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authoritarian civic nationalism

Authoritarian Civic Nationalism

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It is election season in America and once again, the nationalist thought-space is inundated with messages supportive of Donald Trump and his presidency. The facts surrounding Donald Trump, that he is completely owned and controlled by the zionist lobby, that he lacks the capacity and leadership skills to govern, that he’s willing to drastically increase immigration into the US by “stapling a green card to every diploma”, which is incidentally how Canada was inundated with Indians and other browns, all of these facts will fall by the wayside. Your nationalist talking head of choice will call upon you to support Donald Trump, mostly by screeching about how bad Joe Biden is, but every now and then, they’ll claim that Trump is the closest thing America has to a viable nationalist candidate. This is, of course, false, as Trump is not an ethnic nationalist, but rather an adherent of a phenomenon that for lack of a better term, I’ve come to call authoritarian civic nationalism. 

I believe that anyone reading this has a general idea of the differences between ethnic and civic nationalism. An ethnic nationalist believes that a member of a nation is born into it and can never exit it, nor enter another nation. A civic nationalist believes that entry into and exit from a nation consist of accepting a certain creed, or civic religion or perhaps a traditional religion. So, for example, a British ethnic nationalist will only consider as British people who were born into the constituent peoples of the British nations, whereas a British civic nationalist will extend Britishness to any English-speaking person who attains British citizenship and adheres to British values (which are never properly defined). 

The nebulous nature of these “values” and the draconic surveillance measures that would be necessary to enforce them mean that civic nationalism, aside from its basic sociobiological ridiculousness is also impossible to enforce in a legal sense. No less than Carl Benjamin (also known as Sargon of Akkad) has said the quiet part out loud when he claimed that his preferred version of values-based nationalism would entail allowing Pakistanis and other traditionally Muslim minorities to keep living in the UK, but also constantly monitoring the sermons and communications of imams within mosques to make sure that the Islam they’re preaching and practicing is compatible with British values. Such a measure would not only require a large amount of resources to monitor and track “values”, but it would entail the British government essentially defining what British-compliant Islam would look like and then imposing this worldview on Muslims at gunpoint, in a similar way in which the Chinese Communist Party regulates Christianity and other religions. Notably, the Chinese Communist Party insists on the right to name bishops of the Catholic Church as well as the Lamas of Tibetan Buddhism as a means of making sure these religions are CCP-compliant. 

Gradually, we come to the realisation that because of its fundamental un-enforceability, given that it would require the government to look into men’s hearts and adjust their “values”, that civic nationalism can be nothing but authoritarian, i. e. enforced by a massive surveillance apparatus and militarized police. Whereas under an ethnic nationalist model, Britain would be ethnically homogenous but every Briton free to have the “values” he chooses to have, under the civic nationalist model, the state would have to hound everyone, British or non-British and check their “values” for supposed Britishness. 

However, no measure of surveillance or repression can enforce a non-enforceable law, and so a civic nationalist country will likely default to a stable equilibrium where what is enforced aren’t values, but a lack of values, or more precisely, passivity. We observe this in practice in the political systems of the two authoritarian civic nationalist regimes most admired by the Western right: Hungary and Russia. 

To start with Hungary, it is often trotted out as a poster child authoritarian civic nationalism, a country which in the words of its Prime Minister strives to become an “illiberal democracy” and defends itself against an assault of its values. However, the bulk of these values seem to revolve simply around not being gay, or at least remaining in the closet if you are indeed gay. Anything else goes. Hungary will also dole out symbolic financial assistance to families with three or more children, but this assistance is more often than not hoovered up by gypsies. No worries though, since the Hungarian state counts gypsies as Hungarian, insofar as they speak the Hungarian language and do not live the itinerant, gypsy lifestyle. Things are much easier when you move the goalposts and redefine nationality. In the meantime, Hungary has poor neonatal care, offers no assistance to new mothers and its economic and real estate environments heavily favour oligarchs and pensioners, two power blocs supporting the authoritarian Fidesz party. 

