Summary: Suicide of the West by Jonah Goldberg

Nothing is pre-ordained. Whether our society thrives or is reclaimed by natural forces is a choice that we must make. It is a choice between the unnatural and the natural. Approximately 300 years ago, in a small corner of the Eurasian landmass, humans accidentally discovered a new way of organizing society and contemplating our universe. This revolution of thought led humankind into a new world, one which Jonah Goldberg calls “the Miracle.” This new space was inspired by the Lockean Revolution—a movement which emphasized the ideas that the individual is sovereign, rights come from God not government, equality before the law, and ownership of the products of our labor. Capitalism, democracy and human rights are unnatural and we stumbled upon them accidentally.  

Homo Sapiens has been around for 200-300 thousand years, and for the vast majority of that time we have lived in small tribal groups; dealing with politics, religion and economics on a personal basis. We developed a strong “coalition instinct” that helps us to build alliances based on loyalty and reciprocity. Our sense of self in relation to the universe and others was defined by the tribe through which we worked cooperatively to survive. Meaning was inseparable from the tribe, the collective, and we are strongly wired with an “us vs. them” mentality. Yet, evolution works over large periods of time, meaning that we share most of the same genetic programming with our earlier ancestors.

            All humans come pre-loaded with naturally evolved drives and instincts, and it is against these drives and instincts that we must struggle to maintain order. For just as the natural world hates a vacuum and will fill it given the chance, human nature rushes in to fill the gaps where we have failed to civilize people.

            Liberalism (i.e. the Enlightenment understanding of natural rights and limited government), unlike all ancient systems and totalitarianism, does not provide people with the meaning we all crave. It creates an environment through which we may pursue meaning. It opens the door so that civil society, the middle ground between the individual and the state, can transform people from barbarians to civil humans. The secret recipe for maintaining “the Miracle” is in resisting the corrupting forces of human nature. Given that we are born barbarians, every generation must learn for itself that the system we have inherited is the best in human history. It requires that we have appreciation for the good (and revolutionary) aspects of our society and a clear perspective on where we come from as a species. If we don’t have appreciation, the entropy that decays all things will reclaim our world.

            Suicide of the West breaks down into three untitled sections and fourteen chapters (not including an introduction and conclusion). This is a summary of Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy.

Part 1

            The concept of God as an actor in human affairs has no place in this book. This is not to say that the idea of God doesn’t have a profound impact on how people think and act. Goldberg is not an atheist, but for the sake of the argument being made, God is not a factor. Instead, Goldberg opts for an argument grounded in reason and decency within a space created by the Enlightenment where people can disagree about the nature of God and what is expected of us.

            Goldberg introduces the reader to his assumptions and the relevant facts associated with his argument. He begins by assuming that most of the crucial realities concerning good and evil, freedom and tyranny, are not self-evident, but are discoverable (humans would’ve had a much more peaceful history if such things were self-evident). He claims that best practices have been discovered by trial and error over thousands of years. He addresses the illusory nature of free will and concludes that regardless of the reality, humans must operate as though it exists. And he emphasizes that what has happened was not destined, but the result of human actors.

            Yet, Goldberg is not arguing in favor of nihilism or moral relativism. In fact, he claims that some cultures are simply better than others given that some, “allow more people to live happy, prosperous, meaningful lives without harming other people in the process” (6). It is this fact that requires us to push for a better society, to defend the lessons of humanity and to be grateful for all we have achieved.

            The natural state of man is impoverished, violent and results in untimely death. About 300 years ago that all changed with an explosion of human progress. A radical shift in attitudes and thinking birthed a new world, and for the first time in our existence we were challenged more with the problem of surplus over survival. With the advent of liberalism (including capitalism), the state was finally more than a glorified criminal establishment. The important point here is that this new way of organizing society is unnatural whereas the tyranny, monarchy and authoritarianism of the past have something about them that humans find natural.  

            Money gets a bad rap, but it beautifully illustrates the breakdown of our natural state for a higher order. Money lowers the bar for positive human interaction. Instead of seeing someone outside the tribe as the “other,” money allows us to see them as a customer. Human interactions were no longer zero-sum, and thus, violence lessens as commerce fills the hole left behind. It tears down the barriers of caste and class and expands the definition of “us” for the sake of broader cooperation.  

            Yet, the tribal life is intensely seductive. There is a deep sense of isolation among many in the liberal system of the Western world. The tribal life calls to us via a primitive yawp and it tells us that there is something deeply wrong with the world. This inner voice tells us that society is unsatisfying, oppressive, exploitative and without authenticity or meaning. At its core, such romanticism emphasizes the primacy of feelings and tells us that someone must be responsible for the state of things (a pattern reflected in Marx and Hitler).

The fatal flaw of the capitalist order is that it doesn’t feel like it’s improving our lives. But there is no better way. Following the primitive call is easy and natural, whereas the liberal way takes a lot of maintenance to preserve. The assumptions at the heart of “the Miracle” can’t be improved upon and no other system besides capitalism creates wealth.

In a liberal order, civil society takes the place of the state for defining meaning. When the institutions of civil society fail, human nature rushes in to claim what was hers. Consider the breakdown of the family. For thousands of years, where the institution of family fails, young men from all walks of life join gangs. These provide meaning and belonging and operate via “us vs. them” logic. It is this pull of the primitive, the draw of entropy that we must resist for the flourishing of society and its institutions. Goldberg calls this decay “corruption.” The reemergence of populisms and nationalisms in our current society are products of this corruption. When we fail to be grateful we open this door to decay.

The existence of human nature is less disputed among those who study it and more so among those who don’t. Humans inherently come with a great deal of genetic software. We are born with a lot of programming about empathy, altruism, cooperation and other moral intuitions. These “moral taste buds,” as Goldberg calls them, can be used differently depending on the environment and the definition of morality. Additionally, two universal human tendencies—the desire for unity and distrust of strangers—probably can’t be muted out of us, but can be channeled to greater productivity.  We cannot eliminate human nature, but we can direct it to better ends.

The drive to hate is hardwired into us as much as the drive to love. It is the role of the family, schools and society to teach us what we should and should not hate. Among the things that we are supposed to hate is evil, but evil has been defined quite broadly over the years. Civilizations are experienced in refining the definition of evil. What is consistent among every culture is the defining of things it hates and loves and what is consistent in every political ideology is the categorization of a group it considers “the Other.” 

An interesting feature of modern American life is the taboo against discussing human nature. While there are various reasons for this, one that requires particular attention is the idea of the noble savage. To the proponents of this idea, humankind is selfless, peaceful and untroubled in its natural state. Civilization introduces greed, anxiety and violence. This romanticism holds that modern society is unnatural and dehumanizing and glorifies supposed past “golden ages.” It is neither right nor left, but a pre-rational passion driving modern “reactionary” politics, nationalism, populism and radicalism. It holds onto the insight that civilization is a form of institutionalized violence, but fails to recognize the violent and destitute human situation of the past. Today, the twentieth century is noted for being the bloodiest in history. Yet, if we extrapolate the death rate of pre-historic times to the twentieth century, the death toll would’ve been two billion as opposed to 100 million. This is due to the fact that one-third of primitive humans living in small societies died from raids and fights alone. “The evidence for mankind’s blood-soaked past can be found in the archaeological record, DNA analysis, the writings of ancient commentators and historians, and the firsthand reports of those remaining in societies that have so far resisted modernity” (31).

The infamous anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon lived among Yanomami people—an indigenous tribe in the Amazon—for long periods. He described their state as one of “chronic warfare.” Motivations for such violence usually centered around the theft of women. He found little evidence supporting the idea that most primitive warfare revolved around competition for scarce resources. The reality is that war is often the result of pride, honor, and a desire for status. Yet, our barbaric past is not limited to war; slavery and torture are also recurring themes.

Slavery is of particular interest. Due to the poorer state of humankind prior to the agricultural revolution, slavery was actually less prevalent. Then following the agricultural revolution it sprouts up nearly everywhere. Yet, despite the presence of slavery from ancient Greece to China, nowhere was it hypocritical until the emergence of the United States. For nowhere else enshrined universal human rights in their founding documents. Given the context, what is especially remarkable is not the fact of American slavery, but the fact that America ended it. And it was industrial capitalism that ultimately destroyed it. Philosophers such as Adam Smith recognized not only the moral problem of slavery, but the financial as well—that slavery is ultimately more expensive than the labor of free men. Within a free market, people have the autonomy to sell their services and labor—a radical shift from the slavery and forced labor common in most ancient civilizations.

But just as greed is a natural human tendency, altruism, and the compassion that drives it, are as well. Closely related is: gift exchange, reciprocity and cooperation. Gift exchange and reciprocity governed the economy of our primitive ancestors before money. Early humans had to learn to share resources to survive. Reciprocity became a norm through which altruism worked. Those who were generous were admired and received authority over others.

Closely linked to admiration is status, of which sociologists distinguish two types—ascribed and achieved. Ascribed status refers to the belief that some people are simply intrinsically better than others thanks to their parents. Royalty is the perfect example of ascribed status, and although we have abandoned it in the United States, one only needs to look at our political dynasties and “Hollywood royalty” to recognize that our proclivity for inherited status is still strong. We find that the instincts closely related to status—authority and hierarchy—are found in nearly every species that lives in groups.

This brings us to another universal aspect of human nature—the need for and enforcement of norms. Humans evolved in groups which required cooperation, and cooperation is impossible without norms and rules. The disproportionate anger we may feel with someone cutting the line at the grocery store is illustrative of our reaction to norm violation. While a norm violation at the grocery store is not so harmful, a violation on the African savannah might be, and so we react strongly for good reason.

Just as the tribe may succeed in cooperating and thereby pass on its genes to future generations, various factions within the tribe will work together to form coalitions—and thus, the rise of politics.

Another crucial aspect of our nature is our creation of meaning. We give things significance beyond the rational and material, and prior to the scientific revolution such meaning was layered; e.g. a tree is a source of fuel, a resource for shelter and has a divine purpose. Yet we compartmentalized, putting religion, entertainment, food and politics in its own place. It was in separating out the practical from transcendent, this division of mental labor that produced such prosperity, reduction in violence, cures for diseases, and the elimination of superstition. Yet, seeing the world this way is unnatural. It is the romantic who wants to tear down the walls of compartmentalization, the walls of modernity and restore meaning and purpose.

All civilizations form rules for the channeling of human nature to more productive ends. Yet when man’s laws dissolve, nature’s laws are ready to fill the void. This is properly known as corruption. When a society becomes decadent it has given itself to the power of entropy, and as implied by the word “decadent,” has given into natural decay. We all see violence as a step backwards, but really it is decay to the natural state of human savagery. While notions of virtue differ in place and time, it is the concept of adhering to a moral code over base instincts that often drives people to living a nobler life, and this takes courage.

Historians and political scientists focus on elites for the simple reason that they hold most of the power. And the story of the elites is a familiar one—they fold to the temptations of human nature disrupting the integrity of civilization. It is easy to blame elites for our problems, but the corruption of masses can destroy civilizations as well, for all are human and therefore subject to the sway of human nature. And who’s to say that the problems that plague the current top one percent wouldn’t plague the new one percent?

Nepotism is of particular interest and a good example of the struggle between civilization and human nature. Every primitive society was governed by a network of family alliances and all empires were held in place by such a network of blood and marriage relatives. This often resulted in the rewarding of family and friends and the enrichment of oneself at the public’s expense. Empires sometimes went to the extreme to reign in these impulses. Using eunuchs as aides and servants was common and justified by the idea that a man without a family wouldn’t be tempted to enrich his family. The Ottoman Empire made slaves out of Christian children based on the same logic to create a slave empire ruled by the slaves. Given time, these people will see themselves as cohesive groups, a caste or aristocratic class. This tendency toward unity is neural and these groups only become threatening, “When they claim the power of the state for their own agenda” (59). The founders were prepared for this and two of the remedies they came up with were virtue and pluralism. Virtue has been discussed, but pluralism is the idea that power needs to be distributed widely in society.

One may attribute to the multiplicity of institutions the healthy and modern societies we live in. When there are only a handful of stakeholders in society, power is defined by the relationships between these elites. When there are many institutions in a society, the relationship between elites becomes impersonal and thus, politics through such personal relationships becomes impossible. This inevitably gives birth to the rule of law—law that applies equally to elites and the masses.

Even greater than this plurality of institutions is the plurality of meaning and identity within each person. Modernity is dependent on this. When identity is bound up in a single group, concern for other institutions or people diminishes or disappears. The multiple allegiances that pluralism makes opens us to the idea that those in different sectors are not enemies. It creates the space for the free pursuit of individual interests. We may have weaker attachments to any specific identity, but this is the price of peace and freedom.

The most important mental division of labor is the separating of the, “external, impersonal, order of contracts, commerce, and law and the personal order of family, friends, and community” (62). We live in both of these realms simultaneously, yet the rules within each couldn’t be more different. The imposition of the rules of the family on this realm of commerce and law is the greatest force for the corruption of modernity.

Part 2

            How did we move from the hunter-gatherer phase of our existence to the state? A plethora of thinkers have cited “the social contract” as the beginning of modern society. This idea has variations, but the general concept is that men in a state of nature agree to sacrifice some of their autonomy for security. The problem is that prior to the Enlightenment, there is no proof that anyone actually came together to agree upon such a resolution.

The first social contract (to the extent that one existed) was with “the stationary bandit.” After the agricultural revolution, roving bandits would come through and steal any surplus of grain, weapons, tools, children, women, etc. They would slaughter the men and move on. The increase of these roving bandits during this time is easily traceable to the fact that humans were no longer nomadic and a moving target is harder to hit. But by ravaging these agricultural communities of all their value, the people of such communities learned to not make long-term investments. Thus, when the roving bandits returned there was nothing left for them to take—leaving both those in the community and the bandits poorer overall.

The solution to this cycle was the stationary bandit who stole through extortion (i.e. taxation). He would offer protection from the roving bandits and take just enough to leave the people with something, and to encourage them to save. He may even invest in the community. The order and predictability that ensues has been called “the first blessing of the invisible hand.” This term, coined by Adam Smith, describes the social benefits that build when individuals are left to pursue their own self-interests. Society grows richer as if guided by an invisible hand.

But how we got from the stationary bandit to the state is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg question. What we know is that “competitive states” emerge to counter the threat of a state already in existence. Thus, in a sense, it was war that made the state. Population size is another factor in the creation of states though. When a society is provided security and order, certain patterns emerge. For instance, labor becomes more specialized and property rights become more secure which produces more wealth. More wealth and security translates to a larger population and a larger population provides more wealth and security—it is a virtuous cycle.

