July 13, 2019


The Neo-Nationalists Are Coming to Town (GABRIEL SCHOENFELD  JULY 12, 2019, The Bulwark)

"You know, they have a word," said Donald Trump at one of his rallies last year, "it's sort of became old-fashioned--it's called a 'nationalist.' And I say, really, we're not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I'm a nationalist, okay? I'm a nationalist. Nationalist. Nothing wrong. Use that word. Use that word."

The word is being used. Nationalism of a certain "old-fashioned" and nasty sort is making a comeback here in the United States and around the world. Inextricably associated with the most destructive war in human history, it has long been looked at askance by thinking people who remember the bloodshed it unleashed. But now, in an era in which liberal democracies and the very idea of liberal democracy are under assault, the taboo surrounding nationalism is being stripped away.

Starting Sunday, Washington will be home to a three-day gathering for those "who understand that the past and future of conservatism," according to the conference website, "are inextricably tied to the idea of the nation." [...]

Along with Bolton, giving one of the keynote addresses is none other than Tucker Carlson of Fox News, who regularly dabbles in nationalism's unwholesome side.

Authoritarianism? "You've got to be honest about what it means to lead a country, it means killing people," said Carlson, speaking to Fox & Friends about Trump's meeting with North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un.

Demonization? To Carlson immigration is something that "makes our own country poor and dirtier and more divided." Or as he said on another occasion, "I actually hate litter which is why I'm so against illegal immigration."

Bigotry? This is the same Tucker Carlson who has called Iraqis: "semiliterate primitive monkeys." 

In this ugliness, Carlson is not alone. Another featured speaker, Michael Anton, formerly of the Trump administration's national security council and author of the notorious "Flight 93 Election" essay, warns that "a republic that opens its doors to immigrants must choose carefully whom and how many to accept." He cautions darkly against "the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty." The racialist tenor of such statements is as transparent as Donald Trump's comments about the "very fine people" among the white supremacists carrying tiki torches as they marched in Charlottesville.

According to Yoram Hazony, the Israeli-American student of political philosophy who is the principal organizer of the conference, liberal principles, "have brought us to a dead end." He lumps "universal liberalism" together with Marxism and Nazism as a potentially "genocidal" ideology that fuels "the desire for imperial conquest." In liberalism's stead, he is a proponent of what he calls "conservative democracy." He favors a tradition in which, among other things, the state "upholds and honors the biblical God and religious practices common to the nation." In other words, in the American context, he would bid farewell to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Hazony opposes liberal democracy root and branch and also the very idea of a pluralistic society. "The overwhelming dominance of a single cohesive nationality," he writes, "is in fact the only basis for domestic peace within a free state." He approvingly quotes Johann Gottfried Herder, the 18th-century father of German nationalism, who warns against "the wild mixing of races and nationalities under one scepter."

Posted by at July 13, 2019 4:42 AM