The lowest part of the wave, sucking the cold water from the sea bottom and thrusting it upward in a roiling tempest, is culture. Cultural change drives political and social change. Above that a milder current rises to just below the surface and getting swept up in the momentum, is economics, which follows the will of the people as expressed in culture. Finally in the water warmed by the sun at the top is politics, which translates those forces into vectors of manipulation that keep the population motivated.
War is properly viewed as a continuation of politics, not its cessation. Life is constructed so that struggle is a constant, and the threat of war is the real weapon; when diplomacy is no longer possible, war is used to manipulate the opposition into a position where the original political aims are achievable. This is why it is possible to win battles, but lose the war, or lose the war and yet win the peace or the political war.
Most people now acknowledge that the Cold War wars (Korea, Viet Nam) were extensions of the power balance left over when the fighting stopped in WWII. They even recognize that WWII is probably best viewed as a continuation of WWI, itself a continuation of the Nation-State wars of the previous 75 years. What sparked these wars? Two generations before that, the French and American revolutions overthrew the old world order and instituted a new one, comprised of egalitarianism and internationalism.
Egalitarianism is the idea that each person is politically equal and must be considered a contender for any task, based on nothing more than their success in our economic and social systems. With equality, if a student gets good grades, he’s the man for the job, even if his character is lacking or he wants underlying wisdom. There would no longer be hereditary roles in which social elites, formed from a preservation and nurturing of the wisest and boldest, maintained society. Instead, it was a vast flat hierarchy that offered all a chance to rise by obediently jumping through its hoops and/or becoming popular.
This shakeup overthrew the order of Europe, but it took centuries to shake out. In the meantime, nations based on heritage were re-arranged into nation-states, or political groupings based on geography and ideology. This was a settling of affairs designed to preserve some power structures intact so that social chaos did not take over. Since that time, our societies have undergone gradual change in which conflicts arise and are answered with the liberal principle. Whatever enables more individualistic action, and breaks down more barriers, is good; anything else is bad.
We really got into hot water in the 1930s, when the post-WWI economic collapse coupled with shakeout from the social changes of the nihilistic 20s saw a leftward shift in Europe and the USA. For many it finally became clear that if we dip our toes in the water of moderate or even mild leftism, eventually the whole body will be drawn in. This is because leftism is an absolutist ideology; it sees only one way — progress, more individualism, fewer borders — against everything else. It opposes culture, because it rewards some for complex understandings of nuanced organic rules, and thus is hierarchical. It opposes national boundaries, race, class, gender and any other distinctions. It will only be happy when all people are equal in ability and thus no possible tension can exist between them.
WWII became a battle waged by the “free world” against the nationalist powers of Italy, Germany and Japan. The free world was all nation-states, based on a geographical idea and not heritage and culture. The nationalist states used that older but more natural measurement. As a result, this was not so much a war of states as a war of systems of government. It ended in defeat for the Axis powers, who fought bravely but recklessly, and with revelations of the Holocaust which rapidly became a rallying cry against racism. It thus mirrored the Anglo-American struggle of the previous century which eventually caused vast class instability in Great Britain and a disastrous Civil War in the United States.
For this reason, the dogma of the French Revolution can be seen as a snowball. Its original concept of equality caused the revolutionaries to distrust national boundaries and racial or class distinctions; mixed in with the pro-“freedom” dogma of the American revolution and then American Civil War, the snowball expanded the reach of liberal policies to oppose any distinctions made by heritage. When this political juggernaut ran into the nationalists, it quickly became a rallying cry that the idea of identity, of race, of heritage and of the nation as anything but a mixed-race, mixed-class, genderless political entity was oppression like that of Hitler.
This new view merged liberal democracy with the socialist state, because both capitalism/consumerism and welfare benefits supported the right of individuals to be equal and free of consequences. It was such a final, perfected total state that Francis Fukuyama called it “the end of history” and claimed no further development would exist, although somewhat wistfully. Others saw its dark side: Vaclav Havel noted how the best systems of control were invisible and based on group allegiance, Aldous Huxley saw how a distracted population became the weapon of control itself, and William S. Burroughs saw how economics and social isolation were bigger threats that a police state could muster.
Intellectuals in the West adopted this idea because it seemed like a good thing to do. I was one, once. We thought that if we extended the liberal concepts of equality and fraternity to mean internationalism and multiculturalism, and added a strong welfare state and consumerist component to make society a facilitator of the dreams of individuals, everyone would be fairly treated. Thus no conflict would exist. Thus we would move to pacifism, progress and new levels of equality and equal respect.
The one problem with this vision is that it was the opposite of what it said it was. Anti-fashion is after all a fashion, and anti-hierarchy naturally creates a hierarchy. Anti-oppression and anti-intolerance require strong forces to administer those absolute rules forcibly. In fact, liberalism was an identical version of what the worst tyrant king might administer, except that its goals were universal and political and not localized to one community.
