This personal invitation arrived in my email inbox recently:
Naturally, I was delighted. I had been very impressed with the Israeli scholar Yoram Hazony’s book The Virtue Of Nationalism and had even had an affable exchange with him via Twitter Direct Message about his publisher’s curious failure to release the book in audio form:
So Lydia and I duly paid our $285 fee (each) to register. But we got this response:
It’s a form letter. Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, who tried in his frugal way to get press credentials, got exactly the same thing.
Jared very reasonably wrote back to ask if would he be denied press credentials if he were “a socialist or Open-Borders advocate” a.k.a. a typical member of the Main Stream Media.
Needless to say, Hazony and Brog did not have the courtesy to reply.
But the answer to Jared’s question, of course, is “NO!”—cuckservatives are always desperate for MSM attention. And Hazony (alas) and Brog turn out to be cuckservatives—although not, I think, for the reasons (stupidity, cowardice, careerism) that motivate the typical American cuck.
I’m pretty battle-scarred after nearly three decades in the Immigration Wars. But I must admit I felt a twinge of sadness about Hazony. Apart from his book, I think his tweets display a really interesting, and I had thought fair, mind.
Thus as Editor of a website that for nearly twenty years has focused on “The National Question”— defined as "the viability of the US as a nation-state”—I was naturally delighted by this:
I keep thinking of those self-identified conservatives who knew for decades that I was a Jewish-Israeli nationalist and thought that was fine and good. But when it turned out I thought Brits and Americans could be nationalists too, they suddenly went all wobbly on me.— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) January 28, 2019
And of course I agreed with him about the Democrats’ extraordinary refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election—now definitively discredited by the Mueller Report’s finding that the Trump campaign did not, despite all the hype, “collude” with Russia:
Some want to impeach the President, impeach the Supreme Court majority, impeach the Electoral College—anything but have a respectful argument and then honor the voter’s decision | The Time Has Come for Democrats to Impeach Brett Kavanaugh | The Nation https://t.co/6sqIcYIDzu— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) March 20, 2019
And I think he’s exactly right that some deep cause underlies both Trump Derangement Syndrome in the U.S. and the post-Brexit elite tantrum in the U.K.:
I don’t think it’s the hatred of Trump that’s the real cause. Look at the way the British elites fear and detest and are being driven mad by Brexit—it’s the same exact syndrome but without Trump. https://t.co/P3jGz8bqt0— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) April 13, 2019
And, as a British-American, I found his incisive take on the virtues of a No Deal Brexit distinctly affecting:
The truth is that this is what those who admire Britain, the world over, are waiting to see: To see Britain stand up for itself. In so doing, the British will gain the respect of others, and, more important, some of the self-respect that has been missing under the May government.— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) January 21, 2019
And, given my long-standing interest in the War On Christmas, I was affected by his wise and judicious response to Julia Ioffe’s arrogant attempt to bully her adopted country out of celebrating its majority’s main festival:
I sympathize. Christmas didn’t make me happy when I was in the US either. But I choose to live in Israel where the holidays are from the torah. You *choose* to live in America. Why would you want to tell the Christian majority how “wearying and alienating” their holiday is? https://t.co/0WeWErnEP7— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) December 20, 2018
Hazony opened The Virtue Of Nationalism with a bracing challenge to Anglo-American conventional political wisdom:
Politics in Britain and America have taken a turn toward nationalism. This has been troubling to many, especially in educated circles, where global integration has long been viewed as a requirement of sound policy and moral decency. From this perspective, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the “America first” rhetoric coming out of Washington seem to herald a reversion to a more primitive stage in history, when war-mongering and racism were voiced openly and permitted to set the political agenda of nations. Fearing the worst, public figures, journalists, and academics have deplored the return of nationalism to American and British public life in the harshest terms…
[But] Surely, the many statesmen and intellectuals who embraced nationalism a few generations ago knew something about this subject, and were not simply trying to drag us back to a more primitive stage in our history, to war-mongering and racism. What, then, did they see in nationalism?...
My own background allows me some insight into the subject. I have been a Jewish nationalist, a Zionist, all my life….I have lived most of my life in a country that was established by nationalists, and has been governed largely by nationalists to this day…Among them, nationalism is not some unfathomable political illness that periodically takes over countries for no good reason and to no good end, as many in America and Britain seem to think these days. It is instead a familiar political theory on which they were raised, a theory of how the political world should be ordered.