Over the many years in power, Fidesz has coiled itself around the state’s machinery and has effectively become indistinguishable from the Hungarian state. It has enriched its oligarch friends and heavily subsidised the reproduction of gypsies, as well as proudly imported “Christian” immigrants who “share their values.” Privately, it has opened Hungary for immigration by the decidedly non-Christian Chinese who do not seem to share any values with Hungarians, least of all values related to hygiene and public noise. Fidesz has also reached out to any number of conservative and populist allies in the West who likewise aspire to become authoritarian civic nationalists. A frequent visitor to Budapest will often see these allies, groups of foreigners consisting of low-testosterone men and badly dressed women who repeat conservative platitudes about abortion to each other. Not one of them bothers to speak to a local or indeed any Hungarian not affiliated with Fidesz. Some of them even elect to stay in Budapest and serve as kept men of Fidesz, enjoying that city’s many easily available and affordable hedonic pleasures

Where does this leave Hungarian nationalists? Up shit creek, obviously. The closest Hungary has to a nationalist party is Mi Hazank, which took six out of 199 parliamentary seats last election. However, it is an open secret that the party is heavily infiltrated by the (Fidesz-controlled) state security services and will be destroyed the second it becomes a threat to Fidesz by providing a viable nationalist alternative. Of course, Mi Hazank itself is not ideologically aligned with white nationalism and its policies are decisively 20th century, more hostile towards Romanians and Ukrainians than gypsies, Chinese or other enemies of Europe. 

Hungarian politics has entered a sort of stable equilibrium where nobody can win except Fidesz and everyone who is not Fidesz can be simply swept away by Fidesz. Fidesz has discovered the key to success, which is to lock down the pensioner and gypsy bloc votes and rhetorically equate themselves with Hungary, to the extent that an attack on Fidesz is always portrayed as an attack on Hungary and of course, Fidesz and Viktor Orban reserve the right to define and redefine what “Hungary” and “Hungarian” mean. Because they lack the utopian agenda of the left, they do not radically destabilize the country or its economy. However, their agenda is, as one of my Hungarian friends put it, “to steal everything not nailed down,” something which is very common among authoritarian civic nationalists, both ruling and aspiring, so they keep on gradually weakening the state. When conscientious people speak out against this gradual destruction of Hungary, they are smeared as “traitors” because Fidesz is Hungary and an attack on Fidesz is an attack on Hungary. Conscientious people within Fidesz itself are drummed out as they object and the defining characteristic of the party member becomes blind obedience to the leadership’s diktats. This leads to a severe competence crisis within government as pretty soon, every public servant and official is a lickspittle who got there by means of party connections. 

All of this combines to produce a population which is passive and moribund, content to lie down and endure humiliation as it slowly ceases to exist. Or, to quote a Hungarian friend once again:

“Hungary is becoming progressively worse at a faster and faster pace. Degeneracy and illiteracy are on the rise. It will not improve in our lifetime, the years when we could still turn things around are far gone. I’m no blackpilled doomer but this is where I realize there is no hope for this culture to survive if it is even alive. A relatively small circle of Hungarian speaking intellectuals and the country itself will of course remain but that alone is nothing, the Nation is dead. An ageing mob in a vegetative state of survival with nothing worthwhile to achieve and no care for future generations is not a Nation. The last thing I’m able to do is pass on my language and teach my kids to speak and use it on a high level – something most Hungarian families in Hungary no longer value or care about. Hungary is dead because in reality they do not care about the children whatsoever. Their wellbeing as individuals or members of a family, their education and future means absolutely nothing to them as they are secondary citizens in the majority’s eyes. “Little people with little needs.” Having Hungarian children is no longer enough because the state is restricting their rights – which adults happily assist to. Say what you want based on propaganda you’ve seen but I have experienced the full circle firsthand. Cultivate yourself, never bend.”

All of Hungary’s problems also exist in Russia, but on a much vaster scale and much more directly. In Russia, it is not the case, as in Hungary that a corrupt party led by an authoritarian leader has coiled itself around the machinery of a free state, but that a corrupt state has been built from near zero by Stalin all the way in the 1920s and 30s. Hungarian nationalists are sidelined, but Russian nationalists are arrested and killed. As the saying goes, anyone who opposes the debasement of Russian national identity by the importation of Central Asians and Caucasoids is either dead, imprisoned or fighting against Putin alongside the Ukrainians. Competence is sidelined in Hungary but actively punished in Russia because competence is power and no independent power centre must be allowed to exist, in order to protect the power of the authoritarian leader. Russians live without basic infrastructure because infrastructure would allow them to enrich themselves and build healthy communities – parallel power centres. The Russian army is a joke by design, because a competent army would be a threat to the state. Since the regime is internally stable, it cannot really be dislodged from within in any way, so if a Russian nationalist were to object to his people being displaced from Moscow by Central Asians or ethnic Russians being bullied by Chechens and other Muslims, he’s up shit creek. The only way to overturn this regime is to subject it to outside pressure, and this is why Russian nationalists are fighting for Ukraine. 

