Populisme: Les sionistes ont même inventé le nationalisme ! (From the Tower of Babel to the latest anti-Israeli UN resolution, the independent national state, as an alternative to empire and tribalism, begins with the Hebrew Bible, but is again threatened by transnational elites, says Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony)

 

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Toi qui as fixé les frontières, dressé les bornes de la terre, tu as créé l’été, l’hiver !  Psaumes 74: 17
Où tu iras j’irai, où tu demeureras je demeurerai; ton peuple sera mon peuple, et ton Dieu sera mon Dieu. Ruth (Ruth 1: 16)
Un peuple connait, aime et défend toujours plus ses moeurs que ses lois. Montesquieu
L’arbre de la liberté doit être revivifié de temps en temps par le sang des patriotes et des tyrans. Jefferson
Condamner le nationalisme parce qu’il peut mener à la guerre, c’est comme condamner l’amour parce qu’il peut conduire au meurtre. C.K. Chesterton
Le patriotisme est l’exact contraire du nationalisme. Le nationalisme est l’exact contraire du patriotisme, il en est sa trahison. Emmanuel Macron
Les démocrates radicaux veulent remonter le temps, rendre de nouveau le pouvoir aux mondialistes corrompus et avides de pouvoir. Vous savez qui sont les mondialistes? Le mondialiste est un homme qui veut qu’il soit bon de vivre dans le monde entier sans, pour dire le vrai, se soucier de notre pays. Cela ne nous convient pas. (…) Vous savez, il y a un terme devenu démodé dans un certain sens, ce terme est « nationaliste ». Mais vous savez qui je suis? Je suis un nationaliste. OK? Je suis nationaliste. Saisissez-vous de ce terme! Donald Trump
We have a very clear policy. We want to preserve Hungary as a Hungarian country. We have a right for that. It’s a sovereign right of Hungary to decide whom we would like to allow to enter the territory of the country, and with whom we would like to live together. That must be a national decision … a matter of national sovereignty, and we don’t want to give that up. And we do not accept either Brussels, New York or Geneva taking these kinds of decisions instead of us. (…) We think that the illegal migration is a threat to the European future, a threat to the European culture and to the European civilization. We are a country which sticks strictly to national identity, which would like to preserve religious heritage, historic heritage and cultural heritage. We do not want to lose them. Péter Szijjártó (Hungary’s foreign minister)
So apparently Donald Trump wants to make this an election about what it means to be American. He’s got his vision of what it means to be American, and he’s challenging the rest of us to come up with a better one. In Trump’s version, “American” is defined by three propositions. First, to be American is to be xenophobic. The basic narrative he tells is that the good people of the heartland are under assault from aliens, elitists and outsiders. Second, to be American is to be nostalgic. America’s values were better during some golden past. Third, a true American is white. White Protestants created this country; everybody else is here on their sufferance. When you look at Trump’s American idea you realize that it contradicts the traditional American idea in every particular. In fact, Trump’s national story is much closer to the Russian national story than it is toward our own. It’s an alien ideology he’s trying to plant on our soil. ​ Trump’s vision is radically anti-American.​ The real American idea is not xenophobic, nostalgic or racist; it is pluralistic, future-oriented and universal. America is exceptional precisely because it is the only nation on earth that defines itself by its future, not its past. America is exceptional because from the first its citizens saw themselves in a project that would have implications for all humankind. America is exceptional because it was launched with a dream to take the diverse many and make them one — e pluribus unum.​ (…) Trump’s campaign is an attack on that dream. The right response is to double down on that ideal. The task before us is to create the most diverse mass democracy in the history of the planet — a true universal nation. It is precisely to weave the social fissures that Trump is inclined to tear. David Brooks
In the matter of immigration, mark this conservative columnist down as strongly pro-deportation. The United States has too many people who don’t work hard, don’t believe in God, don’t contribute much to society and don’t appreciate the greatness of the American system. They need to return whence they came. I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects risk drowning.​ (…) Bottom line: So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who are more appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future. In other words, just the kind of people we used to be — when “we” had just come off the boat.​ O.K., so I’m jesting about deporting “real Americans” en masse. (Who would take them in, anyway?) But then the threat of mass deportations has been no joke with this administration.​ On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security seemed prepared to extend an Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows the children of illegal immigrants — some 800,000 people in all — to continue to study and work in the United States. The decision would have reversed one of Donald Trump’s ugly campaign threats to deport these kids, whose only crime was to have been brought to the United States by their parents. Yet the administration is still committed to deporting their parents, and on Friday the D.H.S. announced that even DACA remains under review — another cruel twist for young immigrants wondering if they’ll be sent back to “home” countries they hardly ever knew, and whose language they might barely even speak.​ Beyond the inhumanity of toying with people’s lives this way, there’s also the shortsightedness of it. We do not usually find happiness by driving away those who would love us. Businesses do not often prosper by firing their better employees and discouraging job applications. So how does America become great again by berating and evicting its most energetic, enterprising, law-abiding, job-creating, idea-generating, self-multiplying and God-fearing people?​ Because I’m the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought of the United States as a country that belongs first to its newcomers — the people who strain hardest to become a part of it because they realize that it’s precious; and who do the most to remake it so that our ideas, and our appeal, may stay fresh.​ That used to be a cliché, but in the Age of Trump it needs to be explained all over again. We’re a country of immigrants — by and for them, too. Americans who don’t get it should get out.​ Bret Stephens
Obama est le premier président américain élevé sans attaches culturelles, affectives ou intellectuelles avec la Grande-Bretagne ou l’Europe. Les Anglais et les Européens ont été tellement enchantés par le premier président américain noir qu’ils n’ont pu voir ce qu’il est vraiment: le premier président américain du Tiers-Monde. The Daily Mail
Culturellement, Obama déteste la Grande-Bretagne. Il a renvoyé le buste de Churchill sans la moindre feuille de vigne d’une excuse. Il a insulté la Reine et le Premier ministre en leur offrant les plus insignifiants des cadeaux. A un moment, il a même refusé de rencontrer le Premier ministre. Dr James Lucier (ancien directeur du comité des Affaire étrangères du sénat américain)
We want our country back ! Marion Maréchal
La jeune génération n’est pas encouragée à aimer notre héritage. On leur lave le cerveau en leur faisant honte de leur pays. (…) Nous, Français, devons nous battre pour notre indépendance. Nous ne pouvons plus choisir notre politique économique ou notre politique d’immigration et même notre diplomatie. Notre liberté est entre les mains de l’Union européenne. (…) Notre liberté est maintenant entre les mains de cette institution qui est en train de tuer des nations millénaires. Je vis dans un pays où 80%, vous m’avez bien entendu, 80% des lois sont imposées par l’Union européenne. Après 40 ans d’immigration massive, de lobbyisme islamique et de politiquement correct, la France est en train de passer de fille aînée de l’Eglise à petite nièce de l’islam. On entend maintenant dans le débat public qu’on a le droit de commander un enfant sur catalogue, qu’on a le droit de louer le ventre d’une femme, qu’on a le droit de priver un enfant d’une mère ou d’un père. (…) Aujourd’hui, même les enfants sont devenus des marchandises (…) Un enfant n’est pas un droit (…) Nous ne voulons pas de ce monde atomisé, individualiste, sans sexe, sans père, sans mère et sans nation. (…) Nous devons faire connaitre nos idées aux médias et notre culture, pour stopper la domination des libéraux et des socialistes. C’est la raison pour laquelle j’ai lancé une école de sciences politiques. (…) Nous devons faire connaitre nos idées aux médias et notre culture, pour stopper la domination des libéraux et des socialistes. C’est la raison pour laquelle j’ai lancé une école de sciences politiques. (…) La Tradition n’est pas la vénération des cendres, elle est la passation du feu. (…)Je ne suis pas offensée lorsque j’entends le président Donald Trump dire ‘l’Amérique d’abord’. En fait, je veux l’Amérique d’abord pour le peuple américain, je veux la Grande-Bretagne d’abord pour le peuple britannique et je veux la France d’abord pour le peuple français. Comme vous, nous voulons reprendre le contrôle de notre pays. Vous avez été l’étincelle, il nous appartient désormais de nourrir la flamme conservatrice. Marion Maréchal
En Europe comme aux Etats-Unis, la contestation émerge sur les territoires les plus éloignés des métropoles mondialisées. La « France périphérique » est celle des petites villes, des villes moyennes et des zones rurales. En Grande-Bretagne, c’est aussi la « Grande-Bretagne périphérique » qui a voté pour le Brexit. Attention : il ne s’agit pas d’un rapport entre « urbains » et « ruraux ». La question est avant tout sociale, économique et culturelle. Ces territoires illustrent la sortie de la classe moyenne des catégories qui en constituaient hier le socle : ouvriers, employés, petits paysans, petits indépendants. Ces catégories ont joué le jeu de la mondialisation, elles ont même au départ soutenu le projet européen. Cependant, après plusieurs décennies d’adaptation aux normes de l’économie-monde, elles font le constat d’une baisse ou d’une stagnation de leur niveau de vie, de la précarisation des conditions de travail, du chômage de masse et, in fine, du blocage de l’ascenseur social. Sans régulation d’un libre-échange qui défavorise prioritairement ces catégories et ces territoires, le processus va se poursuivre. C’est pourquoi la priorité est de favoriser le développement d’un modèle économique complémentaire (et non alternatif) sur ces territoires qui cumulent fragilités socio-économiques et sédentarisation des populations. Cela suppose de donner du pouvoir et des compétences aux élus et collectivités de ces territoires. En adoptant le système économique mondialisé, les pays développés ont accouché de son modèle sociétal : le multiculturalisme. En la matière, la France n’a pas fait mieux (ni pire) que les autres pays développés. Elle est devenue une société américaine comme les autres, avec ses tensions et ses paranoïas identitaires. Il faut insister sur le fait que sur ces sujets, il n’y a pas d’un côté ceux qui seraient dans l’ouverture et de l’autre ceux qui seraient dans le rejet. Si les catégories supérieures et éduquées ne basculent pas dans le populisme, c’est parce qu’elles ont les moyens de la frontière invisible avec l’Autre. Ce sont d’ailleurs elles qui pratiquent le plus l’évitement scolaire et résidentiel. La question du rapport à l’autre n’est donc pas seulement posée pour les catégories populaires. Poser cette question comme universelle – et qui touche toutes les catégories sociales – est un préalable si l’on souhaite faire baisser les tensions. Cela implique de sortir de la posture de supériorité morale que les gens ne supportent plus. J’avais justement conçu la notion d’insécurité culturelle pour montrer que, notamment en milieu populaire, ce n’est pas tant le rapport à l’autre qui pose problème qu’une instabilité démographique qui induit la peur de devenir minoritaire et de perdre un capital social et culturel très important. Une peur qui concerne tous les milieux populaires, quelles que soient leurs origines. C’est en partant de cette réalité qu’il convient de penser la question du multiculturalisme. Christophe Guilluy
Pour la première fois, le modèle mondialisé des classes dominantes, dont Hillary Clinton était le parangon, a été rejeté dans le pays qui l’a vu naître. Fidèles à leurs habitudes, les élites dirigeantes déprécient l’expression de la volonté populaire quand elles en perdent le contrôle. Ainsi, les médias, à travers le cas de la Pennsylvanie – l’un des swing states qui ont fait le succès de Trump -, ont mis l’accent sur le refus de mobilité de la working class blanche, les fameux « petits Blancs », comme cause principale de la précarité et du déclassement. Le « bougisme », qui est la maladie de Parkinson de la mondialisation, confond les causes et les conséquences. Il est incapable de comprendre que, selon la formule de Christopher Lasch, « le déracinement déracine tout, sauf le besoin de racines ». L’élection de Trump, c’est le cri de révolte des enracinés du local contre les agités du global. (…) La gauche progressiste n’a eu de cesse, depuis les années 1980, que d’évacuer la question sociale en posant comme postulat que ce n’est pas la pauvreté qui interdit d’accéder à la réussite ou à l’emploi, mais uniquement l’origine ethnique. Pourtant, l’actuelle dynamique des populismes ne se réduit pas à la seule révolte identitaire. En contrepoint de la protestation du peuple-ethnos, il y a la revendication du peuple-démos, qui aspire à être rétabli dans ses prérogatives de sujet politique et d’acteur souverain de son destin. Le populisme est aussi et peut-être d’abord un hyperdémocratisme, selon le mot de Taguieff, une demande de démocratie par quoi le peuple manifeste sa volonté d’être représenté et gouverné selon ses propres intérêts. Or notre postdémocratie oscille entre le déni et le détournement de la volonté populaire. (…) Au XIXe siècle, la bourgeoisie a eu recours à la loi pour imposer le suffrage censitaire. Aujourd’hui, les classes dominantes n’en éprouvent plus la nécessité, elles l’obtiennent de facto : il leur suffit de neutraliser le vote populiste en l’excluant de toute représentation par le mode de scrutin et de provoquer l’abstention massive de l’électorat populaire, qui, convaincu de l’inutilité du vote, se met volontairement hors jeu. Ne vont voter lors des élections intermédiaires que les inclus, des fonctionnaires aux cadres supérieurs, et surtout les plus de 60 ans, qui, dans ce type de scrutin, représentent autour de 35 % des suffrages exprimés, alors qu’ils ne sont que 22 % de la population. Ainsi, l’écosystème de la génération de 68 s’est peu à peu transformé en un egosystème imposé à l’ensemble de la société. Dans notre postdémocratie, c’est le cens qui fait sens et se traduit par une surreprésentation des classes favorisées aux dépens de la France périphérique, de la France des invisibles. (…) On est arrivé à une situation où la majorité n’est plus une réalité arithmétique, mais un concept politique résultant d’une application tronquée du principe majoritaire. Dans l’Assemblée élue en 2012 avec une participation de 55 %, la majorité parlementaire socialiste ne représente qu’un peu plus de 16 % des inscrits. La majorité qui fait et défait les lois agit au nom d’à peine plus de 1 Français sur 6 ! Nous vivons sous le régime de ce qu’André Tardieu appelait déjà avant-guerre le « despotisme d’une minorité légale ». On assiste, avec le système de l’alternance unique entre les deux partis de gouvernement, à une privatisation du pouvoir au bénéfice d’une partitocratie dont la légitimité ne cesse de s’éroder. (…) Plus les partis ont perdu en légitimité, plus s’est imposée à eux l’obligation de verrouiller le système de crainte que la sélection des candidats à l’élection présidentielle ne leur échappe. Avec la crise de la représentation, le système partisan n’a plus ni l’autorité ni la légitimité suffisante pour imposer ses choix sans un simulacre de démocratie. Les primaires n’ont pas d’autre fonction que de produire une nouvelle forme procédurale de légitimation. En pratique, cela revient à remettre à une minorité partisane le pouvoir de construire l’offre politique soumise à l’ensemble du corps électoral. Entre 3 et 4 millions de citoyens vont préorienter le choix des 46 millions de Français en âge de voter. Or la sociologie des électeurs des primaires à droite comme à gauche ne fait guère de doute : il s’agit des catégories supérieures ou moyennes, qui entretiennent avec la classe politique un rapport de proximité. Les primaires auront donc pour effet d’aggraver la crise de représentation en renforçant le poids politique des inclus au moment même où il faudrait rouvrir le jeu démocratique. (…) D’un tel processus de sélection ne peuvent sortir que des produits de l’endogamie partisane, des candidats façonnés par le conformisme de la doxa et gouvernés par l’économisme. Des candidats inaccessibles à la dimension symbolique du pouvoir et imperméables aux legs de la tradition et de l’Histoire nationale. Sarkozy et Hollande ont illustré l’inaptitude profonde des candidats sélectionnés par le système à se hisser à la hauteur de la fonction. Dans ces conditions, il est à craindre que, quel que soit l’élu, l’élection de 2017 ne soit un coup à blanc, un coup pour rien. D’autant que les hommes de la classe dirigeante n’ont ni les repères historiques ni les bases culturelles pour défendre les sociabilités protectrices face aux ravages de la mondialisation. En somme, ils ne savent pas ce qu’ils font parce qu’ils ne savent pas ce qu’ils défont. Quant au FN, privé de toute espérance du pouvoir, contrairement à ce qu’on voudrait nous faire croire, il offre un repoussoir utile à la classe dirigeante, qui lui permet de se survivre à bon compte. Il est à ce jour encore la meilleure assurance-vie du système. Patrick Buisson
Les «élites» françaises, sous l’inspiration et la domination intellectuelle de François Mitterrand, on voulu faire jouer au Front National depuis 30 ans, le rôle, non simplement du diable en politique, mais de l’Apocalypse. Le Front National représentait l’imminence et le danger de la fin des Temps. L’épée de Damoclès que se devait de neutraliser toute politique «républicaine». Cet imaginaire de la fin, incarné dans l’anti-frontisme, arrive lui-même à sa fin. Pourquoi? Parce qu’il est devenu impossible de masquer aux Français que la fin est désormais derrière nous. La fin est consommée, la France en pleine décomposition, et la république agonisante, d’avoir voulu devenir trop bonne fille de l’Empire multiculturel européen. Or tout le monde comprend bien qu’il n’a nullement été besoin du Front national pour cela. Plus rien ou presque n’est à sauver, et c’est pourquoi le Front national fait de moins en moins peur, même si, pour cette fois encore, la manœuvre du «front républicain», orchestrée par Manuel Valls, a été efficace sur les électeurs socialistes. Les Français ont compris que la fin qu’on faisait incarner au Front national ayant déjà eu lieu, il avait joué, comme rôle dans le dispositif du mensonge généralisé, celui du bouc émissaire, vers lequel on détourne la violence sociale, afin qu’elle ne détruise pas tout sur son passage. Remarquons que le Front national s’était volontiers prêté à ce dispositif aussi longtemps que cela lui profitait, c’est-à-dire jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Le parti anti-système a besoin du système dans un premier temps pour se légitimer. Nous approchons du point où la fonction de bouc émissaire, théorisée par René Girard  va être entièrement dévoilée et où la violence ne pourra plus se déchaîner vers une victime extérieure. Il faut bien mesurer le danger social d’une telle situation, et la haute probabilité de renversement qu’elle secrète: le moment approche pour ceux qui ont désigné la victime émissaire à la vindicte du peuple, de voir refluer sur eux, avec la vitesse et la violence d’un tsunami politique, la frustration sociale qu’ils avaient cherché à détourner. Les élections régionales sont sans doute un des derniers avertissements en ce sens. Les élites devraient anticiper la colère d’un peuple qui se découvre de plus en plus floué, et admettre qu’elles ont produit le système de la victime émissaire, afin de détourner la violence et la critique à l’égard de leur propre action. Pour cela, elles devraient cesser d’ostraciser le Front national, et accepter pleinement le débat avec lui, en le réintégrant sans réserve dans la vie politique républicaine française. Y-a-t-il une solution pour échapper à une telle issue? Avouons que cette responsabilité est celle des élites en place, ayant entonné depuis 30 ans le même refrain. A supposer cependant que nous voulions les sauver, nous pourrions leur donner le conseil suivant: leur seule possibilité de survivre serait d’anticiper la violence refluant sur elles en faisant le sacrifice de leur innocence. Elles devraient anticiper la colère d’un peuple qui se découvre de plus en plus floué, et admettre qu’elles ont produit le système de la victime émissaire, afin de détourner la violence et la critique à l’égard de leur propre action. Pour cela, elles devraient cesser d’ostraciser le Front national, et accepter pleinement le débat avec lui, en le réintégrant sans réserve dans la vie politique républicaine française. Pour cela, elles devraient admettre de déconstruire la gigantesque hallucination collective produite autour du Front national, hallucination revenant aujourd’hui sous la forme inversée du Sauveur. Ce faisant, elles auraient tort de se priver au passage de souligner la participation du Front national au dispositif, ce dernier s’étant prêté de bonne grâce, sous la houlette du Père, à l’incarnation de la victime émissaire. Il faut bien avouer que nos élites du PS comme des Républicains ne prennent pas ce chemin, démontrant soit qu’elles n’ont strictement rien compris à ce qui se passe dans ce pays depuis 30 ans, soit qu’elles l’ont au contraire trop bien compris, et ne peuvent plus en assumer le dévoilement, soit qu’elles espèrent encore prospérer ainsi. Il n’est pas sûr non plus que le Front national soit prêt à reconnaître sa participation au dispositif. Il y aurait intérêt pourtant pour pouvoir accéder un jour à la magistrature suprême. Car si un tel aveu pourrait lui faire perdre d’un côté son «aura» anti-système, elle pourrait lui permettre de l’autre, une alliance indispensable pour dépasser au deuxième tour des présidentielles le fameux «plafond de verre». Il semble au contraire après ces régionales que tout changera pour que rien ne change. Deux solutions qui ne modifient en rien le dispositif mais le durcissent au contraire se réaffirment. La première solution, empruntée par le PS et désirée par une partie des Républicains, consiste à maintenir coûte que coûte le discours du front républicain en recherchant un dépassement du clivage gauche/droite. Une telle solution consiste à aller plus loin encore dans la désignation de la victime émissaire, et à s’exposer à un retournement encore plus dévastateur. (…) Car sans même parler des effets dévastateurs que pourrait avoir, a posteriori, un nouvel attentat, sur une telle déclaration, comment ne pas remarquer que les dernières décisions du gouvernement sur la lutte anti-terroriste ont donné rétrospectivement raison à certaines propositions du Front national? On voit mal alors comment on pourrait désormais lui faire porter le chapeau de ce dont il n’est pas responsable, tout en lui ôtant le mérite des solutions qu’il avait proposées, et qu’on n’a pas hésité à lui emprunter! La deuxième solution, défendue par une partie des Républicains suivant en cela Nicolas Sarkozy, consiste à assumer des préoccupations communes avec le Front national, tout en cherchant à se démarquer un peu par les solutions proposées. Mais comment faire comprendre aux électeurs un tel changement de cap et éviter que ceux-ci ne préfèrent l’original à la copie? Comment les électeurs ne remarqueraient-ils pas que le Front national, lui, n’a pas changé de discours, et surtout, qu’il a précédé tout le monde, et a eu le mérite d’avoir raison avant les autres, puisque ceux-ci viennent maintenant sur son propre terrain? Comment d’autre part concilier une telle proximité avec un discours diabolisant le Front national et cherchant l’alliance au centre? Curieuses élites, qui ne comprennent pas que la posture «républicaine», initiée par Mitterrand, menace désormais de revenir comme un boomerang les détruire. Christopher Lasch avait écrit La révolte des élites, pour pointer leur sécession d’avec le peuple, c’est aujourd’hui le suicide de celles-ci qu’il faudrait expliquer, dernière conséquence peut-être de cette sécession. Vincent Coussedière
With their politicization of their victory, their expletive-filled speech, and their publicly expressed contempt for half their fellow citizens, the women of the U.S. women’s soccer team succeeded in endearing themselves to America’s left. But they earned the rest of the country’s disdain, which is sad. We really wanted to love the team. What we have here is yet another example of perhaps the most important fact in the contemporary world: Everything the left touches, it ruins. Dennis Prager
The San Francisco Board of Education recently voted to paint over, and thus destroy, a 1,600-square-foot mural of George Washington’s life in San Francisco’s George Washington High School. Victor Arnautoff, a communist Russian-American artist and Stanford University art professor, had painted “Life of Washington” in 1936, commissioned by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration. A community task force appointed by the school district had recommended that the board address student and parent objections to the 83-year-old mural, which some viewed as racist for its depiction of black slaves and Native Americans. Nike pitchman and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently objected to the company’s release of a special Fourth of July sneaker emblazoned with a 13-star Betsy Ross flag. The terrified Nike immediately pulled the shoe off the market. The New York Times opinion team issued a Fourth of July video about “the myth of America as the greatest nation on earth.” The Times’ journalists conceded that the United States is “just OK.” During a recent speech to students at a Minnesota high school, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) offered a scathing appraisal of her adopted country, which she depicted as a disappointment whose racism and inequality did not meet her expectations as an idealistic refugee. Omar’s family had fled worn-torn Somalia and spent four-years in a Kenyan refugee camp before reaching Minnesota, where Omar received a subsidized education and ended up a congresswoman. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won the World Cup earlier this month. Team stalwart Megan Rapinoe refused to put her hand over heart during the playing of the national anthem, boasted that she would never visit the “f—ing White House” and, with others, nonchalantly let the American flag fall to the ground during the victory celebration. The city council in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis, voted to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before its meeting on the rationale that it wished not to offend a “diverse community.” The list of these public pushbacks at traditional American patriotic customs and rituals could be multiplied. They follow the recent frequent toppling of statues of 19th-century American figures, many of them from the South, and the renaming of streets and buildings to blot out mention of famous men and women from the past now deemed illiberal enemies of the people. Such theater is the street version of what candidates in the Democratic presidential primary have been saying for months. They want to disband border enforcement, issue blanket amnesties, demand reparations for descendants of slaves, issue formal apologies to groups perceived to be the subjects of discrimination, and rail against American unfairness, inequality, and a racist and sexist past. In their radical progressive view — shared by billionaires from Silicon Valley, recent immigrants and the new Democratic Party — America was flawed, perhaps fatally, at its origins. Things have not gotten much better in the country’s subsequent 243 years, nor will they get any better — at least not until America as we know it is dismantled and replaced by a new nation predicated on race, class and gender identity-politics agendas. In this view, an “OK” America is no better than other countries. As Barack Obama once bluntly put it, America is only exceptional in relative terms, given that citizens of Greece and the United Kingdom believe their own countries are just as exceptional. In other words, there is no absolute standard to judge a nation’s excellence. About half the country disagrees. It insists that America’s sins, past and present, are those of mankind. But only in America were human failings constantly critiqued and addressed. (…) The traditionalists see American history as a unique effort to overcome human weakness, bias and sin. That effort is unmatched by other cultures and nations, and explains why millions of foreign nationals swarm into the United States, both legally and illegally. (…) If progressives and socialists can at last convince the American public that their country was always hopelessly flawed, they can gain power to remake it based on their own interests. These elites see Americans not as unique individuals but as race, class and gender collectives, with shared grievances from the past that must be paid out in the present and the future. Victor Davis Hanson
America is changing. By 2043, we’ll be a nation [that’s] majority people of color, and that’s — that is the game here — that’s what folks don’t want to understand what’s happening in this country. Roland Martin (African-American journalist)
How’d we lose the working class? Ask yourself, what did we do for them? You called them stupid. You marginalized them, took them for granted and you didn’t talk to them. For 20 years, the right wing has invested tremendous amounts of money in talk radio, in television, in every possible platform to be in their ears, before their eyes, and on their minds. And they don’t call them stupid. Rick Smith (talk-show host)
On several polarizing issues, Democrats are refusing to offer the reassurances to moderate opinion that they once did. They’re not saying: We will secure the border and insist on an orderly asylum process, but do it in a humane way; we will protect the right to abortion while working to make it less common; we will protect gun rights while setting sensible limits on them. The old rhetorical guardrails — trust us, there’s a hard stop on how far left we’ll go — are gone. Ramesh Ponnuru
Trump also highlighted a basic fact about the nature of leftist ideology. Just as the Iranian regime views the United States and Israel as two sides of the same coin, with the ayatollahs dubbing the U.S. “the Great Satan” and Israel, “the Little Satan,” so the radical left views the U.S. and Israel – the most powerful democracy in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East – as states with no moral foundation for existing. Although other presidents have spoken out against hatred of Jews and Israel on the one hand and hatred of America on the other, it is hard to think of another example of a U.S. leader making the case that the two hatreds are linked as Trump did this week. This is important, because they are linked. The haters see both America and the Jews as all-powerful forces who use their power to bend the world to their nefarious, avaricious, greedy aims. They stereotype both Americans and pro-Israel and traditional Jews as vulgar and fascist. Pew Research Center studies of European perspectives on Jews and Americans show a massive overlap between anti-Semitic attitudes and anti-American ones. As the American left has become more radical, it has also become more aligned with those toxic European attitudes towards both the United States and Israel. One example is evident at the U.S.-Mexico border. The left’s opposition to enforcing American immigration laws goes hand-in-hand with the view that the Jewish people have no right to national self-determination in their homeland and that the Jewish state has no right to exist. As political philosopher Yoram Hazony argued in his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, nationalism — and, indeed, the concept of a nation itself — is a biblical concept. The nation of Israel is the first nation. And the American Founding Fathers’ conception of the United States and the American nation was rooted in the biblical concept of nationhood and nationalism of the Jews. Hazony contends that anti-nationalism is both inherently antisemitic and anti-American. And it is also imperialist. Anti-nationalists support international and transnational legal constructs and institutions that deny distinct nations large and small the ability to determine their own unique course in the world. As repositories of the concept of distinct nations, nation-states are, in Hazony’s view, inherently freer and more cohesive societies than imperialist societies that insist that one-size-fits-all and that there are people better equipped than the people themselves to decide what is good for them. As Trump tweeted, the four sirens of the socialist revolution are a dire threat to the Democratic Party. By embracing the likes of Reps. Omar and Tlaib with their repeated statements against the United States, Jews and Israel and their tolerance for terrorist groups and terrorists, and by embracing Ocasio-Cortez who likens America to Nazi Germany, replete with “concentration camps,” the Democratic Party is indeed embracing anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. And, as Trump tweeted, it is the Democrats, not the Republicans — and certainly not the president — who are making Israel a partisan issue. They are doing so by abandoning Israel and embracing antisemitic conceptions of nationalism and of the Jewish and American nations. Trump’s tweet storm, however controversial, showed that he is personally committed to fighting hatred of Jews and Israel. As he was being targeted as a racist by Democrats, the Department of Justice was holding a conference on combatting antisemitism. The conference, which placed a spotlight on campus antisemitism, did not shy away from discussing and condemning antisemitism on the left as well as on the right, and Islamic antisemitism. In his remarks before the conference, Attorney General Willian Barr discussed the galloping hostility Jewish students face in U.S. universities today. In his words, “On college campuses today, Jewish students who support Israel are frequently targeted for harassment, Jewish student organizations are marginalized, and progressive Jewish students are told they must denounce their beliefs and their heritage in order to be part of ‘intersectional’ causes.” (…) It is a testament to the left’s increasing embrace of anti-Jewish bigotry, and its rejection of America’s right to borders, — and through them, to self-government and self-determination — that Trump is being branded a racist for standing up to these distressing trends. And it is a testament to Trump’s moral courage that he is willing to speak the truth about antisemitism and anti-Americanism even at the cost of wall-to-wall calumny by Democrats and the media. Caroline Glick
This month, Netroots Nation met in Philadelphia. The choice was no accident. Pennsylvania will probably be the key swing state in 2020. Donald Trump won it by only 44,000 votes or seven-tenths of a percentage point. He lost the prosperous Philadelphia suburbs by more than Mitt Romney did in 2012 but more than made up for it with new support in “left behind” blue-collar areas such as Erie and Wilkes-Barre. You’d think that this history would inform activists at Netroots Nation about the best strategy to follow in 2020. Not really. Instead, Netroots events seemed to alternate between pandering presentations by presidential candidates and a bewildering array of “intersectionality” and identity-politics seminars. Senator Elizabeth Warren pledged that, if elected, she would immediately investigate crimes committed by border-control agents. Julian Castro, a former Obama-administration cabinet member, called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. But everyone was topped by Washington governor Jay Inslee. “My first act will be to ask Megan Rapinoe to be my secretary of State,” he promised. Naming the woke, purple-haired star of the championship U.S. Women’s Soccer team, he said, would return “love rather than hate” to the center of America’s foreign policy. It is true that a couple of panels tried to address how the Left could appeal to voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2012 but switched to Trump in 2016. (…)  But that kind of introspection was rare at Netroots Nation. Elizabeth Warren explicitly rejected calls to keep Democrats from moving too far to the left in the next campaign (…) Warren and her supporters point to polls showing that an increasing number of Americans are worried about income inequality, climate change, and America’s image around the world. But are those the issues that actually motivate people to vote, or are they peripheral issues that aren’t central to the decision most voters make? Consider a Pew Research poll taken last year that asked respondents to rank 23 “policy priorities” from terrorism to global trade in order of importance. Climate change came in 22nd out of 23. There is a stronger argument that Democrats will have trouble winning over independent voters if they sprinting so far to the left that they go over a political cliff. (…) Many leftists acknowledge that Democrats are less interested than they used to be in trimming their sails to appeal to moderates. Such trimming is no longer necessary, as they see it, because the changing demographics of the country give them a built-in advantage. Almost everyone I encountered at Netroots Nation was convinced that President Trump would lose in 2020. (…) It’s a common mistake on both the right and the left to assume that minority voters will a) always vote in large numbers and b) will vote automatically for Democrats. Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 in part because black turnout fell below what Barack Obama was able to generate. There is no assurance that black turnout can be restored in 2020. As for other ethnic groups, a new poll by Politico/Morning Consult this month found that Trump’s approval among Hispanics is at 42 percent. An Economist/YouGov poll showed Trump at 32 percent among Hispanics; another poll from The Hill newspaper and HarrisX has it at 35 percent. In 2016, Trump won only 29 to 32 percent of the Hispanic vote. Netroots Nation convinced me that progressive activists are self-confident, optimistic about the chances for a progressive triumph, and assured that a Trump victory was a freakish “black swan” event. But they are also deaf to any suggestion that their PC excesses had anything to do with Trump’s being in the White House. That is apt to be the progressive blind spot going into the 2020 election. John Fund
The immigrant is the pawn of Latin American governments who view him as inanimate capital, someone who represents thousands of dollars in future foreign-exchange remittances, as well as one less mouth to feed at home — if he crosses the border, legality be damned. If that sounds a cruel or cynical appraisal, then why would the Mexican government in 2005 print a comic booklet (“Guide for the Mexican Migrant”) with instructions to its citizens on how best to cross into the United States — urging them to break American law and assuming that they could not read? Yet for all the savagery dealt out to the immigrant — the callousness of his government, the shakedowns of the coyotes and cartels, the exploitation of his labor by new American employers — the immigrant himself is not entirely innocent. He knows — or does not care to know — that by entering the U.S., he has taken a slot from a would-be legal immigrant, one, unlike himself, who played by the rules and waited years in line for his chance to become an American. He knowingly violates U.S. immigration law. And when the first act of an immigrant is to enter the U.S. illegally, the second to reside there unlawfully, and the third so often to adopt false identities, he undermines American law on the expectation that he will receive exemptions not accorded to U.S. citizens, much less to other legal immigrants. In terms of violations of federal law, and crimes such as hit-and-run accidents and identity theft, the illegal immigrant is overrepresented in the criminal-justice system, and indeed in federal penitentiaries. Certainly, no Latin American government would allow foreigners to enter, reside, and work in their own country in the manner that they expect their own citizens to do so in America. Historically, the Mexican constitution, to take one example, discriminates in racial terms against both the legal and illegal immigrants, in medieval terms of ethnic essence. Some $30 billion in remittances are sent back by mostly illegal aliens to Central American governments and roughly another $30 billion to Mexico. But the full implications of that exploitation are rarely appreciated. Most impoverished illegal aliens who send such staggering sums back not only entered the United States illegally and live here illegally, but they often enjoy some sort of local, state, or federal subsidy. They work at entry-level jobs with the understanding that they are to scrimp and save, with the assistance of the American taxpayer, whose laws they have shredded, so that they can send cash to their relatives and friends back home. In other words, the remitters are like modern indentured servants, helots in hock to their governments that either will not or cannot help their families and are excused from doing so thanks to such massive remittances. In sum, they promote illegal immigration to earn such foreign exchange, to create an expatriate community in the United States that will romanticize a Guatemala or Oaxaca — all the more so,  the longer and farther they are away from it. Few of the impoverished in Mexico paste a Mexican-flag sticker on their window shield; many do so upon arrival in the United States. Illegal immigration is a safety valve, by which dissidents are thanked for marching north rather than on their own nations’ capitals. Latin American governments really do not care that much that their poor are raped while crossing the Mexican desert, or sold off by the drug cartels, or that they drown in the Rio Grande, but they suddenly weep when they reach American detention centers — a cynicism that literally cost hundreds their lives. America is increasingly becoming not so much a nonwhite nation as an assimilated, integrated, and intermarried country. Race, skin color, and appearance, if you will, are becoming irrelevant. The construct of “Latino” — Mexican-American? Portuguese? Spanish? Brazilian? — is becoming immaterial as diverse immigrants soon cannot speak Spanish, lose all knowledge of Latin America, and become indistinguishable in America from the descendants of southern Europeans, Armenians, or any other Mediterranean immigrant group. In other words, a Lopez or Martinez was rapidly becoming as relevant or irrelevant in terms of grievance politics, or perceived class, as a Pelosi, Scalise, De Niro, or Pacino. If Pelosi was named “Ocasio-Cortez” and AOC “Pelosi,” then no one would know, or much care, from their respective superficial appearance, who was of Puerto Rican background and who of Italian ancestry. Such a melting-pot future terrifies the ethnic activists in politics, academia, and the media who count on replenishing the numbers of unassimilated “Latinos,” in order to announce themselves the champions of collective grievance and disparity and thereby find careerist advantage. When 1 million of some of the most impoverished people on the planet arrive without legality, a high-school diploma, capital, or English, then they are likely to remain poor for a generation. And their poverty then offers supposed proof that America is a nativist or racist society for allowing such asymmetry to occur — a social-justice crime remedied best the by Latino caucus, the Chicano-studies department, the La Raza lawyers association, or the former National Council of La Raza. Yet, curb illegal immigration, and the entire Latino race industry goes the way of the Greek-, Armenian-, or Portuguese-American communities that have all found parity once massive immigration of their impoverished countrymen ceased and the formidable powers of the melting pot were uninterrupted. Democrats once were exclusionists — largely because they feared that illegal immigration eroded unionization and overtaxed the social-service resources of their poor citizen constituents. Cesar Chavez, for example, sent his thugs to the border to club illegal aliens and drive them back into Mexico, as if they were future strike breakers. Until recently, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton called for strict border enforcement, worried that the wages of illegal workers were driving down those of inner-city or barrio American youth. What changed? Numbers. Once the pool of illegal aliens reached a likely 20 million, and once their second-generation citizen offspring won anchor-baby legality and registered to vote, a huge new progressive constituency rose in the American Southwest — one that was targeted by Democrats, who alternately promised permanent government subsidies and sowed fears with constant charges that right-wing Republicans were abject racists, nativists, and xenophobes. Due to massive influxes of immigrants, and the flight of middle-class citizens, the California of Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian, and Pete Wilson long ago ceased to exist. Indeed, there are currently no statewide Republican office-holders in California, which has liberal supermajorities in both state legislatures and a mere seven Republicans out of 53 congressional representatives. Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado are becoming Californized. Soon open borders will do the same to Arizona and Texas. No wonder that the Democratic party has been willing to do almost anything to become the enabler of open borders, whether that is setting up over 500 sanctuary-city jurisdictions, suing to block border enforcement in the courts, or extending in-state tuition, free medical care, and driver’s licenses to those who entered and reside in America illegally. If most immigrants were right-wing, middle-class, Latino anti-Communists fleeing Venezuela or Cuba, or Eastern European rightists sick of the EU, or angry French and Germans who were tired of their failed socialist governments, the Democratic party would be the party of closed borders and the enemy of legal, meritocratic, diverse, and measured immigration. Employers over the past 50 years learned fundamental truths about illegal immigrants. The impoverished young male immigrant, arriving without English, money, education, and legality, will take almost any job to survive, and so he will work all the harder once he’s employed. For 20 years or so, young immigrant workers remain relatively healthy. But once physical labor takes its toll on the middle-aged immigrant worker, the state always was expected to step in to assume the health care, housing, and sustenance cost of the injured, ill, and aging worker — thereby empowering the employer’s revolving-door use of a new generation of young workers. Illegality — at least until recently, with the advent of sanctuary jurisdictions — was seen as convenient, ensuring asymmetry between the employee and the employer, who could always exercise the threat of deportation for any perceived shortcoming in his alien work force. Note that those who hire illegal aliens claim that no Americans will do such work, at least at the wages they are willing to, or can, pay. That is the mea culpa that employers voice when accused of lacking empathy for out-of-work Americans. If employers were fined for hiring illegal aliens, or held financially responsible for their immigrant workers’ health care and retirements, or if they found that such workers were not very industrious and made poor entry-level laborers, then both the Wall Street Journal and the Chamber of Commerce would be apt to favor strict enforcement of immigration laws.  Wealthy progressives favor open borders and illegal immigration for a variety of reasons. The more immigrants, the cheaper, more available, and more industrious are nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and gardeners — the silent army that fuels the contemporary, two-high-income, powerhouse household. Championing the immigrant poor, without living among them and without schooling one’s children with them or socializing among them, is the affluent progressive’s brand. And to the degree that the paradox causes any guilt, the progressive virtue-signals his loud outrage at border detentions, at separations between parents in court and children in custody, and at the contrast between the burly ICE officers and vulnerable border crossers. In medieval fashion, the farther the liberal advocate of open borders is from the objects of his moral concern, the louder and more empathetic he becomes. Most progressives also enjoy a twofer: inexpensive immigrant “help” and thereby enough brief exposure to the Other to authenticate their 8-to-5 caring. If border crossers were temporarily housed in vacant summer dorms at Stanford, Harvard, or Yale, or were accorded affordable-housing tracts for immigrant communities in the vast open spaces of Portola Valley and the Boulder suburbs, or if immigrant children were sent en masse to language-immersion programs at St. Paul’s, Sidwell Friends, or the Menlo School, then the progressive social-justice warrior would probably go mute. Victor Davis Hanson
