We live in a time of great transition because several historical arcs have collapsed simultaneously:
The deaths of these long-standing ideas mean that humanity seeks replacements, and these must avoid the errors of the near past — communism, socialism, national socialism, fascism — in addition to the now-failed ideas above. We find ourselves on the threshold of massive change.
One change on the menu, nationalism: the idea that a nation is defined by one ethnic group alone, provides a bit of confusion because in the post-WW2 years after our victory over the Nationalist Powers, we in the West decided to re-define “nationalism” to mean “intense patriotism” so that we could hide that little historical rift.
However, nationalism means a type of traditional social order which exists outside of the State and focuses on the biological founding group by heritage as the defining component of the nation:
Nationalism is the belief that political groups should be constructed around the idea of “nation,” or population group unified by culture, heritage and language.
As such, Nationalist is “rule by culture” where cultural values come before profit motive or popularity, which enables forward-thinking leadership instead. With profit motive, every object and idea and person is for sale, and society leads itself in circles. With leadership, society determines its goals and moves toward them.
…Since the French Revolution in 1789, the majority of political forces in the West have been opposed to nationalism, which is the idea that the ethnic group defines the nation. The opposite is the “proposition nation” which is the idea that people can be united by ideology or finance alone.
Patriotism is a belief in one’s country, a political unit known as the “nation-state” because it unites nation (tribe, race) and political state, meaning that a people are no longer defined by heritage and culture alone, but by the political and economic boundaries of their parent state. Since inclusiveness is the goal, not commonality of origin, patriotic politics is “empowering” in that it aims to find a place for everyone in the sociopolitical infrastructure of the nation; it is inherently opposed to nationalism, or “race-patriotism” as it was formerly called.
…In order to appeal to the individual, nations use patriotic belief that commends the individual to consider their nation better than others for its attributes that appeal to the individual, usually broad implications such as “freedom” or “justice.” Inherently, the nation-state must be a populist entity, as it requires the support of people among whom a consensus does not exist, thus nation-states are almost exclusively moral creations, in that they justify themselves through some absolute good considered better than that offered by other nations.
Accordingly, the nation-state thus strips itself of all identity except that of (a) political system and (b) economic system. For this reason, nation-states tend to welcome mass immigration, and have no restrictions on the freedom of individuals to engage in whatever practice or advocacy of whatever belief they find meaningful; since there is no consensus except for political and economic systems, everything that does not directly assault those is permissible.
…They appeal to the individual responding only to self-interest, and seeking to gain power and wealth, and for that they seemed a viable option for many years. However, conservative movements are fundamentally at odd with these: how do you assert traditional values in a culture that is based on the consensus to have no consensus?
Not only that, but nationalism is opposed to the State:
It is traditional, therefore, to distinguish nations from states — whereas a nation often consists of an ethnic or cultural community, a state is a political entity with a high degree of sovereignty. While many states are nations in some sense, there are many nations which are not fully sovereign states. As an example, the Native American Iroquois constitute a nation but not a state, since they do not possess the requisite political authority over their internal or external affairs. If the members of the Iroquois nation were to strive to form a sovereign state in the effort to preserve their identity as a people, they would be exhibiting a state-focused nationalism.
The State however opposes nationalism, or at least comes to, because a strong national population resists the will of the State to have complete control. A tyrant — a leader for whom all acts are a means to the end of cementing and increasing his own power, like a malignant growth — will want to abolish national groups in order to secure his power:
Interestingly enough, Plato observes the exact same thing, namely that tyrants import foreigners as replacements for non-compliant citizens:
And who are the devoted band, and where will he procure them?
They will flock to him, he said, of their own accord, if lie pays them.
By the dog! I said, here are more drones, of every sort and from every land.
Yes, he said, there are.
But will he not desire to get them on the spot?
How do you mean?
He will rob the citizens of their slaves; he will then set them free and enrol them in his bodyguard.
To be sure, he said; and he will be able to trust them best of all.
What a blessed creature, I said, must this tyrant be; he has put to death the others and has these for his trusted friends.
Yes, he said; they are quite of his sort.
Yes, I said, and these are the new citizens whom he has called into existence, who admire him and are his companions, while the good hate and avoid him.
It would be foolish to imagine that anything about human behavior has changed for the last 2400 years.
In other words, nationalism is resistance by organic civilization against tyranny brought on by formal civilization, which by the nature of setting up a “System,” makes itself susceptible to being gamed, and by that produces dark organizations, or individuals acting in self-interest at the expense of the system.
Nationalism forms part of what we might call the Traditionalist Bundle: a group of practical, not ideological, methods — nationalism, caste, aristocracy, competition, hierarchy, culture, faith — which work together but not alone because they are pillars of a civilization and not a cause in themselves as ideology is.
We find it hard to comprehend nationalism because we live in a time based on the idea of egalitarianism, or that humanity is a fungible thing, divided into identical individuals that we can send through a factory assembly line and stamp with the right education and opinions and make perfect citizens. These citizens will then keep our systems — pseudopods of the State, such as institutions, political systems, and economic systems — running by acting according to the principles of those systems.
