Greg Johnson has a new article at Counter-Currents which argues that American Nationalism “is a form of White Nationalism.”
He argues that “American civic nationalism is a fundamentally false interpretation of American history and identity.” In this view of American history, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is just “another piece of high-minded rhetorical flummery” like the Declaration of Independence “which is not a legal document of the United States.” The Constitution was only written for the posterity of the Founding Fathers and as a result “a free and orderly white society is every American’s birthright.”
While this fairy tale will be music to the ears of the American Nationalist crowd on the internet, I think we should revisit the history of American Nationalism. We have to understand that history to grasp how American Nationalism evolved into the toxic ideology it is today.
The American Revolution Was About Civic Nationalism
American Nationalism has always been grounded in the symbols, documents, outcome and ideology of the American Revolution. The American Revolution had nothing to do with White Nationalism. In the American colonies, the conflict was a bitter civil war between Patriots and Loyalists over republican ideology. It was British subjects killing each other over the desire of one group to establish an independent state based on the fashionable 18th century ideology of civic nationalism.
Civic Nationalism was at the core of the American Revolution. The American colonists fought on both sides of the conflict. Blacks and Indians fought on both sides of the conflict. France and Spain entered the war on the side of the American Patriots. The result of the war was the defeat of Britain and the Loyalists, the ascendance of the Patriots and civic nationalism and the independence of the United States which was a loose confederation of republics organized under the Articles of Confederation.
The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution are all products of civic nationalism. They justify or establish republican governments. At the very beginning, these documents laid down the foundation of American Nationalism, which is liberal republicanism or civic nationalism, with its axioms of liberty, equality, tolerance, individual rights and constitutionalism. They became the touchstones for future generations of Americans who sought to create “a more perfect Union” by eliminating inherited inconsistencies with American Nationalism.
American Nationalism Instantly Undermined And Destabilized Traditional Values
The result of the American Revolution and the triumph of American Nationalism was to create an independent state based on an ideology that undermined traditional values. Ethnicity was the most obviously undermined value as the American Revolution was a bitter civil war between Englishmen. Religion was undermined too and the Anglican Church was disestablished. Racial solidarity was undermined in an international conflict between Britain, France, Spain and between the American colonists. These conflicts would continue through the Age of Revolution.
Prior to the American Revolution, John Locke and his liberal theories were unknown in the American colonies even though Locke himself had written the constitution of South Carolina, which was later revised and ignored by the colonists. It was only during the American Revolution that Locke’s theories about government were seized on and popularized in New England to justify the revolt against Britain. Locke had argued that the human mind was a tabula rasa (a blank slate) and the implication of this was that all measurable differences between human beings are environmental in origin.
Before the American Revolution, slavery had been legal in all the American colonies and no one but the most radical Quaker sects subscribed to the theory of racial equality. Even in Cotton Mather’s New England, the consensus view was that blacks were an inferior race for hereditary reasons. They were born that way. Maybe they suffered from the Curse of Ham. After the American Revolution, slavery was abolished in New England and racial equality triumphed and became the dominant enlightened view in the region. Its leading intellectuals like Samuel Stanhope Smith argued against Thomas Jefferson.
The Founding Fathers Weren’t White Nationalists
The Founding Fathers were not White Nationalists and bitterly disagreed on race and slavery. Generally speaking, Southerners like Jefferson and Madison saw slavery as an evil that would fade away over time, but tended to believe in racial inequality. Northerners like Samuel Stanhope Smith, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton believed in racial equality and were inclined toward emancipation. By this point, the Northern intelligentsia were coming to believe that blacks were inferior, but this was a result of their environment. It was slavery that had imbruted them and made them that way. This is a species of anti-racism known as the doctrine of assimilationism.
The US Constitution and the Naturalization Act of 1790 were compromises between the North and the South. It was Southerners who insisted on things like the Fugitive Slave Clause in the Constitution, the 3/5ths Compromise and basing American naturalization laws on whiteness. American citizenship was based on state citizenship at the time. Before the War Between the States, blacks were citizens of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Blacks were stripped of voting rights in Pennsylvania in 1838. They were allowed to vote in New York as long as they owned $250 worth of property. They also lost voting rights in New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland.