…The nationalism I grew up with is a principled standpoint that regards the world as governed best when nations are able to chart their own independent course, cultivating their own traditions and pursuing their own interests without interference. This is opposed to imperialism, which seeks to bring peace and prosperity to the world by uniting mankind, as much as possible, under a single political regime.
Of course, I think this is wonderful. It sounds exactly like positions we have argued for years. And, of course, it fits right into VDARE.com’s documentation of the emergence of National Conservatism before Trump through his use of it to win the nomination and the Presidential election.
Note here that that Hazony ingeniously defines the European Union, and global “integration” generally, as examples of “imperialism”—he calls it “liberal imperialism” because of its common assumptions about free trade, free markets, equal atomized interchangeable individuals etc.
And note also that Hazony is fully aware that, notwithstanding its name, this modern form of “liberalism” is actually increasingly repressive (now a huge problem for VDARE.com):
[L]iberal-imperialist political ideals have become among the most powerful agents fomenting intolerance and hate in the Western world today…
One of the most striking features of public life in contemporary America and Europe is the way that the Western nations are now afflicted by public shaming campaigns and heresy hunts whose purpose is to stigmatize and render illegitimate one or another person or group of people, opinion or policy, that is perceived as having the ability to mount any kind of meaningful resistance to liberal doctrine.
Much of what has been written about these campaigns has concentrated on the deterioration of free discourse in the universities, where official and unofficial censorship of the professorate’s opinions—including their views about Islam, homosexuality, immigration [my emphasis—PB], and a host of other subjects—has become commonplace. But…much of the public sphere is now regularly visited by the same kinds of campaigns of vilification…
(Interestingly, London University professor Eric P. Kaufmann, in his incisive new book WHITESHIFT: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities, also makes the point that liberalism, which he calls “left-modernism,” relies increasingly on Swedish New Totalitarian-type repression in what were previously open, Anglo-Saxon societies. So it seems that political scientists have now extended diplomatic recognition to this disgusting phenomenon. Perhaps next it will occur to conservative politicians).
All good stuff—if pretty ironic, given that this sort of “heresy hunt” is precisely what Hazony and his colleagues are doing to completely harmless, law-abiding American patriots like American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor and VDARE.com’s us.
Another victim of the Hazony/ Brog “heresy hunt”: Patrick Casey, the young leader of the American Identity Movement activist group. Casey got exactly the same form letter, but responded more brutally on Twitter:
Reminder that @yhazony defends nationalism for his people but not yours. pic.twitter.com/MWEP4qaUcx— Patrick Casey 🇺🇸 (@PatrickCaseyUSA) June 5, 2019
Yoram, who blocked me today, is correct that Jewish identity and white identity aren’t directly comparable; the former is ethno-religious, while the latter is racial.— Patrick Casey 🇺🇸 (@PatrickCaseyUSA) June 6, 2019
However, my identity isn’t for Yoram et al. to deconstruct, deny, or invalidate. pic.twitter.com/wUbv23XpW1
Thus Hazony was immediately forced to reveal that, just like all the neoconservatives, he in fact believes America is a Proposition Nation:
What separates us isn't any lack of enthusiasm for American nationalism on my part. What separates us is my view that a nation isn't a race, that nationalism isn't racism.— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) June 5, 2019
What separates us is my view that the American nation--an actual people with a particular cultural inheritance, bound by ties of mutual loyalty--is a far greater and better thing than the bogus, pseudo-scientific construct that the race nerds hope to replace it with.— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) June 5, 2019
This bone-headed, ahistorical denial of any ethnic component to the American nation was of course greeted by derisive allegations of hypocrisy by Casey’s articulate Twitter supporters, further forcing Hazony to make the ridiculous claim that Israel itself is a sort of Proposition Nation:
I do think the Israeli national-state model can help Americans think about their own nationalism. But since Israelis regard their country as a national state and not a race state, you need to understand what Israelis mean by "nation" if you want to get how our state works.— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) June 6, 2019
And what Israelis (and Jews) mean by “nation,” it materializes, is purely credal:
We Jews are a nation, not a race. Anyone who is loyal to the Jewish people, its God and tradition, can go to a rabbinic court and become a Jew. That offer is open, and has been open to people of different races, since biblical times.— Yoram Hazony (@yhazony) June 6, 2019
“He’s lying,” said a Jewish friend—previously a great fan of Hazony’s—to whom I showed this tweet. (Yes, some of my best friends etc.) “Every Jew thinks they’re part of special race.”
