Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration

by Keith Preston

This is the full text of my speech at the National Policy Institute Conference on September 10, 2011 in Washington, D.C.


When Richard very graciously invited me to speak to this gathering, one of the first things I thought about was the fact that many people would no doubt wonder why someone with my political background and orientation would even be at a conference like this in the first place. Given that I am an anarchist, and this is a conference on nationalism, many would ask the question of whether anarchism and nationalism are not diametrically opposed perspectives. Certainly, the ardent critics of nationalism, whose ranks include many self-proclaimed anarchists, would likely feel this way and many who consider themselves nationalists might also consider the relationship between anarchism and nationalism to be an incompatible one.

I, for one, would deny the incompatibily of this relationship. I could cite the words of another anarchist who recently remarked that if you are opposed to one world government, you are already an anarchist of a kind, as you would then favor an anarchism of nations if not communities or individuals, and that the rest is just haggling over the details. So perhaps we are not as far apart on this question as we might think. However, my own reasons for holding to the views that I do involves a question that I think is much more substantive in nature and that is the question of what I call “totalitarian humanism.”

Totalitarian Humanism is simply my term for what is more commonly called “political correctness.” I did not coin this term. Instead, I picked it up from an anonymous, underground British writer some years ago, a writer whose real name I never knew. But I prefer the term “totalitarian humanism” because I think it is the one that best describes the worldview associated with political correctness. The essence of totalitarian humanism can be identified with an observation from Joseph De Maistre who said in observartion of the political order that was to eventually arise out of the French Revolution (quote):

The constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man. In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life. If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.

….This constitution is capable of being applied to all human communities from China to Geneva. But a constitution which is made for all nations is made for none: it is a pure abstraction, a school exercise whose purpose is to exercise the mind in accordance with a hypothetical ideal, and which ought to be addressed to Man, in the imaginary places which he inhabits….(end quote)

The worldview that I have characterized as totalitarian humanism is also the worldview that dominates all of our institutions in the modern Western world. It is the prevailing ideology of our political classes, our economic and business elites, and our cultural and intellectual elites. It is the worldview that is taught in our educational systems from the kindergarten level all the way up through the postgraduate level. Indeed, it seems as though the more education one has, the more likely it is that one has completely internalized this worldview. This is the worldview that dominates the mass media and entertainment industry which in our modern societies is a major force in the shaping of public opinion, perhaps comparable in many ways to the role of the Church during past eras in the history of Western civilization. In fact, this is the worldview that is preached in the pulpits of many contemporary Christian churches, and not just among the mainline liberal denominations but even among those with an ostensibly conservative theological orientation.

The ideology of totalitarian humanism insists that profound human differences regarding matters of culture, nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, or language are simply of no significance. Differences of these kinds that have been generated by thousands of years of human social evolution and have produced many magnificient variations of human culture that have existed since ancient times are dismissed by the proponents of totalitarian humanism as mere surface-level social constructs that contain no essence or intrinsic value. Some proponents of this worldview have gone even further and insisted that the variations to be found among human populations are merely interchangeable commodities. According to this kind of reasoning, if it can be called that, the differences between Western civilization or Islamic civilization or Chinese civilization are really no more important than the differences between MacDonald’s or Pizza Hut or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Some have objected to my use of the term “humanism” is this particular way. After all, were not the ancient Greeks who essentially founded our civilization also humanists? Was not the Renaissance, a defining era in the history of the evolution of Western civilization, also a humanistic project? Still others have mistakenly identified my criticisms of what I call “totalitarian humanism” as attacks on secularism. After all, was Nietzsche not an atheist along with Hobbes and Hume before him? As a consequence of this confusion, it is important to understand that I am not using the term “humanism” is the classical sense. Nor am I using the term as a synonym for secularism or atheism. Indeed, I count myself as something of a disciple of Nietzsche and I share many of his views regarding the impact of Christianity on Western civilization more generally. Instead, I am using the term “humanism” to describe a view of humanity, human nature and human civilizations whose core ideas are universalism, egalitarianism, and the linear-progressive view of history.

As I have already stated, the univeralism implicit in the totalitarian humanist worldview denies the reality of innate and often profound differences which can be seen to exist among diverse human populations. This universalism is then followed by an incipient egalitarianism. If human differences are merely artifical or arbitrary social constructs with no intrinsic value, then inequalities found among human groups must also be unnatural, artifical, or arbitrary, according to this worldview.

