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Notes and Comments on "The Virtue of Nationalism"

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31 minutes ago, merjet said:

Producers. There are traders who only buy and sell, for example, on a commodities exchange. They may buy and sell pork bellies, corn, wheat, etc. without ever producing those things. If farmers didn't produce those things, the traders couldn't buy and sell them.

Producing is a trade, i.e. a trader by profession. We needn't identify every participant as a trader who produces pork bellies vs a trader who buys pork bellies. The Trader Principle applies to both.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

Producers. There are traders who only buy and sell, for example, on a commodities exchange. They may buy and sell pork bellies, corn, wheat, etc. without ever producing those things. If farmers didn't produce those things, the traders couldn't buy and sell them.

Farmers are traders. Everyone who produces something to sell is a trader.

Edited by Nicky

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8 hours ago, Grames said:

Trump uses tariffs as a retaliatory measure and negotiating tool against other countries tariffs and trade controls.  He has already dropped tariffs where progress on trade agreements have been made.  See the USMCA agreement and the announced basis of negotiation with the EU

So you take Trump's actions generally as being supportive of free trade? Here's an opinion considering that analysis, among other possibilities.

I don't know. I think it's possibly an error to consider Trump as being particularly principled in any direction -- except for the bedrock that is his own aggrandizement. But it certainly seems to me that he's not afraid to violate what I would otherwise consider to be free markets, or the individual rights which make free markets possible. If that's a "negotiating tool," I don't know that it makes it any better. I don't think he cares about things like "rights."

In any event, how do you square your interpretation with Trump's threatening US businesses against moving overseas? For instance, here is a write-up of Trump's reaction to Harley-Davidson. This does not sound to me like a principled free-trader in action.

Quote

As for your other questions, Hazony has been taking pains to emphasize that the basis of mutual loyalty is shared values and specifically shared actions to gain or keep values in the face of joint adversity.  Race has nothing to do with it, not in the present day and not in the ancient biblical roots of nationalism that he cites.  There are hundreds of occurrences of the word 'nation' in the King James presentation of the Old Testament, a period of history when there was no science of biology and no possible biological rationalization of race awareness.  Certainly people noticed different features of different peoples but they also noticed their different architecture and different gods and temples.  Culture is primary.  Further chapters will spend additional time hammering that point home.

Race has nothing to do with nationalism, either currently or historically? All right. I think there's possibly something arguable here, but I'll leave it for others, or for another time.

Quote

It is a valid and pertinent question as to which nations also should have states.  The short answer is: not all of them.  That gets addressed in a later chapter.

Okay; I will look forward to that being addressed later.

Do you also consider it a "valid and pertinent question" as to how it is proposed to enforce a preference for nationalism? Perhaps we have decided that the Quebecois and Basques, etc., should have states -- or perhaps not -- but how generally does the nationalist propose to preserve his culture against demographic shifts, immigration and emigration, influx of foreign media, etc.? Can this be done without violating individual rights?

Edited by DonAthos

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15 hours ago, DonAthos said:

In any event, how do you square your interpretation with Trump's threatening US businesses against moving overseas? For instance, here is a write-up of Trump's reaction to Harley-Davidson. This does not sound to me like a principled free-trader in action.

The article states that Thailand has a 60 percent tariff, and that Harley-Davidson was avoiding the tariff by producing in Thailand.  That is a plain example of an economic incentive inducing action.   If there is a rights violating initiation of force here, it appears Thailand initiated it with its very high 60% tariff rate.   Responding tit-for-tat with equivalent tariffs against Thailand is the proportional response.  After trade is harmed in both directions by symmetrical high tariffs then perhaps Thailand may reconsider its strategy and lower its tariffs.  That seems to have been the outcome with Trump's other successful trade negotiations, so why couldn't it work again?

 

15 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Race has nothing to do with nationalism, either currently or historically? All right. I think there's possibly something arguable here, but I'll leave it for others, or for another time.

Qua political theory, no. Nationalism does not need to rely on racism as justification.  Racism has been around long before nations were founded.  Nationalism's relation to racism is neither cause nor effect.

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Chapter X: How Are States Really Born?

Fairy Tales

Some parents tell their younger children that newborn babies are delivered to the home, sometimes adding the detail that a stork drops the newborn on the doorstep. No parent ever believes that, so why do they say it?  Perhaps because the full truth is bloody and unpleasant, and a pre-pubescent child wouldn't be able to fully understand it anyway, the lie prevents some avoidable distress [to the parent as well as the child].  At any rate the truth must come out when the child is older, this merely prolongs a child's innocence and ignorance for short while.

