The sweeping gains by the Republican Party in the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections were due in large part to the growing strength of America’s grass-roots Tea Party movement. Tea Party activists are overwhelmingly White; their stated goal is to roll back the federal Leviathan now headed by America’s first non-White President. Predictably, therefore, liberals interpret the Tea Party phenomenon as a manifestation of White “racism.” Equally predictable are Tea Party attempts to deflect such accusations by backing the Black Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain. For a while, even some White nationalists hoped that the Tea Parties would evolve into an explicitly ethnonationalist political movement. It is now obvious that that will never happen.
At heart, the Tea Party movement is not about politics as such, i.e. who gets what, when, and where. Still less does it promote a surreptitious style of identity politics tailor-made for White folks. Instead, the excitement generated by the Tea Partiers resembles a corporate media-savvy revival of the old-time religious fervour for which America is famous.
The Tea Party movement is another episode in the long history of evangelical enthusiasm which has driven the permanent (or at least very long-running) American Revolution since it broke out in the eighteenth century. The radicalism of that revolutionary upheaval is still fuelled by a potent mixture of politics and religion. Well before the American Declaration of Independence, the first Great Awakening laid the foundation for the constitutional faith that transformed colonial Englishmen into homo Americanus. In the early nineteenth century, a second-stage evangelical revival fertilized the spiritual seedbed of secession and Civil War.
It is no accident that Tea Partiers love to dress up in American Revolutionary costumes. They are true believers, utterly committed to the peculiar political theology enshrined by the Founding Fathers of the Constitutional Republic. WASPs and professing Christians are well-represented within the Tea Party movement. Do not be deceived, however; American Protestantism is now far removed from orthodox Christianity.
True, American WASPs do affirm their faith in Christ, regularly and often. But their hopes of personal salvation are nurtured in the interior space of private conscience. In public, the altruistic WASP’s religious responsibility for the commonweal finds expression in a civic culture of constitutional patriotism. Accordingly, it is through the ritual remembrances and the red-white-and-blue, republican regalia of Middle America’s political religion that Tea Partiers express their shared identity.
The State with the Soul of a Church
The American nation-state is a secular parody of the church. Unlike the early modern Church of England, moreover, America’s established religion resolutely refuses to incarnate the spirit of a particular people, least of all, the descendants of British colonists—the long-since forgotten “founding race” of the “first new nation.” The newly independent Constitutional Republic set out deliberately to create a nation unlike any other known to man. It used as its raw material not just the core population group in British North America, namely people of predominantly English ancestry, but any White person who made his way to the New World.
The spiritual core of America’s constitutional faith is a cosmopolitan conception of revolutionary universalism which aims to transcend and include any and all of the national and religious particularities of the Old World. American Anglo-Saxon Protestants readily sacrificed their ancestral ethnoreligious identity on the altar of the new republican religion. Yet, a socially significant minority of “Tories” refused allegiance to an artificial body politic subject to the capricious rule of good King Democracy. They were denounced by rebel Whigs as “sectarians” for their stubborn loyalty to throne and altar, stripped of their property, and driven in their tens of thousands out of the country.
Abigail Adams, wife of a future President, watched the first great batch of Tory exiles depart from Boston harbour. She “reported it as the largest fleet ever seen in America. Upward of one hundred and seventy sail could be counted; they looked like a forest.” Even after the American Republic made peace with Great Britain, one historian notes that triumphant Whigs insisted that no Tory should “find a resting place in the United States; and in nearly every state they were disfranchised, while in many localities they were tarred and feathered, driven from town and warned never to return” (see here, p. 595).
Two hundred years later, the deracinated WASP descendants of those eighteenth century American rebels still occupy the front pew in America’s civil religion. Some reject the term WASP as a snide and spiteful acronym popularised sometime in the Fifties by Jews and other ethnic groups harbouring grievances against the founding stock of White America. But perhaps the pejorative connotation of the term is deserved. Perhaps the Constitutional Republic founded by the largely Anglo-Saxon Protestant colonial subjects of the British Crown was born in sin. There were few Jews or Catholics present when the founding fathers severed the bonds of blood and faith between Americans and their kith and kin across the Atlantic. The Declaration of Independence confirmed that the American Adam had been seduced by the promise of unmatched wealth and endless prosperity, the worldly power and everlasting glory sure to follow the peopling of a vast continental empire.
The term WASP is indeed derogatory and abusive; but those who bear that label must accept that they deserve much of the contempt heaped upon them by other racial, religious, and ethnic groups. Hopelessly at odds with themselves, WASPs have become the invisible race. Even in their own eyes, WASPs now constitute little more than a demographic abstraction altogether devoid of the soul and the substance of a serious people. Back in the Sixties; Time magazine observed that their collective identity was merely an upmarket “lifestyle choice” available to “Waspirants” of all colors and creeds.
