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In 1890, the nearly-defeated Native Americans of the northern plains embraced a religious movement commonly translated as “Ghost Dance”, which promised to unify the Indian peoples and drive out European settlers. After the disastrous battle at Wounded Knee in December of that year the movement collapsed and Indian resistance to settlement faded into insignificance. It is tempting to dismiss the New Nationalism as a sort of Ghost Dance in which enervated and encircled traditionalists offer a final hopeless last stand against the inevitable encroachment of the globalised economy and postmodern culture.


No one seems more confused about the import of the New Nationalism than the nationalists themselves. In Germany,  the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is a coalition brought together by anger at the Merkel government’s decision to admit well over a million Middle Eastern migrants, but otherwise has no unifying characteristic. After a brief moment in the sun that included dinner with President Trump and a star slot at America’s leading conservative conference last February, Nigel Farage has fallen off America’s radar, and his most prominent admirer in the Trump White House, Steve Bannon, has left the Administration.

Mr Farage campaigned under the Cross of St George rather than the Union Jack; that is, as an English nationalist. But the United Kingdom is not a nation so much as an imperial monarchy, whose head of state is the sovereign of 32 countries. If the Brexit vote embodied more than passing rancour at the meddlesome European Union, what sort of national sentiment does it express? Does President Donald Trump’s call for “America First” mean anything more than a bilateral approach to trade negotiations rather than the multilateralism of the recent past? If that is the case, any change is more likely to be superficial rather than substantive. Mr Trump seems less interested in defining himself than the pundits whose job it is to pigeonhole him. He is neither the creature of the alt-Right nor an Establishment mogul in mufti, but a pragmatist more in the mode of Franklin Delano Roosevelt than Ronald Reagan.

The one European movement that can be termed “nationalist” in the strict sense of the term, namely Catalan independence, has occasioned scant resonance among populist parties on either side of the Atlantic. The Catalans have their own language, after all, and never wanted to be part of Spain; to the extent that a pro-independence majority is in doubt, it is due to immigration into Catalonia from other parts of Spain. Marine Le Pen, the defeated National Front candidate, took the side of the Spanish central government against the Catalans. The Scots Nationalists endorsed the Catalans’ right to hold an independence referendum, a costless call after having lost their own. The Catalans make the formerly separatist Lega Lombarda in Italy squeamish.
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February 1st, 2018
1:02 PM
Matt, your comment on what Anglo-American identity is built on neglects so many things, two of which immediately spring to my mind: the pragmatic tolerance of the New Amsterdam Dutch, and the vicious racism of the Deep South slave lords. The Appalachians were indeed individualistic, but easily swayed by Southern racism. The bandying about of the word "liberty", meaning the right to oppress others, has always been persuasive to whites who feel powerless.

January 5th, 2018
3:01 PM
Vast emptiness, nothing holy ( Lao Tzu). The universe/Nature is inhumane. Scientists say humanity has peaked. Tory membership has shrunk to 70,000. What`s public sacred in the UK is Brexit and voting Labour.

Arnold Ward
January 3rd, 2018
9:01 AM
This appeal to romantic sentiment aka The Bible opens a pandoras box of confused irrationality. A better approach is principle based, i.e how can we create the conditions whereby all the individuals in a society are best able to achieve their full potential? Markets tempered by democracy are the tried and tested route and national sovereignty is the most reliable basis for democracy. There is no "New Nationalism". Belief without evidence is delusion.

Lawrence James
December 26th, 2017
12:12 PM
What makes me suspicious of the promotion of the 'sacred' as an antidote for contemporary woes are its historic stage props: priestcraft, intolerance, fairy stories and the coercion of the sceptical.

December 22nd, 2017
3:12 PM
It was inevitable that the fall of Western Civilization would occur as history attests to the objective truth that man, severed from God and thus relieving himself from his obligation to worship and serve God, simply acts according to his lower, animalistic nature. Human nature does not and will not change although man, playing God, has always believed he can construct all of creation, including and especially, humanity to his own liking. 21st century man has come to the point where he no longer has even a natural survival instinct as he has placed all his faith and trust in both himself and in science to create this idealistic but fruitless life and future as the "new man", created by him and for him. God has other ideas and since He is Creator and ruler over Heaven and earth, man's designs for himself will always be thwarted and his self-destruction inevitable.

Andrew Hamilton
December 19th, 2017
6:12 PM
Spengler gives true intellectual depth and seriousness to the existential issues facing the West. Weaving threads of great philosophers with current trends, he gets to the nub of the catastrophe and provides a way forward.

Pan Cogito
December 10th, 2017
4:12 AM
@Alan Vainman Do not dispense the f-word before trying the perfect fit it makes for you. You no more understand Trump than you do, it appears, the greater mysteries of life. God--and you may translate it as "the Energy of the Universe," the Great Wheel of Karma or whatever--often chooses a broken vessel to carry the most precious nectar. Maybe Spengler would consent to write an essay titled "The music and the men," illuminating for fool vainmen what shits the vessels we know as Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Chopin were and why their music attained the highest degree of luminosity.

December 5th, 2017
10:12 PM
Anonymous: America is indeed experiencing a wave of fascism, but it is not at the hands of the nationalists. It is at the hands of ANTIFA, BLM, and university students, faculty, and staff beating to a pulp, or attempting to murder, those people who believe that nations are allowed to have borders. What name would you apply to the belief system that commanded the decapitation of a British policeman, and the systematic rape of a continent's women? AnonymousHegelman: Most of the world's sacred systems prohibit murder. Only one religion's scripture commands the murder of all non-believers.

Rick Groves
December 5th, 2017
3:12 PM
In America, enlightenment values used to be held sacred. This was the key differentiating point about America. It was not based on arbitrary lines on a map nor wrongly held ideas about the superiority of one's own tribe. It was an idea of a polity held together by the commitment to liberty and justice. Cultural practices evolve by their nature. That's what they are and what they do. Holding cultures sacred is misguided and destined to create conflict as that inevitable evolution pushes forward. The path forward is not through embracing the arbitrary and superficial and trying to entrench and protect it. It is finding core, deep values that benefit all peoples and following those ideas where they lead us.

December 5th, 2017
9:12 AM
When people talk of the sacred, they usually mean murder. All of us have a sense of the sacred. We just differ as to what precisely.

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