Friday, December 29, 2006

Creedal nation

My friend George Mellinger, a. k. a. Rurik, of Old War Dogs wrote a commentary on the idea to recruit foreigners into our Armed Forces. The idea itself is a brain-dead idea, in my opinion. While there is nothing wrong with future Americans serving in the military, the key is that those serving in the Armed Forces should consider themselves Americans, even if they haven't gone through the formal process of naturalization yet. Just planting un-assimilated foreigners into the military is a bad idea. There will always be a question of loyalty. There were Germans serving in the French Foreign Legion when the World War 2 started. I always wondered what they did once the shooting started. So, I agree with George that going "French" and creating our own "Legion Etrangere" is a bad idea. However, there is something George brings up in his argument that I disagree with:

...To these folks America is not a country; it is an idea. A very abstract idea. And if the actual people are hesitant to swallow this idea, then, in the words of the Stalinist playwright Berthold Brecht, maybe we should elect a different people. We are a "creedal nation", defined not by our language, our culture, our history, holidays, or any thing else save an "idea". And they wish to proceed creedal to the metal. Their idea is based on a fragment of the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, lifted out of context, though not an actual part of out Constitution or laws, cemented to the words of an immigrant poet Emma Lazarus, which were not given any official status either. For them America is a global boarding house, with as few social rules as possible, where the actions of the tenants are not to be judged, so long as they bend their knee to global equality, and personal interchangeability, and do not interfere with production. The people are valued not as individuals, or even as distinct groups - Vietnamese-Americans, or Hillbillies, or Scandie farmers, or Black Jazz singers, Cowboys, or anything else; just as economic production-consumption units. This is ominous. When Jack Kemp described the United States as the world’s first creedal nation, he was dead wrong, as evidenced by the recurring fundamental disagreements culminating in a civil war, and the many years of reconstruction and continued disagreement afterward. We became (if at all) a creedal nation only during the 1920s-1930s, under the influence of Carl Sandburg’s mythologized Lincoln, and FDR’s politicking. The first nation created explicitly on the basis of an abstract idea, a creed, was the Soviet Union, created at the beginning of the 1920s as the world’s First Proletarian Nation.

And this suggests the fundamental problem with creedal nations. A Frenchman or Italian may be a Communist or a Social Democrat, or a Conservative, a Christian or Atheist, and still remain a Frenchman or Italian. An individual may immigrate, and become a citizen of France, but to become a Frenchman requires maybe a generation or two of acculturation and assimilation. The same for other nations defined by ethnicity or culture. But in a creedal nation, if you disavow the creed, you disavow the nation. Lenin solved this problem in Russia by eliminating all those who would not, or could not, be proletarian Marxists. Though American dissenters are not yet shot (except Vickie Weaver and David Koresh), they are often harassed. A major reason is that the US Armed Forces still retain a tie to the American people, even if it is becoming attenuated. American soldiers may feel alienated from the assorted anti-military protesters and the civilians who do not serve, but they still recognize their brothers and cousins and neighbors. At the very least they can exchange understandable curses. They do not shoot fellow Americans; the brief exception at Kent State in 1970 occurred under exceptional circumstances where semi-trained National Guardsmen felt themselves threatened by a mob.

I happen to think that United States of America is an idea first and foremost, but not in the way George criticizes it. There are two possible kinds of nations: ethnic-based and values- or ideas-based. We are obviously not an ethnic-based nation. What bonds us together is the common set of values, or ideas. There is another important component that bonds us together: American culture and language. A nation cannot exist without either component. Thus, there are most definitely social rules for joining this American club. In order to join, one has to adopt American values, culture and language as one's own. Those disavowing either component are not Americans, even if they hold American passports. Indeed, they often don't even consider themselves Americans. They should be striped of their Citizenship and deported, as far as I am concerned, but that is another discussion all together. The comparison to the Soviet Union is flawed because the Soviet Union was never a country of immigrants. It was created out of Russian Empire, which was ethnic-based and where the Russian ethnicity dominated over everybody else. By "dominated" I don't necessarily mean "oppressed". But the Russian was the official language and Russian was the dominant culture. Under Communism it did not really change for the most part. They called the Russian language "language of international communication", but it pretty much was the official language of the Soviet Union. Unlike in the United States, ethnic origin was kept track of: the 5th line in a Soviet passport stated whether its holder was a Russian, a Ukrainian, a Jew or anybody else. Thus, the Soviet people was never this unified assimilated mass as the American people is. The multi-cultural idiots are trying to re-create this Soviet situation, and, if they succeed, they will get the same disastrous results. But my point is that the Soviet Union was never a creedal nation, but an ethnic nation, even though it included multiple ethnicities. And, just like any other multi-ethnic ethnic nation (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia etc.), it dissolved. America, on the other hand, is a creedal nation. But as a nation it requires cultural and language components to survive. Thus, it seems that of three components required for a nation, ethnicity can be replaced by a common set of values. But common language and common culture still have to be maintained. And for that secure borders are still required, along with conditions that force the newcomers to assimilate. The bottom line, we are a creedal nation, defined not only by idea, but also by our language, our culture, our history, holidays, borders and everything else that defines a nation. Otherwise we would not be a nation.

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