Saturday, February 03, 2018

Lauren Rose: defining the nation

The short video below is well worth watching. Lauren Rose does an excellent job in clarifying what nationalism is and is not:

Lauren makes clear that the term "civic nationalism" does not really make sense. It would be more accurate to call it something like "civicism" or "civic statism" or "the civic values state". However, for the time being I will still use it at times in order to draw a distinction with "ethnic nationalism", which, as Lauren points out, is a redundant term, as the nation and the ethny are the same thing.

One final point. I would love one day to be able to invite intelligent trads like Lauren Rose to tour Australia. Although we have a solid group here in Melbourne, we still need to grow a little to make this a reality. So I encourage interested Melbourne readers to consider supporting the Melbourne Traditionalists - you can visit out website for more information here.


  1. Correct, it would be better to call civic nationalism, "multinationalism" or "plural nationalism".

    While it isn't the best example, the Habsburg Empire existed for many years as a multinational state united by loyalty to the Emperor and the Army.

    Liberals want to emphasize loyalty to the constitutions, or even to Liberalism itself. But where does that leave the traditionalist minority?

  2. Mark, what would your response be to a self-proclaimed Conservative that disagrees with the idea common birth and ethnic identity playing a factor in the nation who then says Conservatism is about protecting the Constitution.

    I ask because for Americans there is some truth to this isn't there? And I wrestle with it occasionally because Constitutionalism seems to go hand-in-hand with "civic nationalism" simply because it expresses ideals and principles as the defining feature of a nation. So, if that's true can trads in America really support the Constitutional Republic? Or should they aim for a better form of government? Just curious.

    1. Lawrence Auster used to often argue that the problem with the American founding is that it made the liberal aspects explicit but left the traditionalist ones implicit.

      But the traditionalist aspects were still there. For instance, the naturalization act limited citizenship to free white persons of good character.

      And in Federalist No.2 (1787) John Jay did make explicit the fact that America had developed along the same lines as other nations:

      With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice, that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people; a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs

      Apart from the black population in the south, if you look at the demographics, then until the late 1800s the overwhelming majority of the population was either of British descent, or at least Western European (German, Irish, Scandinavian etc.).

      Even when I was young, the image I had of America, as an outsider looking in, was of a nation just like my own, with a dominant ethny and a distinct culture and way of life associated with this ethny (though with more regional variation than here in Australia).

      And this is what I thought valuable about America as a nation - not its constitutional arrangements, but its existence as a distinct people. There was a discernible goodness and decency in much of the way of life of this people, and some considerable cultural achievements as well.

      I understand that there is some emotional attachment to the constitution in America. But is it - in an objective sense - something so unique that you would define a nation by it? Don't most Western countries have similar constitutional arrangements as founding documents that outline laws and rights etc.

      It just doesn't seem to compare, to me, to the depth of identity and love of nation, that you have when you belong to a distinct people, as the "Aussies" were when I was growing up - as a closely related group of people, with a shared history going back countless generations, with high trust and a sense of a shared fate to be worked through together. It is difficult to explain, but there was a palpable sense of an Australian "dreaming" that existed when I was a boy - something spiritual and uplifting, an "essence" that closely connected together ancestry and place and way of life - you lived within a very particular and unique realm of existence.

      And today? More and more this enchanted common life is receding, even the life of men and women together is slowly dissolving.

      There are parts of the American constitution that are well worth protecting (e.g. the right to bear arms). But the constitution is not the life of a nation of people.

      I suppose my answer to you is that the key question for trads in America is not "what form of government do I support?", as the key thing to be conserved is not a form of government but the life of a people. You can argue whether or not the Constitutional Republic as it stands helps or hinders this aim, and whether there might be a better form of government or not, but the people do not exist to uphold the form of government - it is the other way around.

    2. The US Constitution is only an artifact. The Supreme Court ruled many of FDR's New Deal programs unconstitutional, and in response FDR threatened to pack the court and force some of the judges into retirement. The Court then changed its opinions and said the New Deal was in accord with the Constitution, mostly to save their own skin.

      Liberals no longer seek to pass amendments to the Constitution, which requires 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the states. Instead it only takes a simple majority of the Senate to confirm a judge.

      Right before he retired, US Appeals court Judge Richard Posner admitted that he didn't base his decisions on the Constitution. This outright treasonous statement didn't register a blip outside of legal circles.

      I don't know much about the Australian Constitution or the Canadian Constitution, but it seems that the Monarchy is your de facto rhetorical equivalent. Most significant is that we are still using the "same" Constitution. Canada produced a new constitution in the 1980s.

      I sense that few Americans want to put strict limits on federal power. I doubt few in the Commonwealth want a Jacobite restoration where the Monarch has powers like the Saudi monarch.

    3. But the constitution is not the life of a nation of people.

      We have a written constitution in Australia but it doesn't, and never did, define our identity. We don't venerate it as a religious icon.

      When I was young there were certain concepts that Australians did see as defining their nation, concepts like "mateship" and "a fair go" but these were not ideological values. In fact they were expressions of a developing cultural identity. That cultural identity was based on ethnic identity but it wasn't quite a mono-ethnic identity. Back in the 60s it became quite fashionable to speak of the core Australian identity as Anglo-Celtic (and with my mixed English-Scottish-Welsh ancestry I'm still quite comfortable with the idea of myself as Anglo-Celtic).

      No Australian would have expected mateship to be enshrined in the constitution! It was considered to be very important but we understood that it was the sort of thing that could not be preserved merely be writing it down.

      It's pretty much a forgotten concept now. It may even be illegal to talk about it these days.

