Tag: American nationalism

Obama, Freedom and Identity Politics

By K. Tymon Zhou | South Africa

As identity politics grow more popular to the american left, an unlikely individual may be able to help our racial divisions.

How can societies reconcile multicultural harmony with unity? At times, it seems impossible to achieve both of these noble aims.  The progressive left seeks to prioritize “inclusion” and “diversity”, but creates only a restless frenzy. This frenzy takes the form of identity politics, a corrosive influence in American life.  Recently, an unlikely source challenged this scourge: former president Barrack Obama. On Tuesday, President Obama delivered a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Lecture. This speech expressed a fundamental optimism that diversity can exist with unity. Conservatives and libertarians should adopt this approach as they seek to restrain identity politics.

Firstly, Obama acknowledged historic injustices describing the colonialism that was prevalent in Mandela’s youth :

such a view of the world – that certain races, certain nations, certain groups were inherently superior, and that violence and coercion is the primary basis for governance, that the strong necessarily exploit the weak, that wealth is determined primarily by conquest – that view of the world was hardly confined to relations between Europe and Africa, or relations between whites and blacks. Whites were happy to exploit other whites when they could. And by the way, blacks were often willing to exploit other blacks.

It is surprising that Obama refers to oppression within the same racial groups. In the particular narrative, imperialism and oppression are not exclusively European sins. Instead, they are presented as universal. This runs to contrary to liberal identity politics which states that to be an oppressor, all one must do is to simply belong to an “advantaged” group.  Thus, liberal identity politics ignores the oppression that can occur within minority groups ( i.e blacks exploiting other blacks). Such a view is a horrific over-simplification. Moreover, it ignores the situational diversity within “advantaged” groups. This only fuels animosity between groups. Instead of seeing oppression in terms of identity, one must see it in terms of action. Obama’s more nuanced perspective recognizes this.

Secondly, Obama argues that democracy can resolve such injustices:

I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy, built on the premise that all people are created equal, and they’re endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuit of a common good.

Despite its liberal source, libertarians and conservatives have readily embraced this message. Their primary focus is securing greater freedom and to protect inalienable rights. Such a goal inherently works towards a common good. In a magnificently miraculous manner, freedom created unity.  The same protection that grants Sikhs a right to self-expression grants Christian bakers that same right. In democracies, all groups can pursue these freedoms.

Ironically, Obama’s fellow liberals have forgotten this fundamental truth. They doubt that there is a common good. Consider the contemplation of two Harvard Crimson opinion writers,  Salma Abdelrahman and Nicholas P. Whittaker, devout progressive liberals:

My guiding light in the fight for justice is a vision for a world in which Black liberation does not have to ride on the coattails of white self-interest, a world in which the cries of Black and Brown folk are more than enough to change it…

If our battle against oppression must seek the permission of our masters, then are we not simply running in circles?

To these progressive liberals, the “common good” is a mere rhetorical device designed by the “oppressor”  to prevent progress. There is a certain demented logic to their reasoning. In their view, minorities are surrounded by oppressors. Consequently, there is no “we” between the oppressors and the oppressed. Therefore, the oppressed should not seek a compromise with their overlords, they should simply gain power for themselves.  At its core, this may sound appealing.  It offers an opportunity to create utopia without the hard work of building a democratic consensus.  Perhaps these bold visionaries should abandon the premise of believing in democracy.  There are alternative systems in which a minority can pursue its own goals without compromising with a majority: aristocracies, monarchies, and dictatorships of all stripes obey this principle. To avoid compromises, they brutally suppress freedom. Such is the dark road that toxic identity politics can lead.

Thankfully, such a road is not inevitable. As Obama recognized, there are brighter and more beautiful paths ahead if we embrace the unifying force of freedom. Through freedom, societies can reconcile multicultural harmony with unity.

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Statist Rhetoric: “If You Don’t Like It, Why Don’t You Leave?”

By Andrew Lepore | United States

Libertarians often advocate a wide range of policies, from limiting intervention overseas to the abolition of certain government programs. In many cases, opponents simply reply, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you just leave?” If you haven’t triggered enough cognitive dissonance in a statist to blurt out that line, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Statists often resort to this appeal when a real argument does not exist. This phrase is the statist’s last line of defense when they have exhausted all else.

