This is the full text of my speech at the National Policy Institute Conference on September 10, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
When Richard very graciously invited me to speak to this gathering, one of the first things I thought about was the fact that many people would no doubt wonder why someone with my political background and orientation would even be at a conference like this in the first place. Given that I am an anarchist, and this is a conference on nationalism, many would ask the question of whether anarchism and nationalism are not diametrically opposed perspectives. Certainly, the ardent critics of nationalism, whose ranks include many self-proclaimed anarchists, would likely feel this way and many who consider themselves nationalists might also consider the relationship between anarchism and nationalism to be an incompatible one.
I, for one, would deny the incompatibily of this relationship. I could cite the words of another anarchist who recently remarked that if you are opposed to one world government, you are already an anarchist of a kind, as you would then favor an anarchism of nations if not communities or individuals, and that the rest is just haggling over the details. So perhaps we are not as far apart on this question as we might think. However, my own reasons for holding to the views that I do involves a question that I think is much more substantive in nature and that is the question of what I call “totalitarian humanism.”
Totalitarian Humanism is simply my term for what is more commonly called “political correctness.” I did not coin this term. Instead, I picked it up from an anonymous, underground British writer some years ago, a writer whose real name I never knew. But I prefer the term “totalitarian humanism” because I think it is the one that best describes the worldview associated with political correctness. The essence of totalitarian humanism can be identified with an observation from Joseph De Maistre who said in observartion of the political order that was to eventually arise out of the French Revolution (quote):
The constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man. In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life. If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.
….This constitution is capable of being applied to all human communities from China to Geneva. But a constitution which is made for all nations is made for none: it is a pure abstraction, a school exercise whose purpose is to exercise the mind in accordance with a hypothetical ideal, and which ought to be addressed to Man, in the imaginary places which he inhabits….(end quote)
The worldview that I have characterized as totalitarian humanism is also the worldview that dominates all of our institutions in the modern Western world. It is the prevailing ideology of our political classes, our economic and business elites, and our cultural and intellectual elites. It is the worldview that is taught in our educational systems from the kindergarten level all the way up through the postgraduate level. Indeed, it seems as though the more education one has, the more likely it is that one has completely internalized this worldview. This is the worldview that dominates the mass media and entertainment industry which in our modern societies is a major force in the shaping of public opinion, perhaps comparable in many ways to the role of the Church during past eras in the history of Western civilization. In fact, this is the worldview that is preached in the pulpits of many contemporary Christian churches, and not just among the mainline liberal denominations but even among those with an ostensibly conservative theological orientation.
The ideology of totalitarian humanism insists that profound human differences regarding matters of culture, nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, or language are simply of no significance. Differences of these kinds that have been generated by thousands of years of human social evolution and have produced many magnificient variations of human culture that have existed since ancient times are dismissed by the proponents of totalitarian humanism as mere surface-level social constructs that contain no essence or intrinsic value. Some proponents of this worldview have gone even further and insisted that the variations to be found among human populations are merely interchangeable commodities. According to this kind of reasoning, if it can be called that, the differences between Western civilization or Islamic civilization or Chinese civilization are really no more important than the differences between MacDonald’s or Pizza Hut or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Some have objected to my use of the term “humanism” is this particular way. After all, were not the ancient Greeks who essentially founded our civilization also humanists? Was not the Renaissance, a defining era in the history of the evolution of Western civilization, also a humanistic project? Still others have mistakenly identified my criticisms of what I call “totalitarian humanism” as attacks on secularism. After all, was Nietzsche not an atheist along with Hobbes and Hume before him? As a consequence of this confusion, it is important to understand that I am not using the term “humanism” is the classical sense. Nor am I using the term as a synonym for secularism or atheism. Indeed, I count myself as something of a disciple of Nietzsche and I share many of his views regarding the impact of Christianity on Western civilization more generally. Instead, I am using the term “humanism” to describe a view of humanity, human nature and human civilizations whose core ideas are universalism, egalitarianism, and the linear-progressive view of history.
