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Friday, May 13, 2016

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Sorry, Bill. I cannot hold my nose and vote for Trump. I have no reason to believe that he will be a better President than Clinton, and given his demogoguery, he could well be worse, even dangerously worse.

Al,

If you are convinced that the two are equally bad, both character-wise and policy-wise, then you are justified in your abstention.

I am convinced that Hillary is worse, and that you are not justified in your abstention, but of course neither I nor anyone else can PROVE this. I have given my reasons and they seem to me to be good. That's all I can do. Good reasons needn't be rationally compelling for all rational beings.

"In particular, we need to discuss whether there can be a conservatism that avoids both the impotence of the go-along-to-get-along Republican establishmentarians but also does not descend into a Blut und Boden nativism that certain neo-reactionaries seems to be slouching towards."

I don't see the latter as "descending" or "slouching", but rather as an incipient recognition of some aspects of the world that are deeply important for human well-being and social functioning. In fact, those who don't recognize that "blood and soil" are intimately connected with human feelings of belonging and cohesive social functioning strike me as just as delusional and utopian as the communists, perhaps even more delusional. The idea that the basis of a society where human beings flourish is something like the "culture-shifting possibilities of open markets" is laughable, as that concept bears almost no relation to the things that people truly care about (e.g., family, social cohesion, stability, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, etc.). Of course, Wehner throws in the perfunctory reference to "tradition". But why in the world should we assume that "blood and soil" aren't essential aspects of the traditions that are important?

Why don't we stop inventing political theories for psychologically bizarre abstractions of human beings and work on figuring out what promotes the well-being of actual human beings?

"It is a regression to the conservatism of blood and soil, of ethnic polarization and bullying nationalism..."

The above statement strikes me as an odd criticism of Trump. The Left does everything it can to undermine the history, culture and traditions of the United States. Some examples: changing schools named after Thomas Jefferson, renaming Mount McKinley, taking Andrew Jackson off our currency, TV Land banning the Dukes of Hazzard, and unlimited illegal immigration. When your blood and soil is under attack, I think we could use a little more blood and soil converatism and nationalism (I'm not sure what he means by bullying nationalism).

Hillary Clinton and the Left are far more ethnically polarizing than Trump. Obama is arguably the most polarizing president we've ever had (Trayvon Martin, Cambridge police, ect.). In light of this, I don't understand the attack on Trump.

I agree with you and Dennis Prager. Despite how bad Trump is, we must support him because Hillary is far worse. I wish the conservatives attacking Trump would use that energy to attack the Left and Democrats. That's the real enemy.

Your use of 'blood and soil' associates you with SA brown shirts and SS thugs, an association I think you would decline. So just as a matter of PR you may want to avoid the Nazi phrase.

I suspect you will agree that anti-white and anti-cop Black Lives Matter thugs are despicable, as are all leftist thugs who disrupt speakers at universities, etc. But is the proper response a race-based right wing thuggery? When I decried the tribalism of blacks a while back you and Jacques seemed to advocate an opposite white tribalism as opposed to trying to get beyond tribalism altogether.

What, in your opinion, is the deepest philosophical issue here?

Kurt,

I agree with your examples. One can honor Tubman without dishonoring Jackson by removing his visage from the $20 note. It wasn't so long ago that Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays were celebrated. Now neither is: we have President's Day. One can honor MLK Jr without dishonoring great presidents.

It's death by a thousand cuts. The bit by bit destruction of American culture and heritage.

We can agree that Wehner & Co. are soft on this. The issue is how best to combat it.

Like Prager I tend to think that blood does not matter, or rather ought not matter. But American traditions and their preservation do matter. Are those traditions owned by Anglo and European whites? Or do they belong to all who are willing to assimilate to American culture and accept American values? E.g., Prager's trinity: e pluribus unum, In God We Trust, Liberty.

"But is the proper response a race-based right wing thuggery? When I decried the tribalism of blacks a while back you and Jacques seemed to advocate an opposite white tribalism as opposed to trying to get beyond tribalism altogether."