Instructors in politics, law, and philosophy tell their students about how states are born by invoking a similar fairy tale.  They say that while living in a state of perfect freedom and equality, each individual consents, together with countless others, to form a government and to submit to its dictates.  None of them believe it, so why do they teach it?  Perhaps to protect the minds of their students from ugly and unpleasant truths.  Unfortunately the truth does not necessarily reveal itself in time.  The story of consent is impressed upon students at every level of their education, high school, college, grad school, law school.  Legislators, scholars and jurists of renown still have this fairy tale taking up space in their minds where actual competence is needed.  The fiction that states are formed by the consent of individuals hides from us the way in which states are born, and goes on from there to confound our understanding of how they continue to exist through time, of what holds them together, and of what destroys them.

How the State Comes into Being

The "state of nature" described by Locke or Hobbes in which individuals were loyal only to themselves has never existed.  The political order of anarchy is the order of clans and tribes. There is no permanent central government, no standing army or police force, no bureaucracy capable of raising taxes sufficient to maintain such a force, and therefore no one with the ability to issue decrees that can then be imposed by means of armed force. A clan or tribe acts as a unified body when agreement of the clan or tribe exists that its leaders have decided a given matter correctly.  Where such agreement is lacking loyalty of the clan or tribe to its leaders can still bring the tribe to act. And finally, the pressure that those who agree with the decision and those who accept it out of loyalty together bring to bear on anyone who remains uncertain will bring those to act. Where these are insufficient, the clan or tribe simply does not act as a unified body.

The disadvantages of the order of clans and tribes are that defense is based on a fractious and irregularly trained militia, justice is attained only with great difficulty, and the customs of religion are maintained only voluntarily. When tribes and clans fall away from loyalty to their common customs and to one another, warfare among the tribes, injustice, and defeat at the hands of foreigners inevitably follow, with no one having the ability to set matters aright.

The state is born out of the relative weakness of the old order of tribes and clans.  A standing central government establishes a professional armed force that is not disbanded in peacetime; a bureaucracy capable of raising taxes sufficient to maintain such a force; and a ruler or government with the authority to issue decrees that are then imposed, where necessary, by means of armed force.  Thus the political order of the state can defend the tribes against external enemies, adjudicate and suppress disputes among them, and institute uniform religious rites [or more generally, a uniform culture] on a national scale.  

The state is created in two ways: voluntary and involuntary.  The voluntary state, or the free state, is created by heads of a coalition of tribes, recognizing a common bond among them as well as a common need, coming together to establish a national standing government.  Free states are created by joining together, consolidating, existing political structures.  The loyalty to the new layer of political hierarchy is founded first in the loyalty to the leader and structure that made that decision and second, if the leadership's decision was sound, that the interests of the new state are in fact common with his own.

Examples in history of free states: the coming together of the tribes of Israel, the joining of the former colonies in North America first into a federation then into a constitutional union, ancient Athens constituted several clans thus making it a tribal city-state [rather than a national state, the usual modern form], Alfred unifying England.

The involuntary state or despotic state is the subjugation of conquered clans and tribes. Foreigners or usurpers rule with no mutual loyalty to the ruled.  Force is required to compel individuals to act as if they were loyal.  A tyrannical state can suppress dissent by force and terror, impress workforces for large projects or military service,  and can extract taxes to pay for the foregoing and make bribes as well.

States can also come into being by the combination of the two methods.

A method that never comes into play is consent of the governed individuals.

The consent of the individual never comes into play in the creation of states.  Obviously the despotic state has no role for consent.  In the free state the decision for unification takes place in counsels to which the common man has little access.  It is thus the interests and aspirations of the tribe and the nation, as these are understood by the tribal leadership, that are decisive in the birth of a free state.[Where cohesion is strong the individual will be loyal to the new state out of loyalty to the tribe, and if he does not agree with the decision of his leadership he can at least be counted upon to comply in action.  Hazony does not make the following summary formulation it is mine: the state is founded upon compliance not consent.]

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14 minutes ago, Grames said:

A method that never comes into play is consent of the governed individuals.

And yet here we are (in America) consenting to be part of a Constitutional Republic. Compliance is only required to the degree that individual rights may be secure from coercion by one another and the government, at least in principle.

