5PT – Nationalism, “Tribalism” or …?

As identitarian movements grow in strength in the Eurosphere, the question of goals in general and of nationalism in particular becomes increasingly important but seems to receive little really serious discussion.  And so I was extremely interested to read several articles by a certain Titus Quintus at Thermidor Magazine (along with a response by PT Carlo – Trouble in the European Diaspora) and even went on to read some additional pieces at Mr. Quintus’s own web site: “5PT – The Fifth Political Theory – Non-Nationalist Approaches to Western Civilization.”

The gist of Mr. Quintus’s argument is that the European peoples, regardless of whether they live in Europe or in the any of the various settler colonies, can no longer hope to maintain or re-establish ethno-states because too many of us, corrupted by modernity, have irretrievably lost the will to do so.

Rejecting nationalist options – whether in the Old World or the New (although he seems to hold out a small amount of hope for certain Eastern European lands) – he has constructed an alternative scheme which he calls the Fifth Political Theory (5PT).  This theory

… seeks to conceptualize a non-nationalist approach to the perpetuity of Western people(s) and their cultures in our world. When completed, it is my hope to have formed a sound theory aimed at reconciling our heritage and the legacy of our empires and nation-states with our most viable future prospect, which is  becoming a stateless diaspora people or peoples. – About

Elsewhere he tells us that  “5PT means fully embracing de-nationalization…”

For the most part, Western nations are over. There will only be the diaspora, or there will be nothing at all. We are faced with the choice of being absorbed into a materialistic, multicultural mess, or becoming who we are, that is to say, exiles of a defunct world.

Claiming that there is “too much focus on metapolitics (changing ideas) and politics (changing governments) and not nearly enough on changing one’s social environment…” he argues that we should instead:

… work towards becoming a diasporic tribe rather than focusing on state-level nationalism(s). In other words, we can only “save” European and Eurocolonial peoples who want to be saved by bringing them into a networked tribal community, not converting the de-nationalized masses to an increasingly occult worldview of ethnocentrism, race realism, gender norms, nativism, reactionary politics, etc.

Titus’s examination of these questions is welcome, especially since so much of the alt.x movement seems to be afflicted with a reflexive white nationalism. A discussion of alternatives is very much in order, however I do have a number of differences with Mr. Quintus’s analysis:

    • He is unclear as to what all this looks like in real life and in his first effort to be somewhat concrete (Tribal Praxis Versus National Praxis) he sounds like he’s just advocating a version of Rod Dreher’s essentially apolitical “Benedict option” for white people(1).
    • In an effort to create an all-encompassing theory he essentially equates conditions throughout the white world, arguing that the prospects (or, more accurately, the lack of prospects) for ethno-nationalism are generally the same from the US and Canada to Germany and France, allowing only a possible exception for certain parts of Eastern Europe. In doing so he clearly exaggerates the weakness of nationalist sentiments in Europe and ignores the strength of implicit and even unconscious whiteness in the US – something without which Trump’s victory is simply inexplicable.
    • His approach is static, assuming that the current order is politically and economically stable and that things will proceed more or less as they are. Internationally this is far from obvious. Internally the political crisis of the political order is clear, as Brexit, the Trump election and the collapse of the traditional party system in France all show.

      Within the US itself there are increasing signs of racial conflict and the uneasy racial truce dating back to the Nixon years seems to be breaking down. As far as white ethno-consciousness is concerned, while this may be generally weak at the moment, the fact that whites may not be much interested in race does not mean that race is not interested in them (pace comrade Trotsky).

      The strength of the people-as-nation is not something that exists in a vacuum. It is in a large part a product of that people’s real-world struggles. As middle American whites face an increasingly aggressive bloc of the globalist ruling class and its multiculturalist troops, there is every reason that our sense of ourselves as a people bound by common interests and commitments will intensify.

