leftward perversion of what remains of this nation.
It is not only the frenzied talking heads on CNN and MSNBC, but such “respectable” conservative voices as Bill Kristol, Hew Hewitt, Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry, Ben Shapiro, the National Review crowd and various Republican types , who have joined in to legitimize each new progressivist conquest (e.g., same sex marriage) and attack any real opposition to the Leftist “long march” through our institutions. Like the hard Left, the establishment conservatives betray a hardly-concealed contempt for Middle America, for those hard-working, gun-owning, church-going, underpaid folks who still try to raise a family morally on a shrinking salary. They see the rest of us as mere rubes, a servile class who are not supposed to have a voice—this, you see, is now “American democracy.”
We are not supposed to question this arrangement; we are not supposed to get off the “reservation” assigned to us. That, you see, was the way the “new oligarchy” would work. But in 2016, in exasperation, we did question it, and we did so because instinctively we knew that the unelected managerial class—a cosmopolitan and globalist elite—was far more loyal to its own class and more concerned about conserving its power and authority. It did not give a damn about us, despite the endless stream of campaign promises we hear every election season.
We understood that the chances of success were minimal, and even if we were successful—electorally highly unlikely—the establishment and Inside-the-Beltway elites would ground to dust or coopt any opposition, including even Donald Trump.
But the unlikely did occur, and the elites—the media, the entertainment industry, almost the entirety of academia, the progressivist Democrat Left, and also those supposed defenders of our interests, “conservatism inc.”—responded with unleashed and unrestrained anger, contempt and condescension. Those elites feel threatened by the “natives’’—threatened by those of us on the giant fly-over plantation between the million dollar mansions surrounded by walls in Silicon Valley and the paneled million dollar board rooms on Wall Street where the international globalists gather to plot the future of the world.
No matter that Donald Trump filled much of his administration with establishment figures and GOP standbys (especially in foreign policy). The fact of his election had signaled that the mask of the administrative state, its very authority had been seriously challenged. And what followed was what can only be described as a torrent of lies, fabrications, assaults on our character, attempts to suppress our guaranteed rights of speech and expression, shaming us, and efforts to destroy our livelihoods or get us fired from our jobs or dismissed from our schools.
And, of course, there was the Russia Hoax, involving the Hilary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, the Mueller Commission, a compliant media, and the FBI and other intelligence services, and totally false claims that somehow the Russians “had interfered” in our elections. In fact, the “Russia Hoax” was completely political; the Russians were not involved, save for a few double-agents who were actually working for American/FBI interests. It was a massive, unparalleled effort not just to bring down the president, but more significantly, to discredit any opposition to the Deep State establishment’s control.
There are then, palpably, two Americas. They still use the same language, but they are increasingly incapable of communicating with each other. Almost weekly words and terms are redefined beyond comprehension, and those “devil terms” have become the modern equivalents of linguistic hydrogen bombs deployed by the progressivists. They illustrate what political theorist Paul Gottfried has called a “post-Marxist” praxis that has actually moved beyond the assaults of cultural Marxism towards a new and imposed template.
No dissent from this template is permitted in our society. If it demands you call black, white; then you must comply, or suffer the consequences. If your eyes tell you one thing, but the collective media and elites tell you something else, “who you gonna believe, them or your lying eyes”?
For “conservatism inc.” this state of affairs poses critical problems: the “movement” is more or less moribund, like a Persian eunuch at court, of little danger to the harem and of doubtful usefulness otherwise. Its stale ideas are not attractive to Millennials and offer no practical solutions to the challenges at hand. Indeed, in too many cases “establishment conservatives” and their Republican cohorts in Congress only serve to normalize each progressivist victory. Creative ideas from the Right only come nowadays from what is termed “the disauthorized Right,” from the nationalist Right (especially in Europe), and the populist and Old Right (here in the United States).
Some “movement conservatives” have recognized this. And there has been recent talk about the “conservative movement” somehow harnessing the newly unleashed nationalism and populism—witness the recent efforts of Zionist scholar Yoram Hazony (The Virtue of Nationalism, 2018) to incorporate these tendencies into the conservative mainstream. A national conference on “nationalist conservatism” was held in Washington on July 14-16. But such attempts are essentially efforts by a “phony right” (as Paul Gottfried terms it) to once again derail real opposition to the Progressivist project and maintain control over disparate elements (and also deflect criticism of Israel, always a bugaboo for the Neoconservatives).
Such efforts will ultimately fail, just as the creation of a new American nationalism will flounder, as well. Unlike most European nations which possess an organic history and common heritage, the United States has traveled too far down the road of unbridgeable division for a rooted nationalism to be successful. The disparities and extreme differences are far too great.
It is time to look elsewhere for solutions.
America in 2019 faces three possibilities for its future:
(1) Either there must be some large mass conversion of one side or the other (a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion?), probably occasioned by some immense and earth-shaking event, war, depression, disaster; or (2) there must be a separation into independent jurisdictions of large portions of what is presently geographically the United States, including possible massive population exchanges—this separation/secession could be peaceable, although increasingly I think it would not be; or lastly, and worst, (3) the devolution of this country would continue into open and vicious civil and guerrilla war, followed by a harsh dictatorship. Disorder always abhors a vacuum, and that vacuum will be filled one way or another.
Given the present state of this nation, are there any other realistic possibilities? After all, despite the pious pining of the Neoconservative publicists that America is the world’s “exceptional” nation, the new Utopia, God did not grant us national eternity, did not guarantee our future. And our leaders and many of our citizens have done their damnedest to undo and undermine all those original hopes and promises.
The modern American madness, the lunacy—and that is certainly what it is—increases exponentially, it seems, on a daily basis. There are so many examples of it, it is so rampant in our society, that our surprise and outrage have become inured: imagine something incredibly and impossibly awful and crazy…and, lo, it actually will happen in our insane society.
There are only a very few things, a few statements by Abraham Lincoln that I can agree with. One of them is this (1858): “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
The time has come; the moment has arrived for us to discuss not only what is wrong with the country, but how we actually might resolve the issues that confront us. And just perhaps the answer is not a new and necessarily-controlled or imposed faux-nationalism, but some sort of national separation, hopefully peaceful, that might be the least disagreeable course. The other options, all of them, bring violence, civil war, and probably dictatorship. And that is something we must hope to avoid.
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