Originally sent to VIXCONTANGO subscribers on July 10th, 2022
I have been writing lately a lot about National Conservatism and I feel like this is still a rather new, nebulous and undefined ideology in the minds of many and I want to define it as best as I can. When I refer to natcons or national conservatism, I want people to understand fairly well what it means. Liberalism in both its neo-conservative and neo-liberal forms has failed as governing ideology over the last 20 years in the West and clearly needs to be abandoned. But we can’t just take down a governing ideology just for the sake of taking it down and replace it with chaos, anarchy and entropy, we need to replace it with something better. I think National Conservatism is that ideology that provides better solutions than Liberalism in almost every respect and gives us a substantial ideological upgrade. At the very minimum, it is worth to try it out over the next decade and see if it can improve upon the failures of liberalism. Trump was elected in 2016 as a guttural scream by the American people against the failures of liberalism and over the past 6 years, national conservatism has emerged as the ideological underpinning of what the Trump election was all about. Trump himself stumbled into some of the principles, but the ideology was still ill defined while he was in power and this first attempt at national conservatism in the American government failed miserably because it devolved into a personality cult around Trump that the media correctly now calls Trumpism. Yet National Conservatism is most definitely not Trumpism. It has very solid principles that have nothing to do with Trump. The natcon movement will have a bright future with or without Trump, although it most likely will always be associated with Trump who catalyzed it and turned it into a national and international phenomenon.
Liberalism sprung up as an ideology in opposition to National Socialism and Communism. National Socialism put the nation (ie an ethnic group) above all and utilized the power of the state to control every aspect of economic and social life to expand the power of the ruling ethnic group. That was often done at the expense of other ethnic groups within the country and later at the expense of other nations. National Socialism led to frequent conflicts and wars. Ultimately, the never ending warmongering put the Nazis on the path to extinction as the world, out of self-preservation, assembled a large enough coalition to fight against it in World War 2. Communism, in its international or national versions, sought to give governing power over the means of production to the worker class which turned out wasn’t intelligent enough to run an economy well. Everybody needs a boss, especially the workers who can’t think farther than their nose. A person can either be a good professional with skills or a manager, but he can’t be both and communism’s lack of appreciation for management expertise and market price signals was its death knell. While communism excelled in pulling together national resources effectively to accomplish big tasks such as sending a man to space, maintaining a strong military or building large cities from scratch, it failed in generating sustainable and vibrant economies. Communism didn’t have a viable model for proper resource allocation and when resources aren’t allocated correctly, given that resources are limited, that quickly led to economic death and misery. Communism easily fell prey to Liberalism which offered property rights, wealth, sustainable economies, better standard of living, higher real wages, broad consumer choice and access to all of the world’s resources and products. Communism of 2nd half of 20th century was clearly an upgrade over the National Socialism of the 1st half of the 20th century and the Liberalism of the 1st half of the 21st century was clearly an upgrade over Communism.
But Liberalism wasn’t perfect. The globalization associated with liberalism resulted in some major problems. One of the major problems was economic – free trade left some parts of world that were previously successful in a national context impoverished once the economy went global (example: manufacturing in the US Midwest). Businesses and jobs were lost, incomes stagnated or went down for decades. Free trade and free markets produced long term winners and losers. Another problem with economic liberalism is that not all countries in the world practice it. Major economies like China don’t want to adopt free trade and instead seek to subvert it with geo-economic tools such as tariffs and subsidies. The problem with liberalism’s free market vision is that markets aren’t truly free. Governments always meddle. Thus liberalism is really more of a utopian global economic ideology than a real one. Liberalism can work in the West, but isn’t really a truly global ideology because neither Russia, nor China, nor India, nor Middle East, nor Africa, nor South America – home of more than half of the world’s population – subscribe to it. How can it be global when half the world doesn’t use it? As an economic model liberalism simply doesn’t describe the world economy correctly. And if the model isn’t correct, its prescriptions will surely fail and as we have seen they have failed rather spectacularly leading to poverty, inequality and political destabilization.