The plain fact is Judaism has not been a proselytizing religion, conversion is very difficult, and Jewish law historically required matrilineal descent as a condition of Jewishness. The inexorable result: Jews, generally although not exclusively, have developed characteristic genetic markers. (Which is not that unusual in long-established nation-states. Some 60% of English men, and 80% of Irish men, carry the R1b haplogroup, as I do myself). So it’s not unreasonable to regard Israel as, if not a “race state,” at the very least an ethnostate with both a cultural and an ethnic component.
So what? Has Hazony got a problem with that?
Well, yes, apparently he does, as it turns out. But it’s not obvious from The Virtue Of Nationalism. Steve Sailer in his review shrewdly picked up that
…Hazony barely mentions immigration, a topic upon which American Jews have sentimentally whipped themselves into a schmaltzy frenzy while Israeli Jews have remained hardheaded.
But I have to admit I didn’t really notice that anomaly, although Israel’s exemplary immigration policy, especially as regards illegals, has been a source of delight to VDARE.com for years.
Looked at more closely, however, I see that Hazony never actually says that there is an ethnic element to nationalism, although he regularly seems to imply it, e.g.:
By nation, I mean 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 enterprises. The Bible systematically promotes the idea that the members of a nation should regard one another as “brothers,” and Mosaic law offered the Israelites a constitution that would bring them together in what would today be called a national state. The king of such a state would be drawn “from among your brothers.” Its prophets, too, would be “from among you, from among your brothers.” And so would its priests, appointed to guard the traditional laws of the nation and teach them to the king “so that his thoughts should not be lifted above his brothers.” [Emphasis in original]
“Tribe”? So Hazony really just meant it the way Lydia tells me the #findyourtribe girls do?
“Brothers”? And Hazony really just meant non-literally, the way Kanye West does?
And there’s also this, where Hazony opposes John Locke’s concept of the rationalistic Social Contract:
Most of us suppose that brothers and sisters born to the same parents have a special responsibility to help one another in a time of need that takes precedence over other obligations. In the same way, we would suppose that grandparents have obligations toward their grandchildren, and that grandchildren have obligations toward their grandparents. But none of these family relationships are the result of consent: One does not choose one’s brothers or one’s grandchildren. And so these obligations must derive from other sources. Locke’s model, however, which seeks to found the family on free choice and consent, generates no such obligations.
I agree, but I don’t see anything about going “to a rabbinical court” here. Hazony is clearly implying blood.
Hazony even quotes Herder approvingly:
The most natural state is, therefore, one nation, an extended family with one national character.
An “extended family”—essentially Steve Sailer’s definition of a “race.” But I don’t see anything about “rabbinical courts” here either.
It’s true that Hazony says at one point of the ancient Israelites:
It is important to notice that the Israelites’ conception of the nation has nothing to do with biology, or what we call race. For biblical nations, everything depends on a shared understanding of history, language, and religion that is passed from parents to children, but which outsiders can join as well. Thus the book of Exodus teaches that there were many Egyptians who attached themselves to the Hebrew slaves in fleeing Egypt, and that they received the Ten Commandments (more accurately translated as the “Ten Precepts”) at Sinai with the rest of Israel. Similarly, Moses invites the Midianite sheikh Jethro to join the Jewish people. And Ruth the Moabite becomes part of Israel when she is ready to tell Naomi “your people is my people and your God is my God,” her son being the forefather of King David himself.
But I had dismissed this as just a quick bow to Political Correctness, one of several that even Hazony (as also Whiteshift’s similarly heroic Eric P. Kaufmann) apparently felt compelled to make throughout this book. Quite obviously, occasional converts to Judaism cannot outweigh the effect of Jewish law’s insistence on matrilineal descent for scores of generations.
Now I come to look more carefully, however, I see that Hazony mentioned the fact that Jewish law insists on matrilineal descent nowhere—in a book of 304 pages.
