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Co-Opted Nationalism

[1]2,057 words

Racial nationalists were banned from attending Yoram Hazony’s National Conservatism Conference, which aimed to offer a race-free nationalism (except for Jewish ethnonationalists, of course). The opening speech delivered by David Brog, the non-Christian former head of Christians United for Israel, declared racialists were unwelcome. Hazony spent weeks before the conference arguing with identitarians that nationalism has nothing to do with race. The Israeli scholar boasted that racialists would suffer a crushing defeat from the success of his conference.

Instead, when it happened, the media claimed that the National Conservatism Conference, in spite of all its gatekeeping, was a White Nationalist conference [2].

This impression was given due to negative comments about immigration made by University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Amy Wax, Mencius Moldbug’s presence, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley’s deriding of cosmopolitanism in his keynote address, and the audience’s mostly white composition. That was all it took to have the conference labeled racist.

This was certainly not what Hazony & Co. had intended. They had hoped to show off an anti-racist, respectable nationalism to the Leftist academy and the media. It didn’t quite work, demonstrating the folly of trying to divorce race from nationalism. A nationalism dictated by Zionists and emphasizing an undefined culture is ridiculous. American nationalism must address race and stand up for the nation’s founding stock.

Hazony and his merry band of Zionists have to contend with building an ideology which includes Donald Trump, a mercurial figure prone to “racist” comments. Trump’s “go back home” tweets from only a few days before hung over the kosher nationalist conference.The speakers avoided discussion of the topic altogether, apart from Hazony saying that he disagreed with Trump’s tweets – and thus illustrating another problem with this brand of “national conservatism”: It doesn’t represent the primary impulses of Middle America, and it is embarrassed by today’s chief conservative figure.

The conference’s critics lamented that it failed to argue that “a more culturally traditionalist and nationalistic conservatism is not equivalent to racism.” New York Magazine writer Park MacDougald blamed [3] Donald Trump and Amy Wax for this failure. According to MacDougald, Wax’s advocacy of an immigration policy that ensures America is “dominated culturally, demographically, numerically, [and] politically” by “people from the West” is too racist and proves she shouldn’t have been invited. Other critics mocked Wax for noting that Hispanics litter more, dismissing her observation as racist. Few thought that a revulsion to littering is a cultural thing.

Wax herself understands the absurdity of insisting on “culture” while steering away from race. In her remarks, she stated:

Embracing cultural distance nationalism means in effect taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites. Well, that is the result, anyway. So even if our immigration philosophy is grounded firmly in cultural concerns doesn’t rely on race at all, and no matter how many times we repeat the mantra that correlation is not causation, these racial dimensions are enough to spook conservatives.

Hazony defended Wax [4], a fellow Jew, against the media’s attacks, insisting her argument was not racist and that her comments did not prove the conference was “crypto-racist.”

Nevertheless, the conference’s nearly all-white audience proved another problem for these “national conservatives.” Human Events publisher Will Chamberlain, who aspires to be the Bill Buckley of the Trumpist Right, told a reporter [5] that the conference’s lack of diversity was a problem and that conservatives need to do more to attract non-whites. He added that national conservatives should address systemic racism: “Failing to account for systemic discrimination against a group of citizens – that would be a problem for a meaningfully nationalist movement.”

National Review writer David French attacked the conference for making no effort [6] to “heal racial divides” and bring black Christians into the fold. Hazony replied with the hope [7] that his project will one day “blast through racial barriers.” But it’s highly doubtful Professor Yoram will woo minorities with his co-opted Trumpism.

In spite of all this, the conference wasn’t entirely bad. The need for immigration restriction was the default position of all the participants. Most speakers dispensed with silly libertarian notions about the economy and approved state intervention. Tucker Carlson, Peter Thiel, and Senator Hawley all delivered great speeches. Carlson attacked big business as a threat to the American family, community, and its traditions. Thiel called for the American government to investigate Google for possible treason and railed against the tech tyrants. Hawley, as noted before, challenged the “cosmopolitan consensus.”

These speeches, along with Wax’s and a few others, proved that the conference was far better than the much-hyped Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But this superiority does not obscure who’s in the driver’s seat. Hazony, Brog, and their allies want nationalism to be synonymous with the same old neoconservatism, but one which is more sensible on immigration and  dispenses with libertarian trappings. That is an improvement, but nevertheless, their goal is not making America more cohesive; it’s ensuring support for Israel.

John Bolton as a keynote speaker testifies to that.

The conference is a clear attempt by Zionists to further coopt Trumpism, who merely brought along a few paleocons and conservative Catholics as stooges. They may praise the virtue of nationalism and declare their opposition to liberalism, but they can’t articulate how their nationalism differs from the usual stale conservative platitudes. They will deny that America has a racial core and insist that America must still fight Israel’s wars. The new alliance claims it stands against the failed fusion of Conservativism Inc., while still retaining some of its worst aspects.

This “national conservative” synthesis will neither represent Middle America, nor be genuinely nationalist. It will prioritize its own pet issues and guard against most genuine nationalists. Their challenge to Conservativism Inc. is more about a change in leadership than a real change in principles and strategy.

