There is much discussion amongst those on the alternative Right about race, nationalism, and tribalism. These issues are of crucial importance in the modern world. One cannot deny the unique influence of both race and ethnicity in shaping individual cultures and societies, and the more we learn about genetics and human biodiversity the more likely it appears that race and ethnicity may even be significantly important factors in individual human behaviour. However, whilst race and ethnicity are undeniably important factors in any community, relative homogeneity being arguably imperative for social cohesion, that does not mean that individual ethnic groups are or ought to be the only valid basis for state boundaries and political power.
The first problem with nationalism is its pedigree. In a piece on ethno-nationalism on Tradtional Right, Brent Gerrity states that “in the fight against modernity, reactionaries would do well to separate themselves from revolutionary types,” but the fact is that nationalism is wholly revolutionary, and would have us sacrifice the Permanent Things on the altar of Blood. Whilst patriotism is an ancient and noble virtue, nationalism as we know it today is a modern product of the French Revolution.
Nationalism is rooted in Enlightenment thinking and Rousseauian ideas of the General Will and “the people.” One can reduce nationalism to the basic idea that people of common language and genetic stock have some mystical “right” to govern themselves. This is obviously an ideological abstraction as historically-baseless and demonstrably false as other ideas of natural and human rights. State borders and tribal groups often developed almost entirely independently of one another, and when one looks at the span of human history, a person subject to the rule of a monarch of the same ethnic group appears to be a historical anomaly.
Nationalism was a tool the Jacobins, and later other radicals, used to destabilize the great multi-ethnic Christian empires of Europe. In fact, many “nations” were invented for the sole purpose of this destabilizing effect. Ukrainian national identity and Czech national identity, for example, are both effectively the 19th century creations of German-speaking academics. Although nationalism can also have a unifying effect on a society, it is still revolutionary, artificial, and destructive. Take for example Germany and Italy, another two 19th century inventions for which ancient kingdoms, principalities, and dynasties were swept away; hardly a conservative endeavor.
By its very nature ethno-nationalism rests on abstractions, for what are the various ethnicities people claim allegiance to, if not to a certain extent abstractions? I am hardly suggesting that individual ethnicities and genetic groups do not exist, but when we try and establish them as the basis for a political entity we are surely entering fantasy land. For one thing, most people today, like myself, are a blend of various ethnicities and tribes.
Even if one is lucky enough in this day and age to call himself 100 percent English, for example, and trace his ancestry back to before 1066, to what tribe does he belong? Is he Anglo-Saxon? Is he Angle? Is he Saxon? Should his allegiance be to Northumbria, Mercia, or Wessex? If his family has been there that long he surely has some Celtic and likely Danish blood too. Perhaps his allegiance should be the Dumnonia, or Powys, or even Jorvik. This “100 percent Englishmen” could conceivably have Brittonic-speaking ancestors who were governed by Rome, so perhaps he might even consider himself a Roman.
The fact is that in the realm of politics, DNA pales in comparison to culture. An oath taken in service to a king is far more real and valuable and meaningful than mere genetic commonalities, and while blood may be thicker than water it is no match for faith and duty (a number of civil wars spring immediately to mind). Culture, as T.S. Eliot observes and the name suggests, is rooted in the cult. Despite the fantasies of some nationalists and neo-pagans on the Right, resorting to tribalism will not stem the social and moral degeneracy of modernity. That path will lead merely to a divided world of separate, socially- and morally-degenerate tribes.
Only a renewed faith in a shared cult (in this author’s opinion, orthodox Christianity) can hope to save what little is left of Occidental civilization. Patriotism is conservative; its clarion call is “God, King, and Country.” Nationalism is radical and revolutionary; its call to arms is “blood and soil,” and it demands we reject God, King, and country to secure them.
Adapted from a piece published on Traditional Right, 7 May 2014