It therefore follows, if one accepts this view, that inequality among human populations is the result of either a lack of effort on the part of humanity generally to eradicate inequality, or malevolence on the part of those who are seen to be the perpetrators of inequality. Another aspect of the totalitarian humanist worldview that I am describing that is not as frequently discussed but is in my view at least vital to understanding this worldview is the notion of a progressive view of history. According to such a view, history is perpetually moving towards higher levels of human progress in such a way that ordinary human foibles and failures will no longer be relevant. We see this worldview, for instance, in the Christian notion of the lamb lying down with the wolf. More relevant to our purposes here today, we see this worldview active in the bold proclamations of contemporary liberals and leftists, whose ranks include most so-called conservatives, and who insist that human conflicts of the kind that have existed since time immemorial over differences of culture, race, or nationality will disappear if only human beings can learn to live together in peace and harmony.

Given my own political identity, the totalitarian aspect of what I call “totalitarian humanism” is a matter that I am particularly concerned about. We are all familiar with the totalitarian political ideologies of the twentieth century and the consequences they brought about for mankind. These twentieth century totalitarian ideologies differed considerably among themselves concerning the specific nature of their ideals, but a common thread to be found among them is their deification of the state and their desire for the state to maintain an all-encompassing presence in the wider human society. I would submit that many of the proponents of the totalitarian humanist worldview at least implicitly share a similar vision of the state. While even some of our colleagues who are here today have had the experience of living under a totalitarian left-wing regime, most of us who originate from North America, Great Britain, Western Europe, or Australia have no such experiences in our own personal histories. Yet, as some thinkers of the European New Right and others have suggested, what we have seen emerge in our contemporary Western nations is a kind of “soft totalitarianism.”

We may not yet be at the level of repression found in the Stalinist states, with their secret police, concentration camps, arbitrary arrests in the middle of the night, and psychiatric incarcerations. However, we can observe all around us efforts to repress and silence those who would speak critically of the worldview that presently dominates all of our institutions. The fact that this gathering itself is being held in a public facility under police protection as it would be imprudent for reasons we are all aware of to hold this conference in a private facility is by itself testimony of the creeping totalitarianism we find all around us today. In recent times, previous efforts to hold conferences with themes very similar to this one have been prevented either by the efforts of self-appointed vigilantes using threats of extra-legal violence while the state has looked the other way or by use of behind-the-scenes political pressure exercised by public officials. Such incidents are chilling examples of soft totalitarianism, or perhaps of what the late Sam Francis referred to as “anarcho-tyranny.” Indeed, we here in the United States are actually fortunate that the First Amendment allows us to gather at all as a conference of this type might well be legally prohibited in some other Western nations.

Some years ago, I wrote an article for the LewRockwell.Com website, which I believe is still available from that site’s archives, where I outlined the relationship of totalitarian humanism to the state. Then as now, I maintained that the political vision implicit in the totalitarian humanist worldview is one where the all-pervasive presence of the state in human affairs is legitimized on an ideological level by the kind of utopian universalism, radical egalitarianism, and belief in an abstract conception of “progress” to which the adherents of totalitarian humanism subscribe. We see manifestations of this all around us as well. At the level of local government, we see the persistent efforts of state agencies ranging from the public school system to the child protective services to the family courts to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of institutions that are in competition with the state such as the family, religion, private associations, and the general community. At the level of the national government, we seek attacks on the autonomy of the private sector, civil society, regions and localities in the name of advancing leftist-egalitarian ideals. Even in the realm of foreign policy and international relations, we see aggressive war being waged in the name of liberal presumptions such as the alleged universal sanctity of so-called “democracy.”

I would likewise submit that mass immigration is the primary weapon being utilized by the proponents of the totalitarian humanist worldview. One of the great ironies of the situation with mass immigration is that it involves a de facto alliance between the forces of the radical cultural left on one hand and big business and super-capitalism on the other hand. The enthusiasm for mass immigration demonstrated by contemporary Western elites can, I believe, be understood on two different levels. The first of these involves matters of naked self-interest on the part of those who are proponents of mass immigration. A number of scholars who are also immigration skeptics have produced powerful critiques of the vast array of political interests that benefit from mass immigration. As previously mentioned, the capitalist elites or big business or whatever we wish to call it is one of these. In an article by Alain De Benoist that was posted on the Occidental Observer website a few weeks ago, Benoist refers to mass immigration as the “reserve army of capital” and discusses the role of political agitation by big business elites in the implementation of de facto open borders immigration policies. Most of us are probably aware of the revelation by Tony Blair’s former speechwriter Andrew Neather back in 2009 that the Labour regime of Mr. Blair deliberately pursued an open borders policy for the sake of making the U.K. more multicultural. In both of these instances, we see a cynical calculation on the part of either the business class in the former instance or the political class in the latter instance to utilize mass immigration for the sake of the short term advancement of their own economic or political self-interest without any regard whatsoever for the long term consequences of such immigration for the future of their nation or their posterity.

