Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Making sense on the fence

Charles Krauthammer wonders why we can’t build the fence first:

A barrier is a very simple thing to do. The technology is well tested. The Chinese had success with it, as did Hadrian. In our time, the barrier Israel has built has been so effective in keeping out intruders that suicide attacks are down more than 90 percent.


Comprehensive immigration reform has simply too many contentious provisions to command a majority of Congress or the country. We all agree on enforcement, don’t we? So let’s do it. Make it simple. And do it now. Once our borders come visibly under control, everything else will become doable. Including amnesty.

Actually building the fence, rather than just throwing more money in the pot would surely pave the way for a comprehensive immigration program that "people of good will" can support, isolating the nativists on the one side and the open borders transnationalists on the other.

Discussions - 41 Comments

Why can't we build the fence?

Because, it appears, a majority of politicians do not want it done, along with a good amount businesses.

I had a discussion the other day with a co-worker about the prospect of building the fence. He doubted it was possible to build a fence that long. "Over 700 miles!" he exclaimed.

I reminded him that a mile of fence can't be any more complex a feat of engineering and construction than a mile of interstate. And we have tens of thousands of miles of those.

The fence could be built. But it probably won't. Too many people are too afraid of the controversy.

Why is "nativist" a pejorative instead of a compliment indicating support of what is native?

Maybe Real Conservative can help me with a word study, but isn't the "nat" in "native" the same "nat" as in "prenatal" meaning birth.

I say we need more nativism, not less.


If you mean to encourage births among citizens, more power to you. But one of the "problems" with natality simply is that it's also currently regarded as the ground of birthright citizenship.

Citizenship ultimately depends upon law, not birth. American citizenship depends upon law, which properly ought to demand knowledge of and allegiance to principles (among other things), but not race, ethnicity, or anything smacking of that.

More births would certainly be a good thing, but that is not what I was getting at. And birthright citizenship is a huge problem, and not a correct interpretation of the Constitution, IMO.

BTW, Ron Paul wants to end birthright citizenship, and is one of the few who has seriously discussed this issue. It is an essential part of immigration reform.

But worrying about race and ethnicity in the broad sense of wanting to maintain the core ethnic balance of the country is I believe entirely appropriate and inherently conservative. Ann Coulter was brave enough to raise this issue recently, but few others have. Even Frum raised it. Before 1965 our immigration quotas were specifically designed to reflect the ethnic make-up that was already here. And proponents of the 1965 Immigration Act were very much on the record that their intent was precisely to dilute (disempower) the demographic core, and that the old quota system was inherently “racist.” If current trends continue, America will be less than 50% White by 2050. That can not be just an insignificant, incidental fact. But that gets to the whole proposition nation debate.

In that sense, I think we need more open and on the record “nativists,” not less. And less people fretting over the illegal/legal distinction as if the whole immigration debate was solely about the rule of law. Wanting to maintain what already is is not hostile to anyone. It is preservative. Demographic transformation is revolutionary.

That is not to say that there are not ignorant and crude nativist. There are. We need more thoughtful nativist.

Boy, Charles can really nail a point home.

I do not care a thing about race, but I am concerned about culture. So long as our self-hating elites control public eduation and immigration policy, there will be no expectation of assimilation. Without assimilation - the English language, a knowledge of American history not derived from Howard Zinn, an appreciation for free enterprise - access to the American middle class will be blocked to the second generation - the sons and daughters of current migrants.

These offspring of migrants, having no memory of how miserable life in Central America was, and comparing their marginal low-wage existence to the native middle class, will be far more likely than their parents to identify with a romantic and dangerous view of the hellhole they left as their "authentic" home. The United States will seem to them to be the land of the oppressor, where they live not due to choice or opportunity, but out of ancestral misfortune.

A lot of us have hispanic relatives now; I have met with little in the way of hatred of Mexicans or central Americans and know a lot of white people who have marriage ties beyond other caucasians. I know few, however, who make such ties with people that have no high school education, cannot speak English, and resent the United States. If we had an ethic of assimilation like we had during the last great waves of immigration, the toilsome question of race would not enter into this.

I went to Washington yesterday; I visited many Congressional and Senate offices, and spent the whole day discussing this immigration deal.

And the foremost impression I was left with was that Senators and their staffs have spent months discussing a deal, negotiating the terms of a deal, wrangling over various provisions of a deal, and that they can't digest the idea that all of that effort, all of that talk, all of those discussions, all of that emotional effort should come to naught.

