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21st Century Nationalism Is Not The Nation-State

As we witness the rise of populist-nationalist reformers all around the world, there is much confusion about what this nationalism actually means.  I get the impression that many think they are going back to the nationalism of an earlier time, but there is no resurrecting the past.
What we have called nationalism is the philosophy of the nation-state that arose in the 1860s.  Whether in Italy, Japan, or America we saw a vast expansion of state power and centralization enabled by the industrial revolution era technologies like the railroad and the telegraph.  The basic idea was that the country was divided up into departments handled by groups of bureaucrats in the capital city.  Mass public education inculcated all the nation’s children in the same values and eradicated local dialects and languages in favor of the speech of the capital province.  Germany hadn’t been united in any meaningful way for about 1000 years, Italy not since the Roman Empire. Regions had distinct cultures and often spoke tongues that were not even mutually intelligible.  All those differences had to go so humanity itself could be reduced to standardized parts in the machine.  The 20th century with radio, television and its mass mindless herd wars marked the high tide of centralization.  What people like to call “globalism” is just a worldwide version of the 19th century style nation-state.  The present nationalism is actually a reaction to what they see themselves as continuing in some way!  No wonder they are confused about their identity!  

The personal computer followed by internet has decentralized networks at a furious pace.  The 21st century is about unraveling the monoculture that has grown ever more uniform and dreary over the last 150 years.
Until modern communications, large clumsy bureaucracies always won.  Maybe 2 million men died because rubber stamps were put on the wrong forms, but the other 18 million would overwhelm the enemy.  In a world of telegraph and then radio there was no real counter to this zerg swarming strategy.
Now though, it is possible for even small, poorly equipped forces to outmaneuver clumsy centralized states indefinitely while inflicting a thousand paper cuts and letting the nation-state waste its energy throwing slow, painfully telegraphed punches at gnats until it gases out.  It’s like a claymation giant monster flailing around in vain to kill the heroes or Captain Kirk vs. the Gorn.  It’s a simple concept often called 4GW(4th generation warfare) to sound hip.  
By the early 2000s poor Arabs with home-made road bombs could outmaneuver the richest empire in history.  In the 2010s smartphones lead to the Arab Spring and Occupy followed by the Islamic State.
What we are seeing is an increase in the size of 4G organizations until we are looking at something on the scale of nation state with the flexibility of a small organization.  As it matures, this kind of system obsoletes the 19th century bureaucracy-bound nation-state.
The nationalist vs. globalist struggle we see across the developed world is the clash of established nation-states with 21st century decentralized networks.  As soon as we understand this it’s clear why the establishment is on the wrong side of history and why in spite of their overhwelming power they can only flap about in furious teary rage as their world falls apart.  There is a Tao of the universe and those who try to fight it, no matter how mighty, only exhaust themselves.
The election of Trump is only the beginning of their woes as his momentum carries over and they find themselves under siege in Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, France, and even Germany.

There is a new age upon us but it will not be a peaceful age.  While steadily dwindling wealth remained above a certain line and there was a USSR to scare people, unity went without serious challenge.  Since the year 2000 or so we’ve sunk towards the next dark age with rapidly shrinking wealth, low trust, low innovation, and stringent orthodox persecution of heretical ideas. Furthermore, in a nation-state that treats everyone like replaceable parts from cradle to grave no one feels like they really belong or really matter.  They plug into an economy to crank out production points for most of their waking time alive with no purpose in sight.  This purpose vacuum was waiting for something to fill it and modern communication brought down a Berlin Wall built from bricks of mechanistic nihilism.

It comes as no surprise then that the new organizations arising are very much like tribes.  What others call nationalism I call neo-tribalism.  As always some will benefit from change while others perish.  An age of tribes promises to be a savage one defined by groups fighting over scarce resources in a world where most niches are already over-saturated.

The main discussion between allied emerging tribes right now is what uniting principles will define the new nation-tribe.  Some believe it is about a civic polity, those who can participate at a net benefit for the whole.  Others believe that ethnicity will be the core.
I think both are right about some things but neither grasps the whole truth.  Disembodied communication allows humans to associate by natural predisposition and neurotype.  Some tribes will form coalitions of mutually beneficial types and in those coalitions there will be hierarchies of tribes.  In time, the tribal coalition becomes a caste system.

Above all, this means the end is coming for enlightenment philosophy that reduces all questions of society to the individual.  In the future, society will not be treated as a machine made of atoms, but as an organism made of cells. Societies themselves will finally be seen correctly as competing organisms in the wild rather than lifeless structures that interchangeable atoms happen to occupy.

The Future of Alt-Right Populism?

