“There is no other Nationalism than the Nationalism therein implied, i.e. that the nation is more important than any part of the nation.” Padraig Pearse January 1914
I cannot say this any more forcefully than this: there are not four types of Nationalism, there is only one. I will begin this essay addressing the four types postulated by Seán Joseph in a previous article, refuting the arguments contained therein and offering an alternative construction of Nationalism.
Beginning with Christian Nationalism, it is clear that the author is trying to bring into balance both his patriotic tendencies and his Christian faith, but the piece does not sufficiently address this conflict and merely seeks to speak past it.
By stating that Church teaching on Nationalism is “non-existent”, the author implies that there is some wiggle room, but when the issue is dug into it is patently untrue. Christianity is a universalist doctrine, and Catholic social teaching shares much in common with the wayward activism of the progressive left – if it seems conservative it is simply because “social progress” has outpaced the Church, not that the Church is truly traditional, and neither can it be considered reactionary (as the author postulates Nationalism is simply a reaction to globalism – an argument I also take umbrage with).
Whether or not a Christian “believes promoting Nationalism is beneficial for society” is irrelevant – there is not scope for a “personal morality” in Catholicism, there is a clear hierarchy which defines catechism and heresy. And this hierarchy has taken an avowedly anti-nationalist stance: In Fratelli Tutti the Pope condemned Nationalism in Western countries as “myopic, extremist, resentful.” In addressing the United Nations, Francis declared that Nationalism “must not prevail.”
You can make the argument that the Roman Catholic Church is not the be-all and end-all of Christianity, though it certainly claims to be and makes up the greatest portion of Christianity in the world – and the teachings of Protestant Christianity are not much different. The Episcopalian Church’s Executive Council asked that a plan be prepared for “The Episcopal Church’s holistic response to Christian Nationalism and violent white supremacy.” In the Anglican Church, Arch-Bishop Justin Welby of Canterbury spoke about Fratelli Tutti and about how a parable “overrode Nationalism and prejudice with unconditional love” implicitly connecting Nationalism and prejudice.
This is simply going by Christian statements on Nationalism, and not highlighting the conflicting doctrinal beliefs. I believe Seán Joseph errs in his estimation of what “Christian Nationalism” is – that despite attempting to (rightly) bifurcate “patriotism” and “Nationalism,” he fails to maintain those distinctions and gives patriotism the name of “Christian Nationalism.” Nationalism is not simply to desire political power for your ethnic group above others – one would not call Irish or Jewish ethno-centrism in America “Nationalism.” Nationalism is rather a love of country and people so deep that it obliterates everything else, including for many people (myself one of them) any need for a Divine at all.
I am also not sure how the author began speaking about how Christian Nationalism is a distinct form of Nationalism, and yet ends with decrying Nationalism’s essence as being un-Christian. “The opinion that every international action that benefits your nation is by default good is erroneous and unchristian.” Surely this is proof not that Nationalism is unchristian, but that Christian thought is separate to Nationalist thought entirely?
This is to say nothing of the fact that Daniel O’Connell was certainly no Nationalist – the man destroyed the Irish language as a method of political agitation and did not want an Irish-Ireland, Gaelic and free. He simply wanted Irish Catholics to be treated as equal subjects in the British Empire to English Protestants.
This is arguably the most accurate attempt at summating a branch of Nationalism; but I would deny that it is in fact nationalistic at all. While the author is correct in stating that the French Revolution wiped away the Ancien Regime and channelled the powers of Nationalism – it is not true to suppose that the energies of Nationalism were eternally tied up with the democratising power. That same French Nationalism then collapsed the same Republic and also created an Empire that stretched from Nantes and Marseille to Abruzzo and Berlin, and which occupied Moscow for a time.
The author goes on to confuse his position further – by stating that Nationalism does not need to be backed by actual popular legitimacy but merely needs to claim popular legitimacy, and quotes the IRA, yet you would be hard pressed to find a single member of the Republican movement that would go so far as to suggest that the right to unity is in any way contingent upon democratic approval or can be set aside through democratic concession. The voting in favour of the Good Friday Capitulation by the people in Ireland in both jurisdictions does not legitimise either the southern or northern States in the eyes of active Republicans, many of them even consider the Provisional Movement disarming to be a betrayal of Nationalism and Republicanism, irrespective of that move’s popular mandate. In the impossible scenario that you could tomorrow unite Ireland without popular mandate, and have it accepted without violence, do you think any Nationalist would not seize it with both hands? Nationalist action is always to be recognised as a vanguard action – Pearse himself said that: “Always it is the many who fight for the evil thing, and the few who fight for the good thing; and always it is the few who win.” (Peace and the Gael 1915)
Liberal Nationalism is not then a facet of Nationalism, but merely a fusion between liberalism and nationalist energies in the same way Nationalism has aligned with socialism or capitalism alternatively in Cuba and in Chile. It does not itself alter Nationalism, or become a new strain through mutation; it is simply a marriage of convenience.
