An Architect of Transnationalism: Horace Kallen and the Fetish for Diversity and Inclusion

This week, in Davos, a town in the Swiss Alps within the canton of Graubünden, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been holding its annual meeting of elites. If you’ve been following the sessions, then you will have witnessed for yourself the championing of the big idea of transnationalism, in practice the project to dismantle the nation-state and world capitalism and replace these with a one-world government and a system of global neo-feudalism (see George Soros, Philanthrocapitalism, and the Coming Era of Global Neo-Feudalism). The project goes hand in hand with the managed decline of the American republic and more broadly the West. Indeed, they’re one and the same.

Neo-feudalism is a social and economic system characterized by a high degree of inequality and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small elite. A neo-feudalist society is a society in which a small group of wealthy individuals and corporations control the political and economic system, while the majority of the population is relatively powerless and dependent on the elite for its livelihood. In such a society, the elite use their power and wealth to influence the political and legal apparatus in their own interests, while the majority of the population is denied access to political and economic power. The elite are able to maintain their power and wealth through the control of key resources (energy, land, technology) and the manipulation of the political, legal, and cultural systems.

The German engineer Klaus Schwab founded the WEF in 1971 (see If We Allow This, We are Over), but the transnationalist project has been operating for more than a century, since at least the early-twentieth century with the emergence of the corporate state and its handmaiden progressivism.

One of the leading figures of early twentieth century transnationalism was Horace Kallen, a German-American philosopher best known for his ideas on cultural pluralism and trans-nationalism (the term was fittingly hyphenated back then). Thus Kallen is one of the early thinkers of multiculturalism, his ideas famously presenting a challenge to the idea of the melting pot or the process of assimilation and integration. Kellen was a proponent of the idea that the United States should not be an integral nation, that is a country with a shared national culture, but a federation of different ethnic and cultural groups, each allowed to maintain its own distinct identity.

Horace Meyer Kallen (1882–1974) was a German-born American philosopher who advocated trans-nationalism, cultural pluralism, and Zionism.

Kallen’s contention was that the nation-state is an inadequate unit of analysis for understanding the complexities of modern society. The nation-state, he argued, with its emphasis on integration and shared culture, is too exclusionary and too narrow to accommodate the diversity of modern world society, the result of capitalist globalization. Kallen proposed that the nation-state should be replaced by a trans-national federation, one that would be based on the principle of cultural pluralism, which claimed that a society could be both diverse and inclusive, a dynamic that necessitated an emphasis on equity. Sound familiar?

One can find Horace Kallen’s February 25, 1915 essay published in The Nation magazine online. The title is a clever one: “Democracy versus the Melting-Pot.” Kallen’s framing depicts those in support of assimilation as standing against democracy, when in fact democracy is only possible when individuals stand with respect to each other on equal footing as their own personalities—in contrast to the situation of tribal members passively standing by while those who presume to speak for them negotiate matters of vital interests for their own personal gain.

Kallen’s trans-nationalism would allow different cultural and ethnic groups to coexist and interact within a larger federation, while still preserving their distinct identities and cultures. Culture in this understanding is not food or dress or religion, but law and custom. Kallen believed that trans-nationalism would promote a more just and harmonious society by allowing different groups to maintain their own traditions and values while also participating in the larger society. Put another way, Kallen believed that traditional models of nation-state and assimilation were not inclusive enough to accommodate the diversity of the society, and that the only way to achieve a just and harmonious society was paradoxically to allow different groups to maintain their own deep cultural systems. To put the matter bluntly, Kallen’s vision was tribal and feudalistic.

Kallen’s ideas on cultural pluralism and trans-nationalism not only aligned with the goals and values of the progressive movement but were the embodiment of the movement (if we can even call the ideological projection of corporate statism a movement). The stated purpose of progressivism was to address the social and political issues that arose during the industrialization and urbanization of the country. Progressives ostensively promoted economic reform, political democracy, and social justice. However, these objectives occurred within the goal of preserving and advancing the interests of corporate state elites. The idea of building a shared culture of democratic and participatory politics, alongside the inclusion of ethnic groups whose worldviews differed radically from one another is in reality as strategy not unlike that of the emperor who controls the myriad tribes of the realm under his command by giving them a voice while managing their affairs. The politics are not actually participatory by symbolic.

To explain this situation, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci developed the concept of “hegemony” to describe the way in which the ruling class maintains its power and dominance in society. Hegemony refers to the process by which the ruling class imposes its beliefs, ideas, and values on the rest of society, creating a dominant cultural and ideological framework within which people understand and make sense of the world. Once such a framework is established and internalized, participatory democracy may be allowed since it serves to align the population more profoundly with the goals and interests of the ruling class. The cultural pluralism of Kallen’s thinking is mechanism of preparing a fractured proletariat for reintegration into the corporate state order.

