Anyone familiar with the Alt-Right (which term I am using broadly to identify all “non-mainstream” Right movements, from anti-political correctness all the way to neoreaction) has surely heard a great deal about nationalism by now. At its most basic level, nationalism is conventionally understood to refer to the belief that a nation should be able to exist autonomously and independently apart from the domination of others, and that the good of the nation should be placed ahead of international or global concerns. As such, there is really a rather large group of positions which crop up among alt-Righters, all of which are considered by those holding them to be “nationalism.”
Generally speaking, I think these positions can be aggregated into two general groups. First, you have the nationalism held by those who would often call themselves “white nationalists,” who would tend to focus on the issue of race, primarily from a genetic aspect. The other nationalism would be that which focuses its attention on culture and on the organic existence and evolution of nations as cultural and social groupings. This latter form is what I would subscribe to when referring to myself as a “nationalist.”
In a previous post, I essentially laid out my description of what a “nation” is. The best and most natural definition of a nation is that given by God Himself when He used it in the original languages in which the Holy Scripture were revealed. In Greek, the term for “nation” as it relates to “the nations of the world” is ethnos. The conceptually cognate term in Hebrew is goyiim. In both languages, the terms come from root words which essentially describe a group of people who are joined by the same language, traditions, mores, rituals, etc. In other words, culture and society. A “nation” is a group of people who share the same cultural outlook, the same general set of beliefs, assumptions, and presuppositions about the world around them and of their relations to each other. My belief is that any definition beyond this one necessarily rests on some level of artificiality, removing it to a greater or lesser degree from the realm of realism.
I think this would be the single biggest criticism I would have of the other form of nationalism. I find the term “white nationalism” to be ridiculous on its face, for the simple reason that “white” is not a nation. Yes, there are white nations – the British, the Poles, the Canadians, etc. – but “white,” in and of itself, is not a nation. “Whites” do not share universally applicable languages, traditions, religions, or mores. As such, there cannot under any reasonable circumstance be a white ethnos that may gather itself into a “white ethnostate,” a la Richard Spencer. This is where the artificiality comes into play – any notion of a white ethnostate necessarily involves amalgamating culturally dissimilar peoples, which as both history and contemporary evidence shows, is bound to fail. In a sense, Spencer’s white ethnostate idea has already been tried. It’s called “the European Union,” and it’s something of a failure and getting worse.
Hence, “white nationalism” is a failing proposition from the start because it rests upon a completely ersatz foundation. Further, this form of nationalism is actually a modernistic construct which relies upon Enlightenment ideas relating to the mass mobilisation of the demos for their own self-determination, an extension of Rousseau’s revolutionary concept of the “general will” into the racial realm. The “white ethnostate” is a political entity, made so by the necessity of joining disparate groups into a single imperial state. This requirement for mass political projection puts it strongly at odds with the goals of Tradition and neoreaction, which seek to return to a condition in which “politics” in the sense of mass political movements by the ochlos at large, are minimised and even eliminated. Essentially, white nationalism is just another brainchild of the Enlightenment with its democratic and revolutionary predispositions.
This modernistic aspect of white nationalism is also seen in the focus which white nationalists place upon the genetic concept of race. Now I will grant – race is a real thing. Anyone claiming that “race is just a social construct” is ignorant of pretty much the last 80 years of scientific findings in the area of human biodiversity. Likewise, it is true that people who share the same (relatively recent) body of genetic ancestry will also tend to share the same culture and history. However, sharing skin colour or a genetic commonality that only exists so far back as to be lost to the mists of history somewhere on the central Asian steppes is in no wise a guarantor of social compatibility, or even of a desire to be united into some kind of white ethnostate. Further, it assumes, falsely, that deterministic racial traits are what will make a nation great (and thus, that all members of the race share superior traits equally), rather than the nation being great because its culture and traditions enable it to mold its human capital to produce great individuals who then become credits to their nations.
This genetic obsession rests more on the modern tendency to make “science” into the sole arbiter of truth, rather than allowing religion, tradition, and history to adjudicate truth and wisdom. It’s not surprising that many white nationalists tend to reject the traditional Christian religion of the West and replace it either with Enlightenment-based nihilism (such as Spencer himself, who is apparently quite the fan of Nietzsche) or else some regression toward what they (fancifully) imagine pre-Christian paganism to have been (i.e. a utopia in which “white supermen” weren’t hobbled by all that Christian morality and ethics).
