Saturday, November 01, 2008

Must be Halloween: To some, we all look like neo-nazis.

Over the past few years we in the business of thinking about and writing about jihad and Left dhimmi fascism have had some difficutlies regarding the state of nations and the relationship of citizens to the nation. Who is a person entitled to be a full citizen and who, in a state, is not? The question crudely and stupidly, comes to this for some: if one argues that not all people are entitled to be citizens of a state, and if that denial of citizenship is based on ethnicity, does it mean those who would deny citizenship on the basis of ethnicity are racists?

That's the framing of the question for some. For those who frame the question thus, the answer is that those who deny a legitimate place in a sovereign nation as citizens to "ethnic outsiders" are racists and neo-Nazis.

Most of us are more able to deal with complexity than are the few, those such as Charles Johnson; and then there is Jaco Pastorius, with whom I hope I am having a reconciliation after a rupture concerning our respective positions on this topic. [See up-date.]

Those of us who make it our lives to deal with jihad and Left dhimmi fascism and its positive alternatives, e.g. Palinism, are engaged in a struggle to articulate a new understanding of nation, nationalism, ethnicity in the nation, and, in my case, the filibuster for universal Modernity. Some folks don't take any of this well. They are prone to finding all of us who ask questions and seek answers to these questions, neo-Nazis. I'm vaguely pleased to say that I, and many others, are "banned" from sites such as LGF and IBA that disapprove of us due to our "neo-Naziness." Now Robert Spencer is banned from LGF.

Spencer writes at Jihad Watch:

I'm sorry to say that my old friend Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has written this:

I'm done with Robert Spencer. And very, very disappointed in him.


Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch are out of our RSS feeds. I'm not going to support people who link to vile sites like Gates of Vienna and Brussels Journal.


What heinous crime have I committed? Last month I restored the links here to Gates of Vienna and Brussels Journal, after speaking with Baron Bodissey, Paul Belien, and Geert Wilders in Washington, and wrote that I doubted that Fjordman was a neofascist or race supremacist.


I've been driven to inspect the intellectual history of this issue, thanks to people like Pastorius and Johnson, for the past few years, which has given me the opportunity to read and perhaps study such seminal thinker as Johann von Herder, Johann Fichte, and Arthur de Gobineau. Such fun. And it didn't end there. I've looked as well at Ruth Benedict, Margaret Meade, Ernest Gellner, Roger Sandal, and numerous lesser known thinkers and writers on this topic. Who? Well, Francis Galton and Richard Hofstadter, for example. Others, too. It's a serious problem we face, this question of who is and who is not a rightful citizen of a rightful place. It doesn't need fools flinging abuse around. But since that happens due to those who feel above Godwin's Law, let them do so and be damned.

Palinites know better than to be dragged into stupidities of lazy-minded fools. Good riddance to them. When we have questions, they will be based on the best work we can do to resolve them.

Yes, we too have our own suicide bombers. Luckily they are mostly harmful only to themselves.

Meanwhile, you can find me fully informed by Robert Spencer at Jihadwatch and Dhimmiwatch daily.

Up-date: Given my cranky nature at times, I find I have to reconcile with people frequently. Happily, they are mostly more personable than I.


Dag said...

Yes, I'm doing a lot of name-calling in the hasty post above. It's personal. I write serious copy very slowly. It's coming along. You can breathe. Its going to be a while yet. But it is coming. Trust me.

truepeers said...

This post is totally abstract. What are you really talking about? What is this complexity? If it it not about a particular scene, are you just caught up in an imagined complexity, in a metaphysical house of mirrors?

It seems to me there is no magical formula combining race, ethnicity, nation that you need to find. (Read more Hastings and less Gellner.) You can wait forever to find the formula because it doesn't really exist however many people are striking a pose in search for it. There are no necessary laws or positions about who can and cannot become a responsible and trusted citizen of a nation. There are only pragmatic realities, real places and situations to think and write about.

I'm afraid that you have actually been "dragged into stupidities" because of personal animus. I've always gotten along with Jaco, and I regret this personal animus. Is he responsible for Johnson and Spencer's spat? I fear you are allowing personal rivalry to get the better of you. As for Johnson, who cares about people who have a compelling need to expel heretics and outlaw discussions? Diagnose the need to expel heretics, which is what really seems to be on your mind, or just walk away... why this need to jump into something but you don't know where... you're looking for the metaphysical brass ring to vanquish your foes, just like the others... Neo-nazis may or may not be a problem; the answer is not in the abstract logic; it is in counting numbers and power and influence and the other players in a particular place and time. How can we choose the lesser evil?... that is the question, and it calls for strategies to learn about concrete realities, about what people today actually believe.

truepeers said...

