by G. Murphy Donovan (October 2018)
Untitled, Max Papart, late 1960s
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.—Adam Smith
The timbre of the times is often captured in national clichés, iconic words that sound like an era. “In God we trust” serenades a generation that was loath to trust mere mortals. There was a time in America, however, when real men were comfortable with utilitarian, or should we say enlightened mottos. Those 18th Century founding fathers, mostly European entrepreneurs, were all too familiar with the hazards of political and religious collision. Indeed when Benjamin Franklin designed the Fugio cent, the lyric on the lowly cooper was “Mind Your Business,” an echo of Adam Smith’s trust in labor and enterprise as the true wealth of nations.
Franklin’s use of the “F” word was part of a rebus or puzzle. The sun, a sundial, and the motto fugio, I fly or flee, figuratively tells us that “time flies.” The coded message admonishes the spender to use time wisely as if it was currency. Over a lifetime, we might purchase more of anything with coin of the realm, except more time.
Indeed, Benjamin Franklin reminds us that the bell starts to toll for all citizens at birth.
“In God We Trust” first appeared on coinage during the Civil War along with inflation and the two-cent piece. The phrase was not mandated by law for all US currency until 1956. Apparently, Americans had nearly a hundred years to think about the virtues of capitalism, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility before passing those bucks, adjusted for inflation, back to God.
It took Adam Smith at least that long to spin in his grave at Cannongate Kirkyard.
The mid-1950s may have been one of those quiet historical tipping points where those Enlightenment values that made America great were softly swept into the dust bin of history. In spite of all the post-World War II hyperbole about liberty and democracy, by mid-20th Century, the communal barnacle and the nascent globalist were trending.
The defeat of political fascism created lebenscraum for the nanny state, Communism, Socialism, and globalism. The American hand up soon became the handout. Welfare became a liberal, urban, and universal vote buying racket—funded by apathy.
Joseph Stalin joined Adam Smith in 1953, whilst Karl Marx came back from the dust like a zombie. Karl’s wall-eyed progeny are alive and thriving today. The deep (nee welfare) state, United Nations, NATO, and the European Union are all vestiges of good social intentions gone awry, a host of liberal institutions and their unelected apparatchiks advancing imperial notions of utopian piffle and Orwellian control.
Whites, males, heterosexuals, entrepreneurs, capitalists, and nationalists, especially, became suspect, in fact vilified as political luddites or social troglodytes. The Internationale might have fallen off the hit-parade, but social democrats never left the dance floor. By the turn of the 21st Century, the fall of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union were not victories for freedom or democracy so much as they were opportunities for NATO and EU expansion, the blitzkrieg of subsidized, if not imperial, social democracy.
What formerly was taken by force or arms could now be bought by USAID, debt, deficit, or other people’s money in general. The social collective, foreign and domestic, became way too big to fail.
Maybe it was bong resin of the 1960s, public schools, or just too many May Day parades, but by the last millennial, nationalism had become a dirty word. Somehow the entrepreneurial, or mercantile, nation-state had been tainted by Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, and Tojo. Alas, none of those tyrants were nationalists so much as they were fascists, imperialists with a global agenda, trolls with delusions of moral superiority.
Today; the imperialist, the fascist, the jihadist, and the globalist all share similar visions—religious or social nirvana. The only hero, apparently, to push back against the sugar teat at home and imperial socialists abroad is the nationalist.
In such a world, chaps like Donald Trump are inevitable.
Weed and other pharma probably played support roles role here too. Addiction on the left is now the “epidemic” of choice. The generation that got high on communal lies and chemical oblivion is now in charge. The Trump White House seems to have little influence in Washington beyond the Rose Garden. A robust drug and alcohol culture insures that the deep state intelligentsia remains clueless, obscurant, and ideologically pure.
The globalist stoner now believes in amphetamines, amnesty, and amnesia.
Nevertheless, the bell still tolls. Call it tintinnabulation. The vestigial sound of nationalism is getting a second hearing today in quarters beyond the White House. Take Brittan, Scotland, Catalonia, Hungary, and Israel as examples.
Take Israel especially.
Israelis in the Levant are like those Flatbush Jews in Brooklyn, thriving communities of intellectuals and entrepreneurs surrounded by dead beats and other hostiles. Bad neighborhoods seem to be the secret to modern Jewish success. In kinetic culture wars, polemicists who argue like rabbis are a must.
Yoram Hazony, for example, just dropped a national turd in the globalist punch bowl. His Virtue of Nationalism is the perfect argument to give coup plotters at the New York Times or globalists in Silicon Valley a case of terminal hemorrhoids.
