“Originality is rare in punditry these days,” writes Joseph F. Cotto, who is “a scholar and columnist from central Florida.” “Every time a new narrative-of-the-day arrives, we take refuge in groupthink rather than thinking for ourselves. Not [Ilana] Mercer … [who] is one of America’s leading paleolibertarian voices, [with] a prominent column on WorldNetDaily.”
JOSEPH F. COTTO: This seems like one of the most polarized eras in American politics. Why do you think that our country’s political atmosphere has become so divisive?
ILANA MERCER: I think you are correct in your assessment regarding the unparalleled polarization of American society. Have you noticed how commentators on both sides of received political wisdom attempt to diminish the fact you articulate by referring to America’s fractious history? Nevertheless, this is a complex issue that is hard to answer briefly. I’ll try. In the introduction to F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” economist Milton Friedman underscores this important point: “The argument for collectivism is simple if false; it is an immediate emotional argument. The argument for individualism is subtle and sophisticated; it is an indirect rational argument.”
Under way today in the USA is a monumental clash between individualism and collectivism; between the forces of reason and reality, against force and coercion. The “philosophical” differences between the Republikeynesians, on the one hand, and the Democrats, on the other, are insignificant. The first believe individual rights should be carefully calibrated by central planners; the latter believe these natural rights can be overridden.
There is also a cultural dimension to these irreparable divisions. We are today, thanks to social engineering, a deracinated and divided society. We are no longer what John Jay termed “a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and custom.” There can be no unity without community. The glue of togetherness is gone, replaced by a flimsy, fluid and thoroughly fake unity peddled by politicians. “Ideas” they call it. On the one day, it’s a crusade for democracy; on the next, it’s a war against racism.
COTTO: Multiculturalism is spreading rapidly across the Western world. This has led not only to cultural barriers, but tremendous religious and ethnic conflicts. What are your views on the subject?
MERCER: Multiculturalism as practiced in the West amounts to top-down, centrally enforced and managed integration. Show me a historical precedent where forced integration has worked. As it works across the Anglo-American and European spheres, one group (the founding, historical majority) is forced by self-anointed and elected elites – no contradiction there – on pain of public and professional ostracism, to submerge its history, heroes, customs, culture, language, and pander to militant minorities, who’ve been acculturated by the same elites in identity-politics warfare.
As a libertarian, I believe that the right to include or exclude, associate with or dissociate from, is inherent in the right of private property. Private property is a civilizing institution. How better to keep the peace than to respect the right of free private-property owners to keep their distance (or not) – to hire, fire and, generally, associate at will? This foundation of civil society is being dismantled for the sake of militant multiculturalism and policed pluralism.
An interesting new book, reviewed by one Barnaby Rogerson, makes the point that the Levant of the 18th century was peaceful and prosperous (and surprisingly libertine), because it was made up of “a grid of self-governing communities.” Integration between disparate communities was not enforced. And surprise, surprise: Communities freely chose to live in complete segregation. This freedom fostered “remarkable tolerance” among diverse communities across the cities of the Levant of that time. “Deals before Ideals, City before State, Trade before Politics,” as the reviewer puts it. This freedom of association was the source of strength. These autonomous ethnic communities were free of the top-down, punitive, forced integration that has become the hallmark of the 19th-century nation-state that usurped their authority.
COTTO: From foreign terrorism to domestic riots, we live in an increasingly challenging world. In order to face it, America must have a sufficient national security policy. What would you say that this should entail?
MERCER: It depends on your definition of “a sufficient national security policy.” If it means protecting borders and people not our own – which is how both Republicans and Democrats conceive of “national security” – then, no, we disagree on what is a “sufficient national security policy.” U.S. foreign policy operates upon the premise that American men and matériel should be capable of reaching and controlling all corners of the world. I’ve opposed this foreign policy folly as long as I’ve been writing. (And in particular, Jan. 16, 2004, I pointed out that, “Inviting an invasion by foreigners and instigating one against them are two sides of the same neoconservative coin.”) …
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