The Statist Logical Fallacy

This “argument” is in fact not an argument at all. it is neither moral nor utilitarian. It, in fact, is one of the worst things to say in a debate. Essentially, this line says that nobody should resist oppression. It implies that people should not try to overturn unjust laws, and instead should simply run away from the mob majority. A free society does not allow the mob majority to have such control in the first place, and this rhetoric brings us further away from a free society.

The fact of morality is that aggression is immoral. It simply does not matter what majority decided it was okay. It likewise does not matter what group has a monopoly of power in that area. No imaginary borders, no majority, no social contract, can make what is immoral, moral. Libertarians just want to live their lives free of coercion. Statists, on the other hand, seek to control. They are the ones who dictate to others how to live, who take part of the fruits of others’ labor and spend it how they please. Yet, they have the audacity to say that if someone doesn’t like it, they must leave. With the power-hungry iron fist of the state, they seek to rule the lives of fellow men. So, how are libertarians in the wrong for wanting to live and let live?

Refutations to Self-Exile

If confronted with such an absurd response by a likely nationalist, flag waving, Trump praising statist, who probably quotes the founding fathers when it suits them, point out that by their own principle the founders should have just left the colonies. Apparently, the founders were just crybabies for demanding freedom and fighting for it. They should have just left. it appears logical consistency is of little importance to the statist.

If confronted by a collectivist, when pointing out the evils of the state extorting half of your income, point out a quite similar situation that occurred in our history. By their own principle, abolitionists were just crybabies who should have left America if they didn’t like the enslavement of Africans. After all, the majority had said it was okay to own slaves. By this logic, the abolitionists were wrong even for advocating the end of slavery. Next, watch them backpedal.

This principle can be applied to any example of tyranny throughout history. If the Jews in Nazi Germany didn’t like what was going on, why didn’t they just leave? If those living in the Soviet Union didn’t want to starve, I guess they should have just left. Neither the state nor anybody else has the right to rule over others’ lives.

A Contradiction of Logic and Morality

Thus, it appears that the argument is a clear contradiction of logic and morality. Rather than simply walking away, fight for positive change in society. Disagreeing with an aspect of such a society does not mean that the society as a whole is not worth living in.

Tom Woods excellently states the fact that without a doubt, the moral burden in this case lies only on the state.

“Why should I leave? Why is the moral burden on me when in fact you’re the one with a gun to my head. Your the one who wishes to expropriate me then use the proceeds to fund drone strikes. It would seem to me that a healthy moral reckoning would have it that you would have to demonstrate your right to do that before I would have to demonstrate my right to sit here unmolested” – Tom E. Woods.


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Nationalism Hurts Young Men Today. Here’s How

By Kirk Classic | United States

There comes a time in every man’s life where he must come to define himself and make his way in the world, or risk being left behind and embittered. Often times I meet young men with little ambition, save for wealth, which is often concluded as the best alternative to defining the self. I then ask, “Do you want to be a man?” When the young man inevitably answers yes, I ask “What is a man?” Shrugs, a loss of eye contact, maybe even an awkward smile answer me. The one thing that never does is an answer.

How can boys hope to be something so ill-defined? Perhaps more concerning is the question of why it has a lost meaning? Unfortunately for so many young men today, their masculinity, interests and race is being attacked, making their struggle towards self-actualization an even steeper climb that it ought to be. It is during these times of startling uncertainly that the allure of nationalism looms the brightest.

In geography, a nation is a group with common descent, history, culture, or language in a territory. The word can overlap with a state, which is a group with common government and sovereignty, but it does not have to. Nationalism is when individuals drawn to the group identity of a common people seek to accrue power and advocate for said people, on the premise of superiority.

All too often, quite unfortunately, young men fall in love with the comfort of taking pride in their own heritage. Many times, the group is a supplement for the unremarkable achievements or lack of resolution of the individual who wishes to be unjustifiably fulfilled by a people long gone. How can you feel pride for the achievements of men you have never met, are loosely related to, and have no personal investment in? If you’ve ever called into question the paradoxical nature of race based reparations, this follows closely to that flawed mentality.

