(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
The Tribal Trump Card
The Rise of the “Westernists”

The “alt-right” shares something important with Islamists: they both owe much of their recent success to quickly grasping the fact that politics is no longer just about policies.

Published on: November 16, 2017
Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow at the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution and co-editor of the new book Rethinking Political Islam. Rashid Dar is a senior research assistant at the Brookings Institution.
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  • AnonymoussSoldier

    Yep, thankfully, and finally, it’s about values and security. I guess it probably was in the past, to be fair, but we’ve had a bad ’bout of globalist, corporate policies for several decades now. Policies so antithetical to US interests and really western interests that it’s hard to believe it has taken this long for real opposition to materialize.

    Luckily it’s here now, and all of us commenting, rating, making memes, and of course voting are the cavalry. The clearnet is where the fight is primarily six months or so before elections. But the darknet is where organization and strategy takes to place, and that including campaigns to raid clearnet sites during that critical pre-election six month interval.

  • DonHonda


    “By any measure, fears of (Illegal) immigration are driving many white Americans to the Republican Party. And, indeed, the Republican strategy on immigration appears to have been successful. Republicans now control the House and the Senate, the governor’s office in 31 states, and two-thirds of the state legislatures. They are winning the political war.”

    “An even bigger factor is that the ties of racial and ethnic minorities to the Democratic Party are tenuous. Research by Taeku Lee and myself shows that most Latinos and Asian Americans don’t feel like they fit into either party. In national surveys, those who refuse to answer a question about party identification, those who claim that they do not think in partisan terms, and independents make up the clear majority of both groups. All told, 56 percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Asian-American identify as nonpartisans.

    Even among blacks, there are signs of ambivalence. Almost 30 percent of blacks feel
    that the Democratic Party does not work hard for black interests.”


    “Most Hispanics aren’t single-issue voters when it comes to immigration. A recent Gallup poll found that among registered Latino voters, 67 percent are at least willing to support a candidate who doesn’t share their views on immigration. And 18 percent don’t consider the issue important at all.

    What’s more, many Hispanic citizens have little sympathy for immigrants who haven’t played by the rules. Especially among Latino voters born in the United States, resentment of immigrants who have entered the country illegally can run deep. Forty-two percent of American-born Hispanics disapprove of President Obama’s executive actions to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants.”

    Reuben Navarette: No Joke: Trump Can Win Plenty of Latinos

    Conservative Hispanic Leaders Poised To Endorse Trump


    “Trump made gains among blacks. He made gains among Latinos. He made gains among Asians. The only major racial group where he didn’t get a gain of greater than 5% was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population.”

    Gee, No wonder why I fall into the Proud Independent group.

  • QET

    An interesting article.

    on one side line up liberal individualists, who maintain almost as a matter of faith that any form of personal expression is to be protected and even celebrated.

    You put “conservative nationalists” on the other hand. On what hand, then, do the so-called Western progressives fall, the people who are doxxing, shouting down and beating down all who dare express anything they find objectionable?

    People have a right to believe that anything—whether a religion, a philosophy, or a civilization—is supreme Truth.

    This proposition strikes me as antithetical to the Western tradition. That people do in fact believe that anything is supreme Truth is unquestionable. That they “have a right” to so believe is the very ground over which emotional and intellectual battles have historically been fought in the West.

    The purpose in life that people seek, what you call in your last paragraph a “grand narrative,” is not something any politician or government can give. It cannot be given at all, except by each person to himself.

    The history of Western governments over the last 50+ years has been to increasingly close off fields of activity to ordinary human endeavor. Like the enclosure movement of 18th and 19th century England, the State discovered that it could sell what it had just been giving away. This financial motive dovetails nicely with the motivation of the progressive Left, in both its original and modern forms, to use the State to replace independent action of people with more and more “governance.” I believe that it is this frustration at being prohibited from acting independently that is being expressed as “nationalism” today.