À bien des égards, ce que l’on pourrait appeler la classe intellectuelle conservatrice s’est trouvée à la traîne et même parfois à contre-courant de la dernière campagne. Le Weekly Standard, hebdomadaire néoconservateur fondé par Bill Kristol — l’une des voix de droite les plus violemment critiques de l’administration —, en a payé le prix en cessant il y a peu de paraître. Une fois Trump élu, le pragmatisme a toutefois dominé l’attitude de cette galaxie d’institutions vis-à-vis de la Maison Blanche. Ne leur devant pas sa victoire ni son programme, le président a, quant à lui, su utiliser leurs ressources et leurs compétences quand elles lui étaient utiles. L’illustration la plus frappante de cette relation fut la place centrale qu’il donna aux recommandations de la Heritage Foundation (le plus grand think tank conservateur à Washington) et de la Federalist Society (une association influente rassemblant plus de 40 000 juristes conservateurs) pour la nomination des juges à la Cour Suprême (Neil Gorsuch et Brett Kavanaugh) et dans les degrés inférieurs du système judiciaire. Malgré un style de gouvernement indéniablement nouveau, Trump ne semblait donc pas avoir profondément affecté l’infrastructure institutionnelle d’où s’élaborent la majorité des politiques publiques aux États-Unis. Envisagé comme un phénomène personnel qui disparaîtrait avec lui, certains pouvaient encore penser qu’il ne laisserait avec son départ pas d’héritage profond sur les plans institutionnels et intellectuels. Une conférence comme il s’en organise pourtant des dizaines chaque année à Washington DC vient peut-être de changer la donne. Et si, de manière pour le moins inattendue, Trump s’avérait être depuis Reagan le président ayant eu le plus d’impact sur la fabrique des idées et des élites dans son pays? Le chercheur israélien à l’origine de l’événement, Yoram Hazony, s’est fait connaître à l’automne dernier en publiant The Virtue of Nationalism [La vertu du nationalisme], un livre où il s’emploie à critiquer l’idéal post-national qui a dominé l’éducation politique des élites ces dernières décennies. En organisant ce rassemblement d’intellectuels, de journalistes et d’hommes politiques, il entend désormais jeter les bases d’un mouvement intellectuel, le «conservatisme national», dont il propagera les idées au travers de la Edmund Burke Foundation — créée en janvier en vue de préparer l’événement. Le programme mélange des invités prestigieux (l’entrepreneur Peter Thiel, le présentateur de Fox News Tucker Carlson), des étoiles montantes (le jeune sénateur Josh Hawley et J. D. Vance, l’auteur du best-seller Hillbilly Elegy) et des figures établies (Rusty Reno de la revue First Things ou encore Christopher DeMuth, l’ancien responsable du think tank AEI). S’il est évident que de nombreuses divergences existent entre ces invités, notamment sur les questions de politique étrangère, ils s’accordent assez largement autour de certains points fondamentaux qui constituent à des degrés divers des changements d’orientation profonds par rapport au consensus conservateur antérieur. Ce consensus, aussi connu sous le nom de «fusionnisme», reposait sur la compatibilité de la défense du marché et du libre-échange avec celle des valeurs familiales et religieuses. Libertariens et conservateurs pouvaient ainsi agir côte à côte afin de laisser d’un côté l’État hors de l’entreprise et de l’autre, hors de la famille — attitude résumée par la formule lapidaire de Reagan: «Le gouvernement n’est pas la solution à nos problèmes. Le gouvernement est le problème.» Pour les tenants du «conservatisme national» le danger vient non plus principalement de l’État mais du secteur privé, et plus particulièrement des GAFA et de Wall Street. C’est également à l’État qu’ils s’en remettent pour préserver l’existence nationale de l’ingérence croissante des institutions supranationales. Étonnante dans le paysage politique américain, cette défense de l’État réaffirme la primauté du politique et avec lui du vecteur d’action collective qu’est la nation. La question n’est plus de savoir si l’intervention de l’État est intrinsèquement mauvaise et la liberté du marché intrinsèquement bonne, mais de déterminer dans chaque cas laquelle des deux correspond à l’intérêt et à la volonté de la nation. Le critère permettant de juger une mesure politique n’est plus sa conformité à l’intérêt économique ou aux droits de l’homme mais sa capacité à protéger et renforcer la citoyenneté. Car les normes au fondement de l’État de droit, les principes économiques du capitalisme, n’ont de validité pratique qu’en raison des sentiments communs et des qualités partagées qui constituent les modes de vie des populations qui les adoptent. En déconnectant l’individu de ses solidarités concrètes, une pratique aveugle du libéralisme a selon eux dépossédé les citoyens de ce mode de vie et de leur capacité d’action sur les plans individuels et collectifs. L’objectif du «conservatisme national» est de leur restituer ces deux choses. Or, des hommes que ne relie rien d’autre que le fait d’être porteurs des mêmes droits ne suffisent pas à faire une nation. Et c’est parce que l’existence de cette dernière ne peut plus être prise pour acquis que le danger qui pèse sur elle nécessite une action politique spécifique en rupture avec le consensus des libéraux et conservateurs traditionnels. Les réflexions sur le devenir des nations ne sont pas nouvelles, surtout en France, où des auteurs comme Pierre Manent ont depuis les années 90 mené une critique écoutée des conservateurs américains à l’égard du projet post-national. Ce qui est inédit, c’est qu’une action aussi structurée émerge en vue de former une nouvelle classe dirigeante sur le fondement de ces constats. Adversaires ou alliés de l’actuel président feraient bien de surveiller cette initiative. Si elle réalise son ambition la Edmund Burke Foundation pourrait parvenir à associer au changement immédiat impulsé par Donald Trump une éducation politique susceptible d’affecter sur le long terme la formation des élites américaines, ce à quoi son style de gouvernement et les techniques de communication qui le caractérisent ne sauraient parvenir à eux seuls. Le sénateur Josh Hawley, âgé de 39 ans (ancien procureur général de l’état du Missouri), fait figure de symbole de cette classe politique en devenir: «Une nation républicaine requiert une économie républicaine […] Une économie fondée sur les échanges monétaires à Wall Street ne bénéficie en dernier ressort qu’à ceux qui possèdent déjà de l’argent. Une telle économie ne saurait soutenir une grande nation.» Hostile à l’inflation des diplômes universitaires et aux multinationales, favorable aux droits de douane, défenseur de «l’Amérique moyenne», il représente peut-être ce que pourrait devenir le «trumpisme» sans Trump. Alexis Carré
President Trump is often accused of creating a needless rift with America’s European allies. The secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, expressed a different view recently when he told a joint session of Congress: “Allies must spend more on defense—this has been the clear message from President Trump, and this message is having a real impact.” Mr. Stoltenberg’s remarks reflect a growing recognition that strategic and economic realities demand a drastic change in the way the U.S. conducts foreign policy. The unwanted cracks in the Atlantic alliance are primarily a consequence of European leaders, especially in Germany and France, wishing to continue living in a world that no longer exists. The U.S. cannot serve as the enforcer for the Europeans’ beloved “rules-based international order” any more. Even in the 1990s, it was doubtful the U.S. could indefinitely guarantee the security of all nations, paying for George H.W. Bush’s “new world order” principally with American soldiers’ lives and American taxpayers’ dollars. Today a $22 trillion national debt and the voting public’s indifference to the dreams of world-wide liberal empire have depleted Washington’s ability to wage pricey foreign wars. At a time of escalating troubles at home, America’s estimated 800 overseas bases in 80 countries are coming to look like a bizarre misallocation of resources. And the U.S. is politically fragmented to an extent unseen in living memory, with uncertain implications in the event of a major war. This explains why the U.S. has not sent massive, Iraq-style expeditionary forces to defend Ukraine’s integrity or impose order in Syria. If there’s trouble on Estonia’s border with Russia, would the U.S. have the will to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers on an indefinite mission 85 miles from St. Petersburg? Although Estonia joined NATO in 2004, the certainties of 15 years ago have broken down. On paper, America has defense alliances with dozens of countries. But these are the ghosts of a rivalry with the Soviet Union that ended three decades ago, or the result of often reckless policies adopted after 9/11. These so-called allies include Turkey and Pakistan, which share neither America’s values nor its interests, and cooperate with the U.S. only when it serves their purposes. Other “allies” refuse to develop a significant capacity for self-defense, and are thus more accurately regarded as American dependencies or protectorates. Liberal internationalists are right about one thing, however: America cannot simply turn its back on the world. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 demonstrated that the U.S. can and will be targeted on its own soil. An American strategic posture aimed at minimizing the danger from rival powers needs to focus on deterring Russia and China from wars of expansion; weakening China relative to the U.S. and thereby preventing it from attaining dominance over the world economy; and keeping smaller hostile powers such as North Korea and Iran from obtaining the capacity to attack America or other democracies. To attain these goals, the U.S. will need a new strategy that is far less costly than anything previous administrations contemplated. Mr. Trump has taken a step in the right direction by insisting that NATO allies “pay their fair share” of the budget for defending Europe, increasing defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product in accordance with NATO treaty obligations. But this framing of the issue doesn’t convey the problem’s true nature or its severity. The real issue is that the U.S. can no longer afford to assume responsibility for defending entire regions if the people living in them aren’t willing and able to build up their own credible military deterrent. The U.S. has a genuine interest, for example, in preventing the democratic nations of Eastern Europe from being absorbed into an aggressive Russian imperial state. But the principal interested parties aren’t Americans. The members of the Visegrád Group—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia—have a combined population of 64 million and a 2017 GDP of $2 trillion (about 50% of Russia’s, according to CIA estimates). The principal strategic question is therefore whether these countries are willing to do what is necessary to maintain their own national independence. If they are—at a cost that could well exceed the 2% figure devised by NATO planners—then they could eventually shed their dependent status and come to the table as allies of the kind the U.S. could actually use: strong frontline partners in deterring Russian expansion. The same is true in other regions. Rather than carelessly accumulate dependencies, the U.S. must ask where it can develop real allies—countries that share its commitment to a world of independent nations, pursue democratic self-determination (although not necessarily liberalism) at home, and are willing to pay the price for freedom by taking primary responsibility for their own defense and shouldering the human and economic costs involved. Nations that demonstrate a commitment to these shared values and a willingness to fight when necessary should benefit from relations that may include the supply of advanced armaments and technologies, diplomatic cover in dealing with shared enemies, preferred partnership in trade, scientific and academic cooperation, and the joint development of new technologies. Fair-weather friends and free-riding dependencies should not. Perhaps the most important candidate for such a strategic alliance is India. Long a dormant power afflicted by poverty, socialism and an ideology of “nonalignment,” India has become one of the world’s largest and fastest-expanding economies. In contrast to the political oppression of the Chinese communist model, India has succeeded in retaining much of its religious conservatism while becoming an open and diverse country—by far the world’s most populous democracy—with a solid parliamentary system at both the federal and state levels. India is threatened by Islamist terrorism, aided by neighboring Pakistan; as well as by rapidly increasing Chinese influence, emanating from the South China Sea, the Pakistani port of Gwadar, and Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, where the Chinese navy has established its first overseas base. India’s values, interests and growing wealth could establish an Indo-American alliance as the central pillar of a new alignment of democratic national states in Asia, including a strengthened Japan and Australia. But New Delhi remains suspicious of American intentions, and with good reason: Rather than unequivocally bet on an Indian partnership, the U.S. continues to play all sides, haphazardly switching from confrontation to cooperation with China, and competing with Beijing for influence in fanaticism-ridden Pakistan. The rationalizations for these counterproductive policies tend to focus on Pakistan’s supposed logistical contributions to the U.S. war in Afghanistan—an example of how tactical considerations and the demands of bogus allies can stand in the way of meeting even the most pressing strategic needs. A similar confusion characterizes America’s relationship with Turkey. A U.S. ally during the Cold War, Turkey is now an expansionist Islamist power that has assisted the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al Qaeda and even ISIS; threatened Greece and Cyprus; sought Russian weapons; and recently expressed its willingness to attack U.S. forces in Syria. In reality, Turkey is no more an ally than Russia or China. Yet its formal status as the second-largest military in NATO guarantees that the alliance will continue to be preoccupied with pretense and make-believe, rather than the interests of democratic nations. Meanwhile, America’s most reliable Muslim allies, the Kurds, live under constant threat of Turkish invasion and massacre. The Middle East is a difficult region, in which few players share American values and interests, although all of them—including Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Iran—are willing to benefit from U.S. arms, protection or cash. Here too Washington should seek alliances with national states that share at least some key values and are willing to shoulder most of the burden of defending themselves while fighting to contain Islamist radicalism. Such natural regional allies include Greece, Israel, Ethiopia and the Kurds. A central question for a revitalized alliance of democratic nations is which way the winds will blow in Western Europe. For a generation after the Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989, U.S. administrations seemed willing to take responsibility for Europe’s security indefinitely. European elites grew accustomed to the idea that perpetual peace was at hand, devoting themselves to turning the EU into a borderless utopia with generous benefits for all. But Europe has been corrupted by its dependence on the U.S. Germany, the world’s fifth-largest economic power (with a GDP larger than Russia’s), cannot field more than a handful of operational combat aircraft, tanks or submarines. Yet German leaders steadfastly resist American pressure for substantial increases in their country’s defense capabilities, telling interlocutors that the U.S. is ruining a beautiful friendship. None of this is in America’s interest—and not only because the U.S. is stuck with the bill. When people live detached from reality, they develop all sorts of fanciful theories about how the world works. For decades, Europeans have been devising “transnationalist” fantasies to explain how their own supposed moral virtues, such as their rejection of borders, have brought them peace and prosperity. These ideas are then exported to the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world via international bodies, universities, nongovernmental organizations, multinational corporations and other channels. Having subsidized the creation of a dependent socialist paradise in Europe, the U.S. now has to watch as the EU’s influence washes over America and other nations. For the moment, it is hard to see Germany or Spain becoming American allies in the new, more realistic sense of the term we have proposed. France is a different case, maintaining significant military capabilities and a willingness to deploy them at times. But the governments of these and other Western European countries remain ideologically committed to transferring ever-greater powers to international bodies and to the concomitant degradation of national independence. That doesn’t make them America’s enemies, but neither are they partners in defending values such as national self-determination. It is difficult to foresee circumstances under which they would be willing or able to arm themselves in keeping with the actual security needs of an emerging alliance of independent democratic nations. The prospects are better with respect to Britain, whose defense spending is already significantly higher, and whose public asserted a desire to regain independence in the Brexit referendum of 2016. With a population of more than 65 million and a GDP of $3 trillion (75% of Russia’s), the U.K. may yet become a principal partner in a leaner but more effective security architecture for the democratic world. Isolationists are also right about one thing: The U.S. cannot be, and should not try to be, the world’s policeman. Yet it does have a role to play in awakening democratic nations from their dependence-induced torpor, and assisting those that are willing to make the transition to a new security architecture based on self-determination and self-reliance. An alliance including the U.S., the U.K. and the frontline Eastern European nations, as well as India, Israel, Japan and Australia, among others, would be strong enough to exert sustained pressure on China, Russia and hostile Islamist groups. Helping these democratic nations become self-reliant regional actors would reduce America’s security burden, permitting it to close far-flung military installations and making American military intervention the exception rather than the rule. At the same time, it would free American resources for the long struggle to deny China technological superiority, as well as for unforeseen emergencies that are certain to arise. Yoram Hazony and Ofir Haivry
In a universal political order . . . in which a single standard of right is held to be in force everywhere, tolerance for diverse political and religious standpoints must necessarily decline. (…) We should not let a hairbreadth of our freedom be given over to foreign bodies under any name whatsoever, or to foreign systems of law that are not determined by our own nations. (…) “the European Union has caused severe damage to the principle that originally granted legitimacy to Israel as an independent national state: the principle of national freedom and self-determination. Yoram Hazony
Aujourd’hui, on ne cesse de nous répéter que le nationalisme a provoqué les deux guerres mondiales, et on lui impute même la responsabilité de la Shoah. Mais cette lecture historique n’est pas satisfaisante. J’appelle «nationaliste» quelqu’un qui souhaite vivre dans un monde constitué de nations indépendantes. De sorte qu’à mes yeux, Hitler n’était pas le moins du monde nationaliste. Il était même tout le contraire: Hitler méprisait la vision nationaliste, et il appelle dans Mein Kampf à détruire les autres Etats-nations européens pour que les Allemands soient les maîtres du monde. Dès son origine, le nazisme est une entreprise impérialiste, pas nationaliste. Quant à la Première Guerre mondiale, le nationalisme est loin de l’avoir déclenchée à lui seul! Le nationalisme serbe a fourni un prétexte, mais en réalité c’est la visée impérialiste des grandes puissances européennes (l’Allemagne, la France, l’Angleterre) qui a transformé ce conflit régional en une guerre planétaire. Ainsi, le principal moteur des deux guerres mondiales était l’impérialisme, pas le nationalisme. (…) Le nationalisme est en effet en vogue en ce moment: c’est du jamais-vu depuis 1990, date à laquelle Margaret Thatcher a été renversée par son propre camp à cause de son hostilité à l’Union européenne. Depuis plusieurs décennies, les principaux partis politiques aux Etats-Unis et en Europe, de droite comme de gauche, ont souscrit à ce que l’on pourrait appeler «l’impérialisme libéral», c’est-à-dire l’idée selon laquelle le monde entier devrait être régi par une seule et même législation, imposée si besoin par la contrainte. Mais aujourd’hui, une génération plus tard, une demande de souveraineté nationale émerge et s’est exprimée avec force aux Etats-Unis, au Royaume-Uni, en Italie, en Europe de l’Est et ailleurs encore. Avec un peu de chance et beaucoup d’efforts, cet élan nationaliste peut aboutir à un nouvel ordre politique, fondé sur la cohabitation de nations indépendantes et souveraines. Mais nous devons aussi être lucides: les élites «impérialistes libérales» n’ont pas disparu, elles sont seulement affaiblies. Si, en face d’eux, le camp nationaliste ne parvient pas à faire ses preuves, elles ne tarderont pas à revenir dans le jeu. (…) Historiquement, le «nationalisme» décrit une vision du monde où le meilleur système de gouvernement serait la coexistence de nations indépendantes, et libres de tracer leur propre route comme elles l’entendent. On l’oppose à «l’impérialisme», qui cherche à apporter au monde la paix et la prospérité en unifiant l’humanité, autant que possible, sous un seul et même régime politique. Les dirigeants de l’Union européenne, de même que la plupart des élites américaines, croient dur comme fer en l’impérialisme. Ils pensent que la démocratie libérale est la seule forme admissible de gouvernement, et qu’il faut l’imposer progressivement au monde entier. C’est ce que l’on appelle souvent le «mondialisme», et c’est précisément ce que j’entends par «nouvel empire libéral». (…) En Europe, on se désolidarise du militarisme américain: les impérialistes allemands ou bruxellois préfèrent d’autres formes de coercition… mais leur objectif est le même. Regardez comment l’Allemagne cherche à imposer son programme économique à la Grèce ou à l’Italie, ou sa vision immigrationniste à la République tchèque, la Hongrie ou la Pologne. En Italie, le budget a même été rejeté par la Commission européenne! (…) Le conflit entre nationalisme et impérialisme est aussi vieux que l’Occident lui-même. La vision nationaliste est l’un des enseignements politiques fondamentaux de la Bible hébraïque: le Dieu d’Israël fut le premier qui donna à son peuple des frontières, et Moïse avertit les Hébreux qu’ils seraient punis s’ils tentaient de conquérir les terres de leurs voisins, car Yahvé a donné aussi aux autres nations leur territoire et leur liberté. Ainsi, la Bible propose le nationalisme comme alternative aux visées impérialistes des pharaons, mais aussi des Assyriens, des Perses ou, bien sûr, des Babyloniens. Et l’histoire du Moyen Âge ou de l’époque moderne montre que la plupart des grandes nations européennes – la France, l’Angleterre, les Pays-Bas… – se sont inspirées de l’exemple d’Israël. Mais le nationalisme de l’Ancien Testament ne fut pas tout de suite imité par l’Occident. La majeure partie de l’histoire occidentale est dominée par un modèle politique inverse: celui de l’impérialisme romain. C’est de là qu’est né le Saint Empire romain germanique, qui a toujours cherché à étendre sa domination, tout comme le califat musulman. Les Français aussi ont par moments été tentés par l’impérialisme et ont cherché à conquérir le monde: Napoléon, par exemple, était un fervent admirateur de l’Empire romain et n’avait pour seul but que d’imposer son modèle de gouvernement «éclairé» à tous les pays qu’il avait conquis. Ainsi a-t-il rédigé de nouvelles constitutions pour nombre d’entre eux: les Pays-Bas, l’Allemagne, l’Italie, l’Espagne… Son projet, en somme, était le même que celui de l’Union européenne aujourd’hui : réunir tous les peuples sous une seule et même législation. (…) [le modèle nationaliste] permet à chaque nation de décider ses propres lois en vertu de ses traditions particulières. Un tel modèle assure une vraie diversité politique, et permet à tous les pays de déployer leur génie à montrer que leurs institutions et leurs valeurs sont les meilleures. Un tel équilibre international ressemblerait à celui qui s’est établi en Europe après les traités de Westphalie signés en 1648, et qui ont permis l’existence d’une grande diversité de points de vue politiques, institutionnels et religieux. Ces traités ont donné aux nations européennes un dynamisme nouveau: grâce à cette diversité, les nations sont devenues autant de laboratoires d’idées dans lesquels ont été expérimentés, développés et éprouvés les théories philosophiques et les systèmes politiques que l’on associe aujourd’hui au monde occidental. À l’évidence, toutes ces expériences ne se valent pas et certaines n’ont bien sûr pas été de grands succès. Mais la réussite de l’une seule d’entre elles – la France, par exemple – suffit pour que les autres l’imitent et apprennent grâce à son exemple. Tandis que, par contraste, un gouvernement impérialiste comme celui de l’Union européenne tue toute forme de diversité dans l’œuf. Les élites bruxelloises sont persuadées de savoir déjà avec exactitude la façon dont le monde entier doit vivre. Il est pourtant manifeste que ce n’est pas le cas… (…) La diversité des points de vue, et, partant, chacun de ces désaccords, sont une conséquence nécessaire de la liberté humaine, qui fait que chaque nation a ses propres valeurs et ses propres intérêts. La seule manière d’éviter ces désaccords est de faire régner une absolue tyrannie – et c’est du reste ce dont l’Union européenne se rend peu à peu compte: seules les mesures coercitives permettent d’instaurer une relative uniformité entre les États membres. (…) Mais nous devons alors reconnaître, tout aussi humblement, que les mouvements universalistes ne sont pas exempts non plus d’une certaine inclination à la haine ou au sectarisme. Chacun des grands courants universels de l’histoire en a fait montre, qu’il s’agisse du christianisme, de l’islam ou du marxisme. En bâtissant leur empire, les universalistes ont souvent rejeté les particularismes nationaux qui se sont mis en travers de leur chemin et ont refusé d’accepter leur prétention à apporter à l’humanité entière la paix et la prospérité. Cette détestation du particulier, qui est une constante dans tous les grands universalismes, est flagrante aujourd’hui dès lors qu’un pays sort du rang: regardez le torrent de mépris et d’insultes qui s’est répandu contre les Britanniques qui ont opté pour le Brexit, contre Trump, contre Salvini, contre la Hongrie, l’Autriche et la Pologne, contre Israël… Les nouveaux universalistes vouent aux gémonies l’indépendance nationale. (…) un nationaliste ne prétend pas savoir ce qui est bon pour n’importe qui, n’importe où dans le monde. Il fait preuve d’une grande humilité, lui, au moins. N’est-ce pas incroyable de vouloir dicter à tous les pays qui ils doivent choisir pour ministre, quel budget ils doivent voter, et qui sera en droit de traverser leurs frontières? Face à cette arrogance vicieuse, je considère en effet le nationalisme comme une vertu. (…) le nationaliste est vertueux, car il limite sa propre arrogance et laisse les autres conduire leur vie à leur guise. (…) Si les différents gouvernements nationalistes aujourd’hui au pouvoir dans le monde parviennent à prouver leur capacité à diriger un pays de manière responsable, et sans engendrer de haine ou de tensions, alors ils viendront peut-être à bout de l’impérialisme libéral. Ils ont une chance de restaurer un ordre du monde fondé sur la liberté des nations. Il ne tient désormais qu’à eux de la saisir, et je ne peux prédire s’ils y parviendront: j’espère seulement qu’ils auront assez de sagesse et de talent pour cela. Yoram Hazony
Custom quite often wears the mask of nature, and we are taken in [by this] to the point that the practices adopted by nations, based solely on custom, frequently come to seem like natural and universal laws of mankind. John Selden
Selden, and the other profoundly learned men, who drew this petition of right, were as well acquainted, at least, with all the general theories concerning the “rights of men” [as any defenders of the revolution in France]. . . . But, for reasons worthy of that practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary title to all which can be dear to the man and the citizen, to that vague speculative right, which exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild, litigious spirit. Edmund Burke
I believe the British government forms the best model the world ever produced. Hamilton
Experience must be our only guide. Reason may mislead us. It was not reason that discovered the singular and admirable mechanism of the English constitution…. Accidents probably produced these discoveries, and experience has given a sanction to them. John Dickinson
It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape. John Story
The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest. . . . Rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Thomas Jefferson
The year 2016 marked a dramatic change of political course for the English-speaking world, with Britain voting for independence from Europe and the United States electing a president promising a revived American nationalism. Critics see both events as representing a dangerous turn toward “illiberalism” and deplore the apparent departure from “liberal principles” or “liberal democracy,” themes that surfaced repeatedly in conservative publications over the past year. Perhaps the most eloquent among the many spokesmen for this view has been William Kristol, who, in a series of essays in the Weekly Standard, has called for a new movement to arise “in defense of liberal democracy.” In his eyes, the historic task of American conservatism is “to preserve and strengthen American liberal democracy,” and what is needed now is “a new conservatism based on old conservative—and liberal—principles.” Meanwhile, the conservative flagship Commentary published a cover story by the Wall Street Journal’s Sohrab Ahmari entitled “Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis,” seeking to raise the alarm about the dangers to liberalism posed by Brexit, Trump, and other phenomena. (…) But we see this confusion of conservatism with liberalism as historically and philosophically misguided. Anglo-American conservatism is a distinct political tradition—one that predates Locke by centuries. Its advocates fought for and successfully established most of the freedoms that are now exclusively associated with Lockean liberalism, although they did so on the basis of tenets very different from Locke’s. Indeed, when Locke published his Two Treatises of Government in 1689, offering the public a sweeping new rationale for the traditional freedoms already known to Englishmen, most defenders of these freedoms were justly appalled. They saw in this new doctrine not a friend to liberty but a product of intellectual folly that would ultimately bring down the entire edifice of freedom. Thus, liberalism and conservatism have been opposed political positions in political theory since the day liberal theorizing first set foot in England. Today’s confusion of conservative political thought with liberalism is in a way understandable, however. In the great twentieth-century battles against totalitarianism, conservatives and liberals were allies: They fought together, along with the Communists, against Nazism. After 1945, conservatives and liberals remained allies in the war against Communism. Over these many decades of joint struggle, what had for centuries been a distinction of vital importance was treated as if it were not terribly important, and in fact, it was largely forgotten. But since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, these circumstances have changed. The challenges facing the Anglo-American tradition are now coming from other directions entirely. Radical Islam, to name one such challenge, is a menace that liberals, for reasons internal to their own view of the political world, find difficult to regard as a threat and especially difficult to oppose in an effective manner. But even more important is the challenge arising from liberalism itself. It is now evident that liberal principles contribute little or nothing to those institutions that were for centuries the bedrock of the Anglo-American political order: nationalism, religious tradition, the Bible as a source of political principles and wisdom, and the family. Indeed, as liberalism has emerged victorious from the battles of the last century, the logic of its doctrines has increasingly turned liberals against all of these conservative institutions. On both of these fronts, the conservative and liberal principles of the Anglo-American tradition are now painfully at cross-purposes. The twentieth-century alliance between conservatism and liberalism is proving increasingly difficult to maintain. Among the effects of the long alliance between conservatism and liberalism has been a tendency of political figures, journalists, and academics to slip back and forth between conservative terms and ideas and liberal ones as if they were interchangeable. And until recently, there seemed to be no great harm in this. Now, however, it is becoming obvious that this lack of clarity is crippling our ability to think about a host of issues, from immigration and foreign wars to the content of the Constitution and the place of religion in education and public life. (…) Living in very different periods, these individuals nevertheless shared common ideas and principles and saw themselves as part of a common tradition of English, and later Anglo-American, constitutionalism. A politically traditionalist outlook of this kind was regarded as the mainstream in both England and America up until the French Revolution and only came to be called “conservative” during the nineteenth century, as it lost ground and became one of two rival camps. Because the name conservative dates from this time of decline, it is often wrongly asserted that those who continued defending the Anglo-American tradition after the revolution—men such as Burke and Hamilton—were the “first conservatives.” (…) The emergence of the Anglo-American conservative tradition can be identified with the words and deeds of a series of towering political and intellectual figures, among whom we can include individuals such as Sir John Fortescue, Richard Hooker, Sir Edward Coke, John Selden, Sir Matthew Hale, Sir William Temple, Jonathan Swift, Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke, John Dickinson, and Alexander Hamilton. Men such as George Washington, John Adams, and John Marshall, often hastily included among the liberals, would also have placed themselves in this conservative tradition rather than with its opponents, whom they knew all too well.According to Fortescue, the English constitution provides for what he calls “political and royal government,” by which he means that English kings do not rule by their own authority alone (i.e., “royal government”), but together with the representatives of the nation in Parliament and in the courts (i.e., “political government”). In other words, the powers of the English king are limited by the traditional laws of the English nation, in the same way—as Fortescue emphasizes—that the powers of the Jewish king in the Mosaic constitution in Deuteronomy are limited by the traditional laws of the Israelite nation. This is in contrast with the Holy Roman Empire of Fortescue’s day, which was supposedly governed by Roman law, and therefore by the maxim that “what pleases the prince has the force of law,” and in contrast with the kings of France, who governed absolutely. Among other things, the English law is described as providing for the people’s representatives, rather than the king, to determine the laws of the realm and to approve requests from the king for taxes. In addition to this discussion of what later tradition would call the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, Fortescue also devotes extended discussion to the guarantee of due process under law, which he explores in his discussion of the superior protections afforded to the individual under the English system of trial by jury. Crucially, Fortescue consistently connects the character of a nation’s laws and their protection of private property to economic prosperity, arguing that limited government bolsters such prosperity, while an absolute government leads the people to destitution and ruin. In another of his writings, The Difference between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy (also known as The Governance of England, c. 1471), he starkly contrasts the well-fed and healthy English population living under their limited government with the French, whose government was constantly confiscating their property and quartering armies in their towns—at the residents’ expense—by unilateral order of the king. (…) Like later conservative tradition, Fortescue does not believe that either scripture or human reason can provide a universal law suitable for all nations. We do find him drawing frequently on the Mosaic constitution and the biblical “Four Books of Kings” (1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings) to assist in understanding the political order and the English constitution. Nevertheless, Fortescue emphasizes that the laws of each realm reflect the historic experience and character of each nation, just as the English common law is in accord with England’s historic experience. Thus, for example, Fortescue argues that a nation that is self-disciplined and accustomed to obeying the laws voluntarily rather than by coercion is one that can productively participate in the way it is governed. This, Fortescue proposes, was true of the people of England, while the French, who were of undisciplined character, could be governed only by the harsh and arbitrary rule of absolute royal government. On the other hand, Fortescue also insisted, again in keeping with biblical precedent and later conservative tradition, that this kind of national character was not set in stone, and that such traits could be gradually improved or worsened over time. (…) Fortescue wrote in the decades before the Reformation, and as a firm Catholic. But every page of his work breathes the spirit of English nationalism—the belief that through long centuries of experience, and thanks to a powerful ongoing identification with Hebrew Scripture, the English had succeeded in creating a form of government more conducive to human freedom and flourishing than any other known to man. First printed around 1545, Fortescue’s Praise of the Laws of England spoke in a resounding voice to that period of heightened nationalist sentiment in which English traditions, now inextricably identified with Protestantism, were pitted against the threat of invasion by Spanish-Catholic forces aligned with the Holy Roman Emperor. This environment quickly established Fortescue as England’s first great political theorist, paving the way for him to be read by centuries of law students in both England and America and by educated persons wherever the broader Anglo-American conservative tradition struck root. (…) the decisive chapter in the formation of modern Anglo-American conservatism: the great seventeenth-century battle between defenders of the traditional English constitution against political absolutism on one side, and against the first advocates of a Lockean universalist rationalism on the other (…) is dominated by the figure of John Selden (1584–1654), probably the greatest theorist of Anglo-American conservatism. (…) In 1628, Selden played a leading role in drafting and passing an act of Parliament called the Petition of Right, which sought to restore and safeguard “the divers rights and liberties of the subjects” that had been known under the traditional English constitution. Among other things, it asserted that “your subjects have inherited this freedom, that they should not be compelled to contribute to any tax . . . not set by common consent in Parliament”; that “no freeman may be taken or imprisoned or be disseized of his freehold or liberties, or his free customs . . . but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land”; and that no man “should be put out of his land or tenements, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited nor put to death without being brought to answer by due process of law.” In the Petition of Right, then, we find the famous principle of “no taxation without representation,” as well as versions of the rights enumerated in the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments of the American Bill of Rights—all declared to be ancient constitutional English freedoms and unanimously approved by Parliament, before Locke was even born. Although not mentioned in the Petition explicitly, freedom of speech had likewise been reaffirmed by Coke as “an ancient custom of Parliament” in the 1590s and was the subject of the so-called Protestation of 1621 that landed Coke, then seventy years old, in the Tower of London for nine months. In other words, Coke, Eliot, and Selden risked everything to defend the same liberties that we ourselves hold dear in the face of an increasingly authoritarian regime. (…) But they did not do so in the name of liberal doctrines of universal reason, natural rights, or “self-evident” truths. These they explicitly rejected because they were conservatives, not liberals. (…) Selden sought to defend conservative traditions, including the English one, not only against the absolutist doctrines of the Stuarts but also against the claims of a universalist rationalism, according to which men could simply consult their own reason, which was the same for everyone, to determine the best constitution for mankind. This rationalist view had begun to collect adherents in England among followers of the great Dutch political theorist Hugo Grotius, whose On the Law of War and Peace (1625) suggested that it might be possible to do away with the traditional constitutions of nations by relying only on the rationality of the individual. (…) Selden responds to the claims of universal reason by arguing for a position that can be called historical empiricism. On this view, our reasoning in political and legal matters should be based upon inherited national tradition. This permits the statesman or jurist to overcome the small stock of observation and experience that individuals are able to accumulate during their own lifetimes (“that kind of ignorant infancy, which our short lives alone allow us”) and to take advantage of “the many ages of former experience and observation,” which permit us to “accumulate years to us, as if we had lived even from the beginning of time.” In other words, by consulting the accumulated experience of the past, we overcome the inherent weakness of individual judgement, bringing to bear the many lifetimes of observation by our forebears, who wrestled with similar questions under diverse conditions. (…)  Recalling the biblical Jeremiah’s insistence on an empirical study of the paths of old (Jer. 6:16), Selden argues that the correct method is that “all roads must be carefully examined. We must ask about the ancient paths, and only what is truly the best may be chosen.”  (…) Selden recognizes that, in making these selections from the traditions of the past, we tacitly rely upon a higher criterion for selection, a natural law established by God, which prescribes “what is truly best” for mankind in the most elementary terms. In his Natural and National Law, Selden explains that this natural law has been discovered over long generations since the biblical times and has come down to us in various versions. Of these, the most reliable is that of the Talmud, which describes the seven laws of the children of Noah prohibiting murder, theft, sexual perversity, cruelty to beasts, idolatry and defaming God, and requiring courts of law to enforce justice. The experience of thousands of years has taught us that these laws frame the peace and prosperity that is the end of all nations, and that they are the unseen root from which the diverse laws of all the nations ultimately derive. (…) In doing so, he seeks to gradually approach, by trial and error, the best that is possible for each nation. (…)  But (…) Stuart absolutism eventually pressed England toward civil war and, finally, to a Puritan military dictatorship that not only executed the king but destroyed Parliament and the constitution as well. Selden did not live to see the constitution restored. The regicide regime subsequently offered England several brand-new constitutions, none of which proved workable, and within eleven years it had collapsed. In 1660, two eminent disciples of Selden, Edward Hyde (afterward Earl of Clarendon) and Sir Matthew Hale, played a leading role in restoring the constitution and the line of Stuart kings. When the Catholic James II succeeded to the throne in 1685, fear of a relapse into papism and even of a renewed attempt to establish absolutism moved the rival political factions of the country to unite in inviting the next Protestants in line to the throne. The king’s daughter Mary and her husband, Prince William of Orange, the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, crossed the channel to save Protestant England and its constitution. Parliament, having confirmed the willingness of the new joint monarchs to protect the English from “all other attempts upon their religion, rights and liberties,” in 1689 established the new king and queen on the throne and ratified England’s famous Bill of Rights. This new document reasserted the ancient rights invoked in the earlier Petition of Right, among other things affirming the right of Protestant subjects to “have arms for their defense” and the right of “freedom of speech and debates” in Parliament, and that “excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”—the basis for the First, Second, and Eighth Amendments of the American Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech was quickly extended to the wider public, with the termination of English press licensing laws a few years later. The restoration of a Protestant monarch and the adoption of the Bill of Rights were undertaken by a Parliament united around Seldenian principles. What came to be called the “Glorious Revolution” was glorious precisely because it reaffirmed the traditional English constitution and protected the English nation from renewed attacks on “their religion, rights and liberties.” Such attacks came from absolutists like Sir Robert Filmer on the one hand, whose Patriarcha (published posthumously, 1680) advocated authoritarian government as the only legitimate one, and by radicals like John Locke on the other. Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1689) responded to the crisis by arguing for the right of the people to dissolve the traditional constitution and reestablish it according to universal reason. Over the course of the seventeenth century, English conservatism was formed into a coherent and unmistakable political philosophy utterly opposed both to the absolutism of the Stuarts, Hobbes, and Filmer (what would later be called “the Right”), as well as to liberal theories of universal reason advanced first by Grotius and then by Locke (“the Left”). The centrist conservative view was to remain the mainstream understanding of the English constitution for a century and a half, defended by leading Whig intellectuals in works from William Atwood’s Fundamental Constitution of the English Government (1690) to Josiah Tucker’s A Treatise of Civil Government (1781), which strongly opposed both absolutism and Lockean theories of universal rights. This is the view upon which men like Blackstone, Burke, Washington, and Hamilton were educated. Not only in England but in British America, lawyers were trained in the common law by studying Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England (1628–44) and Hale’s History of the Common Law of England (1713). In both, the law of the land was understood to be the traditional English constitution and common law, amended as needed for local purposes. (…)  We have described the Anglo-American conservative tradition as subscribing to a historical empiricism, which proposes that political knowledge is gained by examining the long history of the customary laws of a given nation and the consequences when these laws have been altered in one direction or another. Conservatives understand that a jurist must exercise reason and judgment, of course. But this reasoning is about how best to adapt traditional law to present circumstances, making such changes as are needed for the betterment of the state and of the public, while preserving as much as possible the overall frame of the law. To this we have opposed a standpoint that can be called rationalist. Rationalists have a different view of the role of reason in political thought, and in fact a different understanding of what reason itself is. Rather than arguing from the historical experience of nations, they set out by asserting general axioms that they believe to be true of all human beings, and that they suppose will be accepted by all human beings examining them with their native rational abilities. From these they deduce the appropriate constitution or laws for all men. (…) Locke is known philosophically as an empiricist. But his reputation in this regard is based largely on his Essay concerning Human Understanding (1689), which is an influential exercise in empirical psychology. His Second Treatise of Government is not, however, a similar effort to bring an empirical standpoint to the theory of the state. Instead, it begins with a series of axioms that are without any evident connection to what can be known from the historical and empirical study of the state. Among other things, Locke asserts that, (1) prior to the establishment of government, men exist in a “state of nature,” in which (2) “all men are naturally in a state of perfect freedom,” as well as in (3) a “state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another.” Moreover, (4) this state of nature “has a law of nature to govern it”; and (5) this law of nature is, as it happens, nothing other than human “reason” itself, which “teaches all mankind, who will but consult it.” It is this universal reason, the same among all mankind, that leads them to (6) terminate the state of nature, “agreeing together mutually to enter into . . . one body politic” by an act of free consent. From these six axioms, Locke then proceeds to deduce the proper character of the political order for all nations on earth. (…)  Faced with this mass of unverifiable assertions, empiricist political theorists such as Hume, Smith, and Burke rejected all of Locke’s axioms and sought to rebuild political philosophy on the basis of things that can be known from history and from an examination of actual human societies and governments. (…) While Locke’s rationalist theories made limited headway in England, they were all the rage in France. Rousseau’s On the Social Contract (1762) went where others had feared to tread, embracing Locke’s system of axioms for correct political thought and calling upon mankind to consent only to the one legitimate constitution dictated by reason. Within thirty years, Rousseau, Voltaire, and the other French imitators of Locke’s rationalist politics received what they had demanded in the form of the French Revolution. The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was followed by the Reign of Terror for those who would not listen to reason. Napoleon’s imperialist liberalism rapidly followed, bringing universal reason and the “rights of man” to the whole of continental Europe by force of arms, at a cost of millions of lives. In 1790, a year after the beginning of the French Revolution, the Anglo-Irish thinker and Whig parliamentarian Edmund Burke composed his famous defense of the English constitutional tradition against the liberal doctrines of universal reason and universal rights, entitled Reflections on the Revolution in France. Burke’s argument is frequently quoted today by conservatives who assume that his target was Rousseau and his followers in France. But Burke’s attack was not primarily aimed at Rousseau, who had few enthusiasts in Britain or America at the time. The actual target of his attack was contemporary followers of Grotius and Locke—individuals such as Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, Charles James Fox, Charles Grey, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson. Price, who was the explicit subject of Burke’s attack in the first pages of Reflections on the Revolution in France, had opened his Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty (1776) with the assertion that “the principles on which I have argued form the foundation of every state as far as it is free; and are the same with those taught by Mr. Locke.” And much the same could be said of the others, all of whom followed Locke in claiming that the only true foundation for political and constitutional thought was precisely in those “general theories concerning the rights of men” that Burke believed would bring turmoil and death to one country after another. The carnage taking place in France triggered a furious debate in England. It pitted supporters of the conservatism of Coke and Selden (both Whigs and Tories) against admirers of Locke’s universal rights theories (the so-called New Whigs). The conservatives insisted that these theories would uproot every traditional political and religious institution in England, just as they were doing in France. (…) Burke’s conservative defense of the traditional English constitution enjoyed a large measure of success in Britain, where it was continued after his death by figures such as Canning, Wellington, and Disraeli. That this is so is obvious from the fact that institutions such as the monarchy, the House of Lords, and the established Church of England, not to mention the common law itself, were able to withstand the gale winds of universal reason and universal rights, and to this day have their staunch supporters. But what of America? Was the American revolution an upheaval based on Lockean universal reason and universal rights? To hear many conservatives talk today, one would think this were so, and that there never were any conservatives in the American mainstream, only liberals of different shades. The reality, however, was rather different. When the American English, as Burke called them, rebelled against the British monarch, there were already two distinct political theories expressed among the rebels, and the opposition between these two camps only grew with time. First, there were those who admired the English constitution that they had inherited and studied. Believing they had been deprived of their rights under the English constitution, their aim was to regain these rights. Identifying themselves with the tradition of Coke and Selden, they hoped to achieve a victory against royal absolutism comparable to what their English forefathers had achieved in the Petition of Right and Bill of Rights. To individuals of this type, the word revolution still had its older meaning, invoking something that “revolves” and would, through their efforts, return to its rightful place—in effect, a restoration. Alexander Hamilton was probably the best-known exponent of this kind of conservative politics (…) And it is evident that they were quietly supported behind the scenes by other adherents of this view, among them the president of the convention, General George Washington. Second, there were true revolutionaries, liberal followers of Locke such as Jefferson, who detested England and believed—just as the French followers of Rousseau believed—that the dictates of universal reason made the true rights of man evident to all. For them, the traditional English constitution was not the source of their freedoms but rather something to be swept away before the rights dictated by universal reason. And indeed, during the French Revolution, Jefferson and his supporters embraced it as a purer version of what the Americans had started. (…) The tension between these conservative and liberal camps finds rather dramatic expression in America’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Jefferson in 1776, is famous for resorting, in its preamble, to the Lockean doctrine of universal rights as “self-evident” before the light of reason. Similarly, the Articles of Confederation, negotiated the following year as the constitution of the new United States of America, embody a radical break with the traditional English constitution. These Articles asserted the existence of thirteen independent states, at the same time establishing a weak representative assembly over them without even the power of taxation, and requiring assent by nine of thirteen states to enact policy. The Articles likewise made no attempt at all to balance the powers of this assembly, effectively an executive, with separate legislative or judicial branches of government. The Articles of Confederation came close to destroying the United States. After a decade of disorder in both foreign and economic affairs, the Articles were replaced by the Constitution, drafted at a convention initiated by Hamilton and James Madison, and presided over by a watchful Washington, while Jefferson was away in France. Anyone comparing the Constitution that emerged with the earlier Articles of Confederation immediately recognizes that what took place at this convention was a reprise of the Glorious Revolution of 1689. Despite being adapted to the American context, the document that the convention produced proposed a restoration of the fundamental forms of the English constitution: a strong president, designated by an electoral college (in place of the hereditary monarchy); the president balanced in strikingly English fashion by a powerful bicameral legislature with the power of taxation and legislation; the division of the legislature between a quasi-aristocratic, appointed Senate and a popularly elected House; and an independent judiciary. Even the American Bill of Rights of 1789 is modeled upon the Petition of Right and the English Bill of Rights, largely elaborating the same rights that had been described by Coke and Selden and their followers, and breathing not a word anywhere about universal reason or universal rights. The American Constitution did depart from the traditional English constitution, however, adapting it to local conditions on certain key points. The Americans, who had no nobility and no tradition of hereditary office, declined to institute these now. Moreover, the Constitution of 1787 allowed slavery, which was forbidden in England—a wretched innovation for which America would pay a price the framers could not have imagined in their wildest nightmares. Another departure—or apparent departure—was the lack of a provision for a national church, enshrined in the First Amendment in the form of a prohibition on congressional legislation “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The English constitutional tradition, of course, gave a central role to the Protestant religion, which was held to be indispensable and inextricably tied to English identity (although not incompatible with a broad measure of toleration). But the British state, in certain respects federative, permitted separate, officially established national churches in Scotland and Ireland. This British acceptance of a diversity of established churches is partially echoed in the American Constitution, which permitted the respective states to support their own established churches, or to require that public offices in the state be held by Protestants or by Christians, well into the nineteenth century. When these facts are taken into account, the First Amendment appears less an attempt to put an end to established religion than a provision for keeping the peace among the states by delegating forms of religious establishment to the state level. As early as 1802, however, Jefferson, now president, announced  that the First Amendment’s rejection of a national church in fact should be interpreted as an “act of the whole American people . . . building a wall of separation between church and state.” This characterization of the American Constitution as endorsing a “separation of church and state” was surely overwrought, and more compatible with French liberalism—which regarded public religion as abhorrent to reason—than with the actual place of state religion among “the whole American people” at the time. Yet on this point, Jefferson has emerged victorious. In the years that followed, his “wall of separation between church and state” interpretation was increasingly considered to be an integral part of the American Constitution, even if one that had not been included in the actual text. Lockean liberalism grew increasingly dominant in America after Jefferson’s election. Hamilton’s death in a duel in 1804, at the age of 47, was an especially heavy blow that left American conservatism without its most able spokesman. Nevertheless, the tradition of Selden and Burke was taken up by Americans of the next generation, including two of the country’s most prominent jurists, New York chancellor James Kent (1763–1847) and Supreme Court justice Joseph Story (1779–1845). Story’s influence was especially significant. Although appointed to the Supreme Court by Jefferson in the hope of undermining Chief Justice John Marshall, Story’s opinions almost immediately displayed the opposite inclination, and continued to do so throughout his thirty-four-year tenure on the court. Perhaps Story’s greatest contribution to the American conservative tradition is his famous Commentaries on the Constitution (3 vols., 1833), which were dedicated to Marshall and went on to be the most important and influential interpretation of the American constitutional tradition in the nineteenth century. These were overtly conservative in spirit, citing Burke with approval and repeatedly criticizing not only Locke’s theories but Jefferson himself. Among other things, Story forcefully rejected Jefferson’s claim that the American founding had been based on universal rights determined by reason, emphasizing that it was the rights of the English traditional law that Americans had always recognized and continued to recognize. (…) With Selden, we believe that, in their campaign for universal “liberal democracy,” liberals have confused certain historical-empirical principles of the traditional Anglo-American constitution, painstakingly developed and inculcated over centuries (Principle 1), for universal truths that are equally accessible to all human beings, regardless of historical or cultural circumstances. This means that, like all rationalists, they are engaged in applying local truths, which may hold good under certain conditions, to quite different situations and circumstances, where they often go badly wrong. For conservatives, these failures—for example, the repeated collapse of liberal constitutions in places such as Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, and Iraq, among many others—suggest that the principles in question have been overextended and should be regarded as true only within a narrower range of conditions. Liberals, on the other hand, explain such failures as a result of “poor implementation,” leaving liberal democracy as a universal truth that remains untouched by experience and unassailable, no matter what the circumstances. (…) Burke and Hamilton belonged to a generation that was still educated in the significance of the Anglo-American tradition as a whole. Only a few decades later, this had begun to change, and by the end of the nineteenth century, conservative views were increasingly in the minority and defensive both in Britain and America. But conservatism was really only broken in a decisive way by Franklin Roosevelt in America in 1932, and by Labour in Britain in 1945. At this point, socialism displaced liberalism as the worldview of the parties of the “Left,” driving some liberals to join with the last vestiges of the conservative tradition in the parties of the “Right.” In this environment, new leaders and movements did arise and succeed from time to time in raising the banner of Anglo-American conservatism once more. But these conservatives were living on a shattered political and philosophical landscape, having lost much of the chain of transmission that had connected earlier conservatives to their forefathers. Thus their roots remained shallow, and their victories, however impressive, brought about no long-term conservative restoration. The most significant of these conservative revivals was, of course, the one that reached its peak in the 1980s under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan. Thatcher and Reagan were genuine and instinctive conservatives, displaying traditional Anglo-American conservative attachments to nation and religion, as well as to limited government and individual freedom. They also recognized and gave voice to the profound “special relationship” that binds Britain and America together. Coming to power at a time of deep crisis in the struggle against Communism, their renewed conservatism succeeded in winning the Cold War and freeing foreign nations from oppression, in addition to liberating their own economies, which had long been shackled by socialism. In both countries, these triumphs shifted political discourse rightward for a generation. Yet the Reagan-Thatcher moment, for all its success, failed to touch the depths of the political culture in America and Britain. Confronted by a university system devoted almost exclusively to socialist and liberal theorizing, their movement at no point commanded the resources needed to revive Anglo-American conservatism as a genuine force in fundamental arenas such as jurisprudence, political theory, history, philosophy, and education—disciplines without which a true restoration was impossible. Throughout the conservative revival of the 1980s, academic training in government and political theory, for instance, continued to maintain its almost complete boycott of conservative thinkers such as Fortescue, Coke, Selden, and Hale, just as it continued its boycott of the Bible as a source of English and American political principles. Similarly, academic jurisprudence remained a subject that is taught as a contest among abstract liberal theories. Education of this kind meant that a degree from a prestigious university all but guaranteed one’s ignorance of the Anglo-American conservative tradition, but only a handful of conservative intellectual figures, most visibly Russell Kirk and Irving Kristol, seem to have been alert to the seriousness of this problem. On the whole, the conservative revival of those years remained resolutely focused on the pressing policy issues of the day, leaving liberalism virtually unchallenged as the worldview that conservatives were taught at university or when they picked up a book on the history of ideas. (…) There may have been genuine advantages to soft-pedaling differences between conservatives and liberals until the 1980s, when all the strength that could be mustered had to be directed toward defeating Communism abroad and socialism at home. But we are no longer living in the 1980s. Those battles were won, and today we face new dangers. The most important among these is the inability of countries such as America and Britain, having been stripped of the nationalist and religious traditions that held them together for centuries, to sustain themselves while a universalist liberalism continues, year after year, to break down these historic foundations of their strength. Under such conditions of internal disintegration, there is a palpable danger that liberal rationalism, having established itself in a monopoly position in the state, will drive a broad public that cannot accept its regimented view of the world into the hands of genuinely authoritarian movements. Liberals of various persuasions have, in their own way, sought to warn us about this, from Fareed Zakaria’s “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy” in Foreign Affairs (1997) to the Economist’s “Illiberalism: Playing with Fear” (2016) and Commentary’s “Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis,” mentioned earlier. These and many other publications have made intensive use of the term illiberal as an epithet to describe those who have strayed from the path of Lockean liberalism. In so doing, they divide the political universe into two: there are liberals—those decent persons who are willing to exercise reason in the universally accepted manner and come to the appropriate liberal conclusions; and there are those others—the “illiberals,” who, out of ignorance, resentment, or some atavistic hatred, will not get with the program. When things are divided up this way, the latter group ends up including everyone from Brexiteers, Trump supporters, Evangelical Christians, and Orthodox Jews to dictators, Iranian ayatollahs, and Nazis. Once things are framed in this way, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that everyone in that second group is in some degree a threat that must be combated. We conservatives, however, have our own preferred division of the political universe: one in which Anglo-American conservatism appears as a distinct political category that is obviously neither authoritarian nor liberal. With the rest of the Anglo-American conservative tradition, we uphold the principles of limited government and individual liberties. But we also see clearly (again, in keeping with our conservative tradition) that the only forces that give the state its internal coherence and stability, holding limited government in place while staving off authoritarianism, are our nationalist and religious traditions. These nationalist and religious principles are not liberal. They are prior to liberalism, in conflict with liberalism, and presently being destroyed by liberalism. Our world desperately needs to hear a clear conservative voice. Any continued confusion of conservative principles with the liberalism on our Left, or with the authoritarianism on our Right, can only do harm. The time has arrived when conservatives must speak in our own voice again. In doing so, we will discover that we can provide the political foundations that so many now seek, but have been unable to find.
In our own day, we recognize the clash between conservatism and liberalism in the following areas, among others (here described only very briefly, and so in overly simple terms): Liberal Empire. Because liberalism is thought to be a dictate of universal reason, liberals tend to believe that any country not already governed as a liberal democracy should be pressed—or even coerced—to adopt this form of government. Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that different societies are held together and kept at peace in different ways, so that the universal application of liberal doctrines often brings collapse and chaos, doing more harm than good. International Bodies. Similarly, liberals believe that, since liberal principles are universal, there is little harm done in reassigning the powers of government to international bodies. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that such international organizations possess no sound governing traditions and no loyalty to particular national populations that might restrain their spurious theorizing about universal rights. They therefore see such bodies as inevitably tending to arbitrariness and autocracy. Immigration. Liberals believe that, since liberal principles are accessible to all, there is nothing to be feared in large-scale immigration from countries with national and religious traditions very different from ours. Conservatives see successful large-scale immigration as possible only where the immigrants are strongly motivated to integrate and assisted in assimilating the national traditions of their new home country. In the absence of these conditions, the result will be chronic intercultural tension and violence. Law. Liberals regard the laws of a nation as emerging from the tension between positive law and the pronouncements of universal reason, as expressed by the courts. Conservatives reject the supposed universal reason of judges, which often amounts to little more than their succumbing to passing fashion. But conservatives also oppose an excessive regard for written documents, which leads, for example, to the liberal mythology of America as a “creedal nation” (or a “propositional nation”) created and defined solely by the products of abstract reason that are supposedly found in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Economy. Liberals regard the universal market economy, operating without regard to borders, as a dictate of universal reason and applicable equally to all nations. They therefore recognize no legitimate economic aims other than the creation of a “level field” on which all nations participate in accordance with universal, rational rules. Conservatives regard the market economy and free enterprise as indispensable for the advancement of the nation in its wealth and wellbeing. But they see economic arrangements as inevitably varying from one country to another, reflecting the particular historical experiences and innovations of each nation as it competes to gain advantage for its people. Education. Liberals believe that schools should teach students to recognize the Lockean goods of liberty and equality as the universal aims of political order, and to see America’s founding political documents as having largely achieved these aims. Conservatives believe education should focus on the particular character of the Anglo-American constitutional and religious tradition, with its roots in the Bible, and on the way in which this tradition has given rise to a unique family of nations with a distinctive political thought and practice that has influenced the world. Public Religion. Liberals believe that universal reason is the necessary and sufficient basis for just and moral government. This means that the religious traditions of the nation, which had earlier been the basis for a public understanding of justice and right, can be replaced in public discourse by universal reason itself. In its current form, liberalism asserts that all governments should embrace a Jeffersonian “wall separating church and state,” whose purpose is to banish the influence of religion from public life, relegating it to the private sphere. Conservatives hold that none of this is true. They see human reason as producing a constant profusion of ever-changing views concerning justice and morals—a fact that is evident today in the constant assertion of new and rapidly multiplying human rights. Conservatives hold that the only stable basis for national independence, justice, and public morals is a strong biblical tradition in government and public life. They reject the doctrine of separation of church and state, instead advocating an integration of religion into public life that also offers broad toleration of diverse religious views.
Hazony reviews the history of the conflict between nationalism and imperialism, from the Tower of Babel to the latest anti-Israeli U.N. resolution. The political concept of the independent national state, as an alternative to empire and tribalism, begins with the Hebrew Bible. Ancient Israel was a national state posed against empires in Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, and Rome. Hazony de­clares that the Israelite nation was not based on race but on a “shared understanding of history, language, and religion.” He cites Exodus, noting that some Egyptians joined the Hebrews in fleeing Pharaoh, and points out that other foreigners joined the Jewish people once they had accepted “Israel’s God, laws, and understanding of history.” In Hazony’s telling, after the fall of the Roman imperium, the ideal of a universal empire lived on in the papacy and in the German-led Holy Roman Empire. The emergence of Protestantism resurrected the Hebrew Bible’s concept of the national state. For example, Dutch Protestant rebels in their war with imperial Spain modeled themselves on ancient Israelis fighting for national freedom against the Egyptian and Babylonian empires. The Thirty Years’ War was not simply a religious conflict but a struggle that pitted nationalism against imperialism, with the states of France (Catholic), the Netherlands (Calvinist), and Sweden (Lutheran) fighting against the German-Spanish Hapsburg empire.  Hazony describes a new “Protestant construction” of the West inspired by the Hebrew Bible. It was based on two core principles: national self-determination and a “moral minimum” order, roughly corresponding to recognizing the Ten Commandments as natural law. This Protestant construction has been challenged by a “liberal construction” based on individual rights and a universal order. Beginning in the Enlightenment with Locke and Kant, but particularly since World War II, the liberal construction has largely replaced the Protestant construction among Western elites, though Hazony optimistically remarks that the ideas of the Protestant construction are still strong in the U.S. and Britain. Further, the liberal construction has proved to be illiberal, leading to the suppression of free speech, “public shaming” campaigns, and “heresy hunts.” Hazony laments that “Western democracies are rapidly becoming one big university campus.” Hazony asserts that the “neutral state is a myth.” While the national state has historically been successful, a purely “neutral” or “civic” state based only on formal law and abstract principles and without attachments to a particular culture, language, religion, tradition, history, or shared sacrifice is unable to inspire the necessary mutual loyalty and national cohesion required for a free society to survive. He identifies the United States, Britain, and France as national, as opposed to neutral or civic, states.  One of Hazony’s most powerful insights is his understanding of the role that hatred plays in the conflict between nationalists and globalists. One hears repeatedly that nationalism means hatred of the “other.” Hazony, however, successfully flips the argument. He notes that “anti-nationalist hate” is as great as or greater than the hatred emanating from nationalists. In fact, the forces supporting universalism hate the particular, especially when particularist resistance to globalist homogenization “proves itself resilient and enduring.” Thus, “liberal internationalism is not merely a positive agenda. . . . It is an imperialist ideology that incites against . . . nationalists, seeking their delegitimization wherever they appear” throughout the West. Nowhere is this clearer than in the intense antipathy such liberal internationalists feel towards Israel. (…) He concludes that since World War II, and particularly since the 1990s, in elite circles in the West, a Kantian post-national moral paradigm has replaced the old liberal-nationalist paradigm of a world of independent states in which the Zionist dream was born.  This new paradigm insists that national states should increasingly cede sovereignty to supranational institutions, especially in matters of war and peace. In the new paradigm, Israel’s use of force to defend itself is seen as morally illegitimate. The leadership of the European Union and American progressives, for the most part, adheres to the new post-national paradigm; hence, they constantly excoriate Israeli attempts at self-defense.  Hazony declares that “the European Union has caused severe damage to the principle that originally granted legitimacy to Israel as an independent national state: the principle of national freedom and self-determination.” (There is also a faction of Americans, Hazony writes, who favor a different, more muscular type of imperialist project: the establishment of a pax Americana in which America would serve as a contemporary Roman empire, providing peace and security for the entire world and policing the internal affairs of recalcitrant national states that are insufficiently liberal.)  For the EU and Western progressives, Hazony explains, the horror of Auschwitz was the result of atrocities committed by a national state, Germany, infused with a fanatical nationalism. But, as Hazony argues, Hitler’s genocide was inspired by a belief in Aryan racial superiority and imperialism. Hitler cared little for the German nation per se. For example, near the end of World War II, he told his confidant Albert Speer not to “worry” about the “German people”; they might as well perish, for “they had proven to be the weaker [nation] and the future belongs solely to the stronger eastern nation.” Not exactly the sentiments of a true nationalist. On the other hand, Hazony says, for Israelis, Auschwitz was the result of powerlessness: Jews did not have their own national state and the requisite military capability to protect themselves. (…) It is exactly this very human aspiration for national independence hailed by the liberal nationalists of yesteryear (e.g., Garibaldi, Kossuth, Herzl) that the new imperialists of 21st-century globalism (Merkel, Juncker, Soros) scorn. Hazony writes that other nations too have been subject to campaigns of vilification from European and transnational elites when they have ignored supranational authority and acted as independent national states. The United States, in particular, has been excoriated (since long before the Trump administration) for refusing to join the Interna­tional Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol and for deciding for itself when its national interest requires the use of force. Recently, globalist wrath “has been extended to Britain” because it returned “to a course of national independence and self-determination and to nations such as Czechia, Hungary, and Poland that insist on maintaining an immigration policy of their own that does not conform to the European Union’s theories concerning refugee resettlement. John Fonte
Aujourd’hui, on ne cesse de nous répéter que le nationalisme a provoqué les deux guerres mondiales, et on lui impute même la responsabilité de la Shoah. Mais cette lecture historique n’est pas satisfaisante. J’appelle «nationaliste» quelqu’un qui souhaite vivre dans un monde constitué de nations indépendantes. De sorte qu’à mes yeux, Hitler n’était pas le moins du monde nationaliste. Il était même tout le contraire: Hitler méprisait la vision nationaliste, et il appelle dans Mein Kampf à détruire les autres Etats-nations européens pour que les Allemands soient les maîtres du monde. Dès son origine, le nazisme est une entreprise impérialiste, pas nationaliste. Quant à la Première Guerre mondiale, le nationalisme est loin de l’avoir déclenchée à lui seul! Le nationalisme serbe a fourni un prétexte, mais en réalité c’est la visée impérialiste des grandes puissances européennes (l’Allemagne, la France, l’Angleterre) qui a transformé ce conflit régional en une guerre planétaire. Ainsi, le principal moteur des deux guerres mondiales était l’impérialisme, pas le nationalisme. (…) Le nationalisme est en effet en vogue en ce moment: c’est du jamais-vu depuis 1990, date à laquelle Margaret Thatcher a été renversée par son propre camp à cause de son hostilité à l’Union européenne. Depuis plusieurs décennies, les principaux partis politiques aux Etats-Unis et en Europe, de droite comme de gauche, ont souscrit à ce que l’on pourrait appeler «l’impérialisme libéral», c’est-à-dire l’idée selon laquelle le monde entier devrait être régi par une seule et même législation, imposée si besoin par la contrainte. Mais aujourd’hui, une génération plus tard, une demande de souveraineté nationale émerge et s’est exprimée avec force aux Etats-Unis, au Royaume-Uni, en Italie, en Europe de l’Est et ailleurs encore. Avec un peu de chance et beaucoup d’efforts, cet élan nationaliste peut aboutir à un nouvel ordre politique, fondé sur la cohabitation de nations indépendantes et souveraines. Mais nous devons aussi être lucides: les élites «impérialistes libérales» n’ont pas disparu, elles sont seulement affaiblies. Si, en face d’eux, le camp nationaliste ne parvient pas à faire ses preuves, elles ne tarderont pas à revenir dans le jeu. (…) Historiquement, le «nationalisme» décrit une vision du monde où le meilleur système de gouvernement serait la coexistence de nations indépendantes, et libres de tracer leur propre route comme elles l’entendent. On l’oppose à «l’impérialisme», qui cherche à apporter au monde la paix et la prospérité en unifiant l’humanité, autant que possible, sous un seul et même régime politique. Les dirigeants de l’Union européenne, de même que la plupart des élites américaines, croient dur comme fer en l’impérialisme. Ils pensent que la démocratie libérale est la seule forme admissible de gouvernement, et qu’il faut l’imposer progressivement au monde entier. C’est ce que l’on appelle souvent le «mondialisme», et c’est précisément ce que j’entends par «nouvel empire libéral». (…) En Europe, on se désolidarise du militarisme américain: les impérialistes allemands ou bruxellois préfèrent d’autres formes de coercition… mais leur objectif est le même. Regardez comment l’Allemagne cherche à imposer son programme économique à la Grèce ou à l’Italie, ou sa vision immigrationniste à la République tchèque, la Hongrie ou la Pologne. En Italie, le budget a même été rejeté par la Commission européenne! (…) Le conflit entre nationalisme et impérialisme est aussi vieux que l’Occident lui-même. La vision nationaliste est l’un des enseignements politiques fondamentaux de la Bible hébraïque: le Dieu d’Israël fut le premier qui donna à son peuple des frontières, et Moïse avertit les Hébreux qu’ils seraient punis s’ils tentaient de conquérir les terres de leurs voisins, car Yahvé a donné aussi aux autres nations leur territoire et leur liberté. Ainsi, la Bible propose le nationalisme comme alternative aux visées impérialistes des pharaons, mais aussi des Assyriens, des Perses ou, bien sûr, des Babyloniens. Et l’histoire du Moyen Âge ou de l’époque moderne montre que la plupart des grandes nations européennes – la France, l’Angleterre, les Pays-Bas… – se sont inspirées de l’exemple d’Israël. Mais le nationalisme de l’Ancien Testament ne fut pas tout de suite imité par l’Occident. La majeure partie de l’histoire occidentale est dominée par un modèle politique inverse: celui de l’impérialisme romain. C’est de là qu’est né le Saint Empire romain germanique, qui a toujours cherché à étendre sa domination, tout comme le califat musulman. Les Français aussi ont par moments été tentés par l’impérialisme et ont cherché à conquérir le monde: Napoléon, par exemple, était un fervent admirateur de l’Empire romain et n’avait pour seul but que d’imposer son modèle de gouvernement «éclairé» à tous les pays qu’il avait conquis. Ainsi a-t-il rédigé de nouvelles constitutions pour nombre d’entre eux: les Pays-Bas, l’Allemagne, l’Italie, l’Espagne… Son projet, en somme, était le même que celui de l’Union européenne aujourd’hui : réunir tous les peuples sous une seule et même législation. (…) [le modèle nationaliste] permet à chaque nation de décider ses propres lois en vertu de ses traditions particulières. Un tel modèle assure une vraie diversité politique, et permet à tous les pays de déployer leur génie à montrer que leurs institutions et leurs valeurs sont les meilleures. Un tel équilibre international ressemblerait à celui qui s’est établi en Europe après les traités de Westphalie signés en 1648, et qui ont permis l’existence d’une grande diversité de points de vue politiques, institutionnels et religieux. Ces traités ont donné aux nations européennes un dynamisme nouveau: grâce à cette diversité, les nations sont devenues autant de laboratoires d’idées dans lesquels ont été expérimentés, développés et éprouvés les théories philosophiques et les systèmes politiques que l’on associe aujourd’hui au monde occidental. À l’évidence, toutes ces expériences ne se valent pas et certaines n’ont bien sûr pas été de grands succès. Mais la réussite de l’une seule d’entre elles – la France, par exemple – suffit pour que les autres l’imitent et apprennent grâce à son exemple. Tandis que, par contraste, un gouvernement impérialiste comme celui de l’Union européenne tue toute forme de diversité dans l’œuf. Les élites bruxelloises sont persuadées de savoir déjà avec exactitude la façon dont le monde entier doit vivre. Il est pourtant manifeste que ce n’est pas le cas… (…) La diversité des points de vue, et, partant, chacun de ces désaccords, sont une conséquence nécessaire de la liberté humaine, qui fait que chaque nation a ses propres valeurs et ses propres intérêts. La seule manière d’éviter ces désaccords est de faire régner une absolue tyrannie – et c’est du reste ce dont l’Union européenne se rend peu à peu compte: seules les mesures coercitives permettent d’instaurer une relative uniformité entre les États membres. (…) Mais nous devons alors reconnaître, tout aussi humblement, que les mouvements universalistes ne sont pas exempts non plus d’une certaine inclination à la haine ou au sectarisme. Chacun des grands courants universels de l’histoire en a fait montre, qu’il s’agisse du christianisme, de l’islam ou du marxisme. En bâtissant leur empire, les universalistes ont souvent rejeté les particularismes nationaux qui se sont mis en travers de leur chemin et ont refusé d’accepter leur prétention à apporter à l’humanité entière la paix et la prospérité. Cette détestation du particulier, qui est une constante dans tous les grands universalismes, est flagrante aujourd’hui dès lors qu’un pays sort du rang: regardez le torrent de mépris et d’insultes qui s’est répandu contre les Britanniques qui ont opté pour le Brexit, contre Trump, contre Salvini, contre la Hongrie, l’Autriche et la Pologne, contre Israël… Les nouveaux universalistes vouent aux gémonies l’indépendance nationale. (…) un nationaliste ne prétend pas savoir ce qui est bon pour n’importe qui, n’importe où dans le monde. Il fait preuve d’une grande humilité, lui, au moins. N’est-ce pas incroyable de vouloir dicter à tous les pays qui ils doivent choisir pour ministre, quel budget ils doivent voter, et qui sera en droit de traverser leurs frontières? Face à cette arrogance vicieuse, je considère en effet le nationalisme comme une vertu. (…) le nationaliste est vertueux, car il limite sa propre arrogance et laisse les autres conduire leur vie à leur guise. (…) Si les différents gouvernements nationalistes aujourd’hui au pouvoir dans le monde parviennent à prouver leur capacité à diriger un pays de manière responsable, et sans engendrer de haine ou de tensions, alors ils viendront peut-être à bout de l’impérialisme libéral. Ils ont une chance de restaurer un ordre du monde fondé sur la liberté des nations. Il ne tient désormais qu’à eux de la saisir, et je ne peux prédire s’ils y parviendront: j’espère seulement qu’ils auront assez de sagesse et de talent pour cela. Yoram Hazony

