The Red-and-White Blues

All politics are tribal. And so it follows that all politics are ethnic, however and at whatever scale you decide to define the ethnos. Race in part generates and delineates tribal identities. Tribal identities drive politics. Them’s the breaks. Not everyone’s willing to admit to this state of affairs, of course. But trying to play the game of politics while studiously ignoring the racial warp thereof is like trying to beat someone at Risk without acknowledging the defender’s-advantage mechanic. It’s going to be much more difficult than anticipated. Your hopes will be frustrated. Battles that you reckoned you had in the bag will turn into spectacular losses. There will be some factor in play, some valence that you can’t quite put your finger on, making nonsense of all your carefully laid plans.

In the current political milieu of the US, almost all of the major ethnic groups spare themselves such troubles. They understand they are caught up, to one extent or another, in ethnic conflict. They talk and behave accordingly.

Black Americans do so in the most highly visible and most frequently histrionic manner. This is true of the lowliest Fergusonian who took to the streets (and through the smashed windows of gas stations and beauty salons) because a white police officer justifiably shot his black thug assailant. It’s also true of the blacks who occupy some of the highest offices of the land, such as President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Senator Chappelle-Nadal, et al. They all see themselves as vying for power as a race. They advocate openly for their own people’s interests, over and above appeals to the common good. Their propositions are couched in terms of what is good for their own. Racial outgroups are vilified as need arises and without apology.

Black Americans aren’t the only ethnic group in America that does these things, of course. Like I mentioned above, almost all of them do. Jewish interest groups, for instance, are more richly funded, better organized, and far more deeply entrenched than black ones. It’s just not considered polite to point that out. Asians, Mexicans (and other recent “migrants” from south of the border), Indians of both varieties, Arabs, hell, the Somalians inexplicably residing in Minnesota—they all conceive of an “us” and a “them” that track fairly accurately along racial lines, and when it comes vote time or protest march time or time for a candlelight vigil they galvanize in favor of that “us.” Doesn’t matter if it comes at a cost to “them.” Even white liberals seem to recognize the ethnic dynamics of our national politics. They’re as quick as anyone to point out that it’s white people with their big bad privilege and their evil racist institutions and their “troubled legacy” of colonialism who are the problem. They know who the enemies of progress are and they can identify those enemies by skin color.

(Well… skin color and state of origin. But who’s keeping track of such niceties? Certainly not the minorities who soak up and internalize this “Kill whitey!” rhetoric. I mean take the “Black Brunch” activists. They sure as heck aren’t mobilizing across the South and storming Waffle Houses full of NASCAR fans. No. They’re going after hipster restaurants in blue metropolises, vegan-friendly lunch spots chock full of dutiful Obama voters. Don’t they know that’s friendly fire? Oh well.)

My object here is not to bemoan contemporary hypocrisies about race, like the one that frames explicit ethnic pride and advocacy as natural and just for every group in America except whites. But neither do I look down on anyone who feels aggrieved by such a state of affairs. It’s just that I don’t see much use in lamenting them. With whom are we going to lodge our complaints? It’s part and parcel of my thesis that political matters are not arbitrated in the rarefied air of philosophical discourse but in the complex and messy realm of tribal loyalties, of human biases, of competing interests. Whom do you expect to give you your fair hearing?

My object is simply to point out the fact that everyone on the political scene in America acts on the understanding that politics have an ethnic or a racial dimension. Everyone except for white conservatives that is, except for middle America. (I’m not saying that there aren’t white conservatives who recognize that politics have said dimensions, only that there are no conservatives with anything resembling mainstream clout who act on them, much less with the assurance and forthrightness that their counterparts from other demographics do.) I just want to point out that, by all appearances, white conservatives exists in a totally different world than black politicians and Jewish lobbyists and Mexican activists for immigration reform. White conservatives exist in a world where it’s a virtue to be colorblind and meritocratic. Everyone else exists in a world where it’s a virtue to advance the interests of their families, their communities, their children’s children.

The reasons for this anomaly are complex and beyond the scope of this post (at nd probably even the keen perspicacious intellect of your humble correspondent) to untangle. I’d assume our current straits owe much to the hostile takeover of our colleges in the mid-twentieth century. Ever since, the ideas trickling out of them and into society at large have been hostile to the culture and even the existence of middle America. The discourse these occupied colleges gave rise to, with its shiny array of freshly-minted slur terms to demonize all defenses of middle America, has been particularly effective in bludgeoning any conservative who bucks the trend of pretending that we live in the aforementioned monochromatic universe. But for my money this is one of those huge, multidimensional phenomena. There are many other factors, some of them, like the loss of community that accompanied the rise of nationwide mobility for an educated middle class, completely devoid of insidious ideological motivations.