  • D4x

    Shadi Hamid & Rashid Dar imaginative postmodern Logophobia (fear of words), possibly Borderline Hallucinatory Disorder, is the
    Nov. 16 iteration of creating labels, specifically “conservative nationalists” = “racist Westernists”, “because of the dangerous policy effects
    his [POTUS Trump] words might have.”

    TAI’s posting this exercise in wordsmithing on Nov. 16 is NOT a coincidence. The neoDemocratic Party’s Obstructive Resistance to Trump is trying out impeachment, and Remnick’s new, and pathetic, clarion call in the Nov. 20 issue of The New Yorker’ is Misogynist.

    On Nov. 15, America’s media went with “Trump Delivers Robust Defense Of Foreign Policy, But Reporters Can Only Tweet About Water”, but Townhall came closest with “Trump Pulls a Rubio; Twitter Freaks Out”


    11 15 2017: Trump delivered a brilliant summary of his historic 12-day, 5-nation trip to Asia, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4COOi4942A https://www.whitehouse.gov/featured-videos/video/2017/11/15/president-trump-delivers-remarks Transcript:
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/11/15/remarks-president-trump-his-trip-asia woven with key points from his powerfully clear, historic speeches in Riyadh on May 21 at the Arab Islamic American Summit; Poland July 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adpgw93_DfE 72nd UN General Assembly Sept. 19; new Iran strategy Oct. 13; and, Seoul National Assembly on Nov. 7.

    Hamid & Dar, and Brookings, and TAI, are specifically afraid of Trump’s Poland speech becoming the foundation of “a grand narrative”
    for the deplorable “conservative nationalists” = “racist Westernists”. Hamid & Dar know so little of American history, they think “conservative nationalists, [are] perhaps channeling their inner Paul Revere”. No, the hero in Trump’s grand narrative is Alvin York. Trump’s historic five-nation Asia visit was another York ‘five shots in the bullseye’ that will outlive Islamists, Brookings, and,
    the devious poseurs, the deplorable Logophobes, who are Not in The American Interest. Please stop trying to erase history.
    THIS is Who We Are:

    Transcript: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/07/06/remarks-president-trump-people-poland-july-6-2017 July 6, 2017, Krasiński Square, Warsaw, Poland, 1:16 P.M. CEST […] The triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship gives us all hope for a future in which good conquers evil, and peace achieves victory over war. […]
    One hundred years after the entry of American forces into World War I, […]
    We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. […]
    We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves. (Applause.)

    And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person,
    and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. […]

    As long as we know our history, we will know how to build our future. […]

    Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory. […]

    Donald J. Trump also once said “Water may be the most important issue we face for the next generation.”
    On November 15, 2017 the U.S. Department of State and USAIDannounced, and posted the U.S. government’s Global Water
    Strategy. https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/11/275611.htm

    Trump pulled an Alvin York ‘five shots in the bullseye’ with this, the other foreign policy strategy.
    He trolled the media on Nov. 15, with his Fiji water break to see if any of them ever notice this transformational approach to Water Wars (Tibet, Kashmir, Syria, Kurdistan, the Jordan River, the Nile: are all Water Wars)

    What does “pulls an Alvin York ‘five shots in the bullseye’” mean?

    Gary Cooper as Private Alvin York, with the U.S. Army Springfield Rifle, in the 1941 film, #1 at the box-office,“Sergeant York.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbpojm3iWUg

    Most people only remember Gary Cooper/Sergeant York being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for clearing a ridge of German machine gun nests – with 25 kills, because ‘they were lined up just like turkeys’ – and capturing 132 POWs during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive Oct. 8, 1918.
    World War One, the “War to End all Wars”, ended on Nov. 11, 1918.

