why nationalism has no electoral appeal

I’ve been having an intriguing debate on immigration with a Finn at Unz Review. He was crowing over the magnificent success of the anti-immigration party in the recent Finnish election. That party got a massive 17.5% of the vote. I tried to gently point out that since all the other parties are rabidly pro-immigration that result actually means that 82.5% of Finns voted in effect for pro-immigration policies. He tried to counter that by arguing that a recent survey showed that 74% of Finns opposed immigration. My reply was that such a survey isn’t very comforting when 82.5% of Finns proceeded to vote for parties with explicitly pro-immigration policies.

This all seems consistent with the situation in other countries. Polls show that people do not want immigration but they still vote for parties that they know are in favour of massive immigration.

So what is the answer to this mystery? Why is it that nationalist and anti-immigration parties just don’t attract the level of electoral support that would be expected?

I can suggest a few possible explanations.

Firstly, opinion polls and surveys are not especially reliable when it comes to social attitudes. Results can vary enormously depending on how questions are phrased. Opinion polls can be manipulated to provide particular results. The problem with this explanation is that you would expect opinion polls to underestimate support for immigration restrictionism.

Secondly, it may be that these parties are remarkably poor at selling their message. That sounds plausible but can we really believe that all these parties are incompetent when it comes to selling themselves?

Thirdly, it may be that many of the leaders of anti-immigration parties rub people up the wrong way – they seem autistic or weird, or more to the point they can easily be portrayed by the media as autistic and weird and socially undesirable.

Fourthly, it may be that while a very large number of people are anti-immigration it’s not really a very important issue for most of them. When it comes to voting they’re more interested in bread-and-butter issues. They’re more interested in voting for the party that will put the most money in their pockets right now. That’s much more important than the future of our society.

Fifthly, it may be that nationalist and anti-immigration parties are too much associated in the public mind with ideas that are so deeply unpopular and socially unacceptable that any party even vaguely linked with such ideas will fail to win votes. I’m talking about ideas such as HBD (human biodiversity) which its proponents claim to be a scientifically proven recognition of inherited differences (particularly in intelligence) between races. The problem with stuff like HBD is that firstly the science behind them is very very dubious and secondly there is no way you can avoid having such ideas labelled as white supremacism or Nazi science. So you end up with nationalist/anti-immigration parties being tainted with racism and that’s going to scare off 80% of your potential voters.

Sixthly, such parties can come across as being very negative. Concentrating too much on what you’re against without articulating what you’re for is a major political mistake.

I’m inclined to think that the fourth, fifth and sixth explanations are by far the most likely. So what is the answer to this problem? Obviously nationalist parties have to offer a lot more than anti-immigration rhetoric. They have to offer an economic alternative to globalism. They have to offer hope and inspiration. They have to get people excited about the possibility of having a future again. They have to be wary of obvious vote-losing stuff like HBD.

Whether any of this would actually work, whether nationalist parties would ever be allowed to govern, is another matter. It’s possible that even if they won they’d be targeted for destruction by the United States. I’m not even sure it would necessarily be a good thing if they won – I have expressed my reservations about nationalism in other posts. I’m simply pointing out why the current strategies of nationalists seem doomed to failure.

And it is worth pointing out that one of the reasons nationalists and other dissidents are such easy targets is that they have no real base of popular support.

two cheers for nationalism

I despise globalism and all its works, which should logically put me in the nationalist camp. Which it does, up to a point. The trouble is that I have certain reservations about nationalism.

For one thing, nationalism is a liberal concept.

My main reservation about nationalism is that it has tended to erase regional identities. Regional identities have been fading under the relentless assaults of liberalism, nationalism and modernism for a couple of centuries now. Traces of such identities still survived until quite recently. I can recall stating in a bed-and-breakfast in Cornwall in the early 80s and making the mistake of referring to the landlady as an Englishwoman. She indignantly informed me that, “We’re nothing to do with the English here.” I must confess that I thought that was rather wonderful.

