Who Needs Nationalism?

Attilla and His Hordes Destroy Italy and The Arts - Eugene Delacroix

Attilla and His Hordes Destroy Italy and The Arts – Eugene Delacroix

Nationalism is the most controversial sector of the neoreactionary trichotomy. The most ardent nationalists tend to be suspicious and hostile towards neoreaction, but not always. This essay will survey the modern situation, perform a brief historical review, and then move on to practical considerations of political strategy as it relates to the ethno-nationalist tendency. It closes with a recommendation.

The recent historical background

Since World War II, all the great powers have repudiated previous-held doctrines of rights to ethno-religious self-determination that became popular after the European upheavals of 1848. The victorious Allies supplanted European nationalism with an internationalist set of Universal Human Rights which repudiates the idea of ethnic and religious exclusivity that nationalism requires.

The obvious reason why this happened is because the USSR was an internationalist Marxist dictatorship. The US is and was a universalist democratic world-Empire with an elite intimate with the USSR. Internationalists conceived of and manned the new international system with all its acronym’d financial-political institutions.

The authorities forbade nationalism in Europe during the post-war, while encouraging it in the third world.

You can be a Cuban nationalist, an Angolan nationalist, a Palestinian nationalist, a Peruvian nationalist, or a black South African nationalist, but you can’t be a German nationalist, because Hitler was a German nationalist, and we all know how that turned out.

While there have been some unprincipled exceptions in the 20th century, such as the Jewish nationalist state of Israel, Rhodesia, and apartheid South Africa, the international community tends to correct for these exceptions when they stop being politically tenable.

In many European countries, expressing nationalism of any sort, especially white ethnic nationalism, is often a crime punishable by jail time.

In the United States, since the passage of civil rights legislation, ethnic nationalism is not a political crime as it is in Europe, but it is a class of business crime. Much like how the IRS relies on business owners to collect taxes on its behalf, the EEOC relies on business owners to police speech that might threaten egalitarian norms regarding ethnicity and gender. It’s not illegal to express a preference for palefaces over the rest, but preferring palefaces in hiring will get your business fined or seized by the government.

Nationalism is yesterday’s leftism


Adolf Hitler - Shelter in Fournes

Shelter in Fournes – Adolf Hitler

The tension between Neoreaction and ethno-nationalists derives from the leftist origins of nationalism.

The first modern nation-state was post-revolutionary France. In France, local languages, borders, and religious practices were subordinated to the emerging French state, culminating in the rule of Emperor Napoleon and his ensuing rampage across Europe and North Africa.

Because Neoreaction tends to admire the pre-revolutionary political system which consisted of decentralized European aristocratic rule buttressed by official religion, the centralizing, proletarian tendency of the nationalists tends to be incompatible. The aristocratic system was by no means recognizable as nationalistic. Royal families are often foreign to the lands that they rule over. Inter-marriage among nobles tended to send sons and daughters to far-off lands where they may not have even spoken the the same languages as their subjects.

If you’ve read Shakespeare’s plays, you’re familiar with the linguistic quirk of identifying a noble by the same noun as the land that he rules over. Gloucester is both a man and a place on the map. He is the flesh-metaphor for the land and its history, and his decisions are made for the land and the bloodline whom God has elected. The land belongs to God and he picks someone worthy to handle the territory until he gets back from whatever He is doing in the meantime.

Aristocratic politics consider the People to be part of the land, and not the sole creatures for whom the political system is ordered to serve.

This is even the case for cities. The noble who rules the city rules for Florence, he rules for Rome, he rules for Munich, he rules for Dresden, he rules for Milan, and so on. The duke is the city and the city is the duke.

The patriotism is for land, for buildings, for landmarks, for forests, but not so much for the perishable people who live in them. The people themselves are only vessels for their eternal souls, and perhaps their souls can be said to have a mark on the land in which their bodies inhabit for a time. The crest of the land’s ruling family is a symbol that encompasses the culture, the laws, and the bloodline charged with upholding it.

Under nationalism, the People are the leaders, and the political ruler only holds his scepter by the mandate of the People rather than the mandate of Heaven.

Rather than a set of provinces united into a kingdom or an empire, it’s a number of regions unified into a nation-state administered by bureaucracies on behalf of the people who live there. The king is no longer the father of the people, ruling on behalf of God. Instead, there is the leading man who merely represents the will of the People, which tends to be fickle and unwise.

What works in today’s nationalism

The reason why nationalism still has an appeal is because the internationalism that replaced it has no popular appeal. Educators can train the elite to love foreigners more than their own people, but natural love for the familiar tends to overpower the ambient propaganda to favor the foreigner over the neighbor to people who aren’t exposed to elite indoctrination.

