Greg Johnson and Understanding Ethno-Nationalism as Leftism

The folks over at the “North American New Right” website Counter Currents may have revealed themselves to be little more than classical liberals in reactionary clothing. And indeed despite peddling pagan Nazi trash by the likes of Salvitri Devi, it seems Editor-in-Chief Greg Johnson would actually be more at home with Jean-Jacques Rousseau than Julius Evola.

Johnson appeared on YouTuber Tara McCarthy‘s show to debate with other YouTuber Styxhexenhammer666.  Before Styx came on, Johnson gave a basic overview of what he deemed the “historic rationale” for ethno-nationalism, and in doing so touched directly on nationalism’s liberal, revolutionary Jacobin origins.

He begins by giving a very brief, basic survey of the origins of the Westphalian system:

Historically in Europe and the end of the Thirty Years War his modern notion of sovereignty was formulated after the peace of Westphalia, and the idea of sovereignty that came about after the Peace of Westphalia was basically this, that a sovereign state doesn’t have to answer to any higher authority on matters of its internal affairs and the most important matter that they were thinking about at the time was religion…

So the idea of creating sovereignty was basically a way of getting rid of conflict. The basic principle established was the religion of prince would be religion of people… The modern idea of sovereignty was really created as a tool of conflict resolution.

So far, so good. But then things get, well, a bit revolutionary. Johnson notes that the sovereign state “was at the time of Westphalia really defined in dynastic terms, in terms of princes and their inheritances.” However, these sovereign states were not defined in terms of princes and their inheritances so much as they existed in terms of princes and their inheritances. That it took nothing less than bloody revolution to change this seems irrelevant to Johnson.

“When you go to the 18th century, in the 18th century the idea is that the natural unit of society that should be sovereign is a people — an ethnically-defined people, meaning a people that is an extended family, they’re all related to each other more or less, and share a common language and history and culture,” Johnson says.

But the entire notion of a country or state belonging to a ‘people’ is utter Enlightenment nonsense grounded fundamentally in Rousseau’s General Will! It is a pure abstraction, and was indeed the first cause célèbre of the Enlightenment and proto-Leftism, an idea embraced by villains. Ethnic purity is the preserve of peasants, and ethno-nationalism is but a proto-Bolshevik pretense created to destroy ancient kingdoms, erode the power of the Church, send aristocrats to the gallows, and usher in the Mercantile/Masonic Ascendancy.

Johnson even admits nationalism’s Jacobin pedigree. “And so the idea of a sovereign state … gradually moved to be defined as a sovereign people, and this was the idea that was operative during the French Revolution and throughout the 19th century, and as the different peoples of Europe awoke to their national consciousness if you will.”

Of course, the idea of the sovereign state did not gradually move to be defined as the notion of a sovereign people — like all revolutions it was forced upon the people of Europe by a vicious minority through fire and blood. Before murdering their rightful and lawful king, the Jacobins in France changed Louis’ title from King of France [an actual, physical kingdom rooted in history] to King of the French [an abstract ‘people’].

Note also the positively progressive — and surely familiar to modern ears — language employed when Johnson claims that the different peoples of Europe awoke to their national consciousness if you will. This author will certainly not. The ethno-nationalists of the 18th and 19th centuries were woke alright — we wuz kangz is effectively the battle-cry of every ethno-nationalist, African-American or otherwise.

Johnson goes back to the theme of ‘awakening’ again in an even more ridiculous soundbite, claiming that the so-called natural development of ethno-nationalism “happened from the late 18th century all the way up into the early 20th century … as different peoples that objectively existed but didn’t really think of themselves so much as peoples until they had a national awakening.”

But contrary to Mr. Johnson’s nationalist fairy tale, most of these people did not have a ‘national awakening’ — and indeed some did not even objectively exist. They were more often subject to the imperial ambitions of one power (see Prussia and the development of ‘Germany’), subject to the revolutionary ambitions of another (see the development of modern ‘Italy’), or in other cases pulled out of thin air entirely (i.e. how Bohemians became ‘Czechs’ — whose language was actually invented in the 19th century by German academics  — or how Ruthenians became both ‘Belorussians’ and ‘Ukrainians’).

As Johnson continues his tale of The Little -Ism That Could [And Did Ruin Europe], its revolutionary implications become even clearer. “As these peoples gained greater ethnic self-consciousness they demanded that they be able to determine their own affairs and live according to their own ethnically specific way of life,” Johnson says. Replace ‘ethnic’ with homosexual, transgender, black, etc, and one quickly gets the idea.

It is worth noting at this point that Johnson’s embrace of Enlightenment nationalism is especially bizarre given Counter Currents’ alleged opposition to modern supra-capitalist globalism and borderline anti-Semitic obsession with the so-called Jewish Question. Jews were often instrumental in fomenting early nationalist movements and revolutions — being very eager to see the power of Throne and Altar diminished. Nation states beget national banks. And indeed, what is ethno-nationalism if not the Jewish concept of the chosen people applied to all people? But I digress.

It seems that Johnson simply isn’t an apt student of history, intellectual or otherwise. Johnson says that “most of the wars and conflicts of the 20th century and going into the 21st century… really are about giving ethnic groups self-determination and sovereignty. ” Fine, but those ethnic groups only identify as such and seek self-determination and sovereignty in the first place because of the revolutionary nationalism of the 18th and 19th centuries!

Johnson claims that giving ethnic groups self-determination and sovereignty is “the best way to eliminate unnecessary wars”, but it was doing so that led ultimately to both the First World War and the Second World War, the greatest acts of fratricide in European history. If no more brothers’ wars is to be the goal, ethno-nationalism is most certainly not the way to reach it.

 

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