Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Should there be a leftist nationalist party?

I was at an Australian reddit site the other night and stumbled upon an interesting thread. Someone asked the question why there were no left-wing nationalist parties in Australia (I don't think there are any right-wing ones either).

As an insight into the mind of left-wingers, a common answer was that the left doesn't support nationalism because it wants to help everyone:
Homiros: If you are a true left party, your main focus should be the welfare of all people.

FvHound: Us lefties don't want a compromise with the right. We want to help EVERYONE

Clearly, there are left-wingers who like to see themselves as compassionate types. Perhaps, therefore, an important aspect of challenging left-wing thought is to point out the hurt and damage that left-wing positions cause to many people.

Why would the left think of itself as helping everyone? Two possible causes spring to mind. The first is the political shift that happened in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The older liberals in the U.S. believed that the Anglo-Saxons had a special dispensation to bring freedom and Evangelical Christianity to the world. The new liberals challenged this view by rejecting the ethnic particularity and (often) by rejecting Christianity, in favour of a more ecumenical, cosmopolitan and humanistic view.

If you see yourself as serving "Humanity" in a cosmic sense, rather than God, then your focus will be a universal one (you won't be focused on helping your own nation, as the entity you have set up to serve is a global Humanity).

However, another possible explanation is that the leftist view is a cut-down, secularised version of a certain type of Christian ethics. If you think that the essence of morality is a vaguely universal command to help everyone including (or especially) the stranger or the marginalised, then you might well think that being a good person means, vaguely, a commitment "to help everyone".

It's true that the modern left has become cosmopolitan. However, what is less clear is that the move to vaguely universal commitments has oriented the left toward "serving everyone". The universalism seems instead to go along with a radical individualism, in which what matters is individual rights or the unfettered pursuit of individual wants or the liberty to define one's own good.

Furthermore, where the left is oriented toward community, it is often on an "assortative" basis, i.e. it is a gathering of people who share the same intellectual aspirations, the same political values and similar lifestyle markers. The left is very good at establishing community for itself on this basis - in some ways it has replaced the idea of ethny.

Why is this significant? Because when a communal identity is an ethnic one it means that we show a love for, and service toward, our coethnics who may not be part of our own caste or class: they may live in the countryside and not the inner city; they may eat fast food and drink beer; they may watch Channel 10 and not the ABC; read the Herald Sun and not The Age and so on.

But the left is not challenged in this way. In practice, leftists often show a disdain for those who do not share their own lifestyle markers - that is part of the way the boundaries of leftist community are upheld.

What traditionalists would argue is that we are not called to help everyone in a vaguely universal way. Our commitments are more bracing that that. We are made for particular relationships, relationships which imply specific loves and duties. Christianity does, it is true, remind us that our commitments don't stop at those we are most closely related to; this does not mean, though, that we are stripped of our given natures, or that we disregard natural law (or much of scripture) and seek to erase the significance of all those relationships bar the single, universal one.

For that reason a leftist should, just like any other person, seek to fulfil a relationship with a spouse, with children, with a wider family, with a local community (including those who do not aspire to intellectual class status) and with coethnics, as well as then helping others.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Swedish PM doesn't like the nation

Fredrik Reinfeldt is the supposedly "conservative" PM of Sweden. But just like David Cameron in the UK, it's not obvious that he is very conservative at all.

Last week he stridently rejected the idea of nationalism and national identity, setting this against the idea of individual rights and individual differences:
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism".

"European cooperation has created a foundation where individual rights are paramount, and has created the possibility to move freely," Reinfeldt told students at Luleå Technical University, adding that his party encouraged diversity.

The prime minister said that while the union was not perfect, it was better than the alternative.

"Let go of the age-old and revolting thought that what sticks out is dangerous," he cautioned. "Safeguard the idea that we are individuals, who are different and can live together with tolerance and mutual respect."

That's a false way of posing things. Reinfeldt is setting the idea of the individual against the idea of belonging to a nation, as if the two things were at odds.

In fact, a strong sense of belonging to a national community will generally enrich the life of the individual and add to his sense of identity, his commitment to the society he lives in, his connection to a particular culture and the meaning of his work and his efforts to raise a family.

Nor does a national community erase individual differences. If you were to take, for instance, 100 ethnic Japanese you would find a diversity in character, personality and sensibility that would more than satisfy the human urge toward difference.

