Liberty: freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control; freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
Fraternity: a group of persons associated by or as if by ties of brotherhood; any group or class of persons having common purposes, interests, etc.
While fraternity is certainly possible without liberty, is liberty possible without fraternity? Not merely a fraternity of NAP adherents – that’s an easy (and irrelevant) question; a fraternity “as if by ties of brotherhood.” Common culture, common custom, common language, common religion.
It is a question ignored by many who call themselves “libertarian” and “hope” for a libertarian world. Further, it is a question answered affirmatively by some such as these – liberty can be had in a land of any culture or no common culture. Is this true? Or is this claimed out of ignorance, or worse, out of preference for a leftist, socialist (even communist) world?
Christopher Caldwell has written a review of a book by Christophe Guilluy: Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut (roughly: “The Twilight of the French Elite”). The analysis and review are applicable to the situations behind the political realities of the west today; it is also applicable to the question of the possibility of liberty without fraternity – liberty without nation.
Caldwell describes the several books by Guilluy:
…they give the best ground-level look available at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France. They also give an explanation for the rise of the National Front that goes beyond the usual imputation of stupidity or bigotry to its voters.
Wow! Someone employing a few brain cells when analyzing what is happening throughout the west in reaction to “globalization” (a term broadly and sloppily applied, as it is, instead, a reaction to unworkable and even enemy political institutions); the reaction is not due to “stupidity or bigotry.”
His analysis is applicable to several situations currently playing out in the west: Brexit; Alternative für Deutschland, AfD; Norbert Hofer, Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ; Geert Wilders, Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV; Marine Le Pen, Front national; Donald Trump, etc.
Beginning with globalization – it is not denied that this has brought economic benefits to many…
But it has also brought inequalities unseen for a century, demographic upheaval, and cultural disruption.
This isn’t a matter of economic calculation or GDP; people are far more than economic adding machines; people value much that cannot be quantified. The question is one of liberty and fraternity – nation; people find value in the familiar, common, constant. They find value – of a type not found on a balance sheet – in “nation.”
Can liberty exist when fraternity – nation – is threatened or destroyed?
The author describes a France that is divided in two – not left and right, not even rich and poor, but in a manner very familiar to reasoned analysts regarding the recent US election: on the one hand, those who benefit from globalization as has been forced upon the west (to include the wealthy, immigrants, and various members of the “acceptables”); on the other, those who have been harmed by the same.
These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them.
It’s a place for millionaires, immigrants, tourists, and the young, with no room for the median Frenchman.
The native and multi-generational Frenchman who is married, the father of two, and a high school graduate – he need not apply. The one constituency offered no protection; the one constituency against whom it is legal to discriminate: the native patriarch of a traditional family.
Guilluy doubts that anyplace exists in France’s new economy for working people as we’ve traditionally understood them.
One need not agree with the feeling of such people; one merely could accept that they feel a certain way due to being put out. They are put out due to government action; they will demand government action in return.
Doesn’t sound like freedom.
Paris has driven out those who were once thought of as synonymous with the city. There is no housing for them in Paris – much of the housing originally built for and occupied by the working class is now set aside for immigrants, even first and second generation.
It is now used primarily for billeting not native French workers, as once was the case, but immigrants and their descendants, millions of whom arrived from North Africa starting in the 1960s, with yet another wave of newcomers from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East arriving today.
Without local housing in the major centers, there is no easy access to jobs for this former city working class – jobs of the new economy. And there are no similar employment opportunities for them outside of Paris or the few other major metropolitan centers.
This is further understood via the title of Guilluy’s second book, La France périphérique:
This is the key term in Guilluy’s sociological vocabulary, and much misunderstood in France, so it is worth clarifying: it is neither a synonym for the boondocks nor a measure of distance from the city center….Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy.
It is a virtual, as much as physical, periphery. Yet, it is not merely a question of ensuring internet access for all:
When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.
The private housing is too expensive (with prices bid up by the winners of globalization), and the public housing – housing that they and their parents paid for – is no longer available to them.
…even if French people were willing to do the work that gets offered in these prosperous urban centers, there’d be no way for them to do it, because there is no longer any place for them to live. As a new bourgeoisie has taken over the private housing stock, poor foreigners have taken over the public—which thus serves the metropolitan rich as a kind of taxpayer-subsidized servants’ quarters.
The immigrants live “in the arena,” in proximity to the work – the work offered via the new economy.
So why not just move in to the public housing?
A public-housing development is a community, yes, and one can wish that it be more diverse. But it is also an economic resource that, more and more, is getting fought over tribally.
Because not every “tribe” believes in the diversity preached by the (white) elite. I should rephrase – the “other tribes” are happy that the (white) elite believe in diversity. The “other tribes” do not hold a similar belief, and are better off for it.
Who has “freedom” in this environment?
While inequality is inherent in humans, what if “diversity” exaggerates and adds tension?
It’s a controversial premise—that inequality and racial diversity are linked as part of the same (American-type) system and that they progress or decline together.
Read this again carefully: what if the “controversial premise” was true, that racial diversity and inequality go hand in hand? When put this way, the premise is not so controversial. And when put this way, is it understandable that racial diversity leads many (both racial minority and expendable deplorable) to call on the government to do something about it? Is this freedom?
Though this premise has been confirmed in much of the West for half a century, the assertion will shock many Americans, conditioned to place “inequality” (bad) and “diversity” (good) at opposite poles of a Manichean moral order.