By the way, I feel sorry for Spencer and appreciate your loyalty to him; but Johnson, who cares?

truepeers said...

I'd also like to say that the idea that neo-Nazis should be labeled nationalists, as if it were obvious, is worth unpacking. Yes the Nazis spoke a lot about the fatherland; but were they really serious nationalists, and not just another variety of Gnostic imperialists with a racial base, and hence a lot closer to white liberal imperialists than they might like to think? Can there be any kind of realistic and workable nation built on an attempt to eliminate the model of nationhood, Israel? (And why do the Charles Johnsons of the world never get all upset about Israeli "racism", not that anyone should, but you know what I mean - Israel is a Jewish state and while there are many Jewish ethnicities and languages, still, "Jewish" has some racial element to it...)

In what sense did nazis believe in democratic self-rule and the personal freedom that nations exist to make possible? in the people of a nation sharing in a covenant (which entails, among other things, some deference to God or an equivalent secular humility).

I don't think the Nazis were anything but half-boiled and very self-destructive "nationalists"; in other words, I think they weren't real nationalists, despite some appearances. In the end, what they really believed (as actions reveal what we really believe) was to destroy Germany. So I would encourage the need to develop an understanding of nations and nationalism that helped bring this out.

Dag said...

This post is about Robert Spencer (in particular) being daemonized by Charles Johnson at LGF.

Johnson's reasons for banning Spencer and many others are open to discussion, in my opinion.

truepeers said...

Yes, Johnson is an example of a problem worth talking about. As I suggested above, we need an intelligent way to point out how his hatred of the half-baked European "nation", and his consequent political fantasies (one assumes they must be fantasies, not that Johnson ever says enough to make him an easy or maybe worthwhile study in thinking) share something in common with Hitler. My refrain, of course, is that what connects the dots is Gnosticism, or Utopian fantasies of a new world that will overcome invidious conflicts and resentments, and we need the discipline to show what that is and not just get frustrated with Utopian stupidity.

As for Pastorious, I just saw your update. Sorry he called you a neo-Nazi. That would have been an act of stupid frustration; but frankly I imagine it had something to do with your desire to pick fights with him. The problem is not so much the desire, but the lack that you admit here regarding your own figuring out what to make of race and nationhood and universal modernity. With such concepts in mind, you spin the metaphysical wheels all night long (and in ways that probably scare a confused Pastorius); that's why I encourage you to seek grounding outside of metaphysics.

Dag said...

I've written to Pastorius and asked him to respond to this issue here if he cares to. At IBA he's come out in sympathy for Spencer. I'm happy to see that, and as far as I'm concerned, all is well between us.

A problem we face generally is how we deal with the Charles Johnsons among us who see any trace of support for ethnic nationalism as akin to Nazi-ism. That is an hysteria. How do we effectively address the concerns of these people? I look into the history of ideas of ethnic nationalism to see what it is we're on about, rather than rely on Charles Johnson and Bill Ayers to tell me to shut up.

Pastorius has his reasons for feeling nervous about racism, as do we all. The question is what is racism? What is the alternative? I'm not relying on anyone to decide that for me. I'll look into it till I'm satisfied I have an idea of the question itself, and then I'll think abut how I would answer it to my satisfaction. I write very slowly, and that after reading slowly and thinking slowly. Don't wait up all night for an answer. I'm not Charles Johnson, quick to condemn anything I think I think I should scream about just because. When I know, then I'll publish.

Anonymous said...

I'll probably be smart to stay out of this particular debate, but in response to what qualifications make a citizen, I'll try and do my best...

To me, the nature of democracy is rooted in individuality. Three individuals lift up one of their own as their leader, in order that teh responsibility of leadership is not theirs anymore. Government, after all, is a question of where to delegate responsibility ( should the government provide healthcare, is that a provincial responsibility, is that a federal responsibility, etc. ).

And so democracy to me, is nothing more than the willingness of some to create a system above and around them, for the purpose of handling certain responsibilities, or handling them better. That's why I tend to object to those who say almost religiously that 'you have to vote'. No one has to vote that does not want to sustain the government system.