In contrast, nationalism provides an organizing principle for civilization in which people are unique and peoples are unique and worth preserving much as we attempt to conserve species in nature to avoid their extinction:
A nationalist is someone who gives political expression to their feelings of affection for and loyalty to their nation. It is a love of a nation’s way of life that inspires a wish to preserve its territory and customs, and further the welfare of its members.
…Nationalism is loyalty and devotion to a nation, which is an extended family. Just as individuals care for the welfare of their immediate family, so nationalists care for the welfare of their nation as a whole and its individual members; they feel an affinity with fellow members and feel a need to preserve the nation’s way of life and territory – the homeland. This instinct is natural and usually positive, and is at the heart of nationalism. Many of those who feel a sense of national bonding do not think of themselves as nationalist.
…Those who control states tend to see nations and the loyalties they inspire as competitors. It is principally for this reason that states prefer nationalists to be seen in a negative way, e.g. nasty, brutish and war mongering, while patriots (who express loyalty and devotion to the state) are seen in a positive light as, for example, peace loving upholders of freedom and democracy.
The State dislikes nationalism because it competes with loyalty to the State and its principles, which make people into a means to the end of the State, meaning a method rather than a goal in themselves. With nationalism, the aggregate of people, culture, continuity, history, and values is the end, and the State one means of preserving it.
Every society enforces intolerance in some form because every society has some taboos. In healthy societies, these taboos involve actual harms like pedophilia or murder; in unhealthy societies, these taboos focus on any activity that reveals the unhealthy nature of that society.
Intolerance thus begets tolerance. What is not harmful is tolerated, and when negative harmful is rewarded. Those who contribute creatively or by decreasing the negative effects of everyday harms find themselves prized by a healthy society, and this encourages others to emulate them, eventually breeding this inclination into the population.
A civilization that wants to rise will make sure that it rewards healthy things and is intolerant of harmful things, as well as tolerant of neutral things while simultaneously failing to reward or subsidize them. This approach — the opposite of universal acceptance, socialism, and tolerance — builds healthy societies while its inverse destroys them.
The Traditionalist Bundle comprises a “realist” approach because it recognizes the limits of nature and the nature of humanity, and instead of trying for an alternative to these truths like egalitarianism, aims simply to channel their effects toward the good so that over time good predominates over bad.
For that reason, instead of creating social intolerance of necessary truths, it can accept them and capitalize on them by rewarding adaptation to them. Like natural selection in nature, it does not seek to control individuals, only to ensure that good behavior is rewarded and therefore, incentivized.
This means that nationalism is not a type of modern society, but an opposition to modernity entirely.
Not surprisingly, the State — this is the term for external governments as we have in liberal democracy — will always find itself reaching some point where it opposes nationalism. Governments love ideology because ideology grants them a blank check to engage in social engineering, which in turn cements their power.
If we posit that all things seek power for themselves, we can then see government as a type of self-interested corporation like any other, except that it has a monopoly on legal force. It seeks stability, which only occurs when it has conquered all other contenders for its power, so government naturally becomes tyrannical over time.
I am currently reading Ted Kaczynski’s Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How which posits what we might call the Law of Growth: any entity will grow as powerful as it can, mainly in order to prevent its competition from destroying it, and will then self-destruct unless given an exclusive niche by a larger order.
In nature, some species rise to apex level and maintain a position there, like lions or hawks, because they have found a niche. They are no longer trying to eat everything and dominate everywhere, as lesser species like rats will do if left unchecked, but have an area of specialization.
In the same way, nationalism gives every group its own area of specialization. Only Germans can be Germans, so they have no cause for conquest outside of sheer need for territory. It is only those lesser creatures of confused identity, whether Communists or Mongols, that conquer from a need to expand everywhere.
The Law of Growth finds itself checked in nationalism, but unchecked in the State, and so the State will inevitably turn on what will be its end. A healthy society requires few bureaucrats, police, lawmakers, lawyers, money-changers, intellectuals, and other neurotic controlling people; for that reason, these groups oppose health itself.
Groups of this nature reject realism because it rewards results, and their goal is not to deliver results but to install themselves in permanent roles as those who control the money. For that reason, they are without variation ideological, or geared toward replacing reality with human judgments.
When given a chance, they replace healthy national societies with mixed-race, cosmopolitan, and internationalist groups because those people lack identity and thus form a lesser civilization, but one that is more easily controlled. Government trades off quality for quantity in this way.
That however grants government the permanent rule it desires. Like most human ventures, success is suicide in this capacity, since the minute government achieves this permanent rule, it begins the process of decay. Instead of finding a niche, it expands too rapidly and then radically contracts.
In other words, nationalism provides one of the essentials for avoiding having your civilization embark on a path toward self-destruction, in the process obliterating anything you have contributed and your hopes of immortality or at least lasting influence.