Are you one of those “shocked” Americans? Typically white, reasonably well-off, and never been at the “minority” end of “racial diversity”? You should get out more often. And maybe stop telling others how to feel about it.
Guilluy has written much about how little contact the abstract doctrines of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” make with this morally complex world.
Because it is never as simple as chanting “NAP, NAP, NAP.” Humans are…human.
Unlike our parents in the 1960s, we live in a multicultural society, a society in which “the other” doesn’t become “somebody like yourself.”
Immigration works reasonably well when “the other” starts out life pretty close to “somebody like yourself.” This was certainly true for the US for much of the period until the mid-1960s. If “the other” is not “somebody like yourself” – and especially if they have no interest to be – well, witness Paris.
And when “the other” doesn’t become “somebody like yourself,” you constantly need to ask yourself how many of the other there are—whether in your neighborhood or your apartment building. Because nobody wants to be a minority.
Try being a minority for a while; there are few times in history and few places in the world where this has been a great experience. The no longer working class of France understands this – they are treated as a minority in their own country. The elite will come to understand this as they will soon enough also be in the minority – and being “elite” has never protected the minority.
Seventy percent of Frenchmen tell pollsters that “too many foreigners” live in France. A democracy is supposed to take action according to such sentiments; this hasn’t happened in France. Perhaps it is due to the demographics of those polled: Senior executives favor further immigration, mid-level managers and clerical workers disagree.
This has broken down traditional political constituencies:
Largely because of cultural questions, the authors warned, the working class no longer voted for the Left. The consultants suggested a replacement coalition of ethnic minorities, people with advanced degrees (usually prospering in new-economy jobs), women, youths, and non-Catholics—a French version of the Obama bloc.
And a direct read of the recent presidential election results in the United States.
The culture industry now sits in territory that is 100 percent occupied by the beneficiaries of globalization.
These senior executives and other winners in the new economy, labeled “Bobos” (“bourgeois” and “Bohemian”) hold themselves in high esteem:
These nouveaux riches differed from their predecessors in being more predatory and less troubled by conscience. They chased the working-class population from neighborhoods it had spent years building up—and then expected the country to thank them.
And label as “deplorable” those who don’t thank them.
Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them.
Recall the stunned look on the faces of the news anchors on the night of the US election, as the possibility, then the probability, then the reality of a Trump victory played out.
The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye.
The system works for the immigrant and the elite. I will also add: it works for the basket of acceptables.
This estrangement is why electoral results around the world last year—from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump—proved so difficult to anticipate.
Yes, because they live in their self-satisfied bubbles.
The real divide is no longer between the “Right” and the “Left” but between the metropoles and the peripheries. The traditional parties thrive in the former. The National Front (FN) is the party of the outside.
Just as in the US: the traditional democrats and republicans join together with the former; Trump (and in some ways Sanders) voters represent the latter.
French elites have convinced themselves that their social supremacy rests not on their economic might but on their common decency. Doing so allows them to “present the losers of globalization as embittered people who have problems with diversity,” says Guilluy.
The banding together of establishment parties to defend the system against anti-system parties is happening all over the world.
Hence McCain prefers Clinton over Trump.
Forced Culture Change
The result, in terms of policy, is a number of what Guilluy calls “top-down social movements.” He doesn’t specify them, but they would surely include the Hollande government’s legalization of gay marriage, which in 2013 and 2014 brought millions of protesters opposing the measure onto the streets of Paris—the largest demonstrations in the country since World War II.
Or men are women and women are men – by law. This is the “tolerance” we are expected to show; the tolerance we “owe” our fellow man…woman…oh, whatever.
This applies to all aspects of cultural change: immigration driven by voluntary means can bring wonderful benefits to all involved, to include an evolving culture. There is nothing close to this in today’s world – more so the opposite; immigration is subsidized, coerced, driven by state action. This is the “open borders” we are lectured to embrace.
Culture change by force; subsidized by the victims. Nothing libertarian here.
Is liberty possible without fraternity – without some common, national bond? Clearly, as we see played out throughout the west, the answer is no – as traditional national bonds are broken, society fragments and calls for ever-greater government action are made.
Destroying culture was the strategy of the communist Gramsci; he was far more prescient than was Marx (for whom Cultural Marxism is wrongly named). It is clear that Gramsci’s strategy is being implemented throughout the west. Why destroy a competing, relatively voluntary, governance structure? Why destroy the one culture that gave birth to the ideas of freedom and liberty, the culture that dates back almost two thousand years in Europe? To ask the question is to answer it.
So, what to make of libertarians who avoid these questions – or worse, deny the connection? Is this out of ignorance, or worse, out of a preference for a leftist, socialist (even communist) world?
I guess the answer to this question is irrelevant – either way, libertarians such as these are destructive toward achieving and maintaining liberty.
What would one call an enemy of liberty? I suggest, they are not libertarians.
I cannot help but think of Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail – coincidentally (or not), a Frenchman writing about massive immigration into France.
…and now, stretching over that empty sea, aground some fifty yards out, the incredible fleet from the other side of the globe, the rusty, creaking fleet that the old professor had been eyeing since morning. The stench had faded away at last, the terrible stench of latrines, that had heralded the fleet’s arrival, like thunder before a storm. The old man took his eye from the spyglass, moved back from the tripod. The amazing invasion had loomed up so close that it already seemed to be swarming over the hill and into his house.