Re the New Irish PM

I can’t claim to follow Irish politics closely, but the recent election of Leo Varadkar, the openly gay son of an Indian father and Irish mother, as head of the ruling center-right Fine Gael party has been hard to miss. (As party leader, Varadkar will also take over the role of Taoiseach – prime minister – later this month.)

Predictably, all of this is being hailed in some quarters as a victory of the “new” multicultural Ireland over the insular and prejudiced “old”. I had thought to write my own reflections on this, but after reading The Irresistible Rise of Leo Varadkar at the National Party’s web site, I decided to take the easy way out and just point you there for the best thing on the subject I’ve read so far.

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

Against “Cultural Marxism”

Having spent 20 years studying the history and theory of Marxism, I can say with some confidence that… most American conservatives (as well as most white nationalists), know hardly a thing about it. – Michael O’Meara – The Next Conservatism?

I was once again reminded of the truth of Mr. O’Meara’s observation by Paul Gottfried’s recent article at Vdare, Yes, Virginia (Dare) There Is A Cultural Marxism–And It’s Taking Over Conservatism Inc.

In general, the theme of “Cultural Marxism” and its supposed triumph reflects the theoretical poverty of the American right – in both its mainstream and alternative varieties.  It is consistent with the tradition of blaming the “commies” (or, for some, the commies and “the Jews”) for everything, treating the globalist/multiculturalist order as something foreign to our system rather than the “natural” product of it.

Even worse, much of what passes for insight on the matter is of the crassest character. (See, for example, here and here.) While I will confess that I’ve never been a big fan of Gottfried‘s work, I expected something better from him and so was especially disappointed by the crudeness of his analysis in this particular effort.

While Gottfried expresses some general discomfort with the term “Cultural Marxism” and acknowledges a number of the ways in which it diverges from  class-oriented Marxism of one sort or another, he argues that it can be understood as fundamentally part of that tradition and seems to endorse the view taken by so many on the American right that all of today’s ills are traceable to the influence of that handful of  unorthodox Marxist theorists associated with the Frankfurt school.

Thus, in an earlier article Gottfried claimed that Cultural Marxism has been “successful… in taking over Western societies, through educational, social and political institutions” while in the current one, after some fretting over whether or not it still makes sense to talk about the influence of the original critical theorists given how far the corruption of the West has advanced beyond what they had imagined, he ultimately assures us that “Not only does Cultural Marxism exist” but that, given the embrace of a sort of political correctness-lite at home and “humanitarian” interventionism abroad on the part of the mainstream right,  “it now appears to be taking over Conservatism Inc.” and that “Conservatism Inc. … [has] become a Cultural Marxist puppet.”

In fact, the “Cultural Marxists” are able to hold the sort of institutional power which they do because they are doing the system’s dirty work – motivating and justifying the clearing away of all of those “irrational” obstacles – family, nation, tradition, etc – to the horizontal and vertical spread of the capitalist system in its globalist phase.  As Gottfried himself points out:

… nationalizing productive forces and the creation of a workers’ state, i.e. the leftovers from classical Marxism, turn out to be the most expendable part of their revolutionary program…. Instead, what is essential to Cultural Marxism is the rooting-out of bourgeois national structures, the obliteration of gender roles and the utter devastation of “the patriarchal family.”

So, far from representing the victory of the left, the rise of “Cultural Marxism” to prominence and intellectual power represents a victory over the left – its absorption by the current incarnation of the capitalist system rather than a subversion of it.

(The introductory quote is from and article published some years back by the now-silent Michael O’Meara on William Lind, who was an early proponent of the concept of “Cultural Marxism”. The piece is typical O’Meara – full of insights and energy but seriously marred by his habitual anti-semitism. Overall, much of his critique of the notion of the alleged role of “Cultural Marxism” remains valuable.  I will not repeat his analysis here, but I do suggest that you have a look.)

Georges Sorel on Donald Trump

Revolutions closely resemble romantic dramas: the ridiculous and the sublime are mixed so inextricably together that we are often unsure how to judge men who seem to be at one and the same time buffoons and heroes. – Georges Sorel, La Revolution Dreyfusienne

Sadly, as this performance plays out it seems that President Trump is more buffoon and less hero with each passing day…

On the Left and “Fascism”

“…most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”. It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times.” – Diana Johnstone – The Main Issue in the French Election: National Sovereignty

The collapse of the virtually the entire left into at best a mere loyal opposition within the capitalist order becomes clearer every day. Its recent and nearly unanimous rallying in support of the system’s candidate for the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, is yet another sad example.

The notion that Marine Le Pen was ready to install a Hitlerian dictatorship on France is absurd on the face of it and in fairness most commentators on the left acknowledged this however grudgingly, – usually just before arguing that she was still, however, so dangerous (a “canny fascist“, for example) that the left must unite behind  the candidate of the transnational elites instead (1).

