“To rectify the relation that exists between two men, is there no method, then, but that of ending it? The old relation has become unsuitable, obsolete, perhaps unjust; and the remedy is, abolish it; let there henceforth be no relation at all. From the ‘sacrament of marriage’ downwards, human beings used to be manifoldly related one to another, and each to all; and there was no relation among human beings, just or unjust, that had not its grievances and its difficulties, its necessities on both sides to bear and forbear. But henceforth, be it known, we have changed all that by favor of Heaven; the ‘voluntary principle’ has come up, which will itself do the business for us; and now let a new sacrament, that of Divorce, which we call emancipation, and spout of on our platforms, be universally the order of the day!Have men considered whither all this is tending, and what it certainly enough betokens? Cut every human relation that has any where grown uneasy sheer asunder; reduce whatsoever was compulsory to voluntary, whatsoever was permanent among us to the condition of the nomadic; in other words, LOOSEN BY ASSIDUOUS WEDGES, in every joint, the whole fabrice of social existence, stone from stone, till at last, all lie now quite loose enough, it can, as we already see in most countries, be overset by sudden outburst of revolutionary rage; and lying as mere mountains of anarchic rubbish, solicit you to sing Fraternity, &c. over it, and rejoice in the now remarkable era of human progress we have arrived at.”
— Thomas Carlyle
Here is a rough summary of my POV:
White identity used to be a key pillar of American identity. It was part of a greater package which once included Anglo-Saxon culture, the Protestant religion and the republican form of government. Originally, there was no conflict between “civic nationalism” and “racial nationalism” because to be an American meant being a White Anglo-Protestant with liberal and republican political principles.
Liberalism was also once another facet of American identity. The American Revolution was justified on the basis of an appeal to natural rights (life, liberty and property) which were being threatened by the British Crown. The Bill of Rights severely restricted the power of the federal government while reserving vast powers to the states under the Tenth Amendment. Federalism was another facet of American identity. The Founders considered political power a problem and a menace to liberty which is why they divided power between the three branches of the federal government and between the states and federal government. The “classical liberalism” of the Founding operated at the federal level. It restricted the power of the federal government and functioned to smooth over cultural differences between the states and to prevent one section from dominating and threatening the liberty of other sections.
At the state level, which was not protected by the Bill of Rights and which only restricted the power of Congress, there used to be established state churches. Slaves, of course, were forbidden to own firearms, drink intoxicating liquors or to travel without the permission of their masters. The states defined their own citizens who were citizens of the United States by extension and controlled voting rights. The Free Press was even restricted. Southern states censored the mail and refused to distribute abolitionist pamphlets. There was no such thing as civil equality, political equality and especially social equality at the state level. Insofar as equality existed at all in the American system of government, it only existed between the sovereign states in the U.S. Senate. South Carolina was the equal of New York, but the people in South Carolina were not equals and did not have anything close to the same rights.
Over the course of 230 years, the liberal element of American identity has gradually expanded at the expense of the other original elements. This process greatly accelerated in the wake of the Great Depression and World War II in which modern liberals emerged triumphant at the apex of the New Deal coalition. White identity was declared “racist” and was orphaned and read out of American identity by the ascendant liberal establishment. Liberals discovered that something called “racism” existed and was the worst thing in the world in the struggle against Hitler’s Germany. They were already moving in this direction in the wake of World War I, but it was the context of the Great Depression and World War II that gave them the political and cultural power to impose this view on the nation at large.
In between the 1970s and 2000s, the liberal establishment under the influence of modernism, which is an anti-traditional cultural sensibility that romanticizes self-expression, began to unload other aspects of American identity. Anglo-Saxon culture was dumped in favor of multiculturalism. Christianity was also cast off in favor of secularism. Protestantism had been dumped in favor of Christianity and “Judeo-Christianity” in the JFK era. Ecumenicism was a major fad among liberal elites in the mid-20th century.
In this Dark Age between the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of the internet, defeated and despairing White Americans who had been pushed to the political fringe took an orphaned fragment of American identity and rebranded themselves as White Nationalists. They tried to create a viable political movement on the basis of nothing but White identity. It is worth contrasting what they are trying to do with the 1920s era Klan. The Second Klan was a Protestant movement which was deeply invested in cultural and moral issues like supporting Prohibition. They marched around with American flags. White identity was part of what the Klan believed, but it wasn’t by any means the only thing. The Klan saw itself as defending America. They were super Americans. In contrast, White Nationalists are motivated by the dream of a nebulous, abstract “White ethnostate.” They can’t even tell you where it is.
The liberal establishment is now in the process of dumping republicanism in much the same way that it dumped White identity, Anglo-Saxon culture, Protestantism and Christianity in the late 20th century. The New York Times recently ran an Op-Ed from two Harvard and Yale law professors who want to get rid of the Constitution. It is now commonplace to hear calls from liberals to abolish the Senate, abolish the Electoral College, to pack the Senate with new states, to pack the Supreme Court with new judges, to repeal the Bill of Rights and especially the Second Amendment in order to increase the political power of liberal elites who live on the coasts. These people now support toppling statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt and other heroes and republican icons from the irredeemable racist past. Presumably, they believe the country will remain united by nothing but pure liberalism.
As our liberal elites sail off into the bold, new progressive future, they leave behind millions of alienated people in flyover country who refuse to join them on this voyage. Some of these people are angry because they want to live in a White country and pass that on to their descendants. Some of these people are angry because they no longer see Christianity reflected in “mainstream” culture. Some of these people have no interest in living under a regime which is no longer shackled by the Constitution. Fundamentally, all of these disparate groups are reacting to the same thing though, which is that the liberal establishment has created a massive national identity crisis by severing every thread of social cohesion. It has done this because it has no use for tradition and values change and novelty seeking for its own sake.
They have just kind of assumed that this will work. Conservatives will knuckle under and go along with it as they always do. The “arc of history” bends toward progress. It seemed to be working for a long time, but they have pushed too hard and too fast and have created too much social instability. You could say their little ship sailed over the horizon and got lost and separated from the rest of America.
We’re now in the process of finding out whether a nation that doesn’t share a common race, ethnicity, religion, culture, morality, myths, heroes or even an ideology can remain united. That’s how I look at White Nationalism. It is part of a larger story of how liberal elites have been deconstructing American identity over the past century. Imagine a F-5 tornado hitting a barn in Kansas and finding the door of the barn over here and part of the wall a few miles down the road and the roof of the barn over there. Various groups are trying to reconstruct the barn based on fragments. Meanwhile, there are people who are celebrating the destruction of the barn to its foundations as the dawn of a glorious new era of progress.