Thursday, April 6, 2017

"Magic Dirt" Theory Is Alive And Well

       Tom Kratman, writing at Everyjoe, contends that there is no such thing as "Magic Dirt" theory. He explains his understanding of the theory thusly:
Magic Dirt Theory appears to be a coinage of the right, or the alt-right. It is a rhetorical construct designed to disparage that kind of liberalism, progressivism, or cosmopolitanism which would seem to hold that everyone born to some place is and should automatically be a citizen of that place, fully equal, indeed, indistinguishable from the pre-existing native population, no matter what culture the newborn is later raised in, and irrespective of any other attachment or inheritance, or lack thereof, he or she may have to the place.
His understanding is incorrect, though. Kratman is, instead, describing the theory of the proposition nation.

       "Magic Dirt Theory" is a sarcastic three word summary of the idea that there is some ephemeral quality of a particular region (school district, city, county, state, or nation) that imbues its inhabitants with success or prosperity, and that anyone, from anywhere, can be moved to such area and, by some unknowable process, also be imbued with that same success or prosperity. Or, as Z Man summarizes:
       Magic Dirt Theory is what’s behind the push to export troublesome populations out to the suburbs. Through the use of Section 8 housing vouchers, the oppressed can be sent out into the burbs to live in apartments built on the magic dirt that makes the suburbs so attractive to white people. In no time, those troublesome populations will magically transform into highly productive, self-actualizing citizens, contributing to the wonderfulness of suburban life. 
       The beauty of Magic Dirt Theory is it reinforces the magic of race. If the whites raise an objection to having their neighbors owning pitbulls or having loud parties on week nights, it is just proof that the horrible bad whites are trying to deny blacks access to the magic dirt. The only solution is to redouble efforts to transplant more blacks into places like Ferguson Missouri. If the magic dirt does not take, then it just shows how powerful the magic of racism really is and why the good thinkers must never quit trying to beat back the bad thinkers. 
       Magic Dirt Theory. The cause of and cure for all that ails the Progressive mind.
It extends to immigration, as well. As John Derbyshire has stated:
Magic Dirt theory is a key component of immigration romanticism, too. Sure, Mexico and Central America are messed-up places, and presumably their inhabitants played some role in messing them up. If we just move thirty or forty million of those people to the U.S.A., though, our Magic Dirt will transform them into civic-minded Jeffersonian yeomen!
       To give Kratman the benefit of the doubt, it is probably true that the people that believe in Magic Dirt Theory have never consciously expressed it in that manner; rather, their belief of it can be inferred from their actions and beliefs regarding integration and multiculturalism. But Kratman's explanation actually does describe a validly accepted theory: the concept of the United States as a propositional nation; i.e., that simply being in America, or wanting to be an American, is sufficient to create an American, and that person's background culture or other attributes are irrelevant. The proposition nation theory is alive and strong, although it may go under a different name in academic circles: Straussian conservatism. And it shows up falling from the lips of political leaders, such as President George W. Bush when he stated:
America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them; and every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.
       Rod Dreher recently wrote about the Straussian theory when trying to understand conservative opposition to his Benedict Option. To understand the point, Dreher argues in his book on the Benedict Option that Western Christianity is rooted not only in Christianity but also Western Civilization: that is, the two are intertwined. And he argues that anyone participating in Benedict Option communities must, perforce, be willing to accept and imbibe of both Western Civilization and its Christianity. While Dreher insists that all races should be permitted to join Benedict Option communities, there is no room for multiculturalism. Leave your hip-hop and low hanging jeans at the door.

       It is this which is unacceptable to the Straussians, which believe that America is a proposition nation. That is, rather than the United States being a unique product of Western Civilization and Western Christianity,
... the United States was created as a creedal nation founded on philosophical principles. [Harry Jaffa] has written that, “the American Revolution represented the most radical break with tradition…that the world had ever seen.” For West Coast Straussian conservatives, including American neo-conservatives, the United States is a creedal nation united not necessarily by a common history and common set of beliefs, practices, and institutions, but instead by a common philosophical commitment to the creation and sustenance of political equality. 
In other words, to be an American only requires a commitment to political equality. Dreher contends that to the Straussian, "America is not a state so much as it is a religion." He adds:
To give up on the liberalism that created this creedal nation is, to use New Testament language about the Church, to allow the gates of Hell to prevail against America. It would invalidate their political religion. Therefore, they cannot admit the possibility that the American experiment might be failing, or can fail.
And it has failed. Not all cultures are of the same worth; a free and open society must have some foundation moral standards. Or, as John Adams observed: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

No comments:

Post a Comment