The agricultural revolution led to class distinctions as humans specialized professionally and people, dealing with surplus, acquired storable wealth. But how does the state keep so many people in their roles? Storable wealth is a means of social control, but the state also uses coercion. In fact, it wouldn’t be a state without some means of enforcing its rules. Yet no state is held together purely by the threat of violence, ideology is also necessary.

In the history of human coercion and cooperation, perhaps no advancement was greater than that of writing. Record keeping is necessary for trade and taxation and the human memory isn’t enough to handle such demands. The ancient Sumerians devised writing as a form of bookkeeping and it didn’t take long before this system developed into a system of law giving. The Code of Hammurabi that followed had 282 laws concerning violence, commerce and social status; it was the operating system for a large cooperation network. The predictable use of violence was a huge benefit to security and order. Threats from the outside, handled by the military, evolved into police protection from internal threats. “Indeed laws are often lagging rather than leading indicators, formalizing what had been an informal rule for a very long time” (80). The brilliance of the code lies in the fact that it universalized informal rules and customs of the underlying culture.

The state exists simply because we say it does. Our belief in it sustains it. When a state falls apart (like the Soviet Union), where is the evidence that it’s actually gone? The buildings are still there. The reality is that the state is a fiction agreed upon. Civilization itself is composed of countless stories we tell ourselves. There is no intrinsic value to money, but we act as if there is, because we respect that story. We tell ourselves that human rights come from God so as to make them real, but where is the evidence? If human rights come from government, then are we not opening ourselves up to the arbitrary dictates of the state?

At its most rudimentary level an institution is a rule. Before it was a rule it was a story, and the most important story, and mother of so many others, is religion. Religion is a way to get many strangers to cooperate; it provides meaning and reason for behaving a particular way. Large populations need a story and the ones that work grapple with the human desire for a father figure. Monarchy or some form of aristocracy with a father figure at the top dominated nearly all human society until 1800. Priests are called father for a reason. Monarchy is natural or else it wouldn’t have provided a stable form of government for thousands of years.

The miracle of modernity lies in the division of labor in our own minds. The tribal mind wants to remove this division and restore mass meaning to society. But mass meaning is impossible now if we are to preserve the thriving ecosystem of institutions that give us meaning and secure liberty and prosperity.

            Starting in Europe in the 1700s and spreading all over the world, people were living longer, had more leisure, ate better and enjoyed delicacies that were previously unknown to them. Some call this the Great Enrichment or the Great Divergence, but given that it defies explanation, Goldberg prefers the Miracle. Not that there aren’t many explanations for how it came about, but no one can seem to agree. But the question of where it comes from literally can best be answered with the phrase: “England did it.”

            England clumsily discovered the idea that government ought to be subject to the law, but that the law ought not to be subject to the government. The security of property and contract was created by the rule of law and this led to modern capitalism.

            England was fantastically weird. Goldberg turns to Daniel Hannan who identifies five aspects to England’s weirdness that ultimately led to the Miracle. (1) The nation-state: the Miracle needed a degree of order in which laws are generally applied uniformly and the population has cohesiveness through shared identity. (2) Healthy civil society: to root society and serve as a counterbalance to the arbitrary power of the state. (3) Island geography: England was less militarized due to the natural protection that’s provided by being an island. Additionally, due to this fact, there was less need for political absolutism which arises from the need to protect the people from external war. (4) Religious pluralism: religious domination is a deterrent to innovation. (5) Common law: this unique system led to the state being subject to the people. This may be a strong case for “why England?” But modernity emerged only once, so it is impossible to know exactly why it happened there.

Yet, we should not overlook the contributions of the great merchant republic of the Netherlands, which emerged as a competitive state with England. Through demonstration and experiment, liberal ideas spread rapidly throughout the rest of Europe in the eighteenth century.

            J. R.  Maddicott draws a line from the ancient Germanic tribes of England to the Magna Carta to British democracy today. The ancient Roman historian Tacitus noted that among Germanic tribes, there was a social compact between ruler and ruled. This tradition was wiped out on mainland Europe, but survived on England possibly due to its island geography.

            Another oddity of England is that aristocracy and land ownership was different. For one, the strong men of England didn’t comprise a hereditary caste with legal privileges—they were subject to the law like everyone else. Additionally, the right to “alienate” property—to sell or leave it to those who are not family—was rooted in English common law dating back to the early 1500s. Deductive Roman law—determining a principle, writing it down and imposing it—never took root in England as it did in mainland Europe. Instead, common law bubbled up from society as an emergent property. Common law or judge-made law deals with actual judgments passed down, then modifies them in light of the specific circumstances. And the rights of all Englishmen were recognized by English common law.

            But it’s important to recognize that the Magna Carta succeeded formal institutions of common law. Similarly the U.S. Constitution embodied specific aspects of the culture and time, a manifestation of our allegiance to liberty and limited government. Part of the genius of the American founding is that it derived universal principles from cultural particularities and then wrote them down.

            For many Marxists, the mass-scale exploitation inherent in slavery is a necessary component for capitalism. Marx argued that without slavery you have no cotton and without cotton you have no industry. This ignores the fact that cotton prices barely increased after the abolition of slavery (and were in fact considerably cheaper in the 1870s). Additionally, anti-capitalist societies are more prone to slavery. And why has capitalism survived so well in a society without slavery?

Also, we can’t we attribute capitalism to scientific advancement. The Islamic world and China both had their turns as leaders of science, yet capitalism didn’t emerge there. Another claim is that thrift was the cause. But, this gets the causality backwards. Capital accumulation is the by-product of capitalism not the reason for it. People have saved since money has been around, but prior to the market system the potential uses of that money was extremely restricted.

The point here is that we can’t isolate a single cause for the Miracle and no one intended it. So where does it come from? Goldberg seconds the argument put forward by Deirdre McCloskey in claiming that “the Miracle is an attitude, expressed in new ideas and the rhetoric that accompanies them” (106). Attitudes changed and not just among the intellectuals and aristocracy, but also among the bourgeois. For millennia, various groups built alliances to stifle innovation. But then people started talking as though betterment and innovation where no longer heresy.

And yet, Christianity may have been a necessary ingredient for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Christianity separated life into two realms: the City of God and the City of Man. This mental division of labor not only served to check the arbitrary power of kings, it provided the space necessary for institutional pluralism and the multiplicity of meaning. Secondly, individual rights may find its origins as Protestantism emphasized the individual conscience and eliminated the need for a middle man in dealing with God.

If capitalism’s birth is rooted in the capacity of words and ideas, then its demise is as well. For whatever we think ourselves into we can think ourselves out of. Before delving into what Goldberg considers the most persuasive argument for the demise of capitalism, we must first look at Karl Marx.

            According to Marx all economic value comes from the working class. The value of any good or service is not determined in the market, but is determined by the amount of time and effort put into its production—Marx’s “labor theory of value.” One day the workers of the world would overthrow their masters and usher in a new utopian world much like that of the noble savage. Marx’s vision was romantic, and for all its modern-sounding, pseudo-scientific jargon, it was simply an encapsulation of ancient ideas. But beyond that, Marx was simply wrong. That an entrepreneur creates no value by bringing new ideas to the world is absurd.

            Marx was particularly off in his political and sociological analysis. Goldberg turns to Joseph Schumpeter to explain why. Like Marx, Schumpeter believed capitalism would inevitably fail, but his reasoning as to why differed completely. Schumpeter described the process of “creative destruction” whereby the economy is constantly evolving—a business may one day be a monopoly only to be taken over the next. Schumpeter applied this process to capitalism itself, and suggested that a social analogue to this creative destruction would be its downfall.

            Goldberg highlights three ingredients of Schumpeter’s analysis relevant to his argument. First, due to rationality and efficiency, capitalism washes away tradition and ritual regardless of its social value. Eventually capitalism will turn on its own institutions on which it depends. The free market itself relies on “extra-capitalist” customs and traditions—i.e. moral and sentimental attachments that reveal to us there is more than efficiency and profit maximization. Particular cultural features are necessary for the generation of capitalism and its viability depends on certain habits. And no institution succeeds or fails with the theory provided for its support, but is dependent on our faith in it. This includes democracy itself and our own constitutional order.

            Secondly, Schumpeter claims that this attack on tradition and custom opens the door for various professionals to undermine the existing system. These groups have a class interest in doing so. Technology creates the forces that destroy its own innovation as the forces that support such innovation become vested interests. An influence of this analysis comes from Nietzsche who described the class of priests who sought to undermine the power of the knights (the ruling class) by redefining the cultural understanding of virtue.  .

            Thirdly, capitalism inevitably creates a whole new class of intellectuals as mass affluence increases. Capitalism drives mass education creating a large audience and a market for the resentment intellectuals are selling.

Ultimately Schumpeter might be right about the fate of capitalism, but giving up on it is the only sure path to this destiny. If civilization is a conversation then our demise comes about when the people saying and arguing the right things stop talking.

            According to Goldberg, nearly every political argument comes down to Locke versus Rousseau with the left echoing Rousseau and the right embracing Locke. For the left, the rules are reflective of a rigged system of exploitative capitalism, whereas conservatives argue that freedom and merit ultimately lead to economic inequality, and this is not a bad thing. For the conservative, government is for creating the space for upward mobility, not to ease the misery of those stuck in their station.

            Goldberg recounts the events of the Glorious Revolution which resulted in Parliament, not God, making William and Mary king and queen. This cut England off from its feudal past and grounded the new democratic society in the tribal story of Englishness. It was in this context that John Locke wrote his Second Treatise.

            The key to understanding Locke’s worldview is bound up in his conception of property. Locke understood the state of nature to be unstable since it invites a state of war. There are no common judges to settle disputes, so disputes are settled by force, generating one winner and one loser who is now under “the perfect condition of slavery.” This use of force is illegitimate since the first property right is the ownership of self. Our rights exist prior to government, but we create and limit it in order to protect property or life.

            Locke was aware that human ingenuity creates wealth and believed that property was the path to improvement. When a person makes a table from a tree he is creating property. Life, liberty and property were Locke’s inalienable rights. All are equal before God and therefore equal under government.

            But it was arguably Locke’s postulation of the “blank slate” that transformed the world more than anything else he wrote. He claimed that humans were like a blank sheet of paper void of the character and ideas that reach humankind via experience. While scientifically false, this idea stood in direct contrast to the medieval justifications for the political status quo and undercut the foundations of royalty and aristocracy.

            “John Locke saw the past as a pit humanity must labor to escape from. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on the other hand, believed it was a shame we built the ladder at all” (131). Whereas Locke recognizes the capacity of man to use reason to create artificial things as the core of human progress, Rousseau saw all artificiality as corrupting. For Rousseau the natural state of humankind was noble and characterized by amour de soi—a type of self-interest primitive man shared with animals where apparently one’s interest never compromised the life of another. This is of course nonsense, for predators, including primitive man, naturally operate in a manner harmful to others. He then contrasted this self-interest with amour-propre, which may translate as “vanity” or “pride.” This type of self-interest describes our cravings for social recognition as special or important, and for Rousseau it was the source of the social problems of modernity.

            Rousseau saw the modern world as unnatural and alienating, separating the human soul and in opposition to nature. Since there’s no returning to the state of nature, the solution for this is finding new social meaning governed by a collective consciousness which outweighs the individual consciousness. Each citizen would derive meaning through the group and only through the group. And the state has total authority to shape the souls of men for the greater good.

            The stories told by Rousseau and Locke and the stories we tell of them signify the two general trends in Western civilization. The tension between the two can’t be resolved permanently because human nature doesn’t change and Locke’s thinking is an imposition to that nature. We start off as barbarians and must learn and earn nobility.

            To Goldberg, the Founding Fathers were wrong about our rights being self-evident. If we can’t demonstrate the existence of the Creator to everyone’s satisfaction, how much more difficult is it to prove that He endowed us with natural rights? To accept this we must make a leap of faith. Yet, the greatest achievement of the founding was the assertion in writing that we have natural rights from God.

            Just as the Jews unleashed a monotheistic framework on the world which was universalized by Christianity, the English introduced rights and freedom to their people, ideas that America universalized. Of course the Founders didn’t apply these principles universally at first, but they laid the groundwork for such progress. And judging the past by the standards of today leads to anachronism, and this robs the heroism of everyone in history who has made the world a better place.        

            The Declaration of Independence was intended as an expression of the American mind. That Americans failed to live up to their high ideals is not an indictment of the ideals, but a testament to the noble path we’ve taken as a nation.

            While many think of aristocracy as rulership by nobility, in its original Greek it means “rule of the best.” It was to this natural aristocracy that Jefferson wanted to return, before the notion became infused with hereditary status. The notion that a person has a special status based on things that are not of their making is identitarianism. As such, inherited nobility was an ancient form of identity politics.

            In America, as opposed to France, the people rejected the idea of the perfectibility of man, instead opting for a government that factors man’s nature into account and then simply directing it to more productive ends. Many of the Founders were deists, believing that God created the world as a watchmaker produces a watch—creating the machinery, winding it up and then letting it run on its own. Similarly, the Founders created a mechanical system of liberty after which they promptly got out of the way. This contrasts starkly with the French perspective in which the state ought to advance the “wheel of history” and take the people in a particular direction.

            Wealth had been decoupled from inherited status or nobility in America. The inventor was a hero in the New World. For the first time there was a government that reflected the interests of the middle class and those who strived to be in it. This attracted immigrants with similar perspectives from all over Europe. Quality of life improved as life expectancy increased dramatically, workweeks became shorter and diets got better. The free market proved to be the great engine in thwarting poverty and the legal system provided parameters for human advancement.

Part 3

            The Founders feared arbitrary power as the enemy of liberty. They believed that the system they created would work only if the public was virtuous. A virtuous people are faithful to the law. Given the human proclivity to form coalitions, who is to say that a group couldn’t obtain enough power to overwhelm the constitutional order? Even a natural aristocracy could, after reaching the top, pull the ladder up behind them.

            Aristocracies are natural and all large and complex societies have elites. In fact, John Adams argued that every government is an aristocracy. And aristocracy is a useful monster that needs to be chained by the U.S. Senate. In the presence of freedom there will always be inequality, thus, to fret about political, social or economic inequality is to fret about the nature of freedom itself.