As I have already stated, the univeralism implicit in the totalitarian humanist worldview denies the reality of innate and often profound differences which can be seen to exist among diverse human populations. This universalism is then followed by an incipient egalitarianism. If human differences are merely artifical or arbitrary social constructs with no intrinsic value, then inequalities found among human groups must also be unnatural, artifical, or arbitrary, according to this worldview.
It therefore follows, if one accepts this view, that inequality among human populations is the result of either a lack of effort on the part of humanity generally to eradicate inequality, or malevolence on the part of those who are seen to be the perpetrators of inequality. Another aspect of the totalitarian humanist worldview that I am describing that is not as frequently discussed but is in my view at least vital to understanding this worldview is the notion of a progressive view of history. According to such a view, history is perpetually moving towards higher levels of human progress in such a way that ordinary human foibles and failures will no longer be relevant. We see this worldview, for instance, in the Christian notion of the lamb lying down with the wolf. More relevant to our purposes here today, we see this worldview active in the bold proclamations of contemporary liberals and leftists, whose ranks include most so-called conservatives, and who insist that human conflicts of the kind that have existed since time immemorial over differences of culture, race, or nationality will disappear if only human beings can learn to live together in peace and harmony.
Given my own political identity, the totalitarian aspect of what I call “totalitarian humanism” is a matter that I am particularly concerned about. We are all familiar with the totalitarian political ideologies of the twentieth century and the consequences they brought about for mankind. These twentieth century totalitarian ideologies differed considerably among themselves concerning the specific nature of their ideals, but a common thread to be found among them is their deification of the state and their desire for the state to maintain an all-encompassing presence in the wider human society. I would submit that many of the proponents of the totalitarian humanist worldview at least implicitly share a similar vision of the state. While even some of our colleagues who are here today have had the experience of living under a totalitarian left-wing regime, most of us who originate from North America, Great Britain, Western Europe, or Australia have no such experiences in our own personal histories. Yet, as some thinkers of the European New Right and others have suggested, what we have seen emerge in our contemporary Western nations is a kind of “soft totalitarianism.”
We may not yet be at the level of repression found in the Stalinist states, with their secret police, concentration camps, arbitrary arrests in the middle of the night, and psychiatric incarcerations. However, we can observe all around us efforts to repress and silence those who would speak critically of the worldview that presently dominates all of our institutions. The fact that this gathering itself is being held in a public facility under police protection as it would be imprudent for reasons we are all aware of to hold this conference in a private facility is by itself testimony of the creeping totalitarianism we find all around us today. In recent times, previous efforts to hold conferences with themes very similar to this one have been prevented either by the efforts of self-appointed vigilantes using threats of extra-legal violence while the state has looked the other way or by use of behind-the-scenes political pressure exercised by public officials. Such incidents are chilling examples of soft totalitarianism, or perhaps of what the late Sam Francis referred to as “anarcho-tyranny.” Indeed, we here in the United States are actually fortunate that the First Amendment allows us to gather at all as a conference of this type might well be legally prohibited in some other Western nations.
Some years ago, I wrote an article for the LewRockwell.Com website, which I believe is still available from that site’s archives, where I outlined the relationship of totalitarian humanism to the state. Then as now, I maintained that the political vision implicit in the totalitarian humanist worldview is one where the all-pervasive presence of the state in human affairs is legitimized on an ideological level by the kind of utopian universalism, radical egalitarianism, and belief in an abstract conception of “progress” to which the adherents of totalitarian humanism subscribe. We see manifestations of this all around us as well. At the level of local government, we see the persistent efforts of state agencies ranging from the public school system to the child protective services to the family courts to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of institutions that are in competition with the state such as the family, religion, private associations, and the general community. At the level of the national government, we seek attacks on the autonomy of the private sector, civil society, regions and localities in the name of advancing leftist-egalitarian ideals. Even in the realm of foreign policy and international relations, we see aggressive war being waged in the name of liberal presumptions such as the alleged universal sanctity of so-called “democracy.”
