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“Resistance is Futile”:
Hazony on Nations, Empires, & Minorities

1,771 words

Yoram Hazony’s argument in The Virtue of Nationalism (reviewed here and here) depends on a hard either/or between the nation-state and the empire. A nation is either sovereign or it isn’t. Empires inevitably destroy the sovereignty of the states they incorporate, even if this fact is cloaked in lovey liberal euphemisms.

Hazony, moreover, argues that even though empires might appeal to universalistic ideologies, they always begin with a particular people, a particular ethnic core, that inevitably stamps the empire with the ethnic character of the founding population. Thus for Hazony, an empire is a regime in which a dominant people rules over other peoples, some of which could otherwise have their own sovereign homelands.

However, when one looks closely at Hazony’s concept of the nation-state, he makes it clear that nation-states are not, and need not be, ethnically homogeneous. Hazony also denies that it is possible for multicultural societies to be neutral in relationship to different cultures, giving all equal status and freedom. Instead, he argues that nation-states inevitably have a dominant national group that rules over other peoples, some of which could otherwise have their own sovereign homelands. In short, Hazony’s concept of the nation-state is indistinguishable from his concept of the empire.

The supposedly neutral or civic nature of states such as the United States, Britain, and France is . . . illusory. The strength and stability of these free states is entirely the result of the overwhelming dominance of the American, English, and French nations over any and all competing nations and tribes within their borders—a dominance that was achieved in all three cases through the destruction of any significant competitors over centuries. (p. 161)

This is true, of course. The United States was created by throwing out European colonial powers, subjugating Indian tribes and blacks (free and enslaved), conquering Mexican territory, suppressing Mormon polygamists, and subjugating the Confederacy through bloody warfare and onerous occupation. The United Kingdom was created by subjugating various ethnic and linguistic minorities—the Welsh, the Cornish, the Scots, the Irish—and colonizing part of Ireland. France was created by subjugating and marginalizing Bretons, Basques, Occitanians, Germans, and Savoyards. Since at least some of these subordinate peoples could have sovereign homelands of their own, the US, UK, and France are empires, which maintain their power through despotic means, e.g., “the destruction of any significant competitors over centuries.”

While Hazony praises the US, UK, and France for constructing nation-states through “centuries” of subjugation and “destruction” of “competitors,” he has nothing kind to say about Iraq and Syria, both of which are multiethnic states ruled despotically by a core tribal group: the Sunni in Iraq, the Alawites in Syria (pp. 162–63). Hazony denigrates these states in comparison with Israel, in which Jews are the dominant ethnic group in a society that includes various minorities, including Christians, Druze, and Bedouins, but no Palestinians (pp. 163–64).

The only difference between Israel and Iraq or Syria is this: Israel is an explicitly and officially Jewish dominated state, whereas Iraq is not officially a Sunni dominated state, and Syria is not officially an Alawite dominated state. On Hazony’s account, all that would be necessary to make Iraq and Syria into nation-states is, paradoxically, to own up to the fact that they are actually mini empires. But if they own up to this and successfully subjugate competing ethnic groups, then by Hazony’s standards they have attained the necessary condition for developing “free” institutions:

It is the internal cohesion of these nations [the US, UK, and France] that makes the national states in question possible, and the cultural inheritance of these nations that establishes the character of each of their respective states. If there is anything to be learned from these states, it is that the overwhelming dominance of a single nationality with a given space allows for the growth of free institutions, including individual rights and liberties, that an internally divided state—that is, a non-national state—cannot, in general, either develop or maintain. (p. 161)

But in what sense do these little empires really have “free institutions”? Hazony makes a distinction between free states, in which a nation-state emerges from the voluntary decision of different tribes, and despotic states, in which one group subjugates others. By this standard, the US, UK, and France are despotic not free.

