Summary of Fonte’s “The ideological war within the West”

John Fonte’s article The Ideological War Within the West, published this past May by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, has caused a lot of discussion in conservative circles. For anyone who missed it or wants a quick look at the key points, here is a summary and abridgement of the piece that may be helpful:

Fukuyama says there is no alternative ideology to liberal democracy, but there is. “Transnational progressivism” constitutes a universal and modern worldview that challenges both the liberal democratic nation-state in general and the American regime in particular.

For example, American non-governmental organizations appealed to the U.N. to hold the U.S. “accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination.” They define this as racial disparaties in income, housing etc., and that U.S. has refused to do anything about it, so U.N. must tell the U.S. to. At the U.N. conference against Racism, the American NGOs supported “reparations” from Western nations for the historic transatlantic slave trade and developed resolutions that condemned only the West. They called free market capitalism a fundamentally flawed system, called on U.S. to drop all reservations and “comply” with the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) treaty by accepting UN definitions of “free speech” and eliminating the “vast racial disparities in every aspect of American life” (housing, health, welfare, justice, etc.).

Meanwhile, the European Parliament condemned the U.S. Patriot Act as “contrary to the principles” of human rights because the legislation “discriminates” against non-citizens. Europe refuses to extradite terrorist suspects to the U.S. if those terrorists would be subjected to the death penalty.

What transnational progressivism means:

- Group instead of individual citizen

- Groups defined in terms of “privileged versus marginalized”

- Group proportionalism as the goal of “fairness.”

- Proportionality is not enough. The distinct worldviews of ethnic, gender, and linguistic minorities must be represented within these institutions.

- Instead of assimilation, diversity, defined as proportionalism

- Deconstruction of national narratives and national symbols of democratic nation-states in the West.

- Promotion of the concept of postnational citizenship, “decoupling the concept of citizenship from the nation-state.”

The promotion of transnationalism is an attempt to shape the crucial intellectual struggle over globalization. Its adherents imply that one is either in step with globalization, and thus forward-looking, or one is a backward antiglobalist.

The social base of transnational progressivism is constituted by a rising postnational intelligentsia (international law professors, NGO activists, foundation officers, UN bureaucrats, EU administrators, corporate executives, and politicians.) They claim that transnationalism represents the “forces of history,” but, in fact, as with other revolutions, transnationalism is driven by and serves the interests of a particular elite. Transnationalism, multiculturalism, and global governance, like “diversity,” are ideological tools championed by activist elites, not impersonal forces of history.

Before the mid-twentieth century, traditional international law referred to relations among nation-states. The “new international law” has increasingly penetrated the sovereignty of democratic nation-states. It is in reality “transnational law.” Human rights activists work to establish norms for this “new international [i.e. transnational] law” and then attempt to bring the U.S. into conformity with a legal regime whose reach often extends beyond democratic politics.

Transnational progressives excoriate American political and legal practices in virulent language, as if the American liberal democratic nation-state were an illegitimate authoritarian regime. Thus, Amnesty International-U.S.A. charged the U.S. in a 1998 report with “a persistent and widespread pattern of human rights violations,” naming the U.S. the “world leader in high tech repression.” Meanwhile, HRW issued a 450-page report excoriating the U.S. for all types of “human rights violations,” even complaining that “the U.S. Border Patrol continued to grow at an alarming pace.”

Two leading law professors (Peter Spiro from Hofstra and Peter Schuck from Yale) complain that immigrants seeking American citizenship are required to “renounce all allegiance” to their old nations.” Spiro and Schuck even reject the concept of the hyphenated American and endorse what they call the “ampersand” citizen. Thus, instead of traditional “Mexican-Americans” who are loyal citizens but proud of their ethnic roots, they prefer postnational citizens, who are both “Mexican & American,” who retain “loyalties” to their “original homeland” and vote in both countries.

The European Union is a large supranational macro-organization that embodies transnational progressivism. Its governmental structure is post-democratic. A white paper issued by the EU suggests that this unaccountability is one reason for its success:”[the] essential source of the success of European integration is that [it] is independent from national, sectional, or other influences.”