            But the new wealth creators in America differed from the old aristocracies in feudal Europe. The old aristocrats built their wealth off the exploitation of the poor, whereas the new magnates made money helping them. An example of this can be found in the efficiency of Cornelius Vanderbilt who saved the consumer $2.75 on a barrel of flour while he was making 14 cents. Take a look around the country and see the libraries, schools, museums and parks that exist due to the generosity of the supposedly “predatory” wealthy.

            Goldberg illustrates the difference between the government and the state in political science by claiming that “the state includes all the population and its territory and is permanent, while governments may come and go” (173). Government is like the English garden which requires maintenance, but is essentially left alone, whereas the state is like the directing hand of the French garden, determining its nature. The statist or progressive prefers the French garden.

            Many historians determine that the New Deal was the birth of the state in America. For after FDR the government was felt to be a part of everyday life by the public. But it was really during the Progressive Era that the state came into existence.

            The explosion of wealth in the U.S. saw millions of Americans leaving their rural, traditional communities for the big cities. This led to feelings of estrangement and exploitation which led to the sentiment that there must be a better way. A new group of philosophes under the banner of progressivism emerged, promoting the idea that a new community under a new civic religion is necessary. They wanted to refound America on new principles, and thus generating a new society and repairing the holes in the American soul.

            These progressives shared a couple of presuppositions—that government should be subject to science not politics, and that the economy should be supervised, investigated, and regulated by an administrative state. They were strongly influenced by the “historical school” of German thought, claiming that the state is an expression of the people and had the right and obligation to produce a new general will.

            This emphasis on science and particularly Darwinism gave rise to the “social gospel” (a reinterpretation of Christianity) and eugenics which held that the state ought to prune and pluck the “weeds” of society. They held that there should be restrictions on reproduction and highlighted the superiority of man’s selection over nature’s. Under the expertise of science, man would reach his ideal form.

            Woodrow Wilson embodied the ideas of the progressive movement separating as much policy making as possible from that of public opinion. He claimed that the “most despotic of governments under the control of wise statesmen is preferable to the freest ruled by demagogues.” He saw the U.S. government, as developed by the Founders, as a machine under the authority of the laws of physics and contrasted that with a picture society as an organic whole, and thus subject to evolution instead. This organic whole cannot stand the conflicting checks and balances anymore than a person whose organs are working against each other. Thus, the “living Constitution” was born.

            The progressives’ desire to see extra-legal administrators wielding arbitrary power for the “greater good” led to the creation of the administrative state—disinterested social scientists or administrators insulated from politics, law and voters, and legitimized by their special insight or knowledge. Before the rise of the administrative state, only Congress was responsible for legislation. Afterwards, however, these bureaucrats were driving the legislation process outside the constitutional order, and have thus been dubbed the “fourth branch” of government.

            It should also be noted that under Wilson, the first ministry of propaganda was created. This threw thousands in jail for criminal speech and thoughts in its enforcement of loyalty to the state.

            This administrative state (or really shadow government) is actually a state within the state or a parallel government, and represents a corruption of the Founder’s project. It is a reactionary throwback to pre-modern forms of state power. Those who support it are trying to return society back to the lawlessness and arbitrary power banned by the Founders, and it is unconstitutional for a number of reasons.

            First, administrative power is outside the law. It is not answerable to or derived from constitutional legislative or judicial authority. Second, it is above the law. The administrative state in effect creates two systems of justice: one for the common people and another for the state. Third, it consolidates the powers the Constitution allocates to other branches, into itself.

To make matters worse, most of these administrators are not appointed by elected officials, but by other administrators. Thus, despite modern arguments, the branch of government isn’t even virtually representative of the people. What they represent is the elevation of a new aristocracy that is above the law. They may wall themselves off from the rest of the public, but they can’t separate themselves from human nature, and this opens the door to corruption.

            The only justification for the creation of such a permanent bureaucracy is the claim that it is the only way to advance the public interest against private interests. But Goldberg claims that that is utterly false. “The branch of economics called “public choice” has demonstrated at length that in a system in which you have concentrated benefits and dispersed costs, a small number of agents with a lot to gain often, maybe even routinely, overpower the interests of the majority” (197). In democracies you often get special benefits going to certain groups. These groups will passionately defend their special allocation of resources while few groups are as committed at taking them away. These special interests proliferate and the government gets very efficient at serving the needs of these groups while having difficulty addressing more important or novel public problems.

            Bureaucrats are subject to the same petty criminality as everyone else, but the real corruption comes in the form of “regulatory capture.” This is a type of governmental failure where a regulatory agency, designed to advance public interests, instead advances the interests of certain groups which dominate the industry it was designed to regulate. Goldberg prefers the term “guild economics” to illustrate his deepest concerns and the modern parallels to medieval society. In medieval economies, rulers granted licenses to special groups. This regulated economic activity and stifled innovation. To the crown, innovation unsettled economic and social order, and was therefore undesirable. Today, the proliferation of occupational licensing makes it harder to enter a profession, thereby reducing employment opportunities, lowering wages and increasing costs for consumers. It keeps millions of low-skilled workers from obtaining employment.  

            To illustrate some of the lunacy of modern-day licensure, Goldberg points to hair braiding for black women. There is no need for chemicals, heat or dangerous equipment to naturally braid hair, and it is often a skill that is passed down through generations from mother to daughter. Yet thirteen states require a cosmetology license to sell this service—something that takes 2,100 hours of coursework and up to $20,000 in fees.

            The increase of the complexity of society is actually a subsidy. For those who have the resources (political, financial, social, genetic, educational, professional, cognitive or luck), jumping the hurdles of a complex society is far easier.

            Treating individuals as units of a tribe has been a natural human tendency for most of our history. In the United States however, we are supposed to treat others by the content of their character and to see all as equals. The success of blacks and women at changing the Constitution and popular attitudes partially stems from the fact that they were appealing to our ideals, not rejecting them. They broadened our application of those ideals.

            One of the central ideas of the Founding of America is that we can turn Italians, Chinese, Arabs, etc., into Americans—a people who uphold the principles of the Founding and its culture of liberty. This melting pot breaks down as we are told that some groups should receive preferential treatment from the government, that we should judge people by their group affiliation, and that our group identity is immutable.

            Intellectuals are redefining American virtues, calling them vices. “Merit” is code for racism, and color-blindness, a facet of meritocracy and universal equality, ignores racism. Feminists use aggregate disparities in the compensation of males and females to prove that discrimination is real. For the left, women and minorities ought to be fully represented in each field in proportion to their numbers in the general population, or any disparity is automatically labeled discrimination.

            The reality is that real people made real decisions, and the aggregate results reflect these choices. To expect the results to be exactly the same is to assume a uniformity of talent, interest and drive for entire categories of people. As to whether these choices have grounding in biology or culture is irrelevant and distracting—choices lead to inequality of outcome.

            For those on the left, the real aim is to gain more power for themselves and their group. The remedy, they claim, to this racist and sexist system is for the state to intervene, discarding objective standards in favor of arbitrary special treatment. In such a scenario, the state becomes an instrument of divine judgment, ironing out all the cosmic injustices of the world. For them, merit and color-blindness are vices, not virtues. Even reason and argument are tools of oppression.

            Like all groups, leftists guard their status jealously. Given that so many professors, diversity consultants, administrators and activist groups make a living from racial and sexual grievances, it’s not surprising that these groups inflate such issues.

            Since the agricultural revolution, there has been a priestly class defining the parameters of right thought and action. The new clerisy of self-anointed academics, activists, writers and artists are no different. They insist that some ideas shouldn’t be entertained. And the safe spaces they create are exemplary of their efforts to control the conversation and blacklist dissenting ideas.

            What is acceptable terminology is constantly shifting. What has started off as “tolerance” has developed into “celebration.” Yet, these terms are quite different. Whereas “tolerance” and “acceptance” imply disagreement, “celebration” forces a particular state of mind, and this is nothing more than psychological bullying.

            The left has embraced racial essentialism in order to justify their policy positions. “Black Studies,” “Hispanic Studies,” and “Women’s Studies” are dedicated to forming an identity, celebrating its distinctness, and cultivating a sense of nationhood. This unique identity, it is argued, enriches institutions and is important enough to neglect objective standards of merit. Elite universities outside California required that Asians score 140 points higher for admittance while blacks needed 310 points fewer. The racial quotas that result end up promoting people beyond their abilities, and this contributes to higher instances of educational failure.

            If Judeo-Christian norms from the 1940s through the 1960s were so aggressively racist and sexist, then how did feminism and the civil rights movement succeed? Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t argue against American ideals, but appealed to them for a wider application. The Civil Rights Acts passed almost exclusively by white men and a majority was Republican.  

            Unfortunately, social justice warriors seek not just the destruction of traditional Western culture, but to create an entirely new one. And as we’ve witnessed, the replacement of established cultural norms with a new abstract system fails as it opens the door to our darkest impulses. Chopping down our existing institutions and cultural norms doesn’t convert people it radicalizes them. Is it any wonder that when you demonize white people for long enough, a segment of that population will react with their own brand of identity politics?

            Yet, not all change comes from the left. Change is intrinsic to capitalism in the form of creative destruction. Innovation and efficiency maximization constantly strive against the status quo. We instinctively incline to blaming others for our misfortunes, and this leads to constant appeals to the state to fix the problems and anxieties of capitalist destruction. But who is to say that this creative destruction is not in the best interest of the people? The regulation of the state to suppress innovation and plan the economy leads to restrictions on our liberties. And economic liberty is inseparable from liberty itself.

            Romanticism is custom tailored to the culture and language in which it appears. It’s often a rebellion against definitions, distinctions, and classifications. But the term itself has been stretched and twisted, and is among the hardest to define. Goldberg opts to note some of the facets of romanticism. It is a rebellion against reason, or the primacy of emotions. It was a reaction to the rationalism of the eighteenth century that developed after the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Despite its inherent flaws, Goldberg acknowledges that the romantics were on to something—there is simply more to life than that which can be mathematized.  

            But romanticism has never left us, precisely because it was a reaction more than an era. And it dominates popular culture today. The primary image of the Enlightenment is that of light casting out the darkness of ignorance. Closer to the mark, the Enlightenment was more of an unbundling—the secular and religious, the personal and the political, and reason and superstition were more or less fused together before the scientific revolution. Our animal brain is programmed not for elucidating truth, but for survival—thus, are fear, anger and loyalty more important in that context than reason? And the Enlightenment didn’t remove these programs from our brains, and they generate a range of emotional and instinctual responses we sometimes mistake for a higher ideal. Enlightenment culture welcomes the romantic reaction and drive to unify the meaning we divided.

            Goldberg contends that rock and roll is essentially romanticism. Key themes in rock and roll, country and hip hop include: “defy authority and throw off the chains of ‘the Man,’ true love, damn the consequences, nostalgia for an imagined better past, the superiority of youth, contempt for selling out, alienation, the superiority of authenticity, paganism and pantheism, and, like an umbrella over it all, the supremacy of personal feelings above all else” (242).

            The romantic impulses driving rock and roll actually define much of popular culture in general. Goldberg begins addressing this with some explication about monsters. These are frightening, unnatural beings that personify our fears and arise with the recognition of our own vulnerability. Romanics indict science and reason on the grounds of hubris—which in the original Greek sense meant prideful defiance of the gods. The Old World’s reaction of shock to Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with electricity should, therefore, not be surprising. The monsters that arise from such unnatural acts are ubiquitous in horror movies. Godzilla is an example of this, expressing the fears of the Japanese people as we entered the nuclear age.

            Additionally, the Byronic hero has become a stock character in popular culture. The primary characteristic of this hero is that he plays by his own rules. Intriguingly, our moral expectations are different for art than they are in the real world. When the lights go out in the movie theater, we find ourselves cheering the protagonist regardless of how immoral his behavior is (and sometimes justifying their behavior on the grounds that they adhere to a code). We suspend disbelief and in doing so we also suspend the conventions and legalisms we adhere to in the outside world. The primitive parts of our brain reset to the tribal morality of “us” and “them.”

            The family is the most important mediating institution. It civilizes people, turning natural-born barbarians into decent citizens. Whether or not the traditional family unit is natural or not, what’s important is that it works.

            The size differential between the sexes of our ancient ancestors was indicative of their sexual politics. Large males fought each other to become the alpha, or to get the chance to reproduce with the most desirable females. The differential started to shrink however, approximately 1.7 million years ago. The explanation for this decrease is that sexual competition between males diminished due to the transition to the pair bond system (primitive monogamy). The introduction of the pair bond system meant that more males were reproducing which meant greater stability and social peace. It may even be the reason for humankind’s profound success. The problem however, is that this system is not as strongly instinctual as say the fight-or-flight instinct—monogamy is a tendency not an imperative.

Where monogamy is the norm, such societies are generally more economically productive, politically democratic, socially stable, and more accepting of women’s rights. Traditional marriage may not be fully “natural,” but it is “normal” because countless generations of wise people determined it was a best practice for society.  But marriage, like capitalism, is sustained by our language concerning it. And the way we talk about marriage changed dramatically since the 1960s.

During the 1970s, about half of all children born to married parents saw that marriage fail, as compared to 11 percent in the 1950s. The government began subsidizing single motherhood under the Great Society. Mothers were paid based on how many children they had, and this funding was cut off for women who got married. Today, approximately 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock. Yet, trying to pinpoint a single cause for the transformation of attitudes concerning marriage is futile. But the effects on society are profound. The children of failed marriages are two to three times more likely to experience social or psychological pathologies than their peers of functioning marriages. There is currently wide acceptance among scholars that children raised in stable marriages by two biological parents fare better than children of other family forms.

There is higher correlation between marriage and socioeconomic status now than at any time in our past. The affluent in this country are marrying and marriage helps keep them affluent. Controlling for all variables, married men make 44 percent more than single men. “The wage benefit for marriage is roughly equal to, if not greater than, that of going to college” (271). Ron Haskins of the left-leaning Brookings Institution claims that there’s a simple formula for success. For those who finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until 21 for marriage—in that order—only 2 percent remain in poverty, while 75 percent join the middle class.

            The demands on parents are not purely financial. They must provide more intangible things like time, emotional commitment, and elevating the needs of the child over their own. Single parents simply don’t have as much time to spend with their children as a couple does.

            The problem is that the conversation surrounding marriage has decayed. Conversation, gratitude and remembrance are the cure to this, for as Hannah Arendt observed, every generation we are invaded by barbarians called “children.” The family is the first line of defense against these barbarians and the darker side to human nature.