It works mainly as a corrective to the unworkable notion of the universal brotherhood of man. Nationalism becomes attractive as Western elites declare over and over that there is nothing worth preserving in Western people or Western culture, that all principles must be subordinate to the unworkable principle of human equality. Nationalists will say that this is not so, and that a given people should value their own close relations more than they value those who have no relationship with them.

For people in the university system, nationalism must also have a strong appeal. Marxist internationalists have conquered every university in the Western world. The curriculum at each school is heavily influenced by the internationalists. You can’t go through a single course at any level without getting a strong dose of hatred for the native people of the West and the indigenous culture. It’s understandable that many of the people exposed to that curriculum who don’t buy it wind up reacting in such a way.

Because the assault on traditional Western culture is so unrelenting and pervasive, the many people alienated by the propaganda run towards nationalism for relief.

The nationalist failure mode

ITALY - CIRCA 2002:  Garibaldi in Dijon, 1871, by Sebastiano de Albertis (1828-1897), 1877, oil on canvas. Franco-Prussian War, Italy, 19th century. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Garibaldi in Dijon, 1871 – Sebastiano de Albertis

The trouble with this corrective is that it’s only a minor one.

It replaces global egalitarianism with a more local egalitarianism. It replaces a shallow internationalist culture which turns over itself entirely every decade or so (pop culture struggles to remembers the 1990s — forget about the 1590s) with a bunch of memes of pretty blonde girls in European folk costumes mixed with some serious-not-serious pictures of goose-stepping Nazis, as if nostalgia for 1938 is a stand-in for thousands of years of European heritage.

This is not entirely fair to say, specially considering the high quality and record of work produced by outlets like Counter-Currents, Radix, VDare, the old Alternative Right, and other outlets. It is fair to say about many of their readers, however.

The other common failure mode, which was one of the reasons for the annihilation of the aforementioned goose-steppers, is the frantic, continuous, never-ending creation and polishing of a dolchstoßlegende. The legend flatters the egos of the common people too much, and promotes excessively positive feelings towards mere distant ethnic relations.

Part of the responsibility of power is being able to backstab others before they backstab you. Being stabbed in the ass may not be particularly fair, but it’s part of politics. Games are fair. War is dramatically unfair, especially when there is no shared culture among the belligerents.

Contemporary nationalists, unlike their forefathers of 1848, care little for the brotherhood of Italians, of Germans, of Englishmen, or of Greeks. They want to promote a never-before realized notion of an international brotherhood of pallor, which reaches much farther than other attempts to do such a thing in history. That’s similar to the motivating ethic behind the European Union, but with less non-European multiculturalism.

Part of the motivating impetus behind the creation of the EU was to prevent wars caused by European nationalism to unite Europeans based on their shared culture and values. It has not succeeded on any of those points besides prevention of war, and even in that there was the Balkan episode and the numerous outbreaks of ‘Islamic terrorism’ (really small raids lead by Muslim immigrants and converts).

The first point of the six founding aims of the European Union  is to promote peace, European values, and the well-being of the European people. At one time, the founders of the EU were idealists, also. Radical nationalists, the likes of whom go to jail regularly in Europe, differ in degree and on what other points they quibble with as it stands with the treaty organization.

Frustrated idealists of today look at the bureaucratic monster that oppresses the European people and fail to remember the high-mindedness that motivated the birthing of the beast in Belgium.

As Richard Spencer discovered on his arrest in Hungary, international European brotherhood is more of a poetic construct than one that counts for much of anything when it’s important.

The problem is, as anyone who has traveled up and down Italy can tell you, is that even the concept of ‘Italy’ is fundamentally incoherent, even in an age of standardized language and mass media. Abusing terms of geography to turn them into accurate cultural descriptors is a political error.

The formalist perspective suggests that we should rather promote borders that reflect the character of the territory, that the culture, people, and land ought to be more important to the political structure than what a poet thinks ought to be the case. Race idealism often seems to come very close to ‘race realism.’

Stating the obvious: your brothers are your worst enemies

Looping back to the complaint about the dolchstoß whining: the main issue with ethno-nationalism as a sole criteria for political organization is that it encourages an unworkable grouping based in artifice that must manufacture external enemies constantly to maintain any sort of social cohesion.

There would be no need for the dolchstoß focus if there was a genuine cultural affinity there among ‘whites.’ The attempt to cohere a complaint of ‘white genocide,’ as if Ban Ki-moon could be convinced to deploy blue helmets to Germany to defend the human rights of ethnic Germans, is funny.

“Ow, my ass, it hurts so hard from all the times I’ve been stabbed there,” is not an effective rallying cry. Up until relatively recently, the liberals have been making a stronger appeal, if only because they’re more willing to appear confident & powerful.

You don’t muster the strength to defend against an assault by whining louder than your enemies whine, by whipping yourself harder so that you can win the gold medal in the Victim Olympics. You win by defeating your enemies.

