Eric P. Kaufmann, The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America
Why did Anglo-Americans relinquish control of the United States to ethnic outsiders?
In The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America, Eric P. Kaufmann seeks to explain this curious global anomaly. Throughout the world, it is normal for dominant ethnic groups to assert their control over their respective states. It is extremely rare for a dominant ethnic group to collapse.
The Hungarians are determined to maintain their dominance in Hungary. The Japanese are determined to maintain their dominance in Japan. The Turks are determined to maintain their dominance in Turkey. The Chinese maintain their dominance in China. We think of these countries as ethnostates. Why are Anglo-Americans whose ancestors conquered North America the exception to the rule?
According to Kaufmann, Anglo-Americans were not an exception to the rule through most of American history. Instead, Anglo-American ethnic dominance was maintained through a model he calls “Anglo-conformity.” European immigrants came to the United States and were expected to assimilate to Anglo-American norms. They acquired the English language, adopted Anglo-American culture and their children were brought up in the public schools to believe in the Anglo-American narrative of the glorious conquest and settlement of North America. Throughout the 19th century, Anglo-Americans even remained confident that millions of Catholic immigrants would convert to Protestantism.
The United States was similar to France, Hungary and Turkey in this respect. The dominant ethnic group absorbed its minorities into the national mainstream. In fact, Anglo-Americans had less of a challenge in this respect than many countries which we now think of being homogeneous. In the 19th century, the “American” was White, Anglo-Saxon (English in culture), Protestant and professed liberal and republican values. Northerners and Southerners were divided by regional cultures which were only variations on the same theme which was the cultural glue that made the American Revolution possible. During the War Between the States, the Confederates were White, Anglo-Saxon, evangelical Protestants and republicans who copied the U.S. Constitution. The Union was equally shaped by the same ideals.
The American Revolution and the War Between the States were examples of ethnic fission. The British and Americans were the same people until the Revolution, but the Americans asserted liberal republican ideals in order to justify splitting from their parent stock. These ideals were a new ethnic boundary marker which once distinguished Americans from the British to their north in Canada, the Spanish to their south in Mexico as well as from continental Europeans. During the War Between the States, the Confederates repeated the process of ethnic fission by splitting from the American parent group and subtracting Northern liberalism from their new Southern slaveholding republic. After the War Between the States, the South was restored to the Union largely due to this preexisting shared culture.
Throughout the entire 19th century, the disintegrating logic of American liberalism was constrained by a phenomena that Kaufmann calls “double consciousness.” The Anglo-American dominant ethnic group asserted its cultural hegemony while professing universal liberal ideals. Thomas Jefferson who was a liberal, a race realist and a white supremacist was the epitome of “double consciousness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson could sound cosmopolitan in some of his moods, but on the whole never moved outside the framework of “double consciousness.” Even the Radical Republicans who were the most extreme liberals of the 19th century had their limits and never moved beyond “double consciousness” and had a disparaging attitude toward Catholics. In all the struggles of the 19th century, we don’t find Anglo-Americans disparaging and rejecting their own ethnic group while promoting out groups.
In his book Union, Colin Woodard portrays 19th century America as a clash between the pure and good civic nationalist ideal of a liberal republic and a bad ethnonationalism which culminated with the triumph of ethnonationalism during the Woodrow Wilson presidency in the early 20th century. In fact, there was no such clash except in Woodard’s imagination. Ethnonationalism or Anglo-conformity was the dominant model of ethnic and race relations from the American Founding until well into the 20th century. The liberalism of the 19th century had a Romantic sensibility. George Bancroft who Woodard portrays as the originator of the liberal civic nationalist vision of America was a champion of Manifest Destiny. Bancroft was also an Anglo-Saxon enthusiast like Thomas Jefferson. In the 19th century, liberals could gush with Romantic sentimentality over Noble Savages like James Fenimore Cooper in The Last of the Mohicans or over magic negroes abused by cruel slaveowners like Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but this concern for outgroups did not lead to a hatred and loathing of their own group.
