As a nationalist in the west, it’s often difficult to find any reasons for optimism. A typical month may involve any combination of social media bans, deplatforming and physical threats from society’s dregs, and there is seemingly little to show for the sacrifice by way of tangible victories. I might be forgiven then, for finding cause for optimism in the most unlikely of places. Looking to the East, the ascendant Chinese state is removing the last vestiges of western colonial rule and expanding its own rule over Hong Kong. In many ways, Hong Kong is symbolic of the western international order, it has little identity or culture to speak of beyond being a city state ruled by financial interests for financial interests. In fact, its lack of a real identity is precisely its identity, the kind of anti-identity that characterizes the spaces where neoliberalism finds its truest expression. The reintegration of Hong Kong is a demonstration that the processes that could create a space like Hong Kong – the seemingly unstoppable wave of liberal globalization and its inevitable effect of the destruction of traditional identities – can be reversed by a people united enough to commit to a rejection of the oligarch’s utopia.
All over the world, there are signals that the world is waking up to this possibility. The move toward the open society is suddenly seeming less like the inevitable progress of history, and more like a colonial project in service of the financial interests of a few, enforced by an increasingly toothless empire. Recently, Turkey announced the reversion of the gorgeous Hagia Sophia to a Mosque. Originally built as a Christian cathedral, it was turned into a Mosque after the Ottoman conquest of 1453 but became a museum in 1934 under Turkish Republic founding father Ataturk. Some western nationalists instinctively saw the decision to reconvert it to a Mosque as a huge symbolic defeat for their cause, but as a museum the Hagia Sophia had become another neutral halfway house of conflicting visions, open to international tourists to serve as a remnant of a time when things like religion and racial identity were things our ancestors spilled blood over. Its place as a museum was a symbol of Ataturk’s vision of a secular, westernizing Turkey. Its reversion to a Mosque is a rejection of this vision, another bold assertion of a primordial national and religious identity against the infestation of the identity-less, consumer friendly spaces of neoliberalism.
There are now real signs that globalization is coming to an end, and with it the means of its conquest – liberalism, feminism, secularism and materialism – will end too. Without the force of American unipolar hegemony and the expansive dominance of rootless international finance capital, tradition and identity can again assert itself. Here are five reasons why this writer is staying cautiously optimistic about the future.
THE RISE OF POPULISM
In 1957, Karl Polanyi wrote of “The Great Transformation”. Polanyi analysed the ‘dis-embedding’ force of the free market as being in conflict with the traditional social orders from which it had sprung. Polanyi warned that this decoupling could lead to a backlash – in the form of a rise of populist politics – if it’s effects were left unchecked.
The 2016 dual victories of Donald Trump and Brexit reflected growing disenchantment among the working class in the west with the effects of globalisation and a desire to return to the “embedded liberalism” of nation states that had preceded the growth of globalism in the 1980’s. Since then, populist ideas – chief among them opposition to mass migration and free trade – have become increasingly popular. Indeed, Richard Haass, who runs the Council on Foreign Relations has made the admission that “The new bipartisanship is opposition to free trade … It will be extraordinarily hard to resurrect a consensus that could pass a trade bill.” Backlash to the migrant crisis in Europe, itself caused by the foreign policy adventures of the liberal elite, led to the growth in popularity of anti-immigration parties like UKIP and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party, and the election of Matteo Salvini as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy. As the spoils of globalism increasingly moves eastward, and the working class in the west face increasingly bleak prospects of debt, precarious job prospects, and the transition to a rentier economy, there is little reason to imagine the populist backlash against globalization will not continue to gather pace.
THE END OF AMERICAN HEGEMONY
Post world war 2 political order has been characterized by the dominance of unipolar American Empire. The distinct nature of American Empire compared to empires historically lay in its unique foundations as a liberal financial empire. As long as the US – the harbinger of the values of Zionism, liberalism and its offshoots of universalism, multiculturalism, and finance capitalism – has international hegemony, the ceiling on movements of national sovereignty and tradition is hopelessly limited. The values that have created a spiritual rot across the west are in a symbiotic relationship with American hegemony, each relies on the other for its propagation.
Nationalists and traditionalists should take solace in the realization that we are witnessing the disintegration of the Empire. Let us consider the signs pointing to this hastening decline. Before Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht seemed invincible. After the brutal conflict, they achieved few significant victories to speak of. If Stalingrad is taken as our symbol of a shift in the confidence of a formerly powerful entity, what is the Stalingrad Event for America? Whatever the Stalingrad of the United States will be remembered as, and indeed what is remembered may not be the true cause, it is likely that it has already happened. Perhaps it was as recent as the surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan after almost two decades of conflict, the embarrassing realization against imperial hubris that the most powerful military ever assembled could not achieve an ultimate victory over Afghan peasants and backwards Islamic fundamentalists. Perhaps it will be remembered as Iraq, the conflict that first seemed like a sweeping victory for the US but descended into vicious sectarian conflict far worse than anything seen before US involvement, a conflict for which the main result seems to be a victory for Iran. Iran emerged as an arch-enemy of the American empire which, with the removal of the secular despot Saddam Hussein, won a key ally for its web of Shia influence across the Middle East. While it had seemed American foreign policy machinations were drawn inexorably to the eventual destruction of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it seems doubtful the US, a country currently plagued by racial conflict and political polarization, would be able to muster the will to make war with a unified nation raised on a hatred of “The Great Satan”. Or perhaps The Empire’s last stand was Syria, where all the forces against the American project seemed to coalesce and deal a crushing blow to American imperialist ambitions in the Middle East. Not long ago, it seemed inevitable that whatever the future of Syria would be, it would exclude the Assad family. Now, the US has silently accepted defeat in this area as the new power brokers of Russia, Turkey and Iran negotiate the fate of this patch of the world without the direction of the US.