American WASPs desperately need to regenerate a collective spirit of in-group solidarity. WASPs must learn to play the postmodern game of identity politics. Only through a palingenetic process of spiritual regeneration will weakling WASPs be reborn as Anglo-Saxon Christian soldiers. In the culture wars to come, their mission will be to expose the false religion on the march, most recently, under the banner of the Tea Party movement.
The Cult of the Constitution
Tea Party types are moved by more than narrowly political concerns over taxes, fiscal responsibility, and federalism. Like the vast majority of American WASPs, including a good many White nationalists, Tea Partiers are mesmerized by the cult of the Constitution. Since their political theology dogmatically denies the past, present, or future existence of an authentically Christian, Anglo-Saxon Volksgeist, any struggle to win back the soul of Middle America will spark fierce religious conflict.
America’s constitutional faith has always been a cosmopolitan creed, first conceived within the transatlantic tradition of eighteenth-century British republicanism. Together with their counterparts “at home,” colonial elites created a novel intellectual constellation in which they began to re-imagine the character of Christian community. Nathan O. Hatch writes that “By 1760 New England clergymen appear to have lost a clear distinction between the Kingdom of God and the goals of their own political community.”
The meaning of the American Revolution itself was framed by a “republican eschatology” rooted in the English Commonwealth tradition. This embryonic constitutional faith endowed “the function of man as a citizen” with a “profoundly new religious significance.” Republican liberty became “a cardinal principle of Christian belief” once the principles governing civil order” were assigned a key role in the scheme of providential history.”
The seeds of post-Christian infidelity already latent in such civil millenarianism sprouted treasonous tendrils in the fertile soil of prosperous British North American colonies nurturing imperial pretensions of their own. Following independence, the absence of an established church in the new nation reinforced the direct application of religious morality to the realm of politics, law, and government. It became second nature for Americans to treat their political preferences as religious priorities.
The religion of the Republic readily associated the revolutionary trinity of liberty, equality, and fraternity with providential history. Sharing with all mankind the political ideals of the American Revolution came to be seen as “a necessary prerequisite for spreading the Christian message.”
Inventing the People
The most fundamental task facing the American revolutionary regime was the need to invent a new people. Two centuries later, that grandiose project has been all but abandoned by the post-American government of the United States. The Civil War foreshadowed the epic failure of that nation-building project. Southern stalwarts such as Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina denied from the beginning that there was any such thing as a “citizen of the United States,” insisting that the primary and essential allegiance of each citizen lay with his own state. Calhoun snorted that investing homo Americanus with a single national citizenship would produce “a perfect nondescript,” a sort of legal hermaphrodite. Such particularist loyalties fuelled the sectional animosities that split the First (Federal) Republic into two warring state religions.
Unfortunately for Calhoun’s Southern compatriots, the Second (Bourgeois) Republic was founded in 1865 on the smouldering ruins of the Confederacy. Yankee capitalists, together with their political cronies in both the North and the West, treated the occupied South as a mere creature of the victorious Union, ripe for the plucking. The Southern states were forced at gunpoint to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, empowering federal courts to compel states to extend due process rights and equal protection of the laws to newly-freed Negro slaves. Eventually, the citizens of every state were transformed into wards of the federal government.
During the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, such “constitutional” guarantees of equal protection encouraged radicals favouring a colour-blind and gender-neutral Constitution for the nation as a whole. Later still, in our own time, the Fourteenth Amendment provided revolutionary communists and putatively conservative capitalists alike with the formal constitutional warrant to produce the immigration disaster that finally laid homo Americanus low.
Following the New Deal Revolution of the Thirties, American capitalism was literally under new management. In symbiosis with the rise of an administrative state dominated by professional bureaucrats, a new class of professional managers captured control of the corporate sector. Bourgeois “owners” were transformed into shareholders with a merely nominal role in corporate governance. Under the direction of its managerial and professional elites, the Third (Managerial/Therapeutic) Republic set out to reinvent the American people.
The Anglo-American majority has been compelled to embrace as brothers under the skin all officially-designated, “discrete and insular minorities,” whatever their colour, creed, or citizenship. Under the current constitutional dispensation, the sacred cause of liberty, equality, and fraternity has been consummated in the corporate-sponsored American Dream.
But, of course, it was all a fantastic fiction. America’s constitutional faith is now being sorely tested by the post-American, Obama regime’s efforts to inaugurate a Fourth (Transnational) Republic. As the revolutionary ideal of fraternity morphs into the official/corporate/media celebration of diversity, the (implicitly Anglo-Saxon Protestant) American Adam finally faces expulsion from his New World garden.
End of Part 1; go to Part 2
Andrew Fraser is a wandering WASP—born in Canada, educated there and in the USA, who now happily ensconced in Australia. He is the author of The WASP Question: An Essay on the Biocultural Evolution, Present Predicament, and Future Prospects of the Invisible Race (Arktos 2011).