The European Court of Justice has overruled national parliaments and public opinion in nation-states by ordering the British to incorporate gays and the Germans to incorporate women in combat units in their respective military services. The ECJ even struck down a British law on corporal punishment, declaring that parental spanking is internationally recognized as an abuse of human rights

Two Washington lawyers, Lee Casey and David Rivkin, have argued that the EU ideology that “denies the ultimate authority of the nation-state” and transfers policy making from elected representatives to bureaucrats “suggests a dramatic divergence” with “basic principles of popular sovereignty once shared by both Europe’s democracies and the United States.”

The redefinition of democracy and democratic ideals

Transnational progressives have been altering the definition of democracy from that of a system of majority rule among equal citizens to one of power sharing among ethnic groups composed of both citizens and non-citizens. James Banks, one of American education’s leading textbook writers, noted in 1994 that “to create an authentic democratic Unum with moral authority and perceived legitimacy, the pluribus (diverse peoples) must negotiate and share power.” Hence, American democracy is not authentic; real democracy will come when the different “peoples” that live within America “share power” as groups.

Fonte’s summing up

The challenge from transnational progressivism to traditional American concepts of citizenship, patriotism, assimilation, and the meaning of democracy itself is fundamental. If our system is based not on individual rights (as defined by the U.S. Constitution) but on group consciousness (as defined by international law); not on equality of citizenship but on group preferences for non- citizens (including illegal immigrants) and for certain categories of citizens; not on majority rule within constitutional limits but on power-sharing by different ethnic, racial, gender, and linguistic groups; not on constitutional law, but on transnational law; not on immigrants becoming Americans, but on migrants linked between transnational communities; then the regime will cease to be “constitutional,” “liberal,” “democratic,” and “American,” in the understood sense of those terms, but will become in reality a new hybrid system that is “post-constitutional,” “post-liberal,” “post-democratic,” and “post-American.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 03, 2002 06:43 PM | Send


The Tranzi hell portended by this discussion is for me the scariest thing to have reared its ugly head since I first discovered Steve Sailer’s stuff ( and about two years ago and saw that all the instincts which I’d been suppressing all those years could be openly acknowledged and dealt with as the simple truths they were. Of course, as Godless Capitalist ( and Richard Poe ( have pointed out, Fonte didn’t discover a new phenomenon, so much as “give the beast a name.”

Going up against this beast is going to be a daunting task. The magnitude of the Tranzi problem appears overwhelming. Looking at its awful looming bulk, one almost wants to do as it is said people drowning in the ocean do, who feel they just can’t struggle any more, and let themselves slip under the waves to die.

We must, those of us who believe in the existence of ethnic groups and nations, take heart and continue to do our utmost, secure in the belief that we strive for what is right and against a monstrous wrong.

“Unstoppable force of nature”? We’ve heard THAT ONE before — isn’t that just the old “Divine Right of Kings” which was debunked centuries ago?

Abolishing nations and ethnicities to make life easier for kings and centralizing bureaucrats? That’s been tried down through history. Its success can be judged by what we see around us today on a map of the world — a patchwork of different nations and ethnicities (… or rather, what we SAW for a thousand years until the current disaster began in that fateful year 1965).

Centralizing bureaucrats managing to suppress the rights, such as they were, of the peasant and middle classes, driving them even further into poverty, dependency, and despair? Check out the centuries-long history of the central-European state of Prussia, how it was born, how it evolved, how the relationship between its rulers and its people swang back and forth over decades and centuries between the former getting the upper hand and the latter managing to extricate itself.

Check out the same in countless other nations’ histories. What we are seeing in this Tranzi monstrosity is nothing new, really, though it IS immensely massive and threatening.

We know we are right. Perhaps this battle is our generation’s harrowing task, just as the Civil War generation and the Founding Fathers’ generation had their tasks before them.

Let us not shrink from the task which our generation is now called upon by history to undertake.

