Don't call it a spade
The Spectre of Nationalism
After some lazy Youtube pastes, I guess it’s time to write something interesting about Brexit. You’ll have to forgive my delay as I was too busy getting drunk in celebration. Or in despair. I don’t know.
The ghastly forces of nationalism are sweeping now across Europe, liberals say. “Racism is out of the bottle”, they say. The European project, the liberal world order is in danger, they say. Oh yes, yes it is. And they are right to be frightened.
Perhaps people out of Europe don’t know, but in Europe, at least in academic circles, the EU is talked about as an almost godly institution. The most successful piece of institutional engineering in human history. A professor of mine had almost tears in his eyes when he talked how the EU “went against entropy”, fighting all odds in integrating all European states into a superior, sacred institution of peace and prosperity. And then some Nigel Farage with goofy shoes comes and takes 60 million Britons out.
Naturally all the bien-pensant are horrified. Truly, really horrified, horrified as if a zombie just showed up at your window. The EU in Europe is worshipped in a way probably similar to how the early Catholic Church was worshipped in the early Middle Ages. It must have looked like a miracle that while myriad Goths and other barbarians completely destroyed the Western Roman Empire, the Church not only survived, but thrived with a very sophisticated organization across the whole of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. That the Christian Church was able to conserve some modicum of civilization in those times was truly a miracle. It must have seemed that truly God was with them.
God thus appeared to be with the EU in the decades after WW2. 70 years of peace. Increasing economic and political integration. If you’ve read your European history it’s certainly nothing short of a miracle. Of course the 70 years of peace might have something to do with the US Army garrisoning most of the continent, but you’re not supposed to notice that much. The key to becoming a leading scholar in human society is selective noticing. It’s more important to figure out what not to know, than what to know.
But anyway, indeed the EU was an impressive enterprise. Whatever model of government you have, everyone agrees that people in general don’t like to give away power. Whether you think parliament rules, or the people rule, or the permanent bureaucracy rules; it doesn’t matter who calls the shots, whoever does it is supposed to like doing so, and on principle wouldn’t want to give it away. But in Europe they did. Little by little European nations were stripped of their power and they all celebrated it.
While the actual integration followed a very complex set of carrots and sticks; it helped that the EU project had a very good rationale. Europeans had been slaughtering each other for centuries. That had some good things; it gave incentives for research into bigger ships and stronger cannons. That research trickled down into the civilian economy and eventually gave us the industrial revolution. China invented gunpowder, but by the 1500s it had to rely in Portuguese cannons to defend itself, because in China research into cannonry just didn’t pay. The huge Middle Kingdom didn’t fight wars, only rebellions every many decades, and those didn’t require cannons. China was into gun control, and they were pretty good at it. Europe wasn’t into gun control. In Europe it was war all the time, for whatever reason. Eventually the slaughter got so out of hand during the 30 Years War that the Peace of Westphalia was signed.
Henceforth European states were to respect sovereignty. That is, you don’t wage war because of what some other king has done in his country. You don’t do that. Kings have the right to do whatever the hell they want inside their country. Even religion doesn’t matter. The idea was good. But it still didn’t work; European countries kept finding excuses to slaughter each other and went on developing more advanced weaponry all the same. Eventually Europe invented the mother of all weapons: Nationalism.
Academics recently like to talk about “institutions”. Others like to talk about more abstract cultural traits. “Social technology” as some call it. If someone is still around in 200 years to write a World History of Technology, Nationalism will be there written as the foremost political technology ever invented by humankind. Nationalism destroyed the Ancien Regime. It revolutionized politics and war. It changed the world forever.
In the tribal, pre-state era, a “band of brothers” would ride to some foreign area, fight the local men, grab their gold and women and share it amongst them. If for some reason the bros didn’t want to go back, they’d go to some area, kill the local men, and take their land (and gold and women, if any). This went on forever. Analysis of ancient DNA is just telling us the story of how many populations have been completely replaced repeatedly over time. When states formed, however, this dynamic changed. A king doesn’t mind beating a neighbour and taking its gold, or perhaps the land. He’s likely not that much in need of taking their women. But at any rate he has no interest in emptying the land. A king wants taxes; he doesn’t care who pays them, whether his tribe or someone else’s. In fact a king is, more likely than not, not of the same tribe as his soldiers. So it’s not in his interest that the tribes that he rules over gain more land and thus more power. Eventually some tribal lord might rally his tribesmen against the king.
