Review: Yaram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism, 2018

Grant Jones's picture
Submitted by Grant Jones on Tue, 2018-09-18 01:20

Yoram Hazony makes the case that anti-nationalism is objectively anti-Semitism. He is the president of the Jerusalem based Herzl Institute. He makes clear in this book that Zionism is Jewish nationalism, which he completely supports.

He demonstrates much more in this masterful work that needs the widest possible dissemination. The Virtue of Nationalism's thesis is much broader than the nature of the Jewish State. It's an in-depth look at the theory, nature and history of the national state and why it's the best form of political order known to man. The author's conceptual framework begins by making the vital distinction between forms of government and forms of polities:

"When these question [on community cohesion] are taken into account, we see that political philosophy is naturally divided into two subjects, one more fundamental than the other. One subject is the philosophy of government, which seeks to determine the best form of government, given the existence of a state with a high degree of internal unity and independence. Prior to this is the philosophy of political order; which seeks to understand the causes of political order and on the basis of this understanding, to determine what are the different forms of political order available to us and which of them is best." (p. 59)

Hazony observes that for various reasons, there is little discussion on the nature of political order, what makes it possible and what form of polity is most desirable. This issue goes to the heart of his argument. He presents a compelling case that the nation-state is the largest form of polity that allows for genuine social cohesion and for civil society to flourish.

Hazony contrasts the nation-state with the other two most prevalent forms of polities: tribalism/feudalism and imperialism. He discounts tribalism as virtual anarchism and a social dead end. The more sophisticated forms of imperialism are based on some universalist ideology such as Marxism, Islam or medieval Catholicism. All of these universal dogmas require much force and oppression to expand and remain in power. The author observes that ancient Israel was unique as a nation of tribes that did not seek imperial aggrandizement.

Hazony defines nation as a "number of tribes with a common language or religion, and a past history of acting as a body for the common defense and other large-scale projects" (p. 18). He views such nations as the best form of political organization. He argues that the nation-state is a necessary but not sufficient cause for human freedom and flourishing. He notes that all imperial states are held together by force and are, in fact, dominated by the most powerful nation within the empire.

The author cites the European Union as a "liberal" empire, dominated by Germany, that is profoundly anti-liberty and anti-individualism. This is because that very nature of empires, of whatever stripe, require the brutal suppression of all dissent to the universalist dogma on which its legitimacy rests.

The author argues that the nation-state has its origins in ancient Israel. He further argues that its modern origins began in sixteenth century Europe. This is an important point because most "anti-nationalists" evade this historical fact and claim that modern nationalism began with the French Revolution. Needless to say, Napoleon's was a classic empire dominated by France and not an example of the Westphalian state model. The "Enlightenment" reaction to the Revolution was the justification for endless wars of peace:

"In Perpetual Peace, then, [Immanuel] Kant argues that the establishment of an international or imperial state is the only possible dictate of reason. Those who do not agree to subordinate their national interests to the directives of the imperial state are regarded as opposing the historic march of humanity toward the reign of reason. Those who insist on their national freedom are supporting a violent egoism on a national scale, which is as much an abdication of sound morals as the insistence on violent egoism would be in our personal lives ... The Marxists' condemnation of the Western national state was joined by a liberal anti-nationalism, which eagerly sought an end to the old order in the name of Kant's march toward Enlightenment." (pp.199-201)

Hazony makes clear that even Kant's "liberal" imperialism results in a viciously tyrannical state at odds with actual liberal governance.

On the positive side of the ledger, Hazony argues that the nation-state makes many political goods possible, unlike any other form of political order. These goods are: the banishment of political violence to the periphery of the nation-state; antipathy to imperial conquest - see the American "deplorables" hostility to neo-con wars of "nation building;" genuine national self-determination and independence; a competitive political order where nations can learn from others' success and failure.

The author also notes that a relatively free, peaceful and stable nation-state does require some degree of homogeneity. "Diversity" for its own sake leads to Balkanization and ceaseless internal conflict. The author describes,

"what I have called the internal integrity and cultural inheritance of the nation. And it is these things that tend to be lost as the imperial state expands [or as the decadent "liberal" state's borders are erased]. This is because conquered nations bring their own aspirations, troubles, and interests into the state. And this growing diversity make the state more difficult to govern, weakening the mutual loyalties that had held it together, dissipating its attention and resources in the effort to suppress internal conflicts and violence that had previously been unknown to it, and forcing the rulers to adopt oppressive means of maintaining the peace." (p.113)

Hazony cites the Austrian-Hungarian Empire as a textbook example of this violent, destabilizing process. It is also the fate of Western Europe, the United States and any other state that opens its borders to (mutually) hostile tribes.