Gramsci argued that the ruling class achieves hegemony through a combination of coercion and consent, an iron fist cloaked in a velvet glove. On the one hand, the elite use their control over the means of production and the state to impose their will on the rest of society through repression and violence. On the other hand, they engineer or manufacture consent by convincing the rest of society to accept and internalize the beliefs, ideas, and values projected by the elite. The ruling class achieves hegemony by creating a dominant culture that shapes the way people think, feel, and act. They do this by creating institutions (public education systems, the mass media, religious organizations) that propagate the ruling class’ ideology and transmit its values. Gramsci argued that a key technique the ruling class uses to achieve hegemony involves manufacturing a common sense among the population, a set of assumptions and beliefs so widely accepted that they’re felt as natural and self-evident.

According to Gramsci, the term intellectual encompasses a wider range of social agents than typically thought. He includes not only scholars and artists, but also those who hold influential positions in society, such as administrators, bureaucrats, managers, and politicians. Gramsci further categorizes these intellectuals into two dimensions: horizontal and vertical. On the vertical dimension, there are specialists who organize industry for capitalists and as directors who organize society as a whole. On the horizontal dimension, Gramsci separates intellectuals into traditional and organic categories. Traditional intellectuals are not closely connected to the economic structure of society and view themselves as outside the class structure, while organic intellectuals are a project of social class interests and work to give their class a sense of unity and understanding of its role in the steering of the social order. Intellectuals are organic in the sense that they are rooted in and emerge from the historical experiences of their class, as opposed to traditional intellectuals who remain aloof from elites and masses. Of course, traditional intellectuals are often functional to elite interests and, moreover, directed by the organic intellectuals who occupy administrative and managerial positions.

Alongside clergy, university professors are often cast as traditional intellectual. But the possibility that a man can exist in both categories is a concrete reality. Kallen studied philosophy at Harvard University under George Santayana, the same philosopher who mentored Walter Lippmann, one of the founders of the methods of mass public manipulation. Lippmann, as did his contemporary Edward Bernays, described a method of the manufacturing of consent, which he argued was necessary because the “common interests” “elude” the public, who he described as “the bewildered herd.” Managing the herd is the domain of “specialized class,” a stratum of which Lippmann was a constituent.

And so was Kallen. Kallen lectured in philosophy at Harvard for several years before moving the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then onto the New School in New York City. In fact, Kellen was one of the founding members of the New School, which welcomed the Frankfurt School several years later. Kallen finished his academic career at the New School. He was also a member of the National Council of the League of Nations Association, which became the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), an organization devoted to building in faith and support for the United Nations among the American masses, as well as a member of the Society for the Study of Psychical Research and the Zionist Organization of America. Some of Kallen’s key works are the aforementioned Democracy Versus the Melting-Pot (1915), Zionism and World Politics (1921), and Education, the Machine and the Worker: An Essay in the Psychology of Education in Industrial Society (1925).

We may augment Gramsci’s brilliant thesis with the work of other keen observers of the way the ruling class control the minds of masses, figures such as Karl Marx, Guy Debord, Sheldon Wolin, Noam Chomsky, Adam Curtis, and Mattias Desmet. I will in future blogs discuss their observations (I have discuss their views in previous blogs, as well). But perhaps it will suffice to note here that the invasion of the United States at its southern border by millions of foreigners, which is occurring as I write these words, goes unrecognized by the vast majority of the population. This is an invasion that undermines workers wages, burdens public infrastructure, disorganizes neighborhoods, increasing rates of crime and violence, and weakens national integrity, and it all occurs in the context of an overarching culture of woke progressivism—in a word, Horace Kallen’s wet dream. The only sustained coverage of the crisis in the mainstream media was President Biden’s recent visit to the border, a tour of an essentially empty facility to give those viewers who were paying attention the impression that there aren’t millions of people crossing the border.

How do we fight the project to establish a one-world government and a system of global neo-feudalism? Gramsci emphasized the need for what he calls a “war of position” to challenge the prevailing hegemonic order. This war of position refers to the struggle for the control of the cultural and ideological framework of society. Gramsci believed that the working class and other marginalized groups must actively work to create a counter-hegemony by building alternative institutions and producing their own culture, in order to challenge the dominant ideology and ultimately overthrow the ruling class.

There is an irony in all this. Gramsci, a communist, was talking about the left setting up alternative institutions and producing their own culture in order to challenge the dominant ideology and ultimately overthrow the ruling class. But the corporate state claims the left. This is the point progressivism with its symbolic politics of economic reform, political democracy, and social justice: to feign leftwing politics. Progressivism is in reality authoritarian and illiberal. And progressives controls the mainstream media. This means that the only place the masses can learn about actual world events and the machinations of the transnationalists is right-wing media. (I highly recommend Steve Bannon’s War Room, which livestreams several times a day on Gettr.)

The fact that the mainstream media is not talking about the invasion at our southern border tells you that its purpose is to keep the public in the dark so the elites can advance the project of managed decline of the American republic. I will be blunt: if you consume mainstream media you won’t know what’s going because that’s what it’s for: to present a false view of the world, to produce necessary illusions, to manufacture consent, to establish a common sense that pre-bunks the claims of patriots.