Posted by: Unadorned on September 4, 2002 9:20 AM

Thanks for the good statement. Our dilemma, however, is worse than that of past generations. They had largely external problems to deal with, which could be met largely by military force. There was a reasonably intact, healthy society capable of meeting the challenge. But in our own case, it is our own societies that have been taken over from within and already transformed by the combined forces of cultural radicalism, globalism, and racial diversity. If the Cold War was a long twilight struggle, our own cultural situation seems more like midnight. But we have no choice but to resist as best we can, trying to build or rebuild foundations that can withstand the surrounding darkness.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 4, 2002 12:11 PM

I don’t see that the internal problems of the US won’t be dealt with, when the time comes, by military force. Because I think that is what it will come to. I don’t see the global power elite relinquishing power peacefully. Do you?

With all due respect, if you think the Western remnant can stow away some books and wait out the impending darkness a la the Irish monks then you are mistaken. The coming regime won’t allow it. Extermination would only be a matter of time.

By all means let’s discuss peaceful ways to defend Western civilization from the global regime and its represenatives working in the US. But let’s not fool ourselves that it won’t be necessary at some point to find more active ways to defend our communities, our families, and our lives.

Posted by: William on September 4, 2002 12:56 PM

“The coming regime won’t allow it. Extermination would only be a matter of time.”

But that’s why the intrinsic corruption of the advanced liberal regime is so important: .

Posted by: Jim Kalb on September 4, 2002 1:27 PM

In order for the Western remnant to employ the force that William feels it must employ at some point, it must first EXIST as an organized community. This is not now the case. The only communities organized for political (not to mention military) action in the Western world are the instituted societies which have already been taken over by cultural radicalism and are imposing it everywhere. For the kind of military resistance Williams is advocating to take place, the remnant must first come into existence as an organized body and continue to exist. For the remnant to exist as an organized body within the conditions of the prevailing culture is already an act of resistance. I am not in possession of any road map to Western restoration (perhaps William is). Nor was there anything in my earlier comment that precluded the use of force in self-defense. But I am convinced that the indispensable condition for the survival or restoration of the Western remnant—whatever form that survival or restoration may take—is conscious resistance to the dominant culture, and the building up of a new cultural foundation that offers an alternative to it. Without that, there will be nothing to defend.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 4, 2002 2:17 PM

“In order for the Western remnant to employ the force that William feels it must employ at some point, it must first EXIST as an organized community”.

Exactly. So I think the task ahead of us is to establish such an organized community. That’s why websites such as this one are so useful: they establish a (virtual) meeting place for like-minded individuals. But the danger is that we’ll simply remain a group of strangers whispering to one another in the darkness.

No, don’t be absurd, of course I don’t have a “road map to Western restoration,” at least not apart from the clear lessons of history which tell us that the nations of the West have faced similar threats to their survival. And that such threats were only overcome through concerted action. I’m not saying now is the time to act; it’s not. And I’m not advocating any illegal application of force; I’m not. But I would love to see some feedback from the intellectuals on the most practical political and organizational steps we can take to meet the coming crisis head on.

Posted by: William on September 4, 2002 2:35 PM

Mr. Kalb apparently views the intrinsic corruption of liberalism as some sort of wall that prevents it from getting organized and committing wholesale murder yet again, as it did in the French revolution, naziism, and communism (and is still doing if unborn infants are human beings).

I see it differently. I think liberalism is the corrupt despotism that Mr. Kalb sees whenever times are good. It muddles along and survives the scandal of oral sex in the oval office, attempts to put a managerial UN in charge of everything in the name of “human rights,” dumps tea into Boston harbor because a 2% tax is considered a horrible tyranny, etc. But the fact that it can muddle along and survive in such a manner increases, rather than decreases, the likelihood that wholesale murder is on the way again (even if, as I have mentioned repeatedly, we turn a blind eye to the wholesale murder of those considered subhuman which is taking place right now). Mr. Kalb seems to view the corrupt liberal despotism as its own little end of history. I see it as a mechanism whereby liberalism can continue its dominance long enough to make another violent expression a virtual certainty. Liberalism will in all likelihood muddle through in its corrupt managerial despotic form until history gives it a reason to again commit wholesale violence. Then it will again do what it always does.

Posted by: Matt on September 4, 2002 3:29 PM

“But I would love to see some feedback from the intellectuals on the most practical political and organizational steps we can take to meet the coming crisis head on.”