Hazony, moreover, emphasizes that one of the values of nationalism is that it offers “collective freedom” to different peoples. He also denies that multicultural states can have ethnically “neutral” institutions. The US Constitution, for instance, is a document suffused with the character of its Anglo-Protestant creators: “The reverence for all such documents and symbols would be an artifact of a particular tribal or national tradition, and so not neutral at all. And this is precisely how they would be seen by those minority nations and tribes that are not tired by bonds of mutual loyalty to the national majority of the state, and do not regard what happens to the national majority as if it were happening to themselves” (p. 159). This means that the “free institutions” of the US, UK, and France would be perceived (correctly) as expressions of the collective freedom of the dominant groups at the expense of the collective freedom of subordinate groups.

Hazony sums up his position in rather crass terms:

The overwhelming dominance of a single, cohesive nationality, bound together by indissoluble bonds of mutual loyalty, is in fact the only basis for domestic peace within a free state. By this I do not means that the entire population must be drawn from a single nationality, for no such thing exists anywhere on earth. Moreover, there is no evidence that such a compete homogeneity is necessary for the cohesion, stability, and success of the state. Rather, what is needed for the establishment of a stable and free state is a majority nation whose cultural dominance is plain and unquestioned, and against which resistance appears to be futile. (p. 165)

There you have it: We’re here to bring you freedom. Resistance is futile.

The word for Hazony’s position is “supremacism”: Jewish supremacism in Israel, French supremacism in France, English supremacism in the UK, and white supremacism in the United States.

Hazony’s frank ethnic supremacism exists in tension with his sixth principle of an order of national states, namely “Protection of minority nations and tribes by the national government” (p. 183). On Hazony’s account, protection and accommodation of minorities seems entirely consistent with simply oppressing them:

The protection and accommodation of minority nations and tribes cannot express itself in the same way in every national state. There are national and tribal minorities whose disaffection is to a substantial degree the result of abuse and neglect, in which the national state is itself guilty of creating a sphere of anarchy within its own borders, and consequently of undermining the order of national states as a whole. At the same time, there are national and tribal minorities whose disaffection is aggressively cultivated by other national states or by imperial powers, which stoke fear and anger among them for their own purposes. And, of course, both may be true. In some cases, the problem of disaffection must therefore be dealt with by a greater measure of political or religious autonomy than had been considered tolerable; while in others, there is no choice but for the national state to apply more rigorous measures to deprive imperialist and anarchic elements of their aspirations by force. And it may be that both approaches have to be applied at once. (pp. 183–84)

What sort of “rigorous measures” does Hazony contemplate? Should one look to Israel for examples? Would it include assassinations, hostage-taking, and collective punishment? Surely it is an abuse of language to describe such measures as “protection and accommodation” of minority groups. This is internal anarchy verging on civil war.

What would Hazony’s advice be to Americans, whose white supremacy system has been dismantled since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965? How would he advise that we reestablish white supremacy and show uppity blacks, Jews, Asians, and mestizos that “resistance is futile”? Corralling them into walled ghettos and occasionally dropping phosphorous on them? Slipping exploding cellphones to the leaders of Black Lives Matter? Dispatching bulldozers to level the mansions of Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer?

Even to discuss it is deeply distasteful.

Which means that if Hazony’s writings become influential, they will only be trotted out by conservatives to justify Israeli policy, but they will never be applied to regaining control of our own white homelands, because we just don’t have the stomach for it. Which means, in effect, nationalism for Israel and more of the same for the West. Which means that Hazony’s views will be functionally identical to the neoconservatism that he rejects.

What Hazony does not contemplate is giving disaffected minorities their freedom. He does speak of granting minorities “a greater measure of political or religious autonomy than had been considered tolerable,” but he is essentially talking about tinkering with incentives on Indian reservations, not creating sovereign homelands. But clearly there are situations when different tribes occupying the same lands become so hostile and embittered that they can no longer live together and need to contemplate complete separation.