Après l’école, Supermanl’humourla fête nationale, Thanksgiving, les droits civiques, les Harlem globetrotters et le panier à trois points, le soft power, l’Amérique, le génocide et même eux-mêmes  et sans parler des chansons de Noël et de la musique pop ou d’Hollywood, la littérature, les poupées Barbie… le look WASP, … la nation  !

Y a-t-il une élite intellectuelle trumpiste?
Alexis Carré

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – La tenue de la National Conservatism Conference réunissant des intellectuels conservateurs américains invite le politologue Alexis Carré à se demander s’il existe une élite intellectuelle représentative des idées de Donald Trump.

Alexis Carré est doctorant en philosophie politique à l’École normale supérieure. Il travaille sur les mutations de l’ordre libéral. Suivez-le sur Twitter et sur son site.


La victoire de Donald J. Trump ne fut pas exactement celle d’un intellectuel. Contrairement à celle de Ronald Reagan, elle n’a pas non plus été précédée par la création ou la mobilisation de think tanks et autres organismes de recherche qui structurent habituellement la discussion publique aux États-Unis, tout en servant d’écurie de formation pour les futurs cadres gouvernementaux. À bien des égards, ce que l’on pourrait appeler la classe intellectuelle conservatrice s’est trouvée à la traîne et même parfois à contre-courant de la dernière campagne. Le Weekly Standard, hebdomadaire néoconservateur fondé par Bill Kristol — l’une des voix de droite les plus violemment critiques de l’administration —, en a payé le prix en cessant il y a peu de paraître.

Une fois Trump élu, le pragmatisme a toutefois dominé l’attitude de cette galaxie d’institutions vis-à-vis de la Maison Blanche. Ne leur devant pas sa victoire ni son programme, le président a, quant à lui, su utiliser leurs ressources et leurs compétences quand elles lui étaient utiles. L’illustration la plus frappante de cette relation fut la place centrale qu’il donna aux recommandations de la Heritage Foundation (le plus grand think tank conservateur à Washington) et de la Federalist Society (une association influente rassemblant plus de 40 000 juristes conservateurs) pour la nomination des juges à la Cour Suprême (Neil Gorsuch et Brett Kavanaugh) et dans les degrés inférieurs du système judiciaire. Malgré un style de gouvernement indéniablement nouveau, Trump ne semblait donc pas avoir profondément affecté l’infrastructure institutionnelle d’où s’élaborent la majorité des politiques publiques aux États-Unis. Envisagé comme un phénomène personnel qui disparaîtrait avec lui, certains pouvaient encore penser qu’il ne laisserait avec son départ pas d’héritage profond sur les plans institutionnels et intellectuels. Une conférence comme il s’en organise pourtant des dizaines chaque année à Washington DC vient peut-être de changer la donne. Et si, de manière pour le moins inattendue, Trump s’avérait être depuis Reagan le président ayant eu le plus d’impact sur la fabrique des idées et des élites dans son pays?

