T h e P a t h
t o N a t i o n a l S u i c i d e

 An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism

  by Lawrence Auster

A Word to the Reader

It has become customary for anyone who wishes to discuss subjects pertaining to ethnicity and race to assure one’s audience that one has a compassionate and open attitude, that one respects “diversity.” At the outset, this writer wants to make it clear that he appreciates, as much as anyone, the truly amazing and inspiring openness of American society. Historically, that openness has made it possible for people from many different backgrounds not only to come to these shores, but, far more importantly, to acquire a common national citizenship and identity. There is no question that many of today’s new immigrants are making valuable contributions to this country and are assimilating into American society. But the recent emergence of unaccustomed and bitter divisions over language and culture—particularly the movement to tear down our national heritage in the name of a vaguely defined “multiculturalism”—is beginning to make many Americans realize something that common sense and forethought might have told them years ago: that America’s ability to perform this alchemy of souls is not infinite. To believe that we possess such a limitless capacity is, as the ancient Greeks recognized, to court Nemesis, fate’s punishment for those who think they have become as gods.

The theme presented in these pages is one that people will find troubling, and it is meant to be. Our current policy of open and ever-widening immigration, in conjunction with the gathering forces of cultural radicalism, is leading our country into an unprecedented danger. At a time when increasing racial and ethnic diversity makes the re-affirmation of our common culture more vitally important than ever, we are, under the mounting pressure of that diversity, abandoning the very idea of a common American culture. We are thus imperiling not only our social cohesiveness but, as I will try to show, the very basis of our national existence.

This extraordinary development stems in part from a confusion over the meaning of equality. When the 1965 immigration reformers spoke of equal treatment before the law, they meant it in terms of individuals, not in terms of mass migrations that would totally change the country. But today, with the rise of multiculturalism, we have lost the ability to make that basic distinction. The idea of equality has been transferred, in effect, from individuals to entire cultures, and along with it, a moralism that brooks no opposition. Under this new dispensation we owe, as it were, an obligation to all the peoples in the world to let them migrate here en masse and recreate American society in their image.

My argument, dealing with such intangibles as cultural identity, is not a simple one to make—especially in this age when any defense of a traditional American culture tends to be automatically condemned as reactionary. Another dangerous hurdle to understanding is modern education, which has left many Americans blind to the fact that there is even such a thing as a distinctive American and Western civilization, and that they themselves, and everything they know and love, are products of it. Increasingly cut off from their cultural roots, many Americans, particularly our younger generations, no longer know who they are, and are easily swayed by ideological currents telling them that their civilization adds up to nothing more than a cloud of “cultural diversity” changing at random from moment to moment.

Some readers may object to this essay because it seems to emphasize a particularist point of view of the American nation. Such a particularist view is seen as violating our universalist political character; worse, it is suspected of boiling down to a cultural or racial particularism. The paradox is that American particularism is thought to be grounded not in an ethnic/cultural identity but in a universalist conception—the natural rights of man, individual freedom and so on. In recent years these core beliefs of liberalism have taken the form of a championing of “diversity,” by which is meant an official recognition and deliberate heightening of racial and culture distinctions. But such diversity means the demise of liberalism, which is based on individual rights, not group rights. In other words, too much racial and cultural heterogeneity, brought on by immigration and multiculturalist policies, leads inevitably to an emphasis on group identities which undermines not only our historic cultural heritage (for which many people today seem to feel little affection in any case) but the political order based on individual rights. It follows, paradoxically, that a universalist, liberal order based on the rights of man qua man can only survive if Americans remain effectively one people, i.e., culturally “particularist.”

If, in upholding the idea of American commonality, I seem to give insufficient weight to America’s ethnic diversity, that is because we have made such a fetish of “respecting diversity” in recent years that there is an urgent need to redress the imbalance. The spontaneous and voluntary expressions of ethnicity and community in American life can be counted on to take care of themselves, as they always have in the past. But what is threatened, and what we as a society need to be concerned with, are the common cultural and political attachments without which we will cease to be a people.

In what follows, the reader will find an attempt to think through to its logical conclusions, and to see whole, a problem that the experts and policy-makers have dealt with only superficially, if at all. The potential for misunderstanding in exploring such a sensitive and complex subject is vast, and at some points questions may be raised in the reader’s mind which might not be resolved until he has proceeded further. Those who are troubled by the notion that any criticism of open immigration is, ipso facto, racist may want to skip ahead to the chapter on the meaning of racism. I only ask that the reader try to grasp the argument in its entirety before making up his own mind. In the words of André Gide: please do not understand me too quickly.

But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire mas­ters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them, a ruin instead of an habitation—and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their fore­fathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and conti­nuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one genera­tion could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.
  Edmund Burke,
Reflections on the
Revolution in France
The dream of universal brotherhood, because it rests on the sentimental fiction that men and women are all the same, cannot survive the discovery that they differ.
  Christopher Lasch,
New Oxford Review
(April 1989)

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Introduction: Breaking the Silence