There are two ways of giving disaffected minorities their freedom: moving borders and moving peoples. Moving borders means drawing a line around a disaffected ethnic group and either carving out new homelands or carving off territories and ceding them to neighboring states composed of the same ethnic group. Moving peoples—like in the book of Exodus—means shifting populations from one sovereign state to another. Both techniques can be used in tandem to separate enemy nations.

The main reason why states may not wish to grant freedom to subordinate groups is because they regard these people and the land under their feet as exploitable resources that they do not wish to surrender. This sort of amoral, calculating Realpolitik simply invites amoral counter-measures, such as terrorism and economic warfare, to raise the costs of occupation and exploitations higher than the benefits.

The only way to avoid that sort of escalation is to set aside Realpolitik and appeal to moral principles. Hazony has offered a convincing case that the best political system is the nation-state, and the best global order is a world of nation-states. So why not simply affirm, as I do in The White Nationalist Manifesto, the ethnonationalist principle that all peoples have the right to sovereign homelands, to the extent that this is possible?

I will deal with Hazony’s reasons for rejecting a universal right to self-determination in the next and final installment of this series.

 

22 Comments

  1. Alexandra O
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I definitely do NOT want an Empire — look at the mess we have with just our nearest ‘colony’, Puerto Rico! NO. NO. NO. We need to stand on our own, and trade with others, but have NO immigration from any other countries other than those of our European Heritage. That is, if we can find a way to politely ‘remove’ all the ‘others’ already living here. I think it’s a nearly hopeless task, but we certainly do not want to encompass any other poor, downtrodden masses, longing to be free, into what is left of the United States! Nor pay the bills for them and their 10 kids per woman.

  2. Beyond Twilight
    Posted February 7, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks for an interesting review. I would like to refer to this:
    What would Hazony’s advice be to Americans.

    I’m not Hazony, but i am a right-wing secular Jew from Israel, so i hope that qualifies somehow, as attempt to understand how his head might work. 🙂
    The main advice here, in current reality, could be a demographic one. Organizing the large white patriotic traditionalist grassroots settlers movement with very high fertility.
    This is something that could probably be done without anticipating any miracles from corrupted politicians. Those settlers will have their own inner system of education and parenting (the much more orthodox example in U.S. are the Amish, but maybe there’s no need to be that radical). The demographic reverse is possible within few generations, given the fact that the fertility rates of other communities will keep on falling. Of course, that should also require the closed borders, null immigration and deportation of illegals as a supporting political feature.

    Please let me add few words about the presumed “Jewish consensus”, from my personal observations among many Israeli right wingers, in regards to the issues that matter to you. Many here consider the politics of Western elites in regards to accepting 3-rd world immigration, as absolutely crazy and self-suicidal. The degree of disgust towards the Jewish-origin globalist freaks, like Soros (or the meme-like idiot Barbara Spectre), is the same, as you personally feel. They are seen as harmful lunatic leftards, nothing to be proud of. Some here share the obvious notion, that European culture and civilization, created by native European nations, and those very nations, are important cornerstone of the world’s best achievements, and they should be, at very least, preserved and protected, therefore the globalist politics of open borders is a nightmare, that should be reversed asap. In that regard, the politics of Victor Orban are met with far more understanding and perceived as way more reasonable, than a politics of Merkel. Some here share the same European culture and origins, at very least, so it goes as deep, as a personal subconscious level, even without the rationalizations of a right-wing national states policy.

  3. Muhammad Aryan
    Posted February 6, 2020 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    ||…he has nothing kind to say about Iraq and Syria, both of which are multiethnic states ruled despotically by a core tribal group: the Sunni in Iraq, the Alawites in Syria (pp. 162–63). ||

    ||…whereas Iraq is not officially a Sunni dominated state, and Syria is not officially an Alawite dominated state. ||

    Iraq is ruled by Arab Shias which also happens to be the majority component of the population.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 7, 2020 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      Yes, but only recently, thanks to the US.