Calling nationalism a virtue today is anathema for liberals, the very definition of chutzpah—or moxie. Hazony presides as mensch on the academic bench at the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the institute’s namesake, is considered the father of modern Zionism.
The Herzl Institute is a think tank that addresses research and education on a broad range of issues including politics, philosophy, theology, history, the state of Israel, and anti-Semitism. While Zionism might be the vested interest in Hazony’s narrative, his defense of nationalism is a lot more than a regional sign of the times.
Whither Israel, so go us all.
The crystal clear righteousness of a Jewish state is underwritten by several legal if not moral imperatives. Two stand out.
In the first instance, wars have consequences. A few million Jews beat 150 million Arabs in several wars now. Winners, not losers, get to sift the rubble after the smoke clears. Might might not make right, but military victory in war draws new maps any day of the week.
Further, a polity like Israel is existential, both necessary and sufficient. Jews do not have guaranteed security anywhere but Israel, especially not in the Ummah—and maybe not in Paris or Brooklyn either. Indeed, an arrogant schmuck like Marc Zuckerberg tries to silence an Israeli like Hazony globally by purging adverts for The Virtue of Nationalism.
Nationalism in any form is a four letter word for the digital left. Ironically, Facebook censorship helps to make Hazony’s case about pervasive liberal internet intolerance—and the need for the sovereign nation states.
Zuckerberg’s globalism is a lot like political chlamydia, not something you choose per se, but something you’re bound to catch on-line, especially if you keep the wrong company on Twitter and Facebook.
Alas, the Israeli conundrum is fraught on both ends of the political spectrum; on the one hand by ultra-observant Jews who oppose any notion of state, on the other hand by egomaniacal nouveau riche like Zuckerberg.
Complaints about Israelis are often exacerbated by spurious charges of racism and apartheid. If such claims are legitimate, or moral, the next relevant question is “compared to what?”
Per capita, the Palestinian cohort, within or outside of the state of Israel, accounts for more jihadists and terror cells than any other demographic on the planet. Still, a million and a half Palestinians survive and thrive as citizens in Israel. In contrast, nearly all Jews have been purged from Persian, Arab, or Muslim lands. Jews in Europe too are again close to extinction due to the anti-Semitism imported with globalism and Muslim immigrants.
Europe’s 20th Century romance with political fascism has been replaced now by an uglier marriage with 21st century religious fascism.
Vichy, Quisling, and collaboration are still part of Europe’s DNA. Open borders policy is an official invitation to submission again, this time to the jihad and the kalifate. National resistance to an unassimilable demographic should be a no-brainer. Conflating national angst with racism is a rhetorical tactic to obscure a strategic reality.
Hypocrisy doesn’t quite capture the pandering, the cupidity, of playing the race and bias cards to defend the most repressive culture on the planet. If you cannot tolerate Jews, Christians, wine, women, song, bacon, bikinis, bibles, bare heads, unaltered vaginas, cocker spaniels, or pork chops; you are in no position to point any fingers at the many peccadilloes of Parisians.
The claptrap catalogue that gets condemned as unislamic reads like a book of Charlie Hebdo cartoons. But there are no jokes here. In too many parts of the Ummah, a mere charge of “unislamic” is the dog whistle that launches Mohammed’s knifers, bombers, or lynch mobs.
Even in Flatbush, nobody gets their throat cut for eating a ham sandwich.
Given the alternatives, globalism or Islamism, no small wonder then that nationalism has a new lease. Yoram Hazony’s nationalism isn’t exactly warmed over mercantile capitalism, but it is a timely echo of the same ethos that made Adam Smith the most important moral philosopher since Erasmus. An individual, a village, indeed a nation, does best for the common weal when they “mind their business,” tend to their own selfish needs.
National and local success is contagious, both motive and reward. Or as a true progressive might say, a rising tide floats all boasts.
If you take the globalist pipe dream to its logical conclusion, a world government, global law, or universal ethics could only be enforced by coercion—imams, ayatollahs, or Zuckerbergs. Ideology, zealots, and coercion are the key ingredients of fascism.
Real competition and pluralism, sometimes kinetic, is the true fuel for progress. A world without strife is the end not the beginning.
Winners and losers still matter.
G. Murphy Donovan is a Zionist who always dines at Katz’s deli on the lower East Side, when in Manhattan, as a token of Hibernian solidarity with the tribe that gave America the smoked fish bialy dressed with a schmeer of cream cheese.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast
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