A primary loyalty is a connection to a non-state group that is greater than loyalty to a state. These loyalties include those to clan, religion, tribe, neighborhood gang, etc. Look to globalization to accelerate/catalyze this race to the bottom.
A real world example we might look at is a criminal gang. People inducted into the gang make it their primary loyalty. In places where the state collapses, primary loyalties are how you survive. The collapse of the Iraqi state after the fall of Saddam is a great example. As sectarian violence grew tribal loyalties became incredibly important – you gave your loyalty to this existing support network and what the tribe could provide was how you survived. This tribal dependency was also exploited during the surge as the US sought the assistance of militias to help them in the fight against AQ – although this opened up a whole other can of worms and is a topic for another time though.
Some places have existing networks that rise to the surface when the state collapses. In some fragile states, these competing loyalties bubble away barely concealed. Indeed many might argue that the emergence of the modern nation state is dependent on its ability to crush and destroy a primary loyalty to clan or tribe. Saddam in Iraq, for example made it so only loyalty to the Baathist party was tolerated, though he himself really only trusted those from Tikrit. A loyalty within loyalty.
In the West people struggle most of all with this concept of primary loyalty. It is not just that our nation state is just a fractured meaningless construct. It is that often we lack a primary loyalty outside of our immediate family or friends. Why do we think football (soccer) clubs command such a large following? I am sure for many within the Ultra community of hardcore fans around Europe their primary loyalty would be to their Ultra supporters group of the football club. It functions as a gang. You have real bonds between each other with gear to buy, events to attend and clothing to wear. Perhaps once upon a time there were social clubs or a Church or something that you had primary loyalty to, but these today seem few and far between.
One of the challenges of many who desire to build something like an ethnic or white identity is that this is not traditionally something that people can give loyalty to. Race, especially to white people is a marker but often not more than that. It certainly doesn’t command loyalty where once nations did. I think this is something that confuses people because they simplify how other groups behave and assume others hold primary loyalty to their race.
Although not a race, Islam is a good example. Islam itself functions strongly as a loyalty, yet even within it there can be competing loyalties to which a Muslim owes a primary loyalty. Sunni or Shia being the obvious examples and they are just as happy killing each other over these differences as they are in attacking outsiders.
Blacks in America can unite around a loyalty to their race and identity – but that really only happens when they are disruptive minority groups in our white countries. In their own countries the primary loyalty black people have is not to “blackness” but their tribe/clan/ or church, and so on and so forth. That they have more racial consciousness means it can be elevated in a time of stress as a unifying factor but this will not and can not stay elevated for lengthy periods of time.
In the broadest sense, the dissident right is largely composed of white straight men who no longer have a loyalty to the state, yet lack a primary loyalty and are drifting around latching onto groups that form and seeing how that works out. The trouble is many seem to make a mistake and pick an ideology as a primary loyalty, which does not work.
People who make an ideology their primary loyalty are de-racinated leftists. Look at their tweets, I recall a selection of tweets of leftist white women talking about disowning any male relatives who voted for Trump. Here they are burning their traditional and deepest primary loyalty (to their family no less!) so they can stay loyal to an abstract ideology. Truly toxic.
So many are drifting right now but there are some exceptions among the broader right, notably the religious right.
A Catholic has or is building a primary loyalty to his Church. This provides a relevant framework that answers a lot of questions especially the important ones: morality, ethics, and aesthetics. The ‘white’ race as a primary loyalty doesn’t answer those questions and yet people expect it to. They bring their own beliefs and attach it to a malleable ideology and so you end up with this split that sees people either open to homosexuals playing an active part in identity politics or opposed to their presence.
The state is meant to resolve some of these issues of course, that is traditionally what it did. At a basic level you owed your loyalty to the state because it could do things for you and make your life better. Bismarck greatly feared that Catholics would not see Germany as their true loyalty when he set about creating Germany. Perhaps it only succeeded because they were able to accommodate Catholics in such a way that there wasn’t a loyalty split. You could be both German and Catholic without contradiction. The State had your loyalty and so did the Church. When the British defeated the Boers they worked out a way to bring them into South Africa, but Afrikaner identity never went away, they were able to co-exist for a long time (despite the eventual fracturing and end). Now of course many Afrikaners feel their primary loyalty once again lies within their Boer heritage.
The current outlook for the world is the state retreating and entropy spreading. Trying to build state-like loyalty then is far too ambitious. That is a tricky thing to do well, especially in fractured democracies with the multitude of problems they have. Instead, Reactionaries must be building institutions that they owe a primary loyalty to. This isn’t a new thing, plenty of others have already said this. Make gangs, join a Church, start a reading group, see where it goes, it might very well be what you create is an organization that will get us through the trouble ahead and then turn to the bigger problem of state building.