In The Virtue Of Nationalism, Hazony made some strained arguments, for example that Hitler was not really a nationalist, that I put down to understandable human weakness. But in this case, I have to conclude with great sorrow that he is indeed deliberately lying—he wants to deceive his readers about the ethnic dimension of Israel and of successful nation-states in general.
Maybe Hazony does not really want “nationalism for his people but not for yours,” as AIM’s Patrick Casey alleged. But it very much looks like he wants ethnicity for Israel but not for America.
This is why I say that Hazony and his sidekick Brog are not typical American cucks—they want to suppress debate, but for their own ethnic reasons.
Which brings us to the National Conservatism Conference. Philip Giraldi savagely describes its sponsor, the Edmund Burke Foundation, as “just another pro-Israel puppet.” He denounces
…the inclusion as speakers of some genuine conservatives among the crowd of usual Zionist hacks…[they] are invited to give the event credibility, should know better and ought to avoid the Edmund Burke Foundation like the plague.
[Edmund Burke Rides Again| But this time the horse is paid for by Israel, The Unz Review, June 4 2019]
Giraldi, of course, is a controversial foreign policy intellectual. He is especially concerned that the National Conservative energy that elected Trump will be co-opted and steered away from a focus on American national interests and into a focus on Israel national interests, which is what he thinks happened to the Conservative Movement after it elected Ronald Reagan, won the Cold War, and degenerated into the corrupt racket Conservatism Inc.
But the concern of immigration patriots is slightly different: is the conference designed to co-opt National Conservative energy and steer it into safe Proposition-Nation abstraction shallows—above all, to avoid any appeal to the ethnic interests of the Historic American Nation?
In other words, will this be a catastrophe similar to the 1990s, when the neoconservatives (with honorable exceptions) stabbed immigration patriots in the back, frustrated patriotic immigration reform and set the GOP/GAP on a course to demographic disaster because of their selfish and irrational ethnic hang-ups?
The tragedy of all this, of course, is that it was (and is) so unnecessary. I have never come across an American immigration patriot who worries about whether Jews are a superior race, or has a definition of the American nation so strict that it would exclude Jews.
At least, not yet.
But in terms of the direction of Hazony’s National Conservatism conference, I have to say it doesn’t look good. It’s bad enough that the great MSM-acknowledged precursor of Trumpism, Patrick J. Buchanan, the key theorist of America as a nation-state in his books A Republic, Not an Empire, State of Emergency, and Suicide of a Superpower, is not speaking. It’s much worse that Edmund Burke Foundation’s “conference presidium” feels empowered to decree who is “incompatible with national conservatism as we understand it,” especially given that one of them (at least) is a foreign citizen presuming to act as a gatekeeper in American debate.
Remember, we’re not talking here about speaking at the conference. We’re talking about paying to attend the damned thing.
Moreover, on a personal note: at least AIM’s Patrick Casey is a political activist, albeit perfectly civilized (and to Hazony’s discomfort fatally well-versed in the arguments). At least American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor focuses on journalism about the implications of IQ differences that should have flowed out of The Bell Curve, but didn’t, because of the resurgent Reign Of Terror.
But VDARE.com is merely a single-issue forum website open to anyone, of any race or creed, who opposes America’s post-1965 immigration disaster—and our long-advocated positions are those that candidate Donald J. Trump outlined in his August 2015 position paper and that subsequently won him the Presidency.
And we have been writing about “National Conservatism” since 2000:
I may say, furthermore, that I count no less than twelve of the conference speakers listed are personally well known to me. I’ve had long conversations with some of them on exactly this subject dating back as much as forty years and I believe they would acknowledge I have influenced them—except for the fact that it might expose them too to a “heresy hunt.” So, like Giraldi, I’m not going to blame them—but I am going to urge them to consider the unspoken agenda on the part of the “conference presidium” that my/ our exclusion reveals.
Unlike Hazony’s Virtue Of Nationalism, the National Conservatism conference does address immigration, although not to my eye in a sufficiently urgent way.
But on the matter of immigration, however, note the presence Edmund Burke Foundation President David Brog, who in Giraldi’s words
…is also the executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, “an effort launched in 2015 to combat the anti-Israel BDS movement. He also sits on the Board of Directors of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), were he served as executive director for its first ten years. Before CUFI, Brog worked in the United States Senate for seven years, rising to be chief of staff to Senator Arlen Specter and staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. [Links in original, emphasis added]
The part of this that concerns me: Arlen Specter, who represented Pennsylvania as a Republican for 30 years before switching to Democrat in an unprincipled but thankfully vain attempt to evade his enraged constituents, was utterly awful on immigration.
