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New Politics for a New Polity


New Politics for a New Polity

The recent EU elections have revealed a latent truth: the anti-immigrant language that only a few years ago appeared relegated to the fringes has taken center stage. RN in France, AfD in Germany, FPO in Austria, and Fratelli D’Italia in Italy all came away with massive victories in the recent parliamentary elections. These results would not be possible with fringe votes alone. This suggests that a good chunk of normal, well-to-do Europeans have come to support these ideas about immigration. Since Trump’s 2016 campaign, of course, immigration has been a mainstay of American political dialogue. Since then, more and more serious thinkers—and even ordinary people from across the political spectrum, including black New Yorkers feeling snubbed by their city’s apparent preference for illegal immigrants—have begun uttering these ideas in mainstream discourse. But the strongest voices against it are still relegated to the fringes; and the average American, regardless of party, usually remains incapable of cogently voicing strong opposition to immigration. And those that do question immigration—even those in positions of prestige—are promptly punished. For example, when UPenn Law Professor, Amy Wax, said in January of 2022 that the United States would be “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration,” and that “American universities should primarily educate American citizens,” the corporate media and various NGOs reacted with their characteristic histrionics. And the university has now sanctioned her, and may still seek to remove her tenure.

The same cries of outrage came in 2021 in response to Arizona Representative Paul Gosar’s interest in forming an “America First” caucus, which stated a commitment to “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” The thing is, most Americans seemed to agree with the negative reactions.  After all, these ideas just seemed too weird and offensive. This uniquely 21st-century western liberal inability to recognize the real challenge of racial and cultural diversity—and the value of defining and protecting some sort of ethnic equilibrium—has become near-doctrinal in the United States. And it prevents normal, conscientious citizens from being able to defend and explain their instinctual opposition to seeing their neighborhoods turn into Little Somalia or Guatemala. If we want the sort of success we are starting to see in Europe, we need the average White American to feel “okay” advancing these ideas.

Looking outside U.S. and European history—which “normal” people feel is rife with White supremacism—is a helfpul way to provide such people with rhetorical cover for their anti-immigrant intuitions. As one example, I suggest looking at the independence history of Latin America—particularly that of the Bolivaran nations.

Simón Bolívar, in his efforts to expel Spain from Latin America and forge a new nation, was keenly aware of the racial and cultural realities that challenged his goals for the region, and his ideas provide insight to modern-day Americans who live in a country that makes the modern Bolivarian nations look homogenous by comparison. Bolívar recognized the inherent political danger of ethnic diversity and asserted that governments must be structured and policies instituted to moderate this danger and also reflect the nature of the polity. By better understanding Bolívar’s perspective on the challenge of diversity and the role of the state in moderating it, we can begin to ask ourselves questions that might lead to better outcomes that directly address the reality that so many Americans choose to ignore.

After a second failed attempt to overthrow the Spanish crown, Bolívar, exiled in Jamaica, wrote his now famous Carta de Jamaica—a crisp, prescient letter of political theory. In it, he imagined the creation of the Panama Canal and several other conflicts in other parts of Latin America. He also provided one of the first, clearest expression of Latin American ethnic identity in history, writing,

Our people are nothing like Europeans or North Americans; indeed, we are more a mixture of Africa and America than we are children of Europe… It is impossible to say with any certainty to which human race we belong.

In recognizing a distinct, Latin American identity, Bolívar also understood the  complex racial casta structure within that identity, with peninsulares (Spain-born citizens) at the top, followed by creoles (American-born of pure Iberian descent), followed by various other sub distinctions that often overlapped, like mestizos (Indian-Spaniard mix), mulattos (African-European mix), and pardos (African-Indian-European). Outside of this complex inner-hierarchy of Latin Americans also resided pure negros and indios.

Bolívar recognized the challenge that his fledgling nation faced in attempting to create a stable society given the complex multi-racial and multi-ethnic make up of the region. Seeing the difficulties in communication and mutual understanding between the groups, he knew that political safeguards were necessary. Famous bloody slave revolts—like those of Santo Domingo in 1521 or Curaçao in 1795—further suggested to Bolívar that racial resentment was a real risk to social stability.

A similar concern, of course, was raised by southerners during the United States’s slave era. One could hardly blame slaves for experiencing resentment and looking for the first chance to make their former masters pay. This was the subject of Jefferson’s famous quotation: “[W]e have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” But, while such an argument coming from Mighty Anglos might ring hollow to most modern Americans, the same concern expressed by a Latin American abolitionist and independence hero might strike them as more persuasive. But the point is the same: If resentful, stupid, and marginalized people suddenly wield political power, it is not absurd to suppose that they might use such power to the detriment of the ruling class, its achievements, and upend the already delicate social order to the detriment of the nation. Just look at the misery of the many “succesfully” decolonized countries around the world. Placed in the context of modern America, consider the way that anti-white, anti-Western sentiment has been stoked among ethnic minority groups and immigrants by the left. Indeed, such sentiment seems the only source of the unlikely alliances on the modern left, for example between the Palestinian protesters and Pride protesters. Broadly, we have seen the consequences that occur when these people exert political influence—the state of modern American cities is a testament to this error. If allowed even more political influence, what more would they do?

Bolívar also recognized the challenge presented by the differences between the various ethnic groups. Like everyone until about sixty years ago, Bolívar looked around at the world and noticed that different ethnic populations were different and that these differences affect social cohesion by impacting mutual understanding, trust, values, and communication between community members. After liberating Alto Perú, which would become modern day Bolívia, Bolívar aimed to incorporate it into La Gran Colombia—his confederate nation including modern day Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Panama. The problem, however, was that a large percentage of the Alto Perú population was illiterate, indigenous, and spoke only quechúa. How could the incipient Latin American social and political order be maintained if these quechuas were immediately given political control? Surely Bolívar didn’t have a duty to risk the implosion of the new and fragile Latin American social order that he and his men had just fought so hard to obtain.