In the West, civic nationalists will often act like authoritarians within their spheres of control. For example, every party that Nigel Farage has been in control of has been completely hollowed out until it was nothing but a promotion vehicle for Nigel Farage. Indeed, Reform’s inability to convert votes won into Parliament seats won is largely due to the party’s absence of branch infrastructure. The party lacks branch infrastructure because Farage’s authoritarianism prohibits putting anyone except absolutely incompetent lickspittles in the second echelon of leadership. This is a leadership style that left UKIP and the Brexit party, Farage’s previous political parties hollow shells which could not function. As I quipped in a recent livestream, this means that Farage runs his parties like corrupt, east European post-communist states. Similarly, Donald Trump has eroded away all institutions of the Republican Party and replaced party officers with flunkies. Due to the authoritarian civic nationalist phobia of competence, this has led to a severe deficit of field offices which has seriously damaged the GOP’s ability to reach out to voters and mobilise them. Similarly, during his presidency, Trump had no loyal cadre to staff his administration due to his proclivity for hiring weak-willed and incompetent ass-kissers who wouldn’t be able to pose a political threat. 

If Donald Trump were to lose the election, he’ll undoubtedly blame everyone but himself. Similarly, Reform UK and their patsies online have predictably started whining about the UK’s First Past the Post system of electing MPs. In Hungary, everything wrong with the country is always the fault of outside forces, the Fidesz government does nothing wrong. In Russia, the gross incompetence of the state is always blamed either on outside forces, or explained away with the “good tsar, evil boyars” narrative, placing all blame for the system’s failures on the President’s advisors and minister, never on him personally. A version of this was also visible during the Trump administration in America when Qanon cultists would often claim that this or that disastrous move or policy was the fault of Jared Kushner or some other Trump advisor, but never Donald Trump himself. Authoritarian civic nationalists shirk responsibility and encourage a culture of blame-passing. 

However, a lot of self-proclaimed ethnic nationalists will support these authoritarian civic nationalists, even though they reject the civic nationalism. This is because they support the authoritarianism. The support for authoritarianism comes from a belief that the chief enemy of ethnic nationalism is liberalism. Now, that word liberalism has lost all meaning in the modern era and merely means “left winger that I don’t like.” It’s been conflated with globalism, individualism, egalitarianism and parliamentary democracy. Since authoritarians will often (correctly) claim that they are “against liberalism” and people have convinced themselves that liberalism is the enemy of nationalism, then they’ll support the authoritarians and even claim that authoritarianism is a necessary precondition for nationalism, or that nationalism is impossible without authoritarianism. 

What will often be invoked in defence of this notion will be the National Socialist regime of Germany or the Fascist regime of Italy, of which the former was undoubtedly ethnic nationalist. However, this lodes on the conflation between an authoritarian regime and a totalitarian society. National Socialism wasn’t merely an authoritarian regime, but it was rather a wholesale transformation of a society’s values and their alignment with the goal of safeguarding the nation. It was totalitarian in the sense that its ideals permeated totally, as in no aspect of society was left untouched by nationalist ideals. An authoritarian regime pacifies and depoliticises the population because it fears the unruly masses and parallel power centres. A totalitarian regime mobilises the population and encourages the formation of power centres, insofar as they are aligned with the national goals. The much vaunted German economic recovery in the 1930s resulted in the formation of thousands of small and medium businesses, especially in the industrial sector, primarily through the eased credit of the MEFO bonds bill. Contrast this to authoritarian regimes which destroy every small business that starts expanding and rises to the medium level because it could potentially represent a threat to the oligarchy or the political class. 

Authoritarians are kleptocrats. They are non-ideological, corrupt and they prefer to parasite on a weak national economy. Nationalists are ideologically charged, consider corruption to be treason and want a robust national economy. Authoritarians can be easily swayed by wealthy men, both within and outside the country. Part of the reason why ultra-billionaires like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel are pro-Putin and pro-China is because autocratic governments are easy to sway with bribes and can destroy their competition if asked to do so. A nationalist would prioritise the national economy and drive a much harder bargain in dealings with an international capitalist. 

