Is it finally time to ditch America?
I ask in light of a series of disturbing signs that threaten the national peace. Black activists openly flaunting the law and disrupting traffic; a federal judge ruling that homosexuality and heterosexuality don’t exist; the working class getting squeezed more than ever; a diktat passing in New York City that will fine employers up to $250,000 if they refuse to acknowledge transsexual individuals by their preferred pronouns, including they, ze, or ir; and just plain anti-white animus passing off as legitimate journalism.
There’s no other way to say it: American ain’t what she used to be.
The economic powerhouse that once beat the Nazis to a pulp is now a sniveling brat that can’t win a war. Our level of material comfort inches upward, but our real standard of living – that is living full, meaningful lives as individuals in families and citizens in a country – is falling precipitously. A 2012 report from National Journal revealed how distrusting Americans have become of traditional institutions. Churches, schools, government, and the media have all lost their luster thanks to scandal and corruption festering in the ranks. As one working class interviewee put it, “You can’t trust anybody or anything anymore.”
Amen, brother. The knives are out for the regular guy trying to keep a job and raise a family. The elite class want is this way, and keep pressuring the whole country to adopt their cosmopolitan view of human equality.
With America’s social fabric becoming increasingly frayed, is that a good enough reason to pack your bags and hit the road?
Leaving the country for greener pasture has become popular in recent years. In a talk he gave two years ago, economic historian Robert Higgs recommended that young Americans take a real look at expatriating: “If I were in your position, I would consider seriously getting out of this country.” Higgs isn’t foolhardy enough to believe other countries are better than the U.S., but he encourages exodus based on the fact that “no other has the means that the government of this country has to carry out these horrifying surveillance programs and other measures of state tyranny.”
James Poulos also recommends that Americans seriously consider immigration, but he argues for migration based on the poor choice of housing. “In case you hadn’t heard, our white-picket-fence dreams are dying,” he writes. Increasingly, workers coming of age in America have to make a choice between dull suburbia or cramped but lively urban environments. This is a false choice, says Poulos. “Forced to choose between two cookie-cutter models of mass living baked up by policy wonks and culture pundits, Americans would be better off grabbing their passport and opting out entirely.”
Higgsian anxiety over government power combined with Poulos’ appeal to high-risk, high-reward living make for a potent argument. Yes, too much authority has been centralized in Washington, D.C. And yes, America’s dichotomy of city slickers and toothless bumpkinery seems outdated for the 21st century.
In a sense, selling the farm and taking off for better prospects is thoroughly American. We’re an individualistic country that emphasizes personal comfort and convenience. If leaving the country results in more material contentment, well by golly, it would be plain un-American no to do it! As Taki Mag’s Steve Sailer writes, “In modern America, a longing for the familiar places and people we are separated from is routinely castigated as an immature character flaw barely tolerable in children at summer camp, much less in adults.”
Herein lies the problem. A want of the familiar is not character flaw – it’s the exact opposite. Humans naturally attach themselves to what they know and understand. We have a natural aversion to what is foreign or strange. In other words, Americans, like everyone else, are prejudiced against things that differ from what they are used to. It’s not bigotry; it’s a neediness that exists at the core of the human condition.
That’s why most talk about leaving the country is just that: talk. Blowhards mouth it just to sound tough. In reality, few people leave their country of birth, and for good reason. No one wants to end up like Paul Simon walking around in a strange world with no ties to the customs or the people. Living a full life means finding belonging in a milieu you understand. The place you are raised, the people who brought you up, the earliest things you were exposed to – these all help you make sense of life and define your place within the world.
A man’s heart is not something meant to drift listlessly across the globe. It needs to be moored somewhere. The libertarian ideal of the rugged individual paving his way for himself and no others is not just unrealistic; it’s unhealthy and harmful to the soul. Contrary to what government and big business tell us, we are not all fungible cogs in a machine. We long for attachment – attachment to people, meaning, and place. That attachment can only be fulfilled by settling down. Trees don’t grow without roots in the ground. And there is no better soil than one’s own country.
As Wendell Berry wrote in his poem Stay Home:
In the stillness of the trees
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
By no means is America a perfect place, or is our future secure. There are genuine threats to our way of life. But when it comes to the future, I’m more with Ross Douthat than Pat Buchanan: The current state of the West (which includes the good U.S. of A.), enervated and unimaginative as it is, will keep chugging along despite pressure from the outside. That’s why it’s best to sit down and stay put.
To those who still wish to leave their home in America, I say go if you must. Leave the business of living here to the rest of us. But don’t be so surprised if you end up missing it. After all, where else is home, but home?