A Dialogue

June 22, 2018

 

The following dialogue took place over a 2 week period in August of 2016.  What began as a debate over which came first the State or the Nation eventually morphed into a great educational tool.

 

 

M: what is it about "States do not make Nations – it is the Nation that makes the State! Uncouth Liberalism is ruin and fraud" and "States are not inherently Nations and Nations are not inherently States" that you disagree with?

 

While it's often the case that States naturally arise out of Nations, I don't think it's always so. For example, I think of all the nation-building undertaken by Liberalistic States. Western Nations have often created States where there is little to no existing Nation. Likewise, when you have a Nation you don't always get the corresponding State. This is often evidenced in the various tribal cultures still prevalent in the developing world (and also ties back into earlier point, since what ensues from nation-building is a hodgepodge of, at best, tenuously connected Nations under an "official" State name). All of this points back to the theme of the article regarding subversive (and, in this case, an inherently Stateless community) Nations undermining the strength of long-established Nation-States (due to the Liberalistic systems in these Nation-States).

 

Josh: There are two aspects to this: First Causes, and modern manifestations.  It’s officially our position that the State is inherent in mankind that it begins to manifest itself in the structure of the family through the hierarchies, authority and sacrifice that’s essential to family life.  As the family evolves into extended families and villages, the State evolves with it into a higher structure.  The characteristics, which comprise life in a community, don’t exist without the State providing the structure and spiritual connection to its constituent parts.  If we define the nation as spiritual in nature then its existence is impossible without the intermediary of the State.  If nations arise spontaneously on their own through the actions of individuals and the State is nothing more than a reflection of that reality then Fascism has no purpose and the ideas of Gentile and most of the original Fascists have zero validity in today’s world.

 

Now, in reality what you say has some truth to it, such as when a foreign power thinks that it can impose a State structure on a people who don’t share their values.  Iraq and Afghanistan provide examples of this, and to a degree most of the Middle East also, primarily due to the imposition of liberal western regimes in this part of the world.  I would argue that in the areas where there were at one time nations in its place is groups of similarly oriented peoples sharing similar religious views.  Something similar is happening in the West.  Nations, which have been in existence since before Christ, are beginning to dissolve.  This is only partly due to immigration and is primarily due to the State losing its character and becoming the anti-state. (See my article, The Anti-State). The only way nations can exist without the State is through a process of devolution where the State begins to kill the very institutions and ideas which make the State-Nation duality function, but for this process to even play itself out the initial act of creation whereby the State creates the Nation and begins to take shape needs to happen.

 

M: You raise some interesting points. Also, I read "The Anti-State" some weeks back and enjoyed it. I think you can agree with me that Nations can exist without States. Hear me out. You're saying that the official position is that "the State is inherent in mankind." I would say that the potential for the State is inherent in mankind. I follow your logical progression from family to State, but I'd insert the Nation as antecedent to the State. The State is just the reification of the Nation; that is, it is the Nation made administratively official; it is a group exercising their general will on the global stage, which is to say, politically. I think what you're describing as inherent in a people is what I call the "Nation," whereas you're calling it the "State." I think we're talking about the same thing, I'm simply calling it a different name. Normally, I wouldn't think such a terminology difference was significant, but this is at least a little significant. What makes it so is the fact that I think the State is something globally recognized, whereas the Nation is only largely understood.

 

We can understand the Comanche or Iroquois Nations; yet these were not States. We can understand the myriad Pashtun tribes as, on even the most basic level, a Nation, but they certainly don't represent a State. From another angle, a guy might be the best pure baseball hitter the world has ever seen (Nation), but this doesn't mean anything until he proves himself amongst his peers and goes pro (State).

 

I think the Nation can certainly be understood as spiritual (as spiritual a thing as we can ever experience). But its existence isn't impossible without the State. The State is just the official recognition of the Nation. Nations, I think you'll agree, are the community, the people. The community can exist without the State. The example I use in the "Fate of Nations" article is the umma - this is a Stateless community. It is a Nation. What's more, it's a justifiably subversive Nations (according to its religious doctrine). And this is what my article explores.