The values of authoritarian societies are always nebulously defined. This is because the actual values of people under authoritarian regimes are very simplistic and even animalistic. Because the authoritarian fears parallel power centres, he sidelines and destroys people who cannot be controlled through simple carrot-and-stick incentives. Authoritarians will actually encourage emigration of skilled and educated workers because these dangerous people might actually demand a better life and more rights for themselves. A nationalist would balk at the idea of a nation’s best and brightest living and working abroad, but an authoritarian is content that this dangerous segment of the population is now far away and cannot rabble-rouse. The remaining population chases the meagre crumbs that fall from the authoritarian’s table and runs away from the stick of police and state-sec repression. They’re easily controlled and passive, being not full human beings, but rather consisting of just bellies to feed and backs to whip. These values, as you can see, are highly individualistic and also animalistic. A nationalist or totalitarian would seek to transform society’s values into those that place the well-being of the nation as the highest ideal, embracing sacrifice and self-effacement, but also values which reward service to the nation and honour those who can increase its strength.

Authoritarians want a weak military and a disarmed population because they see the military or a well-regulated militia as a threat. Nationalists have nothing to fear from a strong military or armed population because the transformation of values has given them legitimacy and naturally, a strong military and an armed population create a strong nation which cannot be pushed around. 

A totalitarian state will of course have a strong police and strong state security service. Such a service is itself guided by the national ideal and will prosecute those who try to undermine it. An important characteristic of totalitarian police and state security services is their legalism. Whereas authoritarian police tend to be thuggish and often act outside the law, totalitarian police and security services mostly act within the confines of the law. The law may be considered unjust by the enemies of the state, but it is nevertheless followed. Authoritarian states, being little more than personalist regimes writ large, often have two-bit thugs in their security services who use their positions to enrich themselves and humiliate the population, especially the law abiding citizens. In another interesting distinction, totalitarian regimes, helped by their ideologically-derived resistance to personal corruption are usually extremely proficient at destroying organised crime groups. To this day, the only Italian regime to have defeated the Cosa Nostra is Mussolini’s Italy, under the leadership of The Iron Prefect Cesare Mori. Authoritarian regimes, on the other hand, will often work hand in glove with organised crimes group and more often than not, the organised crime groups will be an unofficial part of the government, performing extralegal tasks for the state while receiving privileged treatment and immunity from prosecution.

All of these differences notwithstanding, many self-proclaimed nationalists will clamour of an authoritarian, more often than not an authoritarian civic nationalist to seize power within their own country. Therefore, you have British nationalists supporting Nigel Farage, who’s even likelier to throw them in prison than a Labour or Conservative government. American nationalists will jump up and down at the prospect of a  Donald Trump dictatorship, which will likely place them in labour camps for daring oppose Israel or his plan to import “high skilled” Indians. One needs only look at the rhetoric which the MAGA movement and alt-lite have used to describe groups like Patriot Front in order to discern what fate an authoritarian civic nationalist government in America would do to ethnonationalists. “American” will likely be redefined to include every legal immigrant who pledges undying loyalty to Israel and the Trump crime family. The American military would likely be gutted in order to prevent a parallel power centre from posing a threat. State governments would be brought low and all semblance of federalism would be destroyed. The economy would be parcelled off between Trump-friendly oligarchs and all competition against them crushed. America would become a bigger Russia, but with Mexicans instead of Central Asians. 

Of course, this isn’t likely to happen, since authoritarians have no means of organising at scale. Their personalist styles mean that only a relatively small number of people can staff their government (or political party), which means that a lot less work can be done. Unless the power differential is truly enormous, such as between the Russian regime and Russian nationalists, authoritarians are always defeated by ideologues who can use the ideology as a point of coordination independent of a single leader and whose organisations can survive the physical death of leaders for the same reason. Any potential Trump dictatorship can be very easily dealt with by the ideologically mobilised American left. 

This conflation of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, and the conflation of both with nationalism (which isn’t necessarily totalitarian, although it is compatible with totalitarian government) is behind a lot of misconceptions and wrong-headed thinking among ostensible nationalists. Most of it comes from the sad fact that these people act not out of a genuine love for their nation but out of a hatred and resentment for the people they call liberals. They like to fantasise about a Putin-like figure that will throw the liberals in gulags and indeed, a Putin-like figure would do that, but not because Putin supports nationalism, but rather because Putin fears any man who can tell his arse from his elbow, or indeed, any man who shows the capacity for political organisation and therefore cannot be controlled through simple carrot-and-stick incentives. This includes them as well, but the beautiful thing about operating out of resentment is that you don’t really care what happens to you, as long as the other guy suffers as well. 

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Indeed. There’s a thin line between Civic Nationalism and Communism.

A nationalist can be graded by his cultural level, his competence, the competence of his deputies, and the importance he places on ideology.

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