- Counter-Currents Publishing - https://www.counter-currents.com -

The Counter-Currents 2015 Summer Fundraiser
The Politics of Nostalgia

Melancholia Detail [1]

Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I, 1514, detail

969 words

Since our last update [2], on September 2nd, we have received 24 donations totaling $2,215.88, in amounts ranging from $7 to $650. Eight of these donations were merely the first of ongoing monthly pledges, which are especially helpful. Our total is now $16,374.88. We are thus $103,956.12 from our goal of $120,331 ($23,625.12 from last year’s goal of $40,000), with basically six weeks to go before the fundraiser ends on Halloween. I want to thank all our donors, new and old. You make Counter-Currents possible. 

* * *

Nostalgia is sentimentality about happier places and times. Leftists routinely bash conservatives for dressing up mere nostalgia as politics. Republicans, we are told, merely want to “turn back the clock” to the 1950s, or the 1980s, which is treated as a self-evidently stupid and laughable proposition.

Of course everyone has moments of nostalgia, which is why nostalgia is a multi-billion dollar industry. When we are teenagers, they sell us pop music. And when we hit middle age, they sell the same pop music back to us as nostalgia.

But the accusation of nostalgia is just another smug, lazy-minded Leftist canard — a canard that pops up all too often on the radical, anti-conservative Right as well.

First of all, the charge of nostalgia cuts both ways. How many Leftists wax boring with nostalgia for the 1960s? Ernest Callenbach’s ludicrous novel Ecotopia [3], for instance, reeks with nostalgia for his college days. How many Revolutionary Rightists pine with pseudo-nostalgia for interwar fascism, the Middle Ages, the Ancient World, or mythical Golden and Silver Ages? (It is pseudo-nostalgia, because it is not based on actual experiences.)

Second, to criticize an ideology, one must look at its strongest, most serious statements, not just attack straw men. And no serious thinker, Left or Right, bases a political theory on a snapshot from his childhood. Political philosophy deals with principles that are true of every time and place.

Third, since political philosophy is not an entirely a priori science, it is completely legitimate to look at historical examples of good and bad regimes, and this cannot be dismissed merely as a subjective attachment to one’s own limited range of experience.

Fourth, although it is impossible to go back to the past, it is not impossible for the past to come back to us, meaning that we can and should restore past institutions if they worked better than present ones. If the Left accuses us of having a bias in favor of the past, we can accuse them of having a bias in favor of the present. But not every change is progress, and if we have good reason to reject modern innovations, we have good reason to restore what worked better in the past. And this has nothing to do with personal biases or even personal experience. Sometimes, we look longingly upon things because they are valuable in and of themselves.

Finally, there is an existential sense of nostalgia which is a legitimate part of political philosophy, particularly political nationalism. “Nostalgia” was coined in 1688 by the Swiss physician Johannes Hofer. Its roots are the Greek nóstos (homecoming) and álgos (pain). It basically means “homesickness,” and it was classified as a form of melancholia. Apparently, the term was coined to describe the sufferings of Swiss mercenaries serving far from home.

Homesickness is possible only because there are places where we do not feel at home. If we belonged everywhere, we would not feel homesickness. But humans are not “citizens of the world.” Different peoples originated in different places, where they feel most comfortable. Different peoples create different cultures that suit them like well-fitted clothes and properly sized shoes: they are comfortable and becoming. When forced into unsuitable environments and unintelligible cultures, we feel ill at ease. We don’t feel like ourselves.

Homesickness is simply a desire to feel at home, to be comfortable, to be where we can be ourselves. Homesickness has nothing to do with fond memories of past experiences, for the simple reason that some of us have never really felt at home. Multiculturalism means that more and more of us grow up surrounded by peoples and cultures that are not related to us, not intelligible to us, and that make us feel uncomfortable and out of place. But that is no way to live.

The solution to this problem is not individualism. The problem is the loss of community. Individualism is both a cause and a consequence of this loss. It dissolves common cultures, opens us to outsiders, and exalts the private realm as a refuge from the alienating multicultural world it creates. The loss of community is a collective problem that requires collective solutions.

That is why the North American New Right stands for ethonationalism. We are nationalists for all nations. We reject the one-size-fits-all totalitarian Mao suit of globalization and multiculturalism. We stand for the creation of sovereign homelands tailored to fit the different peoples of the world. Ultimately, the cure for homesickness is a homeland.

* * *

If you have not made a donation to our Summer fundraiser yet, now is a good time. You can make two different types of donations:

Recurring donations are particularly helpful, since they allow us better to predict and plan for the future. We have several levels for recurring donations. Please visit our Donations [4] page for more information.

We can also customize the amount of a monthly donation.

There are several ways to make one-time donations:

Please give generously!

Thank you for your loyal readership and support.

Greg Johnson