Emmanuel Macron: “Nationalism is the betrayal of patriotism.”

Recently, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, said:

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values. “

In short, he said that patriotism is good, but nationalism is not. Such talk is systematically misleading, as my recent exchange on Facebook was equally misleading. In my posting, I tried to distinguish a nation from a country, claiming that a nation is a country with one language; whereas a country can have several languages, as does Switzerland. The objection was that there are nations without countries!

Obviously, I and my critic were using the word “nation” in different ways. Who was right?  Why did I use the word in the way I did?

Well, there is this phenomenon of people who do not have a country but who endeavor to create an independent country or “nation”, as it may be called. And these people can be called “nationalists.” They do not want to create just any country, but a country composed of people like themselves — an ethnically homogeneous country, which I called a “nation.”

My critic on Facebook responded that what I refer to as an “ethnic group” is, by his use of words, a “nation.” And he — I admit — has a point. The Iroquois League or Confederacy comes to mind. It was composed of five “nations”: Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca; and expanded to include the Tuscarora nation, thus, creating a confederacy of Six Nations. And I myself am prone to call such people without an independent country or State as diverse “nationalities.”

To complicate the matter further, there is the use of the term “nation” as synonymous with a “country” or “State,” as in the international (note the part “national”) “United Nations.” This organization is an organization of political States or countries. (Is “country” and “State” synonymous?)

And to complicate the matter further – in a negative way — there are the associations stemming from the Nazi Party, whose name is a shortening of the word “Nationalsozialismus” or “National Socialism,” producing a psychological antagonism to both the words “national” and “socialism.” [I may mention also the fact that the Russian bolsheviks,  by rechristening themselves “communists”, made the word “communism” also leave a bad taste.]

Now, if we associate the term “nationalism” with the Nazi program, then we will think of nationalism as trying to promote the superiority of a group of people over others. Nazi policy was “Deutschland uber alles” (Germany over others). And in the United States, there are what are called, White Nationalists, or White Supremacists — a carry over, I take it, from Southern slavery days.

This idea of superiority has contaminated the idea of nationalism, which from another perspective, is the almost (dare I say) instinctual desire for tribalism. “Tribalism,” as I use the term,  is the desire to be with people who are like you is some respects, primarily, in respect of language, and secondarily, in other respects — like race, religion, age, sexual preference, or whatever.

Tribalism —  this instinct to flock together — is distinct from chauvinism, or the claim of superiority. Unfortunately, Nazis and White “Nationalists,” have given nationalism a bad association. However, in more common or laudatory ways of understanding “nationalism,” it is a form of (innocuous?) tribalism, with no necessary connections to claims of superiority.

Complicating this discussion even further, is the recent overwhelming phenomenon of massive migrations  into Europe. Europe, although cosmopolitan is outlook, is composed of pretty much homogeneous ethnic groups or nationalities, and this linguistic and quasi-religious homogeneity has been severely disrupted in recent years, causing, what may be called, a nationalistic – although I would prefer to call it a tribal — reaction.

But when Macron said that patriotism is good, but nationalism is bad, he was ambiguously (or by conflation) expressing two different sentiments. The first – acceptable sentiment – is that nationalism with the connotation of superiority is bad, whereas patriotism, as the love and defense of country, is good. The second – unacceptable sentiment of a capitalist – is that tribalism in any form is bad, that no county should be endeavoring for any kind of homogeneity — linguistic, religious, or whatever; instead, all countries should embrace multiculturalism. Why is this the sentiment of a capitalist? The capitalist wants to atomize the population into self-centered individuals or families, which do not unite in any way to disrupt the commercial market. And for this reason, the capitalists of Europe, like Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, are in favor of multiculturalism and the influx of heterogeneous immigrants.

Addendum:

In my first take on Macron’s claim that “nationalism is the betrayal of patriotism,” I failed to take account of his “moral values.” These appear to be a rejection of:

1. National interests have a priority over international interests.

And the embracing of:

2. National interest should take into account the interests of other nations.

He seems to be claiming that if you accept 1, you have to reject 2. I do not see how that follows.

Think of countries as if they were isolated homesteads in the wild west of the United States. Each homestead had to be self-sufficient, and the priority was for its own survival and flourishing. And if another homestead failed, that was not due to any fault of the first homestead.

However, suppose these homesteads had the same river crossing through their homesteads; then the situation changes. What a homestead does with the river upstream makes a difference to the homestead downstream — and so, out of self-interest, some mutually satisfactory agreement has to be reached. This is not because one homestead cares for the good of the other, but because a compromise is necessary for self-interest.

Perhaps what Macron should have said is that no homestead (nation) is or can be isolated from another because not only is the river now contaminated by both homesteads (nations), but also the the soil is contaminated, the air is polluted, and the global temperature is too high.

In that case, Macron should have accused Trump, or anyone who thinks like Trump, of thinking that that 1 excludes 2 (as Macron himself seems to think); where in fact, 1 requires and depends on 2. The accusation should, then be, not about the rejection of moral values, but an accusation of stupidity.

But let’s be realistic. Neither the United States nor Trump are isolating themselves in all respects. The United States has a global military presence with nearly 1000 military bases. And it defends the interests of US international corporations, particularly those producing oil and military hardware. What can be said is that Trump is interested is short-term interests for himself and his cronies, but is interested neither in the short-term nor the long-term interests of either the ordinary people of the United States or of the world.

Three Conditions for a Better Democracy Everywhere, with an eye on the government in Ukraine

People who run for office are — I suspect — most likely doing it out of self-interest. Their universal message is: “Elect me and I will straighten everything out.” But they know very well, that single individuals cannot do much for the good of the people — even if they want to. They have to have the cooperation of a whole bureaucracy and the sources of money. So, a candidate who says that he will fix everything is either naive or a fraud. And if he says that he will fix things by laws, you know he is bullshitting.

