In my most recent VDare piece, in which I argued that the Alternative Right needs to move beyond being a culture of critique, and devote more energy to formulating an appealing and intellectually coherent ideal, in passing, I criticized Steve Sailer’s Citizenism as unfit for this role.

I wrote that Sailer was “emblematic of this gap in the [thought of the] Dissident Right [between the quality of our criticisms of Egalitarian Universalism and the inadequacy of the alternatives to it that we have thus far offered].” So here, I’d like to very briefly outline my reasons in a bit more detail.

As I said in the article, Sailer may well be the most brilliant social analyst on the American scene today. If you want to understand what’s going on, and to receive this instruction in a gracefully irreverent prose, read isteve. Sailer’s moral vision however, Citizenism, comes-off as an ad hoc afterthought, and is both emotionally and logically unappealing.

Citizenism contends that we should be biased in favor of our fellow citizens and their (our) collective posterity. America ought to be governed so as to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number within the country, and it is assumed that happiness depends on material wellbeing. Aside from suggesting that this would be better obtained by limiting immigration, that is pretty much the whole of his theory.

Steve Sailer: Civis Americanus sum
Is it just to discriminate against someone because he happened to be “born in the wrong country?”

Sailer says Americans come first. Why? Personal material self-interest. Yet, he concedes that his formula for the greatest happiness for the greatest number (of Americans) would not equal the greatest happiness for every number (of Americans). So, if personal material self-interest is the entire basis for loyalty to one’s fellow citizens over 7 billion foreigners, then when that condition is not satisfied, there is obviously no basis for such loyalty.

Majority rules, the Citizenist might say, but Citizenism disregards the majority of the world because its first principle is self-interest, so why not disregard Americans for the same reason? Citizenism is a prescription for collective happiness whose entire rationale is personal happiness, and it has no mechanism to reconcile the obvious conflict.

If there were ever an ideology rendered still-born by its own practical considerations, it is Citizenism. It is not even really an ideology, but simply a means, a means of conserving a certain American lifestyle and identity.

As Citizenism was originally proposed as an alternative to Jared Taylor’s White Identitarianism, Sailer’s laboring under practical considerations is especially clear by his claims that the nature of American whites militates against the likelihood of White Identitarianism, while the potential for racial strife militates against its desirability. Yet, Citizenism’s concessions to practicality empty its core of all logical justification, ironically dooming its long-term prospects. Which is just as well, as far as I’m concerned.

The original Citizenism vs White Nationalism debate between Sailer and Taylor took place almost a decade ago, and it was a debate between two conservatives (i.e. both broadly accepted Liberal-Utilitarian values; they just wanted to turn-back-the-clock a few decades).

Between then and now, the Alternative Right emerged, which has meant a vast improvement in the moral imagination of the Ethnonationalist Right. We have a much better sense of the foundational nature of our civilizational problems, but we remain mostly a culture of critique, generally neglecting to explicitly articulate the rationale for our ideals.

Ultimately, the most true and effective critique of an ideal is the formulation of a better ideal. In the end, you can not really explain what is wrong with an ideal, unless you can articulate a better one (unless of course, that ideal’s logic happens to be as inherently broken as that of Citizenism). This is not as daunting as it may sound, because once you have truly identified the fault at the very core of an ideal, you have already created alternative ideal.

Ryan Andrews is the author of The Birth of Prudence, which was published by VDare earlier this year.

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