19th century Americans wrestled with questions like whether or not slavery should exist, the rights and liberties of the former slaves and what should be done with the Indians. These debates were all driven by liberalism. None of them called into question Anglo-conformity or Anglo-American ethnic dominance in the United States. Even the most extreme Radical Republicans who thought blacks and Indians were fully equal to Whites in every respect and should have the same rights and liberties and should be absorbed into the national mainstream also assumed Anglo-conformity. Once emancipated from the degradation of slavery, these liberals thought that the former slaves should be educated by Northerners and begin to accumulate property and become essentially little black Yankees.
Theodore Roosevelt was thought to be an exemplary American in his time. In his 1889 book The Winning of the West, this is how he describes the American people:
Is this the “bad” ethnonationalism or the “good” civic nationalism?
The truth is that it is really neither. This is a 20th century way of thinking and reflects a postwar judgment on the World Wars. Theodore Roosevelt was an Old American of Anglo-Saxon and Dutch ancestry. In his 1916 address to the Knights of Columbus, Roosevelt rejected “hyphenated-Americanism”:
“I stand for straight Americanism unconditioned and unqualified, and I stand against every form of hyphenated Americanism. I do not speak of the hyphen when it is employed as a mere convenience, although personally, I like to avoid its use even in such manner. I speak and condemn its use whenever it represents an effort to form political parties along racial lines or to bring pressure to bear on parties and politicians, not for American purposes, but in the interest of some group of voters of a certain national origin, or of the country from which they or their fathers came.
Americanism is not a matter of creed, birthplace or national descent, but of the soul and of the spirit. If the American has the right stuff in him, I care not a snap of my fingers whether he is Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant. I care not a snap of my fingers whether his ancestors came over in the Mayflower, or whether he was born, or his parents were born, in Germany, Ireland, France, England, Scandinavia, Russia or Italy or any other country. All I ask of the immigrant is that he shall be physically and intellectually fit, of sound character, and eager in good faith to become an American citizen. If the immigrant is of the right kind I am for him, and if the native American* is of the wrong kind I am against him….
….Now for our own citizens. We represent many different race strains. Our ancestors came from many different Old World nationalities. It will spell ruin to this nation if these nationalities remain separated from one another instead of being assimilated to the new and larger American life.
The children and our children’s children of all of us have to live here in this land together. Our children’s children will intermarry, one another, your children’s children, friends, and mine. Even if they wished, they could not remain citizens of foreign countries….The effort to keep our citizenship divided against itself by the use of the hyphen and along the lines of national origin is certain to breed a spirit of bitterness and prejudice and dislike between great bodies of our citizens.”
Roosevelt is championing Anglo-conformity.
When he speaks of “different race strains,” he is using the term in a now archaic sense in which race was conflated with culture and nationality. It was common to speak of the English race or German race in his time. Roosevelt wanted European immigrants to assimilate and become one people. This is what Benjamin Franklin was complaining about with the Pennsylvania Dutch in his time.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet around the world which announced the arrival of America as a great power on the global stage, which at that time was dominated by Britain. Anglo-America had survived and been shaped by the Brother’s Wars of the English Civil War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the War Between the States, which were all conflicts between Anglos, but a new challenge was brewing that was coming from both abroad and within.
The challenge to Anglo-America’s ethnic dominance and national cohesion that was coming from abroad was two-fold: first, the enormous surge of immigration that came from Europe in the late 19th century, which we call the Great Wave; second, the continued influx of subversive European ideas. The arrival of both of these forces is what led to the challenge to Anglo-America from within in the 20th century and to its eventual loss of dominance and demographic eclipse after World War II.
The European immigrants who arrived in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries encountered an optimistic country in which being an American meant being White, Anglo-Saxon (English in culture), Protestant and liberal or republican in principles. This led to a divide between, shall we say, the core of Old Americans and the newcomers who felt like outsiders. Blacks had been given American citizenship and some degree of rights (it varied from state to state) after the War Between the States, but they were grudgingly tolerated and were still not seen as fully American. The same was true of European Catholics and Jews who were perceived as more American than the blacks and thus closer to the Anglo-American ethnic core, but were also grudgingly tolerated. As for Southern and Eastern Europeans, they were both more ethnically and religiously distant than previous waves of Northwestern European Nordic Protestants who were rapidly assimilated. America was a Protestant country. We often forget in our own times just how overwhelmingly dominant this Protestant culture was into the early 20th century.
