Sunday, January 4, 2009

Heinlein, National Borders, Liberty and the American Republic


I received this reply to my post on Heinlein's "The Republic will always have need for heroes.":


Heinlein didn't study the game theory on this one. Valuing a group of 30 of your own genetic kin more than yourself is 'behavior that tends towards survival'. Valuing a group of 300 million more than yourself does not have the same payoff in genetics or social networks. Not even close.

Please consider the "race baiting whigger" post and the Heinlein essay together, and see how they contradict one another. In these large group scenarios, what's the strategy difference between a "racial division" and a "national border"? Both are merely yard lines and jersey colors on a game field whose rules and goalposts are set by Socialists.

Truly liberty, true lack of "racism", means no national borders, no green cards, no immigration control. It also means none of this silly loyalty to the State's standing army that Heinlein is selling.

I'm being hammered right now by THE Deadline on Absolved, and so I sent this on to my intellectual brother for his comment and analysis. Here it is. I couldn't do better.



It is an argument by false analogy. “…what's the strategy difference between a "racial division" and a "national border"?” Truly liberty, true lack of "racism", means no national borders, no green cards, no immigration control. It also means none of this silly loyalty to the State's standing army that Heinlein is selling.”

I think I understand the distinction the commenter is making, but the argument fails the test of history, as well as conflating different criteria.

Short answer: Just because you are not an advocate of racist group identity doesn’t mean that you are necessarily required to advocate or adhere to international socialist collectivism, such as the “no borders, no green cards, no immigration control” crowd would have you assume.

Long answer: First, Heinlein was an evolutionist and did not adhere to the Natural Law theory, so for him, “behavior that trends towards [group] survival” defines both ethics and normative behavior. That said, Heinlein was also a patriot – an adherent to American Exceptionalism. The key here is defining the group. In his day it was easier as he did not have to contend with the post-modernist destruction of Western civilization…. Heinlein was loyal to family, to community, and ultimately, to the United States of America, as the defining group worthy of [his] sacrifice to ensure [‘group’]survival – his normative ethical principle requiring action (think ‘duty’). Funny, although a non-believer, his normative ethic exactly comports to the very Christian ideas of duty and sacrifice. His loyalty and duty were not to a race, but to an idea. Heinlein was not a racist (so far as I can determine from reading his works – re: Farnham’s Freehold, specifically).

But the key is defining the ‘group.’ Whereas the millennial ideal may be a society wherein people aren’t affected by boundaries and there are no longer nation-states, the historical reality is different. The assumption that people’s focus of action should be global or international is deeply wrong. The reality is that human societies always display two characteristics: humans are tribal (or call it ‘particularism’), identifying with some cultural or ethnic group - of which they have something in common beyond mere ‘humanness’; and, second, mankind is flawed (selfish in a state of economic scarcity; sin-nature – both explain it), so even if the ideal would posit that there ought to be no nation-states or borders or different groups owning our loyalty and sacrifice – it doesn’t work out. Although I would agree that the current idea that humanity can get past nation-states is a “game field whose rules and goalposts are set by Socialists.” Of course that is true – it is the very essence of Marxism!

True liberty is resolved within a culture that adheres to the Natural Law. Western Civilization has codified that fairly well through the amalgam of British Constitutionalism, leavened by the Judeo-Christian ethic, the Saxon Common-law, and the Hebrew law code, with a smattering of Greco-Roman (mostly ‘how not to’) influence and a little bit of the Enlightenment. We cannot experience “true Liberty” while on this pre-millennial earth in either some anarchic state of ‘self’ or in some international, collectivist experiment in mass –leveling. The first leads to narcissistic debauchery, the second to serfdom, penury and slavery – in everything but name.

But let us get back to the phrase “some cultural or ethical group, of which they have something in common” beyond the mere fact that they are people… The important fact is that civilizations have a specific qualities, evidenced by the development of a recognizable, distinct culture. We naturally adhere to that culture. We do not have the same loyalty, and therefore the same sense of duty or obligation, to other cultures… particularly to any racist culture (la Raza, Black nationalism), or to any manifestation of statist collectivism, by whatever form. So when the internationalists, collectivists and statists argue that I am not ‘moral’ because I adhere to “language, border, and culture” as a defining characteristic to determine the outer bounds of my moral, self-sacrificing action, they are on the wrong-side of history. Some young, vibrant culture will rise up (militant Islam; xenophobic Chinese nationalism; even possibly revanchist Russian nationalism, …) and kick them in the teeth.