The nationalist, more or less, perceives the world like so. ‘The greatest architect known to man was a part of my tribe. He was the greatest architect because he was intelligent. Now, the architect’s achievements are an attribute. Therefore, as a descendant, I share these attributes. Thus, I feel pride.’

Pride is “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” More simply put, pride is a feeling of satisfaction regarding an object of investment. Just as others feel a surrogate shame for the actions of people long dead, the nationalist feels pride for those whom he had no investment in.

Joseph Sobran noted in his 2001 column “Patriotism or Nationalism?” that, “In the same way, many Americans admire America for being strong, not for being American. For them, America has to be “the greatest country on earth” in order to be worthy of their devotion. If it were only the 2nd-greatest, or the 19th-greatest, or, heaven forbid, “a 3rd-rate power,” it would be virtually worthless.”

He then continues to state, “This is nationalism, not patriotism. Patriotism is like family love. You love your family just for being your family, not for being “the greatest family on earth” (whatever that might mean) or for being “better” than other families. You don’t feel threatened when other people love their families the same way. On the contrary, you respect their love, and you take comfort in knowing they respect yours. You don’t feel your family is enhanced by feuding with other families.”

As George Orwell astutely observed, “[there is a] habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly – and this is much more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”

Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist and linguist, argues that by closing a dialogue and shunning dissenting thought, people will be more heavily drawn to opinions out of the ordinary that they seldom hear being represented truthfully. This creates an effect where the most alluring ideas are the most radical, because the radicals are hardest to silence.

If nationalism is created by the allure of a group identity, then it stands to reason that they do their part in destroying our individualist culture. There is danger in the path forward. The world works in equilibrium. Individuality and group identity are paramount forces. A lack of proper balance of the two can spell disaster.

Intellectual honesty is a war on two fronts. On one hand one must do battle with oneself. On the other hand, one must do battle with everything outside. It is a maddening process that has left greater men addled beyond belief. But, in the face of inevitable pockets of untruth, what is the alternative? Death in a society is sign of life, and though we know society will fall, in each of us is the fire that says “not today.” And as that fire roars and claims our flesh as fuel, let that fuel be so rich that it keeps warm those who will succeed us for generations.


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The Ever-Changing Meaning of Patriotism

By Willie Johnson | USA

If a nation is defined by the patriotism of its citizens, the United States is in dire straits. Today’s political climate has changed the very definition of patriotism, giving the term new meaning as time progresses and modern controversies stack up. Anti-authority sentiment and fierce dedication to home soil take hold in the Revolutionary Era, but today, criticism of the government and respect for military service has come to dominate American ideas about patriotism. Current attitudes are, for the most part, a healthy byproduct of patriotism, but pride for one’s country should spring from the early idea of love and enthusiasm for home.

The classic idea of patriotism first came about at the birth of America itself, but the kind of blind loyalty in many forms that it advocated remained a constant aspect of American culture until very recently. Religion has always played an important part, too, with many Americans holding their dedication to God above all earthly leaders while still maintaining respect for the government. While pride for home and country is the physical focus of patriotism, God is the spiritual focus. Worldly problems pale in comparison to unquestioning acceptance of religion, so it is clear why so many patriots cling to it tightly. The blind dedication also manifests itself in those who choose to cling to their principles unto death as a way of supporting their nation. In this case, being a patriot is living by the beliefs and values that America was founded on, allowing it to dictate the way life itself is lived. Although this is only one definition of the word, it has been influential on American culture by shaping the morals of generations of Americans. None of this is to say that patriotism should mean unconditional allegiance to authority, however, as dissidents are patriots under the classic definition too. While the founding fathers stuck close to their faith and principles, it is obvious that they were all dissidents of the highest order—they went against the authority of the British Empire, after all. There will always be some form of malevolent authority to oppose, and if done correctly, such action ultimately benefits the nation. Being patriotic has been characterized by these traits for most of American history, but unique new issues have changed and even called many of these beliefs into question.

