The National Story

To overcome populism, the U.S. needs to recover its national story, providing a compelling counter to the zero-sum narrative of tribal conflict put forward by the populist right.

Source: Bruce Springsteen Is Antidote to Populist Tribalism – Bloomberg

Agreed. Traditionalism FTW.

To be an anti-populist does not mean to be dedicated to the disenfranchisement of the politically neglected. On the contrary: populist politicians, demagogues that they tend to be, tend to mistreat their own constituencies, using the downtrodden as political ladders only to pursue their own ambitions, discarding the populace later like so much used Kleenex, or using them as cannon fodder in their political battles and military engagements.

A genuine anti-populist movement would pursue policies designed to eliminate the American political underclass, not by rallying them against everyone else, but by tweaking the system so that they can return to the fold.

The way we do that is to remember those things that made us a nation in the first place, articulate them, and then make them relevant and tangible. It is time to give Americans a stake in America again, and that process starts with a rededication in both word and deed to our national narrative, not by a headfirst plunge into the cesspool of national chauvinism.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

3 thoughts on “The National Story”

  1. A hard remedy to apply.

    The “national story” is one of frontier. And military annexation. And pretending not to be an empire while behaving exactly like one. And brutal civil war with one side defending literally the most offensive and obviously wrong institution in the history of the species.

    And isn’t this in fact the problem?

    That the “national stories” of the 1st World nations in general are not ones we’re particularly proud of any more?

    It seems to me that the only “national story” — civilisational story, really — that could possibly serve as an inspirational future guide are the parts about pluralism and tolerance, and the triumph of applying evidence-based rationalism to all part of our lives, as exemplified by the scientific method and the amazing technologies we’ve built.

    Everything, in short, that your modern conservative hates.

  2. I was probably not clear, but I want to separate this idea of a “national story” from a “national history.”

    A history, whether from a jingoistic textbook or a revisionist critique, is strictly a telling of events, all too often with a motive or viewpoint. I submit that any history that emphasizes our failings is every bit as flawed as one that ignores them. History should be evidence based to the greatest degree possible, with legend and conjecture either removed or flagged as such.

    A national story is not a history in the strict sense, because its first and foremost job is to set out a sense of purpose or at least a set of unifying principles of sufficient relevance and import as to serve as the mortar for the polity short of invoking chauvinism. In my view, a national story begins with a statement of shared fundamental values, a balanced review of how we have or have not lived up to those values in the past, and a resolve and blueprint for living in accordance with those in the future. We have not crafted that yet, it will be challenging to do so, but it behooves us to make the effort.

    As to your “only inspirational story,” I daresay I am left uninspired, and that I would not be alone. Yours is one vision, worthy of consideration, but there will be others, some even posited by thoughtful, wise, and compassionate people. I wonder, though: how do you build a civilization on tolerance when that civilization refuses to tolerate the existence of viewpoints that see rationalism as false god, technology as useful but a potentially dangerous fetish, and the scientific method as a tool made up to look like an ethos?

  3. ROFLMAO So, you want to create a populist movement for the people inside America’s borders who want to replace it with something else. And yes, reading this post, it’s clear that this is what you desire. You even go so far in the comments as to say that the narrative (story) should be separate from the actual historical facts.

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