But a citizen is not defined by his government, although I think one's participation in democracy is a good indication of one's willingness to be a part of the greater community.

Perhaps instead, citizenry is rooted in one's acceptance of the culture around oneself. One moves to Canada; one becomes Canadian. One moves to America, one becomes American. You're not a Mexican-American, or a Canadian-American unless you wish to simply live in that country, with no participation in the politics and general community.

But, if you accept the general community; if you accept the culture and society, and integrate yourself within it, then I think you can qualify as a citizen.

I think it's a mindset, not any sort of outward qualification.

And therefore, if you have someone who is poisenous to the general society around them; who is harmful, or who advocates harm, then they are no longer citizens. They are no longer acting toward the greater good of the community around them, at which point, it is acceptable that they be deemed 'outside the community'.

And I think they already are, instinctively. The only ones who come to such peoples' defence are generally the relativists, who have no understanding of even subjective reality, or the government, which has an interesting relationship with our culture.

Anywho, them's my thoughts on the subject.

Anonymous said...

By the way Dag, are you planning on writing a book about any of this?

I thought I heard a rumor somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Doh! Typo:

'You're not a Mexican-American, or a Canadian-American unless* you wish to simply live in that country, with no participation in the politics and general community.'

*'if', not 'unless'.

truepeers said...

A problem we face generally is how we deal with the Charles Johnsons among us who see any trace of support for ethnic nationalism as akin to Nazi-ism.

-well, we need to begin by questioning the concept of "ethnic nationalism". I wouldn't use it, pace Gellner and co. It seems to me that the distinguishing feature of a nation (as opposed to an ethnicity) is that it has a high culture that transcends the ethnic. Modern Italian is not an ethnicity; Calabrian regional culture is.

I encourage the idea of stepping out of a purely metaphysical form of thinking about these questions because that is what I think a nation does when it creates itself. It creates itself not in the philosopher's cafe but in the course of real events where the mystery by which a nation transcends shared experience is not reducible to an ideology but rather to a shared faith, founded in a shared history or event.

Newcomers can come to share this history, even if their ancestors were not around when key events happened, but this sharing, to say it again, is not reducible to sharing an ideology, but rather to sharing in a covenant that grew out of those past events. The American constitution is not an ideology.

The problem with racial nationalism is that it half-appreciates but does not really understand the necessarily covenantal basis of all nations. Thus the recourse to theories of blood and soil as a poor substitute for understanding the covenant that is probably not yet even coherent to the better thinkers of the half-baked nation (as Germany or Belgium or maybe, yes, Canada, has always been a half-baked "nation" and never the real McCoy).

The problem with a Charles Johnson is that not only does he have no respect for the poor substitute for a covenantal understanding - i.e. "blood and soil" - he too has no respect for any kind of covenant or extra-metaphysical (i.e. religious) thinking. I imagine he would hate European nationhood if it were expressed frankly in Christian and historical (eventful) terms. What he wants to believe in is some kid of Gnostic fantasy of nations that somehow transcend their distinctive nationality. He is afraid of history and buys into some cheap Utopian vision of an America that is post-historical (i.e. "multicultural").

This is why at the end of the day Johnson has something in common with those blood and soil types: they are both refusing to understand the real basis of nationhood and consequently are both part of what become imperial movements, whatever the superficial differences in how the imperial elites identify themselves - liberals, the master race: what's the difference? To many that will be a ridiculous question. Everyone knows the metaphysics by which we distinguish liberals and master racists, however much we may also recognize the liberals want to build a one-world master human race.

But there are ways of seeing that can see before and beyond metaphysics, given that there is never going to be a successful one-world government. The idea is a recipe for endless civil war.

It is the refusal to recognize the basis of human conflict, and to admit the need to draw covenantal (high cultured) boundaries around our conflicts in order to best mediate them, that postmodern liberals and master racists share in common.

Dag said...

Briefly, I want to know what ethnicity is before I decide I think I favor or disfavor it as the basis of anything significant. Is ethnicity the same as race? Well, I find out.

Am I a racist? I don't know what race is as yet, so I look to de Gobineau to ask what he thinks race is and what it means to him. He's one man with opinions. There are others. I continue to look into this. I also have to examine my own life in the world to see what is and what is merely opinion. It's not a matter of checking the wind for the day's cliches. We can find out a great deal , and we can clarify our ideas at least to the point we don't make assumptions based on assumptions of others.