There are a number of assertions throughout this section which are simply wrong. Fascism is not “paganistic.” Whether or not you assume that Evola’s metaphysics or the Thule society’s weird ramblings are paganistic is largely irrelevant. Irish fascism was deeply Clerical throughout the 20th century. Ailtirí na hAiséirighe wanted to create a Christian proselytising State. Mussolini’s maiden speech in 1921 spoke about the importance of the Catholic Church and upon achieving power agreed the Lateran Pacts with the Vatican. There are fascists who are pagans, of course, but there are also hippie pagans and vegan pagans. There are likewise those who would be defined as clerical fascists or “proto-fascists” in Irish history like Seán Sabhat or Padraig Pearse (whether or not those brandings are accurate).
It is rather unfortunate that the author uses this section to simply lay all the evils of the world at the foot of “fascism” like a shrill over-zealous twenty-year-old Communications student in UCD. By claiming that “[c]olonialism can be seen as a continuation of pagan morality and a preliminary version of fascism” he betrays any attempt at objective appraisal, and is simply wrong.
When the Vatican decreed the conversion of the New World to Catholicism, was this the fault of pagan infiltration? When Inter caetera recognised Spain and Portugal as having the right to conquer the peoples of South America was this the nefarious beginnings of fascism in 1493? Was Dudum siquidem written by No True Catholic?
I am not laying the blame at the foot solely of Catholicism either – I ought to state also that France’s “great civilising mission” was not led by pagan fascists or clerics but by liberal academics and politicians – the same class of people that who today write articles about how Irish classrooms are too white and read Sally Rooney or who take part in protests on Instagram and Blanchardstown in support of a drug dealer in Minneapolis.
Quite frankly I don’t know what exactly is being argued here and I think it best to simply request clarification of what the author meant rather than to assume because there are several ways to interpret what has been written, which each require a distinctly different approach to answering.
Nationalism: what is
Nationalism is a deep love for one’s own country and one’s own people. Nationalism is metaphysical, it exists not as something you can measure or touch, but for those of us who are nationalist, we know it when we see it and we know it when we feel it in our hearts.
Nationalism is not simply appreciating the place you are born – if my child were to be born in America on our way back to Ireland from a holiday, they would not be American nationalists.
Nationalism is not simply blood – the residents of Dalkey who would sell Irish people up the river so long as their suburb is untouched are not Irish nationalists.
Nationalism is not simply cultural – the posterchildren for diversity in Ireland who play GAA are not Irish nationalists.
Nationalism is a unique combination of circumstances. It is the combination of your blood, your lineage, the culture you are raised in, and a love for the land that bore your ancestors and holds now their bones in cold, eternal embrace.
Nationalism can have left-wing economic policies or right-wing economic policies but what it cannot do is be self-destructive. You cannot be a nationalist and support the transferral of sovereignty to foreign entities. You cannot be a nationalist and support the demographic replacement of the Irish people. You cannot be a nationalist and support the destruction of Irish culture and identity and its replacement with Anglo-American plastic consumerism. You cannot be a nationalist and despise your fellow Irishmen. You cannot be a nationalist and turn a blind eye to the suffering of your people, because they are of us and we are of them.
If the Nationalism above seems exclusionary or harsh or unchristian – fine.
I will not forsake Ireland for any one or any cause and I will not stand beside any person that would prioritise other causes above Ireland regardless of our common enemy. I will not stand beside a mockery of Nationalism no matter how it’s dressed up or sold. We stand and are willing to die for Ireland: a Nation and nothing less.
An excellent article.
Beautifully put Donnachada.
Soverignity is essential and key to Nationalism.
Interesting piece but fails when failing to distinguish between prudential non binding utterances by Pope who is, at best, reckless, at worse, nefarious. There is ample exegesis that points even to the licit nature of disobedience to clerical superiors eg aquinas and bellarmibe, 2 doctors of the Church are clear on this. The reality is Christ himself requested the Apostles to go forth to evangelise the nations plural. The greek word for nation, is ethnos where we get ethnicity. Even Cardinal Sarah, an African prelate has condemned mass emigration demanding that europe remain european. A globalist Pope does not represent the faith but rather a distortion if it. As for the role of the divine, it is essential. Any materialistic deference to nationhood falls on it’s own petard as a mere illusion created by physicialist electrical impulses and chemical reactions, it reduces love of anything to a facade created to propagate information in a certain albeit purposeless unguided way that will decay at some future universal grand crunch or collapse. It also articulates the confusion between what is hood vs what is merely beneficial. The divine origins insteads decrees a legitimacy beyond mere purposelessness, that there is indeed meaning that is genuine and real. Strip away the divine and you are left an edifice built upon random purposlessness, a mirage of meaning that will ultimately fall victim to the same arbitrariness of progressuve globalism. Patriots die not for a mirage but something meaningfully real, something worth their sacrifice beyond an illusion created by mere chemical reactions or mere electrical impulses that deceive us into some meaningful existence, that ultimately decays into insignificance.
Well written, you brought up some points I never considered. I think when it comes down to it, the nationalism I seek is the nationalism of Irish people pre-1990s; ethnic Irish people a super-majority in the country with no mass immigration, with foreigners been treated kindly if they lived here and Catholicism occupying peoples minds far more than nationalism. Whereas you (you can correct me if I’m wrong) want a nationwide nationalist sentiment to be at the level of old Sinn Féin where there was a romantic view of 1916 and the revolutionary struggle was still alive, along with Irish culture being heavily promoted.