Starting in the early 2000s, cynicism about this vision began to rise. People pointed out that for 200 years, we had been proceeding in a single direction with only a question of degree changing over the years. They pointed out that we too were heading in the direction of the Soviets, where ideology became more important than results in reality. It was also noted that for those past 200 years since the French Revolution, no one had considered any really different path from a liberal system. When things went wrong, we assumed that our methods were wrong. With the global economic and social implosion of the 2000s, it became clear that our goals were wrong. Liberalism was indeed in for a penny, in for a pound, and the moment it was adopted the path toward a Soviet-style system was undertaken.
Even more importantly, in 2008 the United States elected its first black president. In fact, that’s about all anyone knew about the campaign. The aging and incoherent John McCain seemed like a symbol for an old white male order that was dying. Barack Obama brought a violation of everything that order had ever stood for: Muslim name, African heritage, Socialist leanings and identification with popular culture. He was The People’s Candidate, and since the 1965 immigration act that opened the immigration roster to the third world, he resembled a lot of these new voters more than the old white guys who build the West.
But as the happy feelings faded away, people began to see the grim reality: all leftist systems operate by sacrificing everything else at the altar of equality, which can only be achieved by hobbling the above-equal with regulations while simultaneously empowering the below-equal with welfare, subsidies, quotas and other “well-intentioned” social justice programs. LBJ’s “great society” ideas were re-created time and again in American and European social programs. The defining moment of the Barack Obama presidency was his decision to slash funding for space exploration so that social benefits, including healthcare, could be promoted in the name of our poorest, non-whitest, and least vested citizens.
At this moment, the wisdom of the old order began to shine through. People started to see how diversity itself was the problem. One group will be richer than others, and under a leftist regime, wealth will be transferred and enmity both ways will result. Without culture, all that holds a nation together is a government and its nanny state police force. But most of all, when we have no values in common, we’re going to cut out everything but programs to help the poorest or least-majority, because it’s considered impolite and hateful to not support those.
In contrast, under an organic order the nation is composed of people with more in common than not, genetically. They share a heritage in addition to a culture and the values, customs, rituals, events and sayings that go with it. It’s not a political choice, but a way of life, and this cultural mandate does what no amount of police officers can do: it keeps people mostly in line by making them want the estimation of their neighbors. Of course, it’s less “free” than a semi-anarchic welfare-nanny state. You can’t just do anything and still get a welfare check or be unable to be fired from your make-work job. But you do have a social role, a place and clarity about what to do to be rewarded.
The one obstacle to adopting this program was the opposition to anything reeking of nationalism by not only our elites, but our average citizens. They had grown up on a steady diet of the Civil War, the Holocaust and the fight against vicious Klan racists in the American South. In their minds, nationalism meant racism. This was convenient because most of these people already opposed anything but a liberal system of equality, because they feared being found less-equal and being penalized.
Luckily two events have changed that. First, as the world recession deepens, we see that following government programs, hiring diversity directors, measuring success by how many women you hire, and building a system on what the masses want to do to entertain themselves instead of building solid products is a clear path to economic, political and social irrelevance. When the USA killed its space program, the true cost of liberalism was revealed. You can be equal, but in doing so, you have removed the desire for supremacy of results that made your nation great and replaced it with complacency and narcissism.
Second, the poster children for the horrors of inequality and racism, the Jewish people, have found themselves in the role they thought was reserved for the Germans. Much like pre-war Germany, Israel is comprised of a whiter and wealthier population and a darker and poorer one. The state founded for the preservation of the Jewish people, as a religion, culture and race, finds itself having to exclude these darker people so they don’t outbreed the whiter population and replace it, effectively committing genocide through outbreeding. As a result, Israel has adopted a form of natonalism called Zionism which essentially insists on “one race, one nation.” The former enemies of nationalism are now advocating it as a solution to racial intolerance, genocide and bigotry.
As a result, Israel has become a leading voice for renewing nationalism — in effect, going back to the order that the losing side wanted in WWI and WWII. Without nationalism, Jews get replaced by those who want to share the wealth of Israel. Without nationalism, Europeans get replaced by those who want to share the wealth of Europe. Without nationalism, Americans and Canadians become an unruly mob of indeterminate heritage and no shared values, resulting in a third-world society.
World Wars I and II are finally over thanks to this change. History has decided what the wars did not: Israel for Jews, Germany for Germans. The end of equality and internationalism. White power equals black power equals Zionism equals the only world order that will make a society we want to live in. The conflict that divided us for two world wars is now over. We can let go of those wars, bury the dead, shed the last tears, purge the guilt and move on to new challenges.
The new is the old now and the old is the new. It’s hard to see because it’s still on the horizon but coming fast. The era just changed while we were barely watching. History isn’t over; it’s just begun.