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PEW Research (point 7, link below) suggests most Americans have a more favorable view of local government than national, and that makes sense to me because in terms of representation, your neighbor is more likely to understand your concerns than someone who lives out of state. The remaining points tend to support this view along with the general opinion that democracy works better for the "ins" than the "outs".  Not surprisingly, recent years have driven the virtue of compromise to a minority view (as reflected in point 4, link below)

Taken together, I think the consensus shows a preference for localism, not nationalism (and certainly not internationalism).  Following the trend to it's logical conclusion, individualism is the ideal form (self governance) and capitalism the ideal means (laissez-faire). So I think the national vs multi-national argument "flies over" (and dismisses) the more obvious conclusion that any form of governance that empowers a group over a individual is less virtuous to its participants.
--
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/26/key-findings-on-americans-views-of-the-u-s-political-system-and-democracy/

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Here is small test to figure out or affirm your own premises.  Which of the following statements would you (any reader of this thread) thinks is most true?

Liberty is the foundation of social order.

Liberty is one by-product of social order.

Liberty is an impediment to social order.

"Social order" is crime-think, do not go there.

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So, Yoram Hazony has a twitter account.  He got alerted to Yaron Brook discussing nationalism. He replied:

https://twitter.com/yhazony/status/1070444820575985664
 

Quote

I didn’t see this. Thanks for pointing it out. I admire Yaron and like him. I’d like to do a friendly debate. Looking forward to being invited to visit LA !

 

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This author was on The Rubin Report today.

There is a problem with his belief that nationalism began with the Jews in the Bible. Their nation was based on genealogy, not tradition or religion. Besides, most of their religious laws and customs were dictated and enforced by God/Moses after they left Egypt and invaded Canaan. That's not tradition, that's dictatorship. Hazony also has a weird justification for genital mutilation, saying it is part of Jewish tradition. This is the problem when you use a manual for tyrants as your philosophical guidebook.

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On 12/12/2018 at 9:49 PM, Grames said:

Here is small test to figure out or affirm your own premises.  Which of the following statements would you (any reader of this thread) thinks is most true?

Liberty is the foundation of social order.

Liberty is one by-product of social order.

Liberty is an impediment to social order.

"Social order" is crime-think, do not go there.

To the extent that liberty is established and protected, something resembling "social order" is a by product.  That's as far as I will go with it.  

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19 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

the Jews in the Bible. Their nation was based on genealogy, not tradition or religion.

He cites examples in the Old Testament of unrelated people joining the Jews by adopting their customs and God.  In other news, a recent genetic analysis of a sample of thousands of Jews found something near 49% admixture of European genes.  It is unknown what portion of the remaining 51% that is not European is actually Jewish.   Jewishness as an inheritance is definitely a minority fraction of the genotype of Jews.  To make a deliberately shocking and provocative statement, in the present time Jewishness as race is approximately as real as Aryanness as race: there is something to it but not much (yes Aryans existed thousands of years ago but no one in anthropology calls them Aryans anymore because Hitler so Yamnaya or "Battle Axe Culture").

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On 11/11/2018 at 7:05 PM, Grames said:

Nationalism is the principle that the world is governed best when nations are free to cultivate their own traditions and pursue their own interests without outside interference. 

This is definitely not what the Israelites believed. God/Moses led them out of Egypt to go conquer, systematically, the nations that already inhabited the promised land. They were the outside interference, not the free nation. Not that there were any free nations back then, but the Israelites might have been the least free of them all. Several times they tried to complain about Moses' bloodthirsty warmongering, but he slaughtered his own people for bitching and sleeping around with foreign whores. He was the Hitler of the Old Testament. He genocided other nations and took virgins for war spoils. The idea that the borders of the promised land represented some nationalist dream is ridiculous. This was God/Moses planning a "holy nation" for the priest class that would serve as the chosen rulers of the entire Earth, which Moses saw as God's rightful domain. If other nations hadn't stopped the Israelites, I'm sure they would have continued with the conquering and raping of virgins to fill their expansionist needs, just like other nations tried to do.

Edited by MisterSwig

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4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

God/Moses led them out of Egypt to go conquer, systematically, the nations that already inhabited the promised land. They were the outside interference, not the free nation. Not that there were any free nations back then, but the Israelites might have been the least free of them all. Several times they tried to complain about Moses' bloodthirsty warmongering, but he slaughtered his own people for bitching and sleeping around with foreign whores. He was the Hitler of the Old Testament. He genocided other nations and took virgins for war spoils. The idea that the borders of the promised land represented some nationalist dream is ridiculous. 