    11 09 2017: Ground is broken for long-awaited World War I memorial, Washington, DC [That is General Pershing’s statue, still standing in] “Pershing Park, a small, often-overlooked area dedicated to the famous World War I general, John “Black Jack” Pershing.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXAd6VtkFrQ “…memorials like this one aren’t for the dead. They’re for the living, reminders of conflicts that should never be forgotten …“Young people need to see memorials and ask questions about them,
    find out what it was that went on in history to create the need for these memorials,” Edward M. Hogan, an Army veteran, said.
    Hogan’s father served in World War I, and his uncle served with Pershing before that. Hogan himself served in Vietnam and the Korean War. As a veteran, Hogan said he was proud to see so many younger attendees in the audience at the memorial’s ground breaking.

    “Our history has to build with our young people and if young people don’t find out about our history it’s never going to be carried
    on.” https://www.stripes.com/news/us/ground-is-broken-for-long-awaited-world-war-i-memorial-in-washington-dc-1.497127

    “Born December 13, 1887 in a two-room dogtrot log cabin in Pall Mall, Tennessee,York had a grand total of nine-months schooling at a
    subscription school he attended in his youth […] He considered running for the U.S. Senate against the freshman senator, Albert Gore.
    In the 1932 election, he changed his party affiliation and supported Herbert Hoover over Franklin D. Roosevelt because FDR promised to repeal Prohibition. […]

    When asked how he wanted to be remembered, the old sergeant
    said he wanted people to remember how he tried to improve basic education in
    Tennessee because he considered a solid education the true key to success.

    It saddened him somewhat that only one of his children went on to college, but he was proud of the fact that they all had received high
    school diplomas from York Institute.
    Most people, of course, do not remember him as a proponent for public education.”

    President Donald J. Trump Proclaims November 12 through November 18, 2017, as American Education Week […] we recognize that the
    foundation of the American Dream is a quality education that instills lifelong skills and develops strong character.
    All our Nation’s children deserve the chance to be successful, to live fulfilling lives, and to give back to our communities. […]

    That’s all.

  • Suzy Dixon

    Well, then what, precisely, am I supposed to be? Am I supposed to be an Islamist? Am I supposed to be an East Asian Communist of some sort? I mean, you say it yourself in the piece. More than 1 billion Muslims, in your example, do in fact believe in their religion and its prescribed way of life with pride and confidence. What happens to the rest of us if we give up our own in group preference in the face of somebody with a very strong in group preference? The group without pride and in group preference loses.
    You aren’t a “westernist” so then what are you? You are certainly enjoying “westernist” values of freedom of speech, religion and expression. Those aren’t found in communist or Islamist states.

    • StudentZ

      You’re you. You’re a human being. I think the tendency to seek group validation is being misconstrued as a need here. So-called Western values are found in communist and Islamist states. Marx and Engels were Europeans well acquainted with the continent’s philosophers after all, while Muslims admired Aristotle and kept the legacy of the Greeks alive. So-called Western philosophy is not exclusively Western at all, and contemporary Americans have no more claim to the work of Kant or Locke than that of Confucius or Laozi. In fact, people who live in cities around the world may have more in common with each other than their rural counterparts. The reality is that globalization created new allegiances that were not confined to state boundaries, and many of us take more comfort in a shared solidarity with the world’s citizens than patriotic fervor.

      • Muhammad Peace be Upon Me

        Secular government combined with freedom of speech and from of (or from) religion is “westernist”. That’s all. Go to china. Try having this conversation. Sorry, you can’t because it’s a communist autocracy that bans thousands sites, including disqus, and scrubs the sites that it does allow (allowing them because it can fully control the content). I dont even need to talk about the theocracies of the world, do I?

        • StudentZ

          Chinese censorship has nothing to do with my argument, and there are plenty of examples of autocracy and religious zealotry in Western history. As I implied before, the Romans would have happily forgotten aspects of ancient Greek civilization, while the Muslims embraced some of the virtues found in other societies and developed them further (consider algebra, for example). Similarly, Islam has been characterized as initially secular. Sultans and emirs were separate from the caliphate. Consider the Umayyads before the Persians came along.