Une force de frappe en devenir

Le chercheur israélien à l’origine de l’événement, Yoram Hazony, s’est fait connaître à l’automne dernier en publiant The Virtue of Nationalism [La vertu du nationalisme], un livre où il s’emploie à critiquer l’idéal post-national qui a dominé l’éducation politique des élites ces dernières décennies. En organisant ce rassemblement d’intellectuels, de journalistes et d’hommes politiques, il entend désormais jeter les bases d’un mouvement intellectuel, le «conservatisme national», dont il propagera les idées au travers de la Edmund Burke Foundation — créée en janvier en vue de préparer l’événement.

Le programme mélange des invités prestigieux (l’entrepreneur Peter Thiel, le présentateur de Fox News Tucker Carlson), des étoiles montantes (le jeune sénateur Josh Hawley et J. D. Vance, l’auteur du best-seller Hillbilly Elegy) et des figures établies (Rusty Reno de la revue First Things ou encore Christopher DeMuth, l’ancien responsable du think tank AEI). S’il est évident que de nombreuses divergences existent entre ces invités, notamment sur les questions de politique étrangère, ils s’accordent assez largement autour de certains points fondamentaux qui constituent à des degrés divers des changements d’orientation profonds par rapport au consensus conservateur antérieur.

La fin du consensus libéral et conservateur à droite 

Ce consensus, aussi connu sous le nom de «fusionnisme», reposait sur la compatibilité de la défense du marché et du libre-échange avec celle des valeurs familiales et religieuses. Libertariens et conservateurs pouvaient ainsi agir côte à côte afin de laisser d’un côté l’État hors de l’entreprise et de l’autre, hors de la famille — attitude résumée par la formule lapidaire de Reagan: «Le gouvernement n’est pas la solution à nos problèmes. Le gouvernement

est le problème.» Pour les tenants du «conservatisme national» le danger vient non plus principalement de l’État mais du secteur privé, et plus particulièrement des GAFA et de Wall Street. C’est également à l’État qu’ils s’en remettent pour préserver l’existence nationale de l’ingérence croissante des institutions supranationales. Étonnante dans le paysage politique américain, cette défense de l’État réaffirme la primauté du politique et avec lui du vecteur d’action collective qu’est la nation.

La question n’est plus de savoir si l’intervention de l’État est intrinsèquement mauvaise et la liberté du marché intrinsèquement bonne, mais de déterminer dans chaque cas laquelle des deux correspond à l’intérêt et à la volonté de la nation. Le critère permettant de juger une mesure politique n’est plus sa conformité à l’intérêt économique ou aux droits de l’homme mais sa capacité à protéger et renforcer la citoyenneté. Car les normes au fondement de l’État de droit, les principes économiques du capitalisme, n’ont de validité pratique qu’en raison des sentiments communs et des qualités partagées qui constituent les modes de vie des populations qui les adoptent.

En déconnectant l’individu de ses solidarités concrètes, une pratique aveugle du libéralisme a selon eux dépossédé les citoyens de ce mode de vie et de leur capacité d’action sur les plans individuels et collectifs. L’objectif du «conservatisme national» est de leur restituer ces deux choses. Or, des hommes que ne relie rien d’autre que le fait d’être porteurs des mêmes droits ne suffisent pas à faire une nation. Et c’est parce que l’existence de cette dernière ne peut plus être prise pour acquis que le danger qui pèse sur elle nécessite une action politique spécifique en rupture avec le consensus des libéraux et conservateurs traditionnels.

Vers une nouvelle élite?

Les réflexions sur le devenir des nations ne sont pas nouvelles, surtout en France, où des auteurs comme Pierre Manent ont depuis les années 90 mené une critique écoutée des conservateurs américains à l’égard du projet post-national. Ce qui est inédit, c’est qu’une action aussi structurée émerge en vue de former une nouvelle classe dirigeante sur le fondement de ces constats. Adversaires ou alliés de l’actuel président feraient bien de surveiller cette initiative. Si elle réalise son ambition la Edmund Burke Foundation pourrait parvenir à associer au changement immédiat impulsé par Donald Trump une éducation politique susceptible d’affecter sur le long terme la formation des élites américaines, ce à quoi son style de gouvernement et les techniques de communication qui le caractérisent ne sauraient parvenir à eux seuls.

Le sénateur Josh Hawley, âgé de 39 ans (ancien procureur général de l’état du Missouri), fait figure de symbole de cette classe politique en devenir: «Une nation républicaine requiert une économie républicaine […] Une économie fondée sur les échanges monétaires à Wall Street ne bénéficie en dernier ressort qu’à ceux qui possèdent déjà de l’argent. Une telle économie ne saurait soutenir une grande nation.» Hostile à l’inflation des diplômes universitaires et aux multinationales, favorable aux droits de douane, défenseur de «l’Amérique moyenne», il représente peut-être ce que pourrait devenir le «trumpisme» sans Trump.

Voir aussi:

Yoram Hazony : «Les nouveaux universalistes vouent aux gémonies l’indépendance nationale»
Paul Sugy
Le Figaro

21/12/2018

FIGAROVOX/GRAND ENTRETIEN – Le nationalisme est sur toutes les lèvres, et pourtant, affirme Yoram Hazony, ce concept n’a jamais été aussi mal compris. Le philosophe entend réhabiliter la «vertu du nationalisme», qu’il oppose à la «tentation impérialiste», et promouvoir la vision d’un monde fondé sur l’indépendance et la liberté des nations.

Yoram Hazony est spécialiste de la Bible et docteur en philosophie politique.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoram_Hazony

Il a fondé le Herzl Institute et enseigne la philosophie et la théologie à Jérusalem.

Ce penseur de la droite israélienne est également auteur de nombreux articles publiés dans les journaux américains les plus prestigieux, du New York Times au Wall Street Journal.

Presque inconnu en France, son livre The Virtue of Nationalism a suscité un vif débat aux Etats-Unis.

LE FIGARO MAGAZINE. – Le 11 novembre dernier, Emmanuel Macron déclarait aux chefs d’Etat du monde entier: «Le nationalisme est la trahison du patriotisme.» Qu’en pensez-vous?

Yoram HAZONY. –

Aujourd’hui, on ne cesse de nous répéter que le nationalisme a provoqué les deux guerres mondiales, et on lui impute même la responsabilité de la Shoah.

Mais cette lecture historique n’est pas satisfaisante.

J’appelle «nationaliste» quelqu’un qui souhaite vivre dans un monde constitué de nations indépendantes.

De sorte qu’à mes yeux, Hitler n’était pas le moins du monde nationaliste.

Il était même tout le contraire: Hitler méprisait la vision nationaliste, et il appelle dans Mein Kampf à détruire les autres Etats-nations européens pour que les Allemands soient les maîtres du monde.

Dès son origine, le nazisme est une entreprise impérialiste, pas nationaliste.

Quant à la Première Guerre mondiale, le nationalisme est loin de l’avoir déclenchée à lui seul!

Le nationalisme serbe a fourni un prétexte, mais en réalité c’est la visée impérialiste des grandes puissances européennes (l’Allemagne, la France, l’Angleterre) qui a transformé ce conflit régional en une guerre planétaire.

Ainsi, le principal moteur des deux guerres mondiales était l’impérialisme, pas le nationalisme.

Donald Trump, lui, avait déclaré il y a quelques semaines: «Je suis nationaliste.» Y a-t-il aujourd’hui un retour du nationalisme?

Le nationalisme est en effet en vogue en ce moment: c’est du jamais-vu depuis 1990, date à laquelle Margaret Thatcher a été renversée par son propre camp à cause de son hostilité à l’Union européenne.

Depuis plusieurs décennies, les principaux partis politiques aux Etats-Unis et en Europe, de droite comme de gauche, ont souscrit à ce que l’on pourrait appeler «l’impérialisme libéral», c’est-à-dire l’idée selon laquelle le monde entier devrait être régi par une seule et même législation, imposée si besoin par la contrainte.

Mais aujourd’hui, une génération plus tard, une demande de souveraineté nationale émerge et s’est exprimée avec force aux Etats-Unis, au Royaume-Uni, en Italie, en Europe de l’Est et ailleurs encore.

Avec un peu de chance et beaucoup d’efforts, cet élan nationaliste peut aboutir à un nouvel ordre politique, fondé sur la cohabitation de nations indépendantes et souveraines.

Mais nous devons aussi être lucides: les élites «impérialistes libérales» n’ont pas disparu, elles sont seulement affaiblies.

Si, en face d’eux, le camp nationaliste ne parvient pas à faire ses preuves, elles ne tarderont pas à revenir dans le jeu.

Quel est ce «nouvel empire libéral» dont vous parlez? Et qu’entendez-vous exactement par «impérialisme»?

Historiquement, le «nationalisme» décrit une vision du monde où le meilleur système de gouvernement serait la coexistence de nations indépendantes, et libres de tracer leur propre route comme elles l’entendent.

On l’oppose à «l’impérialisme», qui cherche à apporter au monde la paix et la prospérité en unifiant l’humanité, autant que possible, sous un seul et même régime politique.

Les dirigeants de l’Union européenne, de même que la plupart des élites américaines, croient dur comme fer en l’impérialisme.

Ils pensent que la démocratie libérale est la seule forme admissible de gouvernement, et qu’il faut l’imposer progressivement au monde entier.

C’est ce que l’on appelle souvent le «mondialisme», et c’est précisément ce que j’entends par «nouvel empire libéral».

Bien sûr, tous les «impérialistes libéraux» ne sont pas d’accord entre eux sur la stratégie à employer!

L’impérialisme américain a voulu imposer de force la démocratie dans un certain nombre de pays, comme en Yougoslavie, en Irak, en Libye ou en Afghanistan.

En Europe, on se désolidarise du militarisme américain: les impérialistes allemands ou bruxellois préfèrent d’autres formes de coercition… mais leur objectif est le même.

Regardez comment l’Allemagne cherche à imposer son programme économique à la Grèce ou à l’Italie, ou sa vision immigrationniste à la République tchèque, la Hongrie ou la Pologne.

En Italie, le budget a même été rejeté par la Commission européenne!

Est-ce que, selon vous, le nationalisme et l’impérialisme sont deux visions de l’ordre mondial qui s’affrontaient déjà dans la Bible?

Le conflit entre nationalisme et impérialisme est aussi vieux que l’Occident lui-même.

La vision nationaliste est l’un des enseignements politiques fondamentaux de la Bible hébraïque: le Dieu d’Israël fut le premier qui donna à son peuple des frontières, et Moïse avertit les Hébreux qu’ils seraient punis s’ils tentaient de conquérir les terres de leurs voisins, car Yahvé a donné aussi aux autres nations leur territoire et leur liberté.

Ainsi, la Bible propose le nationalisme comme alternative aux visées impérialistes des pharaons, mais aussi des Assyriens, des Perses ou, bien sûr, des Babyloniens.

Et l’histoire du Moyen Âge ou de l’époque moderne montre que la plupart des grandes nations européennes – la France, l’Angleterre, les Pays-Bas… – se sont inspirées de l’exemple d’Israël.

Mais le nationalisme de l’Ancien Testament ne fut pas tout de suite imité par l’Occident.

La majeure partie de l’histoire occidentale est dominée par un modèle politique inverse: celui de l’impérialisme romain.

C’est de là qu’est né le Saint Empire romain germanique, qui a toujours cherché à étendre sa domination, tout comme le califat musulman.

Les Français aussi ont par moments été tentés par l’impérialisme et ont cherché à conquérir le monde: Napoléon, par exemple, était un fervent admirateur de l’Empire romain et n’avait pour seul but que d’imposer son modèle de gouvernement «éclairé» à tous les pays qu’il avait conquis.

Ainsi a-t-il rédigé de nouvelles constitutions pour nombre d’entre eux: les Pays-Bas, l’Allemagne, l’Italie, l’Espagne…

Son projet, en somme, était le même que celui de l’Union européenne aujourd’hui : réunir tous les peuples sous une seule et même législation.

Pourquoi le modèle nationaliste est-il meilleur, selon vous?

Parce que ce modèle permet à chaque nation de décider ses propres lois en vertu de ses traditions particulières.

Un tel modèle assure une vraie diversité politique, et permet à tous les pays de déployer leur génie à montrer que leurs institutions et leurs valeurs sont les meilleures.

Un tel équilibre international ressemblerait à celui qui s’est établi en Europe après les traités de Westphalie signés en 1648, et qui ont permis l’existence d’une grande diversité de points de vue politiques, institutionnels et religieux.

Ces traités ont donné aux nations européennes un dynamisme nouveau: grâce à cette diversité, les nations sont devenues autant de laboratoires d’idées dans lesquels ont été expérimentés, développés et éprouvés les théories philosophiques et les systèmes politiques que l’on associe aujourd’hui au monde occidental.

À l’évidence, toutes ces expériences ne se valent pas et certaines n’ont bien sûr pas été de grands succès.

Mais la réussite de l’une seule d’entre elles – la France, par exemple – suffit pour que les autres l’imitent et apprennent grâce à son exemple.

Tandis que, par contraste, un gouvernement impérialiste comme celui de l’Union européenne tue toute forme de diversité dans l’œuf.

Les élites bruxelloises sont persuadées de savoir déjà avec exactitude la façon dont le monde entier doit vivre.

Il est pourtant manifeste que ce n’est pas le cas…

Mais ce «nouvel ordre international» n’a-t-il pas permis, malgré tout, un certain nombre de progrès en facilitant les échanges marchands ou en créant une justice pénale internationale, par exemple?

Peut-être, mais nous n’avons pas besoin d’un nouvel impérialisme pour permettre l’essor du commerce international ou pour traîner en justice les criminels.

Des nations indépendantes sont tout à fait capables de se coordonner entre elles.

Alors, certes, il y aura toujours quelques désaccords à surmonter, et il faudra pour cela un certain nombre de négociations.

Et je suis tout à fait capable de comprendre que d’aucuns soient tentés de se dire que, si on crée un gouvernement mondial, on s’épargne toutes ces frictions.

Mais c’est là une immense utopie.

La diversité des nations rend strictement impossible de convenir, universellement, d’une vision unique en matière de commerce et d’immigration, de justice, de religion, de guerre ou de paix.

La diversité des points de vue, et, partant, chacun de ces désaccords, sont une conséquence nécessaire de la liberté humaine, qui fait que chaque nation a ses propres valeurs et ses propres intérêts.

La seule manière d’éviter ces désaccords est de faire régner une absolue tyrannie – et c’est du reste ce dont l’Union européenne se rend peu à peu compte: seules les mesures coercitives permettent d’instaurer une relative uniformité entre les États membres.

Ne redoutez-vous pas la compétition accrue à laquelle se livreraient les nations dans un monde tel que vous le souhaitez? Au risque de renforcer le rejet ou la haine de ses voisins?

Dans mon livre, je consacre un chapitre entier à cette objection qui m’est souvent faite.

Il arrive parfois qu’à force de vouloir le meilleur pour les siens, on en vienne à haïr les autres, lorsque ceux-ci sont perçus comme des rivaux.

Mais nous devons alors reconnaître, tout aussi humblement, que les mouvements universalistes ne sont pas exempts non plus d’une certaine inclination à la haine ou au sectarisme.

Chacun des grands courants universels de l’histoire en a fait montre, qu’il s’agisse du christianisme, de l’islam ou du marxisme. En bâtissant leur empire, les universalistes ont souvent rejeté les particularismes nationaux qui se sont mis en travers de leur chemin et ont refusé d’accepter leur prétention à apporter à l’humanité entière la paix et la prospérité.

Cette détestation du particulier, qui est une constante dans tous les grands universalismes, est flagrante aujourd’hui dès lors qu’un pays sort du rang: regardez le torrent de mépris et d’insultes qui s’est répandu contre les Britanniques qui ont opté pour le Brexit, contre Trump, contre Salvini, contre la Hongrie, l’Autriche et la Pologne, contre Israël…

Les nouveaux universalistes vouent aux gémonies l’indépendance nationale.

En quoi le nationalisme est-il une «vertu»?

Dans le sens où un nationaliste ne prétend pas savoir ce qui est bon pour n’importe qui, n’importe où dans le monde.

Il fait preuve d’une grande humilité, lui, au moins.

N’est-ce pas incroyable de vouloir dicter à tous les pays qui ils doivent choisir pour ministre, quel budget ils doivent voter, et qui sera en droit de traverser leurs frontières?

Face à cette arrogance vicieuse, je considère en effet le nationalisme comme une vertu.

Le nationaliste, lui, dessine une frontière par terre et dit au reste du monde: «Au-delà de cette limite, je renonce à faire imposer ma volonté. Je laisse mes voisins libres d’être différents.»

Un universaliste répondra que c’est immoral, car c’est la marque d’une profonde indifférence à l’égard des autres.

Mais c’est en réalité tout l’inverse: le nationaliste est vertueux, car il limite sa propre arrogance et laisse les autres conduire leur vie à leur guise.

Que vous inspirent les difficultés qu’ont les Britanniques à mettre en œuvre le Brexit? N’est-il pas déjà trop tard pour revenir en arrière?

Non, il n’est pas trop tard.

Si les différents gouvernements nationalistes aujourd’hui au pouvoir dans le monde parviennent à prouver leur capacité à diriger un pays de manière responsable, et sans engendrer de haine ou de tensions, alors ils viendront peut-être à bout de l’impérialisme libéral.

Ils ont une chance de restaurer un ordre du monde fondé sur la liberté des nations.

Il ne tient désormais qu’à eux de la saisir, et je ne peux prédire s’ils y parviendront: j’espère seulement qu’ils auront assez de sagesse et de talent pour cela.

Voir également:

In Defense of Nations
John Fonte
National Review
September 13, 2018

The Virtue of Nationalism, by Yoram Hazony (Basic, 304 pp., $18.99)

If the great struggle of the 20th century was between Western liberal democracy and totalitarianism, the major fault line of the 21st century is within the democratic family, pitting those who believe nations should be self-governing and sovereign against powerful forces advancing “global governance” by supranational authorities.

In a new book that will become a classic, Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony identifies this conflict as one “between nationalism and imperialism,” which he describes as “two irreconcilably opposed ways of thinking about political order.” Further, “the debate between nationalism and imperialism is upon us.” This “fault line” at “the heart of Western public life is not going away,” and one must “choose.”

Hazony poses the question: What would the best political order for the world look like? A universal empire with global law? A collection of autonomous tribes? Or an order of independent national states? He chooses the last model over universalism (i.e., empire, including the soft “global governance” variety) and tribalism. He explains that, first, unlike the rule of tribes, the national state establishes internal security and order and reduces the threat of violence. Second, unlike empire, the scope of the national state is limited, because it is confined to exercising authority within its borders.

Third, it provides for what Bill Buckley’s Yale mentor Willmoore Kendall called the greatest right of all, national freedom, the collective right of a free people to rule themselves. Fourth, national freedom permits nations to develop their own institutions “that may be tested through painstaking trial and error over centuries.” Thus, what might be called the sovereigntist option tends toward a realistic empirical style of governance as opposed to a utopian rationalist outlook. Hazony contrasts Margaret Thatcher’s empirical approach to economics, for example, with an overly rationalistic perspective that often leads to unworkable utopianism (e.g., socialist economics in practice).

Fifth, Hazony, quoting John Stuart Mill, argues that, historically, individual rights have been protected best in national states, particularly in England and America. He maintains that in a “universal political order . . . in which a single standard of right is held to be in force everywhere, tolerance for diverse political and religious standpoints must necessarily decline.” This is exactly what has happened as transnational progressive elites, including organs of the EU, the U.N., and, significantly, the American Bar Association, have promoted a “global rule of law” that is intolerant of longstanding religious and patriotic beliefs.

Hazony boldly declares that we should resist all efforts to establish supranational global institutions: “We should not let a hairbreadth of our freedom be given over to foreign bodies under any name whatsoever, or to foreign systems of law that are not determined by our own nations.” 

Hazony reviews the history of the conflict between nationalism and imperialism, from the Tower of Babel to the latest anti-Israeli U.N. resolution. The political concept of the independent national state, as an alternative to empire and tribalism, begins with the Hebrew Bible. Ancient Israel was a national state posed against empires in Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, and Rome. Hazony de­clares that the Israelite nation was not based on race but on a “shared understanding of history, language, and religion.” He cites Exodus, noting that some Egyptians joined the Hebrews in fleeing Pharaoh, and points out that other foreigners joined the Jewish people once they had accepted “Israel’s God, laws, and understanding of history.”

In Hazony’s telling, after the fall of the Roman imperium, the ideal of a universal empire lived on in the papacy and in the German-led Holy Roman Empire. The emergence of Protestantism resurrected the Hebrew Bible’s concept of the national state. For example, Dutch Protestant rebels in their war with imperial Spain modeled themselves on ancient Israelis fighting for national freedom against the Egyptian and Babylonian empires. The Thirty Years’ War was not simply a religious conflict but a struggle that pitted nationalism against imperialism, with the states of France (Catholic), the Netherlands (Calvinist), and Sweden (Lutheran) fighting against the German-Spanish Hapsburg empire.

Hazony describes a new “Protestant construction” of the West inspired by the Hebrew Bible. It was based on two core principles: national self-determination and a “moral minimum” order, roughly corresponding to recognizing the Ten Commandments as natural law. This Protestant construction has been challenged by a “liberal construction” based on individual rights and a universal order. Beginning in the Enlightenment with Locke and Kant, but particularly since World War II, the liberal construction has largely replaced the Protestant construction among Western elites, though Hazony optimistically remarks that the ideas of the Protestant construction are still strong in the U.S. and Britain. Further, the liberal construction has proved to be illiberal, leading to the suppression of free speech, “public shaming” campaigns, and “heresy hunts.” Hazony laments that “Western democracies are rapidly becoming one big university campus.”

Hazony asserts that the “neutral state is a myth.” While the national state has historically been successful, a purely “neutral” or “civic” state based only on formal law and abstract principles and without attachments to a particular culture, language, religion, tradition, history, or shared sacrifice is unable to inspire the necessary mutual loyalty and national cohesion required for a free society to survive. He identifies the United States, Britain, and France as national, as opposed to neutral or civic, states. 

One of Hazony’s most powerful insights is his understanding of the role that hatred plays in the conflict between nationalists and globalists. One hears repeatedly that nationalism means hatred of the “other.” Hazony, however, successfully flips the argument. He notes that “anti-nationalist hate” is as great as or greater than the hatred emanating from nationalists. In fact, the forces supporting universalism hate the particular, especially when particularist resistance to globalist homogenization “proves itself resilient and enduring.”

Thus, “liberal internationalism is not merely a positive agenda. . . . It is an imperialist ideology that incites against . . . nationalists, seeking their delegitimization wherever they appear” throughout the West. Nowhere is this clearer than in the intense antipathy such liberal internationalists feel towards Israel.

As a proud nationalist, Hazony de­clares, “My first concern is for Israel.” He examines the hostility directed at the Jewish state by “many” in Europe and, increasingly, in America. He concludes that since World War II, and particularly since the 1990s, in elite circles in the West, a Kantian post-national moral paradigm has replaced the old liberal-nationalist paradigm of a world of independent states in which the Zionist dream was born. 

This new paradigm insists that national states should increasingly cede sovereignty to supranational institutions, especially in matters of war and peace. In the new paradigm, Israel’s use of force to defend itself is seen as morally illegitimate. The leadership of the European Union and American progressives, for the most part, adheres to the new post-national paradigm; hence, they constantly excoriate Israeli attempts at self-defense.

Hazony declares that “the European Union has caused severe damage to the principle that originally granted legitimacy to Israel as an independent national state: the principle of national freedom and self-determination.” (There is also a faction of Americans, Hazony writes, who favor a different, more muscular type of imperialist project: the establishment of a pax Americana in which America would serve as a contemporary Roman empire, providing peace and security for the entire world and policing the internal affairs of recalcitrant national states that are insufficiently liberal.)

For the EU and Western progressives, Hazony explains, the horror of Auschwitz was the result of atrocities committed by a national state, Germany, infused with a fanatical nationalism. But, as Hazony argues, Hitler’s genocide was inspired by a belief in Aryan racial superiority and imperialism. Hitler cared little for the German nation per se. For example, near the end of World War II, he told his confidant Albert Speer not to “worry” about the “German people”; they might as well perish, for “they had proven to be the weaker [nation] and the future belongs solely to the stronger eastern nation.” Not exactly the sentiments of a true nationalist.

On the other hand, Hazony says, for Israelis, Auschwitz was the result of powerlessness: Jews did not have their own national state and the requisite military capability to protect themselves. Hazony quotes David Ben-Gurion’s famous World War II address in November 1942. He noted that there was “no Jewish army” and declared: Give us the right to fight and die as Jews. . . . We demand the right . . . to a homeland and independence.” It is exactly this very human aspiration for national independence hailed by the liberal nationalists of yesteryear (e.g., Garibaldi, Kossuth, Herzl) that the new imperialists of 21st-century globalism (Merkel, Juncker, Soros) scorn. 

Hazony writes that other nations too have been subject to campaigns of vilification from European and transnational elites when they have ignored supranational authority and acted as independent national states. The United States, in particular, has been excoriated (since long before the Trump administration) for refusing to join the Interna­tional Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol and for deciding for itself when its national interest requires the use of force. Recently, globalist wrath “has been extended to Britain” because it returned “to a course of national independence and self-determination and to nations such as Czechia, Hungary, and Poland that insist on maintaining an immigration policy of their own that does not conform to the European Union’s theories concerning refugee resettlement.”

A serious scholar, Hazony is a consistent thinker and is intellectually honest to a fault. As a result, many potential allies in the political-ideological struggle against transnational progressivism might well object to his critical portrayal of, for example, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Konrad Adenauer, Charles Krauthammer, the British Empire, a pax Americana, the papacy, and medieval Christianity, to say nothing of the World Trade Organi­zation and President George H. W. Bush’s “new world order.”

My only serious substantive difference with Hazony concerns his interpretation of John Locke and natural rights, a subject directly related to the American Founding and, therefore, to the crux of American nationalism. Hazony presents Locke as overly focused on individual autonomy and detached from the national state and the culture necessary to sustain it. However, in his famous Second Treatise, Locke explicitly favors the nationalist over the imperialist perspective, lauding “an entire, free, independent society, to be governed by its own laws” and decrying “the delivery . . . of the people into the subjection of a foreign power, either by the prince or the legislature.”

Locke in his other writing also emphasizes the centrality of morality, religion, and family, as well as individual rights, thereby supporting Hazony’s “moral minimum” for the well-being of any independent commonwealth. In any case, it should be stressed that the philosophical basis of the American Founding is much more than the theories of John Locke (as Hazony agrees). Leo Strauss, Harry Jaffa, and, recently, Thomas G. West in his brilliant and definitive work The Political Theory of the American Founding have argued that from the beginning, the American regime has contained pre-Enlighten­ment, pre-liberal, non-rational elements that are essential to its vitality and success.

Further, the law of nature and the natural rights envisioned by the American Founders were held to be accompanied by an equal set of duties and virtues commensurate with those rights, including the republican virtue of patriotism. Neither Locke nor, certainly, the Founders were utopian, but instead they balanced a belief in reason with an empirical outlook and a realistic view of human nature.

Caveats aside, Yoram Hazony has written a magnificent affirmation of democratic nationalism and sovereignty. The book is a tour de force that has the potential to significantly shape the debate between the supporters of supranational globalism and those of national-state democracy. The former will attempt to marginalize Hazony. Crucial will be the response of the Western (particularly American) center-right intelligentsia. Will mainstream conservatives embrace Hazony’s core thesis (with requisite qualifications) and recognize that they have been given a powerful intellectual and moral argument, or will this opportunity be squandered in sectarian squabbling over exactly what Locke meant and how to redefine “liberalism” in the 21st-century global world? 

Voir de plus:

What Is Conservatism?

May 20, 2017

The year 2016 marked a dramatic change of political course for the English-speaking world, with Britain voting for independence from Europe and the United States electing a president promising a revived American nationalism. Critics see both events as representing a dangerous turn toward “illiberalism” and deplore the apparent departure from “liberal principles” or “liberal democracy,” themes that surfaced repeatedly in conservative publications over the past year. Perhaps the most eloquent among the many spokesmen for this view has been William Kristol, who, in a series of essays in the Weekly Standard, has called for a new movement to arise “in defense of liberal democracy.” In his eyes, the historic task of American conservatism is “to preserve and strengthen American liberal democracy,” and what is needed now is “a new conservatism based on old conservative—and liberal—principles.” Meanwhile, the conservative flagship Commentary published a cover story by the Wall Street Journal’s Sohrab Ahmari entitled “Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis,” seeking to raise the alarm about the dangers to liberalism posed by Brexit, Trump, and other phenomena.