There Was Never A Rise In White Nationalism In The Northeast
In the Northeast, there was never a rise in White Nationalism. From the Founding through the antebellum era, the consensus view among the educated Northern elite was that blacks were American citizens who ought to be allowed to vote. They were the equals of White people, but had been degraded by slavery. Education would solve the problem and uplift them to racial equality. Pennsylvania repealed its anti-miscegenation law in 1780. Massachusetts repealed its anti-miscegenation law in 1834. New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont never passed anti-miscegenation laws.
This disagreement between North and South over the nature of American Nationalism, racial equality and civic nationalism came to a boiling point in the antebellum era. Northerners cried over Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. John Brown was celebrated as a hero. In the Dred Scott decision, Justice Roger Taney ruled that blacks were not American citizens. This was considered outrageous in the Northeast where blacks were already citizens and voters in most states.
The Origins of White Nationalism
If the Founding Fathers were not White Nationalists, then where did White Nationalism come from?
The roots of White Nationalism trace back to the colonization movement in the Early Republic to resettle free blacks in Africa. We’ve already seen how Liberia was founded for this purpose. It was Thomas Jefferson who first argued for resettling blacks in their native habitat in his Notes on the State of Virginia. The capital of Liberia was named after James Monroe. A number of prominent Americans including James Madison, James Monroe and Henry Clay were involved with the American Colonization Society.
Led by Virginia, fourteen state legislatures endorsed the colonization movement. It was most popular in the Upper South, Border South and the Midwest. Several slave states invested in Liberia and resettled about 11,000 blacks there. Blacks were banned or heavily fined to prevent their settlement in Ohio and Illinois. Oregon excluded free blacks when it was a territory. The cause of reserving the West to free, White settlers was later taken up in the Wilmot Proviso which was intensely polarizing.
White supremacy was the dominant form of racial nationalism in the United States from the Founding until the 1970s. The lineage of White Nationalism traces back to Jefferson and the Early Republic, but it was more of a deviant view. It was most popular in states like Kentucky and Ohio. The African colonization movement collapsed in the antebellum era after the rise of William Lloyd Garrison and the abolitionists polarized the Union over the issue of slavery. After the 1830s, Southern support for gradual emancipation and colonization waned as Southerners circled the wagons and responded to abolitionist attacks by embracing John C. Calhoun’s argument that slavery was a positive good.
Southern Nationalism and the Confederacy
The rise of Southern Nationalism in the antebellum era, the creation of the Confederacy and the War Between the States was all driven by the collapse of American Nationalism and was rooted in regional differences between the North and South that had existed since the Founding.
In the South, blacks were still considered an inferior race. Every Southern state was a slave state. Every Southern state practiced white supremacy. Manumission had been curtailed. Several Southern state legislatures had passed laws requiring free blacks to move out of state. Patriarchy was unchallenged. Southerners were moving away from the older view that slavery was an inherited evil to the newer view that it was a blessing or positive good.
In the Northeast, blacks were citizens in every New England state except Connecticut. Many Northern states like New York and New Jersey had never passed anti-miscegenation laws. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania had repealed their anti-miscegenation laws. The dominant view among educated Northeastern elites was that blacks were capable of assimilating and becoming the equals of Whites. Segregation existed to some extent in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey while much of the rest of the region was already integrated by the antebellum era. Northern women were already holding women’s rights conventions and were agitating for suffrage.
In the Midwest, blacks were banned or heavily fined from immigrating to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois due to the presence of so many Southern Whites from Kentucky and Virginia who settled the Lower Midwest. Blacks weren’t citizens in the Midwestern states, but states like Wisconsin and Minnesota didn’t have anti-miscegenation laws. Iowa and Kansas repealed their anti-miscegenation laws in 1851 and 1859 as settlers from New England became more predominant there.
