Over the past two and a half years, I’ve been witness to, as well as active participant in, a lamentable divide that has arisen within the Kinist community concerning the figure of Donald Trump, following his announcement that he would be running for President of the USA. I’ve always been somewhat of an outsider in these discussions given the fact that I’m not American. From this outsider’s – albeit not by any means unbiased – perspective, I’ve thought quite a bit about and analyzed the arguments made by both sides. Nonetheless, let me say up front that I’ve always been inclined to side with the Trump-supporting Kinists and have been attracted to their line of argument most. Yet I also believe that within this camp there have been many who have exhibited a lack of nuance that is often required when dealing with an unpredictable, inconsistent factor like Trump. There is also, to my mind, a lack of understanding the opposite side’s argument, and vice versa. The purpose of this article is to bridge the divide among Kinists by contributing to increased mutual understanding of the other side’s position.
I believe the divide lies deeper than merely strategic considerations (i.e. trusting or not trusting Trump), and finds its origin in a deeper philosophical disagreement among Kinists – one that, once recognized, needs to be approached and handled with sensitivity and mutual respect. I believe that we as Kinists can play on the same team without having to agree on everything, as long as our long-term goal, i.e. the survival of our people as a means to sanctify creation to God’s glory, remains a mutual point of agreement.
Here are the three main points concerning this Trump divide among Kinists:
1. No Kinist Fully Supports Trump
Since Kinism is essentially the belief that God purposefully ordained the social order to be tribal and ethnic, no Kinist can truly, on a philosophical level, be in agreement with Trump’s civic nationalism. No one would claim that Trump, who ultimately believes in propositional nationhood, is himself supportive of Kinist principles. This is something both sides need to be constantly reminded of.
2. Voting and Yoking
Many leaders within the anti-Trump side view voting for a candidate in an election as such as a form of “yoking,” which implies that supporting Trump (assumed to be non-Christian) is a violation of II Corinthians 6:14. Those on the opposite side view voting in contemporary America as a survival strategy. They point to the Rousseauist Social Contract theory as underlying the voting=yoking paradigm and appeal to R.J. Rushdoony’s view of voting in a liberal democracy:
Very often of course when we are voting we have a choice where we have no Christian to vote for and that is a real Christian who knows what Christianity means, in fact we have rarely had such a man for a generation or two. So, sometimes I feel I cannot vote for either, other times I vote for the lesser of two evils, and this we must do when we feel that one of them will improve the situation, so we must vote to the best of our abilities, we have to be practical in terms of the situation, but meanwhile work through education to reestablish a knowledge of the foundations, and make the foundations Christian.
3. Constitutionalism and the View of Democracy
Anti-Trump Kinists tend to have a more positive view of democracy and constitutionalism in general and an affinity for the American constitution in particular. I say this in a qualified sense, since this is not universally true, but still a general tendency I’ve observed. Pro-Trumpers, however, might point to the egalitarianism underlying the American political system developed under the influence of Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine. They also tend to identify with the Alt-Right more than the Anti-Trumpers. I remember listening to an Alt-Right podcast of Andy Nowicki and Richard Spencer years ago in which Spencer called the egalitarian foundations of the American political system the “worst possible” foundation for a social order. The pro-Trump Kinist side tend to associate with monarchism, aristocracy or even fascism more so than the right-libertarian leaning anti-Trumpers.
With regard to the Constitution, the anti-Trump side sees the constitutional republic as the supreme manifestation of the Christian worldview, while the pro-Trump side might point to Edmund Burke and other anti-Enlightenment thinkers’ rejection of constitutional republicanism as dangerous adherence to political abstractions. They would argue that the failure of the Constitution to stop the institutionalization of nearly every conceivable form of degeneracy under the current system has proven Burke right and points to the fact that the system as such is insufficient to ensure a healthy social order.
This disagreement in the understanding of (American) history is why the rhetoric of the anti-Trump camp – namely, that pro-Trump Kinists view Trump as a political savior – does not achieve the desired effect: pro-Trump Kinists tend to despise the system, whereas their counterparts see it as a positive good. Because the former do not see any ultimate outcome within the current system, their expectations start off lower, and their goals when participating in the electoral process differ. On the other hand, I’d argue that pro-Trump Kinists have failed to articulate (in some cases perhaps even to self-consciously conceptualize) this important aspect underlying their support for Trump, thus unnecessarily contributing to the divide.
I’ve deliberately tried not to take sides in this piece in order to stay true to its purpose: increased mutual understanding. Nonetheless, I’m sensitive to the fact that my affinity for the pro-Trump side may have shown through, despite my attempt at even-handedness.
While all Kinists on some level reject liberal egalitarianism and propositional nationhood, I’d argue that the rejection of the Enlightenment tends to be stronger with pro-Trump Kinists, who, in accordance with Rushdoony’s advice, employ the current system as a temporary means for survival and revival rather than as a paradigm within which to achieve the desired social order itself. Anti-Trump Kinists tend to be more eclectic in terms of their rejection of the theories of the Enlightenment, such as the social contract or constitutionalism, and therefore look more favorably on the current political system, which they expect to produce better results than Trump.
Of course, there are a minority of Kinists who don’t fit into my proposed dichotomy, such as anti-Trump hardcore Southern Nationalists. I nonetheless believe that this article can be a valuable contribution in terms of articulating the nature of the divide among Kinists, a first step towards healing the rift. We are, after all, on the same team.