 

I'm definitely not saying that "nations arise spontaneously on their own through the actions of individuals and the State is nothing more than a reflection of that reality." I'm saying that Nations arise out of the shared identity - past experience and future vision - of a people, a community. Individuals are nothing without the communities and families they necessitate. When we're talking about individuals, we're talking about Liberalism. When we're talking about family, community, a people, a culture, we're talking about fascism.

 

Josh: Each Iroquois tribe had a hierarchical structure, which established authority, enforced the recognition of traditions, and worked to educate the young.  These are the same functions that exist in the family except on a larger scale.  It’s the interaction of the individual with this structure and his assimilation of it mentally which instills meaning and a connection with other members of the community.  It’s at this point when a nation is actually constituted. I know it doesn't have much resemblance to the modern State but I would still classify it as such, since the basic principle is the same.  You can have a physical community, in which individuals and families live in a similar vicinity and engage in primitive economic activity, but I would hardly constitute this a nation, as you pointed out in your example about the Baseball player.  He can be very good at what he does, but fails to realize his potential without the State.  I would argue that without the State he’s only a solitary individual with a skill. The construction of order, which a State brings, makes it possible for his skill to have meaning.  The State and the Nation are intimately connected, they both feed off each other.  The only time you can have a nation without the State is if the nation has already been created and the State falls into decay.

 

Your example of the Umma is a bit more complicated.  I can understand why you define it as a nation, given the religious affinity its members have with each other.  To logically extend this idea we would have to classify any group of people dedicated to a cause or idea, which is given prominence over everything else as being a nation.  Obviously, this makes little sense.  I would even argue that those elements that they share in common with the nation, namely their religious faith happens within a State centered construct. From the 7th Century up to the end of the Ottoman Empire Islam was able to grow and flourish as an ideology.  The Umma groups are the product of this heritage.

 

M: I'm not sure we're understanding each other. You say "It’s at this point when a nation is actually constituted. I know it doesn't have much resemblance to the modern State but I would still classify it as such, since the basic principle is the same." Well, I'd agree with you here, save the classifying the Nation as a "State" part. So we're back to where we started. A Nation is a prerequisite for a healthy State (on this I think we agree). But a Nation, though it, as you say, resembles a State, isn't necessarily a State. That's the point I'm making. You can insist that it's a State, but we can't deny the fact that Nations have (and do) exist while not also existing as States. So what we think about it becomes a moot point.

 

Nations are a people with a shared sense of identity and future (persistent through time) - i.e., a shared sense of culture. I don't think you'll disagree with this. What you do take issue with is my insistence that States are the "officially recognized" or "administrative" element/manifestation of a Nation (unless it's a fabricated State). My view of "State" fits with the common definition of a State, however. If I can't convince you with facts, I'm not sure how to convince you (I say this with levity). You also say "You can have a physical community, in which individuals and families live in similar vicinity and engage in primitive economic activity, but I would hardly constitute this a nation..." I would agree with you here, too. I certainly wouldn't consider that a Nation. The non-States that I (and history) am calling "Nations" are not just un-contextually conjoined individuals or even families; they're a people, a community, with a shared sense of identity and future (persistent through time), which is to say, a shared culture. They just weren't States. Why? Because they lacked the political sophistication, for example, to implement their shared identity (or culture), i.e., their national will, to any significant degree.

 

Also you say: "Your example of the Umma is a bit more complicated.  I can understand why you define it as a nation, given the religious affinity its members have with each other. To logically extend this idea we would have to classify any group of people dedicated to a cause or idea which is given prominence over everything else as being a nation.  Obviously this makes little sense." I don't think that's the logical extension of what I'm saying given the way I defined "Nation." The umma certainly does have a shared sense of identity and future (persistent through time). It's just religion that binds them. But, you're right, this example is more hairy since interpretations of religion tend to vary so dramatically. There certainly might exist a spiritual umma, but this is different than, say, a Zulu nation or any Native American Nation, etc. These latter Nations are closer to what we want to discuss, in any case.

