Culture Wars/Current Controversies

RE: Hanania on Western Nationalists

Let’s stop the hate and separate.

Hanania opens his latest piece with the popular misconception that nationalism is National Chauvinism:

Nationalism is often considered immoral because it values the interests of some people over others, rather than being universalist in its circle of concern. For nationalists themselves, the ideology is often defined by such a preference.

Nationalism is an abstract universal ideology, an -ism, one where the ethnic, tribal, national identities of the world should enjoy dignity, sovereignty, and self-determination against prevailing forces. Everybody understands that libertarianism does not imply that only the libertarian himself gets to have freedom. That would be stupid, but this elementary error is routinely made by neoliberal propagandists when critiquing nationalism.

Nationalism is not isolationism. The nationalist ideological approach applied to the Israel / Palestine conflict is the two state solution. This approach is the one favored by China, Russia, the European Union, the Global South, Trump, and (ostensibly) Joe Biden and his State Department. In his speech last night, Biden made eye contact with the camera and directly spat out “two state solution” in a moment of clarity among all the generic presidential speech boilerplate.

The only major opponents of the two state solution are Hamas insurgents, Israel’s Likudnik gang, and Likud’s American proxies. The American Empire is neoliberal and neocolonial in its policy and impact, but still relies on classical liberal appeals to the nationalist ideology when justifying itself. In the Ukraine Conflict, nationalist ideology remains the central argument offered by the State Department.

Many observers have been noting the distinction between caring about the “Palestinian cause” and the Palestinian people. As I’ve also pointed out, if you want what’s best for the actual human beings who live in Gaza, you would encourage them to seek a better life elsewhere. But there is relatively little interest in this as a solution, because it would harm the cause of Palestine, which keeps millions of individuals and their families stateless for generations for the sake of a political movement.

Hanania’s perspective is unpopular because it’s evil, favoring the dissolution of one’s ethnic extended family into the abyss of global cosmopolitan individualism and alienation because an imperial opponent is attacking you. It’s also unpopular because it’s incoherent. Popular support for Israel existing among its large and hostile neighbors relies on the same popular and positive nationalist themes. Speaking in the abstract, a rejection of the Palestinian cause is a rejection of the Israeli cause.

Despite being an academic, he relies on a poorly defined twitter poll to arrive at the specious conclusion that White Nationalists care more about White Nationalism than about White people. It’s popularly understood that twitter polls are garbage even when they’re clearly defined, and I don’t think I’m the only one who reflexively answers twitter polls with whichever answer is the most absurd or comical. I suspect most people answering with the “deranged” result were trying to make a point that lies outside his contrived framing.


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