But nationalists have had little time for such regional identities. The aim of French nationalism was to turn Gascons and Bretons into generic Frenchmen. The aim of German nationalism was to turn Bavarians and Swabians into generic Germans. The aim of Italian nationalism was to turn Lombards and Sicilians into generic Italians. The aim of British nationalism was to turn Yorkshiremen and Cornishmen and Welshmen into generic Britons.

I’m not comfortable with any of that. I’m a multiculturalist. That’s why I dislike multiculturalism so much – in practice it seeks to destroy diversity and to replace multiple cultures with a single global culture. I like the idea of a world with countless different cultures.

I also prefer the idea of ties of loyalty that grow naturally, such as loyalty to family, or to a local community bonded together by a common faith, language and customs. I consider loyalty to a king to be a natural loyalty as well, or at least it was in the days when we still had actual kings. I’m not overly keen on the idea of loyalty to a government.

And nationalism can all too easily become loyalty to the state rather than the nation. Even worse (as in the case of French nationalism and American nationalism) it can become loyalty to an ideology.

If I have to choose between nationalism and globalism I’ll choose nationalism, but without any great enthusiasm.

what does western civilisation actually mean?

Those who value tradition and traditional values and morality often talk about western civilisation. I talk about it all the time. But what does western civilisation actually mean?

It is often assumed that western civilisation began with classical Greece and Rome. This is simply not so. There have in fact been at least three completely different western civilisations, with very little in common.

It is often not appreciated just how profoundly alien the classical civilisation was. This was a world in which religion was largely a matter of ritual. If you failed to perform the rituals correctly the gods would be angry and really bad stuff would happen. If you performed the rituals correctly there was a chance that the gods would be content and would leave you alone. That was about as much as you could expect from the gods.

The idea that religion and morality were intimately connected did not exist. The gods were amoral, selfish, violent and lustful. It’s not that there was no concept of morality. It’s more that morality was a civic virtue. Morality was necessary because without it society would collapse. The gods simply didn’t care, as long as you offered them the correct sacrifices. Morality was not a religious duty, it was merely useful.

The idea that foreign policy had some connection with morality would have been dismissed as an absurdity. Foreign policy was about power. The Athenians, so worshipped by admirers of classical civilisation, were particularly cynical. Wars were fought for purely materialistic reasons. Alexander the Great did not invade the Persian Empire because the Persians were wicked or immoral or uncivilised. He invaded because the Persian Empire was weak and would offer easy pickings. The Roman Empire conquered anybody it was capable of conquering because it was in Rome’s interest. The business of Rome was imperialism.

By the time that the classical civilisation was reaching its peak philosophers were abandoning the traditional pagan religion but mostly what they offered in its place was a vague pantheism, or even outright atheism. The classical civilisation was conquered by Christianity because it had nothing satisfying to offer people.

When the classical civilisation collapsed in the West it collapsed totally. It was replaced by an entirely new civilisation. Medieval civilisation had nothing in common with classical civilisation. It offered a whole new approach to religion. Religion and morality were now intertwined. Morality became a religious duty. Ritual became relatively unimportant. It survived, but mostly as symbolism.

Kings were now expected to be concerned by things other than power. Being human they were of course still very interested in power. The medievals would have been the first to admit that they often fell short of their ideals. But ideals were still important and they were religious ideals. The king was king by the Grace of God.

Nationalism did not exist. The loyalties that mattered were loyalty to the king, and to the Church.

The Reformation utterly destroyed medieval civilisation. A new civilisation arose in its place, a civilisation that has almost nothing in common with medieval civilisation.

Religion appeared to remain important for a century and a half but it was mostly an illusion. The new civilisation was right from the start well on the way towards being a post-Christian civilisation. The idea that religion was a matter of individual conscience rapidly took hold. What a man believed was his own business. Freedom of religion became a popular idea. In practice of course freedom of religion means freedom from religion. By the 18th century Christianity had ceased to be a factor in national policy, except insofar as national policy was directed toward explicitly anti-Christian objectives (such as state control of education). Once that happened the decline of Christianity was irreversible.

Liberalism became the new religion. Liberalism and capitalism made short work of what remained of Christian morality.

