Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? By Patrick J. Buchanan, New York, Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2011, 488 pp, $27.99US
In the first half of the 20th Century the European powers clashed in two major conflicts that are remembered as World War I and World War II. When the second war ended in 1945, the nations of Europe were in ruins, their empires were lost, and two strong new powers emerged triumphant. The history of the second half of the 20th Century was largely the story of their rivalry. We called these powers the superpowers and they were the United States of America on the one hand and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the other. Both had nuclear arsenals, containing weapons of mass destruction far more powerful than the atomic bomb, the development and use of which had brought WWII to an end. These weapons kept the superpowers from waging a traditional war against each other and so their conflict came to be known as the Cold War.
The Cold War brought out tremendous differences of opinion among people. Some felt that the threat of nuclear holocaust, never before present, meant that peace must be achieved no matter the cost. Others believed that the Soviet tyranny, which already held millions in its clutches, had to be prevented from spreading.
It was at the height of the Cold War that Patrick J. Buchanan began his career in journalism. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, he also worked as a speechwriter and senior advisor to US Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Both as an op/ed writer and a presidential advisor, he worked to promote America’s efforts in her struggle against the Soviet Union.
Then the Cold War ended, shortly after Reagan’s second term as US President. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. The United States was now the sole remaining superpower. The question naturally arose of what America would do with its military might in the absence of the threat of he Soviet Union. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait then-US President George H. W. Bush gave his answer. The United States would lead a coalition of free, democratic countries that would police the world, establishing a new world order and keeping it safe against aggressors like Hussein.
Pat Buchanan had a different idea. Running against Bush, he sought the Republican nomination for the 1992 Presidential election. He opposed the Gulf War and in his campaign he called for America to close its overseas bases and bring her soldiers home. Invoking George Washington’s rhetoric about “entangling alliance” he called upon the United States to return to the older, non-interventionist foreign policy of “America First”.
This was not the only plank in his platform, of course, nor would it be the only time he would run for President. He sought the Republican nomination again in 1996 and in 2000 he ran for President on the Reform Party ticket. Apart from the “America First” foreign policy that was labeled “isolationism” by his opponents, he championed economic nationalism against free trade, an end to liberal immigration, and reversing the moral, cultural, and spiritual decline of America.
Mr. Buchanan’s campaigns were unsuccessful, but his books became bestsellers. In The Great Betrayal he argued for the Hamiltonian “American system” of economic nationalism. In A Republic Not an Empire he made the case for an “America First” policy by tracing the history of American foreign policy. In The Death of the West he discussed the impending demographic crisis of Western society caused by low fertility rates, aging populations and mass immigration. In State of Emergency he took a closer look at the immigration crisis the United States is currently facing.
In his latest book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? he revisits each of these topics in the light of current state of the United States following the economic meltdown, the quagmire in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Obama presidency. Although the final chapter offers prescriptions as to how to steer America away from the brink of doom the overall tone of the book reflects the pessimism in its title. The main theme of the book is “we have lost the country we grew up in”.(1)
In a sense that is the theme of all of Mr. Buchanan’s books and that partly explains why so many of them have become best-sellers. As a writer, Pat Buchanan is excellent at articulating what is in the hearts and minds of countless numbers of his countrymen who are unable to or do not wish to express what they are thinking. It is a theme that conservatives and patriots of other countries can sympathize with as well.
Do not be fooled by the subtitle of the book into thinking that something huge is supposed to happen in the year 2025. The subtitle is an allusion to an essay by a Russian dissident who in 1970 predicted the downfall of the Soviet Union. The predicted event which looms large in this book is actually scheduled for the year 2041. That is the year when, according to the most recent census bureau extrapolations, white Americans will become a minority in the United States.
The bulk of the book, from chapter four “The End of White America” to chapter nine “’The White Party’”, examines the question of what this will mean for America. The titles of both those chapters are quotations by the way, although only the second one uses quotation marks. The first borrows its title from an essay by Vassar professor Hua Hsu and the second from a gaffe by Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean. They seem to have been chosen to deliberately provoke the ire of the sort of people who think that emotional accusations of “racism” are a more appropriate response to people who do not consider multiculturalism and diversity to be unqualified positives than actually answering their questions and arguments.
The idea that a great deal of diversity and the absence of an ethnic core make for a stronger society is one of the sacred cows of the post-WWII, post-Civil Rights Movement, post-European colonialism/imperialism, post-apartheid South Africa world. There are no rational reasons to believe it and there is a great deal of evidence which contradicts it. When someone points out the lack of correlation between the idea and the real world that person is like the child in Hans Christian Andersons’ fairy tale who points out the obvious fact denied by everybody else that the emperor is running around buck naked.
