Wednesday, November 27, 2019

On Catholicism and Nationalism

It's no secret that identity politics have entered the Church in a big way. It seems that very public Catholics from all sides are talking about it: Dawn Eden Goldstein, Sohrab Ahmari, Matthew Schmitz, Faith Goldy, Nick Fuentes, etc.

We see a lot of denunciations and counter-denunciations, disavowals and counter-disavowals. What we don't see much of is serious, articulate discussion of the ideas upon which the issues rest.*

In the hope of facilitating such discussion, I'd like to propose a list of questions. They're obviously heavy on the theoretical side, and this is intentional. I'm not particularly interested in practical applications until universal principles have been sufficiently clarified. As I've said before, a society can endure disagreement in its members with regard to the means whereby the end of society, i.e., the common good, is to be achieved. But where there is fundamental disagreement as to the nature of the end itself, there is, in fact, no society at all. And this is particularly true in the present case.

That is to say, without clarification of these fundamental issues, debate among Catholics over the current political situation becomes pointless and even counter-productive.

I think it's high time for those who enjoy engaging in these issues to get down to brass tacks and tell us exactly what they think the Catholic position is or should be on these questions.

Questions regarding Catholicism and Nationalism

  • What is the Nation? What is the State? What is the People?
  • How does the Nation differ from the State?
  • How does the Nation differ from the People?
  • What is Nationalism? What is Civic Nationalism? What is Ethnic Nationalism? 
  • How does Nationality differ from Nationalism?
  • Is Nationality a natural good? If so, when is the State obliged to respect it? To defend it? To supress or intervene in it?
  • Does Catholicism have a preferred State model with regard to Nations and/or Nationality?
  • Is Nationality an obstacle or an asset to the proper functioning of the State? To the life of the People?
  • What is the Catholic understanding of the Nation-State?
  • To what extent, if any, is the modern Nation-State a manifestation of the demise of Catholic Christendom?
  • What is the Catholic understanding of the Multinational or Plurinational State?
  • To what extent, if any, are Civic Nationalism, Plurinationalism, and Ethnic Nationalism at odds with each other? To what extent are they compatible?

*NB: I exclude Dr. E. Michael Jones from this accusation. Unfortunately, his work is so politically charged  - in the age of political correctness, one can say "toxic" - that few public Catholics are willing to seriously and thoughtfully engage with it, and are instead happy to summarily dismiss it as "fringe," "cranky," or "antisemitic." Their loss, frankly.