They feel they have to get "something." I went to the RNC and they professed a powerlessness to do anything to alter "the President's bill."

Inside the Beltway types place an undue amount of importance on getting "something" through the legislative process. Graham blurted out as much when he said that he was sent to Washington to "work with Democrats." Can anyone recall Teddy Kennedy ever having said as much? Does anyone remember a similar comment being uttered by Carl Levin, Joe Biden or Pat Leahy?

If you're against this bill, and you should be, you had better get active fast. And I just don't mean making phone calls. The ordinary response of an irritated electorate is not going to cut it. There aren't just various interests behind this bill, pushing it, supporting it, there's an attitude in Washington that has privileged process over substance.

This bill is unlike anything we've ever seen. I'm convinced that substantively it's a nightmare, because I've read the criticisms of the bill by Heather MacDonald, the Heritage Foundation, National Review and Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard. Those defending the bill, such as Fred Barnes for instance, haven't really advanced an argument in favour.

But politically, the impact that this bill will surely have upon our country within the next fifteen to twenty years will leave the GOP no longer NATIONALLY competitive. Sure, there will be areas of the country that are still Republican. But we will no longer be able to seriously compete for national office. The GOP will become a rural phenomenon.

"But politically, the impact that this bill will surely have upon our country within the next fifteen to twenty years will leave the GOP no longer NATIONALLY competitive. Sure, there will be areas of the country that are still Republican. But we will no longer be able to seriously compete for national office. The GOP will become a rural phenomenon."

Sam Francis said the Dems were the Evil Party and the Republicans were the Stupid Party. They are trying very hard to prove him right. I have used the same argument repeatedly, because I figured it would get their attention if nothing else would. Are they blind, stupid, or just so sold out to the globalism lobby that they don't care?

Might I suggest that the GOP is worried about the economic consequences of any serious crackdown on illegals? Basic economics suggests that a sharp increase in labor costs--such as would be brought on by the loss of immigrant labor--could well bring on a serious recession. If that happens on the watch of a Republican president, it could be a long time before another Republican finds his way into the Oval Office.

I suppose that might be the case but it seems awfully short-sighted. First of all, no one with any real power on the hill is serious about enforcing immigration laws, so the strict enforcement of existing laws - their constitutional duty - seems like a phantom menace at this point. Furthermore, the reaction seems out of proportion to the perceived threat. A recession - a temporary economic downtick - is so frightening to them that they are willing to extend the stagnation of middle class wages for a generation, turn the melting pot into a mosaic, and marginalize their own party for decades?

In Defense of Nativism:

It’s a sad state of affairs when you hear left-wingers, neocons and Trotskyites denounce any strain of “nativism” that they might perceive. In an almost 1984 fashion, they have taken one of the highest virtues and transformed it into an alleged vice. They have also taken a Marxist idea, the “proposition nation” (i.e. only ideas are fundamental for the survival of a nation), and attempted to peddle it as a virtue.

The word ‘native’ is related to the word ‘nation’ because both come from the Latin nascere, implying link by blood. Any true nation will be based in blood and soil, kith and kin, and genophilia (instinctive attachment to family and tribe). ‘Nation’, as the Latin suggests, is a group of people ancestrally related. Thus, ‘nativism’ in the true sense of the word is to support a traditional (non-Marxist) concept of a nation. I’m proud to be a nativist.

A Marxist idea????

I haven't suggested a "serious crackdown" on those illegals already present.

So far, all I've suggested is completely securing our borders.

I'm more than open to a variety of suggestions about what to do about those illegals already in our midst. But I'm only willing to discuss that secondary issue after the one far more important, far more momentous, far more urgent is taken care of. And when I say "taken of," I don't mean throwing money at the problem, I don't mean worthless promises from a Texan who hasn't any intention of stopping the invasion along our Southern border. When I mean "taken care of" I mean completely closing off this country to illegal immigration. I mean bringing it to a complete cessation, once and for all. At the very least, "taken care of" should mean that two decades hence, we'll NEVER have to deal with this particular issue again.


I'm with you here. Black is white, Lincoln is Marx, Jefferson is Marx, the signers of the Declaration are Marxists....

Ridiculous, isn't it? Marx explicitly rejected the notion that ideas were important--they were merely pale reflections of the mode of production.

Re Recession.

Congress is fully capable of conducting hearings that determine how much immigration we need every year to make sure that our economy doesn't begin to slow down, let alone stall, let alone fall into a recession.