    • He treats nationalism purely from the perspective of the creation of an ethno-state.  While it is true that this is what is often meant by the term, during the Twentieth Century especially certain intermediate forms of nationalist thought arose, including non-territorial nationalisms along the lines of Simon Dubnow‘s “Diaspora nationalism”/”Autonomism” or the Austro-Marxists’ National Personal Autonomy(2).  Similarly, in the US certain schools of Black and Chicano nationalism have embraced their respective people’s identity as a nation without any serious intent of forming an actual independent ethno-state.
    • Like many others, Quintus erroneously treats civic nationalism as something necessarily in conflict with ethno-nationalism, rather than recognizing that the two forms are often overlapping.
    • Again, like many others in the anti-system right, he has a narrowly electoral view of “politics” and incorrectly sees “metapolitics” as something distinct.  In fact, anti-system politics is better understood as a process of movement building, of grassroots mobilization and radicalization which culminates (and only possibly) in electoral success at a much more mature phase.  (Otherwise, at best one winds up with such disappointments as our current president.)  As for “metapolitics” – the struggle for Gramscian hegemony – this can only be inextricably bound to the process of real-life political struggle.  What better example of all of this than the rise of the new left?
    • Most significantly, his discussion of nationalism treats it one-dimensionally – simply as a concrete goal (creation of the nation-state) which he believes cannot be realized.  In doing so, he misses its more profound political (and metapolitical) role as myth(3).

      This is not to say that nationalism is always useful as such a myth.  In the current conjuncture in Europe it clearly is, however, and I think that Quintus is completely incorrect in believing that it makes sense to discard it at present.

      I agree with him, on the other hand, in considering the case of the United States, which, with the demographic changes of the past half-century, can only be understood as an irreversibly multi-national political entity.  Here the white nationalist fantasy of establishing an ethno-state is not merely unrealistic – it is also extremely unappealing.  The image of the blood and chaos inevitably involved in such an enterprise, while perhaps, as Quintus discretely puts it, “appealing to some identitarian adrenaline junkies” is one that could hardly motivate any sane person.  Thus, white nationalism fails here not only as a reasonably achievable goal, but, more importantly, as a mobilizing myth.

      Where I must once again diverge from Mr. Quintus, however, is in his alternative – “tribalism” – especially as he develops it. Simply put, as myth it reeks of defeatism and defeatism has never mobilized anyone. Even if our ultimate endgame is the sort of separatism envisioned by 5PT, getting there will be via the experience of struggle, not as a substitute for it.

In any case, picking Mr. Quintus’s efforts apart is one thing and providing a viable alternative is another. At the moment, rejecting both white nationalism and 5PT’s vision of tribalism, I don’t have an alternative to present. My points above are meant as contributions to a discussion which should be underway, rather than as the resolution to it.

Notes:

(1) I realize that in certain circles – Thermidor‘s especially – comparing someone to Rod Dreher is close to the ultimate insult.  I wish to assure Mr. Quintus that this is not intended as such, but see, for example, Dreher’s Life Among the Bruderhof.

(2) For example: “Nations should organize, not according to territorial units but as associations of persons, not as States but as peoples …” – Karl Renner, quoted in Andres Nin’s (hostile) Austro-Marxism and the National Question.

(3) “… myths are not descriptions of things, but expressions of a determination to act….” – Georges Sorel – Reflections on Violence

Richard Spencer and Roman-Salute-gate

The National Policy Institute‘s November 19th Conference Become Who We Are 2016 was by most accounts an energized and well-attended event drawing a younger/newer crowd than the usual suspects one might see, for example, at a typical AR gathering. (For a good overview, see Matt Fournoy’s piece at RightOn.)

With the seeming ride to prominence of the alt right on Donald Trump’s coattails, the conference was naturally the subject of far greater attention than in the past.  Hostile demonstrations and harassment by the predictable antifa types were more significant than previously and there was far more media presence – all of it (or at least the vast bulk of it) waiting with bated breath for confirmation of its on-going alt-right-as-crypto-fascist meme.

So, when NPI President Richard Spencer ended his closing speech “Hail Trump! Hail our People! Hail Victory!”, the response of a handful of audience members with “Roman” salutes was predictably captured on the cell phone of a reporter for The Atlantic and subsequently publicized across the globe, serving to “confirm”, along with the many print articles on the conference – for example, The NY Time’s Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute – the core neo-Nazism of the alt right (and by implication, of Trump himself).

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