Understanding nationalism from a cultural and social perspective is a superior and more natural way of approaching the matter. It’s simply natural that people sharing the same language, religion, and other cultural assumptions will much more gladly live in proximity with each other than they will with people not sharing these things with them. This is true, even when two or more groups in question share the same skin colour, and even a reasonably close genetic kinship. Take the example of the now-defunct state of Yugoslavia. As closely as outsiders might have thought the Serbs and Croats and Bosniaks and so forth to have been (hey, they’re all Slavs, right?), these folks did not want to share a state with each other. Once the Party keeping the peace was gone, the country fell apart into a squabbling mess which is still being dealt with by neighbouring countries. We often hear the refrain “diversity + proximity = war.” This is very true. Furthermore, it’s true even when the “diversity” involves two or more groups of white people who have a history of bad blood and religious antagonism between them.
Hence, if we wish to approach nationalism in a rational and lucid manner, it must be from the perspective of the social and cultural angle. This has been the historical understanding that the West held for millennia before the Enlightenment. The Greeks, divided as they were politically, still understood themselves to be one group – Hellenes – who were distinguished by language (their word barbaroi – barbarians – referred to those who did not speak Greek and who were imagined to sound like childish babblers, barbarbarbar) from other groups of people, and that they shared culture with each other as a result. Even without a genetic concept of race, the French of the 17th century would still have understood that the introduction of a million Algerians into their country would constitute an invasion, not “immigration.” The traditional view of nations can easily accommodate modern concerns about the mass movements of Third Worlders into the West. Likewise, it presents no impediment to concerned Westerners within each of these white nations working with each other to defend the West as a distinct and valuable civilisational force.
Traditional nationalism also has the advantage of flexibility over its white nationalistic competitor (I presume it’s fair to say that these are, in many ways, competing visions). White nationalism essentially demands a “purity” for its ethnostate that would preclude the introduction of any non-white elements, even if these elements may be persons who are genuinely superior individuals – hailing, perhaps, from the so-called “talented tenth” coming from their otherwise lower-IQ or less-civilised native societies. Traditional nationalism does not – or at least should not – demand a rigid genetic “purity.” Rather, traditional nationalism places its emphasis on cultural assimilation and social acclimation. Of course, this statement should be clarified by the understanding that these goals will be more easily met for immigrants coming from culturally similar societies – the United States will always be able to more successfully absorb and integrate Canadians than they will Ghanians. Likewise, the needs of the nation come first, such that immigration should be contingent upon the measured judgment of the nation’s leadership as to what we need or do not need – we can easily determine that a few high-IQ, high-skill immigrants in technical fields where there is room for them are a benefit, while millions of low-IQ, low-skill lettuce-pickers and lawn-care professionals are not.
In short, traditional nationalism does not demand that a nation exclude all foreigners whatsoever. It recognises, as Western nations traditionally have, that industrious French Huguenots fleeing persecution in France might well be a net benefit to English society or that diligent and productive German settlers might be able to help the Russian Empire turn the Ukraine into the breadbasket of Eastern Europe. Traditional nationalism does not have its hands tied by a deterministic obsession with race, in and of itself. It has the resilience to be able to enrich itself with the right kind of immigrant, while rejecting the globalistic, open-borders fanaticism which demands that western nations allow the mass migration of culturally and socially hostile foreigners into their societies.
I strongly believe that it would be to the advantage of Traditionalists and neoreactionaries to advance this traditional view of nationalism. Certainly, we cannot – and should not – embrace the destructive fantasies of the globalists who seek to subsume the white nations of the world under masses upon masses of non-white invaders. Equally as certainly, we must base our nationalism on a realistic vision of the world that reject Enlightenment ideology and all of the socially debilitating pathologies that come with it. In a sense, genuine traditional nationalism should seek to strengthen the nation by not only cultivating its own natural aristocracy, but also by providing a way to attract worthy individuals who will enrich its society.