            Since babies today are born the same as babies 50,000 years ago, the conversation they are born into is the only thing preventing them from becoming barbarians. As a cooperative species, it is our ability to communicate concepts that led to our climb up the food chain. All human endeavors are sustained by our talk about them. And the American Revolution elevated a new bourgeois worldview that looked favorably on liberty, commerce, innovation, hard work, and the autonomy of the family and the individual.

            The language used by Western elites has become increasingly hostile towards democracy, free speech, and capitalism. This is partially fueled by the widespread belief that democratic, free-market societies develop slower than authoritarian ones. Not only is there something deeply seductive to having a strong man or an expert council running society, but elites also have a class interest in supporting such a system. They often look to other societies for examples, just as intellectuals looked to fascist and communist regimes in Europe in the 1920s and early 1930s.

            While it is true that most of the countries with extraordinary economic growth over the past fifty years have been autocratic, the proportion of these autocracies that is successful is abysmal. The necessary ingredient to successful autocracies has been the introduction of market mechanisms. Yet, the nature of autocracy to substitute imposition for persuasion is still highly attractive to elites.

            And then there is Donald Trump. In some important respects he is quite different from far-right and neo-fascist demagogues, but rather similar in other respects. He is not an intellectual, which is not to say that he is unintelligent. He is not a good representative of nationalism or any other ideology, and clearly knows little about American political history. His catchphrases include amoral values such as “winning” and “strength.” His ignorance and vulgarity appealed to many voters as a signal that he was not part of the establishment, and therefore blameless for the status quo. He is also significantly romantic, putting his faith not in God, the Constitution, or abstract principles, but in his own instincts. And these instincts drive most of his decisions. He is reminiscent of pre-modern man, obsessed with being the alpha. Donald Trump is, perhaps, the most successful populist president in American history.

            The driving force behind populism is resentment. The people feel like they are being held down or exploited by the establishment or elites, and in extreme cases, conspirators. Naturally, gratitude for the status quo declines and the sense that things were better in the past increases. Besides deriving sustenance from and stirring up resentment, populism has no limiting principle. “Populism is a barbaric, childish yawp coming out of democratic man” (296).

            The Constitutional order combined with the patriotic commitments of the people who work for Trump, is enough to contain his will to power. What is more illuminating is that we’ve entered a time in which populist appeals work. And dismayingly, populism on the right and the left is in high demand today.

            The ascension of Trump was symptomatic of long-established trends. The division of labor that followed the agricultural revolution generated institutions. These institutions of civil society operate differently than the state or the market economy. They work on the economy of love, community, charity and reciprocity. And when the government gets involved and starts to assume the roles of civil society, it becomes toxic.

The government may be capable of many good and important functions, but it can’t love you. None of the psychological factors involved with family generosity are included with a government check. And the state replaces the notion of welfare as charity with that of entitlement. The mentality that follows assumes the government ought to provide for all the wants and needs of the general population. Then the poor become less motivated to help themselves and the affluent less motivated to help the poor. What results is a lack of “earned success,” and thus, a reduction of the satisfaction that comes from hard work and achievement. It is this earned success, the conviction that your labor is valued and meaningful, that produces lasting happiness. The American system is designed to provide autonomy in the pursuit of earned success; and the more institutions there are, the more options that are available in that pursuit of happiness. And while the market may make us feel like cogs in a machine, it also gives us the right to exit any system we choose. This freedom to exit doesn’t exist in statist systems.

By outsourcing our compassion for other humans to the government, we liberate ourselves from the burdens of others, and free ourselves to think only about the self. We see this reflected in reality as the conservatives, who claim the government shouldn’t be involved in solving income inequality, gave four times as much money to charity than liberals.

The vision of the state as a family or a parent is still very appealing because we have such a strong drive to be part of a family, and government is the thing we all belong to. And while the market system will destroy jobs with automation, leaving many feeling left out, “we should not lose sight of the fact that the spread of markets around the world has led to the largest and quickest decline in poverty in all of human history” (309). The failure is in civil society, for when it is healthy, most people don’t look to Washington to solve all their problems.

The rise of populism in the U.S. and Europe is more attributable to “cultural backlash” than economic dislocation. In a 2012 study, the researchers found that opposition to immigration had more to do with the effects on “the composition of the local population” that newcomers would have. In a massive survey, Harvard sociologist Robert D. Putnam “found that there was an undeniable correlation between increased diversity and breakdowns in the community” (319). He found, among many things, that people living in more diverse communities distrust their neighbors more, withdrawal from friends, expect the worst in others, volunteer and donate less. The simple reality is that people, who have language, customs, faith, institutions and history in common, are more likely to fix their differences and problems without the aid of government. And the trust that forms with more homogenous populations is necessary for democracy and economic growth. Thus, there is a need for immigrants and native-born citizens to assimilate. Unfortunately, today there is a major push encouraging immigrants to retain their minority identities.

Mass immigration corrodes our mediating institutions and drives migration to online “virtual communities,” or virtual echo chambers. Finding support online encourages people to express views in public they normally wouldn’t. Our current political climate is drenched in tribalist thinking. Since the 1960s our political talk intensified as our parties became more ideological and tribal. Politics become more zero-sum as the only goal is victory over the ideological “other.” Persuasion dissipates as victory and humiliation are elevated—and all of this is natural.

Goldberg believes that the rise of populism and tribalism on the right resulted from the failure of the Tea Parties. These included a passionate commitment to the principles of the Founding, and demanding that government operate within the parameters laid out in the Constitution. But they were demonized in the media and Hollywood as racist yokels. Facing a constant barrage from the media, where we’re told that fighting for the Constitution or universal privileges is a “white thing,” a certain segment of the population will eventually agree. This drives the white identity politics on the right. Labeling people as racist for simple disagreement and skepticism produces this natural backlash.

Today, when one party is in power, it provides the meaning that one group craves while producing estrangement and resentment in others. “The only solution is to break the cycle by making the state less important and letting the dying reefs of civil society grow back to health” (330).

            Jonah Goldberg confesses that he attempted to keep God out of his book, but as a sociological entity, God can’t be removed. The ancients created gods to reflect their feelings and to serve their own purposes. The ancient Hebrews reversed this, demanding that people work for God. They recognized the moral sanctity of every individual Jew—male and female. Then Christianity universalized this by applying moral sanctity to all. Through the concept of the Golden Rule grew the concept of the individual. The proposition that all humans are equal was a ticking time bomb to aristocracy. Christianity also created the idea of the secular—the City of God and the City of Man. The Protestant Reformation dissolved the monopoly of the Catholic Church, which led to an explosion of institutions and new habits, including a revolutionary respect for innovation. The advancement of the West resulted from a series of creative tensions—balancing individual rights and the powers of the state. But perhaps the most civilizing element to society is idea that God is watching. This is a check on the temptation to follow one’s passions. The notion of good character comes to us from countless generations of people figuring out what they should do when only God is watching. And this creates tension between our base instincts and the will of God. “This tension created space for reason to become a crucial moral tool in our lives” (333). The absence of God is felt intensely as it permits all manner of ideas to take his place.

            It was a new bourgeois worldview that built the Miracle. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness and this implies work. And we can’t deny the work aspect to this equation, for lasting happiness is bound up with earned success.

            We have become a society of idiots in the original Greek sense of the word. To the ancient Greek, the idiot was a private individual ignorant of the knowledge and lacking the skills that underlie civilization. They are step removed from the barbarian and don’t understand the meaning to the word “civility.” Instead of receiving the education of the liberal arts—which is designed to dispel such idiocy—today’s leaders have created an army of ingratitude. The idiots that have been created are ignorant of their own civilization and too indifferent to defending the soapboxes they stand on. 

            When we stop looking to God for meaning, it is inevitable that we will find such fulfillment in tribes and crowds. For where God disappears, people seek transcendence through drugs, recreational sex and the ecstasy of crowds.

            What can be created with ideas can be destroyed by ideas. The conservative movement is no different, and that is why we need dogma. We must re-embrace our core ideas—the ideas that made the Miracle possible. We must have a tribal attachment to them and a dogmatic commitment.

            We are at the summit of human history where the terms “right” and “left” have no meaning, for any direction we turn takes us back down the mountain. More than any other ingredient, gratitude is the indispensible quality necessary for civilizational success. And success is never permanent, for we must constantly work for its upkeep, and equip the next generation to carry on the fight against nature. The only way the Constitution works is if people of good character resist the entropy of human nature. Decline for us is a choice. “Principles, like gods, die when no one believes in them anymore” (351).

Summary: The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray

Europe is killing itself. Within a few generations, what has been recognizably Europe for thousands of years will cease to exist. The people are not reproducing and there is an existential fatigue that has set in—the widespread feeling that Europe no longer has the will or the right to exist. The inevitable demise of this culture and people is the result of two simultaneous occurrences: (1) the massive migration of peoples from all over the world into Europe at a rate too high for adequate assimilation; (2) the loss of trust in Europe’s religion, cultural inheritance and institutions. From a traditional standpoint Europe is built on Athens and Jerusalem—the pillars of logic and faith respectively. Now that Europe has shifted into a post-faith society, questioning its own values at a time when many are moving in who do not share its traditional beliefs, can the superstructure of this continent survive? Essentially, Europe has lost itself at precisely the same time when the peoples of other cultures are calling Europe home. In the words of Douglas Murray, “the European peoples have decided to become a ‘utopia’ only in the original Greek sense of the word: to become ‘no place’. This book is an account of that process” (8).

Chapter 1—The Beginning

For the vast majority of its history, Britain has had a static population with minimal influx from the Norman Conquest and Ireland. This changed in the 1940s when Britain opened its doors to the Commonwealth to fill certain labor shortages after WWII. Although some of the most outrageous predictions of the 1960s concerning immigration were met with censure, they have since been proven to be underestimates. Similarly, if one would’ve predicted, from the 2002 census, that the next decade would see White Britons becoming a minority in London and the Muslim population doubling, they would’ve been met with cries of racism, Islamophobia, and scaremongering. With such labeling tactics, how can a society have an honest conversation on immigration?

While the public was concerned about immigration policy, they were remarkably tolerant to the mass migration that began in 1997 with the election of Tony Blair and his Labour Party. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, unspoken policy allowed immigration to steadily increase with limitations. Blair ended this trend, opening the floodgates of immigration. He eliminated the filtering of fraudulent marriage applications and redefined “skilled laborers” to include virtually everyone. One Labour speech-writer remarked that this was done to, “rub the Right’s nose in diversity” as well to acquire loyal Labour Party voters. More disturbing however, was the Minister of Asylum and Immigration, Barbara Roche, whose intention was to restructure Britain’s immigration policies. She dismissed all criticism of her policies as racist. Such policies included accepting all who claim asylum, whether legitimate or illegitimate, and categorizing everyone as “economic migrants” regardless of whether or not they were headed for a job. These actions of the Blair administration seem to be for the purpose of cultural warfare, weaponizing migrants against an unsupportive electorate. Another possibility however, not entirely removed from the former, is that the whole thing just got out of control. This is evidenced by the fact that there is a huge gap between expected and actual immigration figures, even from the estimates of the most fervent proponents of mass migration. Whatever the reason, Britain is now facing much larger immigration than expected and a radical shift in culture.

Chapter 2—How we got hooked on immigration

Europe opened its doors to the peoples of the former empires, and in recognizing the economic benefits offered, many immigrated and decided to stay, spread roots and bring their extended families to share in this higher quality of life. Most of the public felt that some level of immigration is good and makes their country more interesting. Yet, any discussion of the downside of mass immigration has been met, by politicians, with labels which have inevitably fueled other issues. For instance, in 2011 nine Muslim men were convicted of the sex trafficking of children over the course of eight years. Local law enforcement had resisted reporting the crimes out of fear of being labeled “racist”. There is simply a certain percentage of the immigrant population with radically different cultural views concerning: women, other religions and races and sexual minorities. It is madness and mindless political correctness to forbid honest discussions about indigestible aspects of certain cultures welcomed into Europe.

In addition to resisting honest conversation concerning the downside of mass immigration, some, such as Will Self, Professor of Contemporary Thought, suggest that the destruction of European societies is karma. This line of thought holds that Europeans have imperialized the world and thus, it is only fair that such a society by destroyed. This position seems to ignore the past imperialism of non-European societies as well as the innocence of the people currently alive. However, this view encapsulates a significant portion of the European population.

Additionally, politicians still won’t answer how much diversity is enough. Possibly because of this desire for spiritual justice or perhaps because the immigration crisis has grown beyond their control. Is the goal to diversify Europe until the native European population is halved, in the minority or even eliminated? Current projections suggest that White British will be a minority in Britain by the 2060s. Some might see this as justice while others see it as the failure of their politicians to connect to their populace or to handle the situation. Yet, despite the public’s historical and highly criticized concern for the loss of their culture, a view chalked up to irrational fears and xenophobia, it turns out they were right about the radical shift in culture—a shift that politicians were either unwilling or unable to prevent. What results is the swift and radical transformation of European culture not endorsed by the public.

Chapter 3—The excuses we told ourselves

Now, to make such radical societal change work, certain arguments have been put forward to justify the shift. One of the first arguments that is made concerns economics. It is claimed that large-scale immigration is actually a financial net gain—that immigrants put into the system more than they take out in social programs. However, this claim doesn’t reflect common sense or the facts. Clearly, it will take some time before recent immigrants pay more into the system than they take out of the welfare state. Contrast that with a “native” family who have been paying taxes for their entire adult lives. And this is not the only strain on the average European. Low wage labor is also affected. Since so many immigrants are accustomed to a lower wage and living standard than the average European, many at the bottom of the ladder will lose their jobs. Additionally, there is a strain on the housing market, making it difficult for builders to keep up with the rising demand for housing. Considering the level of immigration over the last few years, the UK needs to build a city the size of Liverpool, in housing every year.

Of course none of this dissuades politicians from making bogus arguments. One trick they play is to examine only wealthy immigrants to Britain from first-world countries in Europe, then assess their behavior with the assumption that such immigrants are the norm. When looking at just wealthy immigrants from other parts of Europe, it is true that they provide a net benefit in wealth. Yet, a study by the University College of London found that non-European Economic Area immigrants to the UK took out between 114-159 billion pounds more in services than they paid in taxes in the 1995-2011 period.

The fact is that the migrant is the one who benefits most. Immigrants have access to schools, public transportation and other public facilities that they never paid for, and they benefit from higher wages and living standards. Also, this money does not always go back into the local economy, but is often sent back to the families of immigrants in other countries. And while the GDP of a country may grow from mass immigration, there is no evidence that per capita GDP increases. Thus, the average individual is not made wealthier.