Bill, I don't think Anon or I have ever advocated 'thuggery' and 'tribalism' is the kind of thing that comes in degrees and shades. Just as advocating a certain degree of 'conservatism' doesn't rationally commit me to wishing to conserve absolutely everything just as it is right now, one can advocate some kind of 'tribalism' without having to endorse Hitler or other bogeymen who serve mainly to prevent whites from ever recognizing their collective interests. The tribalism of BLM is moronic, hateful, incoherent and self-defeating. White tribalism has sometimes been that way but doesn't have to be. You seem to be making use here of a kind of slippery slope argument that we usually get from the Left. Do you think it's bad to have police because that will inevitably lead to a police state? Should we not teach children that western civilization is great because that will inevitably lead to another Holocaust? Why is tribalism something that is always simply wrong and bad in all contexts rather than something that is often healthy and useful, in the right dose? The fact is that human beings are tribal. American whites are a very diverse group but, in some important ways, they are a tribe; blacks are not part of that tribe, and they are very aware, on the whole, that they are a separate tribe with its own interests. How do you think whites should deal with this situation? Are blacks going to stop being tribal anytime in the foreseeable future?

"What, in your opinion, is the deepest philosophical issue here?"

Thanks for your question, Bill. I think that there are many deep and important philosophical issues here. But here are two questions based on your comments?

1. What are the proper tactics to use to accomplish one's political goals?
2. What is the moral status of "tribalism"?

My answer to the second question is that I think that tribalism, like nationalism, is poorly understood and undeservedly demonized. It is presumably a fundamental part of human well-being to bond and interact with others who are like you in important ways. The bonds that we are able to form with others depend, whether we like it or not, on things like race, sex, and cultural heritage. To pretend this isn't the case or attempt to brainwash people into believing it isn't is as sick as raising a little boy to be girl and trying to convince him that he's a girl. It's very bad for people to be deprived of these natural and meaningful aspects of their identities.

Instead of acting as though those identities are not important or shouldn't be taken into account in our political structure, we should be working on figuring out how our political structure can promote and protect these identities just as the political structure should be promoting and protecting the security and economic well-being of the people.

Regarding the first question, I didn't think I said anything before about the proper tactics and certainly didn't endorse "thuggery". But should nationalists and tribalists get aggressive here and start employing methods of intimidation that are similar to the BLM movement? I'm not sure. Western culture is being destroyed right in front of us. Working to stop this through the current "civilized" channels seems ineffective, presumably because the "civilized" forums are all run by leftists. What are we supposed to do? Politely lose?

Anon.,

Your two are important questions. But a deeper issue is whether Dennis Prager is right when he maintains: >>But America was founded to be an idea, not another country. As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put it: “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”<<

Here: http://www.dennisprager.com/the-scariest-reason-trump-won/

If Prager is right, then blood doesn't matter so long as once accepts American values and ideas; limited government, free markets, etc. Now you might say that this is naive, since there always will be reversion to tribalism in the end. Thus people identify not as Americans but as blacks, Hispanics, women, etc.

"Now you might say that this is naive, since there always will be reversion to tribalism in the end."

It's not just that I think it's unrealistic to expect people to have allegiance to America as an "idea". I think putting it that way makes it seem like we are failing to live up to some better standard because we can't get past our flawed tribal nature. This seems comparable to saying that communal raising of children would be better but we just can't get past our obsessions with family. The parent-child relationship is presumably something that provides tremendous amounts of well-being to humans and is not something we should lament as a psychological shortcoming. I think that tribal interaction falls into the same category.

Of course, nations are tribes of a sort, and couldn't anyone who accepts American "values and ideas" be part of the national tribe? Perhaps they could, but I don't think that American values and ideas are reducible to some propositions about markets, limited government, Constitutional rights, etc. American values and ideas are much more complex and concrete. They involve our language, our historical figures, our ways of socializing and dressing, apple pie, baseball, etc. Can people of all races and from any culture successfully adopt this rich and complex set of values and ideas? There is no good reason to think this and lots of good reasons to think that they can't

>>I think putting it that way makes it seem like we are failing to live up to some better standard because we can't get past our flawed tribal nature. This seems comparable to saying that communal raising of children would be better but we just can't get past our obsessions with family.<<

As regards the first sentence, we ARE failing to live up to a higher standard if we remain on the level of tribal identification. But it is a non sequitur to slide from that to your second sentence.

