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Why Dissidence Is No Longer Adequate

 

IN THE recent entry on an article titled “Going Solzhenitsyn,” in which a writer argued for traditionalists to look to Soviet dissidents for inspiration, Lawrence Auster maintains that it is too late for dissidence. Here is his comment in full:

My only quibble with Robert Oculus’s article is the title and the concluding phrase, “We must now go Solzhenitsyn.” I think it’s too late for that.

Let me explain.

In August 2003 I posted at VFR “A traditionalist’s credo.” Here is the entire entry:

Halfway through a long article by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic about the long-range prospects of George W. Bush’s presidency, I came upon this summary of President Reagan’s views on the Soviet Union that I liked very much, especially in the way the author (or rather the president whom he describes) balances two apparently opposite ideas:

President Reagan hor    rified realists and internationalists alike by declaring that the Soviet Union was not a legitimate state. He would deal with the Soviet regime but never accept it. He aimed at regime change.

It occurs to me that President Reagan’s approach provides the key to how one should look at the political and cultural regime of post-Grutter, post-Lawrence America. So here is my credo, or rather my statement of resistance:

I declare that this government is no longer a constitutional and moral form of government. I will deal with it, and I will obey its laws, and I will support it when it is defending our country from foreign and domestic enemies. I will vote in its elections and participate in its political debates. But I will never accept it. I aim at a restoration of constitutional and moral order.

Now the idea of living within America, and still being loyal to it as a country and obeying its laws while rejecting the existing governmental regime and seeking a restoration of constitutional and moral order, is a Solzhenitsyn-type statement. Specifically, it is the statement of a dissident. The dissidents including Solzhenitsyn rejected the Soviet regime and looked forward to its fall and replacement by a different order.

However, I no longer believe that it is possible to restore constitutional and moral order to the United States. I think the United States, as a constitutional society led by a traditional moral ethos, is gone and is not coming back.

In short, the age of the dissident is past. It is now time to look to build a new society or new societies, perhaps within the existing territory of the U.S., but not part of the U.S.

I have always been patriotic. I have always loved the United States. I have always rejected calls to secede. I have always said that no matter how bad things were, we should not give up the hope, as small as it was, that we could reverse the liberal, nihilist, and racial transformation of America and bring back the real America. I used to suggest scenarios of how that could happen. I always made a point of ending my blog articles, no matter how negative the subject matter, with the reminder that the course of things could be turned around.

 But a year ago there was a change in my thought, and I began to think that it is not possible for liberalism to be rejected, short of the destruction of the United States itself. The presidential election has now crystalized that view into the view that the U.S. is gone and cannot be saved.

As long as you reject the current regime, but think that a traditional society can be restored, you are a Solzhenitsyn-type dissident. It is now too late to be a dissident, because the United States is so far gone that it cannot be saved.

In reading Mr. Auster’s points, it occurred to me that traditionalists should consider themselves separatists instead.

—- Comments —–

Terry Morris writes:

Welcome aboard, Mr. Auster.

Fred Owens writes:

I always enjoy reading your blog and I thank you for your efforts.

I disagree with the sentiments of secession and “going beyond dissidence.” This strikes me as an extreme reaction to recent events.

Might you advise your cohorts to take a deep breath and just keep on keepin’ on?

Laura writes:

I advise you to pull your head out of the sand, and, if nothing else, contemplate the economic future of the United States and ask yourself why it has gotten to this point. Of course, I disagree with you profoundly because of the moral condition of this country, which is far worse than its economics.

You are in deep denial.

Mr. Owens writes:

I am not in deep denial, I am in Southern California in one of those prosperous liberal beach communities — could be the same thing.

 Laura writes:

I meant you are in denial if you believe there is any hope of reversing the course we are on through the current democratic political process.

 James P. writes:

Lawrence wrote,

“Now the idea of living within America, and still being loyal to it as a country and obeying its laws while rejecting the existing governmental regime and seeking a restoration of constitutional and moral order, is a Solzhenitsyn-type statement. Specifically, it is the statement of a dissident. The dissidents including Solzhenitsyn rejected the Soviet regime and looked forward to its fall and replacement by a different order.”

Mr. Auster is attributing contradictory ideas to Solzhenitsyn. He defines two types of dissidence: (1) be loyal to the country, obey the law, seek to restore a previous “good” political order, and (2) seek the fall of the current political order and its replacement by a new one. These ideas are irreconcilable unless the replacement order in the second idea is equivalent to the restoration of the old regime in the first idea. There may have been some Soviet dissidents who rejected the corrupt, failing Brezhnevite regime and who wanted to return to a “pure” Communist order based on Leninism, but they were very different from the Soviet dissidents who wanted to replace the Soviet regime with capitalism and democracy.

Dissidence of the first type – “be loyal to America and restore the Constitutional and moral order” – has been the credo of American conservatives since the 1960s. This idea is more bankrupt (literally and figuratively) than ever. However, dissidence of the second type – rejection of liberalism and looking forward to its fall and replacement by a new order totally unlike the pre-1965 America – is not an inadequate idea at all. In fact, this sounds a lot like his recommendation that we must build “a new society or new societies, perhaps within the existing territory of the U.S., but not part of the U.S.”

In the Soviet Union of the 1970s and 1980s, dissidents were encouraged by the existence of a strong external power (the United States) that opposed the Soviet regime and provided a powerful model of a different and successful economic and political order. For some Soviet dissidents, the United States provided a physical refuge. Today, however, liberalism is triumphant worldwide. The two sources of opposition – Islam and China – are hardly attractive models for American traditionalists (an identifier we need to abandon, by the way, if we’re giving up on restoring the past Constitutional order), or good places for us to flee. All the places with white, English-speaking populations are just as mired in socialist tyranny as we are, or more so.

Steve Kogan writes:

Mr. Auster either ignores or forgets that Solzhenitsyn “went Solzhenitsyn” when the Soviet empire ruled whole populations that lived, in Nadezhda Mandelstam’s words, “as silent as fish.” Even to call him a “dissident” misses the point, for he was not simply a critic but a voice for millions who had undergone famines as never before seen in human history, decades of purges and mass executions, slave labor camps all across Russia, denunciations by neighbors and by children of their very own parents, psychiatric prisons, and secret police by the thousands dominating every aspect of daily life. Mr. Auster seems to me to be indulging in a kind of conservative catastrophism when he writes that “it’s too late” to “go Solzhenitsyn,” which assumes that we have passed beyond the terrors under which Solzhenitsyn himself lived and wrote, which is demonstrably untrue. I sympathize with his feelings, but I am a long way from accepting his conclusion, which is clouded by those feelings, that “the U.S. is gone and cannot be saved.”

Laura writes:

I accept Mr. Auster’s premise that the U.S. is gone and cannot be saved, obviously not just because of this recent election but because it is no longer possible to create a healthy society through democratic means and because we are forced to participate in an inherently evil system, not by death camps or imprisonment but through the sort of soft tyranny described by Jim Kalb in his book The Tyranny of Liberalism. In some ways, this soft tyranny is worse because it inhibits discovery of its intentions. I know it seems wrong to say that because Soviet citizens suffered so immensely, but their suffering also helped them to know that they faced a terrible enemy. Our enemy coddles us instead and controls through an insidious invisibility.

