April 28, 2008

According to Paul Belien, “€œThe most successful anti-immigration parties in Europe are regionalist/secessionist parties.”€

“€œThey are “€˜apolitical”€™ because they do not particularly like politics. Their militants, members and voters do not like the state, they want to be left alone. They defend local communities that want to run their own affairs. They are parties of the land and the community, rather than the state. They are, as the media and the political establishment derisively call them, “€˜populists.”€™”€

There’s a dialectic here in which it is those localist groups that have done the most to preserve the Judeo-Christian tradition of the continent as a whole (particularly as the mainstream Christian Democrats offer a PC vision of “€œEurope”€ that differs only slightly from that of their Social Democratic rivals.) Secessionist parties like the Vlaams Belang and Lega Nord are not “€œfragmenting Europe,” but preserving a European unity far more legitimant than that of the bureaucratic apparatus metastasizing in Brussels.

Belien discussion serves as a much-needed corrective to the uses and abuses of “€œThe West”€ we experience in the United States”€”and here I”€™m thinking not only of the neoconservatives but also some paleoconservative and anti-jihadist commentators like James Pinkerton and Robert Spencer (no relation).

I don”€™t want to dwell too much on the neocons, I think one of Paul Gottfreid’s quips will suffice: “€œWhen the neocons talk about defending “€˜the West,”€™ they”€™re referring to the upper east side of Manhattan and the patch of the District of Columbia on which sits the American Enterprise Institute.”€

Robert Spencer certainly has some important things to say about Islam; however, his conception of the confrontation with Jihad, and mass Islamic immigration in Europe, as “€œideological”€ should give pause to anyone who wants to establish sane foreign relations with the world (or simply make sure America minds its own business.) “€œIdeological struggles”€ are about conversion, about upturning the other side, “€œThe survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands,”€ and all that. Or at least, every other self-consciously ideological struggle in history has been like this. Pehraps Spencer has something else in mind; however, his affiliation with FrontPageMag makes me think otherwise.

Then there is James Pinkerton’s Romantic, and certainly seductive, vision for “The West” he set down in TAC not too long ago: the “€œknights of the West”€ would defend a renewed Christendom (or, as he calls it, “€œthe Shire”€). Pinkerton delimits this realm in religious”€”or rather meta-religious“€”terms and wants it to include not only Europe but South America, large parts of Africa, and the United States. 

Putting aside the question of whether many people in these areas actually want to define themselves on this basis, there’s a more basic question of what all the people in the Shire have in common with one another.

Conservative Episcopalians might want to pledge allegiance to the Bishop of the Diocese of Bunyaro-Kitara because they both agree on the issue of gays in the clergy, but I can”€™t imagine Bishop Turumanya lending a hand if, say, Falls Church comes under siege or that Virginians would be able to understand the dilemmas faced by the good bishop in Uganda.

In many ways, conceptions of “€œthe West”€ or any kind of anti-Islamic ideology bespeak the same postmodern rootlessness as do those dreams of a post-historical European Union “€œrunning the 21st century.”€ A similar critique could be leveled at “€œWhite Pride World Wide,”€ again a “€œpolitics”€ severed from any kind of discernable place and concrete interest.    

I think there probably is something that could be called “€œthe West,”€ and perhaps it even extends from Plato to NATO. I”€™m sure, however, that it’s far too large and hazy, and far too susceptible to swelling into ideology, to be a sound basis for politics. Let’s defend a nation-state, a class, a particular way of life and let the “permanent things” take care of themselves. 


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