In fact, there are a few on the left who dissent from this groupthink.  In addition to Johnstone, for example, James Petras argued in Twenty Truths About Marine Le Pen

Macron’s pro-war, anti-working class and ‘supply-side’ economic policies leave us with only one conclusion: Marine Le Pen is the only candidate of the left. Her program and commitments are pro-labor, not ‘hard’ or ‘far’ right – and certainly not ‘fascist’….

Le Pen is above all a ‘sovereigntist’: ‘France First’. Her fight is against the Brussels oligarchs and for the restoration of sovereignty to the French people. There is an infinite irony in labeling the fight against imperial political power as ‘hard right’. It is insulting to debase popular demands for domestic democratic power over basic economic policies, fiscal spending, incomes and prices policies, budgets and deficits as ‘extremist and far right’.

Unfortunately, however, the Johnstones and Petras’s are rare and to the extent that their efforts have been noticed, they have generally been denounced(2).

What characterizes the bulk of the left today is its ahistorical (and decidedly un-Marxist) approach to the populist movements of the right.  The left insists on understanding these movements in terms of a social reality that existed almost 100 years ago and is particularly unable (or unwilling) to recognize that the class content of movements and discourses changes over time – reflecting both the circumstances of a particular conjuncture and the overall arc of capitalist development.

Until roughly World War II capitalist classes in each country were fundamentally national.  In the moments of extreme crisis faced by certain of these countries, a sector of the ruling class opted for alliances with mass movements of the right in order to crush insurgent workers’ movements of the left, overcome the impasse created by non-functional parliamentary systems and better assert themselves internationally against their foreign rivals.  Once their radical wings were domesticated, in certain countries the fascist movements of the ’20s and ’30s suited the needs of much of the ruling class – at least for a time.

Unlike the interwar years, however, today’s ruling class has largely transcended national boundaries and is fundamentally globalist.  It is fundamentally committed to the multiculturalist ideology that is the natural world view that accompanies this.  Its fundamental enemy is nationalism and rootedness is all its forms.

In the current period the opposition to the ruling order is again based a sector of the popular classes and the ruling class is again mobilizing to destroy this opposition.  The difference is that today it is the so-called “fascists” who represent authentic resistance and it is the “left” that is being mobilized to stamp it out in the service of big capital and its globalist project.

In an typical article, which appeared on the blog Shiraz Socialist The Front National and fascism the author quotes Leon Trotsky’s description of fascism as:

“… a plebeian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers. It issued forth from the petty bourgeoisie, the slum proletariat and even to a certain extent, from the proletarian masses… with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. This is necessary for the creation of the mass movement.”

Although this apparently did not occur to the author, one is struck by how much more accurately this describes today’s left than today’s national populist right.

More than anything else, the left needs to learn to look in the mirror…

(For more on these issues see my previous posts Trump as National Bourgeois and On the Left and 2016 – Part 2. and Part 1.)

(1) The examples are endless but see here and here for a couple of representative samples from Jacobin.
(2) Thus, for example, Johnstone’s fellow CounterPunch columnist Louis Proyect denounced “Diana Johnstone’s poisonous nativism” in an article on his blog last year. More recently Tendance Coatesy attacked both “the notorious” Johnstone and Petras for their comments on Le Pen.

From Ireland

Vdare recently posted an excellent article from Ireland’s recently-formed National Party.

The party’s site is great – definitely worth the binge-reading I gave it this morning.  However, it isn’t just that it says all the right things.  What’s even more gratifying is that the organization  appears to be a real thing – or at least more than just a couple of guys with a grand-sounding name and a web site.

Here are a few samples of what the National Party has to say:

We contend that the first duty of an Irish government is to an Irish people and that this duty can only be served by the National Idea. Ireland cannot simply be a transport hub for a global citizenry. It must be rooted, coherent and authentic to itself.About

And:

The organising unit of society must be a social unit. And that social unit must be as organic and cohesive as possible. The family, the parish, the nation. It is a social communitarian ethos which is the organising basis of everything human-beings create. – #WeAreIrish – Twitter Hashtag Reveals the Contradictions in How Liberals View Ethnicity

And:

… to a liberal and a globalist, nationalism is always something lurking in the shadows. It is a kind of Other. A kind of Id. Something monstrous and irrational which constantly threatens to plunge an ordered society into chaos. It is associated with darkness and danger. Nationalism, one might say, is the foreign element in a globalist society. What does globalism exclude if not nationalism?Is Irish Nationalism Dead like Dan O’Brien Says?

Where do I sign up?

More on the National Party:

For a hostile take on the party see Who is National Party leader Justin Barrett?.