Another argument that is put forward is that Europe’s population is aging and therefore more young people are needed to keep Europeans in the same lifestyle they have become accustomed. Yet, Murray questions whether having a growing population is really beneficial. European countries are already some of the densest in the world and adding more people will put further strain on infrastructure and the housing market. If a growing population is something to strive for, then addressing the issue as to why Europeans are not reproducing enough may be a more reasonable solution then importing large quantities of migrants. When examined, we find that most Europeans do want children. However, many are concerned with affording a single child let alone the 2.1 children per couple needed for a static population. Additionally, when people are more pessimistic about the future the less likely they are to bring children into the world. Certainly there are solutions to these problems that do not involve mass immigration and the problems associated with it.

Perhaps Europeans need a change of perspective. Many see an aging population as a scourge on society. They contend that the aging population are living off the state, taking out more in pensions and healthcare than they put in over their years of work. Would it be so bad to raise the age of retirement to ensure that people are putting in what they take out?

And then there is the problem of low-skilled labor. Unfortunately, many highly educated young people see low-skilled labor as beneath them. Therefore, instead of getting jobs, they choose to live off the welfare state. To compensate, politicians resort to importing this labor from overseas. But, why should Europe be forced to import the labor when there are so many native Europeans who don’t quite fit into high-skilled jobs? Additionally, history has shown that we don’t know how these immigrants will impact the national economy, and in fact, these immigrants too will get older and will deserve the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

Now when such economic cases for mass migration fail, moral and cultural arguments follow. Among these arguments is that such migration enriches the culture. These migrants bring with them different attitudes, culture, language and cuisine. And while no one should doubt that such things can be a benefit to society, it does not follow that these benefits are directly proportional to the number of immigrants taken in. And if diversity really was the goal, then why aren’t politicians striving to bring in immigrants from all over the world instead of focusing primarily on the peoples under the past empires?

One of the bigger issues to mass migration is in the reaction of many Europeans. Too often the positive effects of immigration have been overemphasized while the negative have been ignored or even suppressed. In an interview of 500 British Muslims, zero percent claimed that homosexuality is morally acceptable. Supporters of mass migration will claim that these views are only a few generations behind that of the British people and must be allowed time to catch up, so to speak. However, Muslim views on women are hundreds of years behind and there is no evidence to suggest that these people will integrate and adopt the views of mainstream British society. These facts tend to be ignored by the elected class and there is a miasma around migrant crime rates and cultural incongruities. For example, there were 1400 children in Rotherham brutally raped between 1997 and 2014, by a gang of mostly Pakistani Muslims, that police were afraid to interfere with out of fear of being labeled institutionally racist. And there were similar cases throughout Britain. A report from Oslo found that every reported rape in that city was committed by non-Western people. Yet, such facts are frequently met with accusations of Islamophobia and racism. In fact, one British Muslim who denounced the rapes received death threats from other Muslims. While this behavior is rare in the migrant community, there should be no problem acknowledging that these crimes exist and where they come from and an honest discussion should be allowed to address whether or not a few extra beheadings and rapes are permissible for the sake of a wider variety of cuisines.

Perhaps the most dangerous excuse proponents of mass migration make is that it is unstoppable. Europe has made itself highly attractive to immigrants with its rights, welfare, amnesty, economics and peace. Yet, there are other nations that have similar qualities that do not have a problem with immigration. Japan is proof of this point. The question is whether or not Europe truly wants to curb mass migration. Europe could make itself less desirable by returning migrants who came illegally and halt welfare to new arrivals. Acting as if there is nothing that can be done is a dangerous game played by politicians considering that immigration reform is a serious concern for the public. This builds up resentment that, at the least, will come out at the ballot box and more seriously as a violent reaction towards migrants.

Chapter 4—Welcome to Europe

At the southern extremity of Italy there is the island of Lampedusa. This island typifies some of the problems we see with mass migration. Thousands of people make the last leg of their journey to this island from North Africa, knowing that once in Italy they are essentially in Europe to stay. Here, order breaks down as there are too many people to accurately assess their identities and their places of origin. Most pay smugglers a fee to be transported on rundown, dangerous boats and many are the victims of human trafficking. Many of the women are raped, some are murdered on a journey where people of rival tribes clash. Others are claimed by the sea which has sparked the Italian government to send their own boats to save these people from a watery grave. Bodies wash up on the shores as smugglers are encouraged to use less sea-worthy boats as a reaction to this Italian intervention, and many migrant’s families are extorted. Yet, as word of mouth spreads that one only needs to reach Europe in order to stay in Europe, these immigrants are inspired all the more to risk their lives making the dangerous and often fatal journey.

Chapter 5—We have seen everything

The many stories of migrants who experienced rape, torture and imprisonment; combined with pictures of bodies washed ashore, have turned mass migration from an issue of practicality into a matter of the heart. There is now a face to this struggle that tugs at the heart-strings of so many Europeans. And in following the heart, Angela Merkel further opened the floodgates of migration into Europe. She did this, in part, by disregarding Dublin procedures, which stated that the first country in which a migrant claims asylum must provide protection. Thus, allowing migrants to legally pass throughout Europe and settle where they may.

Many Europeans welcome migrants with open arms, hoping to provide relief to the many fleeing violence in their native lands. This is especially true on certain Greek islands where immigrant numbers rival that of the native population. During the winter months, these natives house migrants in their own basements, and camps have been established to provide them with food, shelter and even education. Some of these migrants even prefer suicide rather than being sent back to their homelands. This human tragedy, in turn, has led so many to the belief that there is nothing a civilized society can do but to accept all who claim asylum. Yet, does Europe really have the capacity to save everyone? Angela Merkel says “yes,” but backlash from the more practical in Europe suggests that the answer to that question may, if fact, be “no.”

Chapter 6—Multiculturalism

Much debate was sparked in Europe with the declaration, by leaders such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, that multi-culturalism was a failure. However, much confusion surrounded the very notion of multi-culturalism. No one quite knew what it was, yet, it seemed clear by the context that such leaders meant a state-sponsored policy of encouraging people to live separate lives, standing in contrast to the customs and laws of the country in which they lived. Not everyone welcomed the debate though; and there were many on the left that criticized the discussion itself, claiming that the problems associated with multi-culturalism did not exist, or that they existed but were not really problems. Some politicians even tried to revise history claiming that Islam was as influential in Germany as Christianity or Judaism. Others suggested that having one law for every citizen was dangerous. In this multi-cultural era of Europe, every culture except that of the host nations was celebrated—ironically, only the cultures of Europe, which allowed for the celebration of other cultures was not to be celebrated.

Yet, in the 2000s contrarians broke out all over Europe and among the most powerful of these voices came from Europe’s ethnic quarters. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, among others, united people from the left and right around the agreement that such things as honor killings and female genital mutilation are wrong and have no place in civilized society. The multi-cultural era then transitioned into the multi-faith era, with its emphasis on Islam. And indeed, the religious face of Europe has changed drastically. A 2016 poll, of those in high school in France, found that while 33.2% claimed to be Christian and 25.5% Muslim, less than half of non-Muslims claimed their faith to be “something important or very important” while 83% of Muslims claimed their faith to be “important or very important”.

Some argued that what was needed to make immigration work was not multi-culturalism, but a turn to “core culture” in which all citizens would unite around common themes such as separation of church and state, human rights and rule of law. Anything beyond this “core culture” would be an allowed deviation.

Yet, at some point there was resistance to the very presence of immigrants by the public, and the sentiment that they should learn the language and adopt certain aspects of European culture was tarnished by association. For others, in an attempt to make migrants feel welcome, there was a re-writing of history and a stronger emphasis on Islamic achievements and contributions to European society to the point of lunacy. Any critique of this rewriting of history was met with accusations of Islamophobia. Some politicians resorted to denigrating European culture or even denying its existence. What all of this boiled down to for both the native and the migrant was this: what needs to be given up in order to make society work?

Regardless of these reactions for and against mass migration, what cannot be denied is that these immigrants were not assimilating. Bars and churches close as migrants flood into certain locations and do not adapt, and mosques mushroom. This is what happens when a vibrant religious culture is placed into a declining relativistic culture. Yet some are still surprised to find that many who appear to be British on the outside still retain sentiments from other cultures. This is exemplified in the 2005 attacks on London Transport by British-born Muslims. Much was made of the fact that one of these terrorists worked at a fish and chips shop and played cricket. While those in the media and politics strained to wrap their heads around the attacks, the public understood that Europe had failed to truly integrate these people.

The result of these cultural issues, in part, stems from Europeans holding two conflicting ideas. The first is that anyone can be European. All they need is to be in Europe. The other is one that is cognizant that these new arrivals have brought with them customs and ideas not seen in Europe for many years. The first is optimistic that migrants will become more European, so to speak. The other part wonders if anyone has enough time for this assimilation to happen.

Chapter 7—They are here

Any time there was a discussion of immigration, it was always framed with the lens of race. What was ignored was the political and religious ideologies of the people flooding into Europe. As a result, no one could’ve foreseen that the early part of the 21st century would be rife with discussions of blasphemy laws.

There were, however, warning signs. In 1989 author Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding when Supreme Leader of the Revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran called for his death for publishing the Satanic Verses, a book critical of Islam. Within 24 hours thousands of British Muslims were calling for the imposition of Islamic blasphemy laws, which meant death for Rushdie. As a result, the first organized Muslim representative organizations were established. And these organizations were characterized by the loudest and most extreme among the Muslim community.

Chapter 8—Prophets without honour

In the Netherlands, by the late 80s and early 90s, certain politicians were realizing that Islam is more than a religion; it is also a way of life, and that this is in some ways incompatible with Dutch society. This view, mirrored by fifty percent of the Dutch public, was attacked as racist. Despite such baseless attacks, a left-wing university professor, Pim Fortuyn championed the notion that certain elements of Islamic ideology were incompatible with liberal society. While Pim won over much of the public, he was eventually murdered by a vegan activist for “targeting Muslims”. This created a void filled by Theo van Gogh who was then shot and stabbed by radical Muslim Mohammed Bouyeri. As a result of these murders, the Netherlands found itself quiet and anxious over the subject of religion, with few to support the idea that there are limits to tolerant society.

Yet, as Muslim populations increased, problems all over Europe broke out. Women were getting stoned to death and a report found that 74,000 women had their genitals mutilated. Muslims who spoke out against the negative aspects of their culture were threatened with violence. Additionally, these new Muslim immigrants began to clash with other minority groups. In France, the number of anti-Semitic attacks, largely by young Muslims, doubled between 2013 and 2014.

Former Muslims, current Muslims and non-Muslim Europeans spoke out against the incompatibility of Islamic culture with Western society, but few spoke with such passion as author and journalist Oriana Falluci. She attacked those who terrorized in the name of Islam as well as those in the West who would not stand up for their own culture and society. She addressed the blatant anti-European sentiments of certain Muslim leaders, such as the Islamic scholar who spoke to a synod at the Vatican in 1999 saying, “By means of your democracy we shall invade you, by means of our religion we shall dominate you.” She spread the message that Islamists sought to outbreed Europeans; an idea expressed by the former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne when he addressed the UN general assembly saying, “One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere of this planet to burst into the northern one. But not as friends. Because they will burst in to conquer, and they will conquer by populating it with their children. Victory will come to us from the wombs of our women.” Unfortunately for Europe no one took heed of these warnings.

Chapter 9—Early-warning sirens

For decades virtually no one considered the ideologies or beliefs of the people flooding into Europe. It should have been obvious with the “cartoon crisis” beginning in 2005 that many of these migrants held radically conflicting views with most of liberal Europe. In 2011 the offices at Charlie Hebdo were firebombed for reprinting a Danish cartoon depicting Mohammed. In 2015 most of the editorial team was murdered. Additionally, there were riots and embassy burnings across the Muslim world. Yet, what is most striking is the reaction of certain Europeans citizens, and particularly politicians to the violence. Some suggested that those murdered at Charlie Hebdo got what was coming to them, and law suits were threatened against those who would publish the cartoons. All who warned of these problems were ignored, defamed, dismissed, prosecuted or even killed. The politicians however went out of their way to show how much they admired Islam, often quoting their favorite verses of the Koran. Others claimed that the bombings were actually anti-Islamic. Those who recognized the problem attempted to ally themselves with moderate Muslims in an attempt to reform Islam. The inevitable failure of this endeavor could’ve been prevented had politicians known that Muslims have been trying to reform Islam for 1000 years with no success. To make matters worse, it was clear that many Muslims, as encouraged by their leaders back home, had no intention of ever assimilating or changing their ways.

Chapter 10—The tyranny of guilt

The guilt of Europeans has a profound impact on their behavior. Particularly in Germany where people showed up at train stations waving signs and celebrating the arrival of refugees to their country. Yet, the gulf states, which did not bear this burden of guilt, and sharing a more similar culture to Syrians, refused to take in any refugees. Perhaps this is because parallels were drawn between the Syrian refugees and the Jews during the Holocaust. However, there are differences. Firstly, the Jews were searching for any country to take them in; they didn’t walk through many countries, choosing specifically which they wanted to live. Secondly, not all of the migrants flooding into Europe were actually fleeing war. Many were simply economic migrants in search of jobs and welfare. Yet, with this association of migrants as Holocaust-era Jews, those who opposed the mass migration, were, predictably, labeled as Nazis.

This guilt over war, the Holocaust, colonialism and racism is not meant for Europe alone, but is expected to bear in all former colonial nations. An almost religious fervor has developed in these countries. Those who bear this guilt ignore the fact that most nations are guilty of conquest and the mistreatment of the losers. They magnify the crimes of the past, focus on what was wrong while failing to see any good. Some apologize, as those who committed no crime, to people who were not victimized. The myth of the noble savage has taken root, and thus, Europeans are seen as the destroyers of the Garden of Eden; they are now tainted with original sin, incapable of doing right.

What is especially unusual about this guilt is that others are rarely called upon to apologize for the sins of their ancestors. The Ottoman Empire killed millions of Armenians in the first genocide of the 20th century. With military might they conquered much of south-eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa; imposing Islam and its own culture on those conquered. To this day they occupy the nation-state of Cyprus. Yet, rarely is Turkey made to feel guilt over these crimes. Why the double standard? Murray argues that this psychological affliction of Europeans, judging themselves by their worst deeds and judging others by their best moments, is something that they get high on. They love the guilt. They are masochists and they try to outdo each other in absurdity. Take for example Karsten Nodal Hauken, who was brutally raped by a Somali refugee. In a piece he did for the Norwegian media, he admitted to feeling guilty that his rapist was returned to Somalia.