It's true that jingoism - the stirring up of national feeling to support an aggressive foreign policy - is a negative thing, but it should be remembered that nationalism can also be drawn on to resist aggressors. Was it not, for instance, a love of country that helped to motivate young Australian men to defend their nation in WWII?

It seems to me that the individual loses power when he is reduced to the status of an individual consumer or careerist in a modern, internationalist, liberal state. He is no longer part of a larger community existing through time. He is no longer a participant in a unique culture, nor does he share in the achievements of a national community. He no longer has the inspiration in his life of heroes whom he is related to in a particular way; nor does he feel a sense of ownership over the particular landscape of his national homeland.

If he feels himself to be just one atomised individual in a mass society, then how can he not feel smaller than the man who feels himself to be a part of a great tradition?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Australian readers: repeal of 18C

Under the current Racial Discrimination Act, you can be found guilty of an offense if a judge deems that you have insulted or offended someone because of their race. But people take offense to all kinds of things, so the law is potentially very damaging to free speech.

The Liberal Government has rightly sought to tighten up the Act by repealing the section (18c) which defines vilification in terms of insulting or offending and instead making the definition a more serious one of inciting hatred or causing fear of physical harm.

There is much pressure on the Government to back down on this reform; the call has therefore gone out for people to make a submission in support of repealing 18c. This has to be done soon (by April 30th).

You can find more information on how to do this here; the official submission page is here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

White working-class women should be single mums?

There is an article at Slate titled "Just say no: for white working-class women, it makes sense to stay single mothers".

There are some good points made in the article. The gist of the argument is that employment prospects for women have risen over the past few decades, whereas those of working-class men in the US have declined. Therefore, there is a much smaller pool of potential breadwinning partners for white working-class women. Those men who actually are in a good position to marry have so much choice that they're in no hurry to settle down. Rather than marrying a man who will be, in effect, a dependent, white working-class women are making the "logical" choice to become single mothers.

I can't vouch for how accurately the article portrays the situation facing young women. What is interesting, though, are the remedies proposed.

The writers of the article are adamant that women should still have the autonomy to raise children by themselves via state aid if they so choose:
Those who would promote marriage seek to do so largely by taking away Lily’s independence...Charles Murray would cut programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, early childhood education and child care, mandatory family leave, and other policies that make it easier for women like Lily to raise a child on their own.

So what do the writers recommend? Well, this:
In our view what would make the most difference to this unfair marriage market are  policies that would increase the number and quality of jobs available to working class men, retraining and unemployment benefits that fill in the gaps between jobs, and ongoing support for women’s autonomy.

Let me say, first, that it's a step forward that white working-class men are not being portrayed as privileged oppressors but instead as a group that is losing out in significant ways in modern society. It's true, as well, that it's important that quality jobs be offered to these men to allow them to play a breadwinning role within a family.

But I doubt that you will ever have a stable culture of family life when female autonomy is made such a moral aim. If young women are told that it is their right, as an autonomous individual, to raise a child alone supported by the state rather than by a husband, then some will inevitably take that option (see here for an extreme example of this).

The idea that female autonomy is untouchable seems to run deep: KJ Dell'Antonia wrote a column criticising the Slate article, but even she asserted that,
Should working-class women (or, for that matter, all men and women) be able to raise children alone? Absolutely, and the more we tailor policies, school hours and cultural expectations to reflect the fact that many parents are both solo breadwinner and single caregiver, the better off all families will be.

But if it's OK to decide to raise a child alone, then what is wrong with the trend for white working-class women to do so? KJ Dell'Antonia reaches for the "it's not an authentic choice" option:
No parent “should” raise children alone unless it is a real choice, not a choice created by a culture that is determinedly setting so many young people adrift after high school without the wherewithal to envision, plan for or create a better life for themselves.

She then goes on to provide evidence of how outcomes for children in single mother homes are statistically worse than for other children, particularly for boys (but this then raises the question of whether a government should encourage single parenthood through its welfare policies - why do this if the outcomes for children are, on average, worse?).

It seems we've reached an interesting moment in politics. It is now being recognised on the left that white working-class men have been left behind to the point that they are now in a poor position to marry. That then means that women have to raise and support children by themselves (and with state aid). Perhaps these leftist writers recognise that autonomy for these women is not such an easy or happy path - or perhaps they are hesitating at the brink of accepting a regress to societies in which men exist unproductively on the margins.

