Patriotism & Nationalism:
A Response to Sarah Silverman
We stood somewhere near a local subway stop. Except for the girl, I didn’t know any of these people. Besides me there was just one another guy, he was tall, wore sunglasses and pink shorts, and put on a charade of friendliness and familiarity that Europeans often say is typical of Americans. There was what looked like a boy, but used a girl’s name, so I avoided addressing him/her/it. One girl was asked what type of music would be played on the party boat:
“Top 40, unfortunately,” she said with disgust. The whole night was a strange educational experience for me. They way in which she and her friends avoided the people around us was palpable. Her friends seemed to shrink away and went to move off on their own. Even as rising college seniors they had accepted that this was their place in what Jordan Peterson refers to as “the dominance hierarchy”, for which we might as well substitute the term sexual market value. The music was familiar to them, and they associated it with the more attractive people taking up the space around them. Comparatively beautiful women walked and danced, soaking up the attention as the sun made its way below the ocean. Those things that most people associated with fun, they associated with their feelings of social inferiority. I have argued that those feelings of inferiority are inklings of the fear of death, which appear all throughout our social lives.
To glimpse this dynamic it helps to explain the sentiment behind Sarah Silverman’s recent Monologue on Nationalism. She describes an ex-boyfriend who she witnessed setting up an American flag:
“I instantly felt very weird. It didn’t make sense, but I feel this feeling of…I felt scared.” She goes on to say that she went inside to call her sister, who “knows shit because she’s a rabbi in Israel”, who tells her: “Dude, nationalism is innately terrifying for Jews. Think about it: flags, marching, blind allegiance, these things tend to ring a bell for us”.
Now without dwelling too deeply on this, I think we can all appreciate that A) Silverman did us the favor of highlighting the oppositional quality of Western nationalism toward Jews, and B) doing this and mentioning Israel in the same breath, which of course exists as an explicit expression of Jewish nationalism. These are the little things that help move the Overton window.
The interesting thing about Silverman’s bit is the way she contrasts the inclusive nature of “patriotism” with the more exclusive “nationalism.” Firstly, she points out the obvious fact that while the sight of a police car will appear comforting to some (“white people”), it might appear threatening to others (“like, say, unarmed black children playing in a park”). She also adds, “Oh, and I guess like the Duke boys,” which serves as a way to elicit laughs while also feeding the anti-white lie that if white guys are being pursued by the cops, they probably did something to deserve it. She then makes another obvious claim that we have all heard from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and countless others, that “Nationalist movements tend to kind of exploit patriotism for their own cause.”
I don’t think any of us would bother to deny that Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, and many other right-wing political figures have used national feeling for their own goals. But as usual this claim by leftists relies on a false conception of nationalism being a constant threat across the decades and centuries, as if it never arose in reaction to real trends. Liberals after all are sometimes surprised when their analysis shows that support for Trump is based not primarily on economic pressures, but what they ignorantly and naively refer to as “racism.”
“Take a slogan like ‘Make America Great Again’, or ‘America First’. They go down easy, they sound patriotic, and that’s because taking an undeniable statement of patriotism and lumping it into your cause is like the ultimate cheat.” The title of her show then appears on the screen, at which point Silverman makes one of her typical comedic, smug facial expressions. It gets laughs because it is ironic, which also gives away the game: Silverman is also exploiting a cheap statement of patriotism in order to attack American identity!
“But patriotism and nationalism to me are very different things. Like, patriotism is loving your country. I’m a total patriot, I love my country. Whereas nationalism has this like ‘We’re number one’ vibe. And I fear that that ‘We’re number one’ nationalism is an old bed buddy of racism and xenophobia…”
This moment exemplifies the moralistic character of leftist comedians, who are often left in the awkward position of trying to insert quick goofy comedic moments into what is otherwise a barrage of denunciations directed at American conservatism and implicit racialism. Every time these people complain about us, they sound a little more like they’re warning high schoolers not to drink on prom night.
In the 2008 German movie Die Welle, there is a scene set in a contemporary German gymnasium in which a leftist student expresses her disgust for displays of national feeling. She recalls a sea of German flags displayed at a large soccer match, which she implies is reminiscent of Second World War-era nationalism. Such an example does not translate to the American experience, in which leftist contempt for the American flag has only recently begun to encroach on national dialogue.
