Immigration and Cultural Hegemony
Population diversity and multiculturalism are cognate, and they defy the notion of “assimilation.” Indeed, no one in the immigration debate any longer seriously maintains that immigration and assimilation should be correlative. If we were honest with ourselves, could we say that, in North America, outside of the rituals imparted by our commercial behavior, we have much of a unitary culture, whatsoever, to which the immigrant ought to assimilate?
The breakdown of moral consensus leaves us grasping for any type or pattern to which obligations of fealty attach. The idea of cultural hegemony and destiny is of course a “racist” conception. It presumes that there is something called “culture” which is not merely notional, not intuited directly from the ether, nor the product of rational necessity. It presumes that a self-identified population has the right -perhaps the duty- to resist the surrender of the public square to a demographic contest of artificial selection, a selection effected by law and fashionable ideas. It presumes instinctive objection to the idea that the patterns of life we inherit must be viewed as merchandise in a market of ideas, rather than the subject of an unquestioned tradition, a milieu which we breath unconsciously, and make a part of ourselves, rather than an act of critique and assent.
This cultural marketplace is what neoconservatives refer to when they make public appeals to civic religion, to “freedom,” to notional culture as contest or agon. This is a deeply liberal appoach to culture, and one which had its nativity in Vienna and Manchester. Those first Magi of market dominion worked a charm on conservatism, teaching it that there was nothing, no useful datum, which a price could not embody. Spengler was no fillip to the supremacy of the West with his notion of a plurality of relative cultures, relative civilizations. Toynbee, a globalist, following Spengler’s lead, finally interred the idea of monistic civilization. We are comfortable with the West manifesting one pattern of being among many. Perhaps then, we are distinctly uncomfortable with the notion that this pattern of being participates in a kind of social dialectic by which it antiquates and becomes obsolescent, in favor of a cult of the foreign, or worse still, the Universal, attended by its prescribed shibboleths, to let us know when to clap. To soothe our betters, assuring them that we are sufficiently reformed, sufficiently modern. Yet, if Toynbee concluded that the sun of the West was quickly setting, then at least it had seen by its own lights. But now, it is said there are new stars to steer by. The tyrannical Sun has been cast down.
Of course, to divorce culture from the historical context that connects it to a people of common descent merely denatures and enervates the very notion of culture itself, and prepares it for transmutation, initially, into the delusion that civic equality both can and ought to be a basis for peaceable coexistence with exogenous elements, who do not come to us tabula rasa, but as men possessed of a history that clings and persists in them, and seeks expression in the world. Finally, the notion of culture is subjected to an even more radical critique: one that concludes that it doesn’t really exist, that it’s a reification, an empty signifier, with nothing signified -that consensus and mutuality are impossible, or further, that, should they exist, they are symptoms of weakness, or worse still, Reaction. What on the left we hear referred to as ‘Reaction,’ on the right we hear called ‘Collectivism,’ that is, the preservation of mutuality. At which point in its declension, culture finally succumbs to mastery by the market, and who we are is determined by prevaling material conditions. Market segmentation is market fragmentation. It is as much social engineering as it is market response. Locating and conditioning the individual is the last frontier of the ‘free’ market. In a material culture, this portends utter dissolution. We become ‘untethered,’ nomadic hunter gatherers in a shifting landscape of transient loyalties, and branded identities.
The idea of a unitary world civilization is a modernist, liberal notion, and one that is rooted in 19th century, fin de siecle rationalism. Our Kouros may have been borrowed from the cosmogonic crypt of Egypt, but we made it our own, and transformed it into the Suffering Servant, the Kinsman Redeemer, and a True God possessed it, and we knelt before it, for a while. The monadology of culture is the rationalism of Cecil Rhodes, the reformer, the bringer of culture to benighted Africa, the founder of universities, builder of bridges. Globalism is merely Rhodes exhumed, and given a Nehru jacket and Tandoori to eat. But those whose white gloves served at high tea, they refashioned their household gods from the clay of the riverbanks. We are the memsahib who threw off her great name, her title and corset, but who was found with her throat slit and her liquor cabinet ransacked. She is become a manque of noblesse oblige.
In “diversity,” it is only our God, our songs, our fathers which must be given up. Their might was their shame. Their victory their defeat. Indeed, the word ‘we’ is stricken, pulled off the tongue, along with ‘anschluss,’ ‘kulturkampf,’ ‘degenerate’ and ‘selection’. By its [rationalism’s] ‘wisdom’ there will be a world culture, simply not the English one. But when the bad conscience of the West has been exhausted as a means of divestiture of the hegemony of culture, what is the next act of the drama? I assert that there is no asymptote. The converging lines must cross, and all that we ‘know’ is tipped over into oblivion. Divestiture will not be enough. Only non-existence will suffice, at which prospect the world citizen of the capitalist demos merely shrugs as he lights a candle before his ancestral gods. Yet how long before they too are sacrificed to the Molech of Unity?