The obvious problem that the new nationalists have is that no one hates them more than the White people in power. Faced with the challenge of assembling a rival coalition to the axis of Davos Man, most of the lesser voices prefer focusing on the rainbow coalition of political proxies employed by the people who are actually in charge. This would be like pretending the Indians were the real power to worry about during the French & Indian War. The latter were proxies for the larger power.

It’s much easier to maintain your poetic illusions about European brotherhood if you can convince yourself that your co-ethnic enemies are actually just being manipulated by secret puppetmasters, and that it’s just your job to wake up the sheeple so that they can start to recognize their own interests.

To be able to say “oh, it’s really just the perfidious Jews behind all the bad things in this world” takes a lot of the pressure off that might otherwise be present to address the complex reality of political coalitions which often fall across ethnic and religious lines.

The overarching nationalist strategy appears to be the creation of a broad European coalition to overpower the fraying internationalist coalition. The problem with broad coalitions can be seen in the failing internationalist coalition: a lack of cultural cohesion and geographic incoherence makes long-term cooperation impossible. This is one of the reasons why empires of all sorts tend to be short lived. The provinces have interests that are not reconcilable with one another or with the imperial capitol. Davos Man is on the ropes.

The other sub-strategy, more common in America, is that of a White variant of Zionism, a cracker re-imagining of Hertzl that calls for the formation of a White ethno-state. The weak point in that formation is similar to the many weak points in Israel: namely that ‘the Jews’ much like ‘the Whites’ is culturally, genetically, linguistically, and politically incoherent. Israel has been beset by foreign enemies since its formation, is an economically inconsistent basket case, and requires continual foreign aid and unstable military alliances in order to maintain itself.

Many in the nationalist sector idealize ‘the Jews’ as a hyper-competent, hyper-coordinated international brotherhood which somehow manages to outwit and subvert European culture at every turn.

Fortunately, this isn’t true: most of them are motley, with cracked ideas about politics and economics, and far less cohesion than is commonly assumed. Part of Israel’s contemporary crisis derives from errors in the original Zionist formation: that secular Jews, orthodox Jews, Sephardics, Ashkenazim, and Eastern Europeans all shared a sufficiently common culture to maintain a strong state. People too often project from the small number of (rapidly diminishing) elite Jews, failing to notice the mediocrity that makes up the majority of the group.

Less than a century after its founding, Israel clings to its nuclear weapons for protection, is surrounded by enemies of increasing power & aggression, and is losing the support of its most important strategic ally. Financially, Israel suffers from rampant inflation, continual raids upon its territory, and diplomatic isolation.

Copying this failed political strategy is not something that I want to participate in.

An alternative for your consideration

The way to clobber a failing broad coalition is not to desperately assemble another broad coalition that has no geographic continuity.

What you have to do is to start small, and then grow outward from the beginning.

Second, you have to stop romanticizing lost causes, especially if you’re an American. The only people that Americans hate more than anyone are losers. To declare that you’ve lost, that you’re the weak hand, or that you’re the victim is to surrender before you’ve even begun.

Cultures with a long record of losing love hearing stories about how badly they were clobbered by people who are better than they are. Not all Europeans are like the Irish, who malinger over their failures for centuries at a time, whatever their other virtues might be.

To that end, it’s better to take personal responsibility for those failures, even if it’s plausible to blame some other group. Taking responsibility projects an image of strength, whereas blame hands the locus of control onto another party. You don’t want the other party to have that in their hands.

Facile ethnic similarity is not sufficient for a durable political community, although it does contribute to that end.

Empires don’t begin from enormous global coalitions from the outset. They begin when one isolated political unit becomes much more powerful than their neighbors. It doesn’t come from claiming brotherhood with strangers, but from creating meaningful bonds of honor with those who are close.

It’s also important to pay heed to practical considerations. Every politician is “in favor of good things and opposed to bad things.” The trouble is in developing the skill and the power to promote the good and ward off the bad.

Europeans need conflict between themselves more than they need to form an enormous international cuddle-pile. The weakness in European culture did not fully take hold until the doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man took hold. If we are brothers, we are also rivals.

We need to encourage political competition at the local level, secession, and other methods that will help to break up these stultifying international coalitions. Connecting with historical tradition is part of that, but so is palingenesis.

The white tree of Gondor on the flag of Elendil

21 thoughts on “Who Needs Nationalism?

  1. I like a lot of this article, though I would shy away from a full rejection of nationalism. There are a few reasons for that, but the one I will point out for now is that people now a days are much more mobile than they were in the pre 1789 times. Even if nationalism was not really a concept that existed before then, most places where still more or less homogenous.

    As for white nationalism–I totally agree!

    I mean, how does a ‘white nationalist’ explain something like the civil war in Ukraine, or the Kosovo war? The idea of white people hating other white people often seems to be a point easily ignored by them.