Greg Johnson tries to dismiss the relevance of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to American Nationalism. He waves away the former as just a legal document and the latter as only applying to the posterity of the White Founders. He does this to sidestep the fact that differences of opinion over these documents were the source of a bitter conflict over civic nationalism between John C. Calhoun – who represented the Southern view of American Nationalism – and Daniel Webster who articulated the Northern version of American Nationalism in their generation.
In Webster’s view, the Union was created by the Declaration of Independence while Calhoun argued it was created by the sovereign and independent states that ratified the US Constitution. Webster believed the Union created the states. Calhoun believed the states created the Union. In Calhoun’s view, sovereign states could withdraw from the Union since they created it. In Webster’s view, the Union was sovereign and had created the states at the time of the Declaration of Independence.
Like the American Revolution, the War Between the States was another conflict over civic nationalism. It resolved a number of burning constitutional questions:
1.) Do states have the right to withdraw from the Union?
2.) Are the states sovereign or is the federal government sovereign?
3.) Do slaveowners have the constitutional right to bring their slaves into the common territories?
4.) Did the states create the Union or did the Union create the states?
5.) What is the status of blacks in America?
Every single one of these questions was a byproduct of arguments on both sides over the civic nationalism that is and always has been the central feature of American Nationalism.
Civil War and Reconstruction
The long term result of the Civil War and Reconstruction was the bifurcation of America into two incompatible racial orders. The Radical Republicans passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments which established black citizenship and voting rights. The Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875 and the Force Acts of 1870 and 1871 attempted to impose the North’s racial system on the entire country.
In the antebellum era, only New England with the exception of Connecticut had black citizenship and voting rights. A Northern version of Jim Crow had been practiced in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Midwest. This was swept away during the Reconstruction era. The Northeast and Midwest were integrated in this era. Anti-miscegenation laws were repealed in New Mexico (1866), Washington (1868), Illinois (1874), Rhode Island (1881), Wyoming (1882), Maine (1883), Michigan (1883), Ohio (1887).
The South was placed under the rule of scalawags, carpetbaggers and former black slaves. The system wasn’t fully shaken off in the South until George White gave his farewell address as the last black congressman in 1901. The Jim Crow system which was created in the 1890s and 1900s never existed in the Northeast or Midwest. The South would have undoubtedly went further but this was as far as Northern public opinion would tolerate the effective nullification of the Reconstruction amendments.
The Western states created their own weaker version of Jim Crow which applied to Asians, Hispanics and American Indians. There were segregation statutes and anti-miscegenation laws in the Western states until the Second World War. At the same time, there was integration in some states like Washington and New Mexico. In the Midwest, Indiana was an outlier and had its own version of Jim Crow.
Greg Johnson also wants to dismiss the importance of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to American Nationalism. The Gettysburg Address simply built on the Northern view of civic nationalism which Daniel Webster had developed out of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is an understatement to say this is ahistorical and the postbellum Northern system of race relations only emerged after Abraham Lincoln had redefined American Nationalism.
UNCLE SAM’S DEBUT
“Our popular image of Uncle Sam (As seen in the image on the top of this page) was defined in large part by Thomas Nast, who was one of the most popular artists of the 1800’s. Nast was also responsible for our popular images of Santa Claus, the Republican Elephant, and the Democratic Donkey. Nast’s first illustration of Uncle Sam appeared in the November 20, 1869 edition of Harper’s Weekly.
“While Uncle Sam does not show the top hat and striped pants that we have come to associate with him, he shows something much more important in this image. In this image, Uncle Sam is a symbol of unity and equality. The image shows many people welcomed at Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving table . . . Black, White, Chinese, and Indian, as wall as many others are seen sitting around the table. The image is captioned, “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner; Come One, Come All, Free and Equal.” The image clearly shows that Uncle Sam was originally a symbol of freedom, and equality. Uncle Sam was a unifying symbol.
By 1876, Nast’s Image of Uncle Sam had evolved into one that we would recognize today. The image to the left is the cover of the November 24, 1876 Harper’s Weekly. The image features Uncle Sam with striped pants, a long overcoat, and a top hat. In this image, the top hat also has feathers. This image deals with Reform of the Civil Service System.