No, no. The way for a king to secure his place on the throne is to play divide and conquer on his own subjects. Ideally there will be no tribes whatsoever; the people will be separated into nuclear families, forbidden from worshipping ancestral gods. Their only social obligations will be with the state, i.e. the king. That was the gist of the Shang Yang reforms in 360 BC, what Solon did in Athens, what the Roman Senate did to its people, shuffling the tribes every few years. The Catholic Church did mostly the same to the Germanic kindreds in Western Europe. It was wildly successful, and produced what we understand as Civilization. Which is good.
So when a King has to fight a war, he pays for his soldiers, in hard cash. If he can’t he doesn’t go to war. No more bands of brothers, no more fighting for the tribe. No more exterminating neighbors. That’s bad for business. Of course it still happened, if the foreigners were uncivilized themselves and one couldn’t expect much tax from them short term. Still, the incentive was to take the land with the peasants untouched.
Nationalism was in essence a return to the emotional state of pre-state tribesmen. Soldiers weren’t expected to fight for cash, or for traditional bonds of vassalage. Soldiers fought for their country, for the homeland. For the tribe. A pretty massive tribe, tens of millions strong. Pretty weird tribe if you ask me; but people ate it up. Nationalism was wildly popular. It of course didn’t come out of a vacuum; the printing press, universal schooling and improved transportation did change cultural interaction so that people inside the same country ended up having the same degree of cultural uniformity as a 1,000 BC tribe.
But of course Nationalist War has the same incentives as Tribal War: kill off the men and take their land for good. We call that now ethnic cleansing. Nationalist people are committed to their nations. They won’t pay tax to a foreigner; not as much as a countryman would. Remember French rule of the Ruhr? And besides, industrial economies make turnover much easier: you can ship millions of your own people to the vacated territory in months, and they’ll start producing right away. So there’s no downside to removing the foreigners.
Nationalist War was gruesome stuff. The Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil war, the Franco Prussian war, World War 1. Of course the scale of these wars weren’t just due to nationalism, much of it was just superior technology; better weapons, better transportation. And bigger populations. World War 1 gave us machine guns, gas and air bombing, killing millions in months. After World War 1 there was an attempt to blame nationalism and stop it right there. But it didn’t work. The opposite happened: Mussolini perfected Nationalism, and then Hitler took it to its logical conclusion. Total, industrial tribal war. With ethnic cleansing of enemies as its explicit mission.
We all know how that ended. The conclusion was that Nationalism was bad. And it wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion. It makes a lot of sense. Nationalism had, if not caused, certainly aggravated World War 1. Why did all those millions of young men volunteer to be slaughtered by machine guns in Northern France? For the glory of their nations. Why did Germany wage war against the first, second and third most powerful nations on Earth at the same time? To gain lebensraum for the German nation. Why did Italy, of all people, dream of taking Dalmatia, Albania, and run a colonial empire in Africa? Certainly not for the juicy tax revenue that those territories would bring to the state! It was all because of a stupid nationalist signaling spiral where the most popular kids were those who came up with the wackiest plans for the glory of the nation.
And so it was deemed, again not unreasonably, that Nationalism was bad. After World War 1, when the same conclusion was reached, the popular idea among the elite was that we needed World Government. No small part of the impetus behind the global communist movement that consumed the elite of the Anglosphere was the idea that communism was a good path in order to achieve World Government: communism could out-compete nationalism for support of the working class masses. Read on that time, H.G. Wells, Keynes, all those were really into World Government.
Alas, again, Nationalism won that battle by morphing into its more evolved form, Fascism, that great innovation of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was an old school socialist who after WW1 found out that the post-war evolution of socialism into a World Government cult wasn’t going to fly. He had been in the war, he had seen the power of nationalism. So he invented nationalist socialism, and man, he hit the jackpot. Fascism swept over most of Europe in no time.
The elite, i.e. Western governments and their financial elites kept holding their World Government dream, though. Even F.D. Roosevelt, who borrowed a trick or two from the fascists, appeared to have been a very devout member of the World Government cult. After WW2, however, the Anglo-Soviet split made all dreams of World Government impossible. I guess we have Stalin to thank for that.
