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On the Johnson vs. Collett Debate
There’s a split happening in the radical right over what it means to be a nationalist, and this is good because on one side of it lies genuine nationalism, and on the other lies something else. The battle lines emerged with some (but not total) clarity in the recent debate between Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents and Mark Collett of Patriotic Alternative.
The debate was over which side the Anglosphere should support between Russia and NATO/Ukraine in the war, with Greg on the side of NATO/Ukraine and Mark on the side of Russia. Greg made his case well but ultimately Mark won the debate, not because he was on the side of truth (though he was) but because he was on the side of us. Although Greg attempted to argue that a strong NATO is better than a weak NATO for nationalists at home, this was not convincing. While the lines were a bit muddy, Mark was more concerned to argue for the concrete good of Anglo nationalists and Greg was more concerned to argue for the good of nationalism in the abstract. To argue for one is not necessarily to argue for the other.
I would never question Greg’s commitment to nationalism. He has been at this longer than most of us, myself included, and my own intellectual development owes a debt to Counter-Currents. However, framing nationalism in universalist terms is a dead end because nationalism is an inherently particularistic phenomenon.There’s an ordinality to it that is lost when the abstraction nationalism is privileged above this nation here. Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead quipped that his sonic approach was “everything louder than everything else”, and the joke is the obvious contradiction in such a statement. Nationalism is putting your nation first, and while there is nothing wrong with wanting to see other nations do the same, these can’t both be the highest priority—you can’t put your nation first while also putting the right of other nations to do the same first. They will invariably come into conflict, so which is it? The answer to this will tell you if you’re a nationalist in theory or in practice. “My family first and everyone else’s family first too” is our Motorhead quote, except not a joke—Lemmy Nationalism.
So, if we are to be nationalists at all, the entire debate is over our particular national interests. It was in this that Mark won, because Greg was arguing uphill—quite clearly our highest national interests are served by the hostile ruling order at home getting its ass handed to it.
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It’s sometimes said that rooting for Russia is a kind of xenophilia unbecoming of nationalists, but there is nothing xenophiliac in wanting to harm the ruling order at home where it serves the good of the nation. There is, however, something xenophiliac in placing the good of all nations above that of one’s own. But isn’t this somewhat narrow, egotistical, even sociopathic? I say to this what I said to reddit communists for years who argued that all in-group preference was sociopathic—true sociopathy is putting everyone else’s mother before your own.
“Nationalism for all” is a fine sentiment, but there are limits to it. I put my family first because I’m not a sociopath, but this cannot be an absolute principle. My family comes first, but taken too far this imperils my clan, and that does not serve my family at all. My clan comes first, but taken too far this imperils my tribe; tribe first, but not at the expense of my community, and so on. As the “horizon of care” broadens, the duty to the whole diminishes, and reaches an effective limit at the race. No nation’s interests are so important as to imperil the white race,but in practical terms no white nation’s interests do imperil the white race, nor is this remotely likely ever to happen. However, beyond that is the effective limit of moral duty—I have respect for the Chinese and don’t want to see them come to harm, but our duties to them are for all intents and purposes instrumental and transactional.
“Nationalism for all” is fine in the abstract, but we don’t live in a world of abstractions, we live in a world of concrete nations, whose interests are zero-sum. There is nothing contradictory in me putting my family first, but there is something contradictory in me doing that while also defending my enemy’s right to do the same. This is not to be principled, this is to lose nationalism, because there can be no nationalism without our national interests.
Insofar as it is indexical—nationalism always has reference to the nationalist.
Because to do so is contrary to that nation’s interests.