 

Finally, regarding the baseball player analogy, I completely agree with you (again) that "without the State he’s only a solitary individual with a skill." Absolutely. But please understand the limits any analogy can have. If I wanted to press the issue, I could say that he wasn't *merely* an individual with a skill, since this skill would be unknown to him outside the context of playing the game itself, and this of course implies he's playing with other ballplayers. Thus, he's not just an individual with a skill, but part of a group of players with a shared sense of identity (as a ballplayer) through time (in the context of the game's history and future). You're right that his ability hasn't been officially recognized if he isn't a professional player (his existent as a "State"), but this doesn't discount the fact that he's a member of a ball-playing community of other skilled players who understand themselves as such (the "Nation").

 

Ultimately, we might have to agree to disagree on this. In any case, I'm enjoying the discussion. Feel free to continue it or disengage as you like. I'm always open to any good discussion. And I still think your readers would find more to agree with in my article than disagree with (again, said with levity).

 

Josh: Re 1st Paragraph:  I agree that Nations can exist without a State.  Where we disagree is similar to the what came first question, the Chicken or the egg, though I think this one has more importance.  I’m asserting that without the existence of the State the nation never comes into being in the first place. Yes, once the State decays or is transformed the nation still exists, at least for a time.  Then it’s possible for the nation to create a State in its own image, but the continued existence of a people as a nation is purely dependent upon the State, and whether the two become one. By asserting that the Nation creates the State we ignore the initial act of creation and create a host of theoretical problems for Fascism.

 

Re 2nd Paragraph “What you do take issue with is my insistence that States are the "officially recognized" or "administrative" element/manifestation of a Nation (unless it's a fabricated State). My view of "State" fits with the common definition of a State”

 

Admittedly mine does not, it’s much more comprehensive than modern political scientists give it credit for.  Along with the nation, there’s a spiritual element to the State, which outside of Neo-idealist writers is generally not recognized.

 

"The non-states that I (and history) am calling 'nations' are not just un-contextually conjoined individuals or even families; they're a people, a community, with a shared sense of identity and future (persistent through time), which is to say, a shared culture. They just weren't States. Why? Because they lacked the political sophistication, for example, to implement their shared identity (or culture), i.e., their national will, to any significant degree.”

 

This goes back to what I was saying in response to your first paragraph.  I agree with your definition of a nation, but what I’m arguing is that the shared sense of identity and culture never comes into place without the existence of the State providing the structure necessary for individuals to realize their potential and become part of a greater collective with a will of its own.  When a group of people or an individual have authority over another group of within a defined geographic region and the power to regulate their daily lives I would consider this a State, so even on a tribal level the State still exists in a primitive form.

 

Re 3rd Paragraph: Agreed

 

Re 4th Paragraph: We can go rounds on any kind of analogies, but in the end it comes down to first causes and how you define a State.

 

M: If a Nation implies a community with a shared sense of identity and direction through time, and too we understand a community as "a group of people having a religion, ethnic, profession, or other particular characteristic in common," then it stands to reason that a State would arise from this relationship and not the reverse. Why? States -- i.e., governorship or administrative political function -- cannot *naturally* exist without a preexisting communal relationship. That is, States arise out of Nations and not the reverse. No disparate group of individuals will agree to be governed in kind without some pre-established kinship -- whether that kinship is based in familial identity (ethnicity), religion (typically concomitant with ethnicity), or some other relevant characteristic. The State, while utterly significant, is nothing without the Nation. This is why States devoid of national unity are so diseased -- they are failing States based in corruption and individualism as opposed to national unity and familial pride (i.e., camaraderie). So to say the State precedes the Nation is to say that States can healthily exist independent of the Nation; to say the Nation requires the State is to not only ignore historical examples, but to also refuse the spiritual connection of a culture; to say the Nation requires the State is to say that cultural union requires administration and even bureaucracy.

