Like the fog, talk of nationalism is slowly starting to roll in on the intellectual and pseudo-intellectual conversations of the West. One reason for this is the rise of populist movements in Europe and America, responding to the importation of non-Western people into Western nations. Another reason for the rise in nationalism is the sense that the ruling classes of the West are no longer Western. To the typical occidental, the elites seem foreign and oriental in the language and dispositions.
The emerging debate about nationalism among the intellectual and pseudo-intellectual classes is therefore reactionary. Across the board, the debate is being picked up by people so unfamiliar with the topic, they struggle with the basics of the concept. This column by Dennis Prager in the American Zionist broadsheet The Daily Wire is a good example of the fumbling you see when these people take up the issue. He treats the word like it is on loan from a foreign race of men or possibly space aliens.
Nationalism presents a particularity difficult problem for the Jewish ruling elite, which is another thing you see in the Prager piece. The word “nationalism” is derived from the word “nation” and that comes to us from the Old French word nacion, which means birth, rank, descendants, relatives, country, homeland. The French, of course, inherited the meaning from the Latin word for “birth, origin, breed, kind, species, race of people, tribe.” The word nationalism means loyalty to a people, your people.
If the word nationalism means what it actually means, then it presents an obvious dilemma for diaspora Jews in the Occident. If Jewishness is what the religion says, then Jews are their own race of people. Jewish nationalism would therefore be to the Jewish people and the state of Israel. One cannot be equally loyal to two nations or two of anything, for that matter. Inevitably, you will have to pick between the two, thus establishing one as the primary loyalty and the other secondary.
This is the age old issue with Jews in the diaspora. For the longest time, they were accused of dual loyalty, but in reality they were accused of having no loyalty. Like so much about this topic, the facts have been corrupted to obscure the truth. In reality, the accusation was that the primary loyalty of Jews was to their people and the apparent loyalty to their host population was out of convenience and necessity. The core of Western antisemitism in the West is the claim that Jews are not us.
Jewish intellectuals have always understood this, so after the Second World War, they pounced on the opportunity to anathematize the concept of nationalism. The claim was that nationalism was the cause of the great industrial wars that reduced the West to rubble and gave rise to fascism. Therefore, to avoid a repeat of those horrors, nationalism must be stamped out. In fairness, this was not solely a Jewish project, as there were plenty of gentile communists who embraced the idea.
Still, the primary beneficiaries of anti-nationalism were Jews. In America, this allowed Jews to enter the ruling class and by extension the global ruling elite. The global power of the American Empire, now including the international financial network, gave diaspora Jews unprecedented power. Jews are now wildly over-represented in all of the positions of power and influence. While this is a popular talking point for anti-Semites, it has also been a point of pride for Jews themselves.
We see why Zionist like Denis Prager are terrified by the sudden reappearance nationalism in the West. If the people of the Occident regain their love of self, then Jews are on the horns of a dilemma. They can either assume their traditional role as guests in their host counties or they can join their neighbors in these host countries and place loyalty to their neighbors over loyalty to their ancient tribe. Judaism becomes just a remnant of who they used to be, in the same way Catholicism is for the Irish.
The third option, one you see in the Prager piece and in the Ben Shapiro book is to muddy the waters on the whole issue. For example, Prager defines good nationalism as that which is good for him, while bad nationalism is when it is bad for him. Ben Shapiro, on the other hand, tries to redefine 2,000 years of Western history to make Jews the loyal partners of Christendom. The absurd concept of Judeo-Christianity is just an effort to rewrite the past to insert his ancestors into your family tree.
Then there is the problem of Israel, which is an ethno-state, despite the humorous efforts to prove otherwise. Jews see the physical land as theirs because according to the central tenant of their faith, God gave it to them. Their loyalty to the land of Israel is an expression of their loyalty to the people of Israel, wherever they may reside. In this regard, Judaism is the most pure expression of nationalism, as it literally transcends time and physical boundaries. Israel is the symbol of that blood loyalty.
You really cannot square that reality with objections to the French demanding their country be for the French people, as defined by the French people. If what it means to be a Jew is defined by Jews, which is literally true, then what is the moral or factual objections to Germans defining what it means to be German? There is none, of course, which is why Israel has always been a problem for diaspora Jews. You can’t be a Zionist, while preaching multiculturalism and open borders.
The usual suspects assume this contradiction will inevitably lead to the age old conflict, but that is not necessarily true. Much of the history of antisemitism is apocryphal, used by Jews to gaslight themselves into remaining loyal to the tribe. In fact, Jewish identity in America is largely a negative one now as a result. To be authentically Jewish is to believe that your gentile neighbors will one day pull their khaki outfits from the back of the closet and get the trains running on time again.
The alternative is for diaspora Jews in America to come to terms with the fact they have a different history from the rest of the Tribe. They represent a fork in God’s project, creating a new tribe of Israel. This new tribe places its primary loyalty with the host country, because it cannot exist otherwise. Since Israel, as it is currently constructed, cannot exist without a powerful America as its powerful ally, American Jews serve Israel and the Jewish people as loyal allies of their fellow Americans.
It is possible that Zionist Jews hold such a conception of themselves. Whether they keep this to themselves because they distrust their gentile neighbors or they don’t trust themselves, not speaking to it is a problem only they can solve. If even Zionist Jews remain locked into an old identity, then the only way forward is to slough off that old identity and accept present reality. Regardless, the dilemma of resurgent nationalism in the West is a Jewish dilemma, not an occidental one.
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