While the exact image of Uncle Sam has evolved over the years, one thing remains constant. He is a symbol of the best ideals of the United States. From the earliest days until today, he has stood for Freedom, Equality, and Justice. While as a Nation, we do not always perfectly achieve these ideals, Uncle Sam remains a poignant symbol and reminder of the goal and objective . . . One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.”
Uncle Sam is a super patriotic Yankee American Nationalist whose ideology is civic nationalism. He is a symbol of the Second Republic that was defined in the Reconstruction era by the German immigrant cartoonist Thomas Nast.
The 20th century opened up in the period that is known as the Nadir of the Negro.
It inaugurated a period that lasted about thirty years in which Northerners tried to forget about the foolishness of Reconstruction. Even before the Jews arrived en masse in the Great Wave, Northerners had already created the system we live under today in their own states. The Jews who arrived in the New York of the 1880s found a place that was already integrated. Northern states already had their own civil rights laws which were the precursors of federal civil rights laws.
It was the Black Republicans like Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner who had pioneered racial equality, racial integration and civil rights laws during Reconstruction. They had already succeeded in writing racial equality into the Constitution which was undone in the South by two generations of Southerners. By the time of the Spanish-American War, Northerners and Southerners tried to put the past behind them and for a time the sectional peace endured until the Second World War.
Woodrow Wilson was the first Southern president to be elected since the War Between the States. Among his lesser known acts, Wilson resegregated the federal government. It had been integrated since the Lincoln administration. Black troops had fought for the Union in the War Between the States. They fought in segregated units in France in the First World War and largely in support roles during the Second World War. The US military wasn’t reintegrated until the Korean War.
The Second World War
The Second World War was another huge turning point in American Nationalism.
In both the American Revolution and the War Between the States, the wars against Britain and the Confederacy had been ideological wars waged in the name of civic nationalism. In both cases, the result of the wars in the North had been a sharp diminution in racial consciousness and an upsurge in ideological fanaticism. The Black Republicans during the Reconstruction era are the best example of this.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Spanish-American War and the First World War didn’t have this effect on domestic politics and racial attitudes even though the latter had been waged as a crusade to “make the world safe for democracy.” This wasn’t true of the Second World War. The war against the Third Reich and later the Cold War with the Soviet Union were ideological wars which exacerbated the worst tendencies of American Nationalism.
The Yankee style of war has always been about demonizing the enemy as evil and invoking the American Nationalist ideology of civic nationalism. The war against the Third Reich was no different and the result of the war was predictable. It was a noble war waged in the name of civic nationalism. It was a war against racism and imperialism, but a war for human rights and democracy and liberty and equality and religious tolerance. It was a war not unlike the total war that had been waged against the Confederacy.
After the war, Americans predictably put themselves under the moral microscope. They judged their own conduct by their own professed standards. If the Third Reich was evil and immoral for being racist, how could Americans indict the Third Reich while upholding white supremacy in the South? From the end of the Second World War until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Western states repealed their anti-miscegenation laws and desegregated. Once again, racial attitudes in the North completely changed between 1938 and 1945 while the South alone committed itself to massive resistance.
The Cold War
The Cold War with the Soviet Union was another ideological war.
Unlike the previous wars, this war began when the Second World War ended in 1945 and lasted until 1991. For 52 years, the United States was embroiled in these ideological wars with the Third Reich and Soviet Union. American Nationalism was forever changed by them.
In the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Soviets indicted Americans on the grounds of “racism” in order to win support in the Third World. The US State Department was acutely sensitive to the charge and led the push for desegregation which culminated in the Brown decision in 1954. Jim Crow was an albatross for American leadership of the “Free World” and was dismantled from the top down, not the bottom up for that reason.
The Jewish Question
Jews aren’t the primary driving force of America’s decline.
The real culprit is the civic nationalism that is the ideological core of American Nationalism. From the beginning in 1789, Jews have been welcomed into the fold as American citizens. They have never had any other status than being equal to White Americans. George Washington embraced the Jews in the name of civic nationalism. In his letter to Newport’s Touro Synagogue, Washington boasted the Government of the United States was one that “gives to bigotry no sanction.”
