Toward a National Liberation Movement

It’s hard to find a good historical parallel for what America is undergoing. Yes, it’s a revolution, but in key respects one very unlike those with which we’re historically familiar. For one thing, there’s been no sudden seizure of power. Our revolutionaries have slowly percolated their way to the top. But even more curious is the fact that while previous revolutionaries—Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis, Maoists, etc.—all professed love for their countries’ common people, ours accuse them of systemic villainy. 

Yet if one shifts the analogical frame, this last curiosity clarifies. America’s current revolution is less like that of France or Russia and more like what the African or Asian lands under British and French rule experienced. As with them, our revolution is being delivered by a culturally exogenous elite seeking to excise indigenous lifeways and supplant them with those it considers more enlightened.

To be sure, the colonial analogy is far from perfect. Western colonies often gained from being colonized; for us, it’s a dead loss. But there are enough similarities to help us understand the strategies our elites are following, how they could be better resisted, and why, as with most colonialists of the past, they’re likely to fail.

Colonial Analogies

Here are some of the colonialist resemblances that distinguish our elites from the behavior of more typical revolutionaries.

Woke Man’s Burden: Like colonialists of yore, ours have a civilizing mission: the elevation of America’s primitives. Whereas Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis, and Maoists romanticized their plebs, imagining them, Rousseau-like, as reservoirs of superior virtue and wisdom, the reverse is true of our colonizers. As they see it Americans must be dragged out of their “long Egyptian night” before they can be accepted as moral and political equals. This accounts for their abiding air of hauteur, to say nothing of their view of the American inheritance as one of troglodyte hatred and superstition.

Missionary Positions: To be rid of their backward ways, Americans must be brought to embrace a new religion—their rulers’ Dionysian one. This requires not just the toppling of institutions—and statues—but remaking the sanctums of private life. By and large Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis, and Maoists, though they spoke of creating “new men,” left this field rather fallow. Because “the people,” as they defined them, were numinously good, their agitprop largely centered on the need for political and economic rearrangement. With respect to family structure, or the intimacies of sex, they were generally conventional. By contrast, colonial missionaries were avid to impress upon the natives the starchier family and sexual codes of the Occident. So too are our colonizers, though with a diametric spin and even greater urgency. For the earlier missionaries, Sunday sermons and mission schools largely sufficed, gradualist pipsqueakery compared to the libidinous drumming of today’s education and media. 

Divide et Impera: Tried and true for holding colonial possessions is the widening of social rifts and the creation of new ones among the indigenes, usually undertaken by raising local underdogs above the hitherto dominant. Intersectionality is this strategy’s American consummation, exacerbating genuine grievances while inventing a trove of new ones. Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis, and Maoists, did quite the reverse, isolating selected minorities—aristocrats, capitalists, Jews, and landlords—so as to unite overwhelming majorities in fury against them.

Cantonment: Classic revolutionaries generally prided themselves on melding with the populations they championed, living modestly, or at least not sumptuously, when not in exile or underground. Colonial elites are completely different, lording it in splendid residences and closed compounds. Ours unquestionably prefer the cordoned high life, gazing from private jets and offshore getaways on distant peasant landscapes. 

Resettlement: Domestic tyrants prefer sealed borders to shut subjects in and keep strangers out. Forts, fences, checkpoints, and minefields bear witness to these concerns. Colonialists on the other hand have been avid importers of people. Some, usually from the homeland, strengthen their base of political support. Others, slaves and “coolies,” are brought in to provide cheap labor. In both instances, the aim is a more tractable and profitable population, successfully achieved during the early colonization of the Americas. The same phenomenon is transforming the United States today. 

Colonial Disanalogies

As noted, the analogies aren’t perfect. How so?

First, where is our colonialists’ homeland? Truth to tell, it’s but a metropole of the mind. Their promise to build America “back better” relates to no known template but merely fanciful aspiration. The pigs of past colonialists didn’t live in such utopian pokes. 

The accomplishments of their motherlands dwarfed most of what the colonized could claim, providing the technical and military foundations for imperial rule. Classic colonialism’s subjects correctly recognized many of these superior attainments and hoped to enjoy them themselves. In their dress, language, and deportment they frequently advertised this desire. It was the realization that they wouldn’t be accepted as equals that most alienated them—Mohandas Gandhi an exemplary case. Having repudiated the greater part of what America has accomplished, our colonial governors can only offer that proverbial poked pig. This considerably weakens their position.

Second, our colonialists look like those they rule. They also speak the same tongue. As the country’s demography alters this may change at both top and bottom, but we’re not there yet. People are naturally tribal and always more likely to resent advantages accompanied by other forms of difference. These differences aren’t as acute as they were for old-fashioned colonizers. 

Third, there has been no act (or acts) of conquest. Our rulers completed their long march through America’s institutions largely unnoticed until too late in the game. The facades of those institutions still stand, even as their inner life is progressively distorted. This bestows an illusion of legitimacy on what would otherwise appear disturbingly exotic.