His solution was to create a constitution that established a two-tiered citizenship, reserving some political rights, like direct voting, for literate peoples, thereby restricting indigenous participation in the newly formed government. Bolívar didn’t do this out of racial animus; he did it out of a desire to preserve the social order that he fought to attain, and he saw it as a temporary measure to be adopted until the quechuas were able to participate effectively and as part of the Latin American polity. This should not surprise a clear thinker. The relationship between race and social cohesion is clear to anyone who compares the United States or the United Kingdom to ethnically homogenous countries like Norway or Japan.

An important point to underscore here—and a secondary Bolivaran insight–is that none of these observations require appeal to any notions of ethnic superiority. Bolívar’s sympathy for slave and indigenous suffering is well-documented, and his many deep friendships with people across the casta spectrum attest to his affection and respect for the different ethnicities within his country. His lifetime connection to Hipólita, the slave matron of the Bolívar household, also attests to this fact. Bolívar made no attempts at ethnic cleansing or removal—indeed, he seemed to love his nation as it was. He merely recognized the threat that racial and ethnic diversity posed and claimed the right to construct political strategies to moderate and control this threat so as to protect the achievements of the political class—the class that built everything—and the moral integrity of the new nation. Such political strategies included freedom for all negro men who fought for indepdendence, the banning of the slave trade, and the implementation of policies to slowly effect the emancipation of all slaves by 1851(fourteen years before final abolition in the United States). He also constructed strict immigration rules and restricted full citizenry to some members of the population (e.g. the quechúas in Bolivia).

This same insight can be applied to modern America. For example, none should lament or attack the natural, existing make-up of the American southwest—where centuries of Spanish, Mexican, Indian, and Anglo-American cultures have together shaped the region. Pretty, mostly white college girls with three generations of U.S. citizenship and the last name of Gómez are not in our crosshairs. One can celebrate this steady, subtle, centuries-long cultural fusion while recognizing the danger posed by unstrategic immigration policy that subverts the rule of law and challenges social cohesion and economic systems. Similarly, jokes about employing Lincoln’s Liberia strategy aside, blacks descended from American slaves are part of this country and its history, and we ought to aim for realistic policies that result in their success. The better they do for themselves, the better off we all are. As Steve Sailer has pointed out for decades, American blacks are often the class of people harmed most by unrestrained immigration. What Bolívar understood—and what we should understand—is that this process of acculturation must be handled with political tact and a measured hand—and that not all talk of preserving a certain ethnic proportion to maintain stability and protect the achievements of the ruling class entails ideas of racial superiority.

Lastly, and most importantly, Bolívar understood that politics must reflect the polity. In considering the best form of government for La Gran Colombia, Bolívar rejected the American Republican system. He thought it was not suited his People. He wrote,

The events of the mainland have proved that perfectly representative institutions do not agree with our character, habits, and present state of enlightenment…. So long as our fellow citizens do not acquire the talents and the political virtues which distinguish our brothers of the North, who have a system of government altogether popular in character, I am very much afraid these institutions might lead to our ruin instead of aiding us.

This idea—that certain forms of government demand individual virtue—is as old as Plato’s Republic and was often repeated by American Founders as a key consideration in forming that government. According to Bolívar, in the late 18th century, U.S. Americans were ready for a representative government, and yet Latin Americans were not. Of concern to Bolívar were some of the issues already mentioned: racial resentment due to Spanish brutality, indigenous illiteracy, as well as a general moral corruption and lack of social cohesion. Instead of following the American model (or English model), he proposed a government divided into four branches: executive, legislative, judicial, and moral. The executive was to hold plenary, dictatorial powers. He was also to hold his office for life, although it would not pass hereditarily. The moral branch (El poder moral) of government was a uniquely Bolivaran idea, born from his belief that the virtue of the citizenry was currently wanting and its improvement essential to the wellbeing of the nation. It would be a cohort of exemplary, virtuous, religious men who would educate the citizenry and protect the culture from moral corruption. Bolívar proposed a more heavy-handed government out of necessity because he felt the people were neither morally nor spiritually ready for a more democratic government. We need not necessarily accept Bolívar’s political solutions—but I do think that we ought to recognize that he identified the right problems and the need for political solutions.

Two hundred years after Bolívar’s comments about American republicanism, modern America bears more resemblance to Latin America than the country of its Anglo-American forebears. Yet, our intellectual traditions—our legal system, our politics, and our academic institutions—along with our ruling class, largely continue to preserve the Anglo-American tradition of our Founding. Immigrants, whatever other goods they may bring, threaten this tradition by bringing different religions, values, behaviors, and histories. By studying Bolívar, Americans can recognize that loose and non-strategic immigration policy upsets this balance and risks destruction of our nation’s cultural and economic accomplishments. Such an approach is dangerous and unethical. Bolívar’s legacy also shows that this fact alone entails no appeal to theories of racial superiority but only realities of group stability, cohesion, and the rational desire to protect one’s political achievements and investment-backed expectations about his progeny and his nation. These are simple reasons (from an inoffensive source) that your average White American can get behind. And armed with a morally defensible position, such voters could provide the support needed to get common-sense reforms—like mass deportations, asylum reform, and merit-based immigration policies—away from the fringe and smack-dab in the middle of the conversation.

Lastly, assuming the rate of demographic change and general social degradation continues, a time may come—or maybe it already has—when we ought to ask ourselves the Bolivaran question: Do our politics still reflect our polity? If the answer is a resounding no, then perhaps more drastic steps will be required.

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