I take for granted that there was in fact no God helping the Israelites along.  The final form of the Old Testament is partly history and partly rationalization of what happened and also partly normative instruction of what should happen, all written by priests with some agenda to further.  The ultimate working out of that agenda included political measures that limited the power of the king to start wars or to choose the priests.  It is the end result that constitutes the first appearance of a political philosophy that could be described today as nationalism.

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On 4/26/2019 at 3:33 PM, MisterSwig said:

This is definitely not what the Israelites believed. God/Moses led them out of Egypt to go conquer, systematically, the nations that already inhabited the promised land. They were the outside interference, not the free nation. Not that there were any free nations back then, but the Israelites might have been the least free of them all. Several times they tried to complain about Moses' bloodthirsty warmongering, but he slaughtered his own people for bitching and sleeping around with foreign whores. He was the Hitler of the Old Testament. He genocided other nations and took virgins for war spoils. The idea that the borders of the promised land represented some nationalist dream is ridiculous. This was God/Moses planning a "holy nation" for the priest class that would serve as the chosen rulers of the entire Earth, which Moses saw as God's rightful domain. If other nations hadn't stopped the Israelites, I'm sure they would have continued with the conquering and raping of virgins to fill their expansionist needs, just like other nations tried to do.

I doubt there existed "nations"in the modern sense, a sparse collection of tribes more like. But I never took the Bible literally, except in some probably historical sections, and I don't know much about the early Israelites. I do know more of Jews in the last century, though. I am amused by this notion of a genocidal, conquering, dictatorial Moses, when everyone else in those parts were (of course) their pacifist victims, brought forwards to modern contexts.  Hebrews, Israelites, and now "Zionists", whomever, it's plain to see were always a small and beset minority in every place. In Europe, Russia and the many Arabian lands, where they were given "dhimmi", or second class status for half a century, after fleeing Spain. Therefore, it follows that they ~must~ have got up to dirty tricks to survive and eventually flourish, not so? And of course, despite their minuscule numbers they still bully everyone else around them...belligerently invading, populating and spreading the 'Jewish Empire' as they did much earlier. Just maybe, could it be acknowledged that rather the Jews' flourishing, against all odds at every point, was the effect of them generally and consistently prizing self-value and rationality?

Edited by whYNOT

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21 hours ago, Grames said:

I take for granted that there was in fact no God helping the Israelites along.

I take for granted that there were no Israelites leaving Egypt to conquer the promised land. The fact remains that historians and archaeologists can't prove that any of it happened, and tend to believe that the Israelites were a small off-shoot of the Canaanites who built some villages in the hills and never engaged in epic battles or nation-building. But if we're going to use the Bible as some sort of historical document, then we can't argue for the nature and purpose of the Israelite nation without including God's plan. It's central to the story. Without God there is no nature or purpose to that nation. 

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{Wiki}Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation,[1] especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity,[2] and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power (popular sovereignty).[1][3] It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history[4][5][page needed]—and to promote national unity or solidarity.[1] Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements.[6] It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism.[7][page needed] Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism (national conservatism) or socialism (socialist nationalism) for example.[2]

--- 

How to understand why nationalism is considered a swear word today? On the face of it, this Wiki definition and explanation holds only positive assessments . Is it wrong to hold one's country in esteem, that is, its liberties, history, institutions and accomplishments? (Although, not uncritical esteem). Of course, much evil has been done, by fascists of the Right and Left in the name of Nationalism. So one should ask: nationalism - where, for whom? Otherwise the presently derided connotation is a package deal and a smear job. There is the likelihood that nationalism is being attacked since it opposes "globalism" (merely collectivism applied to nations).

Edited by whYNOT

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On 4/27/2019 at 8:07 AM, whYNOT said:

Just maybe, could it be acknowledged that rather the Jews' flourishing, against all odds at every point, was the effect of them generally and consistently prizing self-value and rationality?

Sure. I mean, to whatever degree they flourish, it isn't due to their self-destructive, irrational members.

On 4/27/2019 at 9:32 AM, whYNOT said:

How to understand why nationalism is considered a swear word today?

Perhaps because it's associated with sacrificing individuals and minority groups to the nation. 

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16 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

 

Perhaps because it's associated with sacrificing individuals and minority groups to the nation. 

A good thought - looking at the categories Wiki touches on, which are "national conservatism" and "socialist nationalism", we probably agree that sacrificing and grouping individuals (altruism-collectivism) are the basic common denominator of both. Nationalism can and has led the way to populaces granting a self-sacrificial vested, intrinsic authority in the state. Valid esteem for one's country ~may~ devolve to a supremacism over other nations. Not necessarily, I argue. On the socialist side, a greater comprehensive dependency on the state (self-sacrifice, again) by many, will gradually increase the power of government, by giving it more to do, to decide upon, "for the people". This govt. will be also very happy to collectivize people into rich/poor, races, sexes, etc.etc. - i.e., all the "groups" they can unearth and invent - so play the groups off against one another: oppressor/victim. Granting "rights" here, removing them, there. Sort of, divide and rule.   