I noted [8] last month that Zionists are one of the factions competing to define Trumpism, saying that they “are willing to concede to nationalists if they remain devoted to Israel.” That’s still mostly true, as can be seen by the conference’s tone regarding immigration, its derision of liberal anomie, and its desire for national cohesion. The Zionists have also won over most of the Catholic faction. Catholic conservatives see Trump and nationalism as metapolitical wrecking balls that will clear the path for integralism. On the surface, it is strange that the Catholics would agree to take a subservient role in the Hazony coalition, but it makes sense given that most of these devout individuals have played second fiddle to neoconservatives for years. And the Catholics and Zionists do share some common ground: Both groups hate libertarians. The Zionists hate them because of their lack of support for Israel; the Catholics hate them because of their insufficient social conservatism. Likewise, they both want to lead the conservative movement rather than be on its margins; they both see Trump as a useful figure to advance their respective agendas; and they are both eager to disavow racism and insist their ideology has nothing to do with preserving the historic American nation.

Hazony and his fellow Zionists have managed to rise as the gatekeepers of American nationalism because no one else succeeded in creating a Trumpist infrastructure independently of the President. Steve Bannon tried, but failed. Bannon spent most of his energy backing kooky candidates and talking to reporters. Hazony was smarter, and held a conference.

The problem that will remain for this group is defining just what the hell nationalism is. In The Virtue of Nationalism, Hazony argues nationalism is good because it offers “the collective right of a free people to rule themselves.” Hazony sees the nation-state as being superior to empire. Imperialism is bad because it is universalistic and denies free people the right to rule themselves. In his book, it comes across as a euphemism for globalism. Hazony’s nationalism is based on culture, religion, and history; race plays no role. That’s a step above those who claim nations are just ideas, but it’s still not accurate. Hazony’s dubiousness is exposed when it comes to Israel. He claims that Israel is somehow not an ethnostate because it has Jews of all different races! In June, he tweeted:

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.

Peter Brimelow made mincemeat [9] out of this argument by pointing out the Jewish people’s historical requirement of matrilineal descent in order to be considered part of the Tribe.

Hazony claims Jews invented nationalism and Protestants revived this idea with their greater reliance on Old Testament scripture. In spite of his Catholic alliance, the Israeli Professor has attacked the Church’s imperial vision and alleged opposition to nationalism. According to Hazony, Protestantism is nationalist because of its Hebrew influence, while the Catholic Church is imperialistic due to its Roman heritage. In his view, nationalism is foreign to Indo-Europeans, and we have the Jews to thank for the nation-state.

Hazony also claims that the Torah is one of the cornerstones of Western society, and read from it – in Hebrew! – after Hawley’s speech. This hardly seems like the Anglo-Protestantism upon which America was founded.

So what about American nationalism? What defines American identity and culture? Here, its proponents could only say what American nationalism is not.

Brog recently published an essay [10] arguing that it is not White Nationalism. He wrote:

In America, any effort to build a nationalism grounded in race will be crushed by the weight of our diversity and overwhelmed by the power of our ideas. While there have been great sins and shortcomings along the way, our leaders set us on a path that guaranteed that our American identity would eventually transcend blood and clan.

When it came time to define nationalism, Brog could only characterize it as an infrastructure program, quoting various Abraham Lincoln speeches. The nationalism the Zionists envision persists with the same, tired conservative platitudes.

The conference openly stated that one of its core purposes was to exclude racialists. Its “about” page reads [11]:

We see this public conference as the kick off for a protracted effort to recover and reconsolidate the rich tradition of national conservative thought as an intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism, and in stark opposition to political theories grounded in race.

The Edmund Burke Foundation – the think-tank Hazony founded – hoped the conference will create a movement free of racialists, but the resulting coverage shows that liberals will still call them racists regardless. Liberals instinctively know that emphasizing culture masks the racial reality. And the kosher nationalists can’t even define what American culture is. Of course, they’re uncomfortable admitting that the nation has a racial core because it doesn’t include them. This is why Hazony strenuously argues that the Torah is the foundation of the West and that the Hebrews invented nationalism.

This cultural emphasis is deluded because it opens up the national conservatives to silly notions, such as the idea that English-speaking evangelical Nigerians are culturally closer to Americans than Orthodox Russians. If solely language or religion define American nationality, Hazony will have trouble arguing against such ridiculous claims.

American nationalism cannot escape race. America was founded by and for white people: “for ourselves and our posterity.” The central conflict of our time is not over BDS, industrial subsidies, Torah education, or Iran. It’s over whether white Americans can take back their country. Hazony tries to say otherwise. He truly believes that we can build national cohesion with arcane child tax credits and love for Israel.

National cohesion can only come from America accepting its racial identity. National conservatism refuses to accept that, even though it will still be called racist.

I predict that next year’s conference will be even more cucked and more opposed to hints of racialism. They will recruit more non-whites to speak. There will be discussions about America’s racist past, and how reparations are actually nationalist. They’ll still try to get Tucker Carlson and others of his ilk to speak in order to maintain credibility, but it will still be obvious that it’s controlled opposition.

Hazony cares more about not appearing racist than about articulating genuine American nationalism. What else should we expect from a dual citizen?

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