A Hydra-Headed Monster

America is thus under attack from a hydra-headed monster, on one side a culturally exogenous colonizer, on the other something more classically revolutionary. The monster’s strength has lain in its incremental stealth and feigned familiarity, appearing to be something it isn’t—American and constitutional. In this respect “Scranton Joe” is its ideal avatar. But its underlying duality and the half-baked quality of each of its insidious persona gives it special vulnerabilities—as in the combining of arrogance with the absence of anything to be arrogant about, or its wallow in luxury while pretending to be radically egalitarian. 

Finally, it counts on an ideology of self-hate to paralyze the majority of Americans, a strategy audacious, unprecedented, and chock with exploitable contradictions. To be sure, the historical record is uncomfortably clear—elites usually prevail over masses—so by standard reckoning America’s future should be our elites’ to impose. But the most conspicuous exceptions to this generalization have occurred where underlings come to see their rulers as hostile foreigners, as did the peoples who threw out the British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese. “Us versus them” is always a compelling motivator and our new rulers are now positively inviting its use.

What’s more, because our elites’ mentality derives from Cloud-Cuckoo Land, they can’t deliver good governance, protective diplomacy, or material prosperity. Communist and fascist revolutionaries, though also utopian, had a technocratic approach to economic management that had actually been tried with some success under the command economies of the Great War. In their time it could pose as a rational way. They were also hard men who knew how to make their rule stick, however miserable it made those beneath it. The same could be said for traditional colonial administrators, also serious and seasoned men with true gifts to bear. Our political stage is now commanded, at best, by a troupe of burlesquers, likely to eventually take one pratfall too many.

Learning from those who faced more impressive foes, we must build an “us versus them” resistance, one devoted to ending our alien captivity by willing to name it as such. Our resistance’s bottom line for admittance must be deeply felt love of country, reverence for its defining heroes, and a desire to celebrate and marvel at its achievements. Critically, it must command both mind and heart, clear on principle but heavy with emotion. It must every inch be nationalist but of an American kind, welcoming all of genuine patriotism. And upon honest acknowledgment of their errancy, it must be prepared to accept strayed sheep back into the fold.

Taking On Colonialism 

A strong opening move would be to challenge our colonizers, and those who witlessly identify with them, to explicitly declare on which side their affections lie. Our elites have given us a wonderful opportunity to make this kind of polarization yield dividends. Their brazen pronouncements about “systemic racism” and “white supremacy,” now taken up by Joe Biden and other top Democrats, are nothing less than declarations of war on American identity and memory. Accordingly, let every politician, education official, and celebrity be asked unequivocally if he or she accepts these libels, with responses tallied, published, and politically acted upon. The process will discomfort many of anti-Americanism’s fellow travelers, driving a psychological wedge into colonialism’s ranks.

We also need to concentrate on repairing American identity’s intellectual foundations. This means not only engendering mass activism but, alongside and often through it, mass education and inspirational ceremony. So far too much of our political communication has been one way and atomizing, broadcast gurus talking through the ether at large but dispersed and passive audiences. Fine enough in itself, but badly in need of supplementation by participatory, and cumulatively reinforcing intellectual and emotional communion, especially on a face-to-face basis that’s bond-building and immune to electronic surveillance and interference. 

We badly need to build a youth movement that promotes the study of real American history, along with an adult counterpart to make up for past educational neglects. Traditional scouting in many parts of the country has been as much compromised as are the public schools. A patriotic replacement, with a serious educational component, would be a good way to recover lost civic ground while providing a productive occasion for adult volunteerism and self-education. 

We should also organize mass observances of traditional and newly created holidays, commemorating events like the Yorktown surrender and D-Day, or solemnly memorializing the victims of totalitarianism. Movements against the powers-that-be must fortify themselves psychologically through ritualized mass performance as well as more politically focused action, so let’s consider the creation of a counter-calendar to our elite’s parade of apologetic commemorations, filled with holidays reinforcing national consciousness and pride.

The goal isn’t civil war, it’s redemption of our republic from alien servitude and inching obliteration. What we want is what happened to most of the colonial empires during the middle of the 20th century, a collapse of overlord confidence and peaceful transfer of power back to “the natives”—us. Faced with a morally empowered resistance, drawing clear lines, and sparing no feelings, we can peel away the regime’s collaborators and, by isolating its core, break it. Alas, our rulers have no physical homeland to which to retreat, making ousting them harder. On the other hand, their inanity ensures that there will be a long train of discrediting events on their watch.

This kind of nationalist movement is not presented as an alternative to winning elections and finding strong leaders at the federal and state levels. But it’s an indispensable supplement. Even if all the branches of the national government were returned to “American” control, decolonization would require a radical reshaping of cultural and educational institutions for which only a rousing, grassroots consciousness-raising national liberation movement can provide the moral energy. Let’s waste no more time starting to build one. 

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About Stephen Balch

Steve Balch was the founding president of the National Association of Scholars and, from 2012 to 2020, director of the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization at Texas Tech University.

Photo: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images via Getty Images