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The Good Kind of Nationalism

[1]

Immanuel Kant

2,092 words

Part 3 of 3. Part 1 here [2]; part 2 here [3].

Author’s Note:

The following text is based on a talk delivered at the Northwest Forum in Seattle on June 9, 2018. I want to thank the organizers, the audience, and James B. for the transcription.     

The biggest question that we must deal with before people are going to accept white identity politics is not whether it is inevitable or whether it is necessary but whether it is right. People will refuse to bow to the inevitable if they think that’s the wrong thing to do. They will refuse to do what is necessary if they think that’s the wrong thing to do. 

White people are highly conscientious. That’s one of our strengths. We don’t have to be watched all the time by CCTV cameras to do the right thing. But that is also a great weakness if people can hack our conscientiousness and turn our moral fervor and moral idealism against our interests. That is basically what is driving white dispossession today. So we have to know that white identity politics is moral.

But how does one talk about moral matters? I believe that we must approach this issue with an assumption that can be illustrated with Charlton Heston’s story about how he became a Republican. It was 1964, and Barry Goldwater was running for president. Every day Heston passed by a Barry Goldwater billboard. The slogan on the billboard was: “In your heart you know he’s right.” And, at a certain point, after seeing the billboard day after day, Heston thought “Sonofabitch! He is right!,” and he was converted. [1] [4]

My underlying assumption, whenever I speak to people about moral issues, is that in their hearts, they know we’re right, because they’re wired the same way as we’re wired. They are wired to have in-group preferences, to be more comfortable around people who are more similar to them, to be less comfortable around people who are more different. Those are their true feelings. They might have a lot of high-minded liberal, globalist ideas clouding their judgment, but that nonsense doesn’t sit well with their own instincts.

That means that in every white Leftist, in every white globalist, we have a fifth column: their own ethnocentric instincts. That’s an ally in them to which we can appeal. We can say to them: “Look, you’re lying to yourself; you’re fooling yourself. You say that you just love diversity. But your behavior patterns don’t indicate that.” As Joe Sobran once observed, “In their mating and migratory habits, liberals are indistinguishable from members of the Ku Klux Klan.” [2] [5]

Thus white liberals are constantly fighting against themselves. They feel they must profess a certain creed to be decent, and yet that creed is profoundly alien to their deeper instincts. Thus we can appeal to the fact that, on some level, they already agree with us.

How can we make our people aware of their tacit ethnocentrism? Through Socratic discussion we can get them to reflect on what they really feel. We can also display the contradictions and absurd consequences of the globalist universalist ideology that pits them against us and against their own better natures.

There are many different ethical theories. Some of them use intimidating technical vocabularies and complex arguments. But you do not need to surrender your ethical judgment to experts, because all these theories are just attempts to articulate what we all know, in our hearts, to be right.

Knowing what is right is not, however, the same as saying what is right. We always know more than we can say. So any attempt to say what is right will actually fall short of what we know. Which means that all ethical theories fall more or less short of the truth. 

For instance, when someone says that the good is the same thing as pleasure — a theory known as hedonism — we all know that is untrue. Why? Because if pleasure is the good, there can be no bad pleasures or good pains. But we can all think of examples of bad pleasures and good pains. Nicotine addiction is a bad pleasure. Nicotine withdrawal is a good pain.

If someone says that justice is simply respecting people’s property rights, we know that is untrue, because if a friend loaned you his gun, then demanded it back in order to commit a crime, it would not be just to return it.

If someone says that justice is simply a matter of helping your friends and harming your enemies, we know that is untrue, because sometimes our friends do the wrong thing, and sometimes our enemies do the right thing.

Every moral theory, therefore, is merely a more or less adequate attempt to say what we all know, in our hearts, is right. Because of that, even though in our hearts we know the same things, we inevitably say different things when we talk about the good. Which means that we disagree about right and wrong.

But the only way to overcome these disagreements is to say more, to talk our differences through. In conversation, we can test our partial and inadequate opinions about the good and replace them with broader, more adequate accounts. This process could continue forever, but generally we call it quits when we arrive at a consensus whose unity mirrors the unity of what we already know, even though we despair of ever fully saying it.

Love of One’s Own

One of the foundational questions about identity politics is the morality of ingroup preference, i.e., love of one’s own.