Western Civilization and, more specifically, traditional American Exceptionalism are worth identifying with and dying for. Like Heinlein, I am proud to offer up my unworthy efforts in their defense. Cultures based on brown, black, white or yellow racism are not; neither is the statist collectivist ideal.


Johnny said...

The obvious, and simple, answer it seems to me is that race doesn't matter to believers in a system of natural law based on human rights because that's not what it's about.

One thing's for sure about people and it will defeat utopian socialism and the one-world crowd: people are different, both as individuals and as groups. Whether racial differences are truly important in forming a society, I'd say that has yet to be proven one
way or another but I allow it could indeed be the case. It isn't, however, the problem we face right now.

It seems to me to be self-evident that countries are a natural result of the fact that one size doesn't fit all. To imagine they can be, completely or in effect, done away with is to posit something that makes no sense given the way human nature - human biology - works... whatever race you are or aren't. It seems to me self-evident (axiomatic) that we'll get much more mileage from going with human nature rather than against it or trying to change it. Also that observing what has worked and why, however imperfectly, in the past is a good guide as to where we should be heading in the future.

Anonymous said...

A great response there.

Regarding the "truly liberty" paragraph, all of the leftist extremists who want to round up our guns also operate by the "collectivist utopian, no-green-card, etc..." approach.

I absolutely do not agree with the "no-national-borders" argument. If we have no national borders and immigration is unrestricted, how can our very ideals of liberty be defended? How do we know if the people coming into our country is not there to potentially hurt us? I agree with the "lessons of history". It's just like communism: Sounds good in theory, but when it is put to use, it is worse than bad medicine.

I think the "true liberty and equality" that we all agree on is the AMERICAN style of liberty, given to us by the heroes who dared to stand up against a corrupt overseas empire, and beat them to the dirt.

Anonymous said...

The behavior of politics for 300 million cannot be extrapolated from the behavior of politics for 30. The two situations are qualitatively different. One person can have individual personal relationships and perhaps family ties with every member of a tribe of 30, but they cannot with a group of 3,000, much less 300 million. All political arrangements of size 300 million are collectivisms of some form. Any advocacy of a political arrangement that contains 300 million is de facto support for Socialism or worse. The US Constitution did not restrain the US Government, and neither did any other constitution anywhere else for long; the Wiemar republic's constitution did not restrain what would become the Nazis. Majorities are not wise; 90%+ of Germans voted to enable Hitler. Constitutionalism is prag all the way through. In the last big reshuffle we discarded the divine right of hereditary kings to rule. This time we should discard the divine right of majorities, or of anything.

- - -

Consider the two statements:

"All Arabic men are suicide bombers" is racist.
"All Iraqi citizens are suicide bombers" is nationalist.

Both racism and nationalism make the same prejudiced collectivist mistake: they claim the totality of a person's character is determined by the circumstances of their birth. King's speech should have read: "will not be judged by the colors of their skin or passport but by the content of their character".

- - -

American Exceptionalism is Manifest Destiny applied internationally. It is racist and genocidal. American Exceptionalism requires a big government to militarily impose it on foreigners. Do you want a big government? Any remaining argument for American Exceptionalism died when habeas corpus did. Consider the evidence: systematic extermination of the native Americans; slavery; civil war body count and scorched Earth policies; Jim Crow; internment of Japanese, German, Italians; Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 1% of Americans in prison; Gitmo; loss of habeas corpus; loss of posse comitatus; unpayable national debt; projected new assault weapons ban. American politics is not nicer than any other country's politics.

- - -

The real motivation for the War of Northern Aggression was the North forcibly collecting crippling taxes at the Southern border ports. Against this backdrop, the pro-liberty behavior was done by free traders and blockade runners. The "no national borders, no green cards, no immigration control" policy is meant to expand the pro-liberty behavior, in preference to the policy that led to the civil war. You pro-border people are on the side of Lincoln. History shows that if goods don't cross the border, then armies will.

- - -

If we have no national borders and immigration is unrestricted, how can our very ideals of liberty be defended?

If you catch somebody trying to steal from you, shoot them. This requires no national border or immigration control.

- - -

How do we know if the people coming into our country is not there to potentially hurt us?

Ah, I see. Everybody whose skin is not light pink is out to get you, as is everybody whose passport is not dark blue. How simple. How easy. Throw out the courtroom rules of evidence and bring back lynchings.

What racist, prejudiced garbage.

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