Nevertheless, the current situation is one in which American conservatives operate at a tremendous disadvantage. When Washington decides that it’s time to throw open the borders and flood the nation with cheap labor and cheaper votes, conservatives (it’s especially important here not to confuse DC Republicans with conservatives) have to engage in all sorts of proxy arguments to object to their own forthcoming inundation. We have to make economic arguments, to harp on epidemiological concerns, to appeal to currently existing (and ritually ignored) immigration laws (the tried-and-true “But you’re not playing by the rules!” tack). We have to engage in these sophistries because the most obvious and immediate argument against immigration, i.e. “mass immigration will further strain, displace, and distort the America our grandparents intended for our grandchildren,” is unavailable to us. And against all these prodigies of intellectual effort, our opponents merely have to appeal to the welfare of the ethnic groups they’re importing. “Look at these poor people. They deserve a spot at the table.” When you observe the lopsidedness of these rules of engagement, the fact that we’re losing doesn’t seem so surprising.

The question then becomes, of course, “well how do you get white conservatives to acknowledge that all politics are ethnic and act accordingly?” And I’ve got a harebrained scheme or two of my own in that regard. But for now I just wanted to point out that American conservatives have allowed themselves to be severely handicapped in the politics game, in large part because they’ve agreed to ignore (or at least to exclude from their rhetoric) one of the fundamental mechanics of that game, while their opponents have made no such concession. I don’t think white nationalism necessarily follows from these observations. But I do think that in these dread latter days any “conservatism” that doesn’t go to the mat for the ethnicities who historically originated and maintained the culture they want to “conserve” is, as the scare quotes might suggest, not worth the name.

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  1. I certainly agree in a multidimensional approach to the erosion of identity among North American European communities, taking into account the rise of Yankee urban commercialism which atomizes individuals, the demolition of all viable alternative communities by the Boston-New York hegemony (New England Imperialism, if you like), Reconstruction, and leading up to the post-WWII disintegration of any real identity among the multiple white ethnicities.

    I would emphasize the fact that white nationalism is absolutely not a viable answer. Marxism fails (among many other reasons) because it’s artificial communities of the labor union and the soviet never manage to adequately replace the extended family and small town. One can never mobilize authentic loyalty on behalf of a fraud, as loyalty can’t be willed, it can only be felt. (Politics are not rational, they are based in sentiment. See Weaver.) Likewise, “whiteness” is a fraud identity which only appears in the absence of a true identity.

    The problem of White Nationalism is that the white Southerner and the white Yankee have nothing in common aside from a few mutual enemies, and moreover they are natural enemies themselves. Their ways of life are mutually incompatible and cooperation requires the Southerner to abandon his authentic identity to become a “scalawag” pseudo-Yankee. The goal should be the revitalization of authentic, “felt” identities, which are necessarily regional rather than national and tied to particular ways of life. Part of this requires those of us from non-Yankee cultures to stop acting like Yankees and to return to our own ways, redeeming our ancestral symbols, without blindly worshipping the past.

    Southern Reactionary doesn’t have to mean a vain attempt to return to the past, but a return on an ontological level (repentance, not nostalgia). Like the biblical Prodigal Son, we cannot return to the past, but we can repent and return to a state of forgiveness and restoration. The relationship will be different, the father cannot forget his son’s failing, but it will be essentially ordered and therefore viable, the son under the father’s authority. What this means is reconstructing a way of life that is true to the principles of our ancestors while retaining a forward-looking attitude toward conquering modern problems.

    Most importantly, it means rejecting Yankee nationalism and modern Yankee culture (no matter how white they are) and coming into our own.

    1. Which Yankees?

      Even here in New York State there are plenty of rural people who tend to be conservative, religious, gun owning. I see signs about fighting our latest gun control act on a huge percentage of lawns.

      Whiteness is getting at something, regional identities are getting at something, but they’re both incomplete.

      The problem with trying to do anything in the US is that there is so much diversity that it is very difficult to assemble a critical mass of people who think alike.

      1. “Conservative” and “gun-owning” are surface issues which don’t get at the deep cultural incompatibility between Northern, Southern, and Western American communities. Those of us in the South and West do not want to be governed under Northern rules, assumptions, and political symbols. We don’t want the New England-style of “township democracy” and we don’t accept the assumption that real communities overlap with district lines. Those of us in the South don’t have issues with class-based envy or disdain, and we don’t care about materiel inequality, either in its liberal-Calvinist guise (income inequality) or conservative Catholic guise (distributionism).

        I have no problem with rural northerners, but I don’t want to be ruled from the North any more than I want to be ruled by Britons, Canadians, or Australians. Northern values are not universal and it is not immoral to abide by the values of our own ancestors who dissented from them.

  2. A lot of the debate about whether a white identity exists is just a matter of what scale you’re talking about. You’re right that, in a sense, it’s a tenuous or fraudulent identity, meaning that it’s more accurately described by smaller, more coherent constituent identities. But the exact same critique can be made of the term “Southerner” or “Yankee.” The South is not a monolithic whole and its people aren’t uniform from Texas to North Carolina or from Tennessee to Georgia. Not historically and not now. There is no identity that can’t be deconstructed in this manner: by appealing to the finer grained analysis.

