Ethno-nationalism has been a contentious subject in our neck of the woods as of late. The hardcore white nationalists and the national socialists have been lambasting Neoreaction and claiming that it is controlled by Jews and hates white people, while many neoreactionaries have fired back by claiming that both groups are functionally retarded, incapable of any thought more complicated than “White people good, Jews and Blacks bad”, and are merely a sink for people who think that society went wrong but who lack the brains to figure out what happened and instead gravitate towards ego-stroking safety blankets that reassure them that all their failures and insecurities are nothing more than the evil machinations of the Jews.
To say that there have been some harsh words is a bit of an understatement.
In response to this, many of the more devoted eth-nats have claimed that Neoreaction is not truly ethno-nationalist, and that Neoreactionaries look down upon and despise ethno-nationalism. A common reaction to this by many neoreactionaries is to point to the trichotomy and claim that ethno-nationalism is one of the foundational assumptions of Neoreaction.
I’m not quite going to do that here, because I think there’s something that must be kept in mind: it’s not so much ethno-nationalism that many neoreactionaries have come to despise, but ethno-nationalists.
In other words, it’s not really ideological. It’s personal. It’s totally personal.
That said, do neoreactionaries reject ethno-nationalism? Well, it’s complicated. Ask ten neoreactionaries as to whether whites ought to form some kind of white homeland and you’ll get a lot of hemming and hawing. I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t do the same. If that’s your criterion for whether someone is an ethno-nationalist or not, then most (though not all) of us come up short.
Ask those same neoreactionaries whether you think that white people ought to be allowed to congregate and collectively pursue their own interests, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any neoreactionary who would disagree (those who would hesitate to answer the question would do some more out of an inclination to not get bogged down in racial matters, and to conclude that such a preference stems from a tacit support of “white genocide” is the mark of a feeble intellect who deserves all the disenfranchisement that could be heaped upon them).
So it seems fairly clear that neoreactionaries and pure ethno-nationalists are not talking about the same thing when they use the term “ethno-nationalism”. Nick B. Steves has argued (correctly, in my opinion) that what Neoreactionaries are attempting to describe when they use the “ethno-nationalism” term is not ethno-nationalism per se, but rather a certain “Sense of Us” that encapsulates how people connect with those who are like them. I think this is the right direction to explore.
People like to be around those who are like them. Groups of people who are similar are more likely to have strong asabiyyah. People prefer to be a part of groups that have strong asabiyyah. It is not hard to see how all these tendencies reinforce each other.
This creates an interesting dynamic in regard to the subject of nationalism, because nationalism is an modernist attempt to induce heightened asabiyyah in a target population. It has certainly proved itself to be adaptive over the past few centuries, but there is nothing anti-modernist about being nationalistic.
But what of ethno-nationalism in particular? Ancient nations prized blood to a degree that we do not today (or at least, so is claimed by the eth-nats, though I personally suspect they are more right than wrong here). Is not ethno-nationalism thus highly reactionary?
This is incorrect. Ethno-nationalism is a reactionary impulse rooted in modernist assumptions. It is not reactionary. It is reactionary modernist. There is a difference between those two things.
But ingrained ethnic interests exist, do they not? They exist and are hardwired into all human beings, are they not? I am agnostic on this front, but I suspect that the general affinity of people for those who are ethnically similar stems not from hardwired genetic impulses to help pass on the genetic similarity of your related kins (such similarity fizzles out exponentially and seems to have little impact beyond immediate family), but a calculation that people who look like us are more likely to share our norms and are more likely to act in a way that is beneficial to us.
Whom ought I to trust more: the man who shares my culture or the one who does not? If phenotype is a proxy for cultural similarity, am I not rational in assuming that the man who shares my face is more likely share my values and/or is more likely to be looking out for me than the one who does not?
The harder question is this: should I place greater trust in the man who shares my culture or the man who shares my race? Genetics and culture are surely intertwined, but try to answer the question in the manner that it was given. This is a thought experiment, after all, and I’m not sure that I have an answer. Is that not indicative of something?