From a social perspective, liberalism failed as well. The diversity of new experiences and meeting all kinds of people that made liberalism attractive in the early 90s eventually morphed into a forced universal experience that was imposed by powerful public actors (multi-national corporations or the state). Liberalism morphed into a form of neo-communism/neo-nazism that suppressed alternative ideologies, nationalities and religions in favor a newly molded singular identity. That singular identity is defined by how an idealized perfect human being should behave. Thus liberalism in the West today isn’t really “liberalism” as in acceptance of atomic individuality, but instead it is “futurism” or “avant-guardism”. Westerners today may be diverse in form but certainly are uniform in thought and behavior. If somebody diverges from this idealized avant-guard persona, they are immediately cast out of the government, businesses, work place and ostracized their social circle. There really is no tolerance for different cultures in the West today, instead only the singular Western so called “liberal” culture is accepted. For example, nobody can sacrifice animals in the West today in observance of their religion because that is considered animal cruelty and the Western value of not being cruel to animals supersede religious customs (of let’s say the Muslims). Today, you are either a “liberal” or in the dog house. In forcing people against their will to conform to this avant-guard ideal, liberalism killed freedom of association which gives rise to diversity in the first place. Liberalism as a social ideology can only thrive when nations and different types of communities already exist. Destroy the nation and the ability of people to self-define their customs and practices and liberalism loses the legs it stands on. Liberalism is in crisis today precisely because it seeks to destroy nationalism – the very foundation it is built on.
National conservatism fixes the problems of liberalism because it restores the nation at center of economic and social life both domestically and internationally while simultaneously guarding against the vast power of strong public actors such as multi-national corporations and activist governments. The word “nation” itself doesn’t just mean the government as neo-communist “liberals” interpret it but instead means the combination of public and private sectors in the country. “Conservatism” means that a set of customs and traditions get preserved through time and define a common experience for the people of the nation. National conservatism liberates society from the desire to mold everybody into a universal avant-guard persona and from the false promise of atomic individualism. It allows different cultures in the nation to co-exist while simultaneously creating a common national narrative and experience. Instead of being alone, people can proudly belong to part of a group with a shared experience. National conservatism doesn’t preclude the existence of conflict between different groups in society or seeks to protect the rights of everybody, instead it creates mechanisms at the national level to check vast concentrations of power. It allows groups to accumulate (and also lose) power but once they become big enough it works to constrain that power and create balance of power between the various groups that enables conflict to remain managed and ensures the long term sustainability of society. This national balance-of-power approach is used not only in domestic affairs but in international affairs as well.
Here is a list of specific policies that should define well what National Conservatism is. There may be more but this is what I could think of. Some of the policies listed here are borrowed from the American Compass institute which I discussed in the article “Rise of National Conservatism” late last year.
- Decouple worker benefits from employment and eliminate the single employer employment model. Reduce the power of the multi-national corporation and the single employer corporation over individuals and economic life of the country.
- Enable the Gig Economy and the ability of individuals to work multiple jobs by making benefits portable. Allow everybody to save for retirement and have medical insurance regardless of how many jobs and how many hours they work. Labor market flexibility needs to be encourage in the private and public sector.
- In big companies, allow for the representation of organized labor (workers) as well as gig workers in management boards so as to make sure that corporations don’t make drastic decisions that fracture the social fabric and economic vibrancy of the country
- Implement industrial policy and protect domestic companies and workers from state-level geo-economic attacks such as subsidies and tariffs implemented by adversaries or allies. Keep geo-economic protection at broad sector or national level in order to ensure proper functioning of domestic and international capitalism and free markets. Work to preserve innovation. Avoid targeted measures that help individual companies or monopolist players. Ultimately the goal of industrial policy is to even the scales of international competition and restore market functioning when foreign government try to take advantage of free markets.
- Protect communities and individuals from private sector collectivism (ie. woke corporations)
- Register multi-national corporations with large stakes in adversary nations as foreign agents and make sure their voice in Congress is treated with the proper amount of suspicion as their objectives may not always align with national objectives
- Use state power to break up or monitor very large corporations/monopolies who may use their vast capital to skew the national laws and regulations exclusively in their favor. Limit the vast power of plutocracy and make sure the economy remains vibrant and new economic actors can emerge with regularity. Over the next 20 years, we need to prevent ruthless tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple from destroying the dynamism of the American economy as they have over the last 10.
- Concentrations of big capital need to be checked and balanced by the national government (“tiger management”). Labor first needs to be used as a check and whenever labor measures fail, the government should take a more active stance so as to build a balance of power in the economy between the different actors.
- Support for continental level currencies such as the US dollar, Euro or Yuan which remove the power of local politicians to devalue the currency in favor of a professional elite picked from a large continental talent pool. This helps to reduce politically induced inflation and preserve people’s savings.
- Support non-sovereign currencies such as Bitcoin that enable people from around the world to get around sanctions and conduct commerce regardless of geo-economic barriers. In fact, core tenet of national conservatism is to eliminate or at minimum reduce greatly the use of sanctions as geo-economic tool. International economic dynamism must be preserved regardless of the political differences that nations might have. People’s economic well-being shouldn’t suffer at the altar of social differences. In addition, national conservatives need to allow people to save themselves from the bad monetary policy or economic decisions of politicians and bureaucrats by seeking safe haven in non-sovereign currency like Bitcoin.