These and similar examples demonstrate once again that more than a few prominent conservatives in America and Britain today consider themselves to be not only conservatives but also liberals at the same time. Or, to get to the heart of the matter, they see conservatism as a branch or species of liberalism—to their thinking, the “classical” and most authentic form of liberalism. According to this view, the foundations of conservatism are to be found, in significant measure, in the thought of the great liberal icon John Locke and his followers. It is to this tradition, they say, that we must turn for the political institutions—including the separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism—that secure the freedoms of religion, speech, and the press; the right of private property; and due process under law. In other words, if we want limited government and, ultimately, the American Constitution, then there is only one way to go: Lockean liberalism provides the theoretical basis for the ordered freedom that conservatives strive for, and liberal democracy is the only vehicle for it.

Many of those who have been most outspoken on this point have been our long-time friends. We admire and are grateful for their tireless efforts on behalf of conservative causes, including some in which we have worked together as partners. But we see this confusion of conservatism with liberalism as historically and philosophically misguided. Anglo-American conservatism is a distinct political tradition—one that predates Locke by centuries. Its advocates fought for and successfully established most of the freedoms that are now exclusively associated with Lockean liberalism, although they did so on the basis of tenets very different from Locke’s. Indeed, when Locke published his Two Treatises of Government in 1689, offering the public a sweeping new rationale for the traditional freedoms already known to Englishmen, most defenders of these freedoms were justly appalled. They saw in this new doctrine not a friend to liberty but a product of intellectual folly that would ultimately bring down the entire edifice of freedom. Thus, liberalism and conservatism have been opposed political positions in political theory since the day liberal theorizing first set foot in England.

Today’s confusion of conservative political thought with liberalism is in a way understandable, however. In the great twentieth-century battles against totalitarianism, conservatives and liberals were allies: They fought together, along with the Communists, against Nazism. After 1945, conservatives and liberals remained allies in the war against Communism. Over these many decades of joint struggle, what had for centuries been a distinction of vital importance was treated as if it were not terribly important, and in fact, it was largely forgotten.

But since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, these circumstances have changed. The challenges facing the Anglo-American tradition are now coming from other directions entirely. Radical Islam, to name one such challenge, is a menace that liberals, for reasons internal to their own view of the political world, find difficult to regard as a threat and especially difficult to oppose in an effective manner. But even more important is the challenge arising from liberalism itself. It is now evident that liberal principles contribute little or nothing to those institutions that were for centuries the bedrock of the Anglo-American political order: nationalism, religious tradition, the Bible as a source of political principles and wisdom, and the family. Indeed, as liberalism has emerged victorious from the battles of the last century, the logic of its doctrines has increasingly turned liberals against all of these conservative institutions. On both of these fronts, the conservative and liberal principles of the Anglo-American tradition are now painfully at cross-purposes. The twentieth-century alliance between conservatism and liberalism is proving increasingly difficult to maintain.

Among the effects of the long alliance between conservatism and liberalism has been a tendency of political figures, journalists, and academics to slip back and forth between conservative terms and ideas and liberal ones as if they were interchangeable. And until recently, there seemed to be no great harm in this. Now, however, it is becoming obvious that this lack of clarity is crippling our ability to think about a host of issues, from immigration and foreign wars to the content of the Constitution and the place of religion in education and public life. In these and other areas, America, Britain, and their allies can neither recognize the difficulties ahead nor develop appropriate responses to them without a strong and intellectually capable conservatism. But to have a strong and intellectually capable conservatism, we must be able to see clearly what the Anglo-American conservative tradition is and what it is about. And to do this, we have to disentangle it from its old opponent—liberalism.

In this essay, we seek to clarify the historical and philosophical differences between the two major Anglo-American political traditions, conservative and liberal. We will begin by looking at some important events in the emergence of Anglo-American conservatism and its conflict with liberalism. After that, we will use these historical events as a basis for drawing some political distinctions that will be highly relevant for our own political context.

Fortescue and the Birth of Anglo-American Conservatism

The emergence of the Anglo-American conservative tradition can be identified with the words and deeds of a series of towering political and intellectual figures, among whom we can include individuals such as Sir John Fortescue, Richard Hooker, Sir Edward Coke, John Selden, Sir Matthew Hale, Sir William Temple, Jonathan Swift, Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke, John Dickinson, and Alexander Hamilton. Men such as George Washington, John Adams, and John Marshall, often hastily included among the liberals, would also have placed themselves in this conservative tradition rather than with its opponents, whom they knew all too well.

Living in very different periods, these individuals nevertheless shared common ideas and principles and saw themselves as part of a common tradition of English, and later Anglo-American, constitutionalism. A politically traditionalist outlook of this kind was regarded as the mainstream in both England and America up until the French Revolution and only came to be called “conservative” during the nineteenth century, as it lost ground and became one of two rival camps.

Because the name conservative dates from this time of decline, it is often wrongly asserted that those who continued defending the Anglo-American tradition after the revolution—men such as Burke and Hamilton—were the “first conservatives.” But one has to view history in a peculiar and distorted way to see these men as having founded the tradition they were defending. In fact, neither the principles they upheld nor the arguments with which they defended them were new. They read them in the books of earlier thinkers and political figures such as Fortescue, Coke, Selden, and Hale. These men, the intellectual and political forefathers of Burke and Hamilton, are conservatives in just the same way that John Locke is a liberal. The term was not yet in use, but the ideas that it designates are easily recognizable in their writings, their speeches, and their deeds.

Where does the tradition of Anglo-American conservatism begin? Any date one chooses will be somewhat arbitrary. Even the earliest surviving English legal compilations, dating from the twelfth century, are arguably recognizable as forerunners of this conservative tradition. But we will not make the case for this claim here. Instead, we will begin on what seems to us indisputable ground—with the writings of Sir John Fortescue, which date from the late fifteenth century. Fortescue (c. 1394–1479) occupies a position in the Anglo-American conservative tradition somewhat analogous to Locke in the later liberal tradition: although not the founder of this tradition, he is nonetheless its first truly outstanding expositor and the model in light of which the entire subsequent tradition developed.1 It is here that any conservative should begin his or her education in the Anglo-American tradition.

For eight years during the Wars of the Roses, beginning in 1463, John Fortescue lived in France with the court of the young prince Edward of Lancaster, the “Red Rose” claimant to the English throne, who had been driven into exile by the “White Rose” king Edward IV of York. Fortescue had been a member of Parliament and for nearly two decades chief justice of the King’s Bench, the English Supreme Court. In the exiled court, he became the nominal chancellor of England. While in exile, Fortescue composed several treatises on the constitution and laws of England, foremost among them a small book entitled Praise of the Laws of England.

Although Praise of the Laws of England is often mischaracterized as a work on law, anyone picking it up will immediately recognize it for what it is: an early great work of English political philosophy. Far from being a sterile rehearsal of existing law, it is written as a dialogue between the chancellor of England and the young prince he is educating, so that he may wisely rule his realm. It offers a theorist’s explanation of the reasons for regarding the English constitution as the best model of political government known to man. (Those who have been taught that it was Montesquieu who first argued that, of all constitutions, the English constitution is the one best suited for human freedom will be dismayed to find that this argument is presented more clearly by Fortescue nearly three hundred years earlier, in a work with which Montesquieu was probably familiar.)

According to Fortescue, the English constitution provides for what he calls “political and royal government,” by which he means that English kings do not rule by their own authority alone (i.e., “royal government”), but together with the representatives of the nation in Parliament and in the courts (i.e., “political government”). In other words, the powers of the English king are limited by the traditional laws of the English nation, in the same way—as Fortescue emphasizes—that the powers of the Jewish king in the Mosaic constitution in Deuteronomy are limited by the traditional laws of the Israelite nation. This is in contrast with the Holy Roman Empire of Fortescue’s day, which was supposedly governed by Roman law, and therefore by the maxim that “what pleases the prince has the force of law,” and in contrast with the kings of France, who governed absolutely. Among other things, the English law is described as providing for the people’s representatives, rather than the king, to determine the laws of the realm and to approve requests from the king for taxes.

In addition to this discussion of what later tradition would call the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, Fortescue also devotes extended discussion to the guarantee of due process under law, which he explores in his discussion of the superior protections afforded to the individual under the English system of trial by jury. Crucially, Fortescue consistently connects the character of a nation’s laws and their protection of private property to economic prosperity, arguing that limited government bolsters such prosperity, while an absolute government leads the people to destitution and ruin. In another of his writings, The Difference between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy (also known as The Governance of England, c. 1471), he starkly contrasts the well-fed and healthy English population living under their limited government with the French, whose government was constantly confiscating their property and quartering armies in their towns—at the residents’ expense—by unilateral order of the king. The result of such arbitrary taxation and quartering is, as Fortescue writes, that the French people have been “so impoverished and destroyed that they may hardly live. . . . Verily, they live in the most extreme poverty and misery, and yet they dwell in one of the most fertile parts of the world.”

Like later conservative tradition, Fortescue does not believe that either scripture or human reason can provide a universal law suitable for all nations. We do find him drawing frequently on the Mosaic constitution and the biblical “Four Books of Kings” (1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings) to assist in understanding the political order and the English constitution. Nevertheless, Fortescue emphasizes that the laws of each realm reflect the historic experience and character of each nation, just as the English common law is in accord with England’s historic experience. Thus, for example, Fortescue argues that a nation that is self-disciplined and accustomed to obeying the laws voluntarily rather than by coercion is one that can productively participate in the way it is governed. This, Fortescue proposes, was true of the people of England, while the French, who were of undisciplined character, could be governed only by the harsh and arbitrary rule of absolute royal government. On the other hand, Fortescue also insisted, again in keeping with biblical precedent and later conservative tradition, that this kind of national character was not set in stone, and that such traits could be gradually improved or worsened over time.

Fortescue was eventually permitted to return to England, but his loyalty to the defeated House of Lancaster meant that he never returned to power. He was to play the part of chancellor of England only in his philosophical dialogue, Praise of the Laws of England. His book, however, went on to become one of the most influential works of political thought in history. Fortescue wrote in the decades before the Reformation, and as a firm Catholic. But every page of his work breathes the spirit of English nationalism—the belief that through long centuries of experience, and thanks to a powerful ongoing identification with Hebrew Scripture, the English had succeeded in creating a form of government more conducive to human freedom and flourishing than any other known to man. First printed around 1545, Fortescue’s Praise of the Laws of England spoke in a resounding voice to that period of heightened nationalist sentiment in which English traditions, now inextricably identified with Protestantism, were pitted against the threat of invasion by Spanish-Catholic forces aligned with the Holy Roman Emperor. This environment quickly established Fortescue as England’s first great political theorist, paving the way for him to be read by centuries of law students in both England and America and by educated persons wherever the broader Anglo-American conservative tradition struck root.

The Greatest Conservative: John Selden

We turn now to the decisive chapter in the formation of modern Anglo-American conservatism: the great seventeenth-century battle between defenders of the traditional English constitution against political absolutism on one side, and against the first advocates of a Lockean universalist rationalism on the other. This chapter in the story is dominated by the figure of John Selden (1584–1654), probably the greatest theorist of Anglo-American conservatism.

Under the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, Fortescue’s account of the virtues of England’s traditional institutions had become an integral part of the self-understanding of a politically independent English nation. But in 1603, Elizabeth died childless and was succeeded by her distant relative, the king of Scotland, James Stuart. The Stuart kings had little patience for English theories of “political and royal rule.” In fact, James, himself a thinker of some ability, had four years earlier penned a political treatise of his own, in which he explained that kings rule by divine right and the laws of the realm are, as the title of his book suggested, a Basilikon Doron (Greek for “Royal Gift”). In other words, the laws are the king’s freely given gift, which he can choose to make or revoke as he pleases. James was too prudent a man to openly press for his absolutist theories among his English subjects, and he insisted that he meant to respect their traditional constitution. But the English, who had bought thousands of copies of the king’s book when he ascended to their throne, were never fully convinced. Indeed, the policies of James and, later, his son Charles I constantly rekindled suspicions that the Stuarts’ aim was a creeping authoritarianism that would eventually leave England as bereft of freedom as France.

When this question finally came to a head, most of the members of the English Parliament and common lawyers proved willing to risk their careers, their freedom, and even their lives in the defense of Fortescue’s “political and royal rule.” Among these were eminent names such as Sir John Eliot and the chief justice of the King’s Bench, Sir Edward Coke. But in the generation that bore the full brunt of the new absolutist ideas, it was John Selden who stood above all others. The most important common lawyer of his generation, he was also a formidable political philosopher and polymath who knew more than twenty languages. Selden became a prominent leader in Parliament, where he joined the older Coke in a series of clashes with the king. In this period, Parliament denied the king’s right to imprison Englishmen without showing cause, to impose taxes and forced loans without the approval of Parliament, to quarter soldiers in private homes, and to wield martial law in order to circumvent the laws of the land.

In 1628, Selden played a leading role in drafting and passing an act of Parliament called the Petition of Right, which sought to restore and safeguard “the divers rights and liberties of the subjects” that had been known under the traditional English constitution. Among other things, it asserted that “your subjects have inherited this freedom, that they should not be compelled to contribute to any tax . . . not set by common consent in Parliament”; that “no freeman may be taken or imprisoned or be disseized of his freehold or liberties, or his free customs . . . but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land”; and that no man “should be put out of his land or tenements, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited nor put to death without being brought to answer by due process of law.”

In the Petition of Right, then, we find the famous principle of “no taxation without representation,” as well as versions of the rights enumerated in the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments of the American Bill of Rights—all declared to be ancient constitutional English freedoms and unanimously approved by Parliament, before Locke was even born. Although not mentioned in the Petition explicitly, freedom of speech had likewise been reaffirmed by Coke as “an ancient custom of Parliament” in the 1590s and was the subject of the so-called Protestation of 1621 that landed Coke, then seventy years old, in the Tower of London for nine months.

In other words, Coke, Eliot, and Selden risked everything to defend the same liberties that we ourselves hold dear in the face of an increasingly authoritarian regime. (In fact, John Eliot was soon to die in the king’s prison.) But they did not do so in the name of liberal doctrines of universal reason, natural rights, or “self-evident” truths. These they explicitly rejected because they were conservatives, not liberals. Let’s try to understand this.

Selden saw himself as an heir to Fortescue and, in fact, was involved in republishing the Praise for the Laws of England in 1616. His own much more extensive theoretical defense of English national traditions appeared in the form of short historical treatises on English law, as well as in a series of massive works (begun while Selden was imprisoned on ill-defined sedition charges for his activities in the 1628–29 Parliament) examining political theory and law in conversation with classical rabbinic Judaism. The most famous of these was his monumental Natural and National Law (1640). In these works, Selden sought to defend conservative traditions, including the English one, not only against the absolutist doctrines of the Stuarts but also against the claims of a universalist rationalism, according to which men could simply consult their own reason, which was the same for everyone, to determine the best constitution for mankind. This rationalist view had begun to collect adherents in England among followers of the great Dutch political theorist Hugo Grotius, whose On the Law of War and Peace (1625) suggested that it might be possible to do away with the traditional constitutions of nations by relying only on the rationality of the individual.

Then as now, conservatives could not understand how such a reliance on alleged universal reason could be remotely workable, and Selden’s Natural and National Law includes an extended attack on such theories in its first pages. There Selden argues that, everywhere in history, “unrestricted use of pure and simple reason” has led to conclusions that are “intrinsically inconsistent and dissimilar among men.” If we were to create government on the basis of pure reason alone, this would not only lead to the eventual dissolution of government but to widespread confusion, dissention, and perpetual instability as one government is changed for another that appears more reasonable at a given moment. Indeed, following Fortescue, Selden rejects the idea that a universally applicable system of rights is even possible. As he writes in an earlier work, what “may be most convenient or just in one state may be as unjust and inconvenient in another, and yet both excellently as well framed as governed.” With regard to those who believe that their reasoning has produced the universal truths that should be evident to all men, he shrewdly warns that

custom quite often wears the mask of nature, and we are taken in [by this] to the point that the practices adopted by nations, based solely on custom, frequently come to seem like natural and universal laws of mankind.

Selden responds to the claims of universal reason by arguing for a position that can be called historical empiricism. On this view, our reasoning in political and legal matters should be based upon inherited national tradition. This permits the statesman or jurist to overcome the small stock of observation and experience that individuals are able to accumulate during their own lifetimes (“that kind of ignorant infancy, which our short lives alone allow us”) and to take advantage of “the many ages of former experience and observation,” which permit us to “accumulate years to us, as if we had lived even from the beginning of time.” In other words, by consulting the accumulated experience of the past, we overcome the inherent weakness of individual judgement, bringing to bear the many lifetimes of observation by our forebears, who wrestled with similar questions under diverse conditions.

This is not to say that Selden is willing to accept the prescription of the past blindly. He pours scorn on those who embrace errors originating in the distant past, which, he says, have often been accepted as true by entire communities and “adopted without protest, and loaded onto the shoulders of posterity like so much baggage.” Recalling the biblical Jeremiah’s insistence on an empirical study of the paths of old (Jer. 6:16), Selden argues that the correct method is that “all roads must be carefully examined. We must ask about the ancient paths, and only what is truly the best may be chosen.” But for Selden, the instrument for such examination and selection is not the wild guesswork of individual speculation concerning various hypothetical possibilities. In the life of a nation, the inherited tradition of legal opinions and legislation preserves a multiplicity of perspectives from different times and circumstances, as well as the consequences for the nation when the law has been interpreted one way or another. Looking back upon these varied and changing positions within the tradition, and considering their real-life results, one can distinguish the true precepts of the law from the false turns that have been taken in the past. As Selden explains:

The way to find out the Truth is by others’ mistakings: For if I [wish] to go to such [and such] a place, and [some]one had gone before me on the right-hand [side], and he was out, [while] another had gone on the left-hand, and he was out, this would direct me to keep the middle way that peradventure would bring me to the place I desired to go.

Selden thus turns, much as the Hebrew Bible does, to a form of pragmatism to explain what is meant when statesmen and jurists speak of truth. The laws develop through a process of trial and error over generations, as we come to understand how peace and prosperity (“what is truly best,” “the place I desired to go”) arise from one turn rather than another.

Selden recognizes that, in making these selections from the traditions of the past, we tacitly rely upon a higher criterion for selection, a natural law established by God, which prescribes “what is truly best” for mankind in the most elementary terms. In his Natural and National Law, Selden explains that this natural law has been discovered over long generations since the biblical times and has come down to us in various versions. Of these, the most reliable is that of the Talmud, which describes the seven laws of the children of Noah prohibiting murder, theft, sexual perversity, cruelty to beasts, idolatry and defaming God, and requiring courts of law to enforce justice. The experience of thousands of years has taught us that these laws frame the peace and prosperity that is the end of all nations, and that they are the unseen root from which the diverse laws of all the nations ultimately derive.

Nonetheless, Selden emphasizes that no nation can govern itself by directly appealing to such fundamental law, because “diverse nations, as diverse men, have their diverse collections and inferences, and so make their diverse laws to grow to what they are, out of one and the same root.” Each nation thus builds its own unique effort to implement the natural law according to an understanding based on its own unique experience and conditions. It is thus wise to respect the different laws found among nations, both those that appear right to us and those that appear mistaken, for different perspectives may each have something to contribute to our pursuit of the truth. (Selden’s treatment of the plurality of human knowledge is cited by Milton as a basis for his defense of freedom of speech in Areopagitica.)

Selden thus offers us a picture of a philosophical parliamentarian or jurist. He must constantly maintain the strength and stability of the inherited national edifice as a whole—but also recognize the need to make repairs and improvements where these are needed. In doing so, he seeks to gradually approach, by trial and error, the best that is possible for each nation.

Selden’s view of the underlying principles of what was to become the Anglo-American traditional constitution is perhaps the most balanced and sophisticated ever written. But neither his intellectual powers nor his personal bravery, nor that of his colleagues in Parliament, were enough to save the day. Stuart absolutism eventually pressed England toward civil war and, finally, to a Puritan military dictatorship that not only executed the king but destroyed Parliament and the constitution as well. Selden did not live to see the constitution restored. The regicide regime subsequently offered England several brand-new constitutions, none of which proved workable, and within eleven years it had collapsed.

In 1660, two eminent disciples of Selden, Edward Hyde (afterward Earl of Clarendon) and Sir Matthew Hale, played a leading role in restoring the constitution and the line of Stuart kings. When the Catholic James II succeeded to the throne in 1685, fear of a relapse into papism and even of a renewed attempt to establish absolutism moved the rival political factions of the country to unite in inviting the next Protestants in line to the throne. The king’s daughter Mary and her husband, Prince William of Orange, the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, crossed the channel to save Protestant England and its constitution. Parliament, having confirmed the willingness of the new joint monarchs to protect the English from “all other attempts upon their religion, rights and liberties,” in 1689 established the new king and queen on the throne and ratified England’s famous Bill of Rights. This new document reasserted the ancient rights invoked in the earlier Petition of Right, among other things affirming the right of Protestant subjects to “have arms for their defense” and the right of “freedom of speech and debates” in Parliament, and that “excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”—the basis for the First, Second, and Eighth Amendments of the American Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech was quickly extended to the wider public, with the termination of English press licensing laws a few years later.

The restoration of a Protestant monarch and the adoption of the Bill of Rights were undertaken by a Parliament united around Seldenian principles. What came to be called the “Glorious Revolution” was glorious precisely because it reaffirmed the traditional English constitution and protected the English nation from renewed attacks on “their religion, rights and liberties.” Such attacks came from absolutists like Sir Robert Filmer on the one hand, whose Patriarcha (published posthumously, 1680) advocated authoritarian government as the only legitimate one, and by radicals like John Locke on the other. Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1689) responded to the crisis by arguing for the right of the people to dissolve the traditional constitution and reestablish it according to universal reason.

The Challenge from Locke and Liberalism

Over the course of the seventeenth century, English conservatism was formed into a coherent and unmistakable political philosophy utterly opposed both to the absolutism of the Stuarts, Hobbes, and Filmer (what would later be called “the Right”), as well as to liberal theories of universal reason advanced first by Grotius and then by Locke (“the Left”). The centrist conservative view was to remain the mainstream understanding of the English constitution for a century and a half, defended by leading Whig intellectuals in works from William Atwood’s Fundamental Constitution of the English Government (1690) to Josiah Tucker’s A Treatise of Civil Government (1781), which strongly opposed both absolutism and Lockean theories of universal rights. This is the view upon which men like Blackstone, Burke, Washington, and Hamilton were educated. Not only in England but in British America, lawyers were trained in the common law by studying Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England (1628–44) and Hale’s History of the Common Law of England (1713). In both, the law of the land was understood to be the traditional English constitution and common law, amended as needed for local purposes.

Because Locke is today recognized as the decisive figure in the liberal tradition, it is worth looking more carefully at why his political theory was so troubling for conservatives. We have described the Anglo-American conservative tradition as subscribing to a historical empiricism, which proposes that political knowledge is gained by examining the long history of the customary laws of a given nation and the consequences when these laws have been altered in one direction or another. Conservatives understand that a jurist must exercise reason and judgment, of course. But this reasoning is about how best to adapt traditional law to present circumstances, making such changes as are needed for the betterment of the state and of the public, while preserving as much as possible the overall frame of the law. To this we have opposed a standpoint that can be called rationalist. Rationalists have a different view of the role of reason in political thought, and in fact a different understanding of what reason itself is. Rather than arguing from the historical experience of nations, they set out by asserting general axioms that they believe to be true of all human beings, and that they suppose will be accepted by all human beings examining them with their native rational abilities. From these they deduce the appropriate constitution or laws for all men.

Locke is known philosophically as an empiricist. But his reputation in this regard is based largely on his Essay concerning Human Understanding (1689), which is an influential exercise in empirical psychology. His Second Treatise of Government is not, however, a similar effort to bring an empirical standpoint to the theory of the state. Instead, it begins with a series of axioms that are without any evident connection to what can be known from the historical and empirical study of the state. Among other things, Locke asserts that, (1) prior to the establishment of government, men exist in a “state of nature,” in which (2) “all men are naturally in a state of perfect freedom,” as well as in (3) a “state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another.” Moreover, (4) this state of nature “has a law of nature to govern it”; and (5) this law of nature is, as it happens, nothing other than human “reason” itself, which “teaches all mankind, who will but consult it.” It is this universal reason, the same among all mankind, that leads them to (6) terminate the state of nature, “agreeing together mutually to enter into . . . one body politic” by an act of free consent. From these six axioms, Locke then proceeds to deduce the proper character of the political order for all nations on earth.

Three important things should be noticed about this set of axioms. The first is that the elements of Locke’s political theory are not known from experience. The “perfect freedom” and “perfect equality” that define the state of nature are ideal forms whose relationship with empirical reality is entirely unclear. Nor can the identity of natural law with reason, or the assertion that the law dictated by reason “teaches all mankind,” or the establishment of the state by means of purely consensual social contract, be known empirically. All of these things are stipulated as when setting out a mathematical system.

The second thing to notice is that there is no reason to think that any of Locke’s axioms are in fact true. Faced with this mass of unverifiable assertions, empiricist political theorists such as Hume, Smith, and Burke rejected all of Locke’s axioms and sought to rebuild political philosophy on the basis of things that can be known from history and from an examination of actual human societies and governments.

Third, Locke’s theory not only dispenses with the historical and empirical basis for the state, it also implies that such inquiries are, if not entirely unnecessary, then of secondary importance. If there exists a form of reason that is accessible to “all mankind, who will but consult it,” and that reveals to all the universal laws of nature governing the political realm, then there will be little need for the historically and empirically grounded reasoning of men such as Fortescue, Coke, and Selden. All men, if they will just gather together and consult with their own reason, can design a government that will be better than anything that “the many ages of experience and observation” produced in England. On this view, the Anglo-American conservative tradition—far from having brought into being the freest and best constitution ever known to mankind—is in fact shot through with unwarranted prejudice and an obstacle to a better life for all. Locke’s theory thus pronounces, in other words, the end of Anglo-American conservatism, and the end of the traditional constitution that conservatives still held to be among the most precious things on earth.

While Locke’s rationalist theories made limited headway in England, they were all the rage in France. Rousseau’s On the Social Contract (1762) went where others had feared to tread, embracing Locke’s system of axioms for correct political thought and calling upon mankind to consent only to the one legitimate constitution dictated by reason. Within thirty years, Rousseau, Voltaire, and the other French imitators of Locke’s rationalist politics received what they had demanded in the form of the French Revolution. The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was followed by the Reign of Terror for those who would not listen to reason. Napoleon’s imperialist liberalism rapidly followed, bringing universal reason and the “rights of man” to the whole of continental Europe by force of arms, at a cost of millions of lives.2

In 1790, a year after the beginning of the French Revolution, the Anglo-Irish thinker and Whig parliamentarian Edmund Burke composed his famous defense of the English constitutional tradition against the liberal doctrines of universal reason and universal rights, entitled Reflections on the Revolution in France. In one passage, Burke asserted that

Selden, and the other profoundly learned men, who drew this petition of right, were as well acquainted, at least, with all the general theories concerning the “rights of men” [as any defenders of the revolution in France]. . . . But, for reasons worthy of that practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary title to all which can be dear to the man and the citizen, to that vague speculative right, which exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild, litigious spirit.

In this passage, Burke correctly emphasizes that Selden and the other great conservative figures of his day had been quite familiar with the “general theories concerning the ‘rights of men’” that had now been used to overthrow the state in France. He then goes on to endorse Selden’s argument that universal rights, since they are based only on reason rather than “positive, recorded, hereditary title,” can be said to give everyone a claim to absolutely anything. Adopting a political theory based on such universal rights has one obvious meaning: that the “sure inheritance” of one’s nation will immediately be “scrambled for and torn to pieces” by “every wild litigious spirit” who knows how to use universal rights to make ever new demands.

Burke’s argument is frequently quoted today by conservatives who assume that his target was Rousseau and his followers in France. But Burke’s attack was not primarily aimed at Rousseau, who had few enthusiasts in Britain or America at the time. The actual target of his attack was contemporary followers of Grotius and Locke—individuals such as Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, Charles James Fox, Charles Grey, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson. Price, who was the explicit subject of Burke’s attack in the first pages of Reflections on the Revolution in France, had opened his Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty (1776) with the assertion that “the principles on which I have argued form the foundation of every state as far as it is free; and are the same with those taught by Mr. Locke.” And much the same could be said of the others, all of whom followed Locke in claiming that the only true foundation for political and constitutional thought was precisely in those “general theories concerning the rights of men” that Burke believed would bring turmoil and death to one country after another.

The carnage taking place in France triggered a furious debate in England. It pitted supporters of the conservatism of Coke and Selden (both Whigs and Tories) against admirers of Locke’s universal rights theories (the so-called New Whigs). The conservatives insisted that these theories would uproot every traditional political and religious institution in England, just as they were doing in France. It is against the backdrop of this debate that Burke reportedly stated in Parliament that, of all the books ever written, the Second Treatise was “one of the worst.”

 Liberalism and Conservatism in America

Burke’s conservative defense of the traditional English constitution enjoyed a large measure of success in Britain, where it was continued after his death by figures such as Canning, Wellington, and Disraeli. That this is so is obvious from the fact that institutions such as the monarchy, the House of Lords, and the established Church of England, not to mention the common law itself, were able to withstand the gale winds of universal reason and universal rights, and to this day have their staunch supporters.