For a selection of videos (mostly) on the party, see Mashpedia.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 53?

The task to be accomplished is not the conservation of the past, but the redemption of the hopes of the past. – Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer – Dialectic of Enlightenment

In a couple of recent posts Vanishing American II has justly chastised those modern-day Jack Weinbergs of the right who seek to blame baby-boomers as a group for our current woes. Denouncing the “nasty rhetoric, based… on some kind of visceral resentment and animus” of one anti-boomer commentator, in his post Dear Boomer-bashers Mr. American II ably rebuts the notion of our generation as the prime source of all political and cultural evil.

Unfortunately, VA II then proceeds to fall into a similar stance of generational finger-pointing, now, however, directed against the boomers’ parents. Thus:

… this PC nonsense wasn’t started by the Boomers. It was started by the previous generation. You know, the ones who elected LBJ. The ones who pushed the Civil Rights movement. The ones who took over academia for the Left. The ones who gave the Cultural Left a stranglehold on the media. All of these things were achieved by the generation born in the 1925-1945 period.

If you want a generation to hate then the generation born 1925-1945 is well worthy of your hatred.

While I’m reluctant to lump VA II in with the anti-boomers, unfortunately all of their comments seem to reflect the same ignorance of the history of American populist identitarian struggle over the course of much of the 20th Century and, worse than that, echo the left’s version of the history of that period in which the massive defensive struggles of the white working and middle classes largely disappear.

The decades from World War II until the 1980s saw intense social conflict over the transformation of the United States.  Not surprisingly, this process is now portrayed as one in which only the “progressives” – the civil rights movements, the new left and liberalism in general – had any real agency.   At best, the defenders of the traditional American nation end up portrayed as a mob of faceless, mindless “deplorables” when they are noticed at all.

While these struggles were overwhelmingly locally-focused – over neighborhood and school boundaries, public recreational spaces, urban re-development, busing, property taxes, crime, and school books – all directly resisted in one way or another the processes through which America was re-made.  (These intensely local roots were at once the source of their strengths and eventual failure.)

Looking back, the breadth and militance of these struggles is almost hard to believe – from what Arnold Hirsch calls a state of “chronic urban guerilla warfare” in Chicago in the 1940s to the inspiring mass mobilizations, boycotts and riots of Boston’s “Southies” (and “Easties”) against busing in the 1970s.

So, when saboteur365 says regarding the baby-boomers: “Not all of us were left wing, hypocritical zealots. Just most of us” he is not simply wrong but also complicit in the left’s re-writing of history – privileging the new left (mainly drawn from the youth of the elite and upper strata of the white middle classes) over the populist right which represented a far larger segment of our people.

My objection to the alt movement’s historical amnesia is not, however, simply motivated by self-defensiveness (as a boomer myself) by an abstract desire for historical accuracy or even by the recognition of the respect we owe our forbears.  In fact, we have a tremendous amount to learn from the rise, the at least partial successes and the ultimate disappearance of these movements.

The general failure of the anti-system right to orient toward and learn from the movements of the past is a sign of its apolitical (or at best, pre-political) nature.  Up to now, we have functioned mainly as cheerleaders and scolds rather that real participants, often hiding behind a fundamentally abstentionist understanding of “metapolitics”.

By far the most valuable thing about Trump’s rise is not what he will accomplish as president (as we are coming to see more and more each day) but the re-emergence of a mass populist movement of the right.  Understanding the experiences of our past is a necessary element in determining how we orient toward this movement, working to build it and, at the same time, to radicalize it.

So… here’s some homework:

While books on the movements of the left vastly outnumber those on the populist right, there are a number of important studies of this period which are worthwhile correctives to the dominant narrative (although one often has to read around the authors’ leftism).  Here are a few things to start with:
Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s – Ronald Formisano
Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism – Jonathan Rieder
Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 – Arnold R. Hirsch
Behind the Backlash: White Working-Class Politics in Baltimore, 1940-1980 – Kenneth D. Dur
Philadelphia Divided: Race and Politics in the City of Brotherly Love – James Wolfinger
The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing – E. Michael Jones –  This is an important book and one of the few on the topic that doesn’t require a “subversive reading”.  As interesting as it is however, it desperately needs a merciless editing and would be far more useful at half its almost 700 page length.
Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle over Segregated Recreation in America – Victoria W. Wolcott
Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation – Matthew F. Delmont

A Note on the South: One will notice that I’ve largely ignored the experience of the struggle in the South during this period. This is partly due to my rejection of the apartheid order, but also to the fact that its political lessons seem much less relevant today than those drawn from the rest of the country. That said, the story of “massive resistance” is not without interest. Here are a couple of things to start with:

Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement – George Lewis
Massive Resistance: Southern Opposition to the Second Reconstruction – Cliff Webb