Friday, January 04, 2019


Little Fortresses

Yoram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism (New York: Basic Books, 2018), pp. 74-75:
No universal ideology—not Christianity or Islam, not liberalism or Marxism—has succeeded in eliminating this intense desire to protect and strengthen the collective, or even in diminishing it much. Nor should we wish to see this desire eliminated or diminished, any more than we want to see the desire of the individual to defend his own life and improve his material circumstances diminished. To be sure, this fierce concern for the material prosperity, internal integrity, and cultural inheritance of the collective makes every family, clan, tribe, and nation into a kind of fortress surrounded by high, invisible walls. But these walls are a necessary condition for all human diversity, innovation, and advancement, enabling each of these little fortresses to shelter its own special inheritance, its own treasured culture, in a garden in which it can flourish unmolested. Inside, what is original and different is given a space of its own where it can be tried and tested over the course of generations. Inside, the things that are said and done only in this family, clan, or tribe, and nowhere else, are given time to grow and mature, becoming solid and strong as they strike roots in the character of the collective's various members—until they are ready to make their way outward from the family to the clan, from the clan to the tribe and the nation, and thence to all the families of the earth. Every innovation that has brought about an improvement in understanding or industry, in law or morals or piety, has been the result of a development of this kind, beginning as the independent inheritance of a small human collective and then radiating outward. At the same time, these fortress walls of tribal language and culture can be seen as preventing novelties from spreading too quickly, giving time for what is misguided and destructive to be tried and found wanting, to run its course and die out, before all humanity is overtaken.

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