  4. Ed
    Posted February 6, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your incisive reviews of books of this sort. Your review of Fukuyama’s ‘Identity’ is a brilliant introduction to our most important ideas. It looks like this will be similarly useful. Will you do a review of Kaufman’s ‘Whiteshift’? If so, roughly when will we see it?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 7, 2020 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      Thank you. I am working on something on Whiteshift for later this month.

    • inq
      Posted February 7, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Review: “Kaufmann has done something exceedingly rare among center-right thinkers (…).”

      He offers ways of dealing with “whiteshift” (mixed-race political transformation in America and Western Europe): fight, repress, flight, and join.
      Sounds familiar ?

      Another “contribution” by the chosen to undermine Whites.
      Soon at Counter-Currents ?

  5. Guy Frowney
    Posted February 6, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Ultra-Zionist ‘Trojan Hebrews’ like Hazony have been attracted to white nationalism like moths to a flame for as long as I can remember. These are the jews who ‘look white’ to certain people in this movement. Indeed, they agree with us on a great many things. In private, they can be as crudely racist as the average Hollywood Nazi, but you need only bring up one subject if you want to get them to show their snout: Israel.

    Hazony’s pro-nationalism schtick is transparent to any white nationalist who has come across his type before. He knows that white ‘host’ countries are vital to the survival of his people and their homeland. He also knows that nationalism is an irreplaceable component of Zionism. If ‘globalism’ (for lack of a better word) wins and borders are dissolved in the West, it’s only a matter of time before Israel feels the same pressure to open her gates to the huddled Islamic masses, which is ultimately what jewish nationalists like Hazony are trying to prevent.

    Why we can’t ally ourselves with this type of jew is fairly obvious: They’re a far more virulent parasite than the stereotypical jewish iconoclast because they can mask their true intentions and exist undetected in a healthy white society.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 7, 2020 at 2:57 am | Permalink

      1. Hazony is not attracted to WN.

      2. Why would anyone be surprised that a racist Jew would be a Zionist?

      3. Is Hazony wrong to think that nationalism in Israel is threatened by internationalism abroad? He is quite out of step with the Jewish consensus, which sees nationalism abroad as a threat to diaspora Jewry, thus they preach multiculturalism for us, nationalism for Israel.

      4. Hazony does not want to create alliances with White Nationalists. He has made that quite clear. His work is pitched to midwit Christian Zionists.

      5. There’s a strong whiff of the paranoid style in your writing.

      • Guy Frowney
        Posted February 7, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        1. He isn’t publicly allying himself with white nationalists, but his type has existed within white nationalist circles for many years.

        2. Who’s surprised? Any white nationalist who has been around the movement long enough has come across a bagel nazi or two.

        3. Hazony appears to be part of a schism within Zionism that has come to the totally rational conclusion that it’s not such a great idea to bombard their white host countries with competing parasites. It’s obvious that he’s aware of the possible blowback, but that doesn’t make him an ally. It just makes him a clever parasite.

        4. Agreed, but there are white nationalists who naively think we can forge alliances with ‘based’ jews like Hazony and Stephen Miller.

        5. “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.”

  6. D.M.
    Posted February 6, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    What if we were to vary Hazony’s position as follows. Admit that race is a biological designation that is necessary for ethnicity. However ethnicity, which, unlike race is a cultural category based on history, language and religion, is indefinitely divisible—like religious denominations—and hence is too unstable to serve as the ground for a nation-state without subjugation of some groups by others.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 7, 2020 at 2:48 am | Permalink

      Is ethnicity really “infinitely divisible”? Is anything really “infinitely divisible”?

      • D.M.
        Posted February 7, 2020 at 5:13 am | Permalink

        Indefinitely, not infinitely, I what I said.

        Consider, by way of analogy, “congregation splits.” While a religious denomination such as the Methodists could tolerate such fracturing and splintering a state, which orders the basic institutions of society and requires stability and predictability in its law—could not.