 

Also, I don't think any "theoretical problems" for fascism are created by asserting the Nation precedes the State. The entire point of my article "A New Piety" argues for the philosophical import and necessity of fascism for a healthy and growing State. This point is argued independent of the State-Nation dynamic, for one; secondly, if the significance of fascism leans so heavily on the State- Nation dynamic for validation, then we've got more problems than this discussion can address! Fascism is defended because it's philosophically sensible given the human condition, irrespective of the State-Nation discussion.

 

As for "Neo-Idealism," I'm not sure what you mean here. Largely, idealism is the antithesis of fascism. Fascism is human nature -- specifically, dominion over it. Idealism is rooted in Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Christianity, Socialism, and various other social levelers. Fascism is a return to the pre-Socratics, when Dionysian spirituality -- that which proclaims the will-to-life and not any idealist will-to-nothing -- reigned supreme. We should be careful when referencing any idealism, as idealism is a route of perilous cliffs. We're trying to rise above the valleys of social leveling below and into the heights of utmost State potentiality. The frightfulness of the real hell below us is what keeps us on the requisite path; idealism only leads us to phantom realities and death. Be alert and don't dream of paths that don't exist!

 

Josh: When you say that no disparate group of individuals will agree to be governed without some kind of pre-established kinship ties, I have to disagree.  I would even argue that throughout history groups of people which choose to reside with other groups do so more often than not out of necessity more so than  desire, whether it's economic reasons, war, famine, etc.  Once relocated the degree to which they become immersed into their new surroundings is dependent upon the existing power structure delegating obligations and duties to the newcomers while also making sure their spiritual and material needs are at least minimally met.  Without the State Man is a herd which is prey to his instincts and primordial impulses, incapable of developing the spiritual side which is a necessary prerequisite to being a member of a nation.  Two of the best examples of this would be Sparta and Rome.   The latter through the reforms of Lycurgus becoming the nation, which made it famous, and the latter creating a new nation composing most of continental Europe through its conquering and Roman socialization.

 

I think long run the Nation-State, State-Nation dichotomy could pose and issue, as putting the nation before the State could justify a point of view which makes the State out to be nothing more than a reflection of the Nation and thereby arguing for a limit on the State's powers, putting us back into the situation we're in today.  The founders could have never foreseen what American has become, but what we are today is the direct result of their belief in human rights, and social contract theory.  For the most part purely a theoretical construct, but very important nonetheless.  That's not to say that you cannot be a Fascist and disagree on this issue, but that ideas are foundational. I generally don't like to use quotes, but I think in this instance it'll help, from the Doctrine of Fascism.

 

"In so far as it is embodied in a State, this higher personality becomes a nation. It is not the nation, which generates the State; that is an antiquated naturalistic concept, which afforded a basis for XIXth century publicity in favor of national governments. Rather is it the State which creates the nation, conferring volition and therefore real life on a people made aware of their moral unity."

 

Gentile and his followers were Hegelian to the core.  In fact, Gentile named his philosophy absolute idealism.  Fascism was and is a rejection of materialist philosophies and an elevation of the spiritual as true reality.  This isn't to deny that pre-Socratic elements don't play a role in its ideology, but that they serve like you say as a celebration of life, passion and emotion.  Part of the beauty of Fascism is that it's able to synthesize different components and make them into an integral whole.

 

M: I'd planned on offering my usual longer response, but I'll keep this one short. You make points I could counter, but I feel like we're spinning our wheels at this point. I disagree that the State precedes the Nation - you might as well be arguing that snow precedes the cold, as I see it. On this we'll have to agree to disagree.

 

Also, I'm not seeing the Nation-State dichotomy that you see (with our disagreement). Though I'm saying that the Nation precedes the State, the State is ultimately the center of focus; it gives structure and gravity to the less concrete Nation. Though the State is subsequent, it earns the focus of our affections and efforts.

