Monday, 13 December 2010

In Defence Of Nationalism

I should preface this by saying that I do not identify myself as a nationalist, but just as I do not identify myself as a socialist, there are still aspects of socialism that can be useful.

One of the most common criticisms of Nationalism that I hear (and indeed one I used to parrot when I was younger) is that it is an accident of birth which nation one is landed with and therefore it is silly to be proud of something that is a result of pure chance, something that is purely arbitrary. There are various flaws to this argument. First of all it assumes that all nations are identical and indistinguishable. Were nations distinct it would logically follow that taste could be applied and one could favour one nation over another based on genuine preference as opposed to an 'accident of birth'. Someone who thinks this merely has to ask themselves a simple question. Do they recognise that across the world nations are divided by distinct cultures and languages, that the difference between say Americans and Indians is not simply that Americans call themselves by one label and Indians by another, but that there is a distinct culture and heritage shared by each that separates them and the labels and flags created represent rather than define those differences. 

This is not to say that every single individual within the state lines of America or India form one robotic homogenous bloc where they are all identical 'culturally', but that there is a core, a pool from which all members of the nation-state derive from to create a united community. 

If one recognises that they come from and are part of a culture, and that, that culture is distinct from any other culture in the world, then unless one is filled with a self-loathing about who they are, they are most likely a nationalist is some form or another even if not by name. It may be true that it was not a choice which nation they landed in the lottery of life, but the same could be said about one's family or one's child. Just as with our nation we would recognise that our family is unique and distinct from others, but that does not mean one has to hate all other families to love our own. 

Ignoring a lot of the obvious moral relativism that the left exhibits today which clearly plays a role in people's reluctance to call themselves a nationalist, a large part is due to the association with Hitler and the Nazi party. Yes the Nazis were nationalists, and yes a lot of their policies were an expression of their form of nationalism. Just as the Soviet Union was in many parts what could loosely be called 'egalitarian', does that mean people should similarly be tarred with the same brush if they believe in some form of welfare? Of course it doesn't. Nationalism is simply a recognition of what you are, and an admiration for that. Any policies or views that follow from that are subjective and open to discussion. Yes there are nationalists such as Hitler which were very war-minded but there are also the paleo-conservatives in America that are very isolationist. 

One of the ironies of modern multiculturalism is that in attempting to reject the notion of the nation-state and the ideal of conservatism, the left have allied with the conservatives that are not of the indigenous persuasion. For example, it logically follows that mass immigration and multiculturalism will result in an undermining of the initial nation state, but in order for that to work the new migrants must themselves by conservative and make a very proactive effort to retain their heritage. If in Britain you debate a liberal and describe yourself as a conservative who cares about his heritage you will be laughed out of the room as a reactionary, unless you are of a minority status and the liberal will fascinate in hearing about your culture and your heritage. Just so long as it isn't his own.
When Conservatism meets Masochism
Ask a liberal about the melting pot of the world and he will start to rub his hands with glee. Ask him what he thinks of Thai culture and he'll perhaps note the food, or India and he'll mention the religion. But ask him about British, or European or American culture and he'll falter. Our culture is that we have no culture. Our values are that we have no values. Everyone is allowed, indeed encouraged and forced to be a conservative unless you are white and conserving the culture of the land you are in. 

What is the difference between an African migrant in Britain who loves his African heritage and celebrates his African culture and a British citizen who tries to do the same? The latter doesn't fall into the left's vision for 21st Century Britain. 

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