The dreams of World Government shattered, the only feasible alternative was to do try a local implementation in the US-occupied part of Europe. And so we got the EU. European nations were to disappear and integrat into something bigger, so they would stop waging war against each other. Again this was a good idea. War is bad. World War 2 was horrible. But dismantling the nations is easier said than done. By any account, in pure Marxist theory, the Soviet Union should have dismantled all its constituent “nations” and run a purely communist paradise of the workers. And yet what we got was Lenin’s “theory of nationalities” and a hodgepodge of national republics. In fact some backward tribes which could have been easily dissolved had instead Soviet anthropologists and linguists sent to standardize their languages and document their culture. Even abroad, the Soviets didn’t dismantle East European nations, they just occupied them, defanged them, but kept the nations neat and separate.
The thing is, European integration is a very dangerous idea; more dangerous than the original founders perhaps ever thought. In theory the EU was supposed to abolish all legal borders, dissolve national governments and rule the whole continent from a unified government. Ideally all Europeans would speak one language and follow one set of rules. You certainly can’t have a common market if the local bureaucracies can’t communicate with the center, and workers aren’t willing to move to different regions because of language barriers.
But imagine that: a truly unified Europe. I used to like the idea, and that should tell how utterly dangerous it is. For better or worse, the apparatus of modern nations was built by nationalism. It presupposes nationalism. Modern states have unified laws, unified school systems, unified media industries. Modern states, by purpose or by accident, unify the culture of their subjects. Modern states create nations. A unified Europe would create a unified European nation. And what would that European nation be about? What do Europeans have in common? Their biological heritage and their history. That is, the white race and Christianity.
Wow wow, wait a second. The mere thought of a unified Europe of 800 million people, organized around its common bonds of Race and Christianity is… dangerous. It’s dangerous to particular peoples who I will not name to avoid my comments section filling with retards. And it’s dangerous to the whole world, really. The last time Europeans were proud of their race and religion they went on a rampage across the whole world, where not a square mile of territory was left undisturbed. You could say European colonization was good for them; that we brought them civilization. Well, the locals are apt to disagree, and even if it were true, the locals today would rather not have the process repeat itself again. Susan Sontag said the white race is the cancer of human history. A cancer it’s not, the other races are still around. But the white race no doubt was a straight, strong, painful punch in the face for other countries.
And so European integration can’t happen. It can’t work, because we don’t allow Europeans to bond around the only thing they have in common. Instead we feed them a diet of bullshit about how Europeans are bounded by European values of tolerance and human rights. Which doesn’t make any sense. Europeans went along for thousands of years without any appreciation for tolerance and rights for women and minorities. Our very parents weren’t into all this tolerance and rights stuff. Were they bad people?
Any ideology is going to produce winners and losers; if only to the extent that an individual’s nature fits the ideology better or worse. If you’re into the quiet contemplation, any society that gives high status to monks is going to be a good deal for you. If you’re into booze, feasting, fucking and fighting; you’re gonna become very fond of Viking society. If you’re into tea, poetry, war and can’t stand women, you’re probably going to enjoy Islam. Ideally any ideology is going to evolve into a set of memes that give status to productive and upright people who help in the upkeep of civilization, and give low status to harmful people, but not so low they rise in violence.
Europeans today are supposed to base their identity on their tolerance and support of human rights, i.e. their obedience to the latest academic fad. Who wins from this arrangement? People who are by nature into tolerance and obedience to the latest academic fads. Those get to be elite. If you’re not into tolerance and have no inclination to support the latest academic fad no matter how absurd; and you can’t fake it well enough, well you’re not going to be elite. Who’s going to be elite? Women. Phonies. Clintons. Those are doing ok.
But what about men? Normal, average men, who like booze, like fighting, like competition, have no appetite for intellectual bullshit and little ability to fake it? Well modern Europe doesn’t like you. No status for you. And no status doesn’t mean what it used to be. In the old days you could be a brute, despised by the Church and by polite society. But you had your society, you could be a brute peasant with a peasant job and a peasant wife and kids. Not anymore. We don’t have classes now. Peasant women go to the city to try to get into polite society. There are no peasant jobs anymore; and to the extent that they are, they are done by actual Asian peasants in their homelands or in yours.
For the average men it is beyond obvious that Nationalism was a better state of affairs. Yes, you were likely to be sent to Northern France and be killed because your stupid generals had decided you were to be sent as cannon fodder until the enemy machine gun run out of ammo. Which it never did. But still, you had status. You had dignity. You had a society which told you you were awesome; a society where your natural inclination for typical manly stuff: loyalty, bravado, physical exertion, absurd penchant to fight because of stupid differences, were deemed to be noble and sacred virtues.
