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    Notes and Comments on "The Virtue of Nationalism"

    Grames
    By Grames,
    The Virtue of Nationalism is a new book in political philosophy by Yoram Hazony.  Hazony here operates at the level of philosophy because he works with wide abstractions, has a sharp critique of Locke's Second Treatise on Government, provides an alternative to that tradition of rationalist political philosophy, and uses that conceptual framework to integrate a variety of current disparate controversies into coherent view of fronts where two different political philosophies are conflicting. Here in this topic I plan to go over the book chapter by chapter and provide a review in outline form of what he claims as I've done with other works listed in my signature block.  Since those other works were all by Objectivists and this one is not I will also provide comments of my own relating the points made to the Objectivist perspective.  Others are welcome to post comments or questions as well in between my content posts because I won't catch everything there may be to say or question and my focus here is not as much on presentation and continuity as when I covered a lecture series. I'll just plunge in and get started by paraphrasing his introduction. Introduction Britain voted for Brexit.  America voted for Trump.  Oh no, this is reversion to warmongering and racism. But wait a minute.  Until a few decades ago nationalism was associated with broad-mindedness and generosity.  Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteeen Points" and Churchill/Roosevelt's Atlantic Charter were progressive because independence and national self-determination for enslaved and colonized people around the globe were good things.  Statesmen from Mahatma Ghandi to David Ben-Gurion led nationalist political movements.  Why was nationalism thought to be a good thing then but not now? I, Yoram Hazony, a Jewish Israeli Zionist (a type of nationalism) have some insight into the question.  My family moved to Jewish Palestine in the 1920's and 1930's as aspiring nationalists and Israel has been governed continually by nationalists since then.  Nationalism is not a forgotten and now alarming idea in Israel but familiar and normal. 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.  Opposed to that is the principle of Imperialism which holds that the world would be peaceful and prosperous if united under a single political structure.  Pros and cons of each will be considered in turn but note here these principles are contradictory.  One must choose to be one or the other. Nationalism vs Imperialism contest gained new life with fall of Berlin Wall in '89.  After that, two new Imperialist great projects commenced: the European Union and the American "world order".  EU is the Austro-Hungarian Empire restored.  Charles Krauthammer advocated for an American "Universal Dominion" to establish a new pax Americana just like the pax Romana of old.  Both projects involve suppressing the sovereignty of existing nations and are thus identified as imperialist. Open debate and discussion of Nationalism vs. Imperialism has been muted and seemingly deliberately avoided.  The following list of euphemisms have been employed to conceal the imperialist agenda: "new world order," "ever closer union," "openness," "globalization," "global governance," "pooled sovereignty," "rules-based order," "universal jurisdiction," "international community," “liberal internationalism,” “transnationalism,” “American leadership,” “American century,” “unipolar world,” “indispensable nation,” “hegemon,” “subsidiarity,” “play by the rules,” “the right side of history,” “the end of history,” etc.   [footnote 6 of intro notes an uptick in more explicit calls for an American Empire after 9/11/2001]. The time for clear unambiguous reasoned debate on principles is now. This book is a statement of reasons to be a nationalist.  For clarity "globalism" will be taken as a version of the old imperialism.  Also for clarity, "patriotism" will be avoided as a synonym for nationalism because it merely refers to the love or loyalty of an individual for his own nation but not the wider context of a position within political philosophy. The argument will be as folllows: Part One “Nationalism and Western Freedom” will be the basic historical framework for understanding the confrontation between imperialism and nationalism as it has developed among the Western nations.  The aftermath of Hitler is the narrative that "nationalism caused two world wars and the Holocaust.”  It is this narrative that is responsible for nationalism being regarded as unnecessary and even morally suspect. The new imperialism takes liberal theories of the rule of law, the market economy, and individual rights—all of which evolved in the domestic context of national states such as Britain, the Netherlands, and America—to be regarded as universal truths and considered the appropriate basis for an international regime.  Supporters of imperialism have not described nationalism correctly. Part Two “The Case for the National State”.   Three alternatives of political order are described: the order of tribes and clans found in every pre-state society, the international order under an imperialist state, and an order of independent national states.  The admitted economic and security advantages of an unified legal regime for the entire world is a narrow and inadequate basis for the imperialist state because the fundamental political relations at the level of family, tribe, clan and nation are not universal and cannot be made so.   The advantages of an order of independent national states are: provides greatest possibility for collective self-determination; a logical aversion to campaigns of foreign conquest and a de facto tolerance of diverse ways of life ; productive peaceful competition among nations; powerful mutual loyalties are the only known basis for free institutions and individual liberties.   Not every stateless people can have its own independent state so what then? Part Three "Anti-Nationalism and Hate".   The Universalist ideologies that underlie and justify imperial regimes encourage hate toward all who won't cooperate with the imperialist program.  Examples: medieval Catholicism vs the Jews; Islam vs the world; Marxism vs the productive independent; The EU vs Poland, Hungary et al ; globalists vs Israel; etc.  Racism and hate can also be found in nationalist movements and expressed in national rivalries.  Hate is a feature of politics or human nature in general and is not a deciding factor in Nationalism vs. Imperialism. Part Four "The Virtue of Nationalism” The conclusion.  Some brief remarks on the relationship between nationalism and positive personal character traits.