Chapter 11—The pretence of repatriation

Countries from southern to northern Europe adopted the Schengen Agreement, which meant open borders throughout Europe. The purpose of this was for harmonization and integration and the thinking was that Europe had gone to war twice in the 20th century over borders, and therefore borders are bad. Murray compares blaming borders for war to blaming cars for auto accidents. It was German militarism that caused WWI and Nazi aggression that caused WWII, among other factors.

Open borders meant the dissolution of the nation-state and free movement throughout Europe. The fact that migrants were not turned away meant that there was essentially free movement into Europe. This was taken advantage of by terrorists. For instance, the Paris attackers who killed 129 people were trained in Syria and found to have slipped in and out of Europe by posing as migrants. Such problems led to pushback by the public for less porous borders. Some nations, such as Hungary and Bulgaria, constructed fences. Politicians started using tough rhetoric without actually addressing the issues of open borders and mass migration.

Chapter 12—Learning to live with it

Attacks by young Muslim men occurred nearly daily in the summer of 2016. A 17 year-old asylum seeker pulled out an ax and knife on a train and began hacking away at the other passengers while shouting “Alahu akbar” or “Allah is the greatest.” Those who suggested that the people in the Charlie Hebdo slaughter had it coming to them were at a loss for words over the priest murdered while performing mass. Some of these attacks were conducted by migrants and others by citizens. The cases of rape skyrocketed in Europe and in refugee camps. In Cologne on New Year’s Eve, crowds of up to 2,000 men sexually assaulted approximately 1,200 women in the main square. Rape was so prevalent in Bavaria that in 2015 officials warned parents to not let their children go out alone or wear revealing clothing in public.

The topic of rape and Islam remained taboo. To even notice that most of the rapes were committed by young Muslim men was to be racist. Police in Germany were routinely covering up the identities of migrants involved in sexual assault to prevent criticism of the government’s open-door policies. What was obvious to the public, but not to the officials, was that radicalization originated from a specific community. It should not have been surprising that the places with the highest number of Muslims per capita had the most attacks while countries without a significant Muslim population, like Slovakia, had no such problems.

There were also unusual cases where the victims of sexual assault attempted to conceal the identities of their attackers. A 24-year-old woman in Manheim who was raped by three migrants claimed her attackers were German nationals. Later she admitted they were of Middle-Eastern/North African descent, but then wrote a letter of apology to them. She felt that revealing their identities would promote racism.

These problems began to weigh heavily on the European population. Public polls showed a majority of Europeans did not think mass immigration was a benefit to their society. Despite losing the majority of the people, politicians refused to change their policies. They did not recognize that most of these immigrants were not asylum-seekers, but economic migrants. In 2016 in Germany, 220,000 people received deportation orders and only 11,300 were actually deported. Angela Merkel, the woman most responsible for this disaster, when asked what would be done to protect Europeans and European culture, gave a long and largely irrelevant response. She said that considering European history no one ought to complain about terrorist attacks and that to do so was arrogant. For this, the German media praised her.

Chapter 13—Tiredness

There is a tiredness in Europe—a vacancy of drive, inspiration and sense of meaning—the feeling that Europe will never escape its past of barbarism and war. That such war may break out at any point and destroy the continent. While Europe has long and erroneously predicted its own destruction, it doesn’t follow that such a sentiment will never be right. If individuals can feel this, why not societies?

The loss of faith dealt a heavy blow to Europe. The spirit of Christianity had an energizing effect on Europeans. It has driven them to war but also to the heights of human creativity. The loss of this religious faith has stripped society of its over-arching purpose, and what was once a community of believers is now a collection of isolated people. The destruction of Christianity happened in the 19th century and had two primary causes: (1) The critical treatment of Scripture as any other historical text; (2) Darwin’s revelation concerning the origins of humankind. Thus, the Bible was placed alongside the works of Homer—pointing to eternal truths, but not actually true. The gap left by Christianity’s absence has not been filled and that which stood as the foundation of Western values has been reduced to mythology. The attempt was made to fill this gap with art and philosophy, yet “culture on its own cannot make anyone either happy or good” (214). German philosophy was particularly problematic. Not only was there a weariness with philosophy in the 19th century, but German philosophy carried high demands. Such thought pursues ideas to their logical end point or absolute and this so often led to fatalism. Additionally such absolutes often crashed, destroying everything in their wake including people, countries, dominant ideas and theories. Such repeated crashes were enough to leave anyone weary.

Then there is the fact that Europeans have tried virtually everything from Communism to muscular liberalism (the defense of liberalism around the world). All have failed, and this has led some to the conclusion that all ideology and certainty are the problem. Some have likened the state of Europeans to the that of Icarus had he survived the fall. All of Europe’s dreams have been proven false, and now they are left alive without illusion or ambition. As a result, so many turn to hedonism and nobody trusts certainty.

Chapter 14—We’re stuck with this

In 2009 in the town of Luton, UK, there was a parade to honor soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. A group of Islamists marched in protest, verbally harassing the soldiers and handing out flyers. In the following weeks, locals organized a protest opposing the Islamists, but were prevented from making it to the same town hall and were prohibited by police from handing out their own flyers. This double standard disgusted many and led to the creation of the English Defence League (EDL). For years this group organized protests that often faced violent opposition, particularly by largely Muslim “anti-fascist” groups. The reaction of the British authorities to the EDL made it clear that the government was trying to shut down it down. For instance, the leader, going by the name “Tommy Robinson” was arrested for attempting to walk through a heavily Muslim area and for allowing an organized protest to run three minutes late. His bank accounts were frozen and his family’s homes were raided by police. Yet the chairman of the Luton Islamic Centre, Abdul Qadeer Baksh who claims Islam is at war with Jews, that in an ideal society homosexuals would be executed and has defended cutting off hands for theft and lashing of woman under Islamic punishment laws, never received such treatment. The real problem is that politicians have been attacking the secondary symptoms—the reaction of Europeans to the problems of mass migration—instead of the primary symptoms of importing mass numbers of radical Muslims. The reason for this is simple: it is easier to criticize and call white people racist, than it is brown people.

Chapter 15—Controlling the backlash

The mainstream media of Europe has been guilty of covering up issues brought on by mass migration and promoting falsehoods about racism. Far from Europe being a very racist place, the far-right has been collapsing as it has in Britain over the past decade. Even worse is the covering up of rape and the statistics associated with it. In 1975 there were 421 rapes in Sweden. In 2014 that number rose to 6,620. By 2015 Sweden had the highest per capita rape than any country other than Lesotho. Research published in Denmark by Frederic Morenius showed that Somali men were 26 times more likely to commit rape than Danish men, as adjusted for age. Dozens of young girls were raped by gangs of immigrants at a music festival in Stockholm in 2014. Police made no mention of the rapes in their report on the festival. It took web magazines and blogs to unearth the 2015 New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne—attacks that were covered up by police and the mainstream media. Up to 80 percent of police in Sweden considered quitting their jobs due to the increased risk of dealing with migrant-dominated sections of their country. Yet the Swedish government continued to portray these migrants as doctors and academics when the reality was that they were primarily low-skilled laborers. Perhaps this is intentional self-destruction. Former Prime Minister of Sweden, Frederik Reinfeldt claimed that “only barbarism is genuinely Swedish,” that borders are merely “fictional” constructs and that the land of Sweden belongs to the migrants rather than those whose families had been there for hundreds if not thousands of years. What is striking is the finding that just 41 percent of foreign-born Germans wanted mass immigration to continue and 28 percent preferred it to end entirely. Thus, while Angela Merkel continued to hold the door open to migrants, the migrants themselves were quietly opposed to her policies.

Chapter 16—The feeling that the story has run out

Europe has many critics. They say that Europe has been exceptionally cruel. The reality is that all civilizations have been cruel, and Europe has been no different from any others. Yet these critics get some things right—life in modern Europe is lacking in purpose, and that while liberal democracy has given all the right to pursue happiness, we have yet to answer our reason for existence. In this post-faith society we find that beneath it all is an existential nihilism that has us separated from our past. It could be that without Christianity, Western Civilization will fail or turn into something completely different. In fact, we find that there are those flooding into Europe with a strong sense of purpose and values that may fill this hole left by Christianity.

The West’s own values of liberty rest on Judeo-Christian ethics and faith, yet without it, what is there to ensure that our civilization continues to honor this freedom? Some have claimed that these freedoms are not unique to the West, but are universal. Yet, the attempt at integrating immigrants would not be so difficult if this was so. If our rights come from government alone, then there is nothing stopping those with different attitudes from obtaining power and altering our rights and freedoms.

In post-Christian society, the closest thing we have to a creed is the belief in human progress. That with the awakening of the Enlightenment comes the belief that nobody would chose to walk backward and that rights are now self-evident. Yet, the same people fighting for gay and women’s rights are also supporting the mass importation of peoples who oppose these rights. At some point there may be more walking backward than forward.

With the loss of Europe’s religion, the next question becomes, “Why can’t art take over where religion left off?” This question is answered by those who make art today. Contemporary artists no longer attempt to express truth and beauty. They have largely given up on technical brilliance, but produce works that anyone can make. There is no ambition. Contemporary artists at best point to the fact that there is death and pain, but rarely say anything about it. Modern art has“given up that desire to connect us to something like the spirit of religion or that thrill of recognition—what Aristotle termed anagnorisis—which grants you the sense of having just caught up with a truth that was always waiting for you”(272). Perhaps this only happens when encountering a profound and timeless truth—something that most reject or of which they are suspicious.

Chapter 17—The end

European ships picked up migrants, many of whom were dumped out of their own boat, by the thousands. At one point there was 10,000 migrants picked up in 48 hours. The media made it clear that these migrants were “saved” from the Mediterranean as well as the conditions in Syria. Yet, none of the details were reported. The vast majority of the migrants flooding through Italy were not Syrian, but sub-Saharan African men.

Douglas Murray had the opportunity to talk with a Member of Parliament (MP) from Germany. When asked about the issue of integration, the MP replied that increasing the 60 hours of courses on German values should be increased to 100 hours. He said that Germans were the problem. Those who don’t want their home to change are detached from reality. The MP made it clear that there should be no point at which migrants are denied entry into Germany. He criticized borders. He claimed that the slow-down of immigrants into Germany was natural when in reality this occurred due to recent policy of the EU, which was supported by Germany. The EU started paying the Turkish government to retain migrants in their country. Another reason for the slow-down is that borders were being erected again, and particularly with the Macedonian border, a bottleneck into Germany was created.

In an effort to protect the entry point into Britain, the government proposed to build a wall near the migrant camp in Calais, France. Not surprisingly, this proposal was met with opposition. French senator Nathalie Goulet remarked, “It reminds me of the wall they built around the Warsaw Ghetto in World War Two.” She suggested that walls don’t work and that they are a thing of the past. There are fewer than 6,500 people in the camp at Calais. Politicians and activists proposed a one time offer to allow all the migrants in the camp to enter Britain. This was the failure of Europe in a microcosm. Little thought was given to the fact that once the camp had been emptied that it would simply fill up again, and the problems associated with that camp would persist. Solutions like this were for decades, short-sighted.

Chapter 18—What might have been

This could’ve turned out differently for Europe had they asked the right questions and consulted the right thinkers. The three questions they should’ve asked themselves: (1) Should Europe be a home for anyone who moves there? (2) Should Europe be an asylum for anyone running from war? (3) Should Europe be obligated to provide a better standard of living to anyone in the world who wants it?The public would’ve answered “no” to the second and third questions and would’ve been torn on the first. Yet, the politicians did not consult the public. Neither did they consult Aristotle for answers. If they had, they would’ve realized that there is not a “good” answer and an “evil” answer to those questions. Rather the questions posed the problem of competing virtues—in this instance justice and mercy. On one side, the politicians had the obligation to be just to their people, to respect their desire to not have their society radically transformed or to have to deal with sexual, religious and racial issues again. On the other side there is mercy for the migrant who is seeking a better life or even fleeing imminent death. Mercy has clearly been winning this competition. However, the slight against justice was not simply against the people alive now. For as Edmund Burke recognized, society and culture are not simply for those living today, but rather a pact between the dead, the living and those yet to come. “In such a view of society, however greatly you might wish to benefit from an endless supply of cheap labour, a wider range of cuisine or the salving of a generation’s conscience, you still would not have the right to wholly transform your society. Because that which you inherited that is good should also be passed on. Even were you to decide that some of the views or lifestyles of your ancestors could be improved upon, it does not follow that you should hand over to the next generation a society that is chaotic, fractured and unrecognizable” (296).

Angela Merkel and all the other politicians who supported mass migration could’ve been both merciful to genuine asylum-seekers and just to the people of Europe. It should be recognized that Europe doesn’t have the capacity to save everyone and solve all the world’s problems. And there are many things that could’ve been done differently. Migrants should’ve been housed in countries close to their own. This is considerably cheaper than housing them in tents in Europe, places them in cultures more similar to their own and makes it easier for them to return after the disaster they are fleeing is over. Processing asylum claims outside of Europe would discourage smugglers from loading up dysfunctional boats of migrants. Any boat heading for Europe illegally would be turned back and those migrants would be processed outside Europe. Politicians could’ve made a real attempt at deporting those who have no legitimate claim for asylum. Others could be granted temporary asylum until whatever problems in their homeland settle down. Yet, all this would require politicians to admit they have handled this situation improperly.

In order for Europe to survive it needs a more balanced perspective of itself. While there have been many atrocities that feed into the existential fatigue of Europe, there is also much to be celebrated. A society defined by consumerism and hedonism can’t last long. “But a society which holds that our culture consists of the cathedral, the playhouse and the playing field, the shopping mall and Shakespeare, has a chance” (306). Although Europeans prefer to avoid the deeper issues, there are those who implore a return to the faith, not as a warning, but with a sense of doubt and brokenness. And Pope Benedict beseeched Europe to behave “as though God exists.” There must be some aspiration to introduce deeper meaning into the culture and there should be no cutting off from the past nor lines drawn between the faithful and the doubters.

Chapter 19—What will be

It is unlikely that Europe will make any drastic changes. Politicians will continue with the same policies already in place. The distinction between legal and illegal immigration will become fuzzier. Politicians will push off difficult matters of immigration to their successors. Western Europe will look like a large version of the U.N. There will continue to be cheaper services, interesting conversations and cuisines. Those Europeans who do not want their society to be radically altered will continue to be labeled racists and Nazis.