The Jewish Question is simply the result of the logic of American Nationalism working itself out over the course of two centuries. The ideology of civic nationalism has always blinded White Americans to how Jews operate as a group, not as individuals. As American citizens, Jews have always had the right and liberty to, say, take over the universities, buy up the newspapers and publishing houses, corner the market in finance, build lobbies to exert power and influence over the government, etc.
How did the Jews in the 20th century convince White Americans that the United States has no inherent racial, cultural, religious or ethnic basis? They simply took the doctrines of American Nationalism as developed by Franklin, Webster and Lincoln to its logical conclusion. They used their media platforms to invoke American nationalism to undermine and marginalize the White majority. Southerners were bad because they were intolerant. They weren’t treating blacks equally. Blacks in the South didn’t have the rights and freedoms of other Americans. Southerners were violating liberal democracy by denying them the right to vote. These were the arguments which Martin Luther King, Jr. successfully made to triumph over Jim Crow. He appealed to American Nationalism.
American Nationalism Isn’t Ethnonationalism
American Nationalism is 18th century civic nationalism.
It isn’t like German nationalism, Hungarian nationalism, Greek nationalism or the other ethnonationalist movements which came later and were grounded in 19th century romanticism. It is closely related to French nationalism. Ethnonationalism was a reaction against French civic nationalism.
Civic Nationalism has always brought about racial equality and integration. During the French Revolution, slavery was abolished and all blacks were made into free and equal citizens of the French Republic. The French Second Republic abolished slavery in 1848 in the French Caribbean for the second time after it had been restored by Napoleon. The French Third Republic which was overthrown by Hitler had black citizens that sat as representatives in the French Parliament.
The driving force that brought about the demise of White America has always been the civic nationalism at the core of American Nationalism. The Jewish Question is merely a symptom and outcome of American Nationalism. The presence of non-Whites lends itself more to caste societies like the white supremacy of the Old South than to racial equality and integration. Christianity has been displaced as our cultural center of gravity by liberalism. It has no problem accommodating racialism and did so for centuries.
No, the force which has driven America to this point wasn’t Christianity, which in many cases like the Southern Baptists was late in adjusting to the new status quo. It wasn’t really the Jews either who only took the center stage late in American history. From the beginning, the driving force toward racial equality in both the United States and France has been their doctrine of civic nationalism. It was already evident during the American Revolution and War Between the States and unquestionably so during the Second World War and Cold War when it reached its climax.
American Nationalism Today
99.99% of our fellow Americans agree that American Nationalism is synonymous with civic nationalism because the history of Americanism has been the destruction and elimination of every other aspect of national identity. The people who style themselves as “American Nationalists” are spitting in the wind and their ship sailed generations ago. They are just as marginalized as anyone else and waving a federal flag around isn’t going to change their status or make them any less stigmatized as “racists.” You could even say it is karma since they were the progenitors of this Frankenstein.
Donald Trump hasn’t changed this equation of American Nationalism with civic nationalism. Instead, he has affirmed it at every point in his campaign and throughout his presidency. He has never once even drawn attention to his White supporters, but has affirmed on countless occasions the triumphant narrative of American civic nationalism that is rooted in the Civil Rights Movement. He has repeatedly talked about how Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. redeemed America from White racism. Donald Trump and the Republican Congress explicitly condemned White Nationalism in the Charlottesville resolution.
Fortunately, we only have to endure this idiocy for at most one or two more presidential election cycles. When Texas or Florida reach their demographic tipping point in the 2020s and become blue states like Virginia, a Republican will never win the presidency again and the window will forever close on “Taking Back America” through voting for the Republican Party. The United States will become California writ large. The people who are talking now about how much they love America and identify with its symbols as super Patriots will be singing a different tune when they find themselves under permanent Democratic rule and effectively thrust back into the days of the Reconstruction South.
In reality, American Nationalism is already dead as a doornail. Donald Trump was the last chance to reform the system. He has unquestionably failed and nothing of significance will be accomplished before the midterms. As things stand today, Democrats once again have a 10 point lead in the congressional ballot. The Republican Congress is likely to get blown out in the 2018 midterm elections. The Trump agenda will die with it. American Nationalism is also going to die with the Republican majority.