In my experience, other than warfare and firearms, Germans hate displays of national feeling more than anyone else. When once asking a teenage German about those who willingly serve in Germany’s defense, I was told that they are almost universally despised. Americans by contrast usually take the more balanced view by disapproving of the needless wars while maintaining a conditioned respect for the idea of the American soldier. Defeating ‘Nazism’ was the excuse we needed to have pride in our military. I always think back to Jonathan Bowden:
“This is always the trick: that they will use the ideology of the Marine Corps to fight for a liberal, a humanist, and a Democratic purpose. That’s the trick”
Nationalism is always something to be afraid of because anti-Semitism is always something for Jews to be afraid of. This fear is the animus of the far left’s raison d’être: to be so devoted to ‘dismantling oppression’ that one sees oppression around every corner. The profound feeling that utopia can one day be achieved through enough progressive social will and mutual understanding becomes in effect an evolutionary strategy to always look under your bed for Nazi shadows, and then to create them. I think of young Mao Zedong, who once ran from his father during a distressing argument, until he came up to a lily pond in which he threatened to drown himself. The power of ‘the establishment’ not only fuels the rebellious nature of the leftist activist; it provides him comfort that would otherwise find itself replaced with overwhelming nihilism. He criticizes corporations, the religious, ‘structural inequality’, and the government because they lend him the identity he lost by rejecting loyalty to anything eternal.
Those of us who are not just nationalists, but White Nationalists must acknowledge that there is a similar paradox in our own character: that we have entered this subculture because we found ourselves to be the villains in the story the mainstream tells us, even as we aspire to metapolitical hegemony. We all have a deep sense of religious fervor that usually goes unused, because it feels silly to actually be the thing we are labeled by a media that is usually two steps behind our memes. Being “fashy” became a way we mocked their interpretation of us, and the more they sound the alarm, the more fun it gets. But our goal is to be there for all the white people with real patriotic instincts, as the left continues to berate them.
“As patriots, I think we should strive to see ourselves in each other, whereas I feel that the nationalist view is to see yourself, and then others…Out of many, one. That is what the country is about, ok?. There’s a very, very far distance from the very similar sentences of ‘We are one’, and ‘we’re number one. There’s like a willing blindness in saying ‘we’re number one’…I love America. I think it’s great to love America.”
There is that reference to blindness again, as if Trump voters were simply mesmerized by their devotion to American symbolism and cannot make autonomous decisions. I find it hard to imagine what Silverman ‘loves’ about America besides the fact that she has achieved wealth and fame here, and that it does not view her as an outsider.
One final whitepilling anecdote feels necessary here: several years ago at a college party, I stood in a grassy area that linked the porches of several townhouses. The place formed a kind of insulated rectangular shape. It was a weekend night, and people had been drinking for a few hours. I don’t know how it started, but suddenly people were cheering: USA! USA! USA! They weren’t reacting to something they had seen on TV, nor was it a national holiday. They were simply in high spirits at the end of a semester, and this was the natural way to express it.
Yes, this kind of tendency among Americans is not always deliberate or based on reasoning. Maybe one could call it “blind.” But these are our people, as flawed and naïve as they are. They are the minds we are on this Earth to mold into real patriotism, which is working for yourself and your own future. The extension of loving yourself is excluding those who do not belong; those whose love for your country depends on your tolerance of their subversion. Real patriotism in the end is nationalism. By loving ourselves and our own imagery, we will appear as a threat to those who can do nothing but meme us into their terrifying shadow. We are number one.
Forthcoming from Counter-Currents:
Jonathan Bowden’s Reactionary Modernism
Remembering Jonathan Bowden (April 12, 1962–March 29, 2012)
Quotations From Chairman Rabble Kenneth Roberts: A Patriotic Curmudgeon
Mihai Eminescu: Romania’s Morning Star
Agrarian Populism & Cargo Cult Fascism
Culture, History, & Metapolitics in Poland: An Interview with Jaroslaw Ostrogniew, Part 2
With Brasillach in Spain & Germany: Remembering Robert Brasillach (March 31, 1909 – February 6, 1945)