Why I am a "Rootless Cosmopolitan"
I recently discovered a Scottish nationalist web site with an interesting and refreshingly honest statement on its religious position. It was so refreshingly honest that it has given me new insight as to why I, as a rural heartland Anglo-American from a Fundamentalist Protestant background, am denied any ethnic identity but am forced to be the world’s only human abstraction.
The organization calls itself Siol nan Gaidheal and the article in question appears on their web page at http://www.siol-nan-gaidheal.com/religion.htm. All readers are urged to go to this webpage and read the original article before proceeding further (other articles on the site are equally informative).
Before responding to the article I must note at the outset that the ideology of this organization is not purely "palaeoconservative" but appears to be a mix of "Leftwing" anti-colonialism and "Rightwing" "rootedness"-based nationalism. It must also be stressed that the organization, so far as I know, is not anti-Semitic or anti-Israel. However, their position on religion strikes me as being very similar, if not identical to, that of more explicitly anti-Israel organizations and personalities who stress and invoke "rootedness" and "attachment to place" as the source of morality vis a vis the allegedly "corrosive" effects of Jewish universalism. For that reason I have chosen it as providing the archtypal "palaeoconservative" ideology (however hidden) and to reply to it here as an answer to all "palaeoconservatives."
The article giving the organization's position on religion begins by stating:
Siol nan Gaidheal takes the view that Religion is a cultural activity and that this offers the only realistic, modern and yet sympathetic interpretation of an often damaging theme. Our proper indigenous religion has long since been eclipsed by the florid Christian ethos which has subsequently elaborated layer upon layer of its creed by means of evangelisation and at the reformation of unhappy memory, by force; to its eventual arrival at our current level of division and uncertainty.But it seems religion is viewed as more than a quaint antiquated cultural relic--it can perform a utilitarian function as well:
In spite of all the resultant confusion and the legacy of sectarian bitterness, we are strongly inclined towards religious tolerance, believing that the wounds of the past will heal naturally with general cultural renewal and that since this is an area of activity which fulfils a very strong instinctive drive, it consequently offers simple comfort to many.
Further to this, religion has something to recommend it by its essential altruism. In other words, we condone the benefits to be drawn from the nurturing of a sense of spirituality, as a counter to overt materialism.This argument is very familiar to us from the "palaeoconservative" appeals to the "traditions" of "Western Civilization," but also from "neoconservative" appeals to the "Founding Fathers," as though religion's major purpose were the legitimization of any human civilization or system.
The author(s) finally lay their true view of religion unashamed before the reader as follows:
We accord credibility to the meanings and social and aesthetic significance of religion while recognising the truth of none of it . . . .Once again, it must be made clear that the following response is not merely to the author(s) of the article quoted and to his/her/their organization, Siol nan Gaidheal, but to the "palaeoconservatives" who seem to share this view of religion (however much they hide it) and use it to attack the Jews, Zionism, and Israel--again, something that Siol nan Gaidheal does not do.
God did not make man in his own image and likeness. Man makes his Gods, and remakes them periodically, in his own image and likeness. Our pragmatic response to such understanding concerns the fostering of sound ethnic integrity in whatever deity or deities our people may choose to focus upon.
I begin my critique by once again pointing out (as in my previous essay on Theonomic Positivism) that any worldview not based on the reality of the True G-d and submission to His Law is inherently illogical, especially when the worldview implies a moral vision of some kind. If the world is indeed merely a coincidence brought about by random chance with no transcendent meaning, then why condemn "materialism" or commend "altruism?" A meaningless existence is just that--meaningless--and no amount of human thought or agreement among like-minded people can bestow any meaning upon it. This G-dless commitment to the "nation" or to the "local" (or to "traditional morality" in the case of many conservatives, "palaeo" and otherwise) is ultimately no different from the G-dless commitment of the Left to "social justice" or to the "brotherhood of man." The very idea that G-d is not the fulcrum of the ideological world, that He is not the dividing point between one ideology and another--but that rather the dividing point is whether one is "traditional" or "progressive" with G-d a mere utilitarian trinket that can be invoked by either side for its ends--is profoundly disturbing.
