“To a dark place, this line of thought will carry us.”
In light of the recent spate of articles about “Bluexit” and “Calexit,” as well as California’s ban on travel to “anti-LGBT states” (not countries, apparently), I feel it’s appropriate to have a discussion on what a national separation would actually mean.
The Twitter user PALE_Primate has already given a magisterial rebuttal to Baker’s Bluexit piece, and I will not repeat it here. Instead, I am concerned with what comes after the split, for both Blue (Democratic America) and Red (Republican America). I will then discuss ways to save both Blue and Red from potential dooms. This post will focus on Blue, and Red will be discussed later.
We’ll begin with this map of 2016 election results by county.
The problem is that this doesn’t correct for population density. Let’s try another map, on a more granular level. Unfortunately, the NYT only has a 2012 map, but it’s similar enough to suffice for our purposes.
Now we have a better idea of what Blue and Red are working with.
Though Blue looks small and disjointed on the map, it has a lot going for it. As Baker points out above, it generates two-thirds of our economic activity. It controls virtually every institute of research. Its cities are ever-growing nexuses of advancement and productivity.
But there is another side to it, one that Baker obviates.
What’s more, as a quick glance at the electoral map will tell you, almost all of blue-state America is now concentrated in three contiguous clusters: the East Coast from Maine down through Virginia; the West Coast, along with Nevada and Hawaii; and the Rocky Mountain zone of Colorado and New Mexico.
I invite my reader to look at the maps I posted and figure out his glaring error. Hint: find the two contiguous areas he missed.
It seems there’s no room in Baker’s liberal utopia for Blacks and Latinos.
For better or worse, humans really resent having to subsidize outgroups. Even forgetting about race, there’s a similar issue in Italy between the advanced, productive North and poor, state-dependent South. So in that light, Baker’s feelings are understandable.
The danger that progressives face is that this issue will be unmasked if Blue separates from America. It’s easy to bash Mississippi for dependence on the federal government. It’s much more uncomfortable to face the fact that redistribution has a racial character. Once this is laid bare, I don’t expect even progressives to continue high levels of welfare indefinitely.
When the dust settles, I expect Blue will be a plutocratic multicultural state, as opposed to anything resembling America. Politics will consist of rival elites mobilizing ethnic grievances for rent-seeking purposes. If mass immigration continues (as Baker desires), this could lead to chaos, violence, and suffering.
It’s an open question whether assimilation could solve this issue, assuming it’s even possible. But it’s not a relevant question, since Blue is more interested in the “cult of ethnicity” than assimilation. These days, at least.
Can Blue salvage a viable country out of this? Most on the dissident right would vehemently say no. I dissent, and think yes.*
(Of course, being on the Right, I think this country would be suboptimal on every level. But just for fun, let’s see how a minarchist can try to save the Left.)
The world has a long, storied history of federalized, multicultural empires, dating back to Persia. It’s a perfectly fine way to build a society,** and Blue can model itself on such lines. But it has to be serious about doing so.
The problem right now is that progressives wants to have their cake and eat it. They want social democracy, but they don’t want nationalism and assimilation, which democracy requires to avoid succumbing to rampant identity politics. They want diversity, but don’t realize that it includes much more than just skin tone and food and clothing.
I will assume social democracy and diversity are non-negotiable to progressives. Fair enough. I don’t see why people can’t live in small, autonomous communities that operate on social democratic lines. Their interest in diversity would be satisfied by voluntary interactions with people from other societies, which would be inevitable in densely-populated cities. The central state would play a minor role, mainly being involved in dispute arbitration and collective security.
That said, there are some things progressives cannot do successfully. For example, they cannot make saliently different people share a political unit. A city or county, maybe, but not a political unit. Doing so would only lead to a political discourse of grievance and resentment. Thus, a multiracial political unit would require a completed assimilation process to work.
The second problem is that progressives have a messianic tendency to spread their ever-novel social norms. Sure, I’ll grant that every White that would live in Blue would share these norms. But Blue has a lot more than Whites, and Blue wants to import hordes of people from much more conservative societies. People from countries that behead gays are not going to care about your pronouns.
Pillalamarri explains that in some countries, an extreme form of federalism reigns where, for instance, “family law … is particular to various religious sects.” This degree of segregation is necessary when cultures are not merely different but incompatible.
Thus, SocJus City and the Ummah would need to have different laws, sharing only a minimal set of individual rights. Progressives would need to content themselves with slow, gradual acculturation from the latter. Of course, they may be assimilated into the Ummah themselves.
I’ve left aside the matter of economic issues, primarily because the Left and I are starting from completely different premises. For market socialists, guaranteeing a modest standard of living would have negligible issues on the economy. I’m sure they would argue it’s even possible for lower-performing populations to develop successful redistributive systems (remember, you can’t take from some races and give to others indefinitely). I strongly disagree with all those ideas.
I suppose Blue would guarantee a modest standard of living for its citizens, and Red would guarantee nothing at all, and we will see whose arguments are better, in what situations and for what populations.
Finally, immigration. I think mass immigration is a thoroughly terrible idea. But with the changes I’ve discussed, it becomes a bit less terrible, and maybe Blue could make it work.
Blue could go one of two paths: search for utopia and find only disaster, or secure a more modest set of goals. It cannot create an racially equal, diverse, socially progressive nation. But it could create a confederation of social democratic communities.
Demographically speaking, real-world America is headed in the direction of Blue, and this is baked into the cake. Multicultural federation may well be our fate, though obviously social democracy won’t be ubiquitous. In any case, we should start thinking about how such a world may look.
The next post will be on Red, and it will be more exploratory. And probably get me more hate, too.
*Pillalamari’s comments at the end about clothing and other items mar what is otherwise an excellent piece. I also think he could focus more on intellectual historical valuations of diversity, uniformity, nation, and empire. For a brief introduction to such ideas, see here.
**Most of the dissident right would argue that diversity is always terrible. I think that’s usually the case, especially when dealing with disparate populations, as is happening in America and most of Europe. But as a rule? I think the effects of diversity depend on the populations involved. Oftentimes, it can be neutral or even net beneficial, as it forces people to abandon tribal rituals as they create common ground. I recommend readers see the arguments about research on diversity here.