Eugene McCarthy and Colonialism Revisited

Volume 3, Number 3 (Spring 1993)
Issue theme: "A land of opportunity: crime and immigration"



By Eugene McCarthy

New York Hippocrene Books, 1992

116 pp., $16.95

Editor's Note About the Reviewers

Associate Editor Wayne Lutton, whose books include The Immigration Time Bomb, discusses how former Senator McCarthy treats the issue of immigration, both legal and illegal.

Paul Gottfried places McCarthy's views within the context of the ongoing post-Cold War realign-ment in U.S. politics that is making traditional labels increasingly irrelevant. Dr. Gottfried is professor of the humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsyl-vania and editor-in-chief of This World. His most recent book is a revised edition of The Conservative Movement (New York Twayne/Macmillan Publi-shers, 1993).

Wayne Lutton

In Eugene McCarthy's new book, A Colony of the World The United States Today, the former senator observes that, historically, colonialism has been characterized by political, military, economic, demographic, and cultural control of the colonial territory by a foreign country. It is his thesis that the United States has, for all practical purposes, descended to the status of a colony, dominated not by one foreign power, but rather by a combination of outside forces ! some political, some economic, some ideological ! which are aided and abetted by special interest groups whose country of origin is the United States.

After discussing U.S. foreign and military policy, including the Gulf War and the announce-ment of the establishment of the New World Order, McCarthy devotes two chapters to reviewing the development of U.S. immigration policy since the mid-1960s. Most readers of this journal will be familiar with the facts and figures he includes concerning welfare costs, crime (he remarks that we have become 'a colony to the underworld as well'); and refugee policy.

While serving in the U.S. Senate, McCarthy was a co-sponsor of the 1965 Immigration Act, which the late Theodore White characterized in America in Search of Itself (1982) as 'probably the most thoughtless of the many acts of the Great Society... [creating] a catastrophe ! the tide of immigration, legal and illegal, pouring into this country.' The former senator provides an eye-witness account of the debate on the 1965 Immigration Act and how our current immigration-related troubles stem largely from it.

He points out that the reforms were not intended to increase substantially the overall numbers of immigrants entering annually. Further, McCarthy explains that the 'family reunification' bias enshrined into the Act, was intended by its author, Rep. Michael Feighan (an Ohio Democrat of Irish descent) to ensure that future immigrants would, over-whelmingly, continue to originate in Europe. Since most people in the U.S. were descended from Europeans, Feighan, et al, reasoned that it would be Europeans who would benefit from the set-aside for people with existing family connections.

Today, we are only too well aware that such has not been the case. As McCarthy forthrightly admits, 'many conservatives in Congress, however, feared that these changes could lead to a deluge of Third World immigrants and eventually present a threat to the dominance of European culture in the United States.'

Now, warns McCarthy, immigration policy is undermining the political, economic, and cultural integrity of the United States. 'A mark of a country's colonial dependence,' he writes, 'is lack of control over its own borders... [and] lack of control over who or what crosses those borders.' He then bluntly states

If one thinks of the classic definition of colonialsim ! the arrival of large numbers of people who impose their cultural values and language on the pre-existing society ! it is not hard to define the current wave of immigration as a colonizing force on the United States. What distinguishes the United States from other colonized societies is that we have the power to prevent it, but choose not to use it. ...We...have come to question whether the culture that built a society that has the world beating a path to our doors is even worth trying to preserve.

McCarthy concludes his discussion of these matters by outlining the elements of a sensible and eminently practical immigration policy. This includes halting the flow of illegal immigrants at the border, vigorously enforcing employer sanctions, overhauling refugee policy, and changing the basis of legal immigration away from the kinship standard to one based on needed skills. As we go to press, it is noteworthy that the former Senator, who has long been the 'liberal conscience' in America, has not been consulted by our new President.

Paul Gottfried

In his newest book, former Senator Eugene McCarthy offers an overview of American foreign policy and of American economic and cultural history since World War II. The provocative title he gives this overview, A Colony of the World, may be drawing attention to his book generally, but it is only the second half, particularly the last section, that contains the most controversial views about the presumed descent of the U.S. into a colony of other countries. Genuine conservatives will undoubtedly applaud what McCarthy has to say on this subject, especially his comments about the laxness and sometimes uneasiness with which Americans patrol their southern border, and about our unwillingness to support a firm cultural identity as a precondition for national survival.

