The White Man’s Burden

Thomas Jackson, American Renaissance, August 1992

The Philosophy of Nationalism, Charles Conant Josey, originally published in 1923, 227 pp.

Because so much that is written about race is now fantasy or obfuscation, it is instructive to read books from an era when public expression was not so rigidly controlled as it is today. It is refreshing to find matter-of-fact statements of a kind that would now provoke astonishment and outrage. At the same time, it is sobering to realize that well-respected men saw the dangers towards which our nation was moving and that their warnings were ignored.

Charles Conant Josey was a professor of psychology at Dartmouth College during the 1920s, and was a moderately prominent scholar. In 1923, he wrote a book describing what he saw to be the alternative courses that history might take. In his view, there was one great question on which all else depended: would the white nations maintain their loyalties to culture, nation, and race, or abandon those loyalties in the name of universal brotherhood? The answer to that question would govern the course of history.

The Philosophy of Nationalism by Charles Conant Josey

That Josey should even ask it showed a remarkable prescience, given the near-total world dominance the white nations then held. Only Japan was conceivably a remote threat to their economic, military, and cultural supremacy. The French and British Empires were at their high water marks. The white nations conducted the affairs of the world with a confidence that, from today’s perspective, seems unshakable.

Josey saw that it was not unshakable. In fact, what he saw so disturbed him that he believed that the abdication and subsequent dispossession of whites was a real possibility. His book is therefore not only a forecast—surprisingly accurate—of what would happen if whites lost their nerve, but a valuable record of the early signs of that loss. Aside from some unconvincing psychological speculation in the early chapters, it is a compelling account of the choices that faced the European peoples. Originally published as Race and National Solidarity and long out of print, Josey’s book has now been republished.

Internationalism

It is well to be reminded that even in the 1920s there was a strong movement to tear down parochial loyalties and to replace them with a kind of world citizenship. Wilsonian idealism and the League of Nations were a clear break with the loyalties of the past. Josey writes that intellectuals and churchmen were among the strongest advocates of internationalism and that one-worldism, described as a logical extension of democracy, was rapidly becoming an ideal that few dared to criticize.

This ideal was in direct conflict with deep-seated feelings that men have always had. As Josey put it, “To one’s friends one owes more than to strangers. To one’s fellow citizens one is bound by stronger ties of duty than to foreigners. To members of one’s race one is bound by bonds which do not exist between members of different races. We cannot neglect these closer bonds, which draw men together in groups, in the attempt to simplify life by treating every one alike.” As he pointed out, group loyalties are inherent to the nature of man, and to wish to do away with them flies in the face of history and of common sense.

Value of the Group

Josey was perhaps at his best in describing how important are the very parochial loyalties that the internationalists wished to destroy. After all, a sense of the group is possible only because it does not include everyone. To ask that people be loyal to humanity at large is to dilute the notion of loyalty so greatly that it loses all meaning.

Josey offered many examples of the strength and inspiration that men draw from the group: martial valor, school spirit, patriotism, the sense of peoplehood. He drew parallels with the ancient Greeks and Romans: “They felt themselves to be a race of superior men, and they acted as superior men. When, however, the Greeks and the Romans lost their group consciousness, when their sympathies became so broad that all men were regarded as belonging to one brotherhood, the glory and grandeur of these peoples suffered a steady decline.” Internationalists prefer to ignore something known to all football coaches, military men, and even factory managers—that group cohesion is a precious source of energy and inspiration.

At the same time, Josey pointed out, group consciousness brings out that sentiment for which the internationalists professed to feel so deeply: sympathy for one’s fellow man. It is within the bounds of ancient loyalties that charity and self-sacrifice naturally arise.

Josey noted that national and racial loyalty is sapped by individualism as much as by internationalism, and that the former may masquerade as the latter. For a coward who is afraid to fight for his country, what better excuse than to claim to be a world citizen and a lover of all mankind?