Nationalism appeared. Nationalism is a liberal concept. Nationalism is essentially worship of the state. The two competing religious values were now money and freedom. Freedom of course meant the freedom to pursue money and pleasure. Society as an organic entity gave way to the state and the corporation.

It needs to be clearly understood that this is a civilisation that differs profoundly from earlier western civilisations. It is inherently materialistic and atheistic. Morality is now defined as social conformity.

Whether you think this liberal conception of western civilisation is worth saving is up to you.

patriotism and conflicting loyalties

These days words have a way of changing their meaning to suit the politics of the speaker. We need to know exactly what we mean by a particular word as used in a particular argument.

Nationalism and patriotism are words thrown about by liberals, by conservatives and by traditionalists. To liberals nationalism is just another generic insult – calling someone a nationalist is like calling him a fascist. Conservatives (who are merely right-leaning liberals) sometimes try to distinguish between nationalism (which is evil and basically nazi) and patriotism (which is good and honourable).

Nationalism gained a bad reputation because it was responsible for the horrors of the two world wars. Of course those wars actually had more to do with clashes between competing empires than nationalism but a scapegoat had to be found and once nationalism was cast in that rôle it was always going to be pretty much impossible to rehabilitate the concept.

The problem is that even if patriotism is possibly a good thing it’s not so easy to define. OK, it’s love of one’s country, but what does that mean? What does it mean if you live in an artificial country like Belgium, or Canada, or the United States? Or Australia? If you’re an Australian of entirely British stock should your patriotic feelings be directed towards Australia or Britain? And if you’re lucky enough to live in a nation of immigrants what exactly is the nature of any patriotic feelings those immigrants might feel?

Tony Abbott used to waffle on about Team Australia. Apparently to a modern conservative patriotism is a bit like choosing which football team you support.

Americans often go on about the proposition nation idea but the first problem with that is that the original proposition has now changed radically. If the proposition can keep changing then the nation has no actual existence, no actual identity. It’s just a temporary political allegiance. Politicians have also been known to resort to the shared values argument, the problem there being that there is no evidence that these shared values actually exist. The shared values are imaginary items manufactured by opinion polling.

There’s also the question of distinguishing between loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the regime (there used to be another option, loyalty to the monarch, but there are no monarchies any more). The French are rather big on the idea of loyalty to the ideals of Republicanism which it seems to me is putting loyalty to regime and to ideology before loyalty to the nation.

Even assuming that we should put loyalty to the nation before loyalty to regime or ideology  there is the question of whether an evil regime should cancel our loyalty to the nation. Were those Germans (clearly the majority) who remained loyal to Germany even under the Nazis right to do so? Can we justify treason to the nation because we don’t like the regime? Many traitors do in fact believe, quite sincerely, that loyalty to their principles overrides loyalty to their country. I think it’s probably fair to assume that Kim Philby believed he was doing the right and honourable thing by putting his loyalty to communism ahead of his loyalty to Britain. I am not certainly not suggesting that he was right, but I do think that he felt that he was right.

And given the fact that today in the West we live under a corrupt, degenerate hostile regime do our patriotic feelings towards our nations compel us to serve such an evil regime?

I’m not claiming that I have the answers to these questions. But the questions do worry me.

why white nationalism is a non-starter

Among the various groups who comprise the motley crew of political dissidence in the modern West the most notorious are the white nationalists. Their dream is of white ethnostates. There are many reasons why this notion is, perhaps unfortunately, totally fanciful and it’s worth looking at a few of them in detail.

First off white nationalists tend to blame immigrants for all their woes. It’s all the fault of the Mexicans or the Somalians or the Muslims or whatever. White nationalists often seem to have trouble comprehending that these immigrants are not invaders. They have not fought their way through our heavily fortified defences nor have they defeated our armies in the field. They have been brought here by our own leaders. They are here because our political leaders, business leaders, our media and our church leaders have decided that they should be here. In other words the fault lies with our own elites.

The second problem is that white nationalists do not understand how elites function and maintain themselves in power, and they do not comprehend the make-up of the alliances that keep allow elites to maintain their power.