The Virtue of Nationalism covers a lot of theory and history in its 234 pages. It is impressively researched and its citations provide a treasure trove of sources for further study on its topic. One of the books many virtues is its clear and precise prose. The author exercises great skill in presenting complex political concepts in accessible, enjoyable and jargon free language. I can't recommend this work highly enough. It belongs on the bookshelf of every citizen concerned about his nation's future.

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Nationalism in Europe

Bruno's picture

I support European nationalisms only as historically necessary, in order to bring the EU down. I support in general and more broadly all forms of political decentralization, meaning that even most European nations (particularly the four largest, Spain, France, Germany, Italy) are far too large as they are, and encompass various different ethno-cultural regions which deserve at the very least much more autonomy, and better yet independence.

If the term nation is applicable to "regions" such as Catalonia and Venetia, then yes I am nationalist in that sense. If nationalism means supporting nations as they are currently constituted, the answer is no. Further down the road I would see as desirable a political breakdown even of these now-region nations into their constituent provinces and cities. In all cases, the political constitutions are to be federalist or confederalist. The Italian and French centralist constitutions are to be considered abominations.

The right to secession is the right to choose who to be with, which ultimately should go all the way down to the level of the individual. Man is a political animal however, so the furthest down level politically speaking will always be the city-state. The individual will be able to move if he rejects his city's ways. Not having a national-level government, he would be able to change city and form of government while remaining within his nation.

Interesting

Doug Bandler The Second's picture

This was an interesting essay. I was not aware of Hazony's book. I have no problem with Israeli nationalism. The problem is that world Jewery advocates for Jewish ethno-nationalism while advocating for the suppression of white ethno-nationalism. Also, it can be argued that Israel is a parasite on America and that the war strategy they are pursuing, total chaos of the Muslim world, is not one they could fight on their own using their own resources. If Israeli Jews want to wage war on the entire Muslim world, let them do so on their own dime. Also, American Jews can be criticized for being the leading wedge in advocacy of white genocide. Jewish financial, intellectual and institutional power (ie the entire media) is actively pushing for the destruction of the white race in more ways than I can count (watch any commercial or tv show to see how hard the J-Left is pushing miscegenation). For that reason alone Jews should be publicly criticized. In fact they should be encouraged (forced ?) to go back to Israel; pretty much all of them starting with Yaron Brook.

"The more sophisticated forms of imperialism are based on some universalist ideology such as Marxism, Islam or medieval Catholicism."

The greatest form of imperialism today is coming from American neo-liberalism which is what the American military is defending and fighting for (as well as the preservation of the financial dominance of the American petro-dollar). Jews are the major driving force behind this type of imperialism. Jewish neo-liberals and Jewish neo-cons are driving the American empire which imo is the greatest evil force on this planet; not China, Russia or Islam. I know how that sounds to Objectivists but I don't care. Its true. Jews have killed more people in the 20th century than Hitler which is why its proper to call the 20th century the "Jewish Century". And it is Jews who control the American imperium as well as its Keynesian banking structures that preserve it. No, its not only Jews involved. But IMO, it can be strongly argued that without Jews there would be a MUCH stronger right wing opposition to Leftism and Neo-Conservatism that exists today. Namely a pro-white nationalism that would be largely non-imperialist. Its no accident that Jews were expelled from over 109 countries and banned from certain institutions. It wasn't because of "envy" or some stupid bullshit like that. It was precisely for the reasons that we see evident today. Take a look at the majority of people trying to bring down Trump. Guess what they (((all have in common))).

"In Perpetual Peace, then, [Immanuel] Kant argues that the establishment of an international or imperial state is the only possible dictate of reason. Those who do not agree to subordinate their national interests to the directives of the imperial state are regarded as opposing the historic march of humanity toward the reign of reason."

I did not know this about Kant either. Kant was opposed to egoism as we know. But it seems that his German inspired collectivism led him to an imperial politics. I see where he's coming from with his German duty ethics but he was wrong and his ideas were devastating to Germany. I still think that right collectivism (ala Hagel) has some merit given human bio-diversity but this tendency they have for pushing for empire has been harmful. You see it with today's alt-right Hegelians like Richard Spencer who also push for a white empire.

But all in all a very informative piece. Of course Objectivists are arch globalists so this will be wasted on them. They are the libertarian supremacist variety of globalist. Imposing individual rights on the world using the American military (which they will never join as will Jews never join - another example of their parasitism). And its not surprising that this view is heavily pushed by Jews in the O'ist movement. Another reason why Rothbard was the sane libertarian and the sane Jew. Rand not so much.

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