But I also think Soviet dissidence is a useful model and inspiration in some respects for an attempt to build a new society separate from existing America. And I guess I don’t fully understand why Mr. Auster considers our situation so different from Soviet dissidents who completely rejected Communism.

Sibyl writes:

I’ve been fascinated to read of the idea of “partitioning America” here, and wanted to respond to the idea that it is too late, morally, for America to be reclaimed from the disastrous course that radical secularism has set for us.

First, it seems to me that this election shows that although a majority of our country reaffirms the liberal/radical agenda, it is ONLY JUST a majority. This is disappointing, but not an overwhelming landslide of citizens subscribing to that ugly agenda. Clearly, we need to work hard in these next four years to change hearts and minds. Also, I’d like to just suggest that given what we know of Chicago politics and that he got his start there, the majority that Obama garnered might have been slightly, ever so slightly, uh, enhanced in one way or another. The gap might be narrower than it seems.

Second, I agree that in human terms, trying to re-establish a traditional, mature, Christian majority in this country seems impossible. But remember that it was also impossible that the Communist grip should ever relax in Poland or East Germany. It was impossible that Czechoslovakia should ever regain independence and self-rule. Yet all these things happened. And we should love our country enough not to give up hope of that. (Not that any commenter or author on this blog doesn’t love the country — just, we can’t throw up our hands and get apocalyptic.)

Laura writes:

I do not consider this resistance and rejection of America “throwing up our hands.” To the contrary, I consider it the very essence of hopefulness and engagement with reality. If I lived in the Soviet Union in 1955 and someone asked me if I loved my country, I would hope I would say, “No, I don’t love my country. I want it replaced with something else. Or I want it broken up into independent states.”

Sibyl says, “Clearly, we need to work hard in the next four years to change hearts and minds.”

Unfortunately, the numbers are such that roughly half the population of America is unlikely to change its minds and is wedded to Marxist collectivism; a minority is indifferent and the rest lack the numbers to triumph nationally. In four years, our health care system is going to be utterly changed and the possibility of rejecting the intrusion of the federal government into our private lives will be ever greater. Even if there is an economic collapse, which is extremely likely, a large portion of the American electorate would probably choose federal bailouts of one kind or another, making the government’s power all the more overwhelming and irresistible.

The forecasts of philosophers from virtually the beginning of Western history regarding the inherent defects of democracy have come to be all too accurate. The majority can indeed be tyrannical.

I would add that, of course, we must always work to change hearts and minds. Always. But at the same time, we must be realistic about the impossibility of changing our major institutions. It is foolish to invest hopes in them.

Look, for instance, at all the laws and regulations that enforce feminism. We should continue to demonstrate the injustice behind these laws. But, at the same time, the possibility of overturning them is virtually nil. If we cannot overturn a major takeover of our entire health system, we certainly cannot reverse feminist affirmative action.

Joe A. writes:

Before there was a “U.S.” there was an “A.” Our loyalty must always for forever be to America – the nation and her country – never to our hirelings, the State. The United States is little more than our trade association and it’s high time we act like we actually own it.

Consultus writes:

I fear you and Mr. Auster may be right that the United States is beyond moral redemption (by human means). I hope you are wrong. In case you are right, though, I think it worth exploring what you and he and others of your friends think about the Second Amendment. To me, looking at the looting after Sandy, it seems a good time to invest in certain firearms while they are still legally available.

Laura writes:

I have little to offer on that subject. I have never held a gun in my life.

James P. writes:

Sibyl writes,

“First, it seems to me that this election shows that although a majority of our country reaffirms the liberal/radical agenda, it is ONLY JUST a majority. This is disappointing, but not an overwhelming landslide of citizens subscribing to that ugly agenda. Clearly, we need to work hard in these next four years to change hearts and minds.”

This might have been possible had Romney won. Yet I suspect that had he won, he would have remained focused on the economy for four years, and regarded the moral/social/political/cultural struggle against Leftism as an irritating distraction. As it is, with Obama in the White House and the Democrats in the Senate, and the schools and the media solidly in league with the enemy as always, changing hearts and minds in the next four years will be a daunting task indeed. So daunting that the Republican “leadership” has already surrendered to the enemy. They will not try to change hearts and minds, because their hearts are weak and their minds have changed to accommodate the apparent political reality.

She continues,

“I agree that in human terms, trying to re-establish a traditional, mature, Christian majority in this country seems impossible. But remember that it was also impossible that the Communist grip should ever relax in Poland or East Germany. It was impossible that Czechoslovakia should ever regain independence and self-rule. Yet all these things happened.”

Remember that these things did not happen in a vacuum. They happened because the Reagan administration put crushing political, economic, and military pressure on the Soviet empire, and presented an example of freedom and prosperity from which the Communist leaders could not isolate their people. There is no analogous strong, free, and morally righteous country confronting liberal-dominated America and compelling it to change its ways. This does not mean dissidence is futile or change impossible, but it will certainly require another Great Awakening.

Laura, I agree wholeheartedly with your response to Sibyl.

Laura writes:

Sibyl writes:

“First, it seems to me that this election shows that although a majority of our country reaffirms the liberal/radical agenda, it is ONLY JUST a majority. This is disappointing, but not an overwhelming landslide of citizens subscribing to that ugly agenda. Clearly, we need to work hard in these next four years to change hearts and minds.”

That even a slim majority could be swayed by Obama’s cultural Marxism is shocking. I don’t find much consolation in that.

Joe G. writes:

Isn’t the old America that everyone is so eager to return to, the one that gave us this America?  Then going back to that old America would eventually just lead back to this America with the passage of time.  Before trying to re-establish that old America some thought should be given to word form Matthew 7: 16-20

16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So,every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Laura writes:

Yes. That’s a very important point.

Buck writes:

This entry is a real keeper. The back-and-forth between “America” and the “United States”; which is dead, which is alive, which to restore, which to replace, makes the head spin. How long are we going round the maypole?

America is dead. We all seem to agree on that, then we speak about it as if we don’t. The United States is alive and well. If we can’t keep them separate and distinct in a discussion, it must be because it is not yet clear in our minds.

There has been repeated agreement as to which is which, yet we continue to conflate the two.

For example:

Mr. Auster wrote: “Now the idea of living within America, and still being loyal to it as a country and obeying its laws while rejecting the existing governmental regime and seeking a restoration of constitutional and moral order, is a Solzhenitsyn-type statement.”

We don’t live in America, America is dead. We live in the United States. We, I assume, are all loyal to America, to our former America, but we reject the United States government as it is currently constituted. We seek to restore the moral order and the constitution that once governed America, and to end the government that ended America and that now rules the United States.

Another example:

Laura writes: “I accept Mr. Auster’s premise that the U.S. is gone and cannot be saved…” and “But I also think Soviet dissidence is a useful model and inspiration in some respects for an attempt to build a new society separate from existing America.”

The U.S. is not gone, we live in the U.S. and we live under it’s powerful regime. And we don’t want to “build a new society separate from existing America”, we want to restore America in the United States or to somehow separate it from the United States.

America was or is traditionalist conservatism, the United States is modern liberalism.

The confusion riddles this entry.

Joe A. gets it right:

Before there was a “U.S.” there was an “A.” Our loyalty must always for forever be to America – the nation and her country – never to our hirelings, the State.

America was a nation that created a country and a larger state. The state over powered the nation. The state betrayed the people who comprised the American nation and the state took all of the authority away from the very people who entrusted the state with that power. Then the state opened itself up and invited in millions and millions of aliens and it removed all of the constraints that defined it as a nation.

