Thursday 3 October 2019

Nationalism does a lot of harm - think of Gandhi


Ned Ryun
This is correct. Nationalism in the vein of Lincoln, Ghandi, Churchill has absolutely nothing to do with racism. In fact, nationalism, prioritizing your nation’s interests is in fact the pinnacle of morality for any national leader. Any thing else is immoral.

Rich Lowry
The identification of nationalism with racism is lazy, ahistorical and wrong

Nationalism is not racism, but it has caused a lot of unnecessary deaths in unjust wars. Lincoln by making war on the South was responsible for the dead of the Civil War. Gandhi by anti British agitation is partly responsible for the hundreds of thousands who died during Partition.

The Easter Rising caused immeasurable suffering. So did the American Revolution. Washington and that crowd were nationalists of a sort, of the worst sort. It is not accurate to call Churchill a nationalist though he was ardently patriotic and passionately believed in the English-speaking peoples. He was an imperialist, which is the opposite of a nationalist. He was also undoubtedly racist, like many of his Edwardian generation. He suggested in January 1955 'Keep England White, that would be a good election slogan.'


  1. "Washington and that crowd were nationalists of a sort, of the worst sort."

    How? By demanding the same rights other Englishman had? Taxation? Trial by local juries? Or, the distracted North and incompetent Colonial bureaucracy? Or, the intent to create a buffer in the middle states to allow for French and Catholic settlement /dominance.

    Do you ever read your posts before hand?

    1. The war was unnecessary and caused by unscrupulous demagogues and shysters. It destroyed American Toryism or conservatism forever and laid the way to the French Revolution.

      Fear of Catholicism and fear of a bishop being appointed for America were two things that contributed to the rebellion - and the feeling that London prevented the brave Americans massacring natives.

      "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" Dr Johnson in Taxation No Tyranny (1775).

    2. 'Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason?
      Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.'

    3. I don't have time to write the essay your comment deserves in reply.

    4. 'Farrelly details the complete hypocrisy of the American Continental Congress which wrote to Canadians urging them to join the rebellion because the English promises of religious toleration could not be trusted, while also writing a letter to the people of Great Britain that warned the religious toleration of Catholics was a threat to English liberties. A Montreal printer published both documents together and the fraud was exposed. The letter to the people of Great Britain remains one of the high points of American anti-Catholicism, referring to the ancient faith as one that had "deluged your island in blood, and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder, and rebellion, through every part of the world." The principal author of that document was John Jay, the future first Chief Justice of the United States and it was passed by the First Continental Congress in 1774.

      'Freedom, the opposite of slavery, is examined in the writings of the jurist William Blackstone, who exercised extensive influence on both sides of the Atlantic, and the religious roots of these conceptions. "For Protestants, freedom was something God gave to individual people so that each person could, on his or her own, read the Scriptures, confront the reality of sin, and choose to receive God's grace," she writes. It is not hard to see that once the fear of an angry God disappeared, and the latter two rationales for freedom were dropped, libertarianism would raise its ugly, distorting specter, but that is an intellectual trajectory for another time and another book. What is important here, as Farrelly notes, is how comprehensive the anti-Catholicism was in the revolutionary era. I will never again drink a Samuel Adams beer without thinking of his observation that Catholics, by "recognizing the pope in so absolute a manner … introduce as far as possible into the states, under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty, and property, that solecism in politicks, Imperium in imperio, leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war and bloodshed." Readers old enough to remember the 1960 election will recall that John Kennedy had not entirely shaken the Imperium in imperio charge, almost two hundred years after Adams penned those words.'

      Anglo-Saxon Protestantism is the core of American identity and I a Catholic understand this fully.

  2. If I'd been trying to argue for nationalism as a good thing I certainly wouldn't have picked Lincoln, Gandhi and Churchill as my examples!

    I have to admit that finding totally positive examples of nationalist leaders isn't that easy. Would de Gaulle count? Bismarck? Simón Bolívar? Ho Chi Minh?

    Mao was a nationalist but I'm not sure you'd see him as a positive example!

    I'm trying to think of an Australian prime minister who could be described as a nationalist. Chifley? Whitlam? I don't think Britain has ever had a nationalist prime minister.

  3. Bismarck was absolutely not a nationalist but sought and succeeded in sidelining nationalists and nationalism and suborning their aims to serve the interests of what he cared about, which was the Prussian monarchy. He was a conservatives' conservative and astonishingly able, a genius, who achieved much to achieve in the end nothing at all. The German national state he never wanted to exist dismissed him and led Europe into two mad wars which the country lost.
    Obviously Mao and Ho were not nationalists but Communists and internationalists. De Gaulle was a patriot who talked to the Comte de Paris about restoring the monarchy during the war. I am not sure what nationalism means in the context of France or England. I know what a Breton or Cornish nationalist is and sympathise with them.

    1. Obviously Mao and Ho were not nationalists but Communists and internationalists.

      Communism was internationalist in theory. But it could be nationalist in practice. And Mao was very much a Marxist heretic. Maoism had little in common with classical Marxism or Marxism-Leninism and almost nothing in common with Stalinism or Trotskyism. Mao wanted China to go its own way and he wanted to distance himself from the Soviet Union as much as possible. Maoism was based on the idea that China was nothing at all like Russia or the West.

      In practice I think Mao was as far from being an internationalist as it's possible to be.

      You have to bear in mind that for a very large part of his carer after the Revolution Mao was very much at odds with the rest of the Chinese Communist Party. Much of the time he was an isolated and embattled figure.

      Marxism is internationalist but Maoism is not Marxism. Mao was a communist but not a Marxist.

    2. I am not sure what nationalism means in the context of France or England.

      I don't think British nationalism is possible. English nationalism is possible. Or might be possible if the UK breaks up.

      Australian nationalism seemed possible at one time. But that was a long time ago.

      I don't think British nationalism could ever be an entirely healthy thing.

      The German national state he never wanted to exist dismissed him and led Europe into two mad wars which the country lost.

      I don't think it's entirely fair to blame Germany for the First World War. All the Great Powers behaved with extraordinary stupidity. Including Germany.

      I guess you could argue that if German unification hadn't happened the First World War might not have happened. Of course without Germany's existence the French might have made another attempt to dominate the Continent.

      I'm increasingly less sure that nation states are a good idea!

  4. Mao might have put his nation and empire, for this is what China is, first but he was no nationalist or imperialist.