You Can’t Take Back America But You Can Join the Tribe
The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a symbolic referendum on the identity of America, with neoliberal elites arrogantly viewing Biden’s election as a mandate for a new America that is less White and Christian and has a woke internationalist value system. This vision is in stark contrast with the vision that originally inspired Trump voters: the MAGA concept of taking back America based on an ideal of the nation’s former glory.
The liberal establishment’s framing is not anti-American, however but a new form of patriotism. The Inaugural poem, for instance, like the play Hamilton, appealed to a sort of woke patriotism. In a similar vein, last month’s riots on Capitol Hill and contested election claims were declared by the media and establishment as an act of sedition and treason against the nation and its institutions, appealing to patriotism towards the new America. Thus Whiteness and loyalty to symbols and values of the past are “unpatriotic”. The party that just months ago during the George Floyd protests waxed sympathetic to rioters who would burn American flags in the street, seems to be on a major pro-America kick since Biden’s inauguration.
The degree to which Trump and the take back America mentality was responsible for the unrest in DC is open for debate but the narrative promoted by Trump about a stolen election lacked substantial legal backing and was for the most part, a cope. There were many reasons Trump lost, including losing much of his original populist appeal on top of rapid demographic change in swing states.
This new era symbolically coincides with an overall sense of decline and a strong sense of pessimism across the political spectrum. Polls show that younger Americans are overall less patriotic, not identifying as strongly as American as a core part of their identity, and many democratic voters support changing the symbols of America. Wokeness has accelerated and satiated all major institutions and the majority of US children are already of color, guaranteeing a non-White majority by Mid-Century.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Tweet, “Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker.”
Pompeo’s statement is standard color blind civic nationalism and basically a cope for conservatives. We are beyond the point of no return for one unified America and must accept the new reality, with its perils, that identity politics and tribalism are an inevitable part of America’s future.
Trump could very well be the last gasp of Americanism and his last act in office was pardoning rappers and politically connected white collar criminals leaving his core supporters demoralized and feeling like a stateless people rather than core Americans.
Initially there was an implicit Whiteness to MAGA and therefore the woke left viewed the concept of “taking back America” as a dog whistle to make the nation White again. While it wasn’t explicit blood and soil nationalism, MAGA was—and is—tribalism based around the Cult of Personality of Trump, with distinct insignia such as red hats and blue flags, and on the idea that Trump voters were in fact the true Americans because of their values
Trump voters are part of the red tribe in contrast with the blue tribe, that Scott Alexander wrote about. This goes beyond politics with the blue and red tribes having different lifestyle, cultural and aesthetic preferences and moral values. Thus the rival blue tribe were viewed as usurpers of America, regardless of their ethnicity or citizenship status.
This is in contrast with the past when both democratic and republican voters viewed each other as neighbors, equally part of the same nation who could respectfully disagree about politics while sharing the same culture and value system. Americans now fear each other more than ever so the idea of one united America based upon shared values seems incredibly naïve.
What matters to most Americans is who can provide their material needs as many are reacting to the overall decline in quality of life and losing out on things that are tangible such as social capital and economic prosperity. The idea based politics that emerged out of past eras of prosperity is being tested by political polarization, cancel culture, austerity, hardship, and the fading out of older generations who embraced the idea of Americanism.
Younger Americans are finding out the hard way that society’s institutions have not only failed to provide for their basic needs but in some cases are outright hostile to them because of their politics or inborn identity. Both the Alt-Right and Bernie Sanders movements had tribalistic characteristics and were reactions of Millennials and Zoomers to frustrations with major institutions and the idea that mass society based upon liberal meritocratic principles can lift up all.
In 2018 former George Bush speech writer David Frum wrote that, “If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”
Frum’s context was explicitly political in regards to the right embracing anti-democratic values, but as more rank and file Trump voters, and White Americans as a whole deal with woke austerity and fiercer competition for jobs they will realize what matters most is who can provide basic needs of income and social capital rather than which political team one supports. Political tribes will no longer be sufficient and real ones must form.
Being at the mercy of institutions—and critical services—that are hostile to one’s interest is practically a death sentence and we could very well see the rise in alternative economies and the formation of patronage networks as a reaction to cancelation, austerity, and loss of trust in institutions. The idea of one mass society sharing the same institutions is unsustainable and soon to be obsolete.
While the internet has played a role in replacing actual social capital with online political and cultural tribes, online tribes could lead to the formation of real social capital and alternative economies IRL. This is a big reason why tech elites are cracking down hard and in his article Woke Capital isn’t a Game James McElroy suggests that “Conservatives should spend more time thinking about what it would mean to build effective 21st-century labor unions or guilds.”
On a similar note James Kirkpatrick writes in Americans: Stop Assuming You Still Have A Country—Organize! that “ We can use that autonomy to build something new in the ruins of the old. But no progress is possible without recognizing our current subjugation.”
The American right has yet to embrace patronage networks or guilds but there are countless examples of successful patronage networks. The obvious example is ethnic patronage networks such as Jews reacting to anti-Semitism by building up their own successful alternative institutions. Other examples include earlier European immigrant groups prior to assimilation, religious based ingroup identities such as Mormons, recent immigrants with economic niches such as Gujarati Patels in the motel industry, and even wealthy White liberals who provide jobs and social connections to one another though NGOs. Relevant to ongoing political trends in the US, in South Africa the Civil Rights organization AfriForum also functions as a patronage network in response to draconian anti-White economic policies.
