Will tribalism trump globalism? That’s the bigger ideological struggle that can be derived from Patrick Buchanan’s latest book, Suicide of a Superpower (2011), which argues not just that the United States are disintegration but that the whole of Western civilization could dissolve.
The former Republican Party presidential hopeful and political commentator fears a Balkanization of America as the country becomes increasingly secular and people of European descent are dying it. “The death of European Christianity means the disappearance of the European tribe,” he writes, “a prospect visible in the demographic statistics of every Western nation.”
Peoples of European descent are not only in a relative but a real decline. They are aging, dying, disappearing. This is the existential crisis of the West.
Buchanan points out that by 2020, whites over the age of 65 are expected to outnumber those aged seventeen and younger. “Deaths will exceed births,” he notes and “Mexico is moving north.”
The demographic shift will exacerbate tension between conservatives and liberals in the country. Whereas immigration increasingly fuels apprehension on the right, the political left has embraced multiculturalism. Buchanan wonders, “What kind of man looks with transcendental joy to a day when the people among whom he was raised have become a minority in a nation where the majority rules?”
Historians will look back in stupor, Buchanan predicts, at twenty-first century Americans “who believed the magnificent republic they inherited would be enriched by bringing in scores of millions from the failed states of the Third World.”
On Fox News’ Hannity Monday night, Buchanan suggested that the left has a political motive for supporting immigration. Minorities, he pointed out, overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Once they constitute half of the electorate, “Republicans will never win another election.”
Ethnic minorities trend Democratic because “they depend on government,” he said. “They believe in government. And they vote for the party of government.” Even if their values are Christian or conservative.
To prevent the stagnation of European culture in America and combat the decline of conservatism, Buchanan advocated a moratorium on immigration. He claimed that after the United States imposed immigration quota in the 1920s, citizens of eastern and Southern European descent had time to grow out of poverty. “Once they move into the middle class, into the taxpayer category,” they’ll consider voting for the party of small government, he said.
If, on the other hand, the United States make no effort to stem the tide of immigration and allow a disintegration of American culture, it will give rise to an ethnic nationalism, according to Buchanan who writes in his book that it will inevitably trump globalism.
We may deny the existence of ethnonationalism, detest it, condemn it. But this creator and destroyer of empires and nations is a force infinitely more powerful than globalism, for it engages the heart. Men will die for it. Religion, race, culture and tribe are the four horsemen of the coming apocalypse.
Buchanan’s moratorium on immigration represents half of his isolationism. Protectionism is the other half. These may seem appropriate steps to take for a country if indeed modern tribalism is more powerful a motivator for people than the economic benefit that is derived from globalization. But is this true when a person’s self-interest collides with his “tribal” affiliation, whether it’s race or religion or politics?
Globalization is an unstoppable force because free trade is demonstrably more advantageous to a country than is protectionism; because open markets are demonstrably more prosperous than closed ones. Countries that turn inward tend to lose business whereas countries that engage in competition instead of trying to cheat others blossom.
The globalized world of the early twenty-first century is testament to the success of American superpower. Without its military superiority, which ensured a predictable balance of power, and proven economic model of success, other nations either could nor or would not have become part of it.
There is, however, in every country, even America, a class that’s unable to keep up with the highly competitive and demanding flexibility of being part of a global labor market. There is an even larger group of people in every country that doesn’t recognize the tremendous benefits of globalization even if they’re able to buy cheap products made in China.
These people depend on a model of government, the welfare state, that’s bankrupt. It’s a model that Buchanan, a small-government conservative, has never endorsed. If he wants to kill it, he shouldn’t champion isolationism, which would allow people to continue to believe for probably a longer period of time that it’s a sustainable model; he should embrace globalism as the destroyer of the big government that he has always rallied against.