In the long run, White Americans are destined to live under a Democratic majority with a feckless and dwindling, cucked Republican opposition. It is only going to get worse too as the electorate continues to brown. The fruits of civic nationalism are going to ripen on young White people who come of age in the 2020s and 2030s. They won’t have any use for American Nationalism because voting by that point will be as hopeless as it is in South Africa. They’re already growing up now as a racial minority.
American Nationalism in the 2020s and 2030s will be various non-White presidents like President Kamala Harris sticking it to White man. I would rather not jump on that sinking ship.
UPDATE: Here’s a good old post about The Lincoln Catechism.
Lesson The First
I. What is the Constitution?
A compact with hell – now obsolete.
II. By whom hath the Constitution been made obsolete?
By Abraham Africanus the First.
III. To what end?
That his days may be long in office – and that he may make himself and his people the equal of the negroes.
IV. What is a president?
A general agent for negroes.
VI. What is an army?
A provost guard, to arrest white men, and set negroes free.
X. What is meant by the word Liberty?
Incarceration in a vermin-infested Bastille.
XV. What is the meaning of the word “patriot?”
A man who loves his country less, and the negro more.
XIX. What is the meaning of the word “law?”
The will of the president.
XXII. Have the people any rights?
None but such as the president gives.
Lesson The Second
IX. What is the meaning of the declaration that, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?”
That a man’s house may be searched, and when he be stripped of his arms, whenever and wherever a provost marshal shall dare attempt it.
XVII. What is the meaning of the declaration that, “the United States shall guarantee to every state a Republican form of government?”
That Congress shall assist the President in destroying the Republican form of government in the states, and substituting a military government wherever he pleases – witness Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware.
Lesson The Third
II. What are the Ten Commandments?
Thou shalt have no other God but the negro.
Thou shalt make an image of a negro, and place it on the Capitol as the type of the new American man.
Thou shalt swear that the negro shall be the equal of the white man.
Thou shalt fight thy battles on the Sabbath day, and thy generals, and thy captains, and thy privates, and thy servants, shall do all manner of murders, and thefts as on the other six days.
Thou shalt not honor or obey thy father nor thy mother if they are Copperheads; but thou shall serve, honor, and obey Abraham Lincoln.
Thou shalt commit murder – of slaveholders.
Thou mayest commit adultery – with the contrabands.
Thou shalt steal – everything that belongeth to a slaveholder.
Thou shalt bear false witness – against all slaveholders.
Thou shalt covet the slaveholders man-servant and his maid-servant, and shalt steal his ox and his ass, and everything that belongeth to him.
For on these commandments hang all the law and honor of loyal leaguers.
X. Have the loyal leaguers a prayer?
XI. Repeat it.
Father Abraham, who art in Washington, of glorious memory – since the date of thy proclamation to free negroes.
Thy kingdom come, and overthrow the republic; they will be done, and the laws perish.
Give us this day our daily supply of greenbacks.
Forgive us our plunders, but destroy the Copperheads.
Lead us into fat pastures; but deliver us from the eye of detectives; and make us the equal of the negro; for such shall be our kingdom, and the glory of thy administration.
Lesson The Sixth
II. What are States?
Colonies of the federal government.
VII. What is a Governor?
A general agent for the president.
VIII. What is a negro?
A white man with black skin.
IX. What is a white man?
A negro with white skin.
Lesson The Eighth
XXVI. What will become of all who believe in the Union as it was, and the Constitution as it is?
They shall be damned
XXVII. What shall be the reward of all such as believe the Union was a covenant with death, and the Constitution a compact with Hell?
They shall be received into a negro paradise.
Lesson The Ninth
I. Is the United States a consolidated government?
Yes, it is.
II. Who consolidated it?
III. Does consolidation mean to annihilate the States?
Yes – to a great extent.
XII. Does the Republican Party intend to change the name of the United States?
XIII. What do they intend to call it?
XVII. What do the Republicans mean by the word people?
Abolitionists, mesmerisers, spiritual mediums, free-lovers and negroes.