Let’s face it: Trump is behind.  I’ve waited for the nonsense after the conventions to die down but it seems like the race has stabilized at a 5-6 point gap.  I’ve heard all the typical complaints that polls are skewed but look where that got the wishful thinkers who wanted Romney to win.  I’m inclined to believe the average of the data that’s out there.  It’s easy to project one’s views onto other people but many Americans remain bewildered and horrified by the rise of Trump.  It’s possible a majority see him as a “racist,” an accusation that is steadily fading in power, but remains the modern equivalent of being called a “commie.”
Hillary has a coalition of single/professional white women, all minorities voting as a bloc, white male professionals, and a majority of college degree holders.  The reality is that this group is big enough to win and that the 2008 and 2012 elections conclusively demonstrate that “real Amurica” can no longer carry elections alone.  There are still enough Americans who have comfortable lives but are afraid of losing what they’ve got.  So their strategy is to turtle.  Those who are invested will double down on the status quo instead of supporting an upstart.
This race is by no means over, I suspect the debates will decide this contest—but if there isn’t a big change it looks as though Trump will lose.

A personality like Trump was necessary to tear down the increasingly out-of-touch opposition party but he might not end up being the one to rebuild it.  So I’ve been putting some thought into what a successful populist coalition would look like.
The core democrat constituency is obviously minorities and white yuppies, no use trying to convert large numbers of them.  The last desperate attempt of establishment republicans to be viable in a presidential election was to reach out to “natural conservatives” in the Hispanic population but all they accomplished was to alienate their base.

The most obvious low hanging fruit to grow a populist coalition are the discontented members of the alt-left.  Trump has focused his campaign rightly on the ills of blue collar Americans but I am surprised he hasn’t done more to exploit the opportunity revealed by Bernie Sanders’ unexpected popularity.  While successful professional whites may be core democrats, there are millions of frustrated educated whites who can’t get ahead.  They are the product of the last few decades of elite overproduction.  Just mentioning college loan forgiveness and restrictions on H1B visas would be a huge draw.  They’re already unhappy with the deal they’ve gotten from society but also feel that associating themselves with a blue collar movement will destroy whatever remaining chances they had of getting that lucky break into office cubicle wonderland.  To consider defection, they need reason to believe they’ll get a better deal than they’re getting now and that’s a pretty low bar.

The next group to focus on for defection might be those we call “model minorities.”  The new populist party is an explicitly white movement but like any non-majority political faction it needs to form coalitions with other groups to achieve common goals.  Ironically when the aspect of racial identity and racial interests is out in the open, rather than concealed and hinted at with “dog whistles” it will be more accepted.   Model minorities’ interests align better with working whites than they do with Blacks and Latin Americans.  This reality doesn’t seem to have dawned on them yet, they are still reacting to culture wars era paranoia.  The facts though, have a way of catching up.  Asians, Indians, other successful ethnic groups already occupy an awkward place in the democrat coalition, reminded of their “privilege” just like whites and blocked and discouraged from taking full advantage of affirmative action policies.  They are already told they aren’t “real” minorities.  They already suffer the same problems as whites when high crime groups move into their suburbs and devalue the property.  Model minorities are the ones who own most of the small businesses in dysfunctional neighborhoods.  The Sikh family that owns the corner store and the Koreans who run the liquor store can’t indulge in the same ivory tower thinking that predominates in yuppie land.

Beyond trying to grow a populist coalition, time is in its favor.  As the system continues to stagnate more will be disaffected enough to split away from the old system.  Every year, there’s fewer people living comfortable middle class lives.   The sprawling system of universities continues to exacerbate elite overproduction with every graduating class.  Even white professionals will begin to change their minds when they can no longer just shove all their problems on those who can’t afford to live in gated communities and shop at whole foods.  Right now the upper middle classes and their masters quite cynically use minorities to promote their interests over the working and lower middle classes.  They know there’s far too few of them to win elections in a democratic system so giving the “real” minorities unlimited bread and circuses gets them the votes they need.  However, the complete rejection of Bernie Sanders by the monolithic Black vote is a sign of things to come.  For the first time, a lot of democrat whites recoiled in shock as their preferences were flatly vetoed by those they had looked down on as loyal pets.  As minorities get more powerful their handlers will find themselves less able to control them.  When they finally lose control they will be forced to reconsider their alignment.

There is of course the possibility that no constructive political solution will be arrived at.  We stand at a crossroads.  The next few years will decide whether present issues can be resolved within the system or whether conflict will simply escalate.  In the case of a Hillary presidency, the status quo could be sustainable if she, like Obama, mostly limited her antagonism of red America to “clinging to guns and religion” mockery.  But looking back on her poor judgment and reckless belligerence as secretary of state, I have a feeling she will overextend. Furthermore, even were she as benevolent as can be hoped for, the laws that ban free association for whites while allowing it for everyone else and legal disincentives for healthy family formation will continue to chip away at the legitimacy of the social contract.  If Trump wins this, there will be nearly half the country that sees him as an illegitimate autocrat.  There will be an ugly struggle for power no matter who prevails in November.

See Also:  Trump and Sanders Are Part of the Same Political Movement
See Also:  Smart Racial Realism

 

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