 

Finally, while I respect Gentile and often look to his words for inspiration, I disagree with his foundations for fascism. If he feels that Fascism (in the Italian sense, with a capital "F") is founded in idealism, fine. I'm arguing for fascism (little "f") in the general sense (of which there are many tokens of the type). Fascism (little "f") has little use for idealism; nor does it need materialism. Kant was the first to attempt to bridge the gap between rationalism and empiricism, idealism and positivism; his solution was Transcendental Idealism. Schopenhauer took Kant's idea a step further and argued that Kant's so-called noumenal world was, in fact, the Wille (will-to-live); with this, *the* inaccessible force of nature was suddenly accessible to man; we were the conduit for all Wille. Finally, Nietzsche, being dissatisfied with Schopenhauer's apparent will-to-nothing (following in the footsteps of Christianity and asceticism), appropriated this will-to-live and made it the Wille zur macht (will-to-power). Finally we held our destiny in our own hands; life was no longer a sickly will-to-nothing, but an electric current of activity necessitating a revaluation of all values. We had the power to determine our fate if we would only will it, paradoxical thought it might seem. This is what I see as the foundation of all fascism. Idealisms - be they Hegelian, Christian, Platonic, or otherwise - are ciphers; they are wills-to-nothing; they are specters, phantoms, and fantasies grounded in the unreal.

 

Nietzsche is the father of fascism, not Gentile. Gentile riffed, arguably somewhat confusedly, off his philosophical predecessor. I certainly respect Gentile and the Italian project, but I don't recognize him or it as privy to any philosophical fascist truth. Fascism (capital "F") was a *species* of Nietzsche's *genus*. And, I'd argue, that because we are not early twentieth-century Italy, but rather contemporary America, we should reach deeper into the fascist coffers and present to the world a new conception of the fascist State, one the world hasn't already rejected. It should be "purely" American; and it should be Nietzschean at its core; we're not reviving the dead, we're introducing the new-old. And you likely won't find any (or much) worthwhile literature on "Nietzschean Fascism" - mostly because I haven't written it yet. It's in the works. However, one need only to read Nietzsche to get the feel for genuine fascist roots.

 

Josh: I understand you’re thinking that Nietzsche was the founder of Fascism.  He was a product of his age, an opponent of the modern world, Socialism, and equality. I cannot deny the influence he had on his own time and on Fascist intellectuals.  Mussolini himself was a big fan.  However, I think we have to separate the influences from how the doctrine played itself out.

 

Until the late 30’s, when Fascism became influenced by National Socialist thought Fascist theoreticians put an overwhelming amount of emphasis on Corporatism, and the State nation dichotomy with both institutions being classified as spiritual in nature. I would argue that this is due primarily to Gentile’s influence. In Italy, neither of these two issues became the dominant force until the early to Mid-twenties after Gentile had become a member of Mussolini’s government and his court philosopher. You needn’t look further than the Doctrine of Fascism, which is about as Hegelian a document as you’re going to find, or the works of Primo Rivera,  and Mosely never really stressed the spiritual aspects of the State but Corporatism was more predominant than anything else the BUF ever advocated. By stating that Nietzsche was the founder of Fascism you would have to ignore the doctrinal evidence that manifested during the interwar era.  Not to say he didn’t play a part. Fascism after all is a synthetic doctrine, encompassing many different strands of thought, many of which seem contradictory.

 

As far as presenting a new conception of the Fascist State, I’d be open to changes from the Italian model, but it’s important to keep in mind that what was rejected was rejected by a corrupt fallen world, which laid the seeds for the degeneracy we see today. One of the main reasons I started the ABP was because the model and philosophy of interwar Fascism I believe to have even more relevance for the world of today than the inter-war. I too believe that Nietzsche’s works have a place in the Fascism we’re trying to build, but we cannot ignore the idealism, which was so central to Fascist thought.

Please reload