Friday, 27 January 2017

Hunter Wallace gets it wrong on civic nationalism

Hunter Wallace has lamented about the Left not supporting civic nationalism in practice, as they claim to do in theory, but in doing so, he has missed a vital element of civic nationalism, an agreement of the principles and values which the nation represent.

He writes

I dispute the idea that we all have the same rights and freedoms. Instead, I say we have a Thought Police.
From where I am standing, it looks to me like the Alt-Right community has been denied those rights and freedoms for decades. We are subjected to harassment by our political enemies. We have to put up with employment discrimination. We are routinely denied access to public accommodations like renting hotel conference rooms for political reasons. We are denied the right to assemble. The Left has even recently taken to debating whether or not we should be subjected to vigilante violence in the streets.
This is partly true, the regressive left does engage in the use of coercion in order to maintain their 'no platform' stance.  However, civic nationalism requires coercion in order for people to abide by the principles of the nation.  In this case, the Alt-Right, at least until Trumps election, didn't represent what America, as a civic nation, stood for.


Let us dispense with the fanciful idea that there are mobs of Klansmen and Neo-Nazis hundreds, if not thousands strong, who are shutting down free speech on college campuses, blocking interstates, disrupting conferences or rioting in our major cities. This boogeyman simply does not exist. It is the Left that refuses to tolerate, say, a Ben Shapiro or a MILO speaking on a college campus. This is a problem which doesn’t simply affect the Alt-Right community. There are mainstream conservatives who are employed all over the country, particularly in academia, who are terrified of expressing their political views.

Mainstream conservatives are too busy cashing their paychecks to worry about being "terrified" of expressing their views.  If mainstream conservatives in Australia are any indication, they only worry about crossing an arbitrary line they may not be aware of.  Mainstream "respectable" Conservatives represent the establishment, and they would prefer not to upset it.

Civic nationalism is a failure because half of the “mainstream” has already rejected it. It is ironic that we are the ones who are being condemned as being beyond the pale for illiberalism. I’ve never assaulted anyone for political reasons, rioted, spit on or thrown garbage at anyone, broken the law, cried and demanded the censorship of the media, campaigned to get someone fired from their job, harassed a hotel hosting a leftwing conference, viciously slandered a police officer doing his job, conspired to harm others or deny them their constitutional rights or disturbed the peace of my community and the world.

The bolded statement simply isn't true.  It is based on an incorrect assumption that a vote for Trump was a vote for civic nationalism, or against the "mainstream".  Firstly, it is half of the people who voted, who voted for Trump, which is well below half the population.  Secondly, it assumes that voters for Trump had the same civic and ideological concerns as the Alt-Right, a belief which has no basis on observable reality at all.  Republicans got roughly half of the votes every election when they ran establishment candidates.  Based on this history, you would expect about half to vote Republican by default, as a matter of historical trend.  Of those who did vote this time around, how many were Alt-Right, rejecting civic nationalism?

Perhaps there is some scepticism about Trump because if his cabinet appointments, but I argue that Trump wasn't the big anti-establishment victory that people thought it would be.  He may reduce immigration and control the flow of illegals (which is a positive) but it remains to be see whether any serious economic change is going to occur in the USA.

Civic Nationalism though isn't merely people sharing citizenship, and Hunter is suggesting it is.  Civic Nationalism is about shared values, its about adherence to the values and system which the nation operates under.  Civic Nationalism requires people adopt these principles, and therefore it can't ever be free ideologically.  As long as the nation serves an idea, a system, a government, a state, the monarchs, a religion or an establishing ruling class, it cannot be free and cannot tolerate dissent to the point where it threatens it reason for existing.  This is what Hunter is actually lamenting, that the USA today, as built for the interests of the ruling elite, finds many of the Alt-Right ideas hostile to its reason for being.  It doesn't help of course that the Alt-Right engage in deliberate button pushing and trolling, which just invites resentment.

What he sees as a failure of Civic Nationalism, is actually how Civic Nationalism is forced to function to sustain itself.

It is for this reason that I support a truer form of Nationalism, a people oriented Nationalism.  A nation which exists for a people, not just people in general, but a people, can afford greater intellectual freedom as long as the state apparatus refrains for claiming to be a representative of the people (i.e., Nazi Germany).   A Nation State based on serving an identifiable group can adopt any values or system, but regardless of how its values change and progress, it still serves the same people.  It not longer is a matter of whether one is "Australian" due to their religion, their economic beliefs, their thoughts about the monarchy, or our involvement in World Wars, but one is Australia by default by belonging to the Australian people.

The first and foremost purpose of any nation state must be the welfare of that nation that the state represents.  Let us debate and argue as to which system is best, which policies best serve our interests

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