While it is impossible to know exactly what the future looks like, there is evidence as to the general direction. For instance, international politics will become domestic politics. An example of this is when thousands of Eritreans protested the U.N. after they charged the Eritrean government of crimes against humanity. (Curiously, Europeans were told that Eritreans were fleeing a government, under which, was unlivable). It is impossible to predict what foreign events will have domestic consequences. This result of having a multi-cultural society gives concern to the military who may be carrying out missions in foreign countries.

Europe’s revived obsession with race will continue. When a non-White does well, they will be championed as a model of integration; when they do poorly, there will be accusations of racism. Continuing to ignore the public’s wishes has the potential to see far-right parties elected and perhaps even violent protests.

The continent will change drastically in terms of demographics, religion and culture. Yet, there will be minimal assimilation and few answers to the issues posed by migrants. “For Europeans there seem finally to be no decent answers to the future. Which is how the fatal blow will finally land” (320).

The Virtue of Nationalism By Yoram Hazony Full Summary

Nationalism is a dirty word. The mere utterance conjures up images of authoritarianism, racism and Nazi death camps. However, this vision of nationalism couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoram Hazony contends that nationalism for too long has been misdefined and unfairly slandered. In addition to denoting nationalism as a love and loyalty to one’s nation, Hazony uses the word to denote a theory of the best political order—one that seeks to establish a world of free and independent nations and that stands in direct contrast to imperialism. Hazony’s purpose in writing the book is to make a case for nationalism as the best political order.

The book is split into three parts: Nationalism and Western Freedom; The Case for the National State; Anti-Nationalism and Hate. The first part gives background and contextual information for understanding the contention between nationalism and imperialism in the West. The second part offers the argument in favor of nationalism and the third part deals largely with the hatred toward Nationalism, particularly by liberal imperialists.

Part One—Nationalism and Western Freedom

For as long as the West has been around it has struggled with two opposing views of world order. On the one hand we see an order of free and independent nations and on the other an order of peoples ruled by a single united regime. This is the difference between nationalism and imperialism and both of these orders are rooted in the ancient world.

Over the centuries we have seen imperialistic empires succeed each other, each seeking a universal political order, peace and prosperity. Now the initial draw to the imperial state is a powerful one. For most of human history we have lived in anarchist communities of tribes and clans each constantly warring with their neighbors. With the establishment of empires, however, war is driven to the periphery of the territory and liberates the average human from the constant struggle of war. This space of peace allowed mass scale agriculture and as a result, security from starvation. It wasn’t until Moses received a “constitution” from God that the concept of an independent, non-imperialist nation-state began a sustained existence. Now while the empire offers peace and food, the ancient Israelites saw this political order as one of bondage. The bloodshed and cruelty that imperial conquest and governing brought, was in their eyes, despicable. These empires brought with them slavery, murder and the transfer of women and property in the name of peace and prosperity. The nation-state on the other hand was one of collective self-determination and freedom which also drove war to the borders and opened the door to large-scale agriculture, but spared the world of conquest.

But what exactly is a nation? Hazony defines a nation as, “a number of tribes with a common language or religion, and a past history of acting as a body for the common defense and other large-scale enterprises” (18). The concept of nation is not synonymous with race, but of a shared culture–language and history, religion etc. In the original conception of nation in the Bible, outsiders were welcome to join so long as they integrated.

Now, the Catholic church became the state religion of Rome and united with the emperors of the German Holy Roman Empire. Like so many other empires before them, they too believed that it was their responsibility to bring peace and prosperity to the world united under one empire. It wasn’t until the Thirty Years’ War that the thousand year reign of empire began to shift toward an order of nation-states. This war, which is commonly believed to be a fight between Protestants and Catholics, was actually a conflict between the developing national states of Sweden, France and the Netherlands (Lutheran, Catholic and Calvinist respectively) with the German and Spanish military devoted to an imperial Christian order.

The loss of the imperialists to these national states ushered in a new order in western Europe called the Protestant construction. This new political life was built on two biblical principles: (1) The moral minimum for right rule; (2) The right of national self-determination. The former means that the ruler to rightly rule had to be committed to the people to provide them with protection, justice in the courts, etc. Essentially he must obey the ten commandments. The latter meant the right to govern oneself under one’s own national constitutions without conflict from foreign nations. This Protestant construction thrived on these dialectical tensions. On the one side the concept of natural standards which supersedes the pronouncements of any government suggests that nations cannot do whatever they want. This makes government conditional. There are simply limits to right authority. On the other hand, national freedom protects the institutions, traditions, laws and ideals of the nation against the claims of those on the side of universal church or empire. This tension incubated a laboratory where nations could experiment and test the various institutions and freedoms that have risen from the West. Massive innovation in government, economics and science followed.

Unfortunately, while an order of independent nations was maintained in Europe, that didn’t stop these nations from invading foreign lands in Asia, Africa and the Americas. However, the structure afforded to the nations of western Europe, the principle of national freedom, was the foundation on which such injustices were eventually resolved.

This Protestant construction lasted until the world wars when nationalism came to be associated with the Nazis. It was challenged by a new order called the liberal construction. This order places individual freedom at the basis for all legitimate political order. Locke was instrumental in influencing this perspective of order. For Locke all transactions, obligations and memberships of collectives are based solely on consent. Hazony however, has a different view suggesting that such a position ignores the basis of all human collectives—mutual loyalty, which acts as the glue to society. These bonds unite families and nations and bequeath a specific culture. Being born into such collectives carries burdens of responsibility that are not established by consent. We don’t choose the culture we inevitably receive and our responsibilities to this inheritance and our families exist whether or not we choose them. Simply put, Hazony saw Locke as postulating a view of humankind that is inconsistent with observation and human nature and thus insufficient for understanding political reality.

It wasn’t long ago that the Protestant construction of self-determination and independence of the nation was seen as a progressive politics. Yet, the catastrophes of the two world wars saw the attempt at branding the evils of those wars on nationalism. By the 1960s they succeeded. Now most elites equate nationalism with Nazism and racism. However, Hitler was not a nationalist. He criticized the Protestant order in favor of a German imperialism and clearly sought an end to other countries’ right of national independence and self-determination. It was not the supposed nationalism of the Nazis that the world saw as a threat it was their universalism and imperialism, and it was Hitler’s attempted destruction of other national states that became part of the justification for war.

For Hazony the liberal order is nothing more than a veiled attempt at re-establishing a new imperial state. These empires while creating a level of peace, do so in exchange for national independence and freedom. Under such a state in which the empire has a monopoly over what is right, tolerance for diverse political and religious standpoints declines. Any attempt to voice an opinion in favor of a national order is seen as an attempt at returning to an older age of barbarism.

Today, Europe is strongly in favor of universal law and liberal empire, particularly with the creation of the EU, and this order is largely maintained because of America’s defense of the continent, thus sparing them from the heavy cost of military defense. But not everyone agrees with this liberal agenda. Most notably there are three groups that resist: (1) Neo-Catholics; (2) Neo-Nationalists (statists); (3) Conservatives (traditionalists). The first group subscribes to a revised Catholic political theory. They seek to provide human rights and liberties to the world. While they gravitate toward international rule, they uphold the principle of moral minimum. The second group sees the goal of humankind as service and loyalty to the state. They reject traditional views of the nation, constitution and religion. The third group supports the Protestant construction of international order—a world of independent nations subscribed to the principles of the moral minimum for right rule and the right to national self-determination.

To Hazony the choice of which is the best political order is clear—a world of independent nations each with their own culture, history and language experimenting and respectful of the differences and beauty in other nations. In part one we have a historical and contextual basis for understanding the contention between nationalism and imperialism. In part two Hazony provides his case for nationalism.

Part 2—The Case for the National State

Before taking a rigorous look at the argument for nationalism, Hazony seeks to clarify the two parts of political philosophy—philosophy of government and philosophy of political order. The former is concerned about the best structure of government in an established nation with independence and unity. The concern of the latter is how political order arises, its different forms and which form is best. It is important to learn the underlying causes of political order since these give a state its cohesiveness and independence and all states are on the verge of losing these qualities. Essentially, we must understand these causes to avoid creating bad policy or building up a form of government that works to dissolve cohesiveness.

Hazony’s initial focus is on the philosophy of political order and how the causes of such order effect the different forms of government available.

When it comes to politics, the most basic problem is how an individual lives in a community of other individuals each with their own goals and motivations. How does one influence others to support these goals that we deem necessary? This gives rise to politics which Hazony defines as, “the discipline or craft of influencing others so that they act to accomplish the goals one sees as necessary or desirable” (61).

The collective arises as a solution to this problem and there are many human collectives including the family, clan, tribe, church, business etc. The goal of collectives is to influence people to consistently act as a single unit. Hazony describes three ways in which people will join such collectives: (1) the threat of force; (2) payment; (3) seeing a particular collective as a reflection of the self. It is clear that payment forms the weakest bond to any collective as one is constantly assessing how he might find better pay and thus loyalty is restricted to receiving the right benefits. It is in human nature to protect oneself and this protection extends beyond the self to land, family, nation, etc. Now, loyalty exists when one has taken another under the responsibility of the extended self. Thus, when two individuals take each other under the responsibility of the extended self the bond forged is called “mutual loyalty.” We see this strong bond displayed in wartime heroics, when two or more people unite to face a common problem and other sacrifices that are detrimental to the individual’s life and property. Thus, bonds formed by seeing a collective as an extension of oneself is the strongest of all bonds and is thus, the glue that holds strong collectives together and keeps them acting as one unit. It is because of these bonds of mutual loyalty that we share in the triumphs and sufferings of others.

Now that we know a little about what holds human collectives together, let us address the question of how states come into being. According to Locke and Hobbes, people exist in perfect freedom and equality with each one consenting to form a government for the enhancement of safety and the security of property. To Hazony this is a fantasy comparable to the story of the stork delivering babies. As was earlier mentioned, the original political order consisted of tribes and families without permanent centralized government—anarchy. This order is relatively weak due to the constant threat of war and starvation, and the state is created to compensate. There are two ways that the state crystallizes: (1) people, out of loyalty to family and tribe, voluntarily give up their freedom; (2) conquest establishes the nation as a part of an imperial state suppressed by a ruler. We see the first way in the tribes of Israel uniting to form the nation of Israel and in the city-state of Athens. The second can be found in any empire from Egypt to Persia.

On one end of the spectrum we have anarchy, with people organized into families, clans and tribes, but without any established government; and on the other end of the spectrum we find the limitless empire. Hazony reveals some of the fundamental differences between the two.

With empire we find that loyalty is to the abstract—empire, all mankind and an unknown ruler out in the ether. Such a political order demands that its subjects abandon their loyalty to their leaders and clans. With empire, war is driven to the outskirts of the empire providing a great space for mass agriculture and universal law applicable to all people. The moral legitimacy of the empire is based on the idea that all humankind should be united under peace. The price of this peace is that the way of life of the conquered people is destroyed and such people are now subject to taxation and impressment for the maintenance of the military and other political projects. As is realistic, the ties one forms to all humankind are less strong than the ties of mutual loyalty one finds within the tribe and the concrete. What holds the empire together is not the loyalty of subject peoples, but the bonds of mutual loyalty of those within the ruling state.

Contrast that with anarchy where the members of a tribe personally know their leader who is concerned with the struggles of his people. In response to the kindness of the leader his people repay him with loyalty—thus, bonds of mutual loyalty are formed. The basis for moral legitimacy is the loyalty to the concrete. Anarchy rejects the obligation to the universal order. Yet, under anarchy the people live in a constant threat of war and starvation. Injustices may exist as the tribal leader may have something against the individual being judged.

In the end, both empire and anarchy dissolve into slavery. The empire binds all people in its borders to the customs and ideals of the ruling nation and anarchy binds the people to the endless conflict of local military leaders. It is the national state that lies in the balance between anarchy and empire. The national state is still an abstraction, but one in which there are commonalities of culture—the majority of the people living in the national state share similar language, laws, religion, traditions, and history. The national state takes what is best from both anarchy and empire. From empire loyalty to the abstraction of the state for the creation of peace on a larger scale and impartial legal system. From anarchy a ruler drawn from the tribes of the nation—one who is devoted to the people of the nation and to their specific culture.

In chapter 14 Hazony outlines the five virtues of the state. The first of these virtues is the peace that is created by establishing an area in which war has no place. The tribes that make up the space of the nation have the larger purpose of sustaining the internal cohesion for the sake of the nation and peace. In this space agriculture, family, trade, and innovation flourish.

The second virtue of the national state is its dislike of conquest. A nation is limited by its borders. It is not imperialist. This virtue is not simply a nicety of the nation-state but a pragmatic aim—the nationalist sees that imperialism is not good for itself. The bonds that are formed from conquest are weak and thus threaten the internal cohesion of the nation. Additionally, since the nation is to be devoted to the needs of the people, most would prefer that the government take care of their needs as opposed to constantly spending time and resources in maintaining parts of a distant empire. Now nations still go to war, but most of these fights are over minor boundary disputes, pecking order and other small-scale issues.

The third virtue is collective freedom. Although there is the pure freedom of tribes living under anarchy, such tribes are constantly plagued by war and starvation, thus, inhibiting advancements and shortening the range of freedom available. Hazony then argues that it is the national state that has the most collective freedom. The nation unites various tribes for the sake of peace creating a space for innovation, but without the disorder involved in empire. The unity that one feels when one tribe unites with another to combat a foreign threat, becomes permanent with the establishment of the state. Upon realizing the increase in peace and defense and the expanded freedom to pursue prosperity and greater protection of cultural inheritance, the individual directs his gaze toward the welfare of the nation as a whole. He sees this nation as an extension of self and is thus committed to the preservation of its internal integrity.

The increase in self-determination seen in the transition from anarchy to nation is unlikely to be repeated in the transition from nation to empire. This is because the nation has already succeeded in driving war to the outskirts, thus creating the space of peace and innovation. This nation is held together by the strong bonds of mutual loyalty among the local tribes thereby increasing the capacity for united action. Whereas with empire, the bonds holding the structure together are not as strong and each nation is constantly at risk of losing favor with the leading imperial nation.