It is America that we want to bring back to life, and it is the state; the United States that we have to subdue if we will.

I don’t see how we will ever have the necessary clarity if we don’t speak about America and the United States as two distinct entities, one that was and the one that has taken its place. America created and established the United States with a limited agreement that had a kick-out clause that the new legions of lawyer-politicians made impossible to execute.

The people screwed up and it’s too late for an appeal. But, we have to keep a clear distinction in mind when we argue about what we can or should do. Even if it’s just academic, as it seems to be, we should at least agree to the terms so that we are on the same page.

Laura writes:

Yes, okay. I prefer to think of both — the United States and America — as gone, which is not to say that all the important elements of our American heritage have vanished but that we must orient ourselves toward a new nation on an inner level.

Buck writes:

Forgive me again, but I am going to be tenacious on this point.

If they are both gone; if America is dead and the United States is dead, then where in this world are we living? We need to name it. I don’t think that the United States is dead or gone, not in any way shape or form. I think that the United States, which is in essence the federal government, is thriving. Our military and all of our major institutions, are going strong even in spite of our mountain of debt. The world is catching up to the United States, and even surpassing it in some ways, but the United States is still no ones step child. The U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet rules the Pacific Ocean, and in effect the globe. There is no military force that comes close. The Seventh Fleet keeps the world in check. As screwed up as our fiscal situation is, the dollar is still the world’s currency. There are many areas in which the United States still dominates. America built the United States into the world power that it still is. Like Marx said about Communism: (paraphrase) “Communism could not exist without first taking capitalism’s wealth for redistribution.” The modern United States would not exist if it did not first have an America to create it. And just like Communism must run dry because it can not create it’s own wealth, the United States will eventually run dry without America to create it’s wealth, social, cultural and economic.

America dominates nothing. The people, the culture, the spirit and the context in which America existed is gone. All that is left is the idea and the borders, at least as they exist on a map. The idea has now been distorted and perverted. The idea has morphed into a hyper-extended extreme and contorted version that the United States drags out and wields around the world like a Hara-kiri knife when it needs to alternately exalt it or apologize for it. America is thriving in the mind of the neo-con, for instance. America is held up as the best hope on Earth for homosexuals, for atheists, for democracy and immigrants. These are the new ideas that have been perverted then adopted by the United States as the dying America gradually slipped away.

I know that I seem to be pounding hard on this, but I think that it is critical. I think that until we can make the clear distinction in our own minds, we will never be able to convey our meaning to others. We must better articulate what we mean and take advantage of the lefts long used and effective technique of using repetition in our rhetoric. As I said, we first have to all be on the same page. If not, then we will simply continue to disagree in our own house.

Make the distinction clear and pound it home. People must identify with one or the other and then think in terms that align with one or the other. The lines will be better drawn and we can more confidently rely on American history, as American; and describe more readily it’s death and the full ascendancy of the untethered and renegade United States.

Terry Morris writes [This comment came in before the comment of Buck's immediately above]:

Trying to understand Buck’s point: I live in the United States OF AMERICA; until a couple of years ago, I pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States OF AMERICA; the constitution states in the preamble that WE … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States OF AMERICA, and refers, in Article VII, to the number of years “of the Indpendence of the United States OF AMERICA” between her Declaration of Independence, and the drafting of the Constitution. And the Declaration of Independence itself is headed with the words “The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States OF AMERICA. “America,” “United States,” “United States of America” – these are all used interchangeably, synonymously, by almost everyone. I don’t understand how we can now separate them, or make a distinction between them, when they have become synonymous terms as part of our common language. When Mr. Auster says “America is dead,” I assume he means that “The United States of America is dead.”

But if we can make a distinction between the two of them – America, and the United States – then I’d say that Buck has it backwards. Whatever America is (as distinguishable from the United States) – an ideal, a philosophy, a lifestyle, or simply a piece of real estate, whatever – it is not dead, as evidenced by this discussion and many others like it, and the personal and family lives of many Americans. On the other hand, The United States is alive alright, but it isn’t well, as Buck says. It is, in point of fact, in very ill health in many, many ways often discussed here and elsewhere. But its biggest problem, and the cancer that’s eating it up at an accelerated rate, is moral degeneracy, which is reflected in its economic system, its form of government, and the whole nine yards.

I really just don’t see the point of our making a distinction between America, and the United States. But I can be a little daft at times.

Jesse Powell writes:

In my understanding of things the original American Constitution is considered to be good and the original political system that was embodied by the United States Government is considered to be good. What then is the problem? The problem is that the culture of America has turned bad, that the character of the American population has turned self-destructive. The political system of the United States Government was never intended to override a corrupt culture, it was meant to reflect the culture whatever that culture may be. The government as currently constituted is doing a good job of reflecting the current dominant culture in my opinion, the government is functioning as intended.

The origin of the problem we face is not the government, it is the culture. If we can win back the culture we win back the government automatically. For this reason it might be better to be oriented towards cultural change rather than towards political success. Political success will never come while the culture is against you, political success will be rather straightforward and easy when the culture is with you.

So, the question then becomes how to win back the culture. At this point we are very small, say 1%. We as a small minority must win back the culture through exponential expansion; that is the only way 1% can turn into a majority and ultimately a consensus. Exponential expansion is based on each person recruiting two; that is all exponential expansion is and it is doable. Indeed exponential expansion is already taking place in my opinion. If we are now 1% it must be remembered that 10 or 20 years ago we were only 0.1% or perhaps non-existent entirely.

I’m not sure how useful it is to think of things in terms of Democrat versus Republican or even liberal versus conservative if by “conservative” is meant anything other than a small radical fringe. I would characterize the split as being between the Legacy Culture and the Revival; the Legacy Culture being 99 percent of the population with the Revival being one percent. The purpose of the Revival is to reestablish what the Legacy Culture used to be but is no longer. However the Legacy Culture is not meant to be reformed, it is meant to be replaced. Over the long term the Legacy Culture will die out and only the Revival will remain. This is how the Revival will become the dominant culture. The Revival will be made up of those who used to be a part of the Legacy Culture but who converted to the Revival. The Revival is and will be dominantly Christian in nature.

I don’t think there is a need to try to separate the “United States” from “America.” The people and the government of the people form a united whole. It is not the “United States” part that is the problem; it is the “America” part. It is the culture that is the problem, not the government. The focus should be on the exponential expansion of the Revival; that is how America, the United States of America, will be reborn.

Henry McCulloch writes:

This is a great thread, an example of the excellence of The Thinking Housewife.  What else should one expect of a discussion combining Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Lawrence Auster?  Nevertheless, there may be confusion over just what Alexander Solzhenitsyn was about.

I agree with Mr. Auster that American traditionalists (Americans, in this comment) can no longer dissent from the U.S.A. in the same way Solzhenitsyn dissented from the USSR, although Americans’ view of the U.S. government should parallel Solzhenitsyn’s view of the Soviet Communist Party.  Americans traditionally do not dissociate their country from its government, despite early Americans’ wariness of government.  Solzhenitsyn, by the time he emerged from the gulag, certainly dissociated Russia from the Soviet Union; indeed he viewed the Bolshevik Revolution and all its works as largely alien irruptions into Russian life.  In his mind, Russia and the Communists’ Soviet Union were not at all the same thing.  Solzhenitsyn was right about that, even as he was also right not to deny Russians’ complicity in Communist crimes.