Josey would not be surprised to learn how far both narrow selfishness and the pose of internationalism have corroded group loyalty. Americans neglect their children—when they bother to have them at all—while professing a fashionable belief in the equivalence of nations and races. They vote less and less often, while printing ballots in more and more languages. As group cohesion withers and borders lose their meaning, the individual becomes the only unit that matters. The racial and national group that can keep alive a great culture is thus dissipated from within and eroded from without.

Who Will Prevail?

Josey saw very clearly that if whites lost their confidence, they would lose the chance they then had to direct the destiny of the world. But should whites have prevailed simply because they had the power to prevail? Who was to say that their ideals were the best and that they deserved to prevail?

Josey rejected the relativism that paralyzes so many whites today: “We may admit that our idea of the maximum good of the world may not be the same as the ideas of a tiger, lion, or possibly even of the Chinese or the negroes. We may even admit that their ideas may be better than ours. But what is the probability? Are not the chances equally great that ours are as good as theirs? More than this, our values are the only guides we have.”

Josey urged us to seek wisdom among any people that may have it. However, to fail to act because our wisdom is not perfect is contemptible: “Perhaps our values and preferences are not the best values and preferences, but as long as they are our values and preferences, we must make use of them in regulating our behavior. To do otherwise could but result in the most complete moral chaos.”

In the long term, Josey saw that one-worldism would lead to the disappearance of Western culture and of the people who created it. If the white nations, as they were increasingly being asked to do, shared with the non-white nations the fruits of their science and hygiene, the already outnumbered whites would be further outnumbered. If they followed the ideals of the equivalence of races and the illegitimacy of national borders, they must receive the burgeoning non-white populations into Europe, North America, and Australia.

The past 70 years have witnessed exactly what Josey predicted. What will the next 70 bring? At least in the 1920s, it was possible to warn against an outcome that looms ever nearer: “” a shift [in populations] would be disastrous to us, and in all probability to mankind. Certainly we have no reason to believe that the good of the world will be served by the submergence of the whites under a wave of color.”

Moral Elation

One of the tasks Josey set himself was to understand the “moral elation” of men who urge their people to sacrifice the interests of their group or race to the interests of others. He saw one-worldism as an irrational extension of democracy which, in turn, he saw as virtually the equivalent of dogma. For him, democracy was the religion of the mediocre intellectual; all ideas could be evaluated quickly and lazily according to whether they were or were not democratic.

Josey warned repeatedly of the folly of extending to the entire world the democratic principles we might find appropriate among ourselves. He likened one-worldism to “the waves of religious enthusiasm which gave rise to the Crusades, Flagellation, and the Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages.” He then added darkly that “historians may look back upon it as an interesting episode in the affairs of men. Let us hope they will not have to look back upon it as a wave of emotional contagion that brought about the destruction of the white races.”

Josey wrote that men have managed to throw off some of the cruel demands religion has made in the past: “We no longer think that God is pleased at human sacrifices. Why should we think he is pleased at the sacrifice of a race and culture?”

If anything is clearer now than it was 70 years ago, it is that the failure of nerve among the white nations will lead eventually to dispossession, and that dogmatic internationalism will lead to the sacrifice of race and culture.

Nevertheless, Time magazine cheerfully predicts minority status for American whites within a few decades, and affirmative action, welfare, and massive non-white immigration still evoke in some the “moral elation” that Josey found so difficult to explain.

When he wrote Race and National Solidarity, Josey thought that whites could perhaps combine their yearning for international brotherhood with the recognition that unchecked internationalism would weaken their nations and denature their cultures. He hoped that the white nations might set aside their quarrels and unite on the basis of race and heritage, but he feared they would not.

If they do, it will happen first in Europe. The Old World has fewer illusions about non-white immigration; nativist parties are winning votes on platforms that could have been written by Charles Josey. The whites of North America, who live amidst even clearer evidence of internationalist idealism gone wrong, have yet to heed his message.

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