In the first three parts of this series, I have established what I see as the logic of the American political system as it stands today. Now, we need to examine the flaws and the potential dangers in this system.
It is first of all the case that nationalists—as opposed to patriots, the distinction between which you can see analyzed here or here—have been on the losing end of things since the 1960s. Cosmopolitan liberals have been gaining since then, and this the nationalists will not abide.
But still, the clear winner over this time period has been the materialist business interests, for whom the nationalists vote based on their promises to cut the size of government, and with whom the cosmopolitans are obliged to compromise in the interest of seeing their gains on social issues protected.
The Thomas Frank question is: why do the nationalists continually vote for the anti-government big money people when they never do actually do anything to help the nationalists in their quest to abolish gay marriage, feminism, and secularism and restore militarism, flag-waving culture, traditional families and Christian dominance?
One hypothesis is that the nationalists are, by and large, ignorant hicks. They certainly do hate the education system, bastion of liberalism that it allegedly is. Thus, they can be duped every four years by some businessman who spouts slogans about “family values” and “sanctity of marriage” and who once elected cuts the capital gains tax and curtails welfare benefits.
When you add in that most nationalists are rural, and that many of them are Southern, where the schools have never been as good as the North or West, it looks compelling to say that they are just easily-tricked bumpkins. Some liberals pity them, some liberals mock them; but they are seen widely as buffoons.
There is some evidence against this hypothesis, however. That is why I read the works of Oswald Spengler or the political writings of H.P. Lovecraft. They were both nationalists and, abhorrent though their views may be to me, there can be no doubt they were very intelligent men.
Moreover, you can see intelligent, educated nationalists even in the present day: a loose association sometimes called “the alt-right”. I had a brief exchange with one of their number, OneSTDV, that some readers may recall.
Many of them are quite intelligent and well accustomed to philosophical debate and reasoning. And they hold political views which I think many people supposed were now extinct in this country. For example, they are fairly open about their admiration for fascism. They are more reactionary than most liberals can even imagine.
There are a few mainstream figures as well—Pat Buchanan is one—who may be classed as reasonably well-educated nationalists. So, it is possible for such people to exist. Their philosophy is surprisingly intricate, and they can prove quite formidable in debate.
Given that, why keep voting for the materialist business interests, which care nothing for nationalism except insofar as it dictates the currency whose flow dictates their actions? Well, in some cases, the nationalists don’t. But in general, the reason is simply that both sides have common cause in that they hate the government. (With the exception of the military, in the case of the nationalists.)
They have different reasons: the nationalists hate it because it is populated by liberals. (Most Republicans in government are far too liberal for their taste.) Materialist corporate-types hate it because it has the power to take their money. This fact means that business interests have a much easier time compromising with government than nationalists do. Business wants to keep the government from getting its money; nationalists hate the actual people in the government .
Nonetheless, the nationalists’ plan is therefore rational: allow the Randian-minded businessmen to screw with the government long enough and it will eventually become weak. Once it is weak, they will be in fine position to send in a candidate who really does mean to take us back to the 1950s. But clearly that day has not yet come.
Liberals are semi- cognizant of this threat, but it is very difficult to make the connections and realize that the nationalists may not be merely an angry group of people, but actually followers of a philosophy; one that is internally consistent and entirely antithetical to liberal values.
When I had my exchange with OneSTDV, many of his readers commented on my blog. Interestingly, the topic that they focused on was this part:
[OneSTDV’s] belief that blacks are inherently inferior to whites intellectually. He calls this idea “Human BioDiversity” or “HBD”. I call it “racism” myself, and I believe it to be false.
Most of their comments centered on this point, and there was a lot of back-and-forth about the validity of it. One thing that caused some confusion—and this is my fault—was disagreement over whether “HBD” was the same thing as “racism”. To my mind, they amount to the same thing: the belief that different races are in inherently different in non-trivial, especially mental, ways. Now, some HBDers seemed to object to my effectively calling them racists, but I didn’t mean to imply that they are all klansmen; merely that they see race as an important factor in determining how well a person’s mind functions.
That’s an aside, but I wanted to get that bit of terminology clarified before proceeding. What was especially interesting to me about the response to my OneSTDV post was a comment by “Ken S”:
“I am a fairly liberal HBD’er and I also frequently find OneSTDV’s blogging distasteful. But don’t let that turn you off from finding out more about this viewpoint, there is much evidence in support of some of the non-political tenets of HBD…
While I like might like what you have expressed in the context of the arts, this is not the proper context that HBD lies in. HBD itself is a scientific idea and the politics expressed at blogs like OneSTDV are responses to scientific data that question whether or not current social policies are doing more harm than good. Even if he is wrong about the politics it would not make him wrong about the scientific findings that he uses to support his position.”
I also discovered the writings of a blogger named “John” at the sadly now-removed blog Stream of John, who also holds fairly liberal political views while still agreeing with the validity of “HBD”. (I assume that he discovered my blog through reading OneSTDV)
Together, these two go to demonstrate a very interesting point: agreeing with the HBD hypothesis does not automatically determine one’s political beliefs. After all, if these two can be liberals while still agreeing with the HBD view of things, it shows that there is no political philosophy that automatically follows from it.
Which is interesting, for it implies that OneSTDV and I would still have cause to quarrel even if one of us were somehow able to persuade the other on issues of race. More broadly speaking, it shows that the divide between cosmopolitans and nationalists runs much deeper than even racial issues.
At bottom, these are whole philosophies of life that clash; they cannot be reduced to beliefs about race, or gender, or economics or any of the other issues. The philosophical battle encompasses all of these. If this hypothesis is correct, it in turn implies that there will never be consensus, and thus there is constant tension the political system.