Defending the idea of a common American nation
Charles Murray in his recent series at Opinion Journal showed that individual differences in intelligence are highly determinative of academic accomplishment and cannot be eliminated, and also suggested that the capable and intelligent should receive a separate education from the rest of the society. Carol Iannone writing at Phi Beta Cons objects to the latter point. Her comments, upholding an older idea of American democracy that has been lost, are large and noble in a Toquevillian way:
I too appreciated a lot of what Charles Murray wrote in his recent three-part article in Opinion Journal, and he has started a good discussion on important issues that are often seen as too hot to handle. But his ultimate proposal, about specially educating the most gifted and intelligent of our society, struck me as going in the wrong direction, and did indeed chillingly remind me of Plato and his Guardians. I think the genius of America is that it is democratic, in that everyone to some extent or other can share in its culture—its civic culture, political culture, popular culture, literary culture, even some of its high culture. The idea of gaining an appreciation of our culture and a determination to defend it and improve it where needed, of developing a capacity to make good judgments and wise choices, of seeing oneself as part of a great enterprise in human history, of learning the importance of responsibility to others, of ethical behavior, all this is necessary for everyone, and something we at least have to hold out as a standard, even if we can’t succeed in all cases. I certainly agree that not everyone has to go to college, but a democracy depends not on the elites but on the people, in my view.Of course, far fewer people should go to college, as Murray said. But high school used to do so much more than it does today. It prepared people for adult membership in society and imbued them with an intelligent appreciation for its basic institutions.
However, perhaps the unspoken factor that prevented Murray from visualizing an American people drawn together in a common nationhood notwithstanding their differences in intelligence and education, is the same factor he carefully left out of his discussion of differences in intelligence: racial diversity. Murray may well recognize, though he wouldn’t dare say it, that a common culture based on common information and common ideals was possible for an American people consisting of a confident white European majority making up 90 percent of the population plus a small black minority; but that such a common culture is not possible for an increasingly inchoate American populace in which the delegitimized white majority is dipping below 70 percent of the total and the officially empowered black and Mestizo minorities make up over a quarter.
As an example of the way in which America’s radically changing racial composition affects our ability to maintain a common society based on common ideals and standards, University of California President Robert Dynes has said, as paraphrased by Heather Mac Donald in City Journal, “that the changing demographics of California—that is, the explosion of the Hispanic population—would eventually lead to the [repeal of Proposition 209, which outlawed racial preferences in state college admissions], even without a lawsuit.” In other words, the ongoing racial, cultural, and political transformation of America, brought on by open immigration and the white majority’s surrender to same, will make it impossible for us to maintain a society based on individual rights rather than on racial group privileges.
While this was not Carol Iannone’s point, we must face the reality that if we want to have a common American culture again, we must, as Samuel Francis once wrote, reconquer America.
Stewart W. writes:
Once again, you’ve hit the nail upon the head. Charles Murray and Carol Iannone both have valid points, but only within the context of a confident, white European culture. Classical liberal, conservative, libertarian, monarchist, Objectivist, even socialist, Fascist, and anarchist can only function within a European culture, composed of people of European descent, who are confident and aware of their own history and identity.LA replies:
Truly an excellent comment. Stewart has understood the most important point, that so few people understand. All the civilizational values that well meaning whites trumpet—democracy, individual rights, rule of law, rational discourse, national identity, education, high culture, middle-brow culture, whatever—are founded on certain substantive collective realities that liberalism prohibits us from seeing or thinking about, and that liberalism requires us to destroy.Jeremy writes:
I entirely agree with you that liberalism destroys the host society, thus ultimately destroying itself. However, can an America that recognizes profound innate differences among groups and that then forms public policy around this truth continue to be a liberal society? This would require liberals to concede that America needs a large white majority in order for liberalism to survive, and then to actively promote the interests of that white majority (i.e. to reverse immigration trends, affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, etc) in order to maintain America as a liberal nation. It seems that liberalism cannot be contained by liberals. The forces of patriotism and traditionalism are required to oppose and contain liberalism. But wouldn’t this force experience liberalism as an existential threat and try to end liberalism just as liberalism sees us as a threat and is trying to put an end to us? In general, I don’t know how liberalism would contribute to a healthy and properly motivated society. I suspect their motives would always be deeply mistrusted by traditionalists.LA replies:
My aim has never been a fascist-type destruction of liberalism per se, but the removal of modern liberalism as the ruling force of society. The liberalism that is compatible with national existence (1) would not be modern liberalism; and (2) would not be the ruling idea, rather traditionalism would be the ruling idea with liberalism operating under it according to traditionalist criteria rather than the other way around. Such changes could only occur after a large enough number of people felt that liberal rule was a mortal threat and were ready to give it up. If the anti-liberal forces attempted to take over before that point were reached, it would be an all-out civil war such as Jeremy describes.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 30, 2007 11:26 AM | Send