FN hits front

Nice to report some good news. Polling for next month's EU elections shows the National Front as the most popular party in France. The results are: National Front 24%, UMP 22%, Socialists 20%.

This follows on from the National Front's success in recent municipal elections:
The National Front (FN) enjoyed unprecedented success in the April elections - taking control of 11 key constituencies, and up to 1200 municipal seats.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kaufmann: consensus Americanism

I've been tracing the arguments made by Eric Kaufmann in his book The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America. In the last post I brought the argument up to the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War. Kaufmann believes that by this time the avant-garde intellectuals had won over the mainstream of the intellectual class and were also now supported from within the government:
The new liberal value consensus, in which artists, writers, academics and the U.S. government were united, was social democratic, cosmopolitan, and modernist...Consensus Americanism can thus be viewed as an intellectual earthquake that elevated the new avant-garde a position of cultural hegemony. Intellectual leadership...has always been a mainstay of ethnic consciousness, and its withdrawal is devastating to the group involved. In capturing Anglo-America from the top down, the American avant-garde left American dominant ethnicity rudderless. It was now only a question of time before cosmopolitanism would achieve the institutional inertia necessary for it to triumph as a mass phenomenon.

Kaufmann next looks at some of the cosmopolitan literary works of the 1940s and 50s. In 1943, Republican presidential nominee Wendell Wilkie penned a best-seller with the title One World. In it Wendell articulated a "civic nationalism" in which America was to have no dominant ethny, but a multiplicity of peoples bound together by a common liberal political framework:
Our nation is composed of no one race, faith, or cultural heritage. It is a grouping of some thirty peoples possessing varying religious concepts, philosophies, and historical backgrounds. They are linked together by their confidence in our democratic institutions as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution for themselves and their children. The keystone of our union of states is freedom.

Other notable books sharing the "cosmopolitan spirit of the times" were Carey McWilliams' Brothers under the Skin and John Higham's Strangers in the Land. According to Kaufmann, Gunnar Myrdal's American Creed was also influential amongst the elites.

Toward the end of WWII, there was a shift within the US government toward the idea of open borders. President Truman gave voice to this outlook in 1952 when he gave a speech claiming that as a matter of international "moral leadership" the US should end the national origins quota system (which aimed to preserve the ethnic balance within the US) because he thought it to be "discriminatory" and in violation of "our belief in the brotherhood of man" and the belief that "all men are created equal".

At about the same time, the print media changed its line on immigration. In 1953 the Atlantic Monthly published its first cosmopolitan piece. In the same year Reader's Digest changed its editorial policy; previously it had favoured immigration restrictions, but its change of line was announced by a piece arguing for greater Asian immigration in order to improve Asian-American relations.

Portrait of a fairy

This was painted by an English artist, Sophie Anderson, in 1869.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Native French under attack

CBN has broadcast a report on anti-white racism in France (hat tip: Gallia Watch). It's pleasing that a major media outlet has gone outside the expected narrative in which it is assumed that whites are the perpetrators rather than the victims.

The report begins with video of white French people being attacked by gangs of young immigrant (mostly Muslim) men. It then notes that there are "no go" areas in France into which even the police are reluctant to venture.

Interestingly, the report then quotes a sociologist, Tarik Yildiz, who is of Turkish origin but has written a book about anti-white racism in France:
"Some of those who launch racist attacks on whites use Islam as the reason they do it. They may not even speak Arabic, but they still use Islam as a 'flag,'" Tarik Yildiz, a French sociologist, said.

Yildiz, author of the book, Anti-White Racism, is not native French but is the son of Turkish immigrants.

"My book is viewed as politically incorrect and breaks a taboo: the idea that immigrants could oppress whites," Yildez said.

The report suggests that one reason for the mass influx of immigrants into France is that the left there sees immigrants as an important voting bloc. Indeed, 93% of Muslims in France voted for the socialist President Francois Hollande at the last elections. They voted for Hollande even though he represents a radical secular liberalism that is at odds with Islam.

Finally, the report notes that the French state is helping to finance a mosque in Paris which is called "Conquest."

Beauty of the classics

From the prolific Happy Acres this photograph:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Catching up on Kaufmann

I'm still reading The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America by Eric Kaufmann. If you remember, up to the later 1800s the American elite had a double consciousness. There was a strong focus on an Anglo-Saxon ethnic identity but also a laissez-faire commitment to open borders. Immigrants were expected to assimilate to the dominant Anglo-Saxon ethnicity.