The elites are predominantly white but they have zero white identity. Their entire identity is bound up with membership of the elites. For the elites class trumps race or ethnicity.

The elites are by definition a small group and to remain in power they need loyal servants. In the case of contemporary western globalist elites they get support from two sources, the Coalition of the Fringes and the wannabe elites. The Coalition of the Fringes is a term coined by Steve Sailer to describe the alliance of victim groups who provide the elites with the votes needed to maintain power whilst  retaining the appearance of democracy. Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, the LGBT-whatever crowd, etc.

Since these groups seem to have few apparent interests in common how is the Coalition of the Fringes held together? Blogger Spandrell explains it with his theory of bioleninism. These groups are entirely dependent on the existing power structures. Without those power structures they’d have zero status and no money. They are loyal because they have no choice. They have nowhere else to go.

The key to Spandrell’s theory is that the elites don’t care that these followers are often of very limited competence if not entirely incompetent. What the elites want is not competence but loyalty. The absolute loyalty of people who have no other options.

Many of these people are white. The LGBT-whatever crowd are still mostly (although not entirely) white. They are white but they have no white identity. They identify as LGBT-whatever. The extremist feminists who live off the government and make up another part of the Coalition of the Fringes are still mostly (although not entirely) white. They are white but they have no white identity. They identify as feminists.

As well as the Coalition of the Fringes there are the wannabe elites. Academics, schoolteachers, bureaucrats, senior military officers, low-level media types etc. They are also entirely dependent on the existing power structures. Without those power structures they’d be without status and money. These groups are mainly white but again with zero white identity. They have thrown in their lot with the elites. They adopt what they perceive to be the values of the elites.

So even if by some magical process all the non-whites could be made to disappear you still would not have the utopian white paradise that white nationalists dream about. The white elites would not suddenly discover a sense of solidarity with working class and rural whites. The white elites would continue to hate and despise and fear the non-elite whites and the non-elite whites would continue to hate the elite whites. And you’d still have a society that reflected the values of the elites. You’d still have a decadent degenerate society of atomised individuals with no sense of common purpose.

White nationalists for the most part are so focused on race (and on Jewish conspiracies) that they fail to understand any of this. They fail to understand that their fantasy really is a fantasy. One of the few ho does get it is James Lawrence. His essay Contra Cosmopolitanism is very much worth reading.

Don’t get me wrong. I do sympathise with some of the aims of white nationalists and I do think ethnostates are generally preferable to multicultural states. And I would certainly love to see an end to immigration. I just don’t think the idea of white nationalism based on white racial solidarity is workable.

Meanwhile white nationalists frighten off the normies and make it difficult for any reality-based dissident movement to gain traction.

disappointment in Sweden

The Swedish election is another disappointing result for nationalists. The Sweden Democrats seem to have gained around 17-18% of the vote. They have made gains but 17-18% is still a miserable result.

There just isn’t really any actual nationalist groundswell in western Europe. Any party that is identified primarily as a nationalist/anti-immigration party is going to see its support max out around the 15-20% mark, which means permanent political irrelevance.

Of course when there are other factors in play, such as establishment parties that have become so corrupt that the stench can no longer be disguised, then things can change. Outsider parties then have a chance. But nationalism and an anti-immigration stance are simply not going to win you an election.

People are stupid and they are short-sighted and they are selfish and they will happily vote for civilisation-destroying policies as long as they think that they personally have enough money to be sheltered from the results. Appealing to a love of one’s country or a loyalty to one’s culture or a concern for the future just doesn’t work. In a capitalist/consumerist society people just don’t care about that stuff.

This is why I believe that nationalism and anti-immigrationism have a better chance if they’re combined with some policies that ordinary people actually do want. Maybe offer people not just decently paid jobs but jobs with a future. Housing they might actually be able to afford. Genuine security for their old age. Maybe take on the predatory mega-corporations that increasingly wield not only unlimited economic power but unlimited political power.