    I personally consider myself an Anglo-American nationalist, for whatever that’s worth on here.

    • It’s not supposed to be a full rejection of nationalism, so it’s good that you came away from this essay thinking that way.

      The trichotomy is the intersection between the three main identified tendencies in NRX. This is intended to clear up the present confusion about where the boundaries are, because there seems to be quite a lot of it.

      Along with the two previous essays in this series, I’m going to be collecting them into a short, cheap ebook some time soon along with some supplementary material.

      • Ah, fair enough. I don’t think I read carefully enough.

        As for the trichotomy, I think that model is largely true, though I think ethno nationalism is the least politically reactionary of the three. Still, for all it’s faults, I easily identify with the ethno nationalist branch.

        I also think besides the big three, there are little appendages hanging off here and there. For instance, I think the manospehere is it’s own thing that has some loose attachment to NRx (though sometimes I wish it didn’t!).

    • I don’t think nationalism works for the average person. It creates a cultural dissonance between those who adopt it and those who don’t. The average person is loyal to their friends, family, and community. It’s where they spend their whole lives, it’s who they’ve been working for their whole lives. They will fight for them before they’ll fight for a nation.

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  4. Nationalism is yesterday’s leftism.

    But ethno-nationalism is a little more complicated. And maye poorly named.

    Historic “leftist” nationalism often served to agglomerate various disparate ethnic groups into a single unified identity, with varying degrees on success.

    You could view the multicultural project as, in a way, carrying on the legacy of historic “leftist” nationalism. Melding even more ethnic groups into the mix and even further watering down whatever it that the nation stands for.

    Moving from the semi-artificial concept of France to the entirely artificial concept of the proposition nation.

    But ethno-nationalism is not the same thing as historic “leftist” nationalism. Instead of merging different groups together, it attempts to preserve the existing differences. In a way, it’s the opposite of historic “leftist” nationalism.

    Nationalism then = artificially merging.groups
    Ethnic nationalism now = preserving existing differences

    While France was originally a fake, artificial nation, it eventually took on some semblance of reality, so it’s not necessarily nonsensical to preserve it. And of course ethno-nationalism also wants to preserve more organic nationalities.

    Speaking of fake, artificial nations, White Nationalism is especially notable for not really having very much to do with nationalism at all. White Nationalism wants to “secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children”. Which, if you recognize that “White” is, in fact, an ethnic group in the United States, is merely a statement of a desire for survival, not specifically of nationalism.

    Some of the more ambitious ideas of the pan-European racialists are certainly whacky, but they’re also outside the scope of ethno-nationalism. They’re kind of anti-nationalist white nationalists. Although the thinkers involved tend to have a whole lot of crossover.

    There might be a better word for this leg of the trichotomy.

    • Who does the preserving and for what purpose? Does every people deserve preservation? Isn’t that part of the UDHR?

      This was the most challenging essay to write in this series, in part because it’s such a diverse tendency, as you point out.

    • There might be a better word for this leg of the trichotomy.


      The vast majority of (what I have called) Natural Reactionaries are particularist in religion or ethnicity and often with big dollops of both.

      Blood & soil collude throne & altar more often than not.

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  6. Reblogged this on Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar and commented:
    Good point on the EU: “Frustrated idealists of today look at the bureaucratic monster that oppresses the European people and fail to remember the high-mindedness that motivated the birthing of the beast in Belgium.”
    European history alone shows that Europe has a mixture of positive and negative-overall divisions i.e. Italian > Romanian culture. Italy is a great example of how the concept of nationhood beyond hard borders (English Channel) are created by conditions of war. Odds are, Italy will splinter again as its people splinter and any effort to unite *a* nation as it stands would stave off this tendency to ethnic entropy.

  7. The problem in America is that there are so many different ethnicities among the whites….it’s a good parallel you make with the EU.

    I line up better with the Southern Nationalists. There’s an effort to break down into smaller units, to break from the USA. As the units are smaller, each locality will be better able to do the necessary “scrubbing”.

    I don’t blame anyone, though, for picking a single fight and getting into it. So I say “no enemies to the right” and try to support a diversity of counterattacks.

    • Dixie is a more coherent, independent unit in all conceivable ways than just “right-wingers across ten different timezones across the world.” In the South, you share language, blood, and a history of struggle. You have heroes and landmarks, a distinct cuisine, and a certain tempo of life.

      At least one person has criticized this essay as being in favor of ‘infinite secession’ down to the atomic level, but that isn’t the position that I hold, practically speaking.

    • I agree on no enemies to right, diversity of counterattacks.

      That being said The First Duty is to remove the insane and evil from power, all other considerations subordinate. All. It will require action in concert [I’m not particular as to how].

      I like Dixie but for God’s Sake don’t…

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