But not now. A woman uses her natural inclination for nagging her husband to no end; and she’s a great woman exercising her rights and using her intellect. A phony uses his natural inclination to make up some arcane bullshit about human rights; and he’s a great intellectual. A normal person uses his powers of reason to notice something obvious about human nature; and he’s a heartless bigot.
Nationalism evolved as an ideology in the era of mass politics. In those days, power was decided by who could assemble the biggest mob, the biggest army, the biggest electoral coalition. Nationalism was organic marketing. It was a very good sell. Progressivism isn’t a good sell. It was a relatively good sell when World War 2 had killed so many millions that Nationalism didn’t sound such a good idea; and when the economy was growing so much that a life of endless hedonism and pandering to every whim sounded completely feasible. People don’t notice their social status while life is getting better.
But life isn’t getting better any longer. And nobody remembers World War 2. Progressive society is rigged against native men; is it any surprise that they’re turning back to Nationalism? Progressives believed their own lies. They were too slow. The old European nations had to be destroyed before this happened. But they couldn’t pull it off. The EU as this sacred, precious project of order created out of entropy; but the old national states had their own bureaucratic elites, and surprise surprise, they haven’t really surrendered that much power. Most importantly they haven’t surrendered their money. To this day the EU budget is 1% of Europe’s GDP. Yes, EU nations were trolled into joining their currencies into the Euro; but they’ve been haggling between each other ever since about every single issue of economic policy.
The only way to get the Euro to work was for Germany to pay everyone off; make the local bureaucracies of every single country of Europe be better off by taking German’s money that by holding on to their national turf. Pull a Song Dynasty. But stingy Germany wouldn’t do it. Germany couldn’t do it. The German electorate just didn’t want to. And why would they? Germany is perhaps the most anti-nationalist nation in Europe. Kids are taught untold times how evil the German nation has been and how nationalism is the worst thing ever. Holding the national flag is a semi-criminal act.
And for good reason! World War 1 was stupid and it wrecked the whole continent for good. World War 2 was even stupider and it basically wrecked Germany forever. Nationalist spirals are a bad idea and Germany shows it better than anyone else. But you can’t dissolve a nation by telling her so. You have to actually dissolve the nation. And the EU didn’t do that. Germany is still Germany. It has 80 million Germans who speak German and have a common culture. You can tell them that their culture is tolerance and human rights; but it’s not; their culture is the German language and the myriad little German habits that they have in common. And to destroy that you have to stop teaching the German language and physically dissolve the people among others. Like Stalin did when he sent the Koreans and the Chechens to Kazakhstan. Heck, even that didn’t work, as his successors reversed the policy.
Bureaucratic inertia has allowed the European nations to subsist way beyond the expiration date of Progressivism. Progressivism only works when the going is good. Now it isn’t that good anymore, and people can fall back into their good old Nationalism. Yes, Progressives have the state apparatus. They have modern technology that makes preventing and crushing riots much easier than before. They have their massive unproductive schooling apparatus that keeps young people loyal to Progressivism until well in their mid 20s. And they have tens of millions of foreign barbarians in European soil paid to defend the state.
But as I pointed out, those foreign barbarians are a double-edged sword. Yes, they will fight Nationalism. They have nothing to gain from a nativist restoration. But Progressivism isn’t being that good for them either. They came here too late. The economy isn’t good anymore; so all progressivism has to offer them is taking their women and children out of their authority. Given that offer they might as well fall back into their tradition, i.e. Islam. Which is backward, not very fun, and likely to get them killed if they take it seriously; but it at least gives them status as men.
Neoreaction, the alt-right, the manosphere, religious traditionalism; all we have in common is the realization that contemporary society is rigged against the average man; and if men withdraw from society there is no way to maintain civilization. Which is why civilized people do not have children. Why the economy is declining. And why old ideologies are rising back all across the world. China just sent a warship into Japanese waters. Muslims are fighting their enemies across the world. England just voted to leave the European Union. Donald Trump might become the President of the United States.
I’m not into Nationalism myself. I know the history and it’s all pretty stupid. I assume that the smarter Muslims aren’t into Islam that much either. But we’re not given the choice of a perfect thing. Politics is the art of the possible. And all the possible alternatives aren’t looking very good these days. Interesting times ahead.