CJay Engel

October 23, 2019

Rich Lowry on Nationalism, Paul Gottfried on Rich

Rich Lowry has a new book making the case for American nationalism. He also has an article, called "Nationalism is a Form of Love, Not Hate."

He explains why nationalism has in history been an important base for internal democracy. This is precisely why Paul Gottfried, in our forthcoming interview with him, stated that he thinks the recent push for an American nationalism is just "silly." It's amazing that so-called rightists can make their case for nationalism along democratic lines. This, as Gottfried has taken a career to point out, is a capitulation of modern American movement conservatism to the milieu of leftism and universal political values. Gottfried states:

I actually don’t take any of it seriously. One of the things that is amusing about all this is that Rich Lowry is so moved by all this that he’s now writing a book on it to show that it’s not just an idea it’s an actual flesh-and-blood reality. Well just recently Breitbart pointed to an article from two years ago in which he opined that nationalism is dangerous and we’ve all got to be globalists. So it seems to depend on what side of the bed some of these people wake up on in the morning. I get the feeling that these people just decided that they were going to take over nationalism and do with it what they want— I think that’s what the conference at the Ritz Carlton in July was about. They think that they are going to own nationalism now and make it mean whatever they want it to mean.
In my talk on this subject at the Mencken Club in November, I’m going to speak on all this and we are even having a debate on regionalism vs. nationalism—I’m most definitely on the regionalist side. American nationalism seems silly to me. America is now an empire but its still made up of regions although unfortunately everything continues to get more centralized under a milieu of social engineering. But the United States is not Latvia, it’s not Poland, it’s not Israel, it’s not any of these countries; you don’t have a unitary nation living here.
I’m not an unqualified fan of nationalism, I’m simply pointing out that historically, nationalism has meant national ethnic identity. So what these National Conservatives are doing is trying to produce a highly centralized American government: Lincoln defeated the South and we should continue that quest to build up a consolidated government on behalf of democracy. I think this is all bogus. I don’t take Tucker Carlson’s appeal to nationalism very seriously.

Then I responded by saying:

It seems almost like a leftist effort because it’s creating this artificial government-based society. Part and parcel of what conservatism should be is an emphasis on the organic and natural society; but the United States is characterized by profound regional differences that to centralize it all would actually be a leftist project.

Then Paul agreed:

I think that is absolutely correct. Whatever they come up with is going to be an invention, imposed by a central government. How is that conservative?

This entire push by people like Lowry results from only seeing historical development through the modern progressivism American Ideology where Washington is the primary center of political operation and identity. Thus, the liberal left pushes for an internationalist political order mangaged from Washington and her satellites, while the new conservative anti-internationalists have their own want for centralization along nationalist lines. All of this ignores the much more natural and conservative position of regionalist order. People identify much more closely with others in their specific region, not the national "community," which is a Progressivist construction. The South, the Northeast, the Midwest, the far west, the southwest, the central north... these are much more natural areas of division and social order.

About the author

C.Jay Engel is the founder and publisher of Bastion Magazine. He has written for, LRC, David Stockman, and related. He owns several consulting business, actively works on the magazine, and lives in Northern CA.

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