While these three defeats have thrown into question the ability of the US to impose its will on the Middle East, what of the Truman Doctrine of containment against Socialism arising south of the American Border? Just as worrying is that the Empire can no longer even exercise its will over a state like Venezuela and other Latin American countries, which have chosen their own brands of socialism over the demands made by American capital. The lesson of modern conflicts, whether Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria or Latin America, is that an occupying empire cannot maintain control over a subject population dedicated to its independence.
Though the US still (for now) far out does every other country by the size of its military, it is easy to overestimate how much that reflects the capability of the US to do what the military is there for in the first place. Across the world, the forces of anti-Americanism have become increasingly emboldened by the realization that it is possible to give The Great Satan a bloody nose – and live to tell the tale.
THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON
When it comes to the end of globalization, China is important for two reasons: the challenge it poses to American hegemony internationally, and the example its internal course of development sets. In a generation, China has risen from a poorly developed, agrarian nation to an economic behemoth that is now placed to pose a serious threat to the neoliberal order.
China has demonstrated that economic development and innovation can be achieved without democracy and liberalism. The one party state transitioned China from communism to a form of national capitalism in the late 1970’s, and has since charted a unique course of development, a course that flies in the face of the assertions of neoliberalism’s true believers. Despite the best hopes of liberal universalists, there is no sign that the Chinese people in great numbers have any desire to adopt liberalism. We have been assured that democracy and individual freedom is necessary for economic innovation, yet Chinese state-backed companies like Huawei and Alibaba not only lead the way in innovation, but are also proving capable of outperforming their competitors on the world stage.
China’s mercantilist economic system and protectionist development policies now pose a serious challenge to the WTO based world trading system, yet there is little they can do to stop it. The CCP governs in China’s interest, and adopting free trade policies simply isn’t in China’s interest. President Trump has also sidestepped WTO rules to wage a unilateral trade war with China, as well as imposing tariffs on allies like Japan.
The World Trade Organisation was founded in 1995 with the intent of opening global markets, expanding free trade and regulating commerce. International organisations like the WTO and IMF have become synonymous with globalization, yet their legitimacy and relevance is increasingly under question. As evidenced by the admission of European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan that “The W.T.O. is facing its deepest crisis since its creation.”
China also has the potential to offer an alternative to American led development for smaller countries, which has often come with unwanted political interference and cultural dominance. China, by contrast, seems to have little interest in the internal affairs of its trade partners. The Belt and Road initiative, which promises major infrastructural development for participating countries, is a prime example of Chinese led international development leaving US policy makers in the cold, and is the kind of bilateral regional development which could come to characterize this century.
Russia’s place as a hegemon is less secure. Their economy remains smaller than Italy’s, and they have struggled to diversify away from their reliance on natural resources as the basis for their economic growth. Culturally and militarily, however, Russia has charted an independent course of action, and their realist approach to dealing with western encroachment in Eastern Europe and the Middle East has yielded highly significant victories. Russia responded with the maximum of force and decisiveness in seizing Crimea following a US backed coup in Ukraine in 2014. Its entry on the side of Bashar al-Assad in Syria decisively turned the course of the Syrian civil war dealt a blow to the Zionist-American ambition to oust the strongman and carve up Syria to their liking. Russia’s transformation from a failed state of demoralized people subjected to the worst effects of liberal governance and privatization in the early 1990’s to the independent, religious and nationalist state it is today looks like a potential best case scenario for other western countries looking to what comes after globalization.
Not long ago liberal journalists and foreign policy hawks could hardly contain their excitement at the prospect of the growth of social media, the hopeful expectation that its spread would lead to a democratization of every corner of the world. The “Arab Spring” was celebrated as the first of its kind, an organic rejection of authoritarianism, in favor of democracy and liberalism, coordinated through social media platforms like Twitter. With the increasing accessibility of smartphones, people across the world could see the wonders of western values and co-ordinate to bring their own nations out of the barbaric remnants of the old world order. In their arrogance, few of the elites predicted that the same technology could lead to an emboldening of exactly the opposite tendency, a complete rejection of Americanism and its promises of material wealth, women’s rights, democracy. If anything, the pendulum swayed in favor of barbarism. The sight of an organisation like ISIS disseminating Hollywood style propaganda videos across the internet demonstrated the capacity for the internet to be used towards anti-liberal ends. Fewer still, imagined that the expansion of the internet might eventually be used to lead a revolt against the elites in the west. But this is exactly what happened in the run up to the 2016 election cycle, with the growth of the Alt-Right and similar populist movements on the internet. Allowed anonymity, people were free to break the taboos of the politically correct west and express their real sentiment on multiculturalism, equality and the makeup of the elites that despised them. The explosion of white nationalism on the internet has shown that the liberal consensus is not as robust as our increasingly out-of-touch elite had imagined.