I suggest that all politicians when running for office  acknowledge that the following three things are required to improve the condition of the government.

1. Eliminate Corruption
2. Alter Voting
3. Decentralize
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1. Eliminate Corruption: I do not have to give you concrete examples of corruption (bribery, extortion) to convince you that corruption exists. To me it is almost self-evident that if a person is in a position to be bribed or for him to use extortion, these tactics will be used. And they will be used in secret.

As I see it, the problem is to eliminate the possibility or likelihood of both bribery and extortion. This requires, minimally, that at least two persons are required to make a decision or carry out some action. This is simply the principle of dividing power.

In ancient Republican Rome, the executive power was in the hands of two consuls, elected for a year, and each had veto power over the other. One would be in charge of making decisions for a month, while the other had veto power over him.  Two kings  also ruled ancient Sparta,  followed by Ephors to ensure their dutifulness.

It is because of the vulnerability of a single individual to being bought or threatened, that I am against the offices of a President or Prime Minister, but favor a collegial executive as they have in Switzerland. In Switzerland there is a Federal Council of seven individuals, nominated by the four dominant political parties and conferred by the joint bi-cameral parliament. And such councils should exist on all levels and departments of government.

Consider the expose of John Perkins in his book Confessions of an Economic Hitman. He tells us that as long as a country has a king, a president, or prime minister, such a person can be bribed or threatened, or assassinated.
Here is the audio production of the book:

2. Voting and Democracy: But there is another problem: the nature of voting. Given a system of voting in which thousands or millions vote for a candidate, the candidate with the most money is likely to win. Why? Because when large masses of people are voting, what is needed are techniques of persuasion — sophisticated advertisement in term of quality and quantity, which money can buy. Or, as is sometimes said, votes can be bought with some kovbasa (sausage).

So, the problem is how to get money out of the electoral process, and I cannot think of any alternative but a complete change in the system of government from a top-down one — as exists almost universally — to a bottom-up one.

The unit of government should be something no larger than a village of, lets say, 100 families — a size allowing everyone to know everyone else — face to face. These communities or territories elect a council of, say, five members who execute the will of the people through direct democracy.

This council chooses a delegate to a higher level council of some workable number of delegated– let’s say 20. These in turn choose a delegate to a still higher council — until we reach the highest council.

Such a system of government has been proposed by Stephen Shalom by the name “participatory politics” or “parpolity.”

3. Decentralization: You may not know it, but Ukraine has the features of a democratic dictatorship. It is symbiotic dictatorship of a President and a Party. The President is elected by a national popular vote. His powers are the following:
(1) He appoints and dismissed all the Governors of the Oblasts. In other words, the Governors must do the will of the President.

A former Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, was given Ukrainian citizenship by the President, and appointed by the President as the Governor of the Odessa Oblast; and then, because of not having the power to fight corruption, he resigned. Subsequently, by fiat of the President, he was deprived of Ukrainian citizenship and forced to leave the country.

(2) The President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Military. He nominates the Minister of Defense, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the head of the Security Service.

(3) The President also nominates the Prime Minister. Here the President is almost forced to nominate the choice of the dominant Party in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). This is so because any other candidate will not be conferred by the Parliament.

(4) The Prime-Minister, in turn, nominates all the remaining Ministers.

Thus, between the President and the Prime-Minister (who represents the interest of the ruling party), the whole country is ruled.

If a Council-System of government is not chosen (i.e., parpolity), then I would recommend that the country adopt a decentralized system in which the Governor is either elected by the residents of the Oblast (or, better, that the Oblast council elects an executive council to act as the Governor).

Also, each Oblast is to appoint their own Procurator and chief-of-police, answerable to the Oblast government; not to the national government.

Also, on the Municipal level, the mayor, or a mayoral council should appoint a Procurator and a Chief-of-Police.  Unless these changes are made, a mayor with good intentions, such as Michel Terestchenko of the city of Hlukhiv in Ukraine, will be paralyzed by the system.  Listen to a podcast with the mayor, titled “The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly.”
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Unless these measures listed above are introduced, a country will be ruled by oligarchs or an Oligarch.

The Red Bureaucracy: Authoritarian Socialism vs Libertarian Socialism

Cameron Watt clearly explains the difference between authoritarian and libertarian socialists, and argues in favor of libertarian socialism (=anarchism).

The difference between democratic socialism and revolutionary socialism

Socialism in all forms strives to improve the economic life of the downtrodden people — the homeless, the poor. And this can be done only by political means. Democratic socialists hope to do this through parliaments, through congresses of representatives or deputies. Revolutionary socialists, by contrast, think this can be done only by changing the political institutions.

Authoritarian socialists think this can be done by their party taking control of the central government. The assumption is that a central government (i.e. the State) is necessary to do this. In the Soviet Union there was no socialism; there was State capitalism. The government took over the factories and farms and hired wage-workers. And these products entered into the international market.

Libertarian socialists, by contrast, want to get rid of a central government altogether, i.e., the State, and replace it with a federation of small communities governed by democratically elected councils.

The Ideas of Keith Preston

I have just discovered a very interesting anarchist who has similar views to my own. His website is called “Attack the System” with two subtitles, with which I agree: (1) Pan-Anarchism Against the State, and (2) Pan-Secessionism Against the Empire.

I listened to two of his videos which are listed below, and plan to do more listening and studying of his ideas.

A description of current “leftist” views and their relation to the State.

European colonialism fathered American quasi-religious imperialism

Andrew Chrucky’s annotated commentary on the debate between Stefan Molyneux and Peter Joseph of the Zeitgeist Movement about the free market system, which took place on September 23, 2013.

Here is the video of the debate. My commentary is below.

Commentary