Sunday, July 10, 2016

A richer sense of belonging

I'm not sure what to make of this. Ian Tuttle is a young National Review writer, who, as you might expect, is generally an "establicon" in his politics (aka a right-liberal). His column on Brexit, though, is surprisingly good:
Liberal cosmopolitanism, regnant since the end of the Cold War, has bought completely into its own rightness. It is entirely devoted to an increasingly borderless political future carefully managed by technocrats and tempered by “compassion” and “tolerance” — all of which aims at the maximal amount of material prosperity. It sees no other alternative than that we will all, eventually, be “citizens of the world,” and assumes that everyone will be happier that way.

It’s not unreasonable to think otherwise. Anti-EU movements and renewed nationalism in the United States are on the rise precisely because they offer alternatives to this self-assured order. It’s not clear whether a United Kingdom withdrawn from the EU will be better off. But it’s entirely defensible to think that it might be. Likewise, it’s not unreasonable to prefer loyalties rooted in close-knit interactions among people who share a particular space and a particular history. Or to prefer local rule to government outsourced to distant bureaucracies. Or to prefer a richer sense of belonging than interaction in a common market. There are alternatives to a transnational super-state that are not fascism.

The inability of our political leaders to envision political futures other than the one to which they are wedded has facilitated the polarization, and the unresponsiveness, of our politics. That people are now looking for alternatives is, in fact, entirely reasonable.

This is not what you'd generally expect from a right-liberal. Right-liberals want a liberal society to be regulated by the market rather than by bureaucracy. Tuttle is making a criticism of both options in his post, as leaving out too much.

Perhaps there are some on the establishment right who see that the world order being created is a heavily bureaucratic, stifling one and so prefer the national option to be preserved and who can see that "market participation" is not a sufficient argument for preserving national existence (markets, after all, can easily be transnational).

Tuttle therefore makes an argument for local (i.e. national) loyalties and government. Tuttle is a right-liberal so I do not believe he supports ethnonationalism, but his argument for local loyalties does at least overlap with an argument for ties of ethnicity ("loyalties rooted in close-knit interactions among people who share a particular space and a particular history"..."a richer sense of belonging than interaction in a common market").

8 comments:

  1. Yeah we seemed to have reached a turning point, where taboo subjects are no longer taboo. Good to see.

    "The old myth that economics trumps culture should be considered dead."

    https://twitter.com/clairlemon/status/748314498641977345

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  2. It's an interesting and needed development. But where is there to go for the liberal concerned with hyper-globalisation? Civic nationalism? Current order will do all it can to prevent the popularisation of the notion that European peoples should be left alone to self govern in their homelands.

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    1. Good question. Right liberals have up to now been content with civic nationalism (people bonded together by a commitment to liberal political institutions and values). It's possible that some might come to realise that this is too "thin" to sustain a national identity. They will not go as far as endorsing a traditional, ethnic based nationalism, but Tuttle does at least speak about the importance of attachment and shared history. It could at least open up some political space.

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  3. I've noticed that in the past few years there's been a questioning of right liberal orthodoxy among its younger members. Nothing strong or particularly effective, but it's there all the same. Perhaps after decades of a soulless, detached market-based philosophy, right liberalism is too empty to attract new members. It's clearly aging: the average age of the right liberal establishment is creeping up. There are very few young intellects in right liberalism.

    Maybe this provides an opening for a new intellectual movement.

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    1. There is a movement already; it's called the alt-right. Quite the grab-bag of interests at the moment, but the main takeaway for me has been their general willingness to not back down from a fight; where once tolerant conservative voices would instantly seek reconciliation and observance of principle / polite discourse as a substitute to actually winning their battles (PLEASE DON'T CALL US RACIST PRETTY PLEASE!)

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  4. I wouldn't call the alt-right a movement, per se. At the moment, it's more of a large reaction to the replacement of native western peoples and to managerial liberalism. It doesn't have any particular unity because it consists of multiple groups with multiple starting points. That they all, at present, point to the same place doesn't guarantee unity. I expect over time they'll diverge, as the common enemy weakens. Without him, their differences will be accentuated.

    This is not a wholesale criticism. The alt-right is being very helpful, especially with regards to Trump. But I don't think it has a very long shelf-life.

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    1. Yes I agree it's not a coherent movement as such. I don't think kooky monarchists and (incoherent) white nationalists are going to be best bedfellows. It's probably to the right's advantage right now that there isn't a cohesive, readily identifiable block for liberals to attack. I see it a bit like a chaotic bush fire clearing space for new growth.

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    2. It's probably to the right's advantage right now that there isn't a cohesive, readily identifiable block for liberals to attack.

      I think that's a valid point.

      Also the trouble with cohesive political movements is that they can quickly become absorbed into the mainstream. Perhaps at this point in time what we need is chaotic dissidence.

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