Any successful future in post-America for Americans will be despite the U.S. government, which is as anti-American as the Bolsheviks were anti-Russian.  Mr. Auster says it’s no longer enough to be a dissident, because dissenting implies one seeks the restoration of a previous order.  But no restoration of the old American order is possible.  That America is gone.  Thus the United States that was the legitimate government of America is also gone, succeeded by a U.S. government actively hostile to most Americans.  This is not quite the situation Solzhenitsyn thought Russia was in under Communist rule.  If Solzhenitsyn had believed the Russia buried under the rubble — to borrow a Solzhenitsyn title – of Communism was dead, his life’s work would have been meaningless.

Here Mr. Auster’s distinction emerges.  Under the Soviet rubble there was a battered, bleeding, but still living Russia that remained Russian.  Under the rubble of the liberal U.S. regime there is something, but it’s no longer America.  Solzhenitsyn lived in hope that Russia might be restored, but he did not expect to see it.  And now Russia is, by fits and starts, in the way of restoration — and Alexander Solzhenitsyn did live to see it, and died in his Motherland in bed.  There is justice in this world.

But what, in his dissent, did Solzhenitsyn hope for?  Solzhenitsyn was not a liberal-democrat of any Western type, although a lot of Westerners wanted at first to believe he was.  Solzhenitsyn was a Russian patriot.  He wanted the restoration of Russia: to revive as much as possible the Russian Orthodox state of the Romanovs at its best.  It is no coincidence that his hero was Peter Stolypin, Nicholas II’s reforming premier whom revolutionaries — sensing the threat to revolution of a man who might make traditional order work — assassinated in 1911.  Solzhenitsyn did not dissent in the hope of a more perfect socialism, or of parliamentary democracy.  He dissented hoping for the restoration of Holy Russia.  That is why Western liberals found him so uncomfortable.  Solzhenitsyn was a Christian nationalist.

If Americans can no longer believe there is a living America under the U.S. rubble, they must work for something else.  That something will have to supersede the U.S. government, and given the increasing divisions within post-America might involve a break-up of the United States.  Some may find that attractive; others cannot imagine it.  One practical objection is that the social divisions in many places are between urban and rural areas, so that within sections and even states there are profound differences among the kinds of people who live in them and their beliefs, not least about the role of government.  How would one split all that up?

Solzhenitsyn, whose Russia remained Russian under the Soviet rubble (the Communists murdered tens of millions of Russians and other people, but didn’t import tens of millions of incompatible foreign replacements), did not have that concern, although even before the break-up of the Soviet Union he said that when the Soviet Union inevitably failed Russia should separate from the non-Russian Soviet republics that ringed the Russian Republic within the USSR, as Russia’s own problems would be so dire Russians could not possibly afford both to address them and hold on to those peripheral countries.  And so it has proved.

Whether or not the old America can ever be restored, three things must happen to have any chance of creating a post-America fit for Americans to live in, and obviously (3) is a prerequisite for (1) and (2):

1.  Immigration must end, both legal and illegal, and as many inassimilible immigrants as possible be repatriated.

2.  The U.S. armed forces must return from overseas almost entirely; American border security must become the armed forces’ primary mission.

3.  White Americans must once again become the dominant group in society, setting the social norms, in control of education at all levels, and free to work openly for the interests of the American majority.

Joe A. writes:

There is, understandably, great confusion surrounding the concept of “American.” It is vital that all United States persons understand this term, its origin, its transformation, and its present distorted meaning. Only then will the path forward become clear, wherever it might lead.

American, so far as the world was concerned, meant “American British.” American French were “Canadians.” American Spanish were called “Mexicans.” American Dutch and American Swedes were not successful enough to matter.

In time, through the principles of “referent power,” flattery, and a kindly disposition of noble condescension and the general euphoria surrounding the victory in the War for American Independence, American became an overused honorary title to anyone migrating to the American Republic, no matter their intention.

In other words, America is at its core, and in its truth, an ethnicity with a long history of meritorious “adoption.” It is because of those remarkable Americans of 1776 that everyone else is here, whether their motives be noble or base.

Why does this matter. It matters because we must be crystal clear. There are Americans – related by blood, history and destiny – and there are “US-ers,” those who came here for many reasons,

The Pilgrim Fathers versus John Galt. God’s Kingdom versus Wall Street. “Ourselves and our Posterity” against open borders, come one come all for your piece of the American Dream, “comp’d” by the martyred Spirits of ’76.

(Those that suffer under the revisionist propaganda of the so-called “proposition nation” must locate Kevin Macdonald’s superb research on 20th c. immigration and the public policy manipulations that led to our distressing state of affairs.)

 Laura writes:

That confuses me because it seems that the British colonists identified more with Britain, as well as with their respective colonies and their religious sects, than they did with some collective entity of America. In any event, what does your point mean to the descendants of the other European people who came here? That they are not true Americans? What does this mean for our future?

Lawrence Auster writes in response to this thread:

The American people, and the United States of America, came into existence together. There has never been an American nation or people separate from their political organization, whether in the form of the Continental Congress (1776-1781), or the Articles of Confederation (1781-1789), or the Constitution (1789 to November 6, 2012). The American people are uniquely tied to and defined by the United States, which in turn is defined by the Constitution.

But the United States is now a lawless leftist state hostile to the very existence of the American people and it cannot be fixed, because we are outnumbered by those who seek our dispossession and destruction. At the same time, notwithstanding the ruin of the United States, it is an existential fact that we are Americans, and will remain Americans. This may seem to contradict what I said before about there being no difference between America and the United States, but it is nevertheless true, because we are now in a new and unprecedented reality. Our job is to make sense of that reality and seek to create a new order, a new political and cultural expression for ourselves as a people. In the new polity or polities that may come into existence in the future, we and those who come after us will surely draw on some of the principles of the Constitution as well as our historic common culture and identity as Americans, and in that sense those new polities will be heirs of the United States (the polity) and of America (the people and nation). But they won’t be the United States of America, which is now a leftist, anti-white, anti-Christian juggernaut.

Mr. Morris writes:

I second Mr. McCulloch’s laudatory remarks per this thread. It is indeed a great thread, Laura! And just think, it would not have been possible, in its current form, on Nov. 5, 2012, or anytime before, dating to Reconstruction. Nonetheless your commenters evince a great deal of educated insight on the subject, which cannot be explained away as emotion-based reaction to the events of Nov. 6. Could Providence be guiding this? Has God’s remnant begun to emerge at just the right moment? He always leaves one. How is it that so many whites simply decided, in unison, not to vote this time, although it was not a concerted effort to spoil the election, and they were presented with a better candidate than McCain? These are interesting times.

 Laura writes:

Thank you.

Even if Romney had received as many votes as McCain, he still would have lost.

James P. writes:

I think the analogy between past Soviet dissidents and future American dissidents is being overanalyzed in this discussion. Henry McCulloch argued Solzhenitsyn appealed to a traditional Russia that was distinct from the USSR, but there is no corresponding America, distinct from the United States, that can be restored. To this I respond — so what? The exact nature of the post-liberal United States is a distraction. It is both possible and necessary — even vital — to be a dissident in the United States without having an exact vision of the post-liberal order or a program for achieving it. All that is required to be a dissident is to follow Solzhenitsyn’s dictum of “live not by lies” (see this previous entry). Even if this form of dissidence achieves no immediate political change, one will thereby maintain one’s self-respect and keep one’s soul rather than losing it through a surrender to liberalism. To speak the truth about liberalism is very simple — but at the same time, very difficult, for it puts at risk friendships and gainful employment. Nonetheless, we must do this, and this is the true mark of someone who dissents from liberalism rather than passively enduring it.

