Rethinking nationalism

First, the self-appointed Western elites were surprised to learn that History had not, in fact, ended. Now they are reeling from the discovery that no one actually wants to live in their shiny, sexy, multicultural, and postnational utopia. Ross Douthat presents Ten Theses on Immigration:

Native backlash against perceived cultural transformation is very powerful, and any politics that refuses to take account of it will fail. 

Even if you suppose, that is, that mass immigration would be an unalloyed good in a world where Western populations could manage to overcome their (or what you think of as their) bigotry and nativism and racism, in the world that actually exists politicians have to account for those forces and not simply assume that the right Facebook rules and elite-level political conspiracies can perpetually keep a lid on populism. If you make choices that very predictably empower the National Front or Pegida or Trump, you cannot wash your hands of those consequences by saying, “oh, it’s not my fault that my fellow countrymen are such terrible bigots.” The way to disempower demagogues is not to maintain a high-minded moral purity that’s dismissive of public opinion’s actual shape; it’s to balance your purity with prudence, so as to avoid handing demagogues issues that might eventually deprive you of power entirely, and render all your moral ambitions moot.

In this vein, Tyler Cowen has suggested that because it courts backlash so brazenly, the open borders movement might not necessarily be good for open borders in the long run. But one could go further and say that extremely liberal immigration policies might not be good for liberal norms, period, in the long run.

Reading the Ten Theses, one might almost think Douthat had read Cuckservative.