Montesquieu famously explained that each system of government has a principle that animates the people within that system. In a democratic republic, the citizens, and presumably the office holders, are driven by the willingness to put the interests of the community ahead of private interests. While every society of sufficient size has factions, the interests of those factions come after the interests of the republic. This is the framework of what dissidents call civic nationalism.
Since the middle of the last century or so, this view of politics has been the exclusive domain of the Right. The Left slowly embraced the partisanship of interest group politics during the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. First it was the array of interest groups in the old New Deal coalition that dominated politics into the 1970’s. That has given way to what we call identity politics today. Meanwhile the Right has stubbornly held to the abstract concepts of republican virtue and civic duty.
One result is that a standard item in the toolkit of Official Conservatism has been the argument against identity politics. Initially, as the Left embraced race politics, this was mostly an argument against pandering to blacks. As the array of identity groups in the radical coalition has expanded, it is now a generalized argument against appealing to the self-interest of groups based on their professed identity. The claim is identity politics is bad for the country, as it pits one group against another.
Tucker Carlson is probably the most vocal opponent of identity politics. He does a bit against it as part of his standard act. The other night, according to this Breitbart piece, he warned people about what will happen when the military is fully woke on identity politics. He asked, “what if the current lunacy turns out to be more than a passing phase? What if woke race obsession is not a fad, but instead an incurable brain virus that’s infected our country’s entire leadership class?”
He then showed a clip of some television performers talking about what Joe Biden should to do to have a diverse administration. Carlson then went on to explain that the people being given spots in the administration are not qualified for the posts, in the sense they have the skills to perform the stated duties. Instead, they are being given jobs to tick boxes on the ideological tick list. He then asks what would happen if the woke warriors take over the military.
It is never fully explained, but the viewer is supposed to come away thinking that this would be very bad. Instead of transgender fighter pilots being selected based on their skill, they would be selected based on their choice of sundress. Instead of based black guy getting promoted for his ability, woke black guy will be promoted because he is really into his blackness. Girls will be installed into special forces units to satisfy the desires of Nth wave feminist, rather than on their ability to fight.
Carlson does not put it that way, but he carefully avoids the implications of what he is saying, as he likes living in a mansion. The truth is, a military composed of the sorts of people the Left says are the future will be a disaster. The promotion of female officers is already showing up in incident reports. The military brass is well to the Left of the American public and they are fully committed to diversity. It is just a matter of time before that institution looks like the rest.
The fact is, Carlson is peddling the same civic nationalist fantasy that conservatives have been peddling for generations. In the face of identity politics, they preach a weird combination of individualism and a sacrifice to principles the other side rejects. His “what if” question is about thirty years too late, as it has been happening since the 1990’s and is accelerating. The real question that needs to be discussed openly is how does one live in a world defined by identity politics?
So far, the stock response from conservative like Carlson is the same answer they have been giving for generations now. That is, white people in general, but conservative whites in particular, have to pretend this is not happening. If they just carry on as if that old republican virtue is the best, eventually the other side will tire of their fads, see the results and return to the civic nationalist fold. In response to the radical advances on every front, civic nationalism has become a cargo cult.
Worse yet, it is a call to docility. The civic nationalist argues that eventually, the truth of radialism will catch up to them and all the good citizens really needs to do is wait for reality to slit the throat of radicalism. Instead of matching the Left’s anti-white rhetoric with pro-white rhetoric, which would be really bad according the civic nationalists, white people just need to embrace their individualism and soon enough things will go their way. UFO cults have greater self-awareness.
At some point, the dumb idea stops being dumb and becomes dangerous. We live in an age where public figures, elected officials, brag about withholding the Covid vaccine from whites in the name of racial vengeance. Not long ago this sort of rhetoric was considered a white nationalist conspiracy theory. How long before some unthinkable racial assault on whites is the new fad among the ruling class? Refusing to accept this reality, as is common with civic nationalist, is suicide.
This would be fine if it was a private form of suicide. If civic nationalists, like Tucker Carlson, simply focused on the work product of the Left, leaving the rest to the imagination of his viewers, that would be fine. Living within the constraints placed upon him by his employer, but seeding the minds of his viewers with the reality of their situation, would be a great service to his people. That’s not what he is doing. He is explicitly telling his viewers to lie back and take it, promising it will be over soon.
Civic nationalism, like libertarianism, is now a form of escapism. It allows the believer to stand on the sideline, not only believing it is the moral high ground, but certain that what is happening on the field will go his way. The principles of a republic, not only have no place in a majority-minority society, they are a dangerous narcotic that prevents the user from accepting reality. Civic nationalism and its traveling partner libertarianism are more dangerous than the identity politics they claim to oppose.
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