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National socialism is not a type of nationalism, it is a type of socialism.  It was a necessary idea because socialist theory called for the whole world to rebel in unison, but some people didn't want to wait for Brazil and India to be industrialized to the same point of "late-stage capitalism" as Germany.  So "socialism for one country" was invented.  Socialist nationalism is not a type of nationalism because socialism requires wars of conquest to finance the pyramid scheme.   

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2 hours ago, Grames said:

National socialism is not a type of nationalism, it is a type of socialism. 

Doesn't this contradict what you said another thread, that fascism is pretty close to manifesting in the US? And part of your evidence for that were parallels with Weimar Germany which we all know eventually led to Nazi Germany.

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On ‎4‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 12:32 PM, whYNOT said:

{Wiki}Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation,[1] especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity,[2] and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power (popular sovereignty).[1][3] It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history[4][5][page needed]—and to promote national unity or solidarity.[1] Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements.[6] It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism.[7][page needed] Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism (national conservatism) or socialism (socialist nationalism) for example.[2]

--- 

How to understand why nationalism is considered a swear word today? On the face of it, this Wiki definition and explanation holds only positive assessments . Is it wrong to hold one's country in esteem, that is, its liberties, history, institutions and accomplishments? (Although, not uncritical esteem). Of course, much evil has been done, by fascists of the Right and Left in the name of Nationalism. So one should ask: nationalism - where, for whom? Otherwise the presently derided connotation is a package deal and a smear job. There is the likelihood that nationalism is being attacked since it opposes "globalism" (merely collectivism applied to nations).

"How to understand why nationalism is considered a swear word today? On the face of it, this Wiki definition and explanation holds only positive assessments"

Really?

 

What about

"promotion of the interests of a particular nation"  ... why is the standard for this so called "National" interest?

Recall, what is proper role of government?

 

the nation is the only rightful source of political power (popular sovereignty)."...  what about individual sovereignty and individual rights? .. are they only GRANTED (permissions) from the all powerful and only rightful State?

 

"aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culturelanguage, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history"...  what has any of this to do with an individuals rights to pursue happiness and isn't it inimical to an individual for some collective overstructure to "build and maintain" something which may or may not have anything with what FOOD I like to EAT, which clothes I like to WEAR, what SONGS I like to SING, what STORIES I like to HEAR, what language I SPEAK, what GOD I believe in...or not... and what is a collective "singular history" when history is full of unique individuals living out their lives pursuing their values and the happiness that accompanies that pursuit?

"to promote national unity or solidarity" ... who decides what that NATIONAL unity or NATIONAL solidarity looks like?  Around WHAT particulars is that unity or solidarity promoted?  What kind of sheep are the so called Government to mold ?  Why is this not entirely subjective?   

"preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture" ... ??   ... tradition???   are you as an individual to live under the threat of force, government edict, according to the arbitrary standard of some "tradition"?

 

ALL of THIS is positive???  How long have you been studying Objectivism???  HAVE YOU BEEN STUDYING OBJECTIVISM?

 

A proper government possesses power based on delegation of individual sovereignty, and its only role would be the protection of individual rights, leaving its citizens free from interference to pursue their happiness and their values, free to pursue their individual interests, their unique identities, their individual cultures, individual tastes in foods, clothes, songs, stories, languages, their individual religions, and allowed to hold their own personal beliefs (freedom of thought).  Initiation of force would not be permitted to anyone and the government would have the role of employing retaliatory force, against those who initiate it, according to objective laws. 

Moral people of principle do not adhere to some concept of "Nationalism" (as explained by Wikipedia).. it is something over and above free individuals and a legitimate proper government ONLY there to protect their rights.  They have no need to and understand why they shouldn't.  Nationalism bears much resemblance to Statism... and as far as I can tell, Nationalism is one of the many yellow brick roads (paved with good intentions) leading to Statism.

 

EDIT:  Nothing I state above detracts from the ethical and political legitimacy and necessity of a people within a particular geographical area having a proper government within that geographical area, to protect their individual rights.  It merely identifies that "Nationalism" is not any kind of guide toward the implementation of that proper government.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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