Modern Patriotism has distinguished itself by adapting to current issues such as race relations, political divides, and military affairs. Today, being patriotic is primarily about the military and veterans in the eyes of many Americans; because service in the armed forces is widely considered as one of the greatest sacrifices to the country a person can make, it is held up by many as the paramount of patriotism. To those who define patriotism by military service, disrespecting the United States is disrespecting its veterans—an issue that has recently come to a head in the wake of the controversy surrounding the act of kneeling for the national anthem. For some, however, a patriot is someone who actively goes against their government to stand up for the personal freedoms of citizens. Although such behavior can be a good thing, extreme anti-government activity often does more harm to the nation than good. In this instance, patriotism has been skewed to fit the anarchist leanings of certain individuals who claim to support it. Even worse is the purely superficial view of patriotism that many Americans hold; the “patriotism gap” that seems to exist between our two major political parties is, for the most part, simply a contest of showiness. Being a patriot should not be about who waves the bigger flag, but rather who is willing to uphold the values of the nation. Million-dollar jet flyovers at football games and other examples of extravagance are good for hyping up a crowd, but should not be the embodiment of patriotism. Modern times may have cheapened the meaning of that it is to be a patriot, but in all examples, certain values shine through that gives hope for the future.

While the modern focus on superficial values like military service or contempt for government divides the nation, its original, unfettered form remains to hold all Americans together. For me, patriotism means dedication to values (whether they be religious or moral) and a healthy lust for liberty, free from the flaws of destructiveness and vanity. Attitudes are bound to be changed by crucial events and the passage of time, but the past does not have to be forgotten.

5 Nationalist Movements to Watch

By Colin Louis | U.S.

All around the globe nationalism is on the rise. The ideas of right wing populism and nationalism are starting to grow into large movements all over the free world. People are beginning to shift to these ideas. The following five countries are turning nationalist.

5. The UK

Recently, the U.K has shown signs of shifting further to the nationalist right. The Brexit vote provided evidence that the UK is moving further towards nationalism and populism. Brexit clearly signals that nationalism and euroskepticism is on a significant rise in the U.K. The recent UKIP leadership election could help them continue this.

4. Ireland

Irish politics serves as a reminder that nationalism comes in different forms. In the case of Ireland, it’s left nationalism with much momentum. The concept of left nationalism is a form of socialism mixed with nationalism, not to be confused with National Socialism, which is a far more authoritarian belief. Sinn Féin, led by Garry Adams, won around 14% of the vote in the recent 2016 election. Sinn Féin did very well compared to its past performance and that of other less nationalist parties. 14% might not sound like much, but the ruling party, Fine Gael, only received around 36% of the vote.

3. Germany

In the most recent German elections, the new nationalist party, Alternative Für Deutschland (AFD), won a considerable amount of seats in the German parliament. This sent a signal to incumbent Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that the German people are moving further from the European Union and her administration. Germany has always attempted to stray away from their Nazi history and refrain from nationalist movements. Although the election of AFD provides evidence that Germany is losing this mindset.

2. America

The recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States signals a shift further towards his movement of American nationalism. The policies Trump promised he would put in place, such as protectionist trade deals with China, are designed to put America over the rest of the world. The movement Trump sparked now runs rampant through the Republican Party. The Republican Party didn’t necessarily hold these views until Trump nearly hijacked the party. His America first movement destroyed the Party establishment and put these ideas into action.

1. Netherlands

The one that may surprise people the most is the Netherlands. The once center left nation recently took a swing right in the 2017 elections when Garret Wilders and the Party for Freedom ran a hard anti Islam and European Union campaign. Wilders has come out in support of banning the Koran, even going as far as to compare the book to Mein Kampf. Wilder’s Party won enough seats to place them as the opposition party in the Dutch House of Representatives. Even parties that have never run a hard line anti- Islam campaign are shifting in support of more nationalist ideas. Prime Minister Mark Rutte put out an advertisement that stated, “act normal or leave.” Rutte later said that this wasn’t meant to attack ethnic groups, but instead people who did not share their values. This signals that Wilder’s nationalist movement has spread most everywhere in the Netherlands.