          I was simply questioning why one hemisphere (which transcends geographic boundaries) gets to take credit for some fantastic ideas from a tiny minority of history’s population (whether you’re discussing the Greeks, Enlightenment thinkers, or twentieth century scientists), especially when such contributions are evaluated uncritically and simply accepted as a matter of heritage (an anti-intellectual stance that does not remotely reflect the celebrated philosophies.) There were fascinating thinkers from other parts of the world, and I tend to agree with Fritjof Capra’s notion that the scientific method has much in common with Taoism. Yet even Catholicism, which seems incompatible in many respects, has found a way to survive science.

          How and why do seemingly contradictory philosophies exist within populations where they seem paradoxical? Because people and ideas are complex and both should be evaluated separately. For example, state oppression is not an inveterate part of communist ideology, which is why you have Marxist academics railing against centralized power. Similarly, secularism is not an inveterate part of American life, and there are members of the U.S. congress who would happily see the United States become a Christian country. Claiming secularism as a great Western concept has little meaning if we abandon it, and it’s quite possible that other countries outside the Western bubble value secularism more than we do at this point. I think it’s a bad idea to pretend people are inextricably linked to a few reductive concepts, when societies across the world tend to reflect large population fluxes and a wide spectrum of ever-changing philosophical movements.

          • Muhammad Peace be Upon Me

            Cant simply write off censorship and lack of religious freedom in theocracies and communist autocracies. That tells us everything we need to know about you.
            The west gets to take credit for such things because it invented them. Look at what you’re doing. You’re talking about the west between 1000 and 2000 years ago. Everybody shares a history of deifying leaders and dictatorships of some kind, but only the west invented secular government with freedoms of speech and freedom of and from religion, and created citizens instead of subjects. Even in the far east such principles had to be imposed. Japan can’t take credit for such things, for example, because it didn’t invent them, although it can take credit for adopting them even when the imposition was no longer happening under arms.

          • StudentZ

            I’m not writing off anything, but it’s unfortunate I was not able to convey my point before you wrote me off. I thought Orientalism lost its allure when Edward Said first started writing about it decades ago, but I guess I’m living in the past. I’m not sure what you think my point is, but I’m simply saying the West is a dated concept used to sow divisions between people who may have more in common than first impressions would suggest. It’s a way of forgetting how the civilizations conquered by empires contributed to the glory of the conquerors. It’s also a way for people to stand on the shoulders of great men while abandoning everything those men stood for.

            Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy presents the stories of both wise and benighted people, both of whom (through infinite wisdom or foolishness) could have facilitated your worst dystopian nightmares, so let’s not pretend the Chinese are the only ones with bad ideas. While we criticize their censorship, they criticize our mass shootings. To claim either shortcoming is some reflection of Western Civilization is missing the point, I think. None of this, of course, is a rejection of good ideas at all, because you’re not actually discussing ideas. I would be happy to celebrate utilitarianism or liberty, but I won’t pretend that I’m part of some group or society that is intrinsically inclined to embrace those ideals. After all, I read the newspaper.

          • TNI Censors Comments Now

            I like the Chinese example because it’s an eastern people ruled by one of the worst things to ever come out of western thought – communism. Of course the Chinese people (in China) don’t get a say. They are heavily censored, and when they gather at Tiananmen they get shot in the head. So..yeah. Really, people do vote with their feet. It’s not a coinkydink that the proverbial West is the most desired place to live.

            Now, whether it’s just the welfare someone is after, or do they genuinely they love the principles of secular governance and individual rights, well that’s a case by case question. But we do see, from the middle east to east asia, including a lot of Chinese, people in the proximity or with the means to get to the west, they go. And they often do is much is possible to stay, and that includes staying illegally.

      • Kathy Hix

        • Jeff77450

          Thank you for posting that. I just watched it and now I will watch the full presentation which is about 1.5 hours. I’ve just recently discovered JH and will be checking out more of his works. I don’t know if you know who Jordan Peterson and Victor D. Hanson are but they are well worth checking out.

