When Culture Falls Ill - 2


Nationalism—A discourse in which the phenomena responsible for culturally prevailing values are consciously hypostasized as virtues in order to perpetuate the same conditions.

Enemies of nationalism—Those whose conditions have perpetuated along a path adjacent to or counter to the prevailing cultural discourse.

The more prevalent a counter or adjacent discourse is within another set of self-perpetuated conditions, the greater the need for one or the other discourse to appropriate the other so that one or both sets of conditions may prevail.

The classical distinction: Cosmopolitanism represents cultural homogony. Nationalism represents cultural purity.

The theological vocation of nationalism can be approximated to the biblical notion that one should not marry one with whom one is unequally yoked. Nationalism would have it that the state does not marry any alien idea.

Race hardens into a metaphysic where it collects and perpetuates rhetorical instant-points—place names, surnames, regional distinctions. Race becomes a semiotic inheritance of all these, held together weakly by a presupposed biological shell. If race is a social construct, then ‘purity of race’ could only ever mean purity of discourse.

The idea that ‘race is a social construct’ grants a strange, negative sovereignty to biology. If ever we find ourselves at a point in our language where we cannot properly attach ideas to a material object, the modern tendency is an immediate distrust of ‘construct,’ in other words, fabrication—as though ideas that are not represented by material bodies are fictions whose teleology, once traced, will vanish entirely.

There is a pop culture definition of truth which assigns it a place in the primordial, as though all truths rely on eternal foundations. To deny even fiction its sense of truth is one of the greatest indictments of life itself, for as Hegel taught us, if we try to get rid of the fiction in order to arrive at reality, we lose our sense of life entirely.

Statesmen and journalists invest in metaphysics concerning race precisely where it may benefit certain modes of discourse. If it is supposed that ‘natural law’ can be applied to one group of people, it is all the easier for others to argue in favor of or against the ‘results’ of that law, and if the results can be favored or disparaged, then so can the people from whom it is supposed that the law carried out its natural vocation.

In other words, it is precisely the same man who grants discursive sovereignty to one race on the grounds of their ‘natural merit’ alone who allows another man to turn and say of another race that they are, indeed, born inferior. This question of inferiority and superiority is embedded so deep in the history of classical knowledge as it tries to draw distinctions and comparisons in the order of things that, in the ever theological pretension of science’s aim to adopt the doctrine of the truth ‘setting us free,’ moral value has been attached to a falsely perceived hierarchy of fixed powers in nature.

Those who’d like their idealism less abstract and attached solely to nature are not safe from this sense of hierarchy which has subsisted on the invested value of those whose power is benefited by perpetual discursive strengths.

Science has no moral authority in itself. Many racists are simply clever biologists. 

Read Part 3 here