- Seek free trade and free markets and preserve property rights as default policy but work to fix market failures when those market failures are brought on by either large domestic actors (monopolies, oligopolies) or foreign actors (China).
- Abandon American unipolar model and top-down globalism in favor of “balance-of-power” model that respects the spheres of influence of other major economic and geopolitical players like China, Russia, Europe, Middle East and India.
- Use pragmatism, real-politik and federalism as guides in international affairs. While America needs to protect and project its values, its value projection can’t come at the expense of ideological purity and international peace. The goal of natcon foreign policy is to maximize market access and global economic welfare and output, not to dictate an American set of values (or some ill-conceived “universal” global set of rules). Instead seek consensus where one can be reached and allow different continental regions to compete, coexist and experiment with different economic and political choices.
- The goal of national conservatism is to enable different approaches to social and economic problems and provide strong national siloes in which they can be credibly explored. This enables experimentation on global scale from which all can learn and improve.
- Understand the distribution of global resources well and construct a workable framework of fruitful cooperation with the commodity producers and major manufacturing nations by putting lesser emphasis on their value system and greater emphasis on economic cooperation
- Combat and eliminate the formation of any global bureaucracy that seeks to undermine national authorities. Nations must be sovereign and large groups of people need to be able to construct their own approaches and solutions to problems. Global harmonization of policy is not an objective. In fact, global harmonization of policy should be avoided unless it arises organically. Under no circumstance should unelected global bureaucrats be allowed to oppress the nations of the world and terrorize their citizens with bad and inappropriate policies.
- Freedom of association must be preserved. Oppressive forms of government dictated social policies must be challenged and reversed.
- Freedom of speech must be preserved. Major social media networks must be made public utilities and must utilize a national censorship code. We can’t have corporations dictate public speech in the American town square. As a general rule, at most 10% of speech should be censored. People should be able to express themselves. Freedom of speech is essential to a well-functioning society. The censorship madness and cancel culture that we have experienced over the last 5 years needs to be ended as soon as possible.
- People should be able to use their tax dollars to pay for charter schools. Currently educational tax dollars only go to public schools where these funds get abused and people have to suffer bad education policies by rogue state and local governments. As such people have to pay both taxes and fees for private schools. Instead, a tax payer should be able to sue their tax dollars towards private school tuition where their children get the education they feel is appropriate.
- Schools and colleges in America need to preserve and teach traditional Western morality and American culture. America wasn’t created by Asian immigrants, it was created by Europeans and its European tradition must be preserved, taught and highlighted. While various religions and identities need to be respect, there shall be no confusion about what it means to be an American and what an American identity is. The liberals and the Democratic Party must be explicitly prevented from redefining what an American is.
- Religion and morality must be taught and emphasized. Civics must be taught again.
- Key part to the endurance of a strong nation is a strong birth rate and government policies must be put in place that provide help for families and ensure that people have an easier time raising children. American corporatism has made child rearing very difficult over the past 40 years and that phenomenon needs to be actively counteracted by the government. The role of non-procreative individuals and Malthusian ideologies need to be sidelined completely and eliminated from the national conversation in its entirety. People need to stop being harassed with insane non-procreative ideologies. While people may make their own choices with regards to pro-creation, people that don’t procreate harm the nation and its economic vitality in the future. Child rearing families spent fortunes in both money and effort to raise the next generation and they shouldn’t be penalized in the tax code relative to non-procreative people who fail to carry their generational burden. Tax laws need to equalize somewhat the income advantage that gay and childless people get from avoiding the substantial child care expenses people with children encounter for 20 years of their lives.
- Restrict voting rights to people who make positive contributions to the economy and don’t live off government transfer payments. People below the poverty line shouldn’t be able to vote. People that can’t handle their own finances can’t be voting on public finances. We need to reintroduce civic tests as well (the same test that immigrants take before they become citizen and obtain the right to vote). People need to understand the government and be able to read before being able to vote. Roll back the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Voter ID must be required everywhere and only US citizens should be able to vote in state, local and federal elections.
- Make it easier to get rid of a rogue executive branch in America. In Europe, Presidents and Parliaments can easily get rid of wayward Premier Ministers (example: Boris Johnson) and rogue ministers or governments. There has been a lot of abuse of executive power in America over the past 20 years with the executive branch routinely executing hard left or hard right policy via executive orders with which 70% of the population disagrees and many times are struck down by the Supreme Court. Executive branch activism needs to be curtailed substantially and the people of the nation must be able to more effectively reign in the executive branch and make it execute policies that both make sense and align with the popular will. Constraining big government activism is a chief objective of national conservatism. The executive branch in America has far too much power.
- Enforce the borders and end the open border non-sense. Enforce legal immigration. End illegal immigration. Start mass deportations of illegal immigrants. Increase legal immigration based on skill and education.