Our economy, all 13 plus trillion per annum, is NOT contingent upon the contribution of illegals. Nor should we ever accept so bald a statement as accurate. Our LEGAL immigration number can fluctuate. We can lower it, we can raise it. We can alter the character of those coming to these shores by prioritizing certain peoples, certain cultures, certain skill sets. And we have the perfect right, moral and legal to do so.

The first thing we should do is completely seal the Southern border, and make sure that illegals don't start using Canada as a conduit for entry to this country.

Secondly, we should immediately begin hearings about how much foreign labour our economy needs. How much immigration does our economy require. But also, we need to conduct hearings on what cultural impact our immigration has had in our past, is having now, and will likely to have in the years to come. For example, what impact would the movement of ten million muslims here have on our culture. That's a perfectly rational, commonsensical discussion to have. And it needs to occur now, NOW, so that we don't find ourselves in the boat that all of Europe finds itself in. We should learn from other's mistakes.

That's one of the prime strengths of democracies, their ability to learn from mistakes.

But this bill simply repeats errors from our past. And what's more, this bill does NOTHING to stop the flow of illegals to this country, two million plus per annum.

Bede can defend himself, but the proposition nation concept is a left-wing idea perhaps more than an explicitly Marxist idea although Marx certainly accepted it. (Workers of the world unite. That sort of thing.) (Although I have read that Marx personally held rather uncharitable ideas re. race.) Marx found that ethnic loyalties interfered with his ability to usher in the workers' paradise.

Perhaps what Bede is getting at is that it is an idea that has been popularized by neo-Marxist. When they figured out that the class warfare argument wasn't selling in the US as well as it did in other places, cultural Marxism was born. The idea that ethnic loyalties (of the majority) are somehow bad was popularized rather successfully by the cultural Marxists.

"Marx explicitly rejected the notion that ideas were important--they were merely pale reflections of the mode of production."

How so? Marx was all about the imposition of an ideology (an ism) at the expense of what was. Marx wanted to replace old and tainted ideas with his brilliant new ones.

Marx believed that because of the contradictions of capitalism it was destined to collapse, and that communism would follow. This was not to be done as an act of will, but rather as a natural, evolutionary occurrence. In short, he was a materialist, plain and simple, who repeatedly and explicitly ridiculed the thought that ideas were the cause of change.

Marx did not believe he was advocating an "-ism," but believed he had discovered the scientific interpretation of economics. Marx believed he had also discovered the law of history - class struggle - and put forward his philosophy to explain how the inescapable crisis in captialism would coincide with class struggle to end history. Because all that mattered to Marx was the "structure" of a society - the means of production, who added value by labor, and who controlled the means of production - he insisted that religion, national creed, race, all other "ideas" outside class were "superstructure." That is, everything outside the ownership of the means of production is ephemeral - a myth provided to justify the ruling class.

Marx believed what he observed in history and economics was not an interpretation, but as certain as what Newton observed in identifying gravity: not "ideas," but scientific reality. Once the final crisis of capitalism struck, all superstructure - all philosophies, creeds, religions, ethnicities - all would pass away and be revealed for the illusions that they were. Once the proletariat rose up - as they inevitably had to - and took their place at the end of history, credal, ethnic, religious, ideas would be over- their unreality would be too obvious. Moser is right - the idea of a credal nation may be liberal or even radical, but it is absolutely not Marxist.

That is what is so strange about the way the words "Marxist" and "Leninist" get thrown around in the comments sections here to describe people influenced by Strauss. Who took ideas more seriously than Strauss? I am probably a paleocon, if we were all to take a quiz, but the abuse towards conservatives who think differently than I do in these comments sections would kind of disturb me if much of it were not so obviously so uninformed and misguided. You know what really is Marxist? - hating people on the same side of the political divide as you are but who differ with you slightly more than you disagree with your ideological opposites.

Marx was definitely a materialist, but in the grand scheme of things, rigorous materialism is a rather new idea is it not? Some belief in the non-material is the historical norm.

But to the degree that Marx rejected ideas, he was either being disingenuous or foolish. He is one of the prime historical examples that ideas do matter.

But I think you get my point. Marxism was an idea that railed against nature and tradition and the way things were. (As is the proposition nation.) Ideas matter, but they are not what unite a people. The communists found this out in WWII. The people would not rally to defend the workers paradise. They rallied to defend Mother Russia.

I believe the original post ( says NeoMarxist, not Marxist. Realizing that they could not undermine the West on class alone, NeoMarxists supported political correctness and altered forms of liberalism (e.g. proposition nation) because they saw it as a way to promote their agenda. Karl Marx said: "But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade." Like the neocons, Marx was a big globalist. It is no coincidence that most neocons are closet Trotskyites.

