Claes Ryn: Patriots vs Nationalists

todayJuly 30, 2013 2

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Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – There’s a difference between sincere patriotism and nationalism.  I’ll take a stab at it and I will channel Claes Ryn to do so.  This is just a brilliant little eight-paragraph essay on Patriotism, Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism.  This is from Professor Ryn’s book The New Jacobinism, which you can find a link to on Amazon on this page, here’s an excerpt of what he wrote… Check out the rest of the transcript for the rest…


Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  I was reading Professor Claes Ryn, who’s been a guest on this show.  Ryn’s book The New Jacobinism.  While we’re on the subject of Ron Paul and what his legacy may be now that his active campaigning — by the by, folks, for all practical intents and purposes, this means that his active campaigning for votes for the rest of his life is over.  He’s 76 years old.  He’s not seeking reelection to the U.S. House.  This will probably be his last attempt to try to win the White House.  He would be 80 years old next time.  This is probably, for all practical intents and purposes, his last active campaign.

As the twilight or the sunset on his active campaigning begins, who is going to step into the spotlight, take up the mantra, take up the old football and keep running down the field with it?  There’s a difference between sincere patriotism and nationalism.  I’ll take a stab at it and I will channel Claes Ryn to do so.  This is just a brilliant little eight-paragraph essay on Patriotism, Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism.  I will link you to the Amazon page where you can get The New Jacobinism.  That’s Professor Ryn’s book.  You should read this.  Here’s what he wrote:


It is here appropriate to extend the dichotomy between two sharply opposed forms of popular government to two very different ideas of nationhood.  A distinction is needed between what may be called patriotism and nationalism.  Selecting terms for particular meanings is always, to some extent, arbitrary.  Patriotism and nationalism have no universally accepted definitions.  The proposed distinction employs the terms in ways which may be at variance with some common usage.  The old morality of modesty and self-discipline, which is integral to constitutional democracy, does not preclude pride in personal strengths and accomplishments.  Neither does it preclude local, regional and national pride.  The patriotic celebration of national achievements does not signify the abandonment of a supranational moral norm.

[end reading]

Mike:  I better warn you natural rights absolutists, you’re not going to like the rest of this.  Just a warning.


On the contrary, the standard for national self-regard is the same standard that judges the flaws of one’s own people severely.  The patriot is the first to feel shame and regret about unjust actions taken by his or her own country.  Patriotism recognizes a standard beyond national prejudice and passion and maintains moral discrimination and self-control.  While always ready to defend his or her own country against threats, the patriot is less prone to impose his will on other nations and to try to be an example for others.  Just as in domestic politics, the constitutional democrat is not insensitive to the possibly legitimate claims of various groups, so in international politics, the patriot is not insensitive to the claims of other countries.  Indeed, as one looking to improve the quality of life in his own country, the patriot is receptive to the merits of other peoples and cultures and welcomes the variety of national customs as adding spice to life.

[end reading]

Mike:  Let me pause here.  See debate twixt The King Dude, and  Re: Switzerland last week.  While I was acknowledging good things about Switzerland, there was a serious debate going on.  [mocking] “Why Switzerland?  Why are you kicking your own country?”  I’m not kicking my own country, but it’s not perfect and there are things we can learn, good things, from other countries.  That’s what Claes Ryn is writing here.


Patriotism and cosmopolitanism, rightly understood, are compatible and complimentary.  The true cosmopolitan, like the patriot, is rooted in a particular cultural tradition but is, to some extent, at home in more than one country by virtue of the element of universality in his own particular background and in the traditions of other countries.  The cosmopolitan and the patriot both recognize that the universal values of civilization can be realized in somewhat different ways, depending on time and place.  A sense of shared humanity and destiny keeps the patriot, even in war, considerate of competitors.  Rarely in a conflict is all right on one side and the present enemy is a possible future friend and ally.

[end reading]

Mike:  See Lincoln’s treatment of Confederate prisoners, 1864-1865 for an example of how not to employ that theory that Professor Ryn just shared with us via this radio show.  Continuing on, this is where it really gets, I think, to the point.


Nationalism, by contrast, is an eruption of overweening ambition, a throwing off of individual and national self-control.  Nationalism is self-absorbed and conceited, oblivious of the weaknesses of the country it champions.  It is provincialism without the leaven of cosmopolitan breadth, discretion, and critical detachment.  It recognizes no authority higher than its own national passion.  It imagines itself as having a monopoly on right or as having a mission superseding moral norms, “My country, right or wrong.”  Nationalist politics is inherently intolerant, tyrannical, and expansionist.  Especially when offered without appropriate definitions, the idea that democracies are inherently peaceful and disinclined to aggression is so much nonsense.  All depends on whether a particular democracy has the self-restraint that comes from character and civilized prejudices among its citizens and leaders.  All depends on whether it is of the constitutional or plebiscitary type.  Plebiscitary democracy [Mike: He means by mob rule, fifty percent of the people plus one vote.] aims to free the popular majority from checks on its prevailing will.  In so doing, it liberates also the desire for power and self-aggrandizement to which a people is sometimes prone and to which nationalist demagogues can appeal.

[end reading]

Mike:  Claes Ryn, The New Jacobinism: America as Revolutionary State.

End Mike Church Show Transcript

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