Your reaction to the title is telling….I will get to this shortly.
I am going on a bit of a Jeffrey Tucker run. I came across his article on the event in Charlottesville (which I covered here), which then led me to some other recent work of his.
Tucker asks: Do You Know What a Nation Is? Of course, being a reasonably subjective concept, I think there will never be a precise answer. Tucker still goes looking for one. He wrote this on the occasion of the recent July 4 anniversary. This reason I mention this will be apparent shortly.
Tucker outlines five theories of “nation,” taken from an 1882 essay by “the great French historian Ernst Renan”:
· Dynasty: begins with family and tribe, kin – becoming king. Marriages, wars, treaties and alliances.
· Religion: a common faith.
· Race: biological characteristics.
Tucker dismisses them all. I am not kidding. While the idea of nation is certainly subjective, we at least know some of the variables that define it. Each of the five listed above, to varying degrees, can – and has and still does – play a role.
Can we identify any single factor to account for people’s sense of attachment to a political community?
This is a question designed to dismiss all of the ways by which “nation” is to be found. Of course the answer is “no.” Only a simpleton would think in this manner. Tucker is no simpleton; therefore it seems he believes his audience is made up of simpletons.
Tucker holds each of these five to an impossible standard. He is looking for one single characteristic that will explain this most complex social relationship. Can’t be done.
But he does!
In Renan’s view, nationhood is a spiritual principle, a reflection of the affections we feel toward some kind of political community – its ideals, its past, its achievements, and its future. Where your heart is, there is your nation.
But somehow, family, religion, race, language and geography can play no role?
So, what does Tucker describe as the ideal “nation” scenario?
This is why so many of us can feel genuine feelings of joy and even belongingness during July 4th celebrations.
One of the most war-mongering, state-worshipping holidays (yes, a holy day); this is Tucker’s ideal.
It is all about affections of the heart, which appear without compulsion and exist prior to and far beyond any loyalties to a particular dynasty, regime, or anything else.
This could have been written at the National Review.
I have seen these affections of the heart – at every sports event, every holiday celebration. There is nothing of peace or freedom to be found in these. The most massive, coercive government ever known in the west that has indoctrinated its citizens from youth through adulthood; this group of people has come to this feeling “without compulsion”?
You cannot replace something with nothing. Tucker finds nation in something other than family, religion, race, language or geography; in other words, something outside of a common culture. This is the work of Antonio Gramsci and of the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxists that followed him.
What will replace this common culture? Tucker believes this will be replaced by “feelings of joy” and “affections of the heart.”
Folly. Destroy a culture and you get tyranny. If the 20th century didn’t teach Tucker this, let’s just say that the non-compulsive compulsive state education and propaganda machine did its work well on him.
You cannot replace something with nothing. All Tucker is left with is state worship.
He says so himself. On the fourth of July.
Ernst Renan gave a lecture in 1882: What is a Nation? Some interesting quotes:
Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor... A race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race.
Interesting, for someone who, according to Tucker, believes race plays no role in nation.
Some other quotes:
Communism is in conflict with human nature.
Tell that to the left.
All history is incomprehensible without Christ.
While Renan’s views on Christ differ from mine, nonetheless I agree fully with this statement.
But…religion has nothing to do with nation.