What is a nation, a state, a culture? I go find out because we are faced with practical questions of what to do on a daily basis in our daily lives with people Like Johnson who have opinions and some power. What do we think and why that? I he right, we wrong? How to know?

How do we define our terms? How do we divide reality into manageable parts? Are we creations of our nations, as the European opinion generally has it; or are we individuals who create society in our images? Can one be of a nation if one is "cosmopolitian?" If one is "rootless" and not part of the blood and the soil, is there a legitimate place in the nation, and if so what and why?

I don't have any immediate answers to these questions, so I ask. Some. like Johnson, are offended that I would ask. And if I can't explain why I ask and why I think he is wrong in his assumptions, then I fail myself.

There is no book that will explain the answers to me. I look only for those who explain themselves to give me questions further.

truepeers said...


I basically like the way you put it. The question of immigration then becomes in good part one of numbers. Any individual can and under the right circumstances likely will integrate with the nationality he migrates to join. But if he migrates with sufficiently large numbers of his fellows, there is more likely to occur "ghettoization" and conflict without integration. Further, because nationality is ultimately a question of shared faith, it is religious, not racial, differences that are often the greatest threat to integration, though the two are not entirely distinguishable, given that religions grow up to bind races or nations, something with which multi-national, and sometimes post-national, Christianity (and its post-CHristian secular offshoots) has an ambivalent relationship.

In order for CHristianity to become the religion of the European nations it had to return to the Old Testament model of Israel; the New Testament does not provide a model of a new national covenant with God. Many have tried to imagine a NT covenant for this world, but the NT for good reasons declares the kingdom not of this world - there can't be a one-world "nation" as anything other than a wished for fantasy or as a strictly religious idea that will inevitably clash with politics.

The lack of a truly Christian covenant in this world, or rather the need for Christian nations to model themselves on Israel, became a basis for resentment of Jewish firstness, or for antisemitism. (Something similar happens when the "Umma" becomes a political project.) Among the results were the desire to invent "blood and soil" ideologies instead of frankly admitting the need to follow the model of Israel (the nation that can sustain itself anywhere, even when it has no soil of its own, because a nation is first of all a particular form of high culture).

You wrote: To me, the nature of democracy is rooted in individuality. Three individuals lift up one of their own as their leader, in order that the responsibility of leadership is not theirs anymore.

-but this is just another way of saying they come to share something of leadership by recognizing it and seconding its motions. One can only be a real leader to the extent that he represents things in ways that are meaningful to others. But this is to to say the best representation, though necessarily beginning with some one, a leader, is eventually a negotiation among several. Government is always to some degree a shared conversation between government and governed and trouble always follows when this is forgotten. Democracy or constitutionalism are only more developed ways of recognizing this fact that is universal to every system of government. Even the tyrant needs feedback and discussion with those who would carry out his orders.

There is thus an argument that it is a responsibility to vote, though as David Warren recently wrote it is also good to have a tradition whereby one can return one's ballot, as an engaged way of saying "none of the above".

Anonymous said...

Truepeers: I think that I'm still tending towards a different approach to the existence of rulership.

I think I tend to see things in a somewhat Objectivist model; that there are some who take on more responsibilities than others, or who assume the roles that others cannot or will not. I differ from Ayn Rand when she says that there are some people who sort of...drag their society forward in progress, but I do think that there are some who are willing to take on that challenge, not because of any particular inherent skill or ability ( although that may be a factor ), but because of their willingness to step up and do so. I believe that there are some more willing to take on the burdens of others.

I tend to think that in politics, such people come forward because of this mindset, and we simply choose between them, to find the best representative for us. Now, of course, there are some who do so for purely their own gain, in which case, they provide poor leadership, and there are some who are where they are becuase of an error in the democratic process, but over-all, I think it's a sort of dance between what we want, and what some of us are willing to step up and do for us.

I'd never thought of it as a coversation between ruler and ruled, but I think that makes sense. If it is an interaction between those who wish to give responsibility, and those who wish to take it, then I think that is condusive to a sort of conversation between the two sides of things.

Although I still think that voting is not a responsibility, because I think a responsibility requires there to be an according freedom to have responsibility over. If government is a matter of delegated responsibility, and at times a matter of reduced freedom, then I don't think that voting factors into the equation any more than as a means to the end of bringing about an 'elected dictatorship'.

Although I believe you're right, a 'none of the above' ballot would be very nice. Perhaps in the next election, when I'm actually elligible to vote.