This is what Mr. Buchanan does in Suicide of a Superpower. The attempt to transform a country from a country founded by and for a particular people with a particular language, culture, and religion into a country for all peoples of all languages, cultures, and religions, while remaining a stable, united, society with just laws protecting its citizens’ rights and liberties, is an experiment that has never been attempted before. There is little evidence to suggest the experiment will succeed and much to indicate that it is doomed to fail.
The impending demographic doom of white America has been brought upon by a combination of low fertility and high immigration. The decline in fertility resulting in rapidly aging populations that are not reproducing themselves is not strictly an American phenomenon and in chapter five we learn about how it is affecting other countries such as Russia, the UK, Germany, Israel, Japan and South Korea. Some of these have opted for high immigration like the United States. Others, like Japan and South Korea “appear prepared to accept their fate, a dying population and declining nation, rather than adopt the American solution: replacement of her departing native born with millions of immigrants.” (p. 169)
The American solution is no solution at all. In chapter nine, entitled “The Triumph of Tribalism”, Mr. Buchanan begins by borrowing a thesis from a 2008 Foreign Affairs article by Jerry Muller which challenged the conventional belief that the history of the 20th Century was one of nationalism being superceded by transnationalism after it led to the devastation of the two World Wars. The peaceful coexistence of the European powers after WWII, Muller argue, was not the result of the eclipse of nationalism but of its goals having been fulfilled. Ethnonationalism has actually been on the rise throughout the 20th Century.
Mr. Buchanan then walks us through the history of the 20th Century showing how this has been the case. From the ethnic conflict in the Balkans which ignited the first World War and started up again the moment the Communist regime in Yugoslavia fell, through World War II and the crisis in the Middle East, the renewed tribalism and nationalism in Africa and Asia after the end of European colonialism, to the nationalist movements that brought down the Soviet Empire, ethnonationalism has been a consistent factor in the history of the world in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
What this suggests is that the large-scale importation of immigrants from ethnic backgrounds widely different from both your own and from each other with no program whereby to assimilate them into a common national identity such as was signified by the “melting pot” metaphor in earlier waves of American immigration will not have the result of producing a stronger nation but of balkanizing your country. The tribal nature of mankind is the final unanswerable refutation of the idea that “diversity is our strength”, which Mr. Buchanan had ably debunked in the preceding chapter “The Diversity Cult”.
Mr. Buchanan does not just debunk the diversity myth though. He asks the question we are forbidden to ask:
Is ethnonationalism a genetic disease of mankind that all good men should quarantine wherever it breaks out? Or is this drive of awakened peoples to create nations of their own where there own kind come first a force of nature that must be accommodated if we are ever to know peace? (p. 327)
He reminds us that while ethnonationalism produced horrors “from Nanking to Auschwitz to Rwanda” it also “liberated the captive nations and brought down the ‘evil empire’”. It “was behind the pogroms of Europe but created the nation of Israel” (contrary to the lies Mr. Buchanan’s opponents constantly throw at him he clearly does not intend the former to be the good and the latter the bad in this juxtaposition).
Within all of this there lies another question, asked indirectly here, but which more and more people have come to ask in the last couple of decades. If ethnonationalism is tolerated among other peoples – and it is - why should it be forbidden to white ethnic groups?
Whatever the answer may be, Mr. Buchanan is surely correct in writing:
We may deny the existence of ethnonationalism, detest it, condemn it. But this creator and destroyer of empires and nations is a force infinitely more powerful than globalism, for it engages the heart. Men will die for it. (p. 328)
In today’s climate in which the leftist orthodoxy on cultural and ethnic matters that is known as “political correctness” is rigidly enforced, this is not the safe way to write a book about the impending perils which face your country. Suicide of a Superpower is about more than just ethnicity, immigration, and race. It is also about the economic crisis, the ultra-expensive military fiascos in the Middle East, and the moral and spiritual decline of America. There is even a chapter about the problems the Roman Catholic Church is facing worldwide.
The demographic crisis of America is the ongoing theme of six of the books eleven chapters however. While it may not be a safe topic it is a necessary one. Countries can survive huge military disasters. Countries can survive economic collapses. They cannot survive the loss of a central ethnic identity. A country is more than just a set of laws written on a piece of paper. Its political and legal institutions rest upon the foundation of a people with a shared history and identity which binds them together as a community and a society. When that is gone those political and legal institutions cannot stand.
(1) Variations of this phrase occur at a number of spots in this book. Although I have placed it in quotations it is not intended to be an exact quote of any one of them but an approximation of all of them.