Is it possible to have a republican nationalism that isn’t white nationalism? Even national conservatives don’t seem to know.
The weekend of July 19 differentiated the first National Conservative Conference. The powwow, hosted by the newly formed right-wing Edmund Burke Foundation, hoped to legitimize republican nationalism by both distinguishing it from the monetary, free-market monetary conservatism of Jeb Bush and the blood and soil rhetoric of neo-Nazis who paraded in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This is a thin line to walk, and after the conference of the parties, the question remains if staking out such a seat is possible.
For now, such a definition remains elusive. Attendees has pointed out that a lot of time was spent on what national conservatism is not. It is not neoconservatism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, or classic liberalism. It is not a conservatism that prioritizes financial policy, military adventurism, or individual liberties.
This is a conservatism that privileges national name. That is easy enough. The hard character is figuring out what exactly national conservatives make when they talk about this identity.
In his opening remarks, organizer David Brog said,” We are nationalistics , not white patriots ,” and added that anyone who” characterizes our American nation in terms of race” was just leaving.
Looking more closely at the words of the speakers, separating “nationalism” from “white nationalism” is easier said than done.
Law& Liberty editor Richard Reinsch, who attended the conference, spoke with the Daily Dot and defined the particulars of the movement. He said,” …national conservatism, I imagine, is still largely an attempt to rethink the convergence of nobilities around policies that seemed to devalue citizenship, strips, traditional norms and cultural rights appreciates, and the distinctiveness of the American nation .”
National conservatism has a similar schedule to the religious title: defining conservatism as culture firstly and economy second. But rather than an alone Christian structure, national reactionaries preach a secular affection of pedigree, society, country, and tradition.
Neoconservatism, by oppose, is defined by its free-market economics, viciou foreign policy, and globalist programs: economy firstly, culture second.
To prioritize culture in the absence of a state religion, the culture must be defined. And that was one of the projects of the conference. Reinsch told the Daily Dot:
” I think a positive position of the conference is that it is an attempt to undergird the distinctiveness of the nation-state and that is the thing we belong to and are attached to via remembrances, habits, and legends as Americans. If, at the end of the day, the only thing we have in common is that we have nothing in common that strikes me as disastrous. So I contemplate the emphasis is on what impels American citizenship and how do we continue the achievements of our American nation .”
The talkers undertook this idea from various directions. But, despite a multitude of speakers, the conference didn’t come up with a good answer for how this traditional, isolationist patriotism could exist outside of a profoundly lily-white nationalistic project.
Whether explicitly or implicitly, the speakers could not speak about nationalism without speaking about assimilation. And, often the language of assimilation ends a short step from xenophobia and bigotry.
Three of the four keynote speakers at the conference, all white-hot adults, have been accused of being lily-white patriots in the past. The refers John Bolton, Tucker Carlson, and Peter Thiel are synonymous with xenophobia for many parties. Bolton is a right-wing war hawk, Carlson an anti-immigrant Fox News host, and Thiel a tech director whose conglomerate, Palantir, is working hand-in-hand with ICE.
If there was a star of the proceedings who didn’t once have a huge profile, it was Sen. Josh Hawley( R-Mo .). Hawley caused a speech that went viral for its enunciate image of national conservatism. In a key line, Hawley resonated Reinsch’s vision, saying,” For years the policy of both Left and Right have been informed by a political consensus that manifests the interests not of the American middle, but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities .”
You could speak the period “cosmopolitan” as sense economically and socially elite, but cosmopolitan ranges are also known for being diverse and globally-minded.
Yes, the speech was filled with references to economic issues: he spoke to the opioid crisis, the flight of the manufacturing sector, the lack of opportunity in rural America, and stagnant payments. But, the senator also included some telling courses that crept towards xenophobia. Early in his observes, Hawley said,” Since the days of the city-state, the republican habit has always viewed self-government as a project bound to a particular place, practised by citizens loyal to that target and steadfast to the way of life they share together .”
In his hour-long keynote speech, Tucker Carlson offered a similarly desegregated send. The entitlement of his talk was ” Big Business Dislikes Your Family .”
In the pronunciation he postulated,” The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government anymore, but from private sector organizations .”
This presents a abrupt differ to the neoconservative thinking that has predominated the last half-century by extol the virtues of the private sector.
Like Hawley, Carlson trimmed his economic send with gestures to ignorance. He affected Rep. Ilhan Omar( D-Minn .) as” proof that the behavior we pattern migration has become risky to this country .”
Other talkers shifted even into more explicitly xenophobic territory.
National Review’s Rich Lowry said,” We should insist on the assimilation of immigrants into a common culture .”
Amy Wax, a right-wing professor who was punished by the University of Pennsylvania for fixing racist affirmations in an article, was even blunter.
She said,” Europe and the first world-wide, to which the United District belongs, remain mostly white for now, and the third world, although desegregated, contains a lot of nonwhite people. In effect, this intends taking the position that the country will be better off with more greys and fewer nonwhites .”
While these comments made some attendees shaky, some major gathering representations comes down to her justification. Conference organizer Yoram Hazony supported Wax.
Even the presumably more moderate people at the conference of the parties had trouble avoiding prejudiced notes. Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance said during his observes,” There are a lot of ways to measure a health society. But the practice that I evaluate a healthy society–the most important direction to criterion a healthful society–is whether the American nation is having fairly progenies to replace itself .”
It’s hard to see this line as far off from the abominable white supremacist chant,” You will not replace us .”
Sometimes white supremacists chant the line as” Jews will not replace us .”
There is also a similarity between this rhetoric and the” Great Replacement” lingo that has come out of neo-Nazi and alt-right curves. Recently, the El Paso shooter exerted this framing of migration in his manifesto.
Are strong, traditional categories, parishes, and place of worship the key to a better country? Those on the left would say no, but that is a tough question to answer. Even among republicans, there is disagreement about what is ” traditional” and what is American ” culture .”
The more pressing question for this movement is whether it is possible to have national conservatism without racism and xenophobia. If the project is aimed at emphasizing traditional American ideas of family, community, and doctrine, in the minds of many of the conference loudspeakers, those standards clearly gape extremely grey.
Some attendees left the conference feeling idealistic about national conservatism. Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner and the American Enterprise Institute told the Daily Dot,” I speculate the future of national conservatism is pretty robust, partly because the label places in some historic perspective these principles and stances of President Trump .”
From the outside sounding in, it is hard to agree with this optimism. Beyond the fact that the word is problematic, it is hard to imagine it developing in a alliance larger than Trump’s, which lost the favourite elect.
Not merely does this brand of nationalism omit minorities, it excludes their “cosmopolitan” sympathizers and republicans who care more about low-pitched taxes than high concentrations of cultural heritage.
Like the MAGA movement, national conservatism seems to live in an imaginary America. In the actual America, the vast majority of citizens live in cities, or cosmopolitan arenas. It is difficult to imagine numerous collaborators for the movement who weren’t in attendance at the conference.
This is the conundrum of national conservatism: they want to entrench a culture that doesn’t exist. Francis Buckley, a republican philosopher skeptical of the conference of the parties, summarized up their own problems succinctly in an email to The Daily Dot.
Buckley wrote,” They enjoy America. It’s just Americans they shun .”