A Good Quote from Hazony

Hazony discusses the double standard that reviles nationalist behavior by some countries and accepts it in others:

The Americans are reviled, and their behavior deplored, for exercising independent judgment in the pursuit of their interests as a nation, whereas no such scandal is attached to China or Iran exercising independent judgment and pursuing their own interests. Again, it is the national independence of a ‘European’ people that should have reached moral maturity and should know better that is driving the anger and hatred (216).

When a little kid announces, “Mommy, I’ve gone potty!” it’s cute and greeted with delighted applause. But if an adult does it, we find it disgusting. The liberal mentality, Hazony says, treats first-world countries like adults who should be too mature to engage in something as disgusting as acting in their own national interest. But when countries considered inferior do it, that’s OK because nobody holds them to the same high standard.

What’s really curious here is not the double standard, which is something we’ve all noticed many times. It’s the horrified repulsion of anything that smacks of defending national interest. People are trained to feel this repulsion because it brings enormous profits. To somebody else. They are schooled to cheer the dismantling of the nation-state that will make them poorer. But it’s OK because in return they get a sense of moral superiority.

What Hazony’s book misses is developing his ideas a bit further and taking them into the terrain of profits and gains. But he’s clearly not a Marxist, so for him it’s all ideas, Kant, morality, etc. I always find such an analysis insufficient but I fully recognize that other folks might see my obsession with the capital as boring and pedestrian.

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5 thoughts on “A Good Quote from Hazony”

  1. In your opinion, is there some middle ground between “Kant” and “Marx” that offers the most correct analysis of liberal imperialism?

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  2. I have yet to read Hazony’s Nationalism book. I am waiting for it to come out on audible. Hazony is one of a decreasing number of conservative intellectuals that I still take seriously. I strongly recommend his Jewish State, which greatly surprised me when reading it as it was not, as it appeared from the cover, a polemic against leftist critics of Zionism. His essential argument is that Zionism always had this split between cultural and political factions. This was papered over in the first part of the 20th century by Arab violence and the Holocaust. So once you get to the 1970s and Israel no longer faces an existential threat and the Arabs are pushing to equate Zionism with racism, you see an emerging left in Israel that was never comfortable with the Jewish nationalism at the heart of political Zionism to begin with openly coming out against a specifically Jewish State.

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      1. Something to keep in mind with Hazony is that part of his larger agenda is to make the study of religion relevant to political theory. For example, he wrote a book on political theory in the Bible. This may explain why he sees nationalism as coming from the Protestant Reformation. To be fair, Protestantism in both Germany and England had a strong proto-nationalist element to it in the sense of thinking that God saw particular value in either Germans or Englishmen and wanted them freed from the political and spiritual “chains” of Rome. Unlike most medieval thinkers, Luther’s nationality is a pink elephant that cannot be ignored. That being said, I am more inclined to think of Nationalism as a product of the collapse of Christianity as a politically unifying force even at a national level with the French Revolution and Romanticism. Taking a line from Charles Taylor, I am comfortable seeing Protestant proto-nationalism as, through the law of unintended consequences, setting up secular nationalism.

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