One of the most remarkable things to happen in the West since the end of the Cold War has been the rise of identity politics over the last half decade. It is remarkable for a couple of reasons. One is that it has emerged in what economists consider to be a time of unrivaled prosperity. People should be happy and content, rather than angry, with post-national liberal democracy. A central tenet of liberal democracy is that the end point of human activity is to create a world of material plenty.
The other remarkable aspect is these movements are flourishing in the face of strong moral prohibition, often backed by force. It’s literally dangerous to be an identitarian in most of the West now. America is now a land that bans books and subjects dissenters to internal banishment. The titans of industry are studying China for ways to suppress internal dissent. Despite these efforts to anathematize identity politics, white people throughout the West are embracing identity politics.
The aggressive assault on dissidents is a direct result of the unpreparedness of the ruling classes. They really were convinced they had ushered in the post-historical moment as imagined by Francis Fukuyama. The great battles of political economy in the 20th century were settled. All the “isms” had been vanquished by liberalism and there was nothing left to discuss. The sudden reappearance of old cultures and old ideas about how people should organize themselves was like seeing a ghost.
Now, this is a good time to note that the phrase “identity politics” has been kicking around American political circles for decades. In the mouths of conservatives, it was always part of the grift they have been running on white people. It looks like an attack on left-wing tactics, but in reality it is an endorsement of Progressive morality. For the Left, it was always a cover for anti-white agitation. They could not come out directly in favor of anti-white polices, but non-white camp followers were free to do it.
The success of this game of good cop – bad cop played by the American political class is another reason they remain baffled by what’s happening. This game has worked for so long, its sudden failure is like the sun rising in the west all of a sudden. Perhaps a better metaphor is it seems as if all swans are now black. Everywhere political elites turn, the world is no longer as they imagined it. All the axioms upon which they based their world view are suddenly being called into question.
It turns out that Fukuyama was sort of right after all. The West had reached an endpoint after the Cold War. It was not the end of a great ideological battle, but the end point of the great multicultural project launched by the Frankfurt School following World War II. The West, particularly America, had become fully actualized as multicultural societies. They no longer possessed a core identity, based in biology, which informed their politics or restrained their politicians. It was just one big open marketplace.
The trouble is, you cannot have a nation without a sovereign identity and there can be no sovereign identity without a nation. This is the core insight of multiculturalism, which was never intended to strengthen the West but to destroy it. To have a multicultural society is to have no culture at all. Once the people’s sense of who they are is destroyed, the nation must follow with it. That is exactly what we see in the West as political classes struggle to perform their basic duties.
The reason for this, is that the people’s sense of who they are is what animates the political institutions of the state. That shared reality of a people is the soul of every nation, just as the soul animates the body. To kill it and simply try to artificially animate the body, is to create a Frankenstein’s monster. The modern Western state is now a collection of cultural parts robbed from graves around the world. It is neither organic nor natural, so it is always at war with normal human sensibilities.
Multicultural liberal democracy, when lying on the table, is ugly in appearance, but when animated it is truly horrifying. Multiculturalism becomes a monster that attacks everything around it, because at some level, like the mythical monster, it knows it is an abomination, a sin against creation. We have quickly moved from eradicating the people’s sense of identity to systemically eradicating the people. Instead of creating a new society, superior to the old, multiculturalism has destroyed the very essence of western society.
In addition to the end of the post-war cycle, we may also be at the end of a much longer cycle that began with the Enlightenment. The thinkers and philosophers who gave us liberal democracy had a mechanistic view of nature. This led them to see society as nothing but a collection of parts, like a watch. In order to make a better watch, the watchmaker simply had to improve its parts. Make a better spring or a better crystal and snap it into place. Liberal democracy is the full expression of this belief.
It turns out that human society is nothing like a watch and the people in it are not simply automata that can be tinkered with as necessary. Human society is the expression of the shared reality of the people. That shared reality is the result of actions, experiences and mating decisions made by their ancestors. Who they are is what they are. The Frenchman is French, because his ancestors were French, not because the map maker said he was born in France. The nation is the manifestation of this reality.
The confluence of these two end cycles, plus others forces like demographics and technology has brought us to this interregnum. The reason the ruling elites helplessly lash out at the gnats whirling about them is they are built for an age that is fading into the past. Their weapons are crude and destructive, but ultimately ineffective at halting the march into the abyss. The weird nostalgia of American politics is just another aspect of that effort to halt the momentum. It’s an effort to stop the clock.
Similarly, the incoherence and confusion among dissidents is due to the inability to break free from the Enlightenment ideas of liberal democracy. Those looking for an alternative, rummage around in the past for prior rejections. First it was the neo-reaction trying to revive the age of kings. Then it was the alt-right trying to revive 20th century fascism. Like clothes from a prior era, they were a poor fit and made the wearer look odd. They are answers to questions no one remembers, not the questions of today.
That’s why the on-going efforts to put Buckley Conservatism back together will fail. It was an answer to an old question. Similarly, libertarianism is in crisis, because it was a set of tools made for a tradesman who is no longer needed. Whether it is an effort to impose the old forms on the new opposition or re-brand the old stuff as a new form of nationalism, the effort must fail as it is an artifact of the past. The emerging opposition to the prevailing orthodoxy will be rooted in a rejection of its core principles, not an embrace of them.
If you care about your community and want to support those working hard on your behalf, consider supporting my work by donating the price of a beer or a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. Unlike those mega-corporations, I will not use your money to destroy your family and community. Or, you can send money to me at: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. I now have a PayPal setup for those who prefer that method to donate. Thank you for your support!