Mass immigration is supported by businessmen who want the cheap labor that immigrants provide, politicians who want their votes, ethnic lobbies who wish to increase their own numbers, public sector bureaucrats who wish to obtain more clients for their services thereby guaranteeing themselves job security, education professionals who wish to increase both the size of their student bodies and the size their budgets, and religious professionals who see immigrant populations as a possible source of replacements for their own dwindling congregations. Many other examples could be provided of those who cynically endorse open borders in the hope that mass immigration will advance their own narrow, immediate interests.

But there are also others who endorse mass immigration for reasons that transcend mere personal selfishness. There are those who consider support for mass immigration to be a matter of profound moral concern. It is these people who are the leading or at least most zealous proponents of the worldview that I have described as totalitarian humanism. According to the morality to which such people subscribe, Western civilization must atone for such past injustices as racism, imperialism, colonialism, Nazism, or the Holocaust by what amounts to the surrender of Western civilization itself to the invading Third World immigrant masses. That such a surrender would amount to the destruction of a civilization that has evolved over thousands of years and the dispossession of indigenous Europeans in their historic, ancestral homelands is of no concern to those who hold to this worldview. Indeed, they cheer on the advent of such destruction and dispossession as part of the march towards what they believe will be greater progress and greater equality. Just as the proponents of the worldview I have characterized as totalitarian humanism give no thought to the long term future survival of their civilization, so do they give no concern to the more immediately tangible and observable consequences of mass immigration. As the writer Derek Turner recently observed in an article for AlternativeRight.Com (quote):

“Diversity” has such talismanic importance in America’s public culture that almost everything else is hazarded to accommodate its ever more outré demands—social cohesion, the interests of the majority population, free speech, fiscal responsibility, political accountability, academic excellence, environmental protection, immigration control, government effectiveness, police effectiveness, military effectiveness and sometimes even—in prisons where staff refuse to segregate racial gangs—human life.

Even some conservatives now publicly defend “diversity,” either out of ignorance of its effects or because to condemn it would mean acknowledging that America has been pursuing a woefully wrong-headed policy for decades, under Republican as much as Democrat administrations. (end quote)

One thing that I have personally found to be the most interesting and perplexing about the unbridled support given to mass immigration from the political Left has been the Left’s utter obliviousness regarding the incompatibility of such support with other ideals that the Left ostensibly holds to be sacred such as women’s right, gay rights, secularism, legalized abortion, a lenient and humane penal system, the deregulation of private moral behavior, the promotion of alternative lifestyles, and so forth. Clearly, mass immigration is not in the interests of the domestic working classes or the domestic poor. And while mass immigration is certainly harmful to the interests of the historic white majority in the United States, it is arguably even more harmful to America’s traditional minority groups such as blacks, American Indians, Mexican-Americans, or Asian-Americans. For instance, we are already observing the ethnic cleansing of African-American neighborhoods in southern California by Hispanic immigrant gangs. Nor is it immediately clear as to how the importation of mass numbers of Arabs, Muslims, and other Third World immigrants into the West serves the long term interests of the West’s historic Jewish minority population.

I would submit here today that mass immigration is the most serious issue our civilization faces at present. Many other aspects of our current political and cultural situation can be corrected with time. Foolish laws such as those creating thought crimes in the name of combating “hate” or prohibiting free speech can be repealed. Anti-meritocratic policies such as affirmative action can be rescinded. Wrongheaded government programs can be abolished. The failings of particular institutions, whether they are governments or armies or universities or banks, can be corrected through changes in institutional leadership, or through the creation of newer and better institutions. But mass immigration is the one policy that, once it reaches a certain tipping point, cannot be undone. If mass immigration continues and even expands, eventually our civilization will reach the point of no return, and thousands of years of cultural evolution will be lost as a result of demographic overrun. There is no law of history that guarantees a civilization’s perpetual survival. We know from the example of the classical Greco-Roman civilization of antiquity that even the greatest and most powerful civilizations can eventually become extinct. Let us not allow Western civilization to once again suffer such a fate. Thank you for listening to me.

5 responses to “Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration

  1. Amusing that someone calls himself an anarchist and wants to give the state the enormous power to control who live on “its” territory. Although it is true that certain forms of immigration are politically wanted, open borders are in principal no policy. Closing borders is a policy.

    “In both of these instances, we see a cynical calculation on the part of either the business class in the former instance or the political class in the latter instance to utilize mass immigration for the sake of the short term advancement of their own economic or political self-interest without any regard whatsoever for the long term consequences of such immigration for the future of their nation or their posterity”

    Yeah, those evil self interests don’t go together with the long term goal of the greater good. And he later knows exactly that mass immigration is against the locals interest. Funny how he can know all these things. That is the mind set of every central planner. And closing boders is certainly a certral plan. This sentence pretty much sums up, why nationalism and anarchism, that is freedom don’t go together.

