Thursday, September 24, 2015

"A nation is organic; a nation is alive...": Patrick J. Buchanan on Blood and Soil as the Basis of a Nation

Buchanan has long been denounced for opposing the accept World War II narrative, for a defense of Hitler's intentions, and for his "nativism" and "isolationism." In the video below, Buchanan offers a defense of a "blood and soil" conception of nation: a nation is a vital and living reality, composed of a unique people and its racial, ethnic, cultural, and its historical parts. The nation that rejects these is a dying nation... It can survive regime changes and a change in its political realities, but not a rejection of things that hold it together.


Nation or Notion?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
American Conservative Magazine - September 25, 2006 Issue
America rose from kin and culture, not an abstract proposition. 
In an address to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois on Jan. 27, 1838, a 28-year-old lawyer spoke on "the Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions." Abe Lincoln asked and answered a rhetorical question: 
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. 
Lincoln saw ahead a quarter of a century—to civil war. 
The question that must be asked a century and a half after Lincoln’s death is the one that troubled his generation. Are we on the path to national suicide? 
The America of yesterday has vanished, and the America of tomorrow holds promise of becoming a land our parents would not recognize. Considering the epochal changes that have taken place in our country, the political and economic powers working toward an end to national sovereignty and independence, it is impossible to be sanguine about the permanence of the nation. 
In Catholic doctrine, death occurs when the soul departs the body, after which the body begins to decompose. So it is with nations. 
Patriotism is the soul of a nation. When it dies, when a nation loses the love and loyalty of its people, the nation dies and begins to decompose. 
Patriotism is not nation-worship, such as we saw in Europe in the 1930s. It is not that spirit of nationalism that must denigrate or dominate other nations. It is a passionate attachment to one’s own country - its land, its people, its past, its heroes, literature, language, traditions, culture, and customs. "Intellectuals tend to forget,” wrote Regis Debray, “that nations hibernate, but empires grow old. The American nation will outlast the Atlantic Empire as the Russian nation will outlast the Soviet Empire." 
A century ago, the French historian and philosopher Ernest Renan described a nation: 
A nation is a living soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul, this spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other in the present. One is the common possession of a rich heritage of memories; the other is the actual consent, the desire to live together, the will to preserve worthily the undivided inheritance which has been handed down … The nation, like the individual, is the outcome of a long past of efforts, and sacrifices, and devotions … To have common glories in the past, a common will in the present; to have done great things together, to will to do the like again—such are the essential conditions of the making of a people. 
This community called a nation is much more than a “division of labor” or a "market." Added Renan: 
Community of interests is assuredly a powerful bond between men. But … can interests suffice to make a nation? I do not believe it. Community of interests makes commercial treaties. There is a sentimental side to nationality; it is at once body and soul; a Zollverein is not a fatherland. 
An economic union like the European Union is not a nation. An economy is not a country. An economic system should strengthen the bonds of national union, but the nation is of a higher order than the construct of any economist. A nation is organic; a nation is alive. A constitution does not create a nation. A nation writes a constitution that is the birth certificate of the nation already born in the hearts of its people. 
"'Nation' - as suggested by its Latin root nascere, to be born - intrinsically implies a link by blood," wrote Peter Brimelow in National Review in 1992. "A nation in a real sense is an extended family. The merging process through which all nations pass is not merely cultural, but to a considerable extent biological through intermarriage." 
Brimelow describes a nation as an "ethno-cultural community—an interlacing of ethnicity and culture," that "speaks one language." He cites the late senator from New York:
In his recent book Pandaemonium, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan even used this rigorous definition, in an effort to capture both culture and ethnicity: a nation is a group of people who believe they are ancestrally related. It is the largest grouping that shares that belief. (Moynihan’s italics) 
To be a nation, a people must believe they are a nation and that they share a common ancestry, history, and destiny. Whatever ethnic group to which we may belong, we Americans must see ourselves as of a unique and common nationality - in order to remain a nation. 
There is a rival view, advanced by neoconservatives and liberals, that America is a different kind of nation, not held together by the bonds of history and memory, tradition and custom, language and literature, birth and faith, blood and soil. Rather, America is a creedal nation, united by a common commitment to a set of ideas and ideals.