While the Trump victory led to a backlash of censorship, culminating recently in the removal of thousands of pro-Trump and white nationalist subreddit forums and YouTube channels (including the rather milquetoast libertarian Stefan Molyneux), it seems the cat is already out of the bag. The growth of censorship free alternative platforms like Bitchute and Telegram, and the potential for a truly decentralized internet, means that despite the best efforts of the ADL, they will never be able to fully silence voices of dissent.
What’s more, traditionally trusted sources of media are hemorrhaging profits (and staff) as they lose their prestige and become just another voice in the public square, increasingly drowned out by more trustworthy sources.
Nationalists can continue to be optimistic about the internet, with the firm resolve that we have the truth on our side and, as has been proven again and again, in a truly open space of ideas we usually win.
It is difficult to forecast the future of crypto-currency with any certainty, but it certainly at least has the potential to do to centralized banking what the internet has done to traditional media sources. The guardians of this system are increasingly fearful of the potential of crypto privacy coins like Monero to disrupt their power.
Alongside internet censorship, financial deplatforming dealt a crushing blow to the last iteration of resurgent nationalism. It is difficult to organize any movement against the system when you are reduced to cash donations and postal orders as a means of fundraising, while the bravery and enthusiasm of would-be dissidents inevitably wanes when they realize speaking out will likely cost them financially. Crypto has the potential to change all that. Those supportive of the cause will be able to support full time activism and content creation by dissidents in complete anonymity, and the oligarchy will lose its main means of control over people’s lives. Not only that, but the pariahs of the international order now have a means to bypass the crushing sanctions that face those who challenge neoliberal hegemony. China is currently trialing the first state backed crypto currency, the digital yuan, which has the potential not only to relieve countries like Iran from the financial tyranny of the US, but also potentially unseat the US dollar as the global reserve currency.
These developments are of special interest to dissidents in the west. In the future, not only will their countrymen be able to easily and anonymously support their struggle against tyranny, but more powerful enemies of Western hegemony will have a means to easily support anti-war nationalist movements in the west. With the rise of China there is the potential for a “Thucydides trap”, the idea that the rise of a new great power makes inevitable an eventual conflict with the existing power. If the seemingly inevitable cold war between the US and China (or Russia) heats up, they will have the potential to seriously disrupt the plans of the oligarchs by supporting isolationist national populists in western countries with the click of a mouse. This is a prospect that should give nationalists as much cause for optimism as it terrifies the stewards of the system.
In the short-term, it is easy to see why any optimism toward the future is dim. We went from a marginal voice on the sidelines to an energized movement with our message reaching unprecedented new audiences across mainstream platforms like YouTube during 2015-17. With our acts of truth-telling evading the ability of the elites to control its dissemination, they moved to increasingly marginalize us by swift acts of deplatforming, lockouts of payment processors to financially starve us, and draconian repression in the legal arena. This grave situation we now find ourselves in has, understandably, demoralized even our most sincere and committed of activists. Given the trends we see developing among the areas we outlined above, there is a potential ground for seeding an effective political resistance. The latent decentralization of technology becoming increasingly realized, the global pushback against American unipolar hegemony, and the desire for financial freedom from the plutocrats fueling the commitment to crypto against the dollar provides us with the tools and new political conditions for charting our own course. The prospect of a new world of decentralization and anonymity has understandably excited the imaginations of libertarian and anarchist political factions. It may then seem counter-intuitive for nationalists, who have so tied their fate to that of the nation state, to be optimistic about the move to techno-anarchy. But the potential becomes clear when we realize that our political project is to restore an organic social order, and in the vacuum left by decentralization, it is ripe for localism, traditionalism and identity to flourish.
But we cannot take optimism for victory with these new developments as a given but rather as an opportunity to reorient the way in which we engage in resistance and assertion of our own interests. The idea of trying to appeal to and reorient American hegemony is not only a backward strategy that leaves us playing in an arena set by our enemies but also a poor strategy on the grounds that the world is becoming increasingly less favorable to the stability of American-Zionist Empire. We must exercise creativity by forward-thinking and flexible use of the advantages that arise within rapidly changing political conditions across all networks of social, cultural and institutional transformation both domestically and globally. To this end, we have reasons to be optimistic but with optimism for our future, comes the responsibility and steadfastness to act on and awaken the dormant potentials for our advantage. To arise and meet this challenge is a moralizing endeavor in itself.