  • Anthony

    Politics is no longer just about policies – has it ever solely been (more about who we are perhaps). “That politics is becoming basically tribal has been surprising to some, but this is really just a confirmation of what political life has been for most of history: a battle over who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to believe in.” On the whole, the essay is actually referencing (indirectly) an ideology: Westernists/Islamists. Necessarily,here’s a consideration (and definitely not new thoughts): An ideology can be dangerous for several reasons. The infinite good it promises prevents its true believers from cutting a deal, It allows any nimber of eggs to be broken to make the utopian omelet (Westernists/Islamists – Means/End). And it renders opponents of the ideology infinitely evil and hence deserving of infinite punishment. Someone has said that the design of the mind can encourage the train of theorization inferred in essay as a consequence of our drives for dominance and revenge, our habit of essentializing others (groups/religions/peoples),our elastic circle of empathy, and the self-serving biases that exaggerate our wisdom and virtue.

    A key implication of “The Rise of the Westernists” remains how do we (society) explain extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.Well, one way may be that an ideology (Westernists/Islamists) provides a satisfying narrative that explains chaotic events, stressful and anxious eras, misfortunes, etc. in a way that flatters the ideals and competence of believers. In brief globalization is a symptom while yet a complicated process presently for many.

    “Through not often coupled together, both Islamists and the West’s conservative nationalists…place great importance on the communal dimension of human society….Though they view their aims as diametrically opposed Islamists and Westernists mirror each other in their preoccupation – and even obsession – with collective identity and cultural integrity.” (Shadi Hamid/Rashid Dar)

    • StudentZ

      I was trying to criticize the problematic Westernist/Islamist dichotomy, but you did a better job, I think.

      • Anthony

        You did fine. I read your responses and thanks.

  • sirselby

    Oh so Islamists are more similar to…….conservatives? Silly me I thought it was the authoritarian Left.

  • StudentZ

    I think it’s important to emphasize that Achen and Bartels are critiquing idealistic notions of democracy, which, in practice, is anything but ideal. The tribalism is dysfunctional, and people tend to vote against their own interests, have short-term memories, and can be easily coerced and co-opted by wealthy interest groups. Exploiting that tribalism may benefit the powerful (and indeed it has), but I agree with Bartel and Achens that thoughtlessly championing the supposed will of the people can lead to a populism in which they are ultimately disenfranchised. A society that does not understand the limitations or pitfalls of voting disempowers its voters. Rather than provide another ideology for voters or try to appeal to the whims of populism, which would do nothing to alter the existing political quagmire, I prefer Achen and Bartels’ call for thoughtful, systematic reforms targeting corruption and promoting a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources.

    • Everett Brunson

      “and promoting a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources.”
      Define equitable.

      • StudentZ

        Achen and Bartels were disappointingly vague, but equitable means “fair and impartial,” so I am referring to a system that does not unfairly or unjustly privilege the wealthy. Beyond that, I think it is in most societies’ interest to ensure less fortunate members of the population have access to resources, protections, and opportunities necessary for a decent quality of life. This is a broad statement that has very little meaning. However, as broad statements go, I think it’s as meaningful as claiming people need a mission. Perhaps they do, but I’m not sure what that means for public policy. In general, though, it’s probably a good idea to keep people occupied.

        • Everett Brunson

          Thanks for your reply. Semantics are slippery things as most words cannot be quantified–especially words such as unfairly or unjustly as used in ” unfairly or unjustly privilege the wealthy.” Words demand a frame of reference. Who defines exactly what is unfair or unjust? The men of the greatest wealth today did not inherent it. Jobs, Dell, Buffett, Gates, Bezos, and so on all came from modest beginnings. Each had a quality that enabled them to acquire great wealth. The common uniting factor was having an idea and pursuing it better and to a greater extent than anybody else. How is it unfair of them to acquire this wealth? Especially as each used the system currently extant in the world? How do they go about giving up their acquired wealth without harming those that depend upon them for jobs and livelihoods? Who determines who gets that wealth?

          It is the “who” that always disturbs me in the re-distribution scheme. No one has yet satisfied me that the “re-distributer” will do so in a fair or just manner–because the words fair and just come from and are dependent upon point of view. History has shown that man rewards those who are loyal and punishes those who are disloyal.