Between 1905 and 1913 the Protestant church establishment (functionaries within the Protestant churches) broke from the earlier view; they now supported the idea of pluralism in which no single group would be dominant. Shortly after, the Greenwich Village intellectuals also shifted to a pluralist and cosmopolitan position. Randolph Bourne wrote a significant essay in 1916 in which he claimed that Anglo-America had no vital culture of its own and that therefore it was best for Anglo-Americans to become cosmopolitan consumers of the more authentic cultures of others.

What happened next? According to Kaufmann the loss of the intellectual class continued apace. Kaufmann observes of the period following WWI:
For the first time in its history, a considerable number of Anglo-American intellectuals openly disparaged the traditions of their own ethnic group.

He gives as an example the novel Main Street (1920) by Sinclair Lewis in which the Anglo townsfolk are described as "a savourless people, gulping tasteless food," the protagonist, Carol Kennicott, finds welcome novelty in the Scandinavian population of the town, but is disappointed when she observes them being "Americanized into uniformity...and along with these foreigners she felt herself being ironed into glossy mediocrity".

This is clearly a reaction against the earlier view: Anglo-Saxons are no longer bearers of a special dispensation, but represent a cultureless mediocrity. A multiculture, in this scenario, becomes a form of welcome relief from Anglo conformism and assimilation is to be regretted.

In the 1930s, a new generation of New York intellectuals emerged to carry on the cosmopolitan attitudes of the pre-WWI avant-garde. This generation had a higher representation of Jewish intellectuals; Kaufmann considers it to be a roughly equal fusion of Jewish and Anglo-Saxon radicals.

According to historian Terry Cooney, these intellectuals thought of themselves as standing for "cosmopolitanism, internationalism, secularism, rationalism, urban complexity, intellectual sophistication, artistic creativity, and progress" as opposed to the alternative of "ethnic and regional particularism, nationalism, religious mystification, emotionalism, rural narrowness, simplification, populist politics, popular writing, artistic stagnation, and reaction."

It was in the interwar period also that an artistic clash occurred. An artistic movement called Regionalism represented a popular, national view:
This school of art and literature, known as Regionalism, sought to draw on the American landscape, its history and folk culture, in an attempt to generate an authentically native "American" culture and reconstruct an American sense of national community.

The Regionalists were attacked by the avant-garde intellectuals as reactionary populists. Mary McCarthy, for instance, complained that Regionalist Maxwell Anderson's success came from an appeal to "old-fashioned American symbols" and Meyer Schapiro warned that "The appeal to national sentiment should set us on guard" and then criticised Thomas Hart Benton's
conceited anti-intellectualism, hatred of the foreign, his emphasis on the strong and masculine, his uncritical and unhistorical elevation of the folk, his antagonism to the cities, his ignorant and violent remarks on radicalism

By the end of WWII regionalism had given way to an abstract expressionism that was more in line with the views of the intellectual avant-garde. It was at this time, too, that the avant-garde and the American government moved more closely together. The New York intellectuals had abandoned Soviet communism and they looked to America as the focus for their liberal cosmopolitanism; the American government came at the same time to look to the avant-garde intellectuals as a bulwark against communism.

So by 1950 the older tradition had been destroyed amongst the intellectual and artistic elite, who were dedicated to liberal cosmopolitanism, and this elite had the support of those wielding political power. That's not quite the end of the story: Kaufmann goes on to look at how the avant-garde then won support in the institutions and, following from that, how rank and file opinion was won over.

One thing to remember in all this: the avant-garde intellectuals were reacting against an older understanding that had its own limitations. What was really needed was something different to both.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kirsten Dunst: I feel like the feminine has been undervalued

The actress Kirsten Dunst ruffled a few feminist feathers by making the following comment in a magazine interview:
"I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued," she says. "We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mum created. And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work..."

It's an interesting comment. We live in a liberal society which values, above all, individual autonomy. Therefore, women are instructed to aim for independence from men, particularly through careers. Motherhood then comes to be seen as a restriction on women (as a potential disadvantage). That leads to the idea that there should be one, unisex parental role that men and women share equally.