I would likewise submit that mass immigration is the primary weapon being utilized by the proponents of the totalitarian humanist worldview. One of the great ironies of the situation with mass immigration is that it involves a de facto alliance between the forces of the radical cultural left on one hand and big business and super-capitalism on the other hand. The enthusiasm for mass immigration demonstrated by contemporary Western elites can, I believe, be understood on two different levels. The first of these involves matters of naked self-interest on the part of those who are proponents of mass immigration. A number of scholars who are also immigration skeptics have produced powerful critiques of the vast array of political interests that benefit from mass immigration. As previously mentioned, the capitalist elites or big business or whatever we wish to call it is one of these. In an article by Alain De Benoist that was posted on the Occidental Observer website a few weeks ago, Benoist refers to mass immigration as the “reserve army of capital” and discusses the role of political agitation by big business elites in the implementation of de facto open borders immigration policies. Most of us are probably aware of the revelation by Tony Blair’s former speechwriter Andrew Neather back in 2009 that the Labour regime of Mr. Blair deliberately pursued an open borders policy for the sake of making the U.K. more multicultural. In both of these instances, we see a cynical calculation on the part of either the business class in the former instance or the political class in the latter instance to utilize mass immigration for the sake of the short term advancement of their own economic or political self-interest without any regard whatsoever for the long term consequences of such immigration for the future of their nation or their posterity.
Mass immigration is supported by businessmen who want the cheap labor that immigrants provide, politicians who want their votes, ethnic lobbies who wish to increase their own numbers, public sector bureaucrats who wish to obtain more clients for their services thereby guaranteeing themselves job security, education professionals who wish to increase both the size of their student bodies and the size their budgets, and religious professionals who see immigrant populations as a possible source of replacements for their own dwindling congregations. Many other examples could be provided of those who cynically endorse open borders in the hope that mass immigration will advance their own narrow, immediate interests.
But there are also others who endorse mass immigration for reasons that transcend mere personal selfishness. There are those who consider support for mass immigration to be a matter of profound moral concern. It is these people who are the leading or at least most zealous proponents of the worldview that I have described as totalitarian humanism. According to the morality to which such people subscribe, Western civilization must atone for such past injustices as racism, imperialism, colonialism, Nazism, or the Holocaust by what amounts to the surrender of Western civilization itself to the invading Third World immigrant masses. That such a surrender would amount to the destruction of a civilization that has evolved over thousands of years and the dispossession of indigenous Europeans in their historic, ancestral homelands is of no concern to those who hold to this worldview. Indeed, they cheer on the advent of such destruction and dispossession as part of the march towards what they believe will be greater progress and greater equality. Just as the proponents of the worldview I have characterized as totalitarian humanism give no thought to the long term future survival of their civilization, so do they give no concern to the more immediately tangible and observable consequences of mass immigration. As the writer Derek Turner recently observed in an article for AlternativeRight.Com (quote):
“Diversity” has such talismanic importance in America’s public culture that almost everything else is hazarded to accommodate its ever more outré demands—social cohesion, the interests of the majority population, free speech, fiscal responsibility, political accountability, academic excellence, environmental protection, immigration control, government effectiveness, police effectiveness, military effectiveness and sometimes even—in prisons where staff refuse to segregate racial gangs—human life.
Even some conservatives now publicly defend “diversity,” either out of ignorance of its effects or because to condemn it would mean acknowledging that America has been pursuing a woefully wrong-headed policy for decades, under Republican as much as Democrat administrations. (end quote)
One thing that I have personally found to be the most interesting and perplexing about the unbridled support given to mass immigration from the political Left has been the Left’s utter obliviousness regarding the incompatibility of such support with other ideals that the Left ostensibly holds to be sacred such as women’s right, gay rights, secularism, legalized abortion, a lenient and humane penal system, the deregulation of private moral behavior, the promotion of alternative lifestyles, and so forth. Clearly, mass immigration is not in the interests of the domestic working classes or the domestic poor. And while mass immigration is certainly harmful to the interests of the historic white majority in the United States, it is arguably even more harmful to America’s traditional minority groups such as blacks, American Indians, Mexican-Americans, or Asian-Americans. For instance, we are already observing the ethnic cleansing of African-American neighborhoods in southern California by Hispanic immigrant gangs. Nor is it immediately clear as to how the importation of mass numbers of Arabs, Muslims, and other Third World immigrants into the West serves the long term interests of the West’s historic Jewish minority population.