The most adamant attempt at a proposition nation / creedal nation was the USSR. It failed in the USSR, and it will fail in the USA too. It's left-wing utopianism.

Eisenhower sent illegals back with his Operation Wetback. It's possible and not necessarily inhumane.

I get the impression that Marx wasn't entirely honest. His true ideal might have been something like the Soviet Union, with himself as the head. To play the have nots against the haves might well be a way for him to become a have more.

Marx was at least in favor of hurrying the inevitable along and what would motivate and unite workers would seem to be the idea of the revolution as well as materialism. I have trouble seeing how he could believe materialism alone could unite them.

To say such a future is destiny might well be mere propaganda. The BNP today argues that it is the inevitable future of Britain, though such seems far from inevitable.

Anyway, I wonder too if he truly meant permanent revolution to be, well permanent.

What Marx really believed isn't all that useful unless it undermines those who deify him, but I think it is interesting to consider that, as Strauss might say, if he was really saying what he believed or if there wasn't another level.

You have guys have a genuine taste for theoretical abstractions.

The lead post was about the merits of enforcement and fencing. And the political advantages to be had in pursuing a strategy of genuine enforcement first, and debate about the status of illegals thereafter.

And you guys have morphed the thread that followed that post into some discussion of Marx, Neo-Marxism and "propositional nation[s]."

Here we are in the midst of the most important legislative fight of our existences, and you guys are content to indulge in abstract theorizing.

Have you guys made any phone calls today? Have you fired off any angry emails? Have you let your elected officials know your thoughts about this piece of legislation?

Have you contacted the RNC?

Have you contacted your state party?

In short, have you done everything in your power to ward off this Texan sized nightmare?

I drove down to Washington yesterday. I'll probably go again on Monday, definitely Wednesday. I intend to visit the offices of every single politician from the Keystone State. I've already done several. And I intend to hit the offices of every single Senator thought to be wobbly on the issue.

This isn't the time to be content with discussions about political and economic theory.

This is a time to be busy, very busy.

Save the theorizing for later, there will be time enough then.

But for now, start making your voices heard and your views known to those in Washington, whose votes will shape the very fabric and texture of this nation.

Of course Marx was not honest. We are talking about people and when it comes to power, which Communism and Socialism gives absolute, then honesty is not even on the top 10 list of things to do or worry about.

A proletarian revolt to bring about a utopian society in which everyone gave to and received from a central government is the hoax. There is no such thing. There never was such a thing. There never will be such a thing.

Such fantasies are promulgated for one purpose only and that is to further subjugate others.

History, recent and ancient, prove my words true.

The only thing resembling true liberty is what we have in America and even that is not ideal nor secure.

In regards to morphing this thread to a debate on Marxism and other such things ... what do you expect?

Many on this site are immersed in a university setting, which leads to such things and also leads to thesis sounding posts from many folks here.

The most adamant attempt at a proposition nation / creedal nation was the USSR. It failed in the USSR, and it will fail in the USA too. It's left-wing utopianism.

This thread has outlived its usefulness, I think, but I can't resist pointing out what seems to me to be obvious. To view the United States and the Soviet Union as similar because they are both "proposition nations" is to suggest that, say, the concepts of gravity and phlogiston are similar because they are both theories. The difference, of course, is that one is true, while the other is false. Similarly, the United States is based on a true ("self-evident") proposition, while the USSR was based on a false one.

If we're to accept Jeff's logic on this, shouldn't we also equate the paleocon view--that a true nation is based on race, rather than ideas--with the views of Adolf Hitler?


if ideas hold us together, then is an American child who happens to like communism to be thrown out while a Chinese child who happens to like whatever the latest political trend in America is to be welcomed in?

What true proposition are the United States based upon btw?

If you're short on time and can't respond, I won't assume I've 'won.' I'm just curious as to what it might be =p


It's not a matter of "the latest political trends." It's the essential embrace of the words of the Declaration: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

The "proposition nation" was first invented by left-wing Jacobins, but then popularized by NeoMarxists as a way to undermine Western Civilization. Jeff is right about the USSR being the first full-fledged proposition nation. The Trotskyite Irving Kristol said: "A larger nation has more extensive interests. And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns." Wait? I thought Kirk said conservatism was anti-ideological. Well, that doesn't stop Irving Trostky Kristol in his quest to turn the US into a proposition nation, not unlike the one that failed in the USSR. Neocons are the arch-enemy of any real conservative. Neocons are even more radical than many on the Left.