          If you take my house, my car, my clothing, my money and give it to someone else without my permission, you are stealing–whether you are an individual or a government. Taxation is a currently agreed upon system for the maintenance of a government. When used for defense and infra-structure it benefits all within its borders. When it is used to take from those that have and gives the proceeds to those that do not have, it is theft–whatever the altruistic reason given for the theft.

          • StudentZ

            You raise decent questions, which I don’t think I can address adequately (for multiple reasons, including limited time, knowledge, and the scope of this forum). My initial purpose was to point out aspects of Achen and Bartels’ book that were not mentioned in the article (but were very relevant, I thought). However, Achen and Bartels’ focus was on debunking myths about democracy, as opposed to providing policy solutions for creating better democracies. I mentioned their fuzzy solution only because I don’t think their purpose was to claim democracy was fundamentally broken. Nor were they trying to suggest that we should simply accept that people are tribal and inevitably slaves to their own biases.

            My interpretation was that reliance on voting (and nothing else) to resolve disputes democratically was doomed to fail without other safeguards and systems in place. I spoke broadly about resource distribution when I responded earlier, but I should have emphasized the influence of money on elections, congress, and democratic processes specifically. I do think you need an educated and healthy population for democracy to function properly. I also think you need safeguards against corruption, but some of this must come, not just from taxation or regulation, but from greater investment on the part of all people in the democratic systems that shape their societies. What would this actually entail specifically? Who knows? Are we standing at the end of history or is democracy part of an ongoing evolution that incorporates more advanced technologies?

            My final point may be a bit contentious, but your wealth is not your own. You do not decide the value of the dollar, the rate of inflation, or the worth of your services or belongings to other people. In the blink of an eye, everything you own or do could be deemed worthless. The financial security you enjoy is as stable as the government, the global economy, or the overarching social structure you are fortunate enough to be a part of. It’s a mistake, however, to assume that stability cannot be compromised or that there aren’t active destabilizing forces. I am inclined to think anti-trust laws, taxes on inherited wealth, secular policies, social welfare programs, and investment in infrastructure may foster greater stability, but I would rather emphasize the need for people to take responsibility for the societies they live in and not irrationally turn against each other. My comments are intended to clarify my own general perspective without really refuting anything you said. I mentioned my inclinations, but a lot of my views would change depending on the circumstances, so we don’t necessarily disagree on anything specific. I just think happiness is easier to achieve when we live in harmony with other people, the environment, and the inevitable passage of time.

          • Everett Brunson

            Again not disagreeing–not looking for a fight but for a discussion. It is funny that you mention “but your wealth is not your own. You do not decide the value of the dollar, the rate of inflation, or the worth of your services or belongings to other people.” as I am currently in discussion with my former school district about a new position. They called me last week and asked that I talk to them about heading up a new STEAM program for their elementary schools and middle schools. I retired two years ago. On Thursday I spoke to them about the scope of the job but we only danced around compensation. I was told they were not ready to discuss compensation.

            Indeed, I do determine the worth of my efforts. If the District is not willing to pay what I consider fair compensation for my efforts I will pass on the offer.

            I have always found people value what they have earned over what is given to them. If you wish to quantify things please look at social welfare in this country pre and post 1964. Nearly a Trillion dollars have been spent just on welfare services alone and the poverty level has not changed one inch. Why? Because there is no incentive to improve one’s lot. It is easier for most to remain on the dole than work their way out of it. I admit the system is set up that way. I rail against it.

            I once had a renter that received welfare, WIC, and HUD benefits for her rent. She decided to go back to work. HUD only allowed her to receive a certain amount of compensation or else she would lose ALL of her rent subsidy–in other words it was all or nothing–there were no incremental decreases in assistance as income rose. She chose to quit her job rather than losing her benefits because she was not yet at the level where her income would sustain her.