The challenge to national cohesion from the ethnic diversity of the millions of new European immigrants proved to be less serious than the ideological challenge that came from Europe. Anglo-American ethnic defense began in the 1880s and culminated in the Immigration Act of 1924 which drastically restricted immigration to maintain the ethnic dominance of the Old American core. Most of these groups were rapidly assimilated like previous waves of European immigrants. The Italians and the Poles may have been less challenging than Irish Catholics who nursed a bitter historical grievance against Anglo Protestants. By the time of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, European Catholics were well on their way to being Americanized in the context of a shared White Christian hostility to communism. It is easy to imagine how a confident America could have remained a White Christian country in the 21st century with a black minority had not the intellectual horizon of our elites so radically changed.
America had always been shaped by fashionable European intellectual and cultural trends. This was true of the Founders who borrowed liberalism and republicanism from Britain and the European Enlightenment. It remained true in the 19th century when America was influenced by Romanticism. Europe exported anarchism, socialism and communism to the United States and many European immigrants who came over to America during the Great Wave were highly infected with these radical ideologies. President William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901. Anarchists were deported from the United States in the Palmer Raids during the Wilson administration after World War I.
Around the turn of the 20th century, America’s liberal elite began its long march toward cosmopolitanism. The roots of this shift can be traced back to a German Jew named Felix Adler and the Ethical Culture movement. While not a part of the Great Wave, Adler’s parents were prominent in European Reform Judaism and had immigrated to the United States so that his father could accept a job as a rabbi in a temple in New York City. In the late 19th century, the Free Religious Association and Ethical Culture Movement became a radical milieu where the most liberal, leftwing and secular Protestants and Reform Jews mingled and began to influence each other. Cosmopolitanism percolated in this group and found its way into the liberal wing of the Progressive movement through William James, Jane Addams and John Dewey who advocated cultural pluralism, which is to say, that immigration is good and enriches America and European immigrants should reject Anglo-conformity and retain their Old World cultures. Ideally, America should become a patchwork of cultures instead of a cohesive nation.
In the years between 1900 and 1920, America’s Protestant establishment was going through a similar pivotal change. Growing out of the liberal wing of the Social Gospel movement, it became obsessed with social justice and ecumenism. In the aftermath of Darwinism and Higher Criticism and the rise of the influence of liberalism in theology, America’s Protestant establishment lost its confidence and began its long term split into its liberal mainline and conservative fundamentalist wings. Initially through the Settlement movement, liberal Protestants began to embrace cultural relativism, cosmopolitanism and tolerance, shed their attachment to Anglo-American ethnic dominance and retreat from missionary work abroad, which was increasingly conflated with imperialism. By the 1920s, America’s Protestant establishment had been captured by liberals who were stridently opposed to immigration restriction and the Second Klan both of which were widely supported by lay Protestants along with Prohibition.
Finally, the biggest and most impactful cultural change of all was the arrival of Modernism in the United States between 1900 and 1920 and how the new Modernist ideal and aesthetic merged with the liberal wing of Progressivism and Social Christianity to push American elites over the top and into a more cosmopolitan direction. At its core, Modernism was fundamentally a revolt against the 19th century bourgeois. In the place of social responsibility, it advocates a carefree, bohemian lifestyle of social irresponsibility in which every moment of life is to be savored as a new “experience.” It celebrates the liberation and expression of the autonomous self which it encourages to chase after endless novelties in the form of experiments particularly in sex and drugs. It rejects the past in favor of the future and celebrates transgression against bourgeois norms. Modernists are alienated people who see themselves as outsiders. They are cosmopolitan elitists who tend to identify with the “oppressed” as opposed to what they perceive to be the ethnic and cultural core of their nations, i.e., the dirty masses.
