American Renaissance

Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite

Samuel P. Huntington, The National Interest, Mar. 30

Debates over national identity are a pervasive characteristic of our time. In part, they raise rhetorical questions, but they also have profound implications for American society and American policy at home and abroad. Different perceptions—especially between the citizenry and the more cosmopolitan elites—of what constitutes national identity generate different national interests and policy priorities.

The views of the general public on issues of national identity differ significantly from those of many elites. The public, overall, is concerned with physical security but also with societal security, which involves the sustainability—within acceptable conditions for evolution—of existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity. For many elites, these concerns are secondary to participating in the global economy, supporting international trade and migration, strengthening international institutions, promoting American values abroad, and encouraging minority identities and cultures at home. The central distinction between the public and elites is not isolationism versus internationalism, but nationalism versus cosmopolitanism.

In 1953, the head of General Motors, nominated to be secretary of defense, proclaimed, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” He was widely criticized for not saying that what’s good for America is good for General Motors. Either way, both he and his critics presumed some coincidence of interest between corporation and country. Now, however, multinational corporations see their interests as separate from America’s interests. As their global operations expand, corporations founded and headquartered in the United States gradually become less American. In the 1990s, corporations such as Ford, Aetna, Motorola, Price Costco and Kimberly-Clark forcefully rejected, in response to a Ralph Nader proposal, expressions of patriotism and explicitly defined themselves as multinational. America-based corporations operating globally recruit their workforce and their executives, including their top ones, without regard to nationality. The CIA, one of its officials said in 1999, can no longer count on the cooperation of American corporations as it once was able to do, because the corporations view themselves as multinational and may not think it in their interests to help the U.S. government.

Growing differences between the leaders of major institutions and the public on domestic and foreign policy issues affecting national identity form a major cultural fault line cutting across class, denominational, racial, regional and ethnic distinctions. In a variety of ways, the American establishment, governmental and private, has become increasingly divorced from the American people. Politically, America remains a democracy because key public officials are selected through free and fair elections. In many respects, however, it has become an unrepresentative democracy because on crucial issues—especially those involving national identity—its leaders pass laws and implement policies contrary to the views of the American people. Concomitantly, the American people have become increasingly alienated from politics and government.

Samuel P. Huntington On Nationalism Versus Cosmopolitanism

Randall Parker, parapundit.com, Mar. 30

Harvard history professor Samuel P. Huntington, author of the recent book Who Are We : The Challenges to America’s National Identity and opponent of continued large scale immigration from Mexico has a short essay in the latest edition of The National Interest on the widening split between America’s elites and the majority of its people.

The views of the general public on issues of national identity differ significantly from those of many elites. The public, overall, is concerned with physical security but also with societal security, which involves the sustainability—within acceptable conditions for evolution—of existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity. For many elites, these concerns are secondary to participating in the global economy, supporting international trade and migration, strengthening international institutions, promoting American values abroad, and encouraging minority identities and cultures at home. The central distinction between the public and elites is not isolationism versus internationalism, but nationalism versus cosmopolitanism.

Huntington points out that the elites, by defying the desires of the majority on issues of national identity, are causing the government to behave in an undemocratic fashion. I have previously made this argument with regard to immigration. In poll after poll clear majorities of Americans state opinions about immigration that are in opposition to what the elites want and to what the government actually does. Because this trend shows little sign of reversing it seems to me that what is needed are constitutional reforms to install mechanisms to allow more decisions to be made by direct popular referendums. As Huntington points out, multinational corporations that are nominally American have growing interests that are in conflict with those of the American people and these corporations increasingly put those interests ahead of those of the United States. At the same time many American intellectuals have little or no loyalty to historical US customs or values. Why should the public think of these groups as members of the same polity? That is not how these other groups define themselves.

The national question is not going to go away. It is only going to become bigger. On the debate of Britain’s own national question see David Goodhart’s response to his critics in the new UK Prospect issue:

For, as my deputy Alexander Linklater has put it, there are many answers to the question “Who are we?” but the one answer we surely cannot give is: it doesn’t matter.

See my link to the original Goodhart essay that elicited the criticism that Goodhart responds to above. Also see my links to Amy Chua’s work on market dominant minorities.

I am increasingly convinced that what is advocated by those who argue for “diversity” is a society in which whoever finds themselves in the majority on some issue or cultural belief today should find themselves in the minority tomorrow subjected to the will of the new majority. So then are the advocates of “diversity” motivated by loathing of themselves or loathing of the current majority?