You know, offer people the sorts of things that mainstream moderate left parties used to offer. It’s just a thought.

the problem of Britain, the problem of nationalism

The western world as a whole is in a state of crisis but while things are bad everywhere they seem to be particularly bad in Britain.

All western countries today have problems with their elites but Britain is unique in having elites that are not merely treacherous and corrupt but motivated by seething hatred of their own society, their own culture, their own heritage. Britain’s rulers, its political establishment, its elites, are united in one thing – they all believe that they have a duty to hate Britain.

This hatred seems to have permeated the whole nation. Quaint old-fashioned beliefs, like believing in a duty to love your own country, are virtually unknown.

Even Britain’s “far right” “nationalists” don’t seem to love Britain. Their loyalties seem dubious at best. They might hate immigrants, and some immigrant groups in particular, but that’s not really enough of a basis on which to build actual nationalism. To build a genuine powerful populist nationalist movement you have to have something a lot more positive to offer. Opposing immigration and multiculturalism certainly can be, indeed must be, vital parts of such a nationalist movement but they are not enough. You need to capture people’s imaginations. You need to give people something worth sacrificing for, because people want something that is worth sacrificing for.

There is no sign of this kind of positive nationalism in Britain. Even Brexit was essentially a negative thing. Brexit was important and worthwhile but it wasn’t accompanied by any real enthusiasm for a new positive direction.

Why don’t Britons love Britain?

I’m inclined to think that at least part of it was the shock of losing the Empire and being reduced to the status of an American vassal. The whole idea of British-ness suddenly became pathetic. Britannia no longer ruled the waves. The sun had well and truly set on the British Empire. Britain’s last attempt at an independent foreign policy in the Suez affair ended in humiliation at the hands of the U.S. and Britain thereafter accepted its rôle as Washington’s lapdog. If you were a member of the British ruling class it must have seemed that there was simply nothing left worth ruling over.

There’s an interesting awareness of this in one of John le Carré’s best-known spy thrillers. The British spy who has sold out to the Soviets is not motivated by personal greed and he’s certainly not motivated by any belief in communism. During World War 2 he realised that Britain was becoming an American puppet state and he decided that by serving Britain he was really serving the United States, and he decided that he’d rather serve the Soviets than the Americans. I found that motivation to be oddly plausible.

The British ruling class may have developed an ambivalent attitude towards their new American masters, a mixture of fawning admiration and bitter resentment. And therefore an ambivalent attitude themselves, despising themselves for their servile obedience to Washington and perhaps dealing with this by despising their own country for being so weak. British nationalism seemed to be a futile waste of time.

It may also have affected the ruling class’s attitude towards the working class. The British ruling class always hated and feared the working class but at least in the days of Empire they felt that the poor served a purpose. The Empire always needed cannon fodder. Without the Empire the working class seemed to be a useless menace.

I don’t claim to have definitive answers but I do think we need to ask ourselves why our elites became so hostile, and why the British elites took that hostility to their own nation to such extremes.

British nationalism and Israel

While it’s nice to see expressions of nationalism among the Europeans and even the Britons there’s one thing that worries me a little. That’s the possibility that European nationalism is being manipulated by the Israel lobby for its own purposes.

This seems to be a particular problem in Britain where British nationalists appear to be disturbingly pro-Israel.

This is disturbing for several reasons. Firstly, Israel’s interests are most certainly not the same as Britain’s interests. In fact in many ways Israel’s interests are totally incompatible with the interests of European peoples. A very large part of the immigration problem facing Europe today is a direct result of Israel’s pursuit of its foreign policy objectives of destabilising any Middle East regime of which it disapproves. We need to remember that nationalism has a different meaning for Israel. For Israel nationalism means keeping Muslims and Christians out of Israel. The fate of Europe is a matter of complete indifference.

It’s also disturbing because it raises the question of money. Is Israel actually financing some British nationalists?

It’s also disturbing that some British free speech advocates seem to be quite OK with the suppression of any speech that is even mildly critical of Israel. The rabidly pro-Israel Katie Hopkins comes to mind.