Brog could not have been unaware of this. Did he not care?
Finally, I’m going to quote me on the nation-state, from my “Time To Rethink Immigration?” National Review cover story, published June 5, 1992, when Hazony was still working on his Ph.D. at Rutgers:
"We are a nation of immigrants." No discussion of U.S. immigration policy gets far without someone making this helpful remark. As an immigrant myself, I always pause respectfully. You never know. Maybe this is what they're taught to chant in schools nowadays, a sort of multicultural Pledge of Allegiance.
But it secretly amuses me. Do they really think other nations sprouted up out of the ground? ("Autochthonous" is the classical Greek word.) The truth is that all nations are nations of immigrants. But the process is usually so slow and historic that people overlook it….
SO ALL NATIONS are made up of immigrants. But what is a nation—the end-product of all this merging? This brings us into a territory where words are weapons, exactly as George Orwell pointed out years ago. "Nation"—as suggested by its Latin root nascere, to be born, intrinsically implies a link by blood. A nation is an extended family. The merging process through which all nations pass is not merely cultural, but to a considerable extent biological, through intermarriage.
Liberal commentators, for various reasons, find this deeply distressing. They regularly denounce appeals to common ethnicity as "nativism" or "tribalism." Ironically, when I studied African history in college, my politically correct tutor deprecated any reference to "tribes." These small, primitive, and incoherent groupings should, he said, be dignified as "nations." Which suggests a useful definition: tribalism/nativism is nationalism of which liberals disapprove.
American political debate on this point is hampered by a peculiar difficulty. American editors are convinced that the term "state" will confuse readers unless reserved exclusively for the component parts of the United States—New York, California, etc. So when talking about sovereign political structures, where the British would use "state," the Germans "Staat," and the French "l'etat," journalists here are compelled to use the word "nation."
Thus in the late 1980s it was common to see references to "the nation of Yugoslavia," when Yugoslavia's problem was precisely that it was not a nation at all, but a state that contained several different small but fierce nations—Croats, Serbs etc. (In my constructive way, I've been trying to introduce, as an alternative to "state," the word "polity"—defined by Webster as "a politically organized unit." But it's quite hopeless. Editors always confuse it with "policy.")
This definitional difficulty explains one of the regular entertainments of U.S. politics: uproar because someone has unguardedly described America as a "Christian nation." Of course, in the sense that the vast majority of Americans are Christians, this is nothing less than the plain truth. It is not in the least incompatible with a secular state (polity).
But the difficulty over the N-word has a more serious consequence: it means that American commentators are losing sight of the concept of the "nation-state"—a sovereign structure that is the political expression of a specific ethno-cultural group. Yet the nation-state was one of the crucial inventions of the modern age. Mass literacy, education, and mobility put a premium on the unifying effect of cultural and ethnic homogeneity. None of the great pre-modern multinational empires have survived. (The Brussels bureaucracy may be trying to create another, but it has a long way to go.)
This is why Ben Wattenberg is able to get away with talking about a "Universal Nation." On its face, this is a contradiction in terms. It's possible, as Wattenberg variously implies, that he means the diverse immigrant groups will eventually intermarry, producing what he calls, quoting the English poet John Masefield, a "wondrous race." Or that they will at least be assimilated by American culture, which, while globally dominant, is hardly "universal." But meanwhile there are hard questions. What language is this "universal nation" going to speak? How is it going to avoid ethnic strife? dual loyalties? collapsing like the Tower of Babel? Wattenberg is not asked to reconcile these questions, although he is not unaware of them, because in American political discourse the ideal of an American nation-state is in eclipse.
I will say that I believe I anticipated here Hazony’s key themes—with the exception that I was more honest, albeit in a perfectly non-rabid way, about the role of ethnicity in the nation-state.
I am sorry that apparently he doesn’t want to discuss these interesting topics with me in Washington D.C.
But I will survive. My conclusion about Yoram Hazony, in the words of a poet whom I have no doubt he adores:
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.
Peter Brimelow [Email him] is the editor of VDARE.com. His best-selling book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, is now available in Kindle format.