But what of America? Was the American revolution an upheaval based on Lockean universal reason and universal rights? To hear many conservatives talk today, one would think this were so, and that there never were any conservatives in the American mainstream, only liberals of different shades. The reality, however, was rather different. When the American English, as Burke called them, rebelled against the British monarch, there were already two distinct political theories expressed among the rebels, and the opposition between these two camps only grew with time.

First, there were those who admired the English constitution that they had inherited and studied. Believing they had been deprived of their rights under the English constitution, their aim was to regain these rights. Identifying themselves with the tradition of Coke and Selden, they hoped to achieve a victory against royal absolutism comparable to what their English forefathers had achieved in the Petition of Right and Bill of Rights. To individuals of this type, the word revolution still had its older meaning, invoking something that “revolves” and would, through their efforts, return to its rightful place—in effect, a restoration. Alexander Hamilton was probably the best-known exponent of this kind of conservative politics, telling the assembled delegates to the constitutional convention of 1787, for example, that “I believe the British government forms the best model the world ever produced.” Or, as John Dickinson told the convention: “Experience must be our only guide. Reason may mislead us. It was not reason that discovered the singular and admirable mechanism of the English constitution…. Accidents probably produced these discoveries, and experience has given a sanction to them.” And it is evident that they were quietly supported behind the scenes by other adherents of this view, among them the president of the convention, General George Washington.

Second, there were true revolutionaries, liberal followers of Locke such as Jefferson, who detested England and believed—just as the French followers of Rousseau believed—that the dictates of universal reason made the true rights of man evident to all. For them, the traditional English constitution was not the source of their freedoms but rather something to be swept away before the rights dictated by universal reason. And indeed, during the French Revolution, Jefferson and his supporters embraced it as a purer version of what the Americans had started. As he wrote in a notorious letter in 1793 justifying the revolution in France: “The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest. . . . [R]ather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated.”

The tension between these conservative and liberal camps finds rather dramatic expression in America’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Jefferson in 1776, is famous for resorting, in its preamble, to the Lockean doctrine of universal rights as “self-evident” before the light of reason. Similarly, the Articles of Confederation, negotiated the following year as the constitution of the new United States of America, embody a radical break with the traditional English constitution. These Articles asserted the existence of thirteen independent states, at the same time establishing a weak representative assembly over them without even the power of taxation, and requiring assent by nine of thirteen states to enact policy. The Articles likewise made no attempt at all to balance the powers of this assembly, effectively an executive, with separate legislative or judicial branches of government.

The Articles of Confederation came close to destroying the United States. After a decade of disorder in both foreign and economic affairs, the Articles were replaced by the Constitution, drafted at a convention initiated by Hamilton and James Madison, and presided over by a watchful Washington, while Jefferson was away in France. Anyone comparing the Constitution that emerged with the earlier Articles of Confederation immediately recognizes that what took place at this convention was a reprise of the Glorious Revolution of 1689. Despite being adapted to the American context, the document that the convention produced proposed a restoration of the fundamental forms of the English constitution: a strong president, designated by an electoral college (in place of the hereditary monarchy); the president balanced in strikingly English fashion by a powerful bicameral legislature with the power of taxation and legislation; the division of the legislature between a quasi-aristocratic, appointed Senate and a popularly elected House; and an independent judiciary. Even the American Bill of Rights of 1789 is modeled upon the Petition of Right and the English Bill of Rights, largely elaborating the same rights that had been described by Coke and Selden and their followers, and breathing not a word anywhere about universal reason or universal rights.

The American Constitution did depart from the traditional English constitution, however, adapting it to local conditions on certain key points. The Americans, who had no nobility and no tradition of hereditary office, declined to institute these now. Moreover, the Constitution of 1787 allowed slavery, which was forbidden in England—a wretched innovation for which America would pay a price the framers could not have imagined in their wildest nightmares.

Another departure—or apparent departure—was the lack of a provision for a national church, enshrined in the First Amendment in the form of a prohibition on congressional legislation “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The English constitutional tradition, of course, gave a central role to the Protestant religion, which was held to be indispensable and inextricably tied to English identity (although not incompatible with a broad measure of toleration). But the British state, in certain respects federative, permitted separate, officially established national churches in Scotland and Ireland. This British acceptance of a diversity of established churches is partially echoed in the American Constitution, which permitted the respective states to support their own established churches, or to require that public offices in the state be held by Protestants or by Christians, well into the nineteenth century. When these facts are taken into account, the First Amendment appears less an attempt to put an end to established religion than a provision for keeping the peace among the states by delegating forms of religious establishment to the state level.

As early as 1802, however, Jefferson, now president, announced  that the First Amendment’s rejection of a national church in fact should be interpreted as an “act of the whole American people . . . building a wall of separation between church and state.” This characterization of the American Constitution as endorsing a “separation of church and state” was surely overwrought, and more compatible with French liberalism—which regarded public religion as abhorrent to reason—than with the actual place of state religion among “the whole American people” at the time. Yet on this point, Jefferson has emerged victorious. In the years that followed, his “wall of separation between church and state” interpretation was increasingly considered to be an integral part of the American Constitution, even if one that had not been included in the actual text.

Lockean liberalism grew increasingly dominant in America after Jefferson’s election. Hamilton’s death in a duel in 1804, at the age of 47, was an especially heavy blow that left American conservatism without its most able spokesman. Nevertheless, the tradition of Selden and Burke was taken up by Americans of the next generation, including two of the country’s most prominent jurists, New York chancellor James Kent (1763–1847) and Supreme Court justice Joseph Story (1779–1845). Story’s influence was especially significant. Although appointed to the Supreme Court by Jefferson in the hope of undermining Chief Justice John Marshall, Story’s opinions almost immediately displayed the opposite inclination, and continued to do so throughout his thirty-four-year tenure on the court. Perhaps Story’s greatest contribution to the American conservative tradition is his famous Commentaries on the Constitution (3 vols., 1833), which were dedicated to Marshall and went on to be the most important and influential interpretation of the American constitutional tradition in the nineteenth century. These were overtly conservative in spirit, citing Burke with approval and repeatedly criticizing not only Locke’s theories but Jefferson himself. Among other things, Story forcefully rejected Jefferson’s claim that the American founding had been based on universal rights determined by reason, emphasizing that it was the rights of the English traditional law that Americans had always recognized and continued to recognize. As he wrote:

[This] has been the uniform doctrine in America ever since the settlement of the colonies. The universal principle (and the practice has conformed to it) has been, that the common law is our birthright and inheritance, and that our ancestors brought hither with them upon their emigration all of it, which was applicable to their situation. The whole structure of our present jurisprudence stands upon the original foundations of the common law.

Regarding the American Constitution’s deviation from English tradition in the matter of a national religion, Story’s view was appropriately balanced. On the one hand, he confirmed “the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience” as an integral part of the nation’s constitutional heritage. At the same time, he asserted the traditional Anglo-American conservative view that “the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well-being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice.” For this reason, he was confident that the ongoing circumstances of his day, in which some of the states continued to “support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion,” as being “without the slightest suspicion that it was against the principles of public law or republican liberty.” Story thus recognized no wall of separation between the government and religion at the state level as being either required by the American constitution or desirable.

As for the breach in conservative principles that had opened up with the barring of an establishment of religion at the national level, Story wrote with prescient concern:

It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.

Principles of the Conservative Tradition

As we have seen, the period between John Selden and Edmund Burke gave rise to two highly distinct and conflicting Anglo-American political traditions, conservative and liberal. Both were opposed to royal absolutism and devoted to freedom. But they were bitterly divided on theoretical grounds, as well as on a wide range of policy matters. Indeed, many of the principal issues that divided these two traditions continue to divide liberals and conservatives today.

What is the substance of the Anglo-American conservative political tradition? We can summarize the principles of conservatism as they appeared in the writings and deeds of the early architects of this tradition as follows:

(1) Historical Empiricism. The authority of government derives from constitutional traditions known, through the long historical experience of a given nation, to offer stability, well-being, and freedom. These traditions are refined through trial and error over many centuries, with repairs and improvements being introduced where necessary, while maintaining the integrity of the inherited national edifice as a whole. Such empiricism entails a skeptical standpoint with regard to the divine right of the rulers, the universal rights of man, or any other abstract, universal systems. Written documents express and consolidate the constitutional traditions of the nation, but they can neither capture nor define this political tradition in its entirety.

(2) Nationalism. The diversity of national experiences means that different nations will have different constitutional and religious traditions. The Anglo-American tradition harkens back to principles of a free and just national state, charting its own course without foreign interference, whose origin is in the Bible. These include a conception of the nation as arising out of diverse tribes, its unity anchored in common traditional law and religion. Such nationalism is not based on race, embracing new members who declare that “your people is my people, and your God is my God” (Ruth 1:16).

(3) Religion. The state upholds and honors the biblical God and religious practices common to the nation. These are the centerpiece of the national heritage and indispensable for justice and public morals. At the same time, the state offers wide toleration to religious and social views that do not endanger the integrity and well-being of the nation as a whole.

(4) Limited Executive Power. The powers of the king (or president) are limited by the laws of the nation, which he neither determines nor adjudicates. The powers of the king (or president) are limited by the representatives of the people, whose advice and consent he must obtain both respecting the laws and taxation.

(5) Individual Freedoms. The security of the individual’s life and property is mandated by God as the basis for a society that is both peaceful and prosperous, and is to be protected against arbitrary actions of the state. The ability of the nation to seek truth and conduct sound policy depends on freedom of speech and debate. These and other fundamental rights and liberties are guaranteed by law, and may be infringed upon only by due process of law.

These principles can serve as a useful summary of the conservative political tradition as it existed long before Locke and long before liberalism, serving as the basis for the restoration of the English constitution in 1689, and for the restoration that was the ratification of the American Constitution of 1787. Moreover, we see them as principles that we can affirm today, and which can serve as a sound basis for political conservatism in Britain, America, and other countries in our time.

Conservatism versus Liberalism in Current Affairs

How do these conservative principles conflict with those of liberalism? We understand the crucial differences between ourselves and our liberal friends in the following way:

Liberalism is a political doctrine based on the assumption that reason is everywhere the same and accessible, in principle, to all individuals; and that one need only consult reason to arrive at the one form of government that is everywhere the best, for all mankind. In its current form, liberalism asserts that this one best form of government is “liberal democracy.” This is a term popularized in the 1920s to describe a type kind of government that borrows certain principles from the earlier Anglo-American conservative tradition, including those limiting executive power and guaranteeing individual freedoms (Principles 4 and 5 above). But liberalism regards these principles as stand-alone entities, detachable from the broader Anglo-American tradition in which they arose. Liberals thus tend to have few, if any, qualms about discarding the national and religious foundations of Anglo-American government (Principles 2 and 3), regarding these as unnecessary, if not simply contrary to universal reason.

With Selden, we believe that, in their campaign for universal “liberal democracy,” liberals have confused certain historical-empirical principles of the traditional Anglo-American constitution, painstakingly developed and inculcated over centuries (Principle 1), for universal truths that are equally accessible to all human beings, regardless of historical or cultural circumstances. This means that, like all rationalists, they are engaged in applying local truths, which may hold good under certain conditions, to quite different situations and circumstances, where they often go badly wrong. For conservatives, these failures—for example, the repeated collapse of liberal constitutions in places such as Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, and Iraq, among many others—suggest that the principles in question have been overextended and should be regarded as true only within a narrower range of conditions. Liberals, on the other hand, explain such failures as a result of “poor implementation,” leaving liberal democracy as a universal truth that remains untouched by experience and unassailable, no matter what the circumstances.

The liberal assertion that Principles 4 and 5 are universal truths that are readily recognized by all human beings has had far-reaching consequences even in the United States and Britain. The fact is that what is now called “liberal democracy” refers not to the traditional Anglo-American constitution but to a rationalist reconstruction of it that has been entirely detached from the Protestant religion and the Anglo-American nationalist tradition.  Far from being a time-tested form of government, this liberal-democratic ideal is something new to both America and Britain, dating only from the mid-twentieth century. The claim that liberal-democratic regimes of this kind can be maintained for long without the conservative principles they have blithely discarded is a hypothesis now being tested for the first time. Those who believe that a favorable outcome of this experiment is assured draw this conclusion not from historical or empirical evidence, for we have none. Rather, their confidence derives from the closed Lockean-rationalist system that holds them captive, preventing them from being able to anticipate any of the other quite possible outcomes before us.

These pronounced differences between conservatives and liberals do not, of course, remain at the rarified level of political theory. They quickly lead to disagreements over proposed policy, expressed in somewhat different ways from one generation to the next. In our own day, we recognize the clash between conservatism and liberalism in the following areas, among others (here described only very briefly, and so in overly simple terms):

Liberal Empire. Because liberalism is thought to be a dictate of universal reason, liberals tend to believe that any country not already governed as a liberal democracy should be pressed—or even coerced—to adopt this form of government. Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that different societies are held together and kept at peace in different ways, so that the universal application of liberal doctrines often brings collapse and chaos, doing more harm than good.

International Bodies. Similarly, liberals believe that, since liberal principles are universal, there is little harm done in reassigning the powers of government to international bodies. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that such international organizations possess no sound governing traditions and no loyalty to particular national populations that might restrain their spurious theorizing about universal rights. They therefore see such bodies as inevitably tending to arbitrariness and autocracy.

Immigration. Liberals believe that, since liberal principles are accessible to all, there is nothing to be feared in large-scale immigration from countries with national and religious traditions very different from ours. Conservatives see successful large-scale immigration as possible only where the immigrants are strongly motivated to integrate and assisted in assimilating the national traditions of their new home country. In the absence of these conditions, the result will be chronic intercultural tension and violence.

Law. Liberals regard the laws of a nation as emerging from the tension between positive law and the pronouncements of universal reason, as expressed by the courts. Conservatives reject the supposed universal reason of judges, which often amounts to little more than their succumbing to passing fashion. But conservatives also oppose an excessive regard for written documents, which leads, for example, to the liberal mythology of America as a “creedal nation” (or a “propositional nation”) created and defined solely by the products of abstract reason that are supposedly found in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Economy. Liberals regard the universal market economy, operating without regard to borders, as a dictate of universal reason and applicable equally to all nations. They therefore recognize no legitimate economic aims other than the creation of a “level field” on which all nations participate in accordance with universal, rational rules. Conservatives regard the market economy and free enterprise as indispensable for the advancement of the nation in its wealth and wellbeing. But they see economic arrangements as inevitably varying from one country to another, reflecting the particular historical experiences and innovations of each nation as it competes to gain advantage for its people.

Education. Liberals believe that schools should teach students to recognize the Lockean goods of liberty and equality as the universal aims of political order, and to see America’s founding political documents as having largely achieved these aims. Conservatives believe education should focus on the particular character of the Anglo-American constitutional and religious tradition, with its roots in the Bible, and on the way in which this tradition has given rise to a unique family of nations with a distinctive political thought and practice that has influenced the world.

Public Religion. Liberals believe that universal reason is the necessary and sufficient basis for just and moral government. This means that the religious traditions of the nation, which had earlier been the basis for a public understanding of justice and right, can be replaced in public discourse by universal reason itself. In its current form, liberalism asserts that all governments should embrace a Jeffersonian “wall separating church and state,” whose purpose is to banish the influence of religion from public life, relegating it to the private sphere. Conservatives hold that none of this is true. They see human reason as producing a constant profusion of ever-changing views concerning justice and morals—a fact that is evident today in the constant assertion of new and rapidly multiplying human rights. Conservatives hold that the only stable basis for national independence, justice, and public morals is a strong biblical tradition in government and public life. They reject the doctrine of separation of church and state, instead advocating an integration of religion into public life that also offers broad toleration of diverse religious views.

The Restoration of Conservatism?

Burke and Hamilton belonged to a generation that was still educated in the significance of the Anglo-American tradition as a whole. Only a few decades later, this had begun to change, and by the end of the nineteenth century, conservative views were increasingly in the minority and defensive both in Britain and America. But conservatism was really only broken in a decisive way by Franklin Roosevelt in America in 1932, and by Labour in Britain in 1945. At this point, socialism displaced liberalism as the worldview of the parties of the “Left,” driving some liberals to join with the last vestiges of the conservative tradition in the parties of the “Right.” In this environment, new leaders and movements did arise and succeed from time to time in raising the banner of Anglo-American conservatism once more. But these conservatives were living on a shattered political and philosophical landscape, having lost much of the chain of transmission that had connected earlier conservatives to their forefathers. Thus their roots remained shallow, and their victories, however impressive, brought about no long-term conservative restoration.

The most significant of these conservative revivals was, of course, the one that reached its peak in the 1980s under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan. Thatcher and Reagan were genuine and instinctive conservatives, displaying traditional Anglo-American conservative attachments to nation and religion, as well as to limited government and individual freedom. They also recognized and gave voice to the profound “special relationship” that binds Britain and America together. Coming to power at a time of deep crisis in the struggle against Communism, their renewed conservatism succeeded in winning the Cold War and freeing foreign nations from oppression, in addition to liberating their own economies, which had long been shackled by socialism. In both countries, these triumphs shifted political discourse rightward for a generation.

Yet the Reagan-Thatcher moment, for all its success, failed to touch the depths of the political culture in America and Britain. Confronted by a university system devoted almost exclusively to socialist and liberal theorizing, their movement at no point commanded the resources needed to revive Anglo-American conservatism as a genuine force in fundamental arenas such as jurisprudence, political theory, history, philosophy, and education—disciplines without which a true restoration was impossible. Throughout the conservative revival of the 1980s, academic training in government and political theory, for instance, continued to maintain its almost complete boycott of conservative thinkers such as Fortescue, Coke, Selden, and Hale, just as it continued its boycott of the Bible as a source of English and American political principles. Similarly, academic jurisprudence remained a subject that is taught as a contest among abstract liberal theories. Education of this kind meant that a degree from a prestigious university all but guaranteed one’s ignorance of the Anglo-American conservative tradition, but only a handful of conservative intellectual figures, most visibly Russell Kirk and Irving Kristol, seem to have been alert to the seriousness of this problem. On the whole, the conservative revival of those years remained resolutely focused on the pressing policy issues of the day, leaving liberalism virtually unchallenged as the worldview that conservatives were taught at university or when they picked up a book on the history of ideas.

This is why conservative discourse today is so often just a pastiche of liberal themes and principles, with the occasional reference to Burke or Hamilton thrown in as a rhetorical ornament. We have not made the effort necessary to understand the intellectual and political heritage for which these great Anglo-American conservatives stood their ground, to know what it was and what it was about. As a consequence, conservatives remain uprooted from the wisdom of past generations and speak so unpersuasively when they talk of passing the tradition to future generations. For one cannot pass on what one does not have.

There may have been genuine advantages to soft-pedaling differences between conservatives and liberals until the 1980s, when all the strength that could be mustered had to be directed toward defeating Communism abroad and socialism at home. But we are no longer living in the 1980s. Those battles were won, and today we face new dangers. The most important among these is the inability of countries such as America and Britain, having been stripped of the nationalist and religious traditions that held them together for centuries, to sustain themselves while a universalist liberalism continues, year after year, to break down these historic foundations of their strength. Under such conditions of internal disintegration, there is a palpable danger that liberal rationalism, having established itself in a monopoly position in the state, will drive a broad public that cannot accept its regimented view of the world into the hands of genuinely authoritarian movements.

Liberals of various persuasions have, in their own way, sought to warn us about this, from Fareed Zakaria’s “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy” in Foreign Affairs (1997) to the Economist’s “Illiberalism: Playing with Fear” (2016) and Commentary’s “Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis,” mentioned earlier. These and many other publications have made intensive use of the term illiberal as an epithet to describe those who have strayed from the path of Lockean liberalism. In so doing, they divide the political universe into two: there are liberals—those decent persons who are willing to exercise reason in the universally accepted manner and come to the appropriate liberal conclusions; and there are those others—the “illiberals,” who, out of ignorance, resentment, or some atavistic hatred, will not get with the program. When things are divided up this way, the latter group ends up including everyone from Brexiteers, Trump supporters, Evangelical Christians, and Orthodox Jews to dictators, Iranian ayatollahs, and Nazis. Once things are framed in this way, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that everyone in that second group is in some degree a threat that must be combated.

We conservatives, however, have our own preferred division of the political universe: one in which Anglo-American conservatism appears as a distinct political category that is obviously neither authoritarian nor liberal. With the rest of the Anglo-American conservative tradition, we uphold the principles of limited government and individual liberties. But we also see clearly (again, in keeping with our conservative tradition) that the only forces that give the state its internal coherence and stability, holding limited government in place while staving off authoritarianism, are our nationalist and religious traditions. These nationalist and religious principles are not liberal. They are prior to liberalism, in conflict with liberalism, and presently being destroyed by liberalism.

Our world desperately needs to hear a clear conservative voice. Any continued confusion of conservative principles with the liberalism on our Left, or with the authoritarianism on our Right, can only do harm. The time has arrived when conservatives must speak in our own voice again. In doing so, we will discover that we can provide the political foundations that so many now seek, but have been unable to find.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume I, Number 2 (Summer 2017): 219–46.

Notes

Fortescue is now available in an easily readable edition, transcribed in modern English spelling. See John Fortescue, On the Laws and Governance of England, ed. Shelley Lockwood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).2 Our account diverges here from that of Leo Strauss, who presents Rousseau as a critic of Locke and asserts that “the first crisis of modernity occurred in the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.” See Natural Right and History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), 252. Strauss is right in seeing Rousseau, especially in his Discourses, as demanding a return to the cohesive community of classical antiquity, as well as to the virtues that are required to maintain such social cohesion and to wage wars in defense of the community. But it is a mistake to regard this demand as initiating “the first crisis of modernity.” What is now regarded as political modernity is more accurately regarded as emerging from the conservative tradition represented by Fortescue, Coke, and Selden. The first crisis of modernity is that which universalist-rationalists such as Grotius and Locke initiate against this conservative tradition. In certain ways, Rousseau does side with earlier conservative tradition, which likewise held that Lockean rationalism would make social cohesion impossible and destroy the possibility of virtue. But while Rousseau believed he could revive social cohesion and virtue while retaining Locke’s liberal axioms as a point of departure, Anglo-American conservatism regards this entire effort as futile. The intractable contradictions in Rousseau’s thought derive from the fact that there is no way to square this circle. Once liberal axioms are accepted, there is neither any need for, nor any possibility of, the social cohesion and virtue that Rousseau insists are necessary. Rousseau’s “civil religion” and his nation-state have no hope of playing the role that the traditional religion and nation play in conservative thought. These are ersatz creations of the Lockean universe, in which Rousseau’s thought remains imprisoned.

Voir par ailleurs:

Why America Needs New Alliances

Yoram Hazony and Ofir Haivry
Wal Street Journal
June 11, 2019

President Trump is often accused of creating a needless rift with America’s European allies. The secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, expressed a different view recently when he told a joint session of Congress: “Allies must spend more on defense—this has been the clear message from President Trump, and this message is having a real impact.”

Mr. Stoltenberg’s remarks reflect a growing recognition that strategic and economic realities demand a drastic change in the way the U.S. conducts foreign policy. The unwanted cracks in the Atlantic alliance are primarily a consequence of European leaders, especially in Germany and France, wishing to continue living in a world that no longer exists. The U.S. cannot serve as the enforcer for the Europeans’ beloved “rules-based international order” any more. Even in the 1990s, it was doubtful the U.S. could indefinitely guarantee the security of all nations, paying for George H.W. Bush’s “new world order” principally with American soldiers’ lives and American taxpayers’ dollars.

Today a $22 trillion national debt and the voting public’s indifference to the dreams of world-wide liberal empire have depleted Washington’s ability to wage pricey foreign wars. At a time of escalating troubles at home, America’s estimated 800 overseas bases in 80 countries are coming to look like a bizarre misallocation of resources. And the U.S. is politically fragmented to an extent unseen in living memory, with uncertain implications in the event of a major war.

This explains why the U.S. has not sent massive, Iraq-style expeditionary forces to defend Ukraine’s integrity or impose order in Syria. If there’s trouble on Estonia’s border with Russia, would the U.S. have the will to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers on an indefinite mission 85 miles from St. Petersburg? Although Estonia joined NATO in 2004, the certainties of 15 years ago have broken down.

On paper, America has defense alliances with dozens of countries. But these are the ghosts of a rivalry with the Soviet Union that ended three decades ago, or the result of often reckless policies adopted after 9/11. These so-called allies include Turkey and Pakistan, which share neither America’s values nor its interests, and cooperate with the U.S. only when it serves their purposes. Other “allies” refuse to develop a significant capacity for self-defense, and are thus more accurately regarded as American dependencies or protectorates.

Liberal internationalists are right about one thing, however: America cannot simply turn its back on the world. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 demonstrated that the U.S. can and will be targeted on its own soil. An American strategic posture aimed at minimizing the danger from rival powers needs to focus on deterring Russia and China from wars of expansion; weakening China relative to the U.S. and thereby preventing it from attaining dominance over the world economy; and keeping smaller hostile powers such as North Korea and Iran from obtaining the capacity to attack America or other democracies.

To attain these goals, the U.S. will need a new strategy that is far less costly than anything previous administrations contemplated. Mr. Trump has taken a step in the right direction by insisting that NATO allies “pay their fair share” of the budget for defending Europe, increasing defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product in accordance with NATO treaty obligations.

But this framing of the issue doesn’t convey the problem’s true nature or its severity. The real issue is that the U.S. can no longer afford to assume responsibility for defending entire regions if the people living in them aren’t willing and able to build up their own credible military deterrent.

The U.S. has a genuine interest, for example, in preventing the democratic nations of Eastern Europe from being absorbed into an aggressive Russian imperial state. But the principal interested parties aren’t Americans. The members of the Visegrád Group—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia—have a combined population of 64 million and a 2017 GDP of $2 trillion (about 50% of Russia’s, according to CIA estimates). The principal strategic question is therefore whether these countries are willing to do what is necessary to maintain their own national independence. If they are—at a cost that could well exceed the 2% figure devised by NATO planners—then they could eventually shed their dependent status and come to the table as allies of the kind the U.S. could actually use: strong frontline partners in deterring Russian expansion.

The same is true in other regions. Rather than carelessly accumulate dependencies, the U.S. must ask where it can develop real allies—countries that share its commitment to a world of independent nations, pursue democratic self-determination (although not necessarily liberalism) at home, and are willing to pay the price for freedom by taking primary responsibility for their own defense and shouldering the human and economic costs involved.

Nations that demonstrate a commitment to these shared values and a willingness to fight when necessary should benefit from relations that may include the supply of advanced armaments and technologies, diplomatic cover in dealing with shared enemies, preferred partnership in trade, scientific and academic cooperation, and the joint development of new technologies. Fair-weather friends and free-riding dependencies should not.

Perhaps the most important candidate for such a strategic alliance is India. Long a dormant power afflicted by poverty, socialism and an ideology of “nonalignment,” India has become one of the world’s largest and fastest-expanding economies. In contrast to the political oppression of the Chinese communist model, India has succeeded in retaining much of its religious conservatism while becoming an open and diverse country—by far the world’s most populous democracy—with a solid parliamentary system at both the federal and state levels. India is threatened by Islamist terrorism, aided by neighboring Pakistan; as well as by rapidly increasing Chinese influence, emanating from the South China Sea, the Pakistani port of Gwadar, and Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, where the Chinese navy has established its first overseas base.

India’s values, interests and growing wealth could establish an Indo-American alliance as the central pillar of a new alignment of democratic national states in Asia, including a strengthened Japan and Australia. But New Delhi remains suspicious of American intentions, and with good reason: Rather than unequivocally bet on an Indian partnership, the U.S. continues to play all sides, haphazardly switching from confrontation to cooperation with China, and competing with Beijing for influence in fanaticism-ridden Pakistan. The rationalizations for these counterproductive policies tend to focus on Pakistan’s supposed logistical contributions to the U.S. war in Afghanistan—an example of how tactical considerations and the demands of bogus allies can stand in the way of meeting even the most pressing strategic needs.

A similar confusion characterizes America’s relationship with Turkey. A U.S. ally during the Cold War, Turkey is now an expansionist Islamist power that has assisted the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al Qaeda and even ISIS; threatened Greece and Cyprus; sought Russian weapons; and recently expressed its willingness to attack U.S. forces in Syria. In reality, Turkey is no more an ally than Russia or China. Yet its formal status as the second-largest military in NATO guarantees that the alliance will continue to be preoccupied with pretense and make-believe, rather than the interests of democratic nations. Meanwhile, America’s most reliable Muslim allies, the Kurds, live under constant threat of Turkish invasion and massacre.

The Middle East is a difficult region, in which few players share American values and interests, although all of them—including Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Iran—are willing to benefit from U.S. arms, protection or cash. Here too Washington should seek alliances with national states that share at least some key values and are willing to shoulder most of the burden of defending themselves while fighting to contain Islamist radicalism. Such natural regional allies include Greece, Israel, Ethiopia and the Kurds.

A central question for a revitalized alliance of democratic nations is which way the winds will blow in Western Europe. For a generation after the Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989, U.S. administrations seemed willing to take responsibility for Europe’s security indefinitely. European elites grew accustomed to the idea that perpetual peace was at hand, devoting themselves to turning the EU into a borderless utopia with generous benefits for all.