    The finer grained analyses are important, producing the sort of insight that’s evident in your comment. But generalizations allow us to discuss things we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. The idea of “sports,” for instance, disintegrates under close scrutiny. It’s a fraud category that includes a bunch of incompatible and unrelated activities. Neverthless everyone knows what you mean by the word sports and it allows us to have conversations that would be prohibitively unwieldy if we eschewed such vague and imprecise words. In the same way, “white” is an imprecise word. But it still allows us to have discussions about national level racial politics that would otherwise get bogged down in endless qualifications and specifications.

    In other words, I think your comment is perceptive as usual and I’m in general agreement with it. But there’s certainly a time, a place, and a scale at which it’s appropriate to talk about white interests. At that level of discourse, I’m in the white camp whether I think that’s an accurate category or not. It behooves me, I think, to offer some words in whitey’s defense.

    1. I think the test of the locus of identity should be practical rather than theoretical, however, which is regionalism’s big advantage over WN. American regional identities are functional, and while there are certainly cultural differences among Texans and Virginians, for example, they share the Ciceronian criteria for a functioning community: common language, common concept of justice, and a common weal (or way of making a living). The latter is central as to why cooperation between Yankee and Southerner is always going to be tentative and limited. Northern urban commercialism is corrosive to Southern community life and social structure. Admitting the Yankee into a non-Yankee community erodes its viability. See Florida and Colorado for Southern and Western examples, respectively.

      I certainly believe in common cause between cousins. I have nothing but respect and benevolence for Westerners, rural Canadians, Australians, and Britons. New Englanders, West Coasters, Londoners, urban Canadians, and their compatriots, however, can go to hell. Or, to use my own native dialect, they ain’t kith or kin to me.

    2. “White nationalism” is tilting at windmills, but “interest group politics for whites” is poking a sleeping giant. Regionalism complicates the former dramatically, the latter no so much. It’s in the wind for the first time in 50 years. All it needs is an articulate voice…like Mr. Glanton’s.

      1. Heh, I appreciate the vote of confidence.

        I’ll probably write more on this if I get my thoughts sorted out. Basically I believe that our political ideals ought to be higher than simply winning ethnic conflict (even though if push comes to shove I’d settle for that). Nevertheless we have to be realistic about the permanency of ethnic conflict in all human affairs and conduct ourselves accordingly. It doesn’t have to be identity politics, I don’t think. But it does have to be identity-wise politics.

        1. If we accept Cicero’s claim that most of the central markers of community identity are ideological rather than biological (ie. conceptions of justice and weal separate the Latins from other Italics, despite high levels of intermarriage between these tribes), can we separate identity politics from ideological politics? Can we advance leaders who will take seriously policies which advance the health of our communities independently of core identitarian traits? Aren’t concern for the health of one’s community a core element of communitarian identity?

          I’m interested to see what comes out of this.

  3. Speaking of tribal politics in Minneapolis:

    Can someone please enlighten me on how leftists explain away / justify this much explicit cognitive dissonance to themselves and others?

  4. I had similar thoughts at my own blog brought up by an argument with a libertarian friend.

    “Mr. Krauthammer’s quote gets to the heart of the inability of Red Tribe members to understand what is actually going on & why persisting in arguing with Blue Tribe members gets you nowhere. The Blue Tribe is a thede it is a nation unto itself its actions make perfectly logical sense once you understand this. Their ideological stands are there to differentiate themselves from the rapacious Red Tribe scum. Their objective is the defeat of the Red Tribe at any cost. The Red Tribe is their mortal enemy & through both politics & culture they ceaselessly war against their thede’s chief enemy. Blue Tribe sees no reason for restraint and they will accept any ally in their war against Red Tribe. Why? because evil cannot be allowed to be victorious.”

  5. I am pro-White and support endogamy among Whites, but I would say that liberal power (mainstream conservatives + liberals + the liberal system generally) sees things differently, i.e. ultimately not from the point of view of ethnicities. Liberal biopower (management of population; births, deaths and anything in between) sees Whites as politically the strongest group, and the most likely to form a unified opposition to liberal immigration policies and liberal globalization policies, which would draw supporters from other ethnicities also. So biopower weakens Whites by in essence forbidding their ethnic identity, maligning them, hindering their efforts to form large scale social and political cooperation, dictating constricted speech codes, etc., and at the same time favoring and promoting the identities and cooperation of ethnic minorities, both inside and between minorities, and allowing them to speak fairly freely. This creates power balance between majority and minorities, and gives the decisive power to the liberal elite. It is the old power politics; weaken the strongest and strenghten and unite the minorities. One day when the ethnic minority identities, cooperation and unity is no longer useful, biopower will dissolve them too. The ultimate goal of biopower is to create totally mixed global “gray race”, as much as possible, so that there is no clear ethnic, cultural, religious, etc. groups. This makes the management of populations easier for large complex organizations / bureaucracies: conflict management becomes easier; less information processing capacity is needed in LGOs; single marketing scheme can be used globally; less variance is needed in production to cater to ethnic, religious, etc. tastes and requirements; bureaucratic processes and procedures can be simplified and unified; borders lose much of their meaning, enabling more the forming of single global political and economic unit; etc.

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