McCulloch concludes,

“White Americans must once again become the dominant group in society, setting the social norms, in control of education at all levels, and free to work openly for the interests of the American majority.”

In my view, white Americans are already the dominant group in our society. Sadly, the white group that dominates is the liberal whites. Liberal whites set the social norms, control education and the media at all levels, and work openly — with tireless energy and tyrannical methods! – for the interests of the American liberal majority.

McCulloch’s claim demonstrates the common conservative view that conservatives are the “silent majority” that has been swindled of its rights by a liberal minority. This may have been true in the past, but it is no longer true. If there were a truly free and fair election — which last week’s one was not, in my opinion — a traditionalist Presidential candidate — which Romney was not — would lose. The America that would elect a truly conservative President is gone, and will never return. Traditionalists need to adopt the mindset that they are a minority, and an increasingly small one at that. This is the only proper attitude for a dissident!

Laura writes:

Perhaps I just don’t get it, but I too still see a basic similarity between the Soviet dissidents and our situation. Our historic community has been decimated by an ideology. However instead of dissidents, it is probably better, as I said initially, to think of ourselves as separatists.

Laura adds:

James P. says that whites already are the dominant group. But liberals rule by denying the legitimacy of white authority. I presume Mr. McCulloch means that whites have to recapture that authority.

Mr. McCulloch writes:

In his own comment at VFR, Beyond dissidence, cont., Mr. Auster says that the American nation came into existence at the same time as its government, in the forms sequentially of the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.  In political terms that is true, but I think considering the organic birth and growth of a nation it understates both the distinctiveness of Great Britain’s North American colonies and their similarities one to another that made the union first proclaimed in 1776 possible.

There had been English settlement in America from 1607 in Virginia and from 1620 in New England.  British, mostly English, settlement had been growing in America — leavened slightly by the Dutch of New York and smatterings of Germans, Huguenots and others elsewhere – for nearly 170 years by 1776.  Time enough for a distinct people to develop: Anglo-Americans as distinct from the Englishmen of England as Australians are from the Britons of once-Great Britain today, despite the close ethnic kinship that remains.

The American colonies had not formed a political union before the 1770s, but they had acted in concert on several occasions.  New England colonies had joined forces to resist Indian raids; several of the colonies had contributed forces for invasions of Nova Scotia and Quebec in the Seven Years’ War and even earlier.  Close ties of trade linked not only the New England ports, New York, and Philadelphia in the North to each other, but also to Virginia and the Chesapeake as well as Charleston and the Carolinas in the South.  There was by 1770 a distinct American who was the native stock of the Thirteen Colonies, and that distinct type was no longer new.  When the Crown’s exactions grew too onerous, those Americans — or at least enough of them ultimately to carry the day with French support — were able to claim statehood for their colonies, join those states in a union, win independence, and establish a federal republic of their states.  A string of unrelated colonies could not have done it.  Tellingly, those who founded the Continental Congress — as far as I know — never asked Quebec, since 1759 a British possession but still a French polity, to join them.  They perceived the French settlers of Quebec, accurately, as an alien people.

Joe A. touches on this, and on the difference between the founding stock of America and those who came to America after those founders had won independence.  While I certainly don’t favor different gradations of American citizenship based on who one’s ancestors are, I believe it is a helpful distinction to note in trying to understand what America is (or used to be, anyway) and what there is in the American past that Americans should try to build on for the future as America passes through the current decadent period of maximum social disruption and great economic uncertainty.

Mr. Auster responds:

Mr. McCulloch, disagreeing with my point that the American people did not come into existence until the founding of the United States of America, says, inter alia: “There was by 1770 a distinct American who was the native stock of the Thirteen Colonies, and that distinct type was no longer new.”

Yes, of course, by 1770 there was a distinct American type and a distinct American culture, as Mr. McCulloch says. But there was not an American nation and an American people. The shared culture, the nascent community, needed a common political expression for that to become the case.

Here’s the problem. On one hand, neoconservatives and right-liberals treat America as an abstraction. On the other hand, and in obsessive reaction against the neoconservatives, the paleoconservatives construct the American people/culture as a complete metaphyical entity unto itself, not needing any governmental structure or common political ideals in order to be a people. In other words (and I’m only exaggerating a little), the neocons treat us as pure mind; the paleocons treat us as pure body. Neither side looks at the whole.

Everything I have written on this subject over the last 23 years has been to avoid these partial and destructive ideological views of reality.

As an example of a wholistic view of “what is the American nation,” here is a passage from my 2003 essay/booklet, Erasing America:

To stress the importance of ethnic particularity in the making of America is not to suggest that Americans were an ethnic people in the Old World sense, united only, as the derogatory phrase puts it, by “blood and soil.” As the political scientist Ellis Sandoz has written, the American people were forged into a nation during the Founding period and afterward by the experience of liberty under law, in which men and women voluntarily obeyed the law and did what was right out of a sense of moral obligation rather than coercion. At the same time, this intensely shared moral and political ethos that defined Americans as a people required pre-political commonalities—i.e., a common culture. In order for there to be a free government such as America’s, writes Sandoz, there must be an actually existing, viable community, comprehending such things as “common language, heritage, race, religion, geography, customs, manners, principles of government … all of which weld refractory individual men together to form an identifiable ‘common sense’ …” This amalgam of inherited qualities and shared principles, emerging from a people’s common heritage and forming the foundation both of their cultural identity and of their political freedom, is precisely what, in the American context, I am calling ethnicity.

I urge readers to ponder the Sandoz passage I have quoted, because he perfectly expresses the multidimensional, wholistic view of Americanism that I am talking about.

The upshot of this wholistic view is that our common political forms and ideals are as much a part of our American peoplehood as the purely ethnocultural aspects of our being that the paleocons emphasize. And they don’t just emphasize it, they have constructed a cult, a litany endlessly and automatically repeated, out of “kith, kin, hearth, blood, tribe,” and they treat this complex as a complete metaphysical entity unto itself and as a sufficient basis of political society. But of course the American people were never a mere tribe. They were always larger than that. For example, the colonies had different denominational establishments, but they shared a common moral ethos, and that enabled them to join together. In any case, tribalism is not a basis for a civilized society. (And by the way, what “blood” does an American of all-Scandinavian ancestry have in common with an American of all-Italian ancestry?)

So, as we now-dispossessed Americans think about what new forms of political association we can build separate from the irrevocably corrupted and ruined United States, we are going to be expressing both the cultural/moral/religious/racial side of what we are, and the political side of what we are. What forms that may ultimately take we do not know. But in discussing this subject let us please avoid the reductive “kith/kin/hearth/blood” culturalism of the paleocons.

Malcolm Pollack writes:

Henry McCulloch writes:

Whether or not the old America can ever be restored, three things must happen to have any chance of creating a post-America fit for Americans to live in, and obviously (3) is a prerequisite for (1) and (2):

1.  Immigration must end, both legal and illegal, and as many inassimilable immigrants as possible be repatriated.

2.  The U.S. armed forces must return from overseas almost entirely; American border security must become the armed forces’ primary mission.