But Europe has been corrupted by its dependence on the U.S. Germany, the world’s fifth-largest economic power (with a GDP larger than Russia’s), cannot field more than a handful of operational combat aircraft, tanks or submarines. Yet German leaders steadfastly resist American pressure for substantial increases in their country’s defense capabilities, telling interlocutors that the U.S. is ruining a beautiful friendship.

None of this is in America’s interest—and not only because the U.S. is stuck with the bill. When people live detached from reality, they develop all sorts of fanciful theories about how the world works. For decades, Europeans have been devising “transnationalist” fantasies to explain how their own supposed moral virtues, such as their rejection of borders, have brought them peace and prosperity. These ideas are then exported to the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world via international bodies, universities, nongovernmental organizations, multinational corporations and other channels. Having subsidized the creation of a dependent socialist paradise in Europe, the U.S. now has to watch as the EU’s influence washes over America and other nations.

For the moment, it is hard to see Germany or Spain becoming American allies in the new, more realistic sense of the term we have proposed. France is a different case, maintaining significant military capabilities and a willingness to deploy them at times. But the governments of these and other Western European countries remain ideologically committed to transferring ever-greater powers to international bodies and to the concomitant degradation of national independence. That doesn’t make them America’s enemies, but neither are they partners in defending values such as national self-determination. It is difficult to foresee circumstances under which they would be willing or able to arm themselves in keeping with the actual security needs of an emerging alliance of independent democratic nations.

The prospects are better with respect to Britain, whose defense spending is already significantly higher, and whose public asserted a desire to regain independence in the Brexit referendum of 2016. With a population of more than 65 million and a GDP of $3 trillion (75% of Russia’s), the U.K. may yet become a principal partner in a leaner but more effective security architecture for the democratic world.

Isolationists are also right about one thing: The U.S. cannot be, and should not try to be, the world’s policeman. Yet it does have a role to play in awakening democratic nations from their dependence-induced torpor, and assisting those that are willing to make the transition to a new security architecture based on self-determination and self-reliance. An alliance including the U.S., the U.K. and the frontline Eastern European nations, as well as India, Israel, Japan and Australia, among others, would be strong enough to exert sustained pressure on China, Russia and hostile Islamist groups.

Helping these democratic nations become self-reliant regional actors would reduce America’s security burden, permitting it to close far-flung military installations and making American military intervention the exception rather than the rule. At the same time, it would free American resources for the long struggle to deny China technological superiority, as well as for unforeseen emergencies that are certain to arise.

Voir aussi:

Jaco Gericke’s ‘The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy of Religion’

Yoram Hazony
Jerusalem letters
November 7, 2013

The universities are no “ivory tower.” They are more like radio towers, broadcasting certain ways of looking at the world into the society we live in. Of course, radio waves are difficult to detect. If you don’t know what to look for, you’ll think there’s nothing going on at all. And the same thing is true for the academic transmission of ideas, which takes place through the medium of our children. While at university, our children are immersed in a particular range of ideas, and it is ideas within this range that they usually end up seeing as normal and legitimate. Show me the ideas that are ascendant in the universities of America and Europe today, and I will show you the thoughts that will dominate public discourse throughout the Western world—including Israel, of course—a generation or two from now.

That’s why I like to keep track of trends in ideas at the universities, even in disciplines far removed from the things I am presently writing about myself. I like to know what is going to happen in the world. I like to know what everyone is going to be thinking a generation from now.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most important intellectual trends taking place in the universities right now is a pronounced shift toward a greater openness to the Hebrew Bible (“Tanach”), belief in God, and religion generally. This is happening slowly, but the indicators are clear. In a previous letter, I wrote about the rise of Christian theology as a legitimate discipline in mainstream philosophy departments. In this letter, I want to touch on another significant indicator in the same direction.

As is well known, university treatments of the Bible have for generations focused on attempts at reconstructing the compositional histories of various biblical texts. The devotion of vast resources to this project over the last two hundred years has yielded little in the way of firm answers as to how the Bible was really composed. But what it has done is to divert attention from what I take to be the most interesting and important parts of Biblical Studies: Figuring out the ideas that the Hebrew Scriptures were meant to bring into the world, and working out their place in the intellectual history of mankind down to our own day.

In the last generation, however, there has been a growing interest in academic scholarship aimed at trying to understand the ideas of the Bible—the metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics, and political thought that are in fact characteristic of the biblical worldview. Among the most recent entries in this project are my own The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture(Cambridge 2012)which has just won the second place award for best book in Theology and Religion in 2012 given by the Association of American Publishers, academic division; Dru Johnson’s Biblical Knowing (Wipf and Stock, 2013); and Jaco Gericke’s The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy of Religion (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012). The interest in such books by leading academic presses, at academic conferences, in academic journals, and on prize committees is a clear indication that something new and potentially quite significant is taking place.

Below is a review of Gericke’s book that I wrote at the request of the German theological journal Theologische Literaturzeitung, and which appeared in print a few weeks ago. But before getting into my thoughts on the book itself, I’d like to say a few words about its author, Jaco Gericke. Jaco (pronounced “Yaku”) is a young Old Testament scholar at North-West University in South Africa. He entered a graduate program in theology in order to become a Christian minister, but academic Bible study ended up destroying his Christian faith rather than deepening it. When he finished his Ph.D. in 2003, Jaco added an appendix to his doctoral dissertation called “Autobiography of a Died-Again Christian,” in which he declared the end of his allegiance with Christianity.

It is fascinating and painful reading. But perhaps more fascinating is what happened afterward. Over the next decade, Jaco gradually constructed a new agenda for his intellectual life. Boldly declaring that university “biblical scholars have not made a beginning in coming to terms with the conceptual content” of the Hebrew Scriptures—an assessment that is surely right—Jaco remade himself into an intellectual historian of the ideas of the Bible. His aim now is to try to initiate a “new era” in academic research and instruction into the Hebrew Bible by seeking an objective clarification of the philosophy explicit and implicit in the biblical texts.

I very much admire this fellow, whom I met this summer for the first time at a Bible conference organized by my new institute, the Herzl Institute / Machon Herzl in Jerusalem. I admire the fact that, unlike others who have broken with Christianity, Jaco has rebuilt his life so as to try and contribute something truly positive to our understanding of the Bible. He is back in the game, lecturing with a winning gentleness that masks an extraordinary passion to understand what the Bible really was all about.

Moved by his life’s journey and his academic work, I invited Jaco over for Shabbat and had him tell his story to my children. Changing what the Western world thinks of the Bible is a prodigious undertaking. It means moving a mountain. Yet in face to face conversation, you get the feeling that despite the disappointments he has experienced, or perhaps because of them, Jaco Gericke is someone who may be able to pull this off.

So here is my review of Gericke’s book, The Hebrew Bible and the Philosophy of Religion. His next book is going to be about the biblical God.

II.

In academia, philosophy and Bible studies tend to react to one another like oil and water. Each discipline possesses a finely tuned repertoire of arguments for why the other is not really relevant to its concerns. Some of these arguments go back centuries and speak to deeply held premises that guide scholars in each field. But Jacko Gericke wants to change all that, and his new book The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy of Religion presents a compelling case for why we would be better off if the wall separating the study of Hebrew Scripture from philosophical investigation were torn down.

Gericke’s book is in two parts: The first argues that philosophy (or more exactly, “philosophy of religion”) is crucial to the study of the Hebrew Bible. The second consists of case studies in the theology, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics of Hebrew Scripture, which seek to show that the theoretical discussion in the first half of the book is more than just talk. Both parts reflect a staggering quantity of reading in the relevant disciplines, and Gericke’s careful citations are going to be a crucial roadmap for anyone approaching the question of the relationship between Bible and philosophy from now on.

Are philosophical tools really crucial for the study of the Hebrew Bible? Gericke’s argument is refreshingly candid: The biblical texts, he says, are riddled with concepts and assumptions—“metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical assumptions about the nature of reality, existence, life, knowledge, truth, belief, good and evil, value, and so on”—that are different from our own. Without a conscious effort to reconstruct these concepts and assumptions, we cannot “prevent ourselves from reading our own anachronistic philosophical-theological assumptions into and onto the biblical discourse.” Tools for engaging in such philosophical reconstruction are familiar and are commonly employed by scholars who seek to describe the views of other ancient philosophies and religions, but “for a number of historical reasons, the study of ancient Israelite religion has been one of the few” such areas of study that have remained “utterly lacking in a philosophical approach.” Consequently, there exists a “yawning philosophical gap in research on the Hebrew Bible.”

Gericke believes that Old Testament scholars have frequently expended their energies on anachronistic readings that have forced the texts to express late theological conceptions that were entirely unknown to the biblical authors. His hope is that with the introduction of philosophical techniques for reconstructing the actual ideas found in the biblical texts, we can enter into a “new era” in the academic study of the Bible—“one in which both believer and skeptic can together read the ancient texts” from a “relatively neutral” perspective such as that which is normally accepted when approaching the study of Greek philosophy or any other ancient culture.

Gericke is at his best when he is cataloguing and demolishing various anachronisms that have been dragged into current readings of the Hebrew Bible from medieval or modern theology. Among these are “dualist metaphysical assumptions,” including the distinctions between supernatural and naturaltranscendent and immanentreality and appearance,religious and secular. The absence of such oppositions means, for example, that the Bible knows of no “other” world, and that gods, far from being “ineffable,” are for the biblical authors a “natural kind.” Similarly, Gericke turns time and again to debunking the claims of “perfect being” theology to be describing the God of Hebrew Scripture. He shows that medieval conceptions of God’s perfection are responsible for creating the so-called “problem of evil,” and that theodicy in the modern sense is unknown in the Hebrew Scriptures because the biblical God is not assumed to be all-powerful, all-knowing, or all-good. Gericke also questions whether the biblical authors would have recognized a distinction between “revelation” and “nature,” and suggests that in biblical narrative, worldly events may have been accepted as evidence that God has “spoken.”

Gericke offers some powerful constructive arguments, especially in the area of ethics. He rejects the common belief that the biblical ethics is a form of “divine command theory” (i.e., that God’s will defines what is morally right), and shows convincingly that the Bible assumes a standard of right that is independent of God’s will. But he is not as confident in his claims about biblical metaphysics and epistemology. For instance, Gericke makes a great case for the need for a careful clarification of the biblical concept of a “god,” but the results of his study on the subject are inconclusive. His tentative suggestion that the authors of the biblical narratives may have known that what they were writing was fiction covers old ground, and I don’t think Gericke’s version of this proposal is any more persuasive than its predecessors. A more credible and interesting suggestion, also presented tentatively, is that the biblical texts tend to rely on an evidentialist theory of knowledge—that is, the view that one’s beliefs can only be justified by evidence.

Overall, Gericke’s case studies are more successful in clarifying what the Bible does not say than in reconstructing what it does. I don’t see this as an objection to the book. Gericke says his constructive proposals are preliminary. His principal aim is to propose a research agenda that will introduce profound changes in the way the Hebrew Bible is studied and taught in the university setting, and to describe methods by which this agenda can be pursued. And this he does in a manner that is compelling and much needed.

I do have some questions about the way Gericke frames his vision for a “new era” in Bible scholarship. In particular, I wonder at Gericke’s references to the “folk philosophical presuppositions” of the biblical texts, and to their “precritical” or “prephilosophical” character. Occasionally, he will also mention that the texts are “naïve” or “primitive” as well. All of this makes it sound as though the authors of the Bible were only capable of dim premonitions concerning the metaphysical or ethical issues that we later readers are fortunate enough to have firmly in our grasp.

But if Gericke is right that modern “biblical scholars have not made a beginning in coming to terms with the conceptual content” of the Hebrew Bible, then all these judgments about the supposedly naïve and uncritical nature of biblical thought may be premature. Perhaps an impartial philosophical elucidation of the Hebrew Bible such as Gericke proposes will lead to the conclusion that the prophets and scholars who assembled these texts were in fact quite conscious of the positions they were advancing in opposition to their surroundings and to one another? Perhaps what Gericke is calling the “philosophical assumptions” of the biblical texts, or at least some of them, are actually the intended philosophical teachings of these works? Indeed, the fact that such a possibility is so foreign to so many scholars may be a consequence of the very same prejudices that Gericke is at such pains to combat.

This is a wonderful book, brimming with intellectual energy. I cannot help marveling at the love of the Hebrew Bible that Gericke continues to exhibit, given the pain and disappointments in his personal spiritual life, which he is trusting enough to mention to his readers in passing. I have no doubt that there will be others who will be moved by the vision he articulates, and who will wish to take part in pursuing it.

Voir enfin:

Trump’s Tweetstorm Correctly Linked Anti-Americanism to Antisemitism
President Donald Trump’s tweets on Sunday drew predictable condemnation. But aside from the partisan debate about whether they were racist, they contained an important truth: hatred of Jews and hatred of America are linked
Caroline Glick
Breitbart
17 Jul 2019

Trump told the so-called “squad” of radical Democrats — Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — they could leave the country if they hate it so much. He drew criticism because he said that they came from foreign countries; in fact, only Omar did.

But Trump also highlighted a basic fact about the nature of leftist ideology. Just as the Iranian regime views the United States and Israel as two sides of the same coin, with the ayatollahs dubbing the U.S. “the Great Satan” and Israel, “the Little Satan,” so the radical left views the U.S. and Israel – the most powerful democracy in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East – as states with no moral foundation for existing.

Although other presidents have spoken out against hatred of Jews and Israel on the one hand and hatred of America on the other, it is hard to think of another example of a U.S. leader making the case that the two hatreds are linked as Trump did this week.

This is important, because they are linked. The haters see both America and the Jews as all-powerful forces who use their power to bend the world to their nefarious, avaricious, greedy aims. They stereotype both Americans and pro-Israel and traditional Jews as vulgar and fascist.

Pew Research Center studies of European perspectives on Jews and Americans show a massive overlap between anti-Semitic attitudes and anti-American ones. As the American left has become more radical, it has also become more aligned with those toxic European attitudes towards both the United States and Israel.

One example is evident at the U.S.-Mexico border. The left’s opposition to enforcing American immigration laws goes hand-in-hand with the view that the Jewish people have no right to national self-determination in their homeland and that the Jewish state has no right to exist. As political philosopher Yoram Hazony argued in his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, nationalism — and, indeed, the concept of a nation itself — is a biblical concept. The nation of Israel is the first nation. And the American Founding Fathers’ conception of the United States and the American nation was rooted in the biblical concept of nationhood and nationalism of the Jews.

Hazony contends that anti-nationalism is both inherently antisemitic and anti-American. And it is also imperialist. Anti-nationalists support international and transnational legal constructs and institutions that deny distinct nations large and small the ability to determine their own unique course in the world. As repositories of the concept of distinct nations, nation-states are, in Hazony’s view, inherently freer and more cohesive societies than imperialist societies that insist that one-size-fits-all and that there are people better equipped than the people themselves to decide what is good for them.

As Trump tweeted, the four sirens of the socialist revolution are a dire threat to the Democratic Party. By embracing the likes of Reps. Omar and Tlaib with their repeated statements against the United States, Jews and Israel and their tolerance for terrorist groups and terrorists, and by embracing Ocasio-Cortez who likens America to Nazi Germany, replete with “concentration camps,” the Democratic Party is indeed embracing anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

And, as Trump tweeted, it is the Democrats, not the Republicans — and certainly not the president — who are making Israel a partisan issue. They are doing so by abandoning Israel and embracing antisemitic conceptions of nationalism and of the Jewish and American nations.

Trump’s tweet storm, however controversial, showed that he is personally committed to fighting hatred of Jews and Israel. As he was being targeted as a racist by Democrats, the Department of Justice was holding a conference on combatting antisemitism. The conference, which placed a spotlight on campus antisemitism, did not shy away from discussing and condemning antisemitism on the left as well as on the right, and Islamic antisemitism.

In his remarks before the conference, Attorney General Willian Barr discussed the galloping hostility Jewish students face in U.S. universities today.

In his words, “On college campuses today, Jewish students who support Israel are frequently targeted for harassment, Jewish student organizations are marginalized, and progressive Jewish students are told they must denounce their beliefs and their heritage in order to be part of ‘intersectional’ causes.”

He added: “We must ensure for the future of our country and our society – that college campuses remain open to ideological diversity and respectful of people of all faiths.”

In her remarks at the Justice Department conference, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos championed Israel, and discussed actions her department is taking to combat campus antisemitism and specifically the so-called “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel and its American supporters.

In DeVos’s words, the BDS campaign is “one of the most pernicious threats” of antisemitism on college campuses.

“These bullies claim they stand for human rights, but we all known that BDS stands for antisemitism,” she said.

She noted that education department intervention forced Williams College to cancel an antisemitic ruling against a Jewish campus group, and that the department is currently investigating the use of federal funds by Duke University and the University of North Carolina to finance a conference featuring antisemitic and pro-terror speakers.

It is a testament to the left’s increasing embrace of anti-Jewish bigotry, and its rejection of America’s right to borders, — and through them, to self-government and self-determination — that Trump is being branded a racist for standing up to these distressing trends.

And it is a testament to Trump’s moral courage that he is willing to speak the truth about antisemitism and anti-Americanism even at the cost of wall-to-wall calumny by Democrats and the media.

2 Responses to Populisme: Les sionistes ont même inventé le nationalisme ! (From the Tower of Babel to the latest anti-Israeli UN resolution, the independent national state, as an alternative to empire and tribalism, begins with the Hebrew Bible, but is again threatened by transnational elites, says Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    TO COMMON-SENSE NATIONALISM ! (Seeing national states as vulnerable, Hazony welcomes the turn to nationalism manifested by Brexit, Trump, Bolsonaro, and the civilizationists, seeing this as a necessary popular revolt against the liberal construction, a testimony to the common-sense nationalism of the masses versus the self-interested imperialism of the experts)

    Yoram Hazony’s breathtakingly counterintuitive book, The Virtue of Nationalism (Basic Books), corrects a simple but colossal mistake: The Nazi monstrosity, he argues, did not result from nationalism but from imperialism. Hitler aspired not to make Germany great in education, justice, and industry, but to create a thousand-year Reich (empire) and conquer the world. This fact, obvious to everyone during World War II, soon thereafter disappeared from sight because post-war Germans, especially Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (in office 1949-63), believed that demonizing nationalism and transforming Germans into model Europeans would best serve to normalize their country and hinder yet another German drive to brutal conquest. Or, in Hazony’s more pungent formulation, the Germans decided to pursue their imperial dream not through invasion but through the gentler mechanism of what today is called the European Union (EU). He relentlessly distinguishes virtuous nationalism (« nations … able to chart their own independent course ») from evil imperialism (« An imperial state … is always a despotic state »). Historically, dreary states like the Roman or Spanish empires have hosted oppression and backwardness. Today, imperialism is rampant: most obviously, China’s wealth enables Xi Jinping’s global ambition, with Russia and Iran similarly ambitious. Less obviously, liberal imperialism has wide appeal in the West. It includes George H.W. Bush’s « new world order, » Madeleine Albright’s « indispensable nation, » George W. Bush’s campaign to « advance … freedom, » and Barack Obama’s « American leadership. » In a striking historical analogy, Hazony compares rival European and American would-be imperial orders to those of the pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, with the former pair claiming moral preeminence and the latter pair boasting military might.

    The author argues that international federations and institutions, equipped with abstract, universalist ideals, are inherently imperialist, even when they take subtle, non-military, and seemingly benign forms. No less than openly aggressive imperialism, what Hazony terms the liberal construction of the world spreads dogmatism, fanaticism, hate, and intolerance. Conversely, and as the title of his book suggests, Hazony is keen to redeem nationalism from its current ill repute. He argues for « a world of independent national states [as] the best political order to which we can aspire. »
    Religion plays a central role, with the idea’s origins located in the Hebrew Bible and its fulfillment in what he calls the Protestant construction built in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In those countries, a cacophony of divergent voices competing with each other drove improvement in all fields of human endeavor, inspiring excellence in the arts and sciences, creating unprecedented wealth, and bequeathing unique freedoms.
    Americans should easily understand the benefits of pluralism, for the U.S. states famously serve as 50 laboratories of democracy. So too are the 44 sovereign countries of Europe, where a positive breakthrough in one (say, religious tolerance) is often emulated by others, while a terrible idea (welcoming a million unvetted non-European migrants) is shunned. « It is only through the many national experiments that we can learn, over historical time, what is in fact best. »
    Seeing national states as vulnerable, Hazony welcomes the turn to nationalism manifested by Brexit, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and the civilizationists, seeing this as a necessary popular revolt against the liberal construction, a testimony to the common-sense nationalism of the masses versus the self-interested imperialism of the experts. The process is also taking place in non-Western countries such as Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman seeks to abandon the imperialism of Wahhabi Islam.
    As an Israeli, Hazony naturally takes special interest in what this means for his own small, anti-imperialist country. He discerns a widespread but false syllogism: (1) Nationalism caused Auschwitz; (2) Israel is (due to its frequent reliance on military force) the West’s most nationalist country; therefore, (3) Israel is the most Nazi-like and dangerous Western country. Such logic accounts for the otherwise inexplicable 2003 Eurobarometer poll that found Israel to be by far the world’s greatest threat to peace (and the United States tied for second place with Iran and North Korea). A correct understanding of Israel’s nationalism would do wonders for its reputation.

    Hazony has written a deep, persuasive, and timely book. His key idea – yes to nationalism, no to imperialism – deserves careful consideration followed by effective action. Because distinguishing between the two orders is far less self-evident than one might think, The Virtue of Nationalism serves as a discreet manual for this long-term battle.

    http://www.danielpipes.org/18970/yes-to-nationalism-no-to-imperialism

    POUR UN NATIONALISME DE BON SENS ! (Considérant les États nationaux comme vulnérables, Hazony voit d’un bon œil le retour au nationalisme qu’illustrent le Brexit, Trump, Bolsonaro et les civilisationistes. Il voit cela comme une révolte populaire nécessaire contre la construction libérale, comme la manifestation d’un nationalisme de bon sens de la part des masses contre l’impérialisme intéressé des experts)

    Le livre contre-intuitif et époustouflant de Yoram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism (Basic Books, « La vertu du nationalisme ») rectifie une erreur aussi banale que colossale. Il affirme que la monstruosité du nazisme est le résultat non pas du nationalisme mais de l’impérialisme. Hitler aspirait non pas à faire la grandeur de l’Allemagne sur le plan de l’éducation, de la justice et de l’industrie mais à créer un empire (Reich) millénaire et à conquérir le monde.

    Ce fait évident pour tout le monde pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, a été perdu de vue très tôt après car les Allemands de l’après-guerre, notamment le chancelier Konrad Adenauer (en fonction de 1949 à 1963), croyait que la diabolisation du nationalisme et la transformation des Allemands en Européens modèles contribueraient davantage à la normalisation de leur pays et à l’empêchement de toute nouvelle tentation allemande de conquête brutale. Ou, pour reprendre la formulation plus directe de Hazony, les Allemands ont décidé de poursuivre leur rêve impérialiste non pas par l’invasion mais par ce procédé plus élégant qu’on appelle aujourd’hui Union européenne (UE).
    Avec une rigueur constante, l’auteur fait la distinction entre un nationalisme vertueux (« les nations sont aptes à tracer leur route en toute indépendance ») et un impérialisme pernicieux (« un État impérial est toujours un État despotique »). Sur le plan historique, des États aussi mornes et tristes que l’Empire romain ou l’Espagne impériale ont charrié avec eux l’oppression et la régression. À l’heure actuelle, l’impérialisme est endémique. L’exemple le plus évident est la Chine dont la prospérité permet à Xi Jinping de nourrir des ambitions planétaires à l’instar de la Russie et de l’Iran.

    De façon moins évidente, l’impérialisme libéral jouit d’un attrait important en Occident. Il englobe le « nouvel ordre mondial » de George H. W. Bush, la « nation indispensable » de Madeleine Albright, la campagne de George W. Bush en faveur du « progrès de la liberté » ainsi que le « leadership américain » de Barack Obama. Dans une analogie historique frappante, Hazony compare les ordres impériaux en puissance de l’Europe et de l’Amérique à ceux du pape et du Saint Empire romain : alors que l’Europe, comme autrefois la papauté, prétend à une prééminence morale, l’Amérique, comme jadis le Saint Empire, se targue de sa puissance militaire.

    Selon l’auteur, les institutions et organisations internationales dotées d’idéaux abstraits et universalistes sont par nature impérialistes même quand elles prennent subtilement des formes anodines et dénuées d’aspects militaires. Pas moins que l’impérialisme ouvertement agressif, ce qu’Hazony appelle la construction libérale du monde répand le dogmatisme, le fanatisme, la haine et l’intolérance.
    En revanche et comme l’indique le titre de son livre, Hazony tient à débarrasser le nationalisme de sa mauvaise réputation actuelle. Il défend l’idée selon laquelle « un monde composé d’États nationaux indépendants constitue le meilleur ordre politique auquel on puisse aspirer. »
    Dans cet ordre politique, la religion joue un rôle central. Les idées trouvent leur origine dans la Bible hébraïque et leur réalisation dans ce qu’il appelle la construction protestante établie aux Pays-Bas, au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis. Dans ces pays, une cacophonie de voix divergentes en concurrence les unes avec les autres a conduit dans tous les domaines de l’activité humaine, à une amélioration qui a suscité l’excellence dans les arts et les sciences et créé une prospérité sans précédent ainsi qu’un ensemble de libertés sans équivalent.
    Les Américains doivent comprendre aisément les bienfaits du pluralisme puisque, c’est bien connu, les 50 États des États-Unis fonctionnent comme autant de laboratoires de la démocratie. Il en va de même pour les 44 États souverains d’Europe où quand l’un d’eux réalise une avancée positive (comme la tolérance religieuse), les autres tendent à l’imiter alors que les idées déplorables (comme l’accueil incontrôlé d’un million de migrants non-européens) sont rejetées. « Ce n’est qu’au travers des expériences nationales multiples que nous pouvons apprendre, au fil du temps historique, ce qui fonctionne mieux dans les faits. »
    Considérant les États nationaux comme vulnérables, Hazony voit d’un bon œil le retour au nationalisme qu’illustrent le Brexit, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro et les civilisationistes. Il voit cela comme une révolte populaire nécessaire contre la construction libérale, comme la manifestation d’un nationalisme de bon sens de la part des masses contre l’impérialisme intéressé des experts. Ce phénomène se développe également dans des pays non-occidentaux comme l’Arabie saoudite, où le prince héritier Mohammed ben Salmane tente d’abandonner la voie impérialiste de l’islam wahhabite.
    En tant qu’Israélien, Hazony porte tout naturellement un intérêt particulier aux conséquences de ces phénomènes dans son propre pays, un petit État anti-impérialiste. Il met en lumière un syllogisme répandu mais erroné : 1) le nationalisme a provoqué Auschwitz ; 2) Israël est, en raison de ses recours fréquents à la force militaire, le pays le plus nationaliste d’Occident ; par conséquent 3) Israël est le pays occidental le plus dangereux et le plus proche du nazisme. Une telle logique explique les résultats de l’Eurobaromètre de 2003 – autrement inexplicables – qui a établi qu’Israël constituait de loin la menace pour la paix la plus importante au monde (avec les États-Unis au deuxième rang à égalité avec l’Iran et la Corée du Nord). Une perception juste du nationalisme israélien contribuerait merveilleusement à améliorer la réputation du pays.

    Hazony a produit un livre fouillé, convaincant et qui vient à point nommé. Son idée maîtresse – oui au nationalisme et non à l’impérialisme – mérite d’être prise sérieusement en considération et suivie d’une mise en pratique. Comme la distinction des deux ordres est bien moins évidente qu’on pourrait le penser, The Virtue of Nationalism pourra servir de modeste manuel dans cette bataille de longue haleine.

    http://fr.danielpipes.org/18971/oui-au-nationalisme-non-a-imperialisme

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    SPOT THE ERROR ! (Should Dems start worrying when El Paso victims turn out to be dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters ?)

    « I can see why people would believe that. And yes, maybe he said things in bad taste. But I think people are misconstruing President Trump’s ideas. My brother was very supportive of Trump. I want to see his reaction in person. I want to see if he’s genuine and see if my political views are right or wrong. And see if he feels maybe some kind of remorse for statements that he’s made. I just want to have a human-to-human talk with him and see how he feels. »

    Tito Anchondo

    https://www.npr.org/2019/08/08/749099244/the-couple-killed-saving-their-baby-in-el-paso-had-just-found-a-future-together

    TRYING TO BE STRONG (Spot the error when El Paso victims turn out to be Trumpers ?)

    « Is it that hard to try and understand that a family is trying to not be sad at a moment like this? We’re trying to be as strong as we can. … My brother is gone. »

    Tito Anchondo (Trump supporter)

    https://www.wltx.com/article/news/nation-world/uncle-of-orphaned-boy-defends-trumps-appearance-in-photo/507-427c4df2-06b0-4afa-85c2-a5db94f49125

    J'aime

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