Is there anything wrong with people preferring their own children to their neighbors’ children? If your father said to you, “We have learned that the neighbor boy has much better grades than you, so we’re going send him to college instead of you,” I think most people would recognize that your dad is a monster. There is something unnatural about preferring other people’s children to your own. Your father would have to be mentally addled by some kind of universalist ideology before he would say something like that. But the underlying problem has to be a lack of normal human sentiment.

It is natural, normal, and right to love one’s own, to take care of one’s own, and to give them precedence over strangers. People who lack these sentiments are monsters, and we should not be looking to them for moral advice or examples.

It is also natural, normal, and right to prefer your friends to strangers, your hometown to other towns, your homeland over foreign lands, your nation over other nations, and your race over other races. Even if you were raised by wolves in a warzone, you would still be tethered to them by such sentiments. 

[6]

You can buy Greg Johnson’s White Identity Politics here. [7]

There are historical, cultural, and ultimately biological reasons for these preferences. It is natural to feel a stronger connection to people who share the same historical experiences, for instance, members of one’s own generation as opposed to older and younger generations. It is also natural to feel a stronger connection to people who share the same language and customs, because one can understand and cooperate with them more easily.

But the deepest reasons for these preferences are biological. Genetic Similarity Theory predicts that you will have more harmonious relationships, and a greater tendency toward feelings of solidarity and altruism, with people who are genetically similar.

Is love of one’s own a “selfish” sentiment? Yes and no. Our genes are very selfish. They want to propagate themselves through time. However, because our genes are present in other people, they can better propagate themselves if those who share the same genes cooperate with one another, are kind to one another, take risks for one another, and even die for one another. The more genes people share in common, the more solidarity, cooperation, and altruism they display among each other. Our selfish genes program us for altruism.

Thus it follows that the most unselfish and public-spirited societies are those with the least genetic diversity. The claim that “All men are brothers” aims to foster cooperation, solidarity, and altruism based on an implicit understanding of genetic similarity. But it is not literally true. One cannot have a society in which all men are brothers. But one can have societies in which all men are cousins. And it turns out that some of the happiest societies in the world — Denmark, Iceland — are among the genetically most homogeneous, where all people basically are cousins or their genetic equivalents. [3] [8]

If it is natural, normal, and right to prefer people who are like you, then we have to conclude that the flip side of loving one’s own — namely, discomfort around those who are different, i.e., xenophobia — is also natural, normal, and right.

Thus we have to conclude that there is something perverse about people who prefer the foreign and exotic over the familiar. The bigger the plate in their lip, the more fascinating they become. The term for this is xenophilia.

We have pious Christians who lecture us on the duty of loving our neighbors. But how do they love their neighbors? By inflicting Somali Muslim migrants on them. But this is not loving their neighbors; it is betraying them. Xenophilia is a perversion of natural moral sentiments, which disguises itself as a devotion to high principles. It is a highly selfish form of moral fanaticism and exhibitionism, and we simply need to call these people out on it. These people are as monstrous as the father who prefers the neighbor kid to his own. Again, this is a perversion of natural moral sentiments cloaking itself as high moral principle.

If love of one’s own is natural, normal, and right, then white identity politics is natural, normal, and right. Identity politics is simply the politics of loving one’s own.

Self-Actualization

One of the most compelling moral theories is that the good life is one of self-actualization: of becoming who you are.

But we all know that self-actualization is not a complete account of the good life, because we can distinguish between potentialities that are good, bad, and not necessarily good or bad. Thus self-actualization is not necessarily a good thing, and stifling self-actualization is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, humans have a lot of potentialities, and if self-actualization were simply the same as the good life, then actualization of all these potentialities would be good.

But we all recognize there are bad potentialities, for instance, vices. We all have the potential to be lazy, greedy, or imprudent. We all recognize that there are bad seeds. Would a good society allow Jeffrey Dahmer or Hannibal Lecter to actualize himself? Even Aristotle, who is known as the great advocate of self-actualization, only praises self-actualization in accordance with virtue, i.e., good self-actualization. [4] [9]

We also recognize that it is not necessarily good or bad if one takes up golf or fishing, piano or clarinet, needlepoint or quilting, yet all of these choices involve actualizing various potentialities.

So there is more to goodness than self-actualization. But still, we need to actualize our potentialities for virtue. Beyond that, it makes sense to say that happiness is a matter of actualizing one’s individuality. Potentialities that are not necessarily good or bad in themselves may still be good or bad for you.

Since we are all individuals, you might be better suited for golf than fishing, for piano than clarinet, for intellectual work rather than hard labor, for solitude rather than society, etc. Just as we are more comfortable in shoes and clothes that fit our bodies and the climate, we are more comfortable and more alive when we choose activities that go with rather than against our natures. 