  2. Notice that there is not a single word in my speech endorsing any particular state action regarding immigration. Rather, I am criticizing mass immigration of the kind we are presently experiencing in the West as a product of the alliance between State and Capital and a plethora of policies imposed by this alliance. See Hans Hermann Hoppe on this question:

  3. Well, excuse me, you are giving a speech to a statist crowd that clearly defines immigration into state territory and you are starting by making sure that anarchism and this nationalism wants similar things. You even conclude that mass immigration is one of our greatest problems today. You then fail to provide any evidence on how immigration control in a free market may work. Indeed, immigration is a state vocabulary as it always means immigration into a state territory. Instead, you continue and bring every protectionist argument in the book against immigration, like It is not in the interest of the greater good of the nation or that it is not in the interest of “domestic working classes”.

    I know Hoppe’s argumentation. I think he is right that people have a tendency of moving into neighbourhoods that are similar to them. That is fine, that is a market phenomenon. You on the other hand seem to have a problem with this when you describe the massive settling of Hispanics in southern California as ethnic cleansing. That is exactly the phenomenon that Hoppe is talking about.

    On the other point that property rights are a free market tool of immigration, Hoppe is simply wrong. I do not know of any historic society that ever had such a radical concept of Land ownership. Even societies that are familiar with the concept of land ownership, like for example England always had a deeply rooted concept that everyone is free to transpass the land. Such a radical concept of land ownership is simply unenforceable without a state army that does not need to be economical. Therefore I do not think it is likely that we will see such a right on a free market. But of course that is not even necessary, because in a free market you can just buy a bus or plane ticket and book a hostel or a room in a house. That is how people move within the US or England. The costs are peanuts compared to what immigrants spend today to get into the territory of another state.

  4. Keith, what you are saying makes a lot of sense. Maybe without the state and self interested party’s encouraging mass immigration, housing, feeding and subsidizing immigrants at the expense of the local population, the problem would resolve itself.

  5. Nico,
    Surely you must understand that politics does not transpire in a vacuum. The political order of a particular society will reflect its underlying cultural, ideological, and economic characteristics. Modern ideologies like libertarianism and anarchism are outgrowths of classical liberalism, which is in turn an outgrowth of the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is a unique achievement of Western civilization that has been transmitted to other civilizations with only varying and sporadic degrees of success.
    The importation of unlimited numbers of immigrants from pre-Enlightenment cultures is simply not conducive to the preservation of Western Enlightenment civilization (which is likewise an outgrowth of its classical pagan ancestor in the form of Greco-Roman civilization). The more Islamic immigrants we import, the more Islamic religious and cultural values will influence Western politics and society. The more African Christians we import, the more re-Christianized our increasingly secular civilization will become. It is this secularization that is the principal achievement of the Enlightenment.
    The more impoverished Third World immigrants we import, the wider class divisions will be in Western nations and the more appeal there will be for political demagogues calling for massive state action in the name of poverty amelioration. The more socially conservative immigrants we import from pre-Enlightenment cultures, the more opposition there will be to core libertarian values like the repeal of victimless crime laws and the deregulation of private moral behavior. Even many Asian countries, where the average IQ level is high and organized religions have minimal influence, have capital punishment for petty drug offenses.
    The more immigrants we import from cultures with long-standing grievances against Europeans (many of them quite justified), the more social divisiveness there will be. Such scenarios almost always involve the rise of an authoritarian Hobbesian state for the sake of keeping the peace or a situation where one group plunders and represses the other. For instance, in America, the white ethnic majority has historically repressed and economically exploited the other ethnic groups. There is no reason to think it will be any different when whites lose their majority status and are surrounding by hostile ethnic populations. Whether South African and Zimbabwe are better societies for having converted to majority rule may well be an individual value judgment, but clearly these nations have not become libertarian nations (not to say they never could be, given a change in political leadership and institutional arrangements). How even less will that be the case when the indigenous populations of the West are displaced by Third World immigration.
    And what of our traditional minorities in the West? Would you rather be a Jew in Europe or America or in Saudi Arabia or Egypt? The example I pointed to of African-American communities being overrun by Hispanic gangs in southern California is very real. The more violent street crime there is from the influx of impoverished immigrant populations, the more demagogues demanding police state powers will have an appeal. How much tolerance will Arab and Asian immigrants show to American Blacks, American Indians, the Basques, the Romani people, the Australian aboriginals, homosexuals, and other indigenous minorities in the West? And what about the increased presence of ethnic lobbies calling for various forms of military intervention on behalf of their mother countries or particular sides in civil wars in their regions of origin.

    The uncritical support for mass immigration found in many libertarian circles would seem to be a bit myopic and ill-considered.