        Do American Whites comprise one ethnic group? Are American Whites, with all our regional, religious, linguistic and ancestral differences, and strong differences in manners, customs and outlook, one people? How can one tell, other than by race?

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted February 7, 2020 at 5:18 am | Permalink

          You can’t answer the question “Are American whites one people” by pointing to a trait, whiteness, that does not differentiate us from Canadians or the French.

          • D.M.
            Posted February 7, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

            Oh, I know. But what, according to this objection, makes us one people, if we are one people?

          • Greg Johnson
            Posted February 7, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

            Language, culture, shared history. Burgers.

  7. HamburgerToday
    Posted February 6, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    The only way to avoid that sort of escalation is to set aside Realpolitik and appeal to moral principles.

    This sentence, and those around it caught my attention. It’s certainly the case that those for whom moral principles have an appeal can be affected by such an appeal. I wonder if Dr. Johnson thinks there are those who are beyond such appeal? The cynic in me thinks that it is precisely those who have an instrumental view of moral principles that make history.

    The ‘universal right to self-determination’ is hardly a basis for a state is it? The Self-Determination Principle seems like it has within the kernel of a metastatic logic equivalent to that of liberalism’s ‘universal equality’.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 6, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      I will deal with this in the sequel.

    • Posted February 7, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Universal rights of self-determination are an ex-post-facto rationalization of the reality that any one actor cannot control the whole world, that states will expand until they face effective resistance and that states must eventually rest from constant expansionist war – and in order to be secure in their borders once they’ve faced effective resistance and must rest, they will strike reciprocal agreements not to attack one another. Over time, reciprocity of mutual recognition between states will become the norm as various states recognize each other after direct conflict or as part of bargains with third parties, creating an electron cloud type environment of reciprocal obligations between all states involved (obligations exist but aren’t clearly bilateral) and the violators of such obligations will be at least morally condemned if not militarily punished because all states are interested in the moral legitimacy of their own sovereignty, which rests on reciprocal recognition of other states’ sovereignty. A game-theoretical Schelling point of mutual non-aggression, or a cooperate/cooperate equilibrium if you will.

      It has already happened before among Europeans. It was called the peace of Westphalia. It was less than perfect, but what is?

      • HamburgerToday
        Posted February 7, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps it wasn’t clear that my comment was directed at the ‘logic’ of ‘universal self-determination’ as a philosophical position. From my perspective, ideas have power to the extent they are able to initiate and sustain historical actors to make history. But, in the end, the process of ‘making history’ is not process of working out of ideas. Or, to put it differently, in the final analysis all apparent contradictions are resolved in the totality of concrete existence. Being something of a Heraclitean, I accept that different and opposing forces can be cooperating at a higher level to produce ‘stability’.

        • Posted February 8, 2020 at 2:03 am | Permalink

          The process seems to be that first power wins the day, and then ideas arise to justify the victory and seizure of power, and then the ideas get implemented for better or worse and serve as the organizing principle of the new order. Over time, as society degenerates, the contradictions in those ideas become apparent and unleash chaos on society. Then competing ideas and competing power centers arise to impose order.

          • HamburgerToday
            Posted February 8, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

            It’s a pleasure dialoging with you. I think the relationship between ideas, power and force is non-linear. No one really knows where ideas come from or what, exactly, causes some ideas to have the ability to move people to action (power) or engage in conflict (force). Dr. Johnson says he’s going to take up (what I see as) the problem of the ‘universal self-determination State’ in a sequel to this essay and I am looking forward to it. I believe that ‘universal self-determination’ has the ability to be the ‘spoonful of sugar’ that make the racial separatism ‘medicine go down’, which may be enough for now. I’m just looking down the road to a day when the logic of ‘universal self-determination’ becomes the hegemonic ideology of (some) racially separate States and how (what I see as) the ‘centrifugal’ effects of ‘universal self-determination’ can be managed or contained.

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