I would submit here today that mass immigration is the most serious issue our civilization faces at present. Many other aspects of our current political and cultural situation can be corrected with time. Foolish laws such as those creating thought crimes in the name of combating “hate” or prohibiting free speech can be repealed. Anti-meritocratic policies such as affirmative action can be rescinded. Wrongheaded government programs can be abolished. The failings of particular institutions, whether they are governments or armies or universities or banks, can be corrected through changes in institutional leadership, or through the creation of newer and better institutions. But mass immigration is the one policy that, once it reaches a certain tipping point, cannot be undone. If mass immigration continues and even expands, eventually our civilization will reach the point of no return, and thousands of years of cultural evolution will be lost as a result of demographic overrun. There is no law of history that guarantees a civilization’s perpetual survival. We know from the example of the classical Greco-Roman civilization of antiquity that even the greatest and most powerful civilizations can eventually become extinct. Let us not allow Western civilization to once again suffer such a fate. Thank you for listening to me.
Categories: Political Correctness/Totalitarian Humanism
I think there is more to the relationship between anarchism and nationalism than a differing opinion on which scale the same rights should be applied.
The central demand of nationalism is for national self determination. However the objection to the imposition of foreign control is meaningless as well as ludicrous if it accepts the imposition of control by small groups internally to the nation. In neither case is the nation self determining. Similarly a nation can not be said to be self determining if rule is imposed on elements of it. A nation can’t be said to be free if a substantial part of it is being ruled against its will, even if the people doing that are the rest of the nation.
In order to solve these moral/practical problems nationalism is compelled to a position which is indistinguishable from anarchism. Taken to its logical conclusion nationalism is just anarchism seen from a different angle. Given the failure of nationalism’s nation state model over the last two centuries then it really has no choice but to go to that logical conclusion.
In fact this is exactly what is happening on the radical right; almost all its credible intellectual leadership has moved at least towards an Anarcho-nationalist position, there is even evidence of nationalists adopting decentralised localised organisational models at a grassroots level.
Ironic that the traditional left wing anarchists, more of a subculture than a political movement, who deride the radical right as reactionary and based on militant ignorance have been able to make no such intellectual leap towards coherence themselves. Instead preferring to imagine that they are somehow the pals with the hyper statist communist and socialist, the very people who smashed the Anarchist communes in Spain and would, given the chance, show these people why states are to be feared as well as resisted.
Solid, as usual.
Was the conference video recorded?
Yes, it was actually broadcast live online to subscribers.
S. E. Pearson,
“I think there is more to the relationship between anarchism and nationalism than a differing opinion on which scale the same rights should be applied.”
Oh, yes, much agreed.
“The central demand of nationalism is for national self determination. However the objection to the imposition of foreign control is meaningless as well as ludicrous if it accepts the imposition of control by small groups internally to the nation. In neither case is the nation self determining. Similarly a nation can not be said to be self determining if rule is imposed on elements of it. A nation can’t be said to be free if a substantial part of it is being ruled against its will, even if the people doing that are the rest of the nation.”
Yes, a very cogent observation.
“In order to solve these moral/practical problems nationalism is compelled to a position which is indistinguishable from anarchism. Taken to its logical conclusion nationalism is just anarchism seen from a different angle. Given the failure of nationalism’s nation state model over the last two centuries then it really has no choice but to go to that logical conclusion.”
Well, I think the conflation of nationalism with the nation-state system is a principal source of the conflict between nationalists and anarchists.
“In fact this is exactly what is happening on the radical right; almost all its credible intellectual leadership has moved at least towards an Anarcho-nationalist position, there is even evidence of nationalists adopting decentralised localised organisational models at a grassroots level.”
Yes, very much agreed. I started to notice this years ago, and started shifting some of my own positions accordingly. I think much of this ideological evolution on the radical has to do with the realization that the state is not their friend and is not going to be.
“Ironic that the traditional left wing anarchists, more of a subculture than a political movement, …”
“Instead preferring to imagine that they are somehow the pals with the hyper statist communist and socialist, the very people who smashed the Anarchist communes in Spain and would, given the chance, show these people why states are to be feared as well as resisted.”
It’s interesting how the “anarchists” will go out and protest against “fascists” while marching side by side with commies. That shows a complete ignorance of anarchist history.