    The Transporter Problem

    DonAthos
    By DonAthos,
    In another recent thread, I was invited to make this one to explore what I'm calling "the transporter problem." In quick summary then, the "problem" considers the famous Star Trek transporter. It purports to disassemble a person (into whatever constituent elements) and then reassemble that person in identical fashion (and perhaps from the same constituent elements) at some distance. In Star Trek, people routinely utilize this technology; however (granting that this would someday be feasible; a separate consideration), I would not use such a thing, because I believe that it would be fatal. This speaks to the question of the "First Person Experience" (FPE) and its metaphysical status -- which is why I'd raised the problem initially; granting that the person who enters the transporter (e.g. James T. Kirk) is identical to the person who leaves it from a third person/scientific perspective, I yet argue that there is a fundamental metaphysical difference which cannot be assessed from "outside," i.e. it is a different person with respect to the FPE. The Kirk who leaves the transporter is not the same Kirk as the one who entered it; the Kirk who entered the transporter is dead. In response it was asked whether sleep was in some way analogous to this situation -- and whether we "die" when we go to sleep. But no, it is not the same thing at all. When I go to sleep at night, I wake up the next morning as the same person. Whatever interruption or discontinuity of consciousness that sleep provides (as well as being knocked unconscious, in a coma, or "legally dead" then revived) it is not the same as the death of the transporter, which I argue is utter obliteration. Then it was suggested that this is some rephrasing of the "Ship of Theseus." But no, it is not. It is not a question as to whether we continue to call the entity who emerges from the transporter "Jim Kirk," but: would we be willing to use the transporter? I argue that the answer to that question depends on whether we believe that a consciousness can be reconstituted such that the associated FPE remains the same, irrespective of what we call it, and whether we believe that the FPE (despite being immeasurable from a "scientific" perspective) has any reality to it. Which is to say that it depends upon our assessment of the FPE metaphysically. Accordingly, I would not be willing to use the transporter.

    Reblogged:This Year, Thank Yourself and Learn

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    As I am sure many Objectivists -- probably including myself -- have done and will do, I will commemorate Thanksgiving by reflecting on what Ayn Rand had to say about the holiday:
    This strangely appropriate image came from a search for report card on Pexels. One can say a hearty (and simultaneously humorous) Amen! to the above, but events this year led me to better appreciate the significance of celebration of successful production.

    It can be easy to forget that one is being productive when in the midst of a routine daily grind or a seemingly endless putting-out of fires, and this holiday is a great chance to pause and remember that fact.

    In my case, I am preparing to start what, for lack of a better term, I will call a "wrong job". Part of my preparations has been an effort -- which I have been tracking -- to improve how I plan and use my time. Facing the move and having had mixed success, I decided I'd give myself a break from grading myself on each week. "I'll have basically no control of my time, and it has nothing directly to do with my plans, anyway," I somewhat erroneously thought. The week after was a blur, starting with the realization that -- on top of all the other things I had to track or schedule -- I'd forgotten to schedule a cleaning for the old place. Then I learned I was required to have our fireplace inspected -- something I'd never even heard of until I asked the property manager about a completely different matter. And, at the end of the week, I faced an inspection with our landlord, who did not take our moving out well, and I was convinced would be looking for any excuse to bill us for repairs on move-out. The culmination of all of this was when I got a call from my cleaner, attempting to back out the day before my inspection: I talked her into coming anyway, and she did a great job. The inspection went well and I managed to get back on friendly terms with my landlord during the walk-through.

    This was lots of phone work -- which I hate; lots of creative planning -- which I have been working on; a little bit of management -- which I don't regard as my strong suit; and all me pursuing a goal. On reviewing that week in my planner, came across that note I made about not grading until the move was over, and wrote, "You deserve a[n effing] A for that week." In the grand scheme of things, this wasn't a huge deal, and probably most people could have found their way through a mess like this, but thinking about why I did so well helped me realize that I am quite effective when (1) I have a clear goal, and (2) I know what the steps are towards achieving that goal. I can use that knowledge to improve my approach to the "wrong job" by clarifying my purpose and breaking the job down into tasks I can hold better in my mind.

    Being thankful should not be an empty ritual directed towards an imaginary being: It can be a moment of contentment with profits and the happy realization that even better things can be around the corner, along with why that is the case.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    -- CAV

    P.S. As I noted Monday, there is not yet internet service in the new Van Horn domicile, and won't be until Friday. So this post is it until the beginning of next week. Link to Original

    Reblogged:Mindless Collecting as Reverse Alchemy

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    A blogger I encountered some time ago argues against something he calls the "collector's fallacy." The author argues that collecting things might feel like progress, but that it can hinder the pursuit of one's goals. His point reminds me of a connection I made long ago when playing cards in college: Being very long in a suit can, in some ways and circumstances, resemble being very short in it, because other players will be unlikely to lead it. Years later, I likewise noticed that my in-laws, who had moved a lot, had several copies of tape measures, screw drivers, and other tools. These were all things that are usually needed upon moving into a house -- but which they'd end up buying at moving-in time because they had been packed away.

    Having too much stuff or having it organized badly (or both!) gets in the way of using it, on top of wasting storage space, money, and time. The author's example of the graduate student who copies large numbers of papers that he ends up not reading will ring a bell for many; and his example of bookmarking material on the web that also doesn't get read will cover almost everyone else. Although I wouldn't call anything a "reward in itself" and have other reservations about some of what the author says, I think his proposed remedy for this common practice is worth considering:
    More broadly, I think one should keep one's purpose in mind more deliberately when acquiring anything, and proportionally to the cost of maintaining the collection. Too many physical objects take up space for example. Time spent hunting for things to bookmark could have been spent profiting from some of that knowledge.

    This is not to say that noting material one may or may not use -- or even surfing the web -- is inherently bad. I think letting one's mind wander from time to time can aid creativity, for example. But that, too, can be done more purposefully, be it by setting aside specific times or circumstances for doing so, and creating a regular routine for review, organization, and weeding-out.

    -- CAV Link to Original

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