As Gramsci pointed out a long time ago, you can’t rule simply by coercing the population. To be sure, that’s an important piece of it (and when stroking the masses with the velvet glove no longer works the glove comes off). But it’s inefficient and fraught with problems. The elite have to lead the masses by convincing them that they’re the trusted source of information. That their interests are the popular interests. As the propagandist Edward Bernays told us (also a long time ago), this is achieved by managed democracy and propaganda. Only for him and other elites, it’s a good thing. ’Cause you’re too stupid to know what’s good for you.

* * *

There’s a connection between anarchism and Kallen’s transnationalism that I will explore in future blogs. But I want to say some things about it here. As we have seen, transnationalism is advocacy for the dismantling of national boundaries in favor of a global federation of identity groups rooted in the ancient notion of nationalism, what today we usually refer to as ethnicity. While the modern nation-state is an artificial construction, as is the democratic-republicanism organizing the rule of law around the ethnic of individualism in the most just nations, the nation in the ancient sense is organic, emerging from geography and history, its origins often lost to history and thus mythologized. This is the source of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness than pervades social justice thinking. It is why such backwards notions of intergenerational guilt (the rhetoric of white privilege) and collective punishment (the push for reparations) are so prevalent today. The paradigm of nation in the ancient sense is Judaism. More than a religion, Jews are a people. Kallen’s devotion to this ancient idea explains his devotion to Zionism and the development (i.e. colonization) of Palestine by European Jewry. Transnationalism and multiculturalism are the roots of today’s identitarian politics.

Likewise, anarchism sees authentic social order as organic and emergent. For anarchists, the state is not only artificial, but oppressive, its normative structures standing in opposition to a human nature that, if left to itself, given its inherent social character, will result in a orderly society without state and law (and ultimately tribal, as the original human conditions was). Such a society will likely manifest as a loose federation organized around various identity groups. This is how Alexander Berkman, the author of the ABCs of Anarchism, editor of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth, and later founder and editor of his own journal The Blast (a man who also served 14 years in prison for attempting to, in an act of propaganda of the deed, assassinate businessman Henry Clay Frick), could praise Marx and Engels, claiming solidarity with the ends of communism, while rejected the means to this end (i.e. socialism). In Berkman’s view, as his island metaphor told us, one need only to abolish the legal protections of property property in law and the state apparatus for a communal order of common property to naturally emerge.

Of course, in practice, under corporate rule, where authority is removed from the state to a civil society run by business firms, a logic we today know as neoliberalism, technocratic control by an administrative state becomes necessary. This is because the foundational structure of the corporate articulation of the capitalist mode of production produces extreme inequality that demoralizes populations thus giving rise to disorder. To establish control, under corporatism (or social democracy, more accurately managed democracy/inverted totalitarianism, to lean on Wolin), the rule of law based on the ethics of liberalism give way to the administrative state and technocratic rule. This is a form of neo-fascism and it’s replete in a new generation of black shirts, the modern anarchist movement, what we might called technocratic tribalism.

Although it seems paradoxical on its surface, anarchism today takes the street-level form of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, both projections (if they are not one in the same) of the corporate state, which funds them and pushes the ideology in struggle sessions internal to their organizations. Don’t let the antifascist rhetoric deceive you. It has likely not escaped you that that the populist movement (the actual antifascism) against the progressive establishment, which seeks to dismantle the administrative state and return the nation to democratic-republicanism, is branded domestic terrorism by the corporate state while Antifa and Black Lives Matter are celebrated by the nation’s dominant institutions. I cannot let it go unacknowledged that anarchism today, reflected in the doctrines of critical race theory and queer theory, is behind the violence perpetrated against those defending civil and women’s rights, as well as in the displays of BLM and transgenderism in public school classrooms and flapping over statehouses. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is only a slightly less confrontational manifestation of all this. (There is also a deep connection here with trans humanism, but I will leave that to one side for now.)

This connection between anarchism and transnationalism is not merely speculative. In 1928, Kallen spoke at a memorial service for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, avowed anarchists who were convicted of robbery and murder in 1921 and this rushed to execution. Kallen stated that if Sacco and Vanzetti had been anarchists (which he surely knew they were), then so was Jesus. A few years later, Lippmann also publicly rehabilitated Sacco and Vanzetti’s reputation by claiming that their letters were those of innocent men. Yet, whatever you think of the death penalty (I oppose it), the two men were guilty (their lawyer confess the truth to Upton Sinclair, for one thing), and it’s hard to rationalize the fact that not only was this well known at the time (indicated by the concerted effort to get so many people to lie about what they knew) but the campaign to reclaim their innocence was as much a project to advance the cause of transnationalism as it was to save their lives and reputations. You may ask yourself, why would progressives celebrate robbers and murderers? Well, they still do. The summer of 2020 couldn’t have been a better reminder.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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