This is precisely the horrible, and, I believe, unprecedented, nature of the current crisis, that the Western remnant is not now in a position to take political and organizational steps because it does not yet exist as a community. In the crises of the past that the first Commenter mentioned, the Revolutionary period and the Civil War, there was a colonial society with competent respected elites taking the lead, there was an existing United States of America that was determined to preserve its own existence. But we are in a position in which all the spiritual, cultural, and organizational aspects of community have to be built from the bottom up, even as we live in the midst of a society controlled by the cultural left and those who conform to it. And even such elements of a “remnant” that now exist are fragments that lack a sufficient common ground and are often in deep disagreement with each other. So the awful truth, as far as I can tell, is that there is no immediate possibility of the kind of concrete political and organizational steps that William would like to see. What is needed is imaginative thought leading to the creation of new institutions, which may be quite small and scattered at first, but which could conceivably grow and merge into something like a community.

Of course, specific evils could be addressed now. For example, there needs to be a national organization (or political party) opposed to the globalist agenda in all its aspects, as well as continued grassroots and national activism against current immigration policy. That sort of targeted activism against specific political ills is possible in the present society, but it is only one part of the total movement of spiritual and cultural restoration that is needed.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 4, 2002 4:05 PM

The Left is always around. Only the issues change.

How do the “Tranzis” differ from:
The “fellow travelers” of the 1940s,
The “useful idiots” of the 1950s,
The “counterculture” of the 1960s,
The “peaceniks” of the 1970s,
The “politically correct” of the 1980s, or
The “postmodernists” of the 1990s?

Posted by: Jim Carver on September 4, 2002 4:09 PM

The answer to Mr. Carver’s question is that, unlike in the past, the left and those who follow the left are now in control of the governmental, educational, journalistic, cultural, and even religious institutions of Western society.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 4, 2002 4:19 PM

I wasn’t dealing with the likelihood of large-scale violence as such. The issue was whether resistance has any prospect of organizing itself without the aid of armed force or whether it will simply be exterminated. On the latter issue the regime’s corruption and incompetence are a definite plus.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on September 4, 2002 4:48 PM

Jim: OK. Either is debatable, but for the time being organizing resistence without also organizing an army may be possible in principle, specifically because liberal incoherence can itself act as a shield. Some days I am slower than others. Mr. Kalb is doing as much good work as anyone to that end; Mr. Auster appears to be right in the implication that it involves a cold start from square one.

Posted by: Matt on September 4, 2002 6:15 PM

Some simple steps I would like to see a lot more people take in the short term:

1. If you have children in public school, get them out now and either home school or send them to a private school where traditional values and culture are propogated. Encourage friends and family who share your values to do the same.

2. Don’t give your money to the enemy. Robert Locke made an excellent point about a month ago on Frontpage in his call for a boycott of AOL/Time Warner. All too often, conservatives - especially Christians - spend their money with oufits like AOL/TW and Disney, to name two. If there is some item that you really need, or you wish to have some of the older, less destructive, Disney material - buy it second hand. The Disney boycott started by several Christian groups a few years ago has been a complete flop.

3. We need to encourage the creation of our own institutions, and the further propogration of our own unique culture through media, publishing, music. etc. The creation of wealth through invention and enterprise is also important.

4. We should be ready to exploit any and all weakness in the Tranzi behemoth. I have often wondered why is it that the victims of what Horowitz has termed the “Progessive Drime Wave” haven’t used the tort system to extract money out of the criminals and their enablers on the left? How was Mumia-Abu-Jamal and his entourage able to profit through NPR programs, books, etc. with any civil action on the part of the family of Officer Faulkner? The ACLU routinely recovers attorney fees and court costs - at times even in suits that they have lost. Our own legal foundations need to be every bit as aggressive.

Actions such as those listed above have the potential to at least low the advance of Tranzi totalitarianism. The long term goal would be our own economically and militarily viable nation-state. There is an awful lot of work before such a scenario would be feasible. As I see it, one of the absolutely critical things is to arrest and reverse the spread of the poisonous rot among our own - especially the younger generation.

Posted by: Carl on September 4, 2002 8:02 PM
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