3.  White Americans must once again become the dominant group in society, setting the social norms, in control of education at all levels, and free to work openly for the interests of the American majority.

I agree with his stipulation that 3) is a necessary prerequisite for 1) and 2). But given the seeming impossibility of achieving 3) through political means, how will it be done?

Jessie Powell writes:

The origin of the problem we face is not the government, it is the culture. If we can win back the culture we win back the government automatically. For this reason it might be better to be oriented towards cultural change rather than towards political success. Political success will never come while the culture is against you, political success will be rather straightforward and easy when the culture is with you.

So, the question then becomes how to win back the culture. At this point we are very small, say 1%. We as a small minority must win back the culture through exponential expansion; that is the only way 1% can turn into a majority and ultimately a consensus. Exponential expansion is based on each person recruiting two; that is all exponential expansion is and it is doable. Indeed exponential expansion is already taking place in my opinion. If we are now 1% it must be remembered that 10 or 20 years ago we were only 0.1% or perhaps non-existent entirely.

But is it reasonable to expect that this can ever happen? Given that Americans of Anglo-European extraction are already a bare majority, and will not be a majority at all for much longer  –  and given also that something like forty percent of them voted for Mr. Obama in the recent election  –  aren’t there some rather hard limits on how far any “exponential expansion” can go? Why would it gain any significant traction among the liberal Leviathan’s ever-expanding demographic clientele? Why would it succeed in expanding beyond the ethnic, cultural and demographic borders of America’s founding stock?

I admire the fighting spirit on display here, but I simply can’t see how any of this can be expected to succeed.

What, then? Secession? The breakup of the nation? No doubt there is ample will for this among traditionalist Americans, but foremost among many obstacles is the geographical interpenetration of the two opposing camps, which makes finding any practical approach to disunion very difficult indeed.

Acquiescence, then, and marginalization as America’s founding people, culture, and political tradition are steadily replaced? It hardly seems likely that this stiff-necked cohort, the patriotic (and well-armed) core of the American people who are the heirs and stewards of the nation’s fundamental character and essence, will “go gentle into that good night”.

I simply can’t see any way forward that doesn’t pass through some very difficult times. As Herbert Stein, said, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Clearly the course this country has now set itself on cannot go on forever, or even for very much longer  –  and the manner of its “stopping” will be very unpleasant, I fear.

Perhaps, though, there will be some sort of ark in which a seed of the old America can ride out the Flood; I think that’s probably the best we can hope for.

 Laura writes:

The only unpleasantness we should fear is that of  indifference or resignation. And we don’t need to know where exactly we are going. Please stop thinking that way. We don’t need to have a clear plan of action NOW. What we need to do now is acknowledge where we are with brutal honesty and get used to it for the time being.

Mr. McCulloch writes:

I think I agree completely, or very nearly so, with what Mr. Auster writes. For a while it looked like we were headed for a chicken/egg argument about whether the American Revolution created the Americans or the Americans created the American Revolution. But I think Mr. Auster’s phrasing brings us to the answer, and here I suppose our views diverge slightly. Mr. Auster says that before 1776 there was not an American nation and an American people. I agree that there was not yet an American nation. However I do think there was an American people, although even then it was hardly a monolithic, mono-ethnic group. This is an historical digression, and important mainly to help make the case that America is (was?) a real country like other countries, not simply an open-air job fair governed according to certain Enlightenment principles. According to that view, it makes no difference who is actually in America at any given time. Experience and common sense should make it clear enough that isn’t true.

Mr. Pollack responds:

Laura Wood writes:

The only unpleasantness we should fear is that of indifference or resignation. And we don’t need to know where exactly we are going. Please stop thinking that way. We don’t need to have a clear plan of action NOW. What we need to do now is acknowledge where we are with brutal honesty and get used to it for the time being.

Well, certainly there is no indifference to be seen around here, at least — and brutal honesty about the severity of our predicament, and about how very difficult it’s going to be to do anything about it, was what I sought to express in my comment above.

But “getting used to it” can easily become resignation, as what was once an outrage becomes, as they say these days, the “new normal”. And as the children of those who have gotten “used to it” grow up in this new and very different world, the memory of traditional America as anything living — as anything other than a rather distasteful historical curiosity, and perhaps an embarrassing obsession shared by their aging parents — will fade. When that happens, it’s over.

So we mustn’t get too “used to it”, I think.

Laura writes:

Yes, yes.

I meant we have to get used to the facts not the actual situation. Someone who learns he has a terminal disease needs some time to digest the news.

We knew things were bad before of course, but things are worse than some of us thought. Similarly, we knew Islam was an enemy, but 9-11 showed us what that meant with terrible force. This election is similar to 9-11 in that it has made it clear where we stand and is a disorienting blow.

Mr. Auster writes:

Laura wrote:

Perhaps I just don’t get it, but I too still see a basic similarity between the Soviet dissidents and our situation. Our historic community has been decimated by an ideology. However instead of dissidents, it is probably better, as I said initially, to think of ourselves as separatists.

While I’m not necessarily embracing the term “separatists,” this term, as distinct from “dissidents,” gets at the very heart of what I was saying in my comment that began this thread. The dissidents including Solzhenitsyn hoped for the reform and ultimately the end of the tottering Communist regime (though perhaps only Solzhenitysn saw that it was tottering). Our situation is the opposite. American liberalism/leftism, far from tottering, has just won its greatest victory and now exercises unopposed, lawless control over this country. We have no hope of ending the reign of liberalism in the foreseeable future. That’s what I meant when I said it’s too late to be dissidents. Dissidents seek to change their society. But we cannot change our society. Instead, we must seek to create a new society or at least the seed of a new society (even if, for the foreseeable future, it is only an “ark,” as Malcolm Pollack says) that will be separate from the United States though within its borders. So we are separatists, not dissidents.

Laura writes:

Ah, thank you!  : – )

I completely agree that the term “dissident” is inadequate. A dissident is someone who rebels through argument and writings but who is still a part of what he is waging war against. We should consider ourselves separatists because we want to preserve our historic community by separating from the reigning culture which threatens to overwhelm and obliterate it entirely. We also want to develop a polity for our historic community because it cannot exist as a mere abstraction.

We should consider ourselves as similar to the Quebecois who separated themselves from, and preserved their culture, in English Canada.

By being a separatist instead of a dissident, one doesn’t delude oneself about the ultimate objective or waste time in the exhausting and futile hope of changing the reigning culture. The mission is to remove ourselves from it and preserve our culture, which is still very much alive.

Also, it is not necessary to have a physical territory in mind. First, we become separatists.

Joe A writes in response to earlier comments:

It is not possible to understand national America from the perspective of the noxious fraud of the  propositional nation.

Fischer’s delightfully entertaining history, Albion’s Seed:  Four British Folkways in America is sine qua non to dispel widespread ignorance and confusion on the matter of the historic American nation.

Macdonald exposes the political pseudo-nation theory well enough in his monograph on 20th C. immigration (attached).

As for me, I have no need of semi-informed argumentation.  My own blood is proof with nearly 400 years’ claim to the title American, an hereditary title of high honor and my legacy.  It is not to be confused with mere United States citizenship, an arbitrary legal technicality subject the whim of a bureaucrat’s mood, a concept alien to the America of 1776 even of 1865.

