Our very own Editor Peter Brimelow has been engaged in an on-going twitter brawl with the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony, recently celebrated for his 2018 book The Virtue of Nationalism. It began when Peter was invited by Hazony to July’s ‘National Conservatism’ conference, only subsequently to receive a form letter refusing his acceptance because Peter’s “publications and professional associations” were “incompatible with national conservatism as we understand it.” Revealed in this debate: Hazony either does not “understand,” or is flat-out lying about, the fact that Israel is an ethnostate and that Jews are a race.
In the truly fascinating exchange on Twitter, Hazony was accused, by AIM’s Patrick Casey, of defending “nationalism” but only for his own people and in which Casey insisted that Judaism was “ethno-religious” while “white” identity was “racial”. Hazony responded that:
What separates us isn’t any lack of enthusiasm for American nationalism on my part. What separates us is my view that a nation isn’t a race, that nationalism isn’t racism.
Hazony even added that “Israelis regard their country as a national state and not a race state” and “Jews are a nation, not a race.”
This is despite his asserting, in his book that:
By nation, I mean a number of tribes with a common language or religion, and a past history of acting as a body for the common defence and other large-scale enterprises.
So, what does Hazony really think? Is he “lying,” as a Jewish friend of Brimelow exclaimed? And is he right about the civic nature of nationalism?
One of the more useful concepts to come out of psychology has been “cognitive dissonance,” an idea developed by the Jewish-American scholar Leon Festinger (1919-1989). According to Festinger, we all require, to varying degrees, “cognitive consonance”—a clear, structured worldview in which reality makes sense. This makes us feel secure; we feel less stressed if everything’s clear cut.
But, of course, there’s much we don’t know; a lot of which we cannot be certain. And this makes us feel anxious. Many people deal with this via comforting illusion: by creating a clearly structured world-view, and related sense of self, and successfully suppressing the doubts they unconsciously harbour about its accuracy.
When people are confronted with the inconsistencies in their thought system and model of who they are, they will experience “cognitive dissonance,” and all the feelings of insecurity and helplessness that come with it. This will “trigger” profound negative emotions and, depending on individual personality, they may run away and hide or lash out, perceiving the messenger of their “cognitive dissonance” as an existential threat.
So, if people become emotional and angry during an academic debate then it is obvious—following Festinger’s research—that they don’t really think that what they’re saying is true; they simply want it to be true so that everything makes sense and so that their “sense of self” remains positive.
Accordingly, Hazony’s verbal violence towards his critics (“bogus . . . pseudo-scientific . . . nerds”) screams that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying. He states that nations are civic and wants to believe this, because believing it will elevate his status in the Current Year, but he knows that his critics, who state that nations are ultimately ethnic, have, at least, a fair point. His use of words such as “tribe”—inherently defined as a group of people who regard themselves as having a common ancestor—only illustrates this further.
As for whether nationalism is racial, this has been explored in the recent book Race Differences in Ethnocentrism by Edward Dutton: “A “race” is a “breeding population” that shows consistent patterns of genotypic frequencies on inter-correlated physical and mental characteristics reflecting adaptation to a different environment than another “race.” It is a human “subspecies;” on its way to becoming another “species” and a person’s “race” can be estimated from their appearance with at least 75% certainty. Thus the “races of Classical Anthropology” have been proven to be clear and distinct genetic “clusters”—something obvious from, but not directly stated in, The History and Geography of Human Genes, by Luigi Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994.
An “ethny” is, in essence, a “sub-race.” There is a huge debate over what defines an ethny. The assorted “Constructivist” schools have various ideas—that nationalism was caused by literacy or was imposed on the people by the elite—but they are all highly questionable and none of them can explain the incredible sacrifices that people are prepared to make for their “nations.”
I believe the only model that can explain this is the “Sociobiological School.” Sociobiologists—now known as “evolutionary psychologists”—have drawn upon genetic data to show that European “nations” really are distinct genetic “clusters”, though they are less clear cut than “races,” and they highlight evidence that people pass on their genes directly—by having children—but also via “inclusive fitness,” by aiding their kin.
Two random French people will be more genetically similar than a random Frenchman will be to a random Englishmen, because they will have a common ancestor more recently (likely about 500 years ago). This means that, in terms of genetic interests, it can make sense for the average Frenchman to fight off invasion by the English, even to the point of self-sacrifice [See On Genetic Interests, by Frank Salter, 2003]. If a “nation” is an extended kinship group—which, they demonstrate, it is—then people laying down their lives for their nation suddenly makes sense: they are elevating their “inclusive fitness;” operating at the level of the “extended kinship group.”
So, on this basis, is Israel a “Proposition Nation” or an “ethnostate”? The answer is clear: It’s an ethnostate. Jews constitute a genetic cluster, at least to the same extent that the French do. Although there is considerable genetic variance within the Jewish population, two random Jews will be more genetically similar than a random Jew will be to a random gentile. Consistent with this, Jews have a characteristic genetic profile—including a characteristic genetic disease profile, something that is true of all ethnic groups and most noticeably of relatively isolated ones with small gene pools, such as the Icelandic or the Finns. [See The population genetics of the Jewish people, By Harry Ostrer & Karl Skorecki, Human Genetics, 2013]
So, by any reasonable definition, Jews are an ethnic group. You must be Jewish—defined matrilineally (a point that Hazony ignores) to avoid cuckoldry by gentiles—to become an Israeli citizen. So, it follows that Israel is an “ethnostate.”
It is true that at points in its history, Judaism has been a “converting” religion, which explains the existence of the Ethiopian Jews, who are, genetically, Ethiopian. But this long since ceased to be the dominant discourse among Jews. In fact, the status of converts is distinctly problematic. There is continuing controversy over whether Israel’s celebrated Law of Return applies to them. Moreover, a large minority of Israelis don’t accept Ethiopian Jews as being part of their tribe. In 2005 a survey found that 43% of Israelis would not marry an Ethiopian Jew and would not wish their children to do so [Racism Alive and Well in Israeli Society, by Tony Jassen, Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2005]
Israel, like all historic nation-states, is ultimately based around a dominant ethnicity, with an ethnicity being a sub-sub-species of humanity that only makes sense in partly genetic terms.
Hazony surely knows this, but apparently fears the political difficulties which may result for him in Europe and America if he openly states it…hence, the cognitive dissonance.
So it’s quite simple: Hazony believes Jews can have an ethnostate but whites can’t. He just won’t say it.
Because if you’re not white and live in a white ethnostate, like Jews in America for most of its history, that wouldn’t be good—surely?
Lance Welton [Email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.