    4. I doubt few in the Commonwealth want a Jacobite restoration where the Monarch has powers like the Saudi monarch.

      I do! Well maybe not with quite those powers but I certainly would love to see a Stuart Restoration. Send the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha usurpers back to Germany!

      I have to be honest that this is very much a minority view. There aren't very many of us Jacobite loyalists left.

      And I would like the monarch to have much greater powers. Seriously. In the long term democracy is not going to survive. It's going to be a choice between bureaucratic tyranny (on the model of the EU), totalitarian dictatorship or a genuine monarchy. I'd rather have a strong monarchy. Of course I'd prefer a separate Australian monarchy, so what I'd really like to see is a Stuart king in Australia while the English can keep the Windsors.

    5. Thank you for your response, Mark. Very well put like always. I completely agree with you. I have for quite some time, as well as with Mr. Auster. In fact, your digital book helped form my political thoughts very much when I was in college (and eventually my talking about it landed a target on my back lol).

      Anyways, I suppose I find it difficult to respond to people when I ask the question "what is it exactly that you're conserving?" and their response is "The Constitution - what else?" Of course, there's obviously more to a nation than a Constitution, but if that's all you're willing to conserve or defend, then I think you're arguably a "Civic nationalist" whose only concern is "My Constitution is worth defending more than your Constitution, and it will provide us all with the means to be happy and prosperous, so join us but do so legally". And I think I've been taught that so long it's sometimes very hard to think otherwise or seriously challenge those that do, even when I know deep down there's more to what makes us American than our common acknowledgement of the Constitution. We're just so deeply conditioned here in the States to focus all our defensive energy on that one thing - anything else is worth criticism of the masses.

  3. [ I'm sending this before reading your just posted comment.]

    What's not to like about Lauren Rose?

    Mark, I can't fathom what you are looking for. I can't understand why you can't settle on an obviously sensible term that by every argument articulated by Lauren Rose, every argument in each of your own entries on this topic, and by what you said yourself on this very page; that nation has only one right meaning, which has given repeatedly; and that any incorrect, misuse of the term, which has repeatedly been described, must be rejected and referred to as what it is, and never as what it clearly is not.

    Nothing that I'm aware of has ever been sliced and diced on these pages as has the term "nation". If anyone is still confused about what a nation is, God help them.

    There is only so much there, there.

    You suggested the perfect term a while back: "civic creed". I'm begging you. Please use it.

    "Creed" is perfect. It's perfect because it clarifies precisely what is meant by those who misuse the oxymoronic "civic nationalism" which has been pummeled into dirt, which clearly, every-which-way from Sunday, makes no sense, because "nation" is opposite of what they mean. They have nothing but disdain for nationhood.

    How many ways can it be said?

    If it is clear to everyone but those who have embraced and adopted the civic creed in every declared defiance of nationalism, that nation, by definition has only its one meaning, and it is the actual reality of nation that they disdain, then who are we "negotiating" with?

    Civic creed is their conceptual counter, their opposition plan to nationhood. A creed is a system or statement of beliefs and principles or propositions, which is exactly how those who reject nationality, nationhood and nation-state describe themselves.

    What else is out there, that seems to be still bothering you?

    1. A major difference between the US and the Commonwealth (can we call it the Empire again?) is the public reverence for the military.

      The military cult provides this cultural myth of unity, even though few Americans volunteer. If you look at Gallup Trust in Institutions poll, the military is the only institution that raised its trust level since the 1970s. When the Democrats and cuckservatives demand amnesty for the DACA Dreamers, they always mention that they are "serving in the military". Out of a population of 3 million, only 900 have enlisted.

      My outsider perspective sees the Commonwealth civic legitimacy as based in welfare statism. What the military is to the US, the NHS is to the UK.

      The state ideology of multiculturalism and sexual liberation are also important. Outside of a college campus, those factors aren't mentioned much in US political rhetoric.

      Returning to the military's role, the data clearly shows that the military votes in much higher percentages for the GOP than the population at large, even among blacks this pattern holds, although not to the point of a majority.

      The military is also made up disproportionately of White Southerners in the officer ranks, rural whites, and particularly of Appalachians. Despite the clear data, the military makes much of its "diversity", even though they can discriminate by use of aptitude tests. Private employers cannot do this thanks to civil rights legislation. So because of this discrimination, and the use of greater surveillance than allowed on civilians, the military is said to "make diversity work".

      Conservatives in the US won't discover a nationalism based in a supermajority white and Christian identity, until they realize that the military serves liberal globalist interests. There are no patriotic reasons to enlist.

      It appears much harder for me to discern a solution for the traditionalists in the Commonwealth. You are a much lower percentage of the population by ideology/religion, though not by race. It might involve building a parallel welfare/education/healthcare apparatus. The Mormons in Utah could be an example, as could Orania in South Africa.

    2. An addendum to my previous comment.

      Despite the rampant racial tensions during that era, many Boomer Vietnam Veterans I have met actually support bringing back conscription. I have heard similar sentiment from those that volunteered in the post-Vietnam era.

      Nothing would degrade the military faster than an avalanche of unwilling draftees with nothing in common other than being used as cannon fodder for an attack on Russia/Iran.

      The US Right's borderline worship of Israel also is important, as many conservatives outsource their natural nationalistic tendencies onto the IDF. Few seem to be aware that the IDF doesn't conscript the Arab minority.

    3. My outsider perspective sees the Commonwealth civic legitimacy as based in welfare statism. What the military is to the US, the NHS is to the UK.

      What is this Commonwealth of which you speak? There used to be a British Empire. It's gone. The Commonwealth was never anything more than a joke, a desperate attempt by the British to pretend that they're still a Great Power.