In sum, my American forefathers did not spill and shed blood for some damned fool political theory or for alien masses of whatever origin or motive.  They did it for their children and their children’s children.  Adoptees ought show more gratitude to the people that succored them in time of need. To deny them is “stolen valor” indeed.

Mr. Auster writes:

I thank Joe A. for demonstrating the blood-and-ancestor worship of which I was speaking. He goes so far as to say that the only Americans are people descended from the British colonists, and that the rest of us, descended from immigrants who came after the American Revolution, are not Americans, but “US’ers.” Then he throws in a dollop from the arch Darwinian anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald.

Mr. Auster continues:

Oh, and by the way, 400 years ago Joe’s ancestors weren’t Americans either. They would have thought of themselves as “Virginians” or “South Carolinians,” not as “Americans.” It was only the American Revolution–all that propositional garbage–that led the colonists to start to identify themselves as “Americans.”

 Bartholomew writes:

Mr. McCulloch wrote,

“Yes, of course, by 1770 there was a distinct American type and a distinct American culture, as Mr. McCulloch says. But there was not an American nation and an American people.”

Noted Federalist and author of the second Federalist Paper, John Jay, would have disagreed. I would urge the commenters here to read carefully and ponder the significance of Mr. Jay’s and Mr. Franklin’s (quoted later) thoughts on the subject. 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.

A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government to preserve and perpetuate it. They formed it almost as soon as they had a political existence…”

Now, Jay was writing a good deal later than 1770. Perhaps his talk of Americans’ instituting a federal government “at an early period” could be taken to support Mr. Auster’s view that the inception of the American people and the institution of its federal government were seen by contemporaries as one and the same event, producing a single, inextricable entity. I don’t think this is true. I would point above all to Jay’s observation that the American people “fighting side by side…have nobly established general liberty and independence” as evidence that the Founders saw the Constitution as proceeding from and being a creation of the American people, rather than, as it seems Mr. Auster believes, being the American people itself.

This is no pedantic quibble. If Mr. Auster is correct, it would have been impossible for anyone to think of “the American type”, as he terms it, as a representative of a nation or people (but, then, what would Mr. Auster call a collection of “American types” acting in concert to advance their vision of the good and to protect their commonwealth and offspring? I suppose I’ve always thought such a collection of phenotypes to be, well, a nation). Yet, here in his widely published and read booklet, Observation concerning the increase of mankind… we see Benjamin Franklin in 1755 doing precisely that, 15 years before Auster says he could have.

“Therefore, Britain should not too much restrain Manufactures in her Colonies. A wise and good mother will not do it. To distress is to weaken, and weakening the children weakens the whole family.”

Franklin goes on to discuss the “following things [which] must diminish a Nation”, exhorting the British Crown not to tax excessively or otherwise abuse the colonies or the Americans, as he elsewhere calls their inhabitants. Sprinkled throughout the booklet are the words “a People”, “Nation” and comparisons of the American nation with the English, the Britons, the Saxons and other nations of Europe. He ends with an appeal to the British government to limit Central European immigration (particularly from the Palatinate), which takes land that could be populated by America’s own sons.

Look, I don’t think you could ask for a more straightforward, pre-revolutionary expression of American nationhood of the “blood and soil” kind which Mr. Auster claims never existed and was foreign to the Founders’ thought. Franklin defines Americans by blood, explicitly excluding non-Anglo-Saxons and he claims the “soil” for their sons as the natural birthright of any people. Franklin justified his argument by appealing to the very sort of blood and soil that Auster acknowledges comes from Europe. Indeed, I first saw this text mentioned as evidence of early American racism and nationalism by a leftist History professor. I think it is pretty commonly accepted that pre-revolutionary Americans had a developed–indeed, over-developed according to leftists–sense of nationhood, and it is precisely on that basis they are routinely bashed in our universities.

When we take Jay’s comments along with those of his contemporaries, particularly so prolific and heavily influential on the American public’s mind as Benjamin Franklin, I think we can safely conclude that the American Founders and the American people had an awareness of their common blood ties, and a conviction that they had inherited, through those ties, title to the fertile American soil, not as individuals, not as a political entity, but as a nation, with just as strong a claim on their land as any other nation in the world, a claim, which I’d note, Mr. Auster’s more abstracted, bloodless and soilless view of nationhood must certainly weaken.

Finally, I would add that none of this means that the Founders reduced the American people to a coordinate on a genetic map. That’s crudely reductive, I think, of the blood and soil position itself. Of course they saw that the American people had a common faith, creed, set of values and language, as John Jay put it. These commonalities had also given birth to a national spirit, a Volksgeist, if you will. It’s not the existence of such a spirit that was unique to the American people–after all, Madame de Staël recognized in 1813 the intellectual and poetic spirit of the Germans; C.S. Lewis in the Screwtape Letters, remarks ironically on the flippant and sporting nature of the English, and so forth; it was the kind of spirit that was unique to us, one captivated and exhilarated by freedom of the soul, that set us apart. We Americans, yes, true Americans, differ not from other nations in nature–”peoplehood” is a concept, a form existing prior to and yet applying to all nations alike, the American as well as the others–but in telos, in purpose. Our ultimate expression, as a people, predicted in part, I think, by our congenital strengths and weaknesses, had by its peculiar nature to be quite distinct from all others. Ours has always been a lonely road, but a road like any other it remains.

Mr.  Morris writes:

I like your term “separatists,” Laura, because it defines what many are now coming to realize the situation requires them to be. A line has literally been drawn in the sand. This is where we separate the men from the boys, so to speak. “Do I really believe in my principles enough to “separate” myself from the larger, corrupted society?” As separatists we are risking our very lives. If you don’t believe it, look at Ruby Ridge, look at Waco. So we have to come to grips with the sober reality of what the term means. And when reality sets in, you’ll weed out a lot of the chaff, quick, fast and in a hurry indeed.

But the main reason I like the term “separatists” is because of its historical significance as per American nationhood. There is a bond there that connects us all the way back to the very first European settlers on this continent. And the distinction was made then too, between the Puritans of Jamestown, who sought to purify the Church of England, albeit from a distance, and the Pilgrim Separatists of Plymouth Plantation, who had deemed the Church to be irreparably, irredeemably corrupted. We are like the latter of the two.

 Laura adds:

Mr. Morris mentions Waco in regard to my term “separatist.” Just to clarify, I am not using that term in the sense of a separatist colony or compound, at least not in the short term. It may mean that for some people in the short term, but I am primarily using it in the sense of gradual and organic approach. I am referring to people who declare themselves separate from the American government and society at large by, first, dropping out of it as much as possible wherever they live by, for example, taking their children out of public schools and marrying without a state license and, second, envisioning and working on ways in which separatists can form a distinct political system in one or several parts of the country. One important aspect of Jeffersonian’s proposal for dividing America is that it took into consideration the enormous size of this country and the fact that many traditionalists cannot readily move.

Mr. Auster writes:

Bartholomew writes:

When we take Jay’s comments along with those of his contemporaries, particularly so prolific and heavily influential on the American public’s mind as Benjamin Franklin, I think we can safely conclude that the American Founders and the American people had an awareness of their common blood ties, and a conviction that they had inherited, through those ties, title to the fertile American soil, not as individuals, not as a political entity, but as a nation, with just as strong a claim on their land as any other nation in the world, a claim, which I’d note, Mr. Auster’s more abstracted, bloodless and soilless view of nationhood must certainly weaken.