            The main question is–are people born inherently good, evil, or as a blank slate? When you think about it every governmental program reflects one of these three positions. The framers of our constitution believed (quite rightly in my opinion) that man was born evil. Laws were written to constrain man’s evil tendencies. No modern heterogeneous society built on the belief that man is inherently good has survived–socialism being the vehicle of rewarding the good in man.

            Many people point to Denmark, Sweden, and Finland as socialism success stories. As all three were once homogeneous they worked. Now that heterogeniosity is being introduced the societies are failing. The governments are trying to force “goodness” on the native populations in order for them to accept the influx of immigrants. This forced “goodness” comes in the form of punishment for expressing their views of the government’s largess. This is neither fair nor good.

          • StudentZ

            Regarding the wealth comment, I agree you have agency (not everyone does), but there are still limitations or conditions beyond your control. Similarly, I agree that people are most certainly happier when they feel they have earned their rewards (whether it’s recognition, money, or something else entirely), but people need opportunities and positive reinforcement to be able to achieve anything worthy of reward in the first place. By positive reinforcement, I don’t mean self-esteem brigades, but environments, mentors, training, and services that guide people in realistic directions. The moral hazard argument regarding welfare certainly needs to be addressed, but program evaluations should be based on established goals. How many welfare programs are designed to foster change or rehabilitate people, as opposed to simply providing a means of subsistence? The success of any program depends on multiple factors, including politics, funding, public perception, strategic implementation, etc., so I’m not inclined to make sweeping judgments without greater insight.

            Also, I am not sure how to respond to your question about good and evil. Those terms tend to imply some absolute morality involving supernatural forces defined by religion, and I’m not religious. Steven Pinker convincingly argued that human beings are not blank slates, but perhaps our humanity lies in the unpredictability of human potential derived from both genetic and environmental influences. We give people a chance because we don’t know what they can do.

            I have nothing to say about the Nordic model. I never thought Scandinavian countries were utopias, but they seemed to be doing relatively well. In my search for relevant information on the subject, I did find the following article, though the source is decidedly left-wing:

          • Everett Brunson

            Though the Calvin v Rousseau arguments were based upon religious definitions of good and evil, they can be applied today in a non-religious setting. For today good = altruistic and evil = self-interest. Calvin believed man was born evil–original sin and Rousseau believed man was born good and that bad influences led to evil acts.
            Calvin believed that because man was born evil laws were created to restrict man from evil acts. Rousseau believed that there was no such thing as original sin. He believed that “natural” man was inherently good–the “Noble Savage”.

            If you think about the framework of laws and the punishment of crime, a government based on Calvin’s ideals would have prisons operating to fulfill two functions: 1 Punishment to serve as an example of what happens to those who perform bad acts and 2. A place to keep bad actors away from Civil Society. Government based upon Rousseau would have prison to be a place of reform. Rather than having the prisoners break rocks all day, instead they would receive an education or learn a trade. There would be a bevy of psychologists and counselors to work with the prisoners night and day to help them learn to make better choices and so on so as to be fully restored to society.

            The approach to prisons and prison reform has had more back and forth swings than the pendulum on a Grandfather clock. Each side can cite examples of success for their program and point to failures by the other. It doesn’t mean one is more right than the other, it just reflects the two approaches to the forms that government takes.

            To use your example on welfare reform–your approach would be that of Rousseau. To appeal to the better nature of man will cause the system to improve, but it would involve a constant tweaking of the system. My approach would be more like that of Calvin. I would remove all incentive to remain in such programs and, instead, make all incentives such as to allow one to exit the program as soon as humanly possible–by rewarding self-interest. Again this goes back to my stance that a person only values what he himself has earned so I am in more of the “workfare” camp than “welfare” camp.

            Granted, I have taken liberties on what “you” might believe which isn’t fair to you. My intent was to frame the discussion to explain the two camps of thought based on what you wrote in regard to welfare reform. It wasn’t an attempt to put you in a box by any means.