The Left wants to destroy the family, and indeed every institution of civil society. For the State is their God, and he is a jealous God who will brook no competitors. Here I think we agree.

But perhaps we are closing in on the real difference between us, although I am not sure I know how to formulate it exactly. So I'll just give an example. The Unabomber's brother turned him into the authorities. Doing so, he was disloyal to his brother. He betrayed him, 'ratted him out' as a mafioso would say. He acted anti-tribally. But I say the bro did right. For there are things higher in value than family loyalty such as the well-being of strangers such as David Gelernter who was a Unabomber victim.

Ultimately it all rests on one'smetaphysics and theology. Are you a theist? A Christian?

>> I don't think that American values and ideas are reducible to some propositions about markets, limited government, Constitutional rights, etc. American values and ideas are much more complex and concrete.<<

I agree. So we can make common cause against both leftists and libertarians. We have a culture and we have a right to preserve it against destruction by Hispanic and Muslim invaders who have no intention of assimilating.

But when you guys go on about blood and soil, then I start to get nervous. You do realize that that is Nazi rhetoric don't you?

"we ARE failing to live up to a higher standard if we remain on the level of tribal identification"

What seems true is that someone who operates _only_ on the level of tribal identification is 'failing to live up to a higher standard'. (Though I'm not sure why the more abstract or general is 'higher' than the more concrete and particular.) For example, it would be wrong for me to help a white murderer cover up his crime just because his victim was not white. But Anonymous and I are not arguing that people should operate _only_ at the tribal level; instead we're claiming that whites should _not_ operate _only_ at some more abstract level where all that matters are 'values' and 'propositions'.

Is Praeger right that America "was founded to be an idea, not another country", and that, therefore "blood doesn't matter"? I don't see how he could be right. Why did early America restrict citizenship to 'free white persons', for example? Lincoln was a white supremacist by today's standards but he was considered a radical leftist egalitarian at the time. Furthermore, lots of Americans have always been skeptical of ideas like 'free markets'. Were they not really Americans? Should they have been booted out or forced to read more Milton Friedman? It seems counter-intuitive to define America or American-ness in terms of 'values' and ideologies that weren't widely known or accepted until recently and which remain controversial in America today. America really is just another country. But a country is the precious achievement of a specific people, and it should never be given away to aliens.

If the phrase "blood and soil" is associated with the Nazi's, that's too bad, because there is nothing wrong with the phrase. It's like the phrase "sustainability" being associated with radical leftists. There's nothing with wrong with sustainability if understood properly. I sometimes wonder how much of the total aversion and inability of people to deal with concepts like "nationalism" is due to Nazi Germany.

Anon,

Remember some months ago when I said that certain words and phrases are not viable candidates for semantic rehabilitation? I believe we were discussing 'racist.' You cannot sanitize that word, and if you describe yourself using it, you shoot yourself in the foot.

Like it or not, meaning is tied to use. (Wittgenstein)

Same goes for 'blood and soil.' You will only marginalize yourself if you use that phrase. This is a PR poiny, but public relations is important assuming you want to have some effect on real events and not remain holed up in your NR enclave with the like-minded.

A blogger buddy of mine called his first online effort Anal Philosopher. He meant the title in the best possible sense! To advertise himself as an ANALytic philosopher who is also anal retentive. But people took it the 'wrong' way. So he explained himself, more than once, but then realized that it would make much more sense to choose a different title for his blog, which he did.

I think Margaret Thatcher expressed a naive, and uniquely modernist, universalism when she remarked that "Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy." Yes, the founding of the nation was a tremendous act of philosophical virtuosity, but it was also deeply expressive of the cultural, and I would say ethnic (and therefore at least partially biological) particularities of the people whose philosophy it was. The roots of America's founding are deeply, and very explicity, European -- and particularly British -- and I think no other people would have achieved it.

It was certainly understood as such at the time of the Founding. In Federalist #2, Jay wrote:

"With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence."

In my opinion, the gathering resurgence of tribal nationalism all over the West is a backlash fueled by a growing understanding that cultures are, in a very important sense, part of the "extended phenotype" of the populations that create them, and that human beings are not simply interchangeable placeholders for political abstracta.

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