It is important to understand that Modernism differs from liberalism in a number of ways although the two are now so closely associated that it is nearly impossible to perceive the difference. In the 19th century, liberals had a Romantic sensibility. The educated and professional upper middle classes gushed with sentiment for causes like abolitionism due to their sympathy with poor, oppressed blacks, but they were not self hating bohemians who rejected their own ethnic group, religion or family ties. In the 19th century, the educated and professional classes had been liberals, but were also the most strident ethnonationalists. Liberalism and nationalism advanced together. The Romantics celebrated the common man, glorified nature and built up the nation-state. Modernists despised the common man, hated the “backward” provincials, celebrated life in the city and tore down the nation-state to build up the self.
Between 1900 and 1920, the first Modernist enclaves were established in the United States in Chicago and Greenwich Village in New York City. Floyd Dell was a key figure in the development of this radical leftwing cosmopolitan milieu in both cities. Modernism entered the liberal wing of the Progressive movement in Greenwich Village. Randolph Bourne, a writer for The New Republic and the mouthpiece for a group called the Young Intellectuals, came up with the idea of asymmetrical pluralism in his highly influential essay “Trans-National America” which shaped modern liberalism as it emerged in the 1920s:
Bourne who was influenced by Horace Kallen, the first Jew to ever teach at Princeton who had gotten the idea from William James who got it from Felix Adler, further developed the idea that European immigrants and non-Whites should come here and conserve their own ethnic cultures while Anglo-Americans as the host culture should embrace cosmopolitanism and reject their own culture. The spiteful mutant died of the Spanish Flu but not before implanting this pernicious idea in the mind of the modern American Left which was born in the 1920s in the revolt against Late Victorian norms.
The years between 1890 and 1917 were the hinge period in which what eventually became the new elite liberal consensus of the post-World War II era gestated: liberalism, modernism, cosmopolitanism, cultural relativism. The years between 1917 and 1945 were a Crisis period in which these ideas were further developed and gained greater traction with the leisured metropolitan upper middle class and the Late Victorian establishment came under assault by the Modernists. The interwar period was when what is now called the cultural “mainstream” challenged and triumphed over its predecessor.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the concept of “racism” was developed by the Far Left and cultural relativism – growing out of Nietzsche’s perspectivism and William James’s pragmatism – triumphed in the social sciences. The German born Jew Franz Boas led the crusade to discredit race and heredity in anthropology in favor of cultural relativism and environmentalism. Eventually, this new idea of “racism” was crossed with Bourne’s model of asymmetrical pluralism (after it was broadened from European ethnics to Whites) to produce our current mainstream model of race relations or what is now called “multiculturalism”: White culture and identity is to be stigmatized, repressed and deconstructed as “racist” and non-White cultures are to be celebrated as enriching America.
In the 1930s, a second generation of Modernists called the New York Intellectuals composed of Jews and Anglo-Americans began the process of redefining America as a cosmopolitan nation based on nothing but liberal ideals which lacked an ethnic core. The first history textbook which argued that America was a “Melting Pot” wasn’t published until the late 1930s. It was only in the 1940s that the Statue of Liberty began to be associated with immigration. John F. Kennedy penned his “A Nation of Immigrants” pamphlet for the ADL in 1958. He described the new postwar liberal consensus which was conjured into existence by the New York Intellectuals in the 1930s in his address to the ADL in 1963.
In the years between 1900 and 1945, American elite opinion on liberalism, cultural relativism, cosmopolitanism, modernism and antiracism traveled far ahead of public opinion and liberal elites and the public were usually at odds with the public supporting immigration restriction, segregation, Prohibition, opposing civil rights and reasserting traditional moral values.
The World Wars were used by our liberal elite to discredit and stigmatize nationalism and racism and to champion and entrench their own Modernist ideals, but those ideals had emerged on the Left before World War I. During World War II, American war propaganda brought about a great shift in American racial attitudes by identifying the Nazis with racism and nationalism and America with liberalism, globalism and antiracism while bizarrely and simultaneously demonizing the “Japs” on racial grounds. As the gap between the liberal elite and the public shrank during World War II and the Cold War, elites had more success in pushing civil rights reform and changing our immigration laws.