The idea of so-called British nationalists who put Israel’s interests ahead of Britain’s is rather worrying.

nationalism, regionalism and localism

There are many reasons why nationalism went out of fashion in the latter part of the 20th century. One of the reasons, not usually considered, is that nationalism is in fact rather artificial. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that nationalism in practice has often been rather artificial.
The boundaries of most nation states as they exist today reflect historical accidents, military conquest, the whims of statesmen and the vagaries of long-ago dynastic politics. Most nation states are not organic ethnostates. Some European nations are true ethnostates. Poland for example, although that’s largely the result of some brutal ethnic cleansing after the Second World War. More typical are countries like Switzerland, Belgium and the United Kingdom – different and not always compatible ethnicities forced together for reasons that may have made sense centuries ago. The Swiss had their reasons and due to their federal system their country has succeeded. The United Kingdom has been less happy. The Welsh, the Cornish, the Irish and the Scots were all incorporated, very unwillingly, into an English-dominated state. As for Belgium, no-one really remembers why anybody thought Belgium was a good idea.
Even nations like Germany and Italy were (before they chose to commit suicide) not quite the straightforward ethnostates they seemed to be. To make those countries work strong regional identities had to be crushed. Prior to unification Germans had a sense of German-ness but Bavarians also had a sense of Bavarian-ness and Swabians had a sense of Swabian-ness. Northern and southern Italians retain some degree of regional identity, hence the push for independence for northern Italy.
The strongest ties of identity that we have tend to be local. Regional ties can be strong also. National ties can be more problematic. If a nation isn’t an ethnostate then there’s nothing really substantial to unite the population. Attempts to construct nationalism on the basis of “shared values” or “civic nationalism” have been dismal failures. There aren’t any shared values any more, and there never were.
It’s a particular problem for artificial nations like Australia, Canada and the United States. Australia really has no sense of national identity at all. One was perhaps starting to emerge in the first half of the 20th century but the tidal wave of American culture that engulfed us after the Second World War put an end to that. We don’t have regional identities either. The US does seem at one time to have had strong regional identities but they have been fairly relentlessly crushed by the monolithic trash culture of Hollywood, social media and pop music.
Nationalism is certainly preferable to globalism, but perhaps it’s not a complete answer. Whether regionalism or localism would be any more successful in resisting globalism is of course another matter.

nationalism and the myth of nation states

I spoke about nationalism in my previous post. I want to say a bit more on the subject. What I have to say is unpalatable but it needs to be said.
Nationalism is no longer a viable proposition because generally speaking nation states as they existed between the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 and 1945 no longer exist.
A nation state is a political entity that is capable of asserting its independence. This requires both the military capacity and the political willingness to do so. According to this criterion the only independent nation states that exist in today’s world are the United States, Russia, China and (possibly) India.
The idea that any other country has this capability is pure fantasy. 
Let us assume that Italy, or Japan, or Brazil, or France or Britain decided that as a matter of national survival they needed to wage war against some other state. Could they do so? The answer of course is that they could not. They would need to ask the United States for permission to do so. It is unthinkable that any of these countries could fight a war, even a war for national survival, without first seeking Washington’s approval and then seeking US aid. In other words not one of these countries is a true nation state. They are mere vassal states.
In 1982 Britain was only with great difficulty able to defeat a Third World nation, Argentina. It was a near run thing and Britain won because from Argentina’s point of view it was not a war for survival and it was therefore not worth making it a fight to the finish. If Britain faced the same situation today she would have to abandon the Falklands. Britain also no longer has its own nuclear deterrent. Britain’s Trident missiles belong to the United States. The recent controversy over whether Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister would or would not use nuclear weapons was irrelevant, No British prime minister could use nuclear weapons without Washington’s permission. The Trident missiles allow Britain to indulge in the fantasy that Britain is a great power. In fact Britain is not even a proper nation state, merely an American vassal.
The Second World War marked the end of the nation state system. It marked the end of European nation states. Western Europe became part of the American Empire. The EU is merely a means by which that empire can be controlled more easily and more conveniently.
The problem of nationalism today is how can you have nationalism without nation states that are in control of their own destinies?