So do I love my race? I am not sure how to understand that question. I don’t love it the way I love my family, for example, but I will defend it if it is attacked, though I do so because I recognize that in the treacherous arena of identity politics, an attack on a man’s race, religion, or culture is very much an attack on that man himself.
I suppose that I do have an appreciation for “white history”, for it is filled with daring adventures, grand accomplishments, and beautiful ideas, but were this not the case, I would most certainly not take note of it the way that I do, for blood alone is nothing to be cherished and is meaningless if it has done naught. If I love my race in any form, it is an apprehensive and conditional love indeed.
My respect and appreciation for “my race” is based on what they have done, as well as their culture (to a large degree), and — to whatever degree that it exists —their innate character (to a much smaller degree).
All this puts aside, of course, the simple fact that though the ethno-nationalists exhort me to proclaim that my race is white, my race is not “white”. My race is “Italian”, not white. White is not a thing that is, but a category that encompasses certain things that are. To confuse this category for a thing in the same vein as the things it describes is a categorical error.
So yes, there are several fronts on which I criticize ethno-nationalism. All this said, however, I do think that ethn-nats are correct in stating that as whites become a smaller percentage of the population in many traditionally white countries, they will feel increasingly threatened and will begin to feel a certain “white racial consciousness”. White nationalism is going to become more popular, not among anywhere near a majority of whites, but among a certain minority of them. Of more consequence, however, is the degree to which whites are going to start thinking of themselves as whites and the degree to which they come to believe that ethnic tensions are a major driver of societal trends.
And so, in the end, I cannot help but conclude that it is foolish to disregard the concept of white nationalism entirely, for many of the underlying assumptions will spread and become more prominent. Sure, we can quibble over the theory (which is fairly weak), but it is going to have a certain (if limited) practical utility in the future. It has some potential, and it could make sense if applied as one option among many in a much bigger picture. I’m willing to accept this outcome and I think Neoreaction writ large should at least be open to it as well.
Ethno-nationalism is, like all types of nationalism, not reactionary, but because it is a strain of nationalism, it does have potential utility in the modern world. But, what of other types of nationalism? What of, say, religious nationalism, which is also surely well-positioned to take advantage of certain sentiments that will become common in the future?
I will discuss that another time. There is one type of nationalism that I wish to discuss before I wrap up this post: Aristo-Nationalism.
I fully admit that I need a different (read: better) neologism, but what I am trying to get at is the tendency of the Natural Elite to associate with other members of the Natural Elite.
In many of the Natural Elite, there is an affinity for other elites that crosses all other thede boundaries. It is a fact of human nature that people like to spend time with those who are like them, and those natural elite who are gifted with very high reserves of intelligence, charisma, and ambition define themselves most by those traits and consider their peers to be those who share in them, not those with whom they share a certain religion, race, or culture.
Said persons do not necessarily want to associate with whites or blacks or jews or Asian or Catholics or any of the other categories by which “plebians” take note of, but they do wish to associate with other people of all stripes who are also intelligent and charismatic and ambitious and aristocratic.
Is this temperament influenced by ethno-centrism and theo-centrism and clannishness and a whole host of other factors? Of course, but for many in the Natural Elite, the thede with which they predominantly identify is that of the Natural Elite, not an ethnic-based or religious-based or any other based thede that most people would gravitate towards. If you try to get them to identify with an ethnic-based movement, and not one rooted in personal character and admirable qualities, you’re going to have a bad time.
Bringing all this back to the subject of nationalism, I shall reiterate and clarify certain thoughts. Nationalism is neither reactionary nor traditionalist, but modernist, though this does not mean it is without potential utility. This utility stems from the degree to which nationalism is capable of cultivating asabiyyah and in-group solidarity. Insofar that Neoreaction seeks to grapple with issues of nationalism, we should take great care not to put any particular type of nationalism on a pedestal, but to recognize when applying it is useful in a certain context and when it is not. Neoreaction should have no love for nationalism in and of itself — and should focus instead on better understanding the cultivation of asabiyyah — but it is also a mistake to scorn nationalism entirely and unconditionally, for there are limited circumstances in which nationalism can be used as a means to in order to achieve a higher level of asabiyyah.
I hope further debate on the matter does not fail to bear this in mind.