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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.

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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.

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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
 

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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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