One strange development among both conservatives and libertarians today is the apparent lack of recognition by large cohorts of both groups that free societies are fragile inventions that depend on a complex web of cultural, educational, social, and economic foundations that can be undermined not only by malevolent state action but also by short-sighted private actions and even, in some cases, state inaction like the late American embrace of the false freedom of “open borders.” It is this ideological thinking that leads someone like Bush to think we can easily export American institutions to Iraq, just as it is this same reductionist thinking that renders many libertarians indifferent to our de facto colonization by emigrants from very illiberal parts of the Third World. Any recognition of these groups’ tendencies would risk a departure from individualism, and most libertarian thinking today is deontological and deductive: the rules are simple and applied without regard for outcomes or local conditions.
John Stuart Mill, the godfather of a practical “utilitarian” approach to liberal thinking in the 19th Century, shows below that even the most disagreeable liberals from yesteryear were more nuanced and generally more interesting than their half-educated progeny today. He also notes, to his credit, that national unity is a key condition for viable, free representative governments. Mill writes in his essay “On Representative Government”:
Of Nationality, as connected with Representative Government.
A PORTION of mankind may be said to constitute a Nationality if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between them and any others — which make them co-operate with each other more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government, and desire that it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves exclusively. This feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes. Sometimes it is the effect of identity of race and descent. Community of language, and community of religion, greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits are one of its causes. But the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past. . . .
Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart. This is merely saying that the question of government ought to be decided by the governed. One hardly knows what any division of the human race should be free to do if not to determine with which of the various collective bodies of human beings they choose to associate themselves.
But, when a people are ripe for free institutions, there is a still more vital consideration. Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist. The influences which form opinions and decide political acts are different in the different sections of the country. An altogether different set of leaders have the confidence of one part of the country and of another. The same books, newspapers, pamphlets, speeches, do not reach them. One section does not know what opinions, or what instigations, are circulating in another. The same incidents, the same acts, the same system of government, affect them in different ways; and each fears more injury to itself from the other nationalities than from the common arbiter, the state. Their mutual antipathies are generally much stronger than jealousy of the government. That any one of them feels aggrieved by the policy of the common ruler is sufficient to determine another to support that policy. Even if all are aggrieved, none feel that they can rely on the others for fidelity in a joint resistance; the strength of none is sufficient to resist alone, and each may reasonably think that it consults its own advantage most by bidding for the favour of the government against the rest. Above all, the grand and only effectual security in the last resort against the despotism of the government is in that case wanting: the sympathy of the army with the people. The military are the part of every community in whom, from the nature of the case, the distinction between their fellow-countrymen and foreigners is the deepest and strongest. To the rest of the people foreigners are merely strangers; to the soldier, they are men against whom he may be called, at a week’s notice, to fight for life or death. The difference to him is that between friends and foes — we may almost say between fellow-men and another kind of animals: for as respects the enemy, the only law is that of force, and the only mitigation the same as in the case of other animals — that of simple humanity. Soldiers to whose feelings half or three-fourths of the subjects of the same government are foreigners will have no more scruple in mowing them down, and no more desire to ask the reason why, than they would have in doing the same thing against declared enemies. An army composed of various nationalities has no other patriotism than devotion to the flag. Such armies have been the executioners of liberty through the whole duration of modern history. The sole bond which holds them together is their officers and the government which they serve; and their only idea, if they have any, of public duty is obedience to orders. A government thus supported, by keeping its Hungarian regiments in Italy and its Italian in Hungary, can long continue to rule in both places with the iron rod of foreign conquerors.
Even the most die-hard libertarian should recognize that the pressures unleashed by a multicultural community–a community deliberately created by the mass, Third World immigration scheme unleashed in the 1965 Immigration Reform Act–undermine the achievement of the very goals that libertarians purport to value, such as limited government, prosperity, religious freedom, and individual chice.
As the late Samuel Huntington so astutely observed, there is, as in all things, a horizon (demographic in this case) within which we can have widely varying liberties, customs, and habits, but outside of which the reality of conflicting human loyalties would be the more dominant element, dominant even over long-established legal institutions and habits. Whether we are looking at something like the decline of South Africa, the LA Riots, the corruption-ridden ethnic politics of Chicago, India or Yugoslavia’s ethnic conflicts, or the racial conflicts of America’s own Deep South and inner cities, the more “diverse” parts of America are generally less free and less traditionally American in habit and values than the more homogeneous alternatives.