John Moser,

That "all men are created equal" is neither self-evident nor true. That is the problem. To quote Mel Bradford quoting an unnamed congressman, that all men are created equal is a "self-evident lie." To echo Robert Locke in his brilliant dismantling of the Proposition Nation thesis, only two people were ever created, and one was created subordinate to the other.

What exactly Jefferson meant is the subject of much debate, but he clearly was not founding the nation on that proposition or he would have freed the slaves, allowed women to vote, gotten rid of property requirements for voting, etc.


Good explanation of Marx, but the issue isn't so much what he thought he believed, but what he actually believed which was one big powerful idea which happened to be a lie. But the point that the demonization of the majority’s ethnic consciousness was popularized by neo-Marxist is the main point. Do you disagree with that?

The Other Dan

I appreciate your activist efforts, and yes I have sent e-mails, but the immigration issue can not be rightly separated from the proposition nation debate. And the demonization of what should be the natural instinct of nativism is one of the things that is standing in the way of an honest debate.

Dan, thank you. Your comment #8 was very good and made my "why does this look so awful to me and so good to them" question have an answer. I'll write more emails, though the letters I get back from my senators and congressman make me feel like I am wasting my time.

When the South seceded, the US sure didn't think it was the right of Southerners "to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

"The people" are manipulated by mass media, the education system, and their political leaders. The people are, on average, of average intelligence, knowledge of events, desire to learn about events, and virtue. They cannot be expected to magically revolt and form a better government on their own. What is needed is the best from the American nation to stand up and lead the American people in the right direction.

Anyway, if I had to pick an ideology for the US government, it'd be: there is no God so take what you want from this world by whatever means available. IOW, those in power take what they can by any means, incl. immoral means.

So, in other words: I think the US government and institutions have grown corrupt

The Declaration was largely a propaganda document. It was presenting a justification for secession. Since many of the signers were slave owners, I suspect they thought it meant Americans are equal to Englishmen and deserve representation.

I said in the previous post that the best of the American nation should stand up. What would motivate them is a love of their nation and obedience to their Christian faith. However, religion is denied in America, and nationalism attacked as racist.

Haven't read the posts on this thread, however, I will say this, Jefferson, a slave owner, originally had a paragraph in the Declaration of Independence denouncing the slave trade and its introduction of the slave trade to the Americas by the British. However, it was excised out of the final draft for being too controversial (to the Brits and to the Southern states who held enourmous sway and eventually attempted to leave the Union).

Also, to note, while still being a slave owner, Jefferson attempted, with futility either by design or by some unconscious effect, to make abolition of the slavery beneficial to all involved, slaves and slave owners.

So, the argument that the Declaration is just a propaganda document based mainly on the fact that many, including the writer of that document, were slave owners is specious.

Also, the Declaration of Independence not only points out that a people have a "to alter or to abolish" the government when it becomes to destructive, it also points out that this decision must not be acted upon for "light and transient causes", but for "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism."

The latter parts of the right to abolish the government seems to be almost always ignored by those claiming such a right in the first place.

A very high bar indeed and one that the South did not meet.

Regarding the ideology of the U.S. government that Frank put forth ...

That may be true of today's government, but it is definately not true of the government of the Founders or even the government of the not far oft past. It should evident from the government's official documents that God was not to be ignored by the government nor abused.

But, again, this is tangential to the point of the thread.

Also, I note that I haven't read the posts on this thread since the last time I posted, which is what I meant in my last reply.

Without returning yet again to the secession argument, I want to take issue with the notion that the Declaration of Independence was a "propaganda document." This might have been plausible had the French Revolution broken out twenty years earlier than it did, but why in the world would Jefferson have chosen language about "equality" and "inalienable rights" in trying to win over France's absolute monarchy? Indeed, those at Louis XVI's court who were opposed to assisting the Revolution routinely argued that supporting such an effort would set a dangerous precedent.

I see Dale is up to his old tricks. As supreme god of the universe he alone has the power to determine when the sovereign people have the right to alter or abolish their government. What a joke.

The people possess sovereignty. They make the government. And they can decide who to allow into their body politic. The idea that the word "equality" in the Declaration implies that the United States should have open borders is similarly a joke.

And if Dale doesn't believe me he should read the Texas Constitution: "All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient."

Get it? The people can "alter, reform, or abolish their governement" anytime they want for any reason. Prudence dictates they should not do it for light and transient reasons, but if they want to they can.

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