Both conservative intellectuals (as opposed to neoconservative ones) and blue-collar readers will also approve of McCarthy's observations about the transformation of America into a colony. The unwillingness of our government and our business sector to resist the acquisition of industries, resorts, and even historic sites by foreign buyers, often enjoying subsidies from their governments, show an even further loss of control over one's national house. McCarthy is relentless in providing instances and details of such deals; and he makes statements about the doubtful benefits of free trade that will surely anger the editors of The Wall Street Journal. Despite his long-time record as a left-of-center Democrat, McCarthy also makes critical remarks about illegal immigration and multiculturalism that will strike most 'professional conservatives' inside the [Washington, DC] Beltway as excessively rightist. At least in some of his views, McCarthy may have moved far indeed from his once estab-lished identification with the Left.

' is not hard to define

the current wave of immigration

as a colonizing force on

the United States.'

Yet, this may not be the case at all. The first half of the book features opinions that McCarthy might have expressed while still identified with the anti-Vietnam-War Left. He attacks especially 'the anti-Communist oversimplified ideology of [John Foster] Dulles' and has unkind words about other statesmen perceived as strongly anti-Communist, especially Republicans with the notable exception of Henry Kissinger. He also lists corporations and industries that benefitted from American military buildups during the Cold War, and he expresses the same critical attitudes about the American military-industrial complex that he and his followers held in 1968, when McCarthy opposed Lyndon Johnson from the Democratic Left.

The reason McCarthy sounds good, at least part of the time, to some conservatives is that American political alignments have changed dramatically since the 1960s. What used to be the Old Right has now dissolved into warring factions. While the largest of these factions is now dominated by a coalition of Beltway bureaucrats, hardline Zionist hawks, and globalist social democrats, social conservatives have regrouped around immigration issues and the question of national or Eurocentric identity. Within the current ideological struggles, McCarthy, an old-line anti-anti-Communist associated with what used to be the Catholic Left, may now be to the Right of William Buckley, who has become the patron saint of neoconservatism in his latest incarnation.

'[McCarthy] comments about the

laxness and sometimes uneasiness

with which Americans patrol

their southern border...'

Working on the new edition of my book on American conservatism made me aware of how obsolete the political labels of even twenty years ago have become. Those who appeal to blue-collar Democrats by stressing the responsibilities of multinational corporations to an American labor force will be attacked as neo-Nazis in what are taken to be conservative magazines. The supposedly rightwing Heritage Foundation, according to a May, 1990 National Journal report, has helped raise illegal immigration to a 'growth industry,' for its own coffers as well as for the work load of social workers. Meanwhile, the labor union socialist and patriot, Eugene McCarthy, laments the effects on national character and social morality of our hemorrhaging borders and anemic immigration controls. McCarthy will have no truck with such contradictory cliches as 'global democracy' and 'universal nations.'

New political taxonomies will have to be created to deal with shifting alliances and loyalties. Certainly it is silly to describe former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, an immigration expansionist and a darling of the civil rights lobby, as a 'conservative' presidential candidate, while putting social con-servatives Christopher Lasch, Eugene McCarthy, and John Lukacs on the Left, because of their insufficient anti-Communism. The Communists by now are vanishing and it makes no sense to have anti-Communism as a permanent litmus test for conservatives, together with the policies associated with that stand. Note that not all anti-Communists were historically on the Right, just as not all opponents of Cold War intervention were historically on the Left. The most celebrated anti-Communists by the 1980s were identifiable Mensheviks (for example, Joshua Muravchik and the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy), while among isola-tionists were genuine rightwingers who never embraced Bill Buckley's reconstruction of the Right as a Cold War shock force.

Do those who support strong protection of the natural environment automatically put themselves on the Left? Again, there are too many exceptions to accept the Beltway-neoconservative view of the matter. Most social conservatives of my acquaintance have sympathy for ecology, and would express it even more openly if they were not afraid to be put in some bad company. But there are also countervailing forces on the Old Right to embracing ecological measures an at least residual commitment to the free market and a desire to build a populist coalition, including anti-environmentalist workers.

The responses to Eugene McCarthy's book point to the present disalignment that is evident on the American Right. They will not, however, provide the basis for any new durable alignment. *

About the author

Eugene McCarthy was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota

in 1948 and served in the U.S. Senate from 1958 through 1970. Since retiring from the

Senate, McCarthy has taught university courses in politics, history, and literature.