Bartholomew misunderstands me entirely and very unfairly. Did he not read my earlier comment with its description of the cultural and racial commonalities of the the colonists before the Revolution? Of course the people of the British American colonies had commonalities as people. And since the colonies were in America, they were naturally described as Americans. My point was that these people had not formed themselves into a political society acting together as a “nation,” a “people,” prior to the Revolution. The people in the respective colonies overwhelmingly thought of themselves as members of their respective colonies. They did not feel a unity with the people from the other colonies. It was the Revolution that brought that unity about. It was in the Declaration of Independence when this people first speaks of itself as a people.

I think Bartholomew misunderstands me because he is thinking by false dichotomies. He sees me saying that that American people did not come into articulated being as a people until the Declaration of Independence, and he interprets that as my denying that there was any common ethnocultural substance in the American people prior to the Declaration, when in fact I clearly said just the opposite.

Also, notice how I speak of “cultural and racial commonalities” and “common ethnocultural substance.” I didn’t use (and I don’t use) the term “blood and soil,” because it is a stupid expression which renders stupid the people who use it. “Blood and soil” implies that if people are of the same race and reside in the same place that is enough to form a society. But it is not. A society always consists of much more than that, namely shared beliefs, ideals, ways of living, etc. In other words, human society necessarily has a spiritual dimension which the crudely materialist term “blood and soil” denies.

Mr. Auster writes:

Continuing from my previous comment, let’s put it this way: “Blood and soil” can create a tribe. It cannot create a political society.

 Mr. Morris writes:

Per your clarification of your meaning of the term Separatists, I already knew that is not what you meant by the term, and it is not what I mean either. Otherwise I’d be writing you from a Branch-Davidian style “compound” right now, [Laura writes: Ha! Ha!] or from some utterly remote location somewhere in the wilderness of Alaska, or Wyoming or Montana, rather than from my home located in a neighborhood where I’m surrounded by lock-step Americans. I know where each of such places exist within a relatively short distance from me, and though I may find the residents of each somewhat eccentric personally, this does not mean that they’re bad people, or remotely dangerous to society at large. My point in mentioning the two is that “separationism,” as you’ve defined it, and as I define it, whether it be physically or philosophically, or both, tends to raise eyebrows, which tends to result in someone making an anonymous call to some authority to investigate the matter. As with the Waco incident.

Mr. Auster writes:

To be fair to Bartholomew, he himself is not using “blood and soil” in a reductive way, as he shows that the common culture of the colonists consisted of far more than “blood and soil.” Nevertheless, the term is redolent of the crudely materialistic nationalism which was influential in nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe but which has never been a part of the American identity.

Andrew B. writes:

A nation is a group of people of common descent, sharing a common language, culture, and history – essentially a very large extended family. The common ethnicity and nationality of Americans is the British nationality, hence America since the beginning is an “Anglo” nation, constituted of the English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh peoples, who have intermarried with the French, German, Spanish, and Scandinavian.

To know if there is a true American nation, and who is part of it, one must also inquire then into Anglo-British nationality, and what it truly is. Brtitain is not a country of pure ethnicity, but is also an amalgamated people like America. Europe and the Mediterranean Littoral has seven constitutive peoples, defined by direct genetic descent, linguistic and cultural commonality, and shared history.

1) The Celto-Roman – Northern Italy, France, Iberia, Switzerland, Corsica, Britain, and Ireland
2) The German – Germany, Austria, and the Low Countries
3) The Scandanavian – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland
4) The West Slavic – Poland and Czechoslovakia
5) The East Slavic/Baltic – Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Baltic Countires
6) The Balkan – Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian
7) The Greco-Punic – Greece, Southern Italy, Sicily, Albania, Turkey, Lebanon, Alger

The British are a combination of (1) – Celts, Picts, Irish, British, Scots, (2) – Saxons/Belgae, (3) – Anglians/Danes/Normans, and these three groups have never fully mixed into one nation. As other commentators noted, the book Abion’s Seed is especially instructive into understanding the American people because it links them back to their origins in Britain, and shows how they are still partially divided in this country after 400 years. In the same order today these groups are easily recognizable as (1) the people of Appalachian/Interior South/American SW (hillbillies, mountain men, cowboys, etc.), and also the people of the southern Peidmont (rednecks) (2) the people of the midland swing states (Quakers and Pietists), amalgamated to the Germans (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc.), and (3) the New English and their Scandanavian compatriots in New England, Michigan, Minnesota, and the Pacific Northwest. Other immigrants are American by nationality to the extent that they have left behind their own culture and joined the American people and intermarried so that their racial distinction is submerged. Americans have also at times left their origin group and become a distinctive new group, such as the Anglo-Danish Mormons who split from the New English and joined politically with the Interior South. This is a common sense understanding of what it means to be an American that fits into everyone’s understanding of terms like “All-American,” including the understanding of minorities. If a movie casting call asked for an “All-American girl,” no one would expect to see a Sicilian, Greek, African, Russian, Mexican, or Japanese.

American history is the relation of the American people to the other nations they encountered and absorbed in the body politic after wars and other events – the blacks via slavery and the Civil War and Jim Crow, the Hispanics from the treaties ending the Mexican and Spanish, the Indians from the Indian Wars and reservation system, the Jews from East Coast immigration, and the Asians from west coast immigration and the Asian exclusion policies. It’s impossible to understand past and current American politics such as the National Origin Quota System for immigration, or Affirmative Action, without seeing them as the political interaction of the various minority groups with the Americans to create an ability to peacefully coexist. In Affirmative Action, for example, all minorities are explicitly treated as foreign nations to the white American body politic, some subject to a helping hand up (Hispanics and Blacks), others subject to exemption from the quota system based on the personal success of their groups (Jews and some Asians). Our politics is an ongoing conflict between groups (1) and (3), with group (2) in the middle. Group (3) has the upper hand because they have the levers of money and education, and are allied to the Blacks, Asians, Jews, and Hispanics to give them a numeric majority, while the only allies of group (1) are the Mormons, Cajuns, and Italians, none of whom are positioned geographically or numerically in a particularly useful way to help win elections.

What both sides now need to realize is that demographics are trending such that if the American groups do not figure out how to finally become a politically unified people, they will become a permanent minority in their own land, and lose control of the levers of power forever, or worse, be amalgamated by the growing minority groups, especially the Hispanics, and lose their national identity through out-marriage and cultural decline.

Mr. Auster writes in response to Andrew:

You’re using nation in the sense of a people apart from any political organization. So for example the Kurds, who do not possess a political sovereign territory (not counting their recent semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq) would be, by your definition of nation, as much of a “nation” as the American nation. But in America, “nation” has never been used in the sense you are using it. From George Washington on, it has always been used in the sense of the political society known as the United States of America, a political society with a certain majority people/culture. Yes, that political society would not have existed without that majority people/culture, and if the political society loses that majority people/culture, which has effectively occurred, it will change into something completely different, which has effectively occurred. The peoplehood aspect of America, and the political-society aspect of America, are part of a single unity. The upshot is that it’s simply incorrect to speak in a historical sense of an American nation apart from the United States of America.

If everyone writes their own treatise on what is a nation we will dissipate our energy on that issue and not attend to the most important thing which is understanding and responding to the disaster that has overtaken us.

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