Tiger Mom, Amy Chua has a controversial book The Triple Package which explores why certain ethnic diasporas are economically successful. Chua identifies ethnocentrism and social networks as key factors for success, thus one’s demographic group is a determining factor for economic success. The themes explored in Chua’s book challenge narratives about liberal egalitarianism, the meritocracy, and the overall middle-class value system.
In the future White Americans will likely embrace the mindset of a minority or diaspora, hence the Amerikaner meme, a “name for their people beyond just “American” which lost its cultural and historical meaning due to the onslaught of mass-immigration.”
Divisive policies proposed by the Biden administration such as economic favoritism towards minorities and continued demographic change will impact how people view their relationship with America. The question is whether White politics will be shaped by more copes, a defeatist mindset, or an adaption to the multi-cultural narrative by thinking and acting like a minority rather than dispossessed majority.
We have a liberal establishment that places trust in powerful centralized institutions and we will likely see a dominant establishment ideology that is civic nationalism based upon woke values. It is a political system that demands loyalty to major centralized institutions and assimilationism into the new culture and values. The right demands that immigrants and minorities assimilate into American society based on a naivety that America is still theirs but in the future assimilationism will be the enemy.
Woke ideology has become outright segregationist with even proposed racially segregated dorms on college campuses. This divisiveness could likely backfire and put a wrench into the interchangeable cogs of liberalism. Even Biden understands America’s neo-tribal future when he informs Blacks that “If we cannot make significant progress on racial equity, this country is doomed. It is doomed. Not just because of African-Americans, but because by 2040 [sic] this country is going to be minority white European. You hear me? Minority white European, and you guys are going to have to start working more with Hispanics, who make up a larger portion of the population than y’all do.”
Wokeness may be a brand identity that one can purchase but is unsustainable in being able to maintain mass society as one cohesive unit. Economic, cultural, and political demographic fragmentation is unstoppable and any successful political opposition will have to adopt a pluralistic and neo-tribal outlook.
In Americans: Stop Assuming You Still Have A Country—Organize! James Kirkpatrick also suggests “that instead of cheering fiscal conservatism, white Americans currently left out of the ethnic spoils system should urge universal programs such as direct stimulus payments and universal basic income (UBI). Given that we are already paying for socialism, we might as well enjoy the benefits. If that makes the system untenable, so much the better.”
The political system of the future will be many tribes competing and lobbying for their group’s interest and forming alliances under a multi-polar system. The best case scenario is a version of multi-culturalism where Whites can successfully play the game too.
Who knows whether there will be a revitalized populist nationalist GOP but it is not smart to invest all one’s energy into using the GOP as a vehicle to save America. The donor backed interests of Conservativism INC are invested in maintaining the status quo with Charlie Kirk proclaiming we can take in dramatically higher levels of immigration if we scrap the welfare state and Ben Shapiro echoing similar sentiment in his interview with Matt Yglesias on 1 Billion Americans. Kirk, Shapiro, and their ilk preach radical individualism to White Americans which would lead to a scenario where Whites are atomized, without a safety net, and having to compete with waves of ethnocentric and nepotistic immigrants while being scapegoated for policies of austerity that conservatives support.
As bad as democrats are at the very least in the short term they can be used as a vehicle to make material demands such as more direct stimulus checks and student loan debt relief that would benefit middle class White millennials. Conservatism needs to be left in the dustbin of the 20th Century and MAGA too has the same flaws. When there is no plan, advices Jose Feliciano, “Get educated on a topic outside of your job field and make a difference politically there. Educate your kids. Work out. Eat healthy. Get into politics. Have more children. Wait in the shadows until the time is right, appeal to AI workers.”
For any endeavor to succeed it is important to embrace an optimistic outlook rather than the demoralization of trying to hold onto to what is not coming back or to just slow the decline. Creating something new is a lot more exciting and there is a lot to be optimistic about when one discovers the benefits of belonging to a tribe or close-knit community that can better serve one’s interests.
Find your group that you have shared bonds with. It could be ethnic but it could also be based upon shared values or cultural interests including religion. Think inwards on your tribe and stop obsessing over what is wrong about mass society. Embrace enclavism rather than nationalism the way a recent immigrant would with an objective of building up communities that are economically resilient and high in social capital.
Even the obsession over Whites becoming a minority is a waste of energy and demoralizing. Whites will remain a plurality long after they lose majority status and it has always been smaller elite groups not the masses that shape politics, culture, and society.
As far as barriers to pluralism, enclavism, and neo-tribalism, cosmopolitan elites and existing institutions are invested in maintaining the status quo because their wealth and power is based on mass society. Non-White, who are already tribal, would probably agree to some kind of pluralist arrangement as long as their material needs are met but the values engrained in White Americans need to change. Lobbying for Freedom of Association will be necessary as well as economic policies which empower alternative institutions.
It is not worth being heavily invested in something you have little control over and even the idea of a civil war or total collapse is a cope. For instance, Rome took two centuries to fall. While there is increasing support for secessionist movements such as Calexit, Cascadia, and Texas Independence, America could very well exist purely as a political and economic zone long after the mythos of America is gone. The future is tribal and we must adapt sooner rather than later. Your quality of life and personal success will depend upon being part of a winning tribe so once you get over the cope of Americanism based on mass society you can actually thrive.