In her comment, Kirsten Dunst articulates some of the limitations of this liberal view. If autonomy is made the overriding good, then other things that we value are lost. For instance, Kirsten Dunst clearly values what her mother did for her as a mother and doesn't want it to be lost in the pursuit of female autonomy. She thinks too that heterosexual relationships are based on a distinction between the masculine and the feminine and that therefore it is better for men to retain something of the masculine role within relationships.

Kirsten Dunst

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Next Eltham Trads meeting

Just a quick post for Melbourne readers. Next week we're having an Eltham Traditionalists dinner. These are always very enjoyable nights out, catching up with other like-minded people. It's also an important way to contribute to a growing traditionalist movement here in Melbourne. If you live within driving distance of Eltham and would like to attend please get in touch - you'll find more information on Eltham Traditionalists here and contact details here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The beginning of thought

Bonald threw down the gauntlet to liberals earlier this year in a post titled "Rejecting the Enlightenment is only the beginning of thought".

He began by noting that liberals tend to reduce possible alternatives to either the liberal position or something nasty:
One way that the Enlightenment controls the minds of billions, locking them into a degrading and absurd mental slavery, is by making people imagine they know what’s on the other side. “Without the social contract…tyranny! Without separation of Church and state...religious warfare! Without feminism...rape! Without capitalism...communism! Without cosmopolitanism...Nazis!"

Bonald hits liberals where it is likely to hurt most, by noting that this poverty of vision represents "a narrow, unimaginative, and parochial worldview."

Furthermore, liberals - in claiming to be neutral - evade the task of having to justify their particular conception of the Good as being objectively true:
The key to rejecting liberalism (the political expression of the Enlightenment project) is to realize that it’s a swindle. It claims to stand above every particular conception of the Good, granting freedom to all and favoritism to none, when in fact it imposes its own narrow vision on all of us. Its claims to neutrality just mean that it gets to impose itself without ever being forced to argue (or even assert) that its claims are objectively true, and that it never has to assume the responsibility that comes from being a recognized establishment.

But in rejecting liberalism it becomes possible to take a more sophisticated approach to issues of human flourishing. Bonald gives the example of relations between the sexes:
Now that you realize that gender roles are not inherently iniquitous, you can finally start thinking about the proper relationship between the sexes. Just because you notice that women are being treated differently than men in some context, you can no longer automatically conclude that the women are being treated unfairly, as you would have done when you were a liberal. On the other hand, it is possible that the women are being treated unfairly. What’s more, there is the new possibility–undreamed of by liberals–that the men are being treated unfairly. You must dig into the particulars of the case, the historical context and social functions; you must then apply general principles of natural law (none of which are as simplistic as “gender equality”). You must try to conceptualize the universal masculine and feminine virtues that society should foster, remembering that any given instantiation of masculine and feminine roles will be conditioned by culture and economic organization. Given this background, do the laws and culture provide a path for the achievement of masculine and feminine excellence? Or are the man’s protective instinct and the woman’s nurturing instinct being thwarted or deformed? These are subtle questions.

It's a long paragraph, but it gives a good picture of how traditionalists tend to think about such issues and why traditionalism can't be easily expressed through simple slogans.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Can pride be humbling?

Most religious traditions are critical of pride and for a good reason. There is a kind of pride which gives us a self-sufficient arrogance in our own powers. This pride makes us self-enclosed and therefore closed off to any powers higher than ourselves. Little wonder, then, that religious traditions often warn against hubris, or seek to quieten the egoistic self, or seek to cultivate a reverent, outwardly turned humility.

However, if this is the type of pride to be avoided, there still remain aspects of pride that are either not harmful or that perhaps even help to promote a more humble type of outlook.

For instance, is it really a bad thing to take pride in our work? The sense of "pride" here simply means to have a standard of care in what we do; to be willing to work in a careful and concentrated way; and to create something of quality. Think of a craftsman who wants to create a beautiful, well-constructed piece of furniture; his mind will be quietly concentrated on the value of what he is working on (on something of value outside of himself) rather than on a self-vaunting arrogance.

Then there is a pride we feel in the achievements of our family, town or nation. The positive aspect to this kind of pride is that it begins with the individual feeling connected to something outside of, and larger than, his own egoistic self; it is a sharing of identity and endeavour and a recognition that you owe something of yourself to others. In this sense this kind of pride is also a kind of humility.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Via Happy Acres:
“Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”

The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.

The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man.”

Nicolás Gómez Dávila (Don Colacho)