    • Jeff77450

      People who obsess and work towards their vision of a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources scare the bejesus out of me. I’m quite serious. In the 20th century they were responsible for the deaths of ~100,000,000 people. It is out-and-out impossible to create a system in which no one falls between the cracks. There will always be that dysfunctional 10-20% of the population that can never seem to gain traction no matter how much money is thrown at them. Karl Marx referred to them as the Lumpenproletariat. Free market capitalism combined with the industrial revolution has lifted billions of people out of poverty. No, we’re not all equal in prosperity nor should we be. Bill, Warren and Mark can create wealth in ways that I never could’ve imagined, let alone implemented. I don’t covet what they’ve earned; no one should.

      My fervent wish is that everyone who wants a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources would invest a few minutes and watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOu_8yoqZoQ&t=62s

      • StudentZ

        Just to clarify, I have argued against two things here: (1) ethnocentrism and (2) policies that allow a dwindling minority of the population to amass huge concentrations of wealth while upward mobility and higher wages become unattainable for the majority of the population. I am not arguing for some communist redistribution scheme. I am arguing against redistribution schemes that already exist, oligopolies that threaten democracy, corruption within the public sector, and a predatory financial and/or corporate class. People who get rich off of hedge funds have not earned anything. Nobody is actually worth a billion dollars, especially not some glorified salesman or real estate mogul whose salary dwarfs that of a Nobel prize-winning astrophysicist. For better or worse, creative destruction is a part of capitalism, and we all have to contend with its discontents. That is not a dismissal of capitalism or its virtues, but it’s earned its share of critics. Still, I was not criticizing capitalism per se, but the current trajectory of the middle class.

  • Tom Raquer

    The choice between the West and Islam is easy. Which provides and safeguards the most individual liberty in all regards ands which spawns the most prosperity? Western Civilization.

    The authors treat Islam as if for its beliefs that it is a worthy competitor of the West. How so when Islam lives off the fruits of the West.

  • Joey Junger

    Some minor differences between the Islamisists and the “Westernists” (even the alt-rightist, “Nazi” ones): Islamists are blowing themselves up and decapitating people and raping and sexually grooming children on an industrial scale, all with the support of the people in power. The “Westernists” are hated by the people in power (and aside from an incident where a frightened schizophrenic accelerated his car through a crowd of attacking violent “anti-facists” in Charlotesville) they’re not doing a lot of killing, raping, or blowing up. Muslims want to destroy Western civilization because they’re envious and know their temporary power is waning because their oil supply is dwindling. Also, people like Spencer admire Muslims because they hate Jews as much as or more than neo-Nazis (and Muslims actually kill Jews constantly, unlike neo-Nazis).

    Also, I have a couple of minor quibbles with this article, the first being that you claimed John McCain spoke passionately. John McCain has never spoken passionately about anything, except maybe to alert a Viet Cong guard that an American prisoner was trying to escape from a bamboo cage. You also claim that Trump “roared” “The West was saved with the blood of patriots.” He didn’t “roar” that. I’ve seen the footage. He said it.

    • Everett Brunson

      Those on the left certainly love adding their descriptive adjectives when they seek to diminish others. It is unfortunate that what they hear is all in their heads.

  • Jeff77450

    Messrs. Hamid & Dar, I served in four Islamic visions of what can only be described as Hell on Earth—I kid you not. Comparing Islamists to the Alt-Right or “Westernists” is like comparing the Charles Manson family to that eccentric dysfunctional uncle that every extended family seems to have.

    The West is collectively *insane* to allow these people in, and in large numbers. That is not hyperbole or melodrama, that is a statement of fact. As you very well know Muslims enter a non-Islamic society, largely refuse to assimilate and proceed to metastasize. We have seen the results in the U.K., Germany, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Dearborn, Michigan. No, not all Muslims are quote-unquote bad although even the so-called moderates have beliefs that range from deeply disturbing to downright *hair-raising*. I’m telling you, and I’m quite serious, this is *not* going to end well for anyone. A few nations like Poland and Japan understand something important that the West collectively does not.

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