But it is now understandable why so many with this worldview--that which reduces G-d and religion to a utilitarian creation of the local and the "rooted"--are so profoundly hostile to the nationalism and rootedness of `Am Yisra'el (again, a hostility not evident in Siol nan Gaidheal itself). If "nationalism" is indeed based on the "right" of each people and culture to create its own worldview, its own morality, its own "gxds" (as an expression of its "folk soul" and of what "works" for it in upholding its civilization) then the Jewish claim of being the Chosen People of an Objective G-d Who exists outside the universe and created it is profoundly corrosive and subversive.
As one who believes in this G-d (the G-d of Israel) I must assert contrary to all the champions of "autochthony" on the Right and "indigenousness" on the Left that no people in history has ever "sprung from the soil of its native land." Indeed, only one person in all history ever "sprung from the soil" at all--'Adam HaRi'shon, the First Man (and Chavvah 'Ishto--Eve, his wife--as she was originally a part of him), and even he did not spring from the soil of his "native" Gan `Eiden but was created either from soil taken from all over the world or from Har HaBayit (depending on the midrash) and only afterward placed in Eden. Furthermore, his soul (from which the souls of all later generations are descended) did not spring from the earth at all, but descended from Heaven. From this first man all other men descended, which means no people is indigenous to its "homeland" but is an "invader" from Eden. And unfortunately for the "palaeoconservative," this means every human being who has ever lived or who ever will live, from the "aryan" to the pygmy to the Eskimo, is one race. Why atheist evolutionists (with their polygenism) consider themselves any better than the racists is beyond me.
Seeing the unadorned subjective/local/ethnoculture-created view of religion gives one insight not only on the anti-Semites of the Right, but also on atheists of the Left. How many times are calls for Theocracy (at least when not made by moslems) met with the supposedly devastating question "Ah, but whose god is going to rule?" The hippie atheist of the Left obviously cannot see beyond the worldview of his Rightwing opponent, for whom the "gxd" is an expression of a particular people and who dwells in the rocks and rills and valleys and hills of its "homeland." Thus, to the anti-Theocrat of the Left the rule of G-d can only mean the hegemony of whichever ethnoculture supposedly created Him (chas vechalilah!). Since the same hippie Leftists have traditionally (though not so much today) expressed sympathy with the suffering of the Jews (supposed archtypal martyrs of "freethought" at the odious hands of "religion"), one can only wonder how they would respond if their question were answered with, "Why, the G-d of the Jews, of course."
From this mystical nationalist worldview one can also better understand the hatred of the Right for Benei Yisra'el, which otherwise would seem to fit their appreciation of nationalism to a "tee." If true conservatism lies not in adherence to the True G-d Who created all things but rather to the subjective local "deity" based on the ethnocultural "folk-soul," then naturally the ever-present possibility that the Jews might re-establish their ancient Theocracy is seen as the ultimate threat to the validity of the multitudinous subjective "deities" or "spiritual concepts" of the various nations of the world. Thus, the more Jews who settle in 'Eretz Yisra'el--especially in the ancient Biblical Heartland--and the more demands for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the louder become the cries accusing `Am Yisra'el of decadence, rootlessness, cosmopolitanism, ad nauseum. For Israel's victory--and the end of history--will be the triumph of the True G-d over all subjective falsehoods, and this will indeed be the end of the road for all the "worldviews" of the nations of the world, as well as the "levelling" of all mankind under His Blessed Heavenly Yoke (though of course the various nations will still exist). This is probably the true "one-world government" so many on the Right constantly yap against while hypocritically demanding that the United Nations' anti-Israel positions be implemented.
Alas, what causes even more confusion is that the hostility of liberal Jews towards G-d and His Objective Truth is seen by many of these people as merely the continuation of the immemorial Jewish "plot" against the local "gxd" and local-civilization spawned "morality." While the simpler people may scratch their heads at so many Jews deriving the meaning of their Jewishness from opposition to all that is truly Jewish, more sinister intellectual forces on the Right