Thus we can say that the purpose of life is to actualize our best potentialities, to become the best versions of ourselves. After all, we cannot be anyone else. We can only be ourselves. But we do have a choice of being self-actualized or frustrated, happy or miserable versions of ourselves.

Self-actualization is not just for individuals. It also makes sense to talk about collective self-actualization. Every human being has two identities: the one given by nature and the other given by society, namely the conventions — language, customs, manners, traditions — that we learn from others.

Just as some forms of life are consistent with one’s individual identity and others conflict with it, some forms of life express one’s cultural identity and others conflict with it. When a people is free to express its collective identity, it stamps its identity on the public realm. It expresses its identity in the dates it honors, in the monuments it erects, in the names it gives to its cities and streets, in the language of government, etc.

When a people expresses its collective identity in public, it creates a homeland. A homeland is not just a place on the map. It is a realm of shared meaning, in which people understand one another, feel comfortable with one another, and can live, work, play, and celebrate with one another.

This is why multiculturalism cannot really work. Cultures with opposed conventions cannot exist comfortably in the same system. To choose a trivial example, the American and British systems of driving cannot exist in the same country. Or, to choose a far less trivial example, European and Muslim sexual mores cannot exist in the same society. Trying to force different cultures into the same space causes collisions and conflicts. Multicultural societies basically force you to either fight constantly with other groups about conflicting values and customs, or to stop caring about them, so you don’t fight.

Americans have been sold the tale that we are “a nation of immigrants,” a phrase made famous when Senator John F. Kennedy used it as a title of a book that he wrote for the Antidefamation League of B’nai B’rith. [5] [10] Americans believe that we have a long and successful history of assimilating different European ethnic groups into a common American identity. 

So we are told that it is un-American to oppose immigration, even though we never successfully assimilated non-white groups, and even though we have stopped even trying to assimilate immigrants. We are multiculturalists now, which means the abandonment of assimilation.

But assimilationism was no picnic either. If you look at American history, the assimilation of even closely related European peoples was accompanied by a great deal of conflict, turmoil, and bloodshed. And in the end, assimilation often did not take the form of newcomers adopting the dominant way of life. Instead, assimilation meant that all parties simply ceased caring about the things that divided them, things that their ancestors had cared about intensely.

America was an overwhelmingly Protestant nation from its founding. But the conflicts that ensued when millions of Catholics immigrated to America, first from Ireland then from places like Poland and Italy, did not lead to the conversion of Catholics to Protestantism, or to a higher synthesis of Protestantism and Catholicism. Instead, to avoid conflicts, many Americans simply stopped caring about something that used to be central to the identity of the nation.

Now, I must hasten to add that I don’t care about religion. I am glad Americans are less divided by narrow sectarian Christian conflicts. I am glad Christianity doesn’t matter enough for people to fight and die over it anymore. But I also recognize that Protestantism was an integral part of the society that my ancestors struggled to build and bequeath to me, and that we who abandoned that legacy proved ourselves unworthy heirs.

Different ethnic groups are real. White Americans constitute a distinct people. If we are going to be ourselves, we can no longer abandon the public realm to multicultural chaos and retreat into private life. Multiculturalism creates a society in which everyone feels alien. That’s no way to live.

We have a right to a land where we feel at home, where we are comfortable, where public transportation is safe, where children can play without supervision, where we can understand and trust strangers because, in the end, they’re not all that strange. So, from the point of view of collective self-actualization, we need to own up to our ethnic identities and ethnocentric preferences. Then we need to create ethnically homogeneous homelands where we are free to be ourselves. In short, white self-actualization requires white identity politics.

Notes

[1] [11] Charlton Heston, In the Arena (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995).

[2] [12] Jared Taylor, “Jared Taylor Remembers Joe Sobran,” VDare, October 1, 2010. 

[3] [13] Marie Helweg-Larsen, “Why Denmark Is the Happiest Country,” Live Science, March 30, 2018; Genetics Society of America, “Genomic Study of High School Students from Across Denmark Reveals Remarkable Genetic Homogeneity,” Science Daily, October 11, 2016.

[4] [14] Aristotle states that eudaimonia (happiness, well-being, living well) is “actuality of the soul in accordance with virtue” in Nicomachean Ethics 1098al6.

[5] [15] John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants (New York: Harper & Row, 1964).