There were three critical factors which disseminated the new elite Modernist culture to the masses: first, it came in through free-market capitalism which adopted the new Modernist aesthetic in the 1920s; second, it came in through the mass media (radio, film and television) which broadcasted the new values to the masses from New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC; third, it came in through the public universities after the explosion in the number of young Americans attending college after the GI Bill. The new Modernist values of cultural egalitarianism and expressive individualism propagated by the media and the universities dissolved Anglo-American dominant ethnicity like acid:
America was redefined in the 20th century.
In the post-World War II era, it was redefined as liberal, cosmopolitan, antiracist and modernist. The so-called “conservative movement” has been thoroughly Right Modernist since its inception in the 1950s. Conservative liberalism exists to conserve “liberal democracy” and “classical liberalism”:
Mainstream conservatives are Modernist liberals.
This is why American conservatives never conserve anything when granted political power. By definition, Modernism is about the autonomous self and its rejection of the past and transgression. Conservative Modernism means “conserving” the forces which have rotted the moral and cultural foundation of America starting with its historical memory and collective sense of identity.
The “mainstream” as it exists today in 2020 was born in the early 20th century, challenged the Victorian establishment during the World Wars and triumphed only in the aftermath of World War II. Contrary to what conservatives believe, their values (liberalism, modernism, cosmopolitanism and antiracism) which together comprise a desiccated and deracinated civic nationalism have nothing to do with the American Founding. America was liberal and ethnonationalist until deep into the 20th century. Modernists with their “outsider” perspective and cosmopolitan sensibility picked the two apart.
Nothing that I have said in this review in anyway changes the starring role that Jews have played in the racial, ethnic and cultural decline of White America. Eric Kaufmann covers much of it in his book. It is true that we entered the 20th century with a WASP elite and exited it with an elite that is multiethnic, but disproportionately Jewish. I’m describing the difference between “who” (that is, the elite) and “what” that elite is about (that is, its values and beliefs) and the “why” and “how” this change came about. America’s elite is not exclusively Jewish, but it is exclusively liberal and Modernist.
WASPs relinquished control over America due to a fatal combination of overconfidence with liberalism, modernism and the free-market capitalism that brought in the millions of immigrants. These were the values that guided the American elite in the post-World War II era to change our immigration laws and to pass the civil rights laws. We can throw in imperialism too because this was largely done to fight charges of hypocrisy by the Soviets in making the world safe for “liberal democracy” and capitalism. Before Americans assumed the burden of upholding the liberal world order, we never cared about world opinion.
It wasn’t the Baby Boomers who destroyed America. The Greatest Generation changed our immigration and civil rights laws. Boomers were the first generation to be raised on this combination of liberal and modernist values. They were the first generation to be brought up in the world of the television and to attend college en masse. The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was only the demographic tipping point when the values of the Modernist counter-culture became a majority. The Boomers were exposed to these toxic values by older generations. This garbage had been percolating and growing in influence in America’s elite since 1900. The Millennials were the first generation to be raised in an atmosphere when traditional values are extremely weak because Modernism is hegemonic.
Eric Kaufmann ends his book by calling for a reformed multiculturalism and by denying that a resurgence of ethnonationalism was simmering under the surface of the conservative movement in the George W. Bush years. The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America was published in 2004. It will suffice to say that he has come a long way from that hypothesis in his latest book Whiteshift which was published in 2019. In our age, rebellious young people are the ones who are rejecting liberalism and modernism.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is well researched and the footnotes are an invaluable guide to understanding this cultural change. It was extremely influential on my thinking when I first read it in college in 2004. It was the combination of liberalism with a Modernist sensibility which brought about the disaster we are in today by imploding our Anglo-American ethnicity. After reading this book, you will never look at a “normie” in the same way again.
Note: The American “normie” is a Modernist who is unconscious of his Modernism. The modern self is alien to our Enlightenment era ancestors. The world of 1900 would feel alien to us.