The fourth virtue is that of a competitive political order. Here Hazony presents two theories of knowledge—rationalist and empirical. The rationalist approach tends to be the imperialist approach. They believe that human reasoning has led us to the great universal truths and that all that is needed is to impose these truths on humankind. But, human reason can lead us nearly anywhere and what is right is not immediately evident to all. Thus, the nationalist tends to take an empirical view. The empiricist is skeptical of human reasoning, acknowledging the great evils that have been done by the overconfidence of the rationalists. Instead, they believe the best path to knowledge is via experimentation. Some of the experiments will fail and the ones that succeed will provide a model for other nations to emulate. We see this competition between the rationalist and the empiricist in economics as well. The empiricist trusts capitalism to provide the answer to what works and what does not. The rationalist instead trusts his reasoning and thus gravitates to central planning.

The fifth and final virtue of nationalism proposed by Hazony is that of individual liberties. Individual freedoms in the real world have never existed by themselves, but are instead a product of institutions developed over the centuries by trial and error. These rights and freedoms that exist in the U.S. and England for instance, exist due to the balance of power between rulers, tribes and factions, and independent judges. This self-limitation of power can only exist where there are bonds of mutual loyalty.

So far the comparison has been between imperialism and nationalism but what about federalism? Hazony contends that there is an inescapable dichotomy in which one is forced to choose between imperialism and nationalism. Yet, this doesn’t stop some from seeking an intermediate position. This middle ground is global federalism. Although, this distribution of power looks a lot like either imperialism or nationalism in practice. When it comes to adjudicating disputes a nation can either: (1) choose to submit the dispute to the higher power and choose to comply or not—this is essentially nationalism; or (2) be forced to submit and comply with the higher powers’ judgments—this is essentially imperialism. There really is no middle ground. Additionally, in a federal order tends to centralize power. Consider the federalist structure of the U.S. Originally the states were given much independence and self-determination. However, progressive movements have seized many of the rights and freedoms initially given to the states, forcing them to conform to a standard in line with the central government’s will. No constitution can stand indefinitely as long as those in charge are allowed to interpret it.

The neutral state is also a myth. This supposed neutral state would only have concern for providing common defense, keeping the peace and ensuring the rights and freedoms of the individual. There would be no interest, on the part of the state, in collective self-determination and the transmission of the nation’s cultural values. Yet, the state cannot exist without either political repression or the national tribal cohesion formed out of bonds of mutual loyalty. In the first scenario, the culture of the dominant imperial state is imposed on its subject nations. In the other, these bonds of mutual loyalty are formed from common culture. Either way these states are involved in the transmission of culture whether by force or as the framework on which a particular nation is built.

Some would argue that loyalty must be directed towards the state documents or constitutions. Yet in history we see this only with religious texts. Muslims, Hindus and Christians have all demonstrated this loyalty to their religious writings. This implies there must be a sanctification of these state documents. Such sanctification for most people is tied to the cultural inheritance of a particular nation or tribe—a collective held together by bonds of mutual loyalty. The reverence for the political documents of one’s nation is transmitted by and held together by culture.

In the case of the U.S., which is often seen as a neutral state, the majority or core of the nation speak English, carry on constitutional and Protestant traditions, republicanism and English common law. It is on this culture with ties of mutual loyalty that the nation is held together. And we see in former colonial states where there is not one dominant culture, where borders are arbitrary and not drawn along cultural lines, that chaos ensues and management of these countries is nearly impossible. From observation we find that, instead of having a destabilizing effect, a dominant culture that is secure, and therefore unafraid of rebellion, grants all of its rights and freedoms to minorities. And it is these minorities that recognize that they can’t stand against the majority, and thus, assimilate. This is clearly preferable to a divided nation that is inevitably ripped apart by civil war.

Hazony turns his attention to the formation of national states, claiming that not all who wish for their own nation ought to be given one.

There are logistical and economic problems to delivering goods to everyone in society. Thus, not all goods are rights, which by definition require others to take action in securing. So while nationhood is good, we find that the formation of nations is not the right of any who would claim nationhood. Securing the resources to establish and maintain a nation is needed for the formation of nations—not something that every group of tribes or clans can do.

There is no limit to how fine a nation can be broken up into its component parts and in doing this we break society down to anarchy. For instance, there are 1700 different languages spoken in India alone; securing the resources needed to establish each a nation is impractical. Clearly, there should be some middle ground between creating a single family into a nation and uniting all of humankind into one nation. A nation by definition is made up of various tribes all sacrificing some measure of autonomy for the sake of a larger more peaceful space.

In supporting the formation of nations, we ought to balance the principle of national self-determination with other factors including: “the needs of the people in question; the degree of its internal cohesion and the military and economic resources it can bring to bear; its capacity, if constituted as an independent national or tribal state, to benefit the interests and well-being of other nations; and the threat that this people, once independent, may pose to others” (173). According to Hazony, we must seek an order of independent nations, but not artificially force the creation of these nations within a generation or two.

The final chapter of the second part addresses the rules for the formation and maintenance of the national states. A few of these rules include: (1) a nation should be formed if the people are cohesive and strong enough to secure their own independence. This is self-explanatory. If a nation is not stable or does not have the resources to defend itself, it should not be instituted as a nation. (2) No nation shall interfere with the internal affairs of other nations. All free nations should have the independence to pursue their own goals, so long as they do not interfere with the freedom of other nations. (3) A nation must permit the government the only right of coercive force. This is important for the prevention of anarchy. (4) Balance of power for the protection against a nation or group of united nations from becoming so powerful that it imposes its will and laws on other free nations. (5) Reservation in the creation of new states as opposed to the endless and mindless subdividing of states already in existence. (6) Minorities shall be protected. This is both self-evident as a moral principle and a pragmatic realization. By neglecting minority populations, one opens the door to angst among that population; this has the potential to degrade the internal cohesion of the nation as a whole and could possibly lead to anarchy. (7) A nation should not give its powers away to universal institutions. This removes independent judgment from that nation and results in the institution of an imperial state.

Part 3—Anti-Nationalism and Hate

It is often said of Nationalism that it inspires hate. While it is true that some nationalists will have hatred for rival clans, tribes or nations; it is also true that the imperialist often hates those tribes and nations that dissent and reject their universal authority. We find that the imperialist is as prone to hatred as the nationalist; just consider the Christian, Muslim, Communist and Nazi history of hatred and empire. Thus, it is not fair to reject nationalism on the grounds that it inspires hate if an imperialist is just as prone to it.

Hazony then moves to the specific example of Israel and its vilification. We have all been taught to see the world through a conceptual structure called a paradigm. This paradigm decides how we interpret facts and which facts we even consider. When Israel was formed in 1948 an order of independent national states was still an acceptable perspective. Particularly since the 1960s however, this paradigm has shifted among the educated in the West. They see Nazism as an example of nationalism taken to its ugly conclusion. They therefore reject the order of national states on the grounds that it is barbaric and primitive like the Nazis. Instead these “elites” endorse the multi-national liberal empire—a progression of reason.

There are two different paradigms through which to see Israel. The first emphasizes the sin of powerlessness. It’s claim is that the holocaust was a result and failure of the Jews to protect themselves. Israel represents the protection of the Jews and is therefore the opposite of Auschwitz and the holocaust. The second paradigm sees Auschwitz and the holocaust as a horror committed by the right to execute force in the name of national self-determination and interests. For this paradigm Israel is Auschwitz. If Israel is to be likened to Nazi Germany then there is no change or adjustment that can be made to silence Israel’s critics.

This raises an interesting question. Why are other nations, which commit far greater atrocities than Israel not treated as harshly? The answer lies in Kant’s concept of “moral maturity.” For Kant human beings are in a process of development. We start off as tribes living in anarchy and give up some of our freedoms to unite as nations—the civilized world. The final step is a similar relinquishing of freedom to a universal federal state—empire. Within this framework much of the world is still uncivilized and barbaric. European civilization is advanced beyond the rest of the world. They see Israel as part of this European civilization, and therefore must be held to a higher standard.

Hazony concludes the book by noting that liberal imperialists tend to be blind to their own hatred while criticizing the hatred of nationalism. They, like all other empires, believe that they are the ones to implement what is good and true to the rest of the world. That if only they had the chance to rule the world they would reign in an era of peace and prosperity. They should be willing to acknowledge however, their own hatred for the different and diverse and accept a world of experiments through which we come to a greater understanding of the best government.

For centuries the West has struggled with its political order. On one end of the spectrum there is anarchy and on the other end, imperial empire. Between these two extremes is an order of independent national states which Hazony argues is the best political structure.

The problem of being an individual in a community is that everyone has different aims. This gives rise to politics and collectives are formed in response to this problem. There are multiple ways that collectives are held together, but the strongest is through bonds of mutual loyalty. These bonds of mutual loyalty are formed when individuals take each other under their protection thereby extending the self. Through these bonds, individuals experience the joy, hope and suffering of others.

Proponents of liberalism see humankind in various stages of development. The first of these stages is anarchy followed by an order of national states and finally resulting in liberal imperial empire. It is for this reason that countries with Western roots are criticized more harshly then “uncivilized” tribal orders. Yet, Hazony sees individual nations bearing their own responsibilities and freedom as more mature than giving up that responsibility to an empire. An order of national states, free to experiment and pass on their unique culture is a virtue.

The Virtue of Nationalism by Yoram Hazony Part One

Nationalism is a dirty word. The mere utterance conjures up images of authoritarianism, racism and Nazi death camps. However, this vision of Nationalism couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoram Hazony contends that Nationalism for too long has been misdefined and unfairly slandered. In addition to denoting Nationalism as a love and loyalty to one’s nation, Hazony uses the word to denote a theory of the best political order–one that seeks to establish a world of free and independent nations and that stands in direct contrast to imperialism. In fact, there is an inescapable dichotomy in which one is forced to chose between two competing views: (1) the idealist vision of international government that imposes its will, even by force, on subject nations as it deems necessary or (2) the belief that nations ought to be free to determine their own course without the imposition of international government. Most concisely one must choose between imperialism or nationalism.

With that being said, Hazony writes that his intention is to make a case for nationalism as the best political order–an order of independent national states. He splits the book up into three parts: Nationalism and Western Freedom, The Case for the National State and Anti-Nationalism and Hate.

The first part provides a basic historical framework for understanding the contention between nationalism and imperialism as it developed in the West. It was the Protestant Reformation, inspired by the Old Testament, that renounced the authority of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus, the next four centuries saw a political emphasis on national independence and self-determination as foundational principles for an order of independent nations permitting a diversity of governmental forms, religion and culture in a world of experimentation. It is this experimentation among the nations that elucidates what works and what does not. It was this Protestant order of the nations that collapsed from WWII and with the rise of the Nazis.

The second part concerns the argument for an order of independent national states as the best order. To Hazony there are three ways of organizing the political world that are known to us via experience–the order of tribes and clans found in pre-state societies (anarchy), an international order of the imperial state (empire), and an order of independent national states (Nationalism).

Part three provides a comparison between the hate of rival national or tribal groups and the hatred of universal ideologies toward dissenting nations, tribes and individuals. The book concludes with some interesting remarks on the relationship of nationalism to personal character.

Now, let us take a more detailed look at part one. Before I continue any further I feel as though I need to provide a definition of nation and a brief explanation of how nations come into being. Hazony defines a nation as, “a number of tribes with a common language or religion, and a past history of acting as a body for the common defense and other large-scale enterprises.” The origins of these nations have roots in cultural similarities and political alliances one tribe makes with another for the sake of protection from foreign invaders. These historical alliances build bonds between the members of different tribes and when such tribes unite under a single rule of law nations may form. These nations have special advantages particularly in driving war to the outskirts of the nation. These areas free from war create a space for agriculture, industry and trade to flourish. Thus, the desire for peace and prosperity drives tribes to collect into nations and possibly empires.

The politics of Western Civilization have largely been characterized by two antithetical visions of world order—nationalism and imperialism. These both have history in the ancient world as many empires sought to bring peace and order to the world via conquest. Ancient Israel upon receiving a “constitution” from Moses sought differently to establish a nation-state uniting the tribes of Israel and passively influencing the world as an example.

This order of the national state did not have much influence at first. Eventually Christianity became the state religion of Rome and adopted the Roman dream of universal empire for the sake of peace (pax Romana) to all nations ordered under one empire. It is this order that persisted in Europe for over 1000 years until the Protestant Reformation and the invention of the printing press. At this point the Bible was available to all the peoples of Europe. Armed with the Old Testament and the ideal of establishing an order of the nation-state, the countries of western Europe declared their independence. This Protestant construction of order rebuilt western Europe on two founding principles: (1) The moral minimum for right rule; (2) The right of national self-determination. The former means that the ruler to rightly rule had to be committed to the people to provide them with protection, justice in the courts, etc. Essentially he must obey the ten commandments. The latter meant the right to govern oneself under their own national constitutions without conflict from foreign nations. This Protestant construction thrived on these dialectical tensions. On the one side the concept of natural standards which supersede the pronouncements of any government suggests that nations cannot do whatever they want. This makes government conditional. There are simply limits to right authority. One the other hand national freedom protects the institutions, traditions, laws and ideals of the nation against the claims of those on the side of universal church or empire.

Now, I have just explained what a nation is, in part, what causes them to form, but what exactly holds them together? To understand this we must understand the concept of “mutual loyalty.” Loyalty exists when one has taken another under the responsibility and protection of oneself. Thus, when two individuals have taken each other under the responsibility of this extended self, the bond forged is called “mutual loyalty.” These individuals then consider themselves as a single unit.‭ This sense of responsibility we feel for others in our extended self (whether family, tribe or nation) are the derivatives of many if not most of our political aims. These responsibilities exist whether or not we choose them, as we are thrust into a family, tribe and cultural inheritance. According to Hazony, the Lockean notion that all responsibility is a result of choice is therefore untrue and neglects “essential aspects of human nature and motivation without which no political philosophy can make sense.”

In addition to responsibility by choice, Locke’s order is one built on the foundations of the preservation of life and the expansion of property. Yet, Hazony argues that under such an order the institutions of the national state, community, family and religion appear to have no reason to exist. It is these institutions he argues, that have their foundation in and: “impart bonds of loyalty and purpose to human collectives, creating borders and boundaries between one group and another, establishing ties to future and past generations and offering a glimpse beyond the present to something higher.”

Since WWII this liberalism has become the new imperialism, most notable with the establishment of the EU and the sentiments of pax Americana. Modern ruling elites envision a world in which the liberal principles are transmitted to all the people of the world. Such a view supports the establishment of an overarching international order of arbitrary dictates. Naturally, this bears much resemblance to the empires of the past. Today, the lines have been drawn and neither side is going away. We must choose to rule ourselves or to give up that power to an international order. How we advance given these tensions is for us to decide.