Zman on white nationalism and its future. If any, that is.
The term is not a new one. That means it comes with baggage and that baggage is not easily overcome. When most Americans hear “white nationalism” they think of snaggle-toothed rustics, wearing wife beaters and jorts, complaining about the coloreds. Getting modern whites to overcome the cult of anti-racism is hard under ideal conditions. Having Cletus as your sales rep makes it impossible.
That’s something the white identity people need to accept. For generations, Progressives have tightly associated racism with the South. The good white/bad white thing that John Derbyshire discusses is based entirely on this image. Bad whites shop at Walmart, like domestic beer and hate black people. Despite the fact that blacks have been moving back to the Old Confederacy for decades, black culture holds that the South is still aggressively racist. It’s at the core of the statue toppling and confederate flag burning manias.
Even if you can somehow get past the image problem, white nationalism is not some new concept developed by the alt-right. It has a history and it has a lot of veterans of its prior iterations. Those people are still kicking around. The web site Storm Front, in addition to being an FBI honey trap, is the home of the old White Nationalist guys, who used to follow guys like David Duke. If you borrow the language and symbols of these guys, you are inviting them and their ideas into your new version of white nationalism.
There are two problems with this. One is many of these guys were not the best people or the most stable people. Stepping way outside the moral framework is never easy, but it is a lot easier if you’re crazy. It’s also easier if you have nutty ideas that no one takes too seriously. Even the most generous evaluation of White Nationalism 1.0 says it was mostly a reaction to the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. It never came up with a plausible way forward politically or culturally. It was mostly old racists who just liked to complain.
Again, even if you manage to rehabilitate the language and symbols, you can’t get past the fact that prior efforts were a failure. A pretty good rule of life is that failure is assured if you follow in the footsteps of previous failures. It’s why adopting Nazi symbols is stupid. The Third Reich was most notable for being a disastrous failure. Associating your thing with failure is just bad marketing. It also tends to attract people who find some sort of satisfaction in losing. New Movements need need language and new symbols.
Putting all of that aside, prior iterations of white nationalism always suffered from the fact they were reactionary. At their very best, they could only offer a critique of the prevailing order. They had nothing to offer as an alternative, beyond demands to wind the clock backwards. Reactionary movements always fail in the long run for the simple reason that yesterday can never follow tomorrow. Even if everyone agrees the current arrangements are not working, what comes next is never a return to the old order.
That’s a problem not just for the white nationalists, but for everyone eager to see a second civil war in this country. Sure, you may successfully fight that war, you may see your enemies vanquished in it; you may even see the Leviathan State dismantled, its malign, suffocating influence destroyed for good. But there’s no guarantee that what will follow will be a restoration of the Constitutional order. In fact, if history is any guide, there’s every chance in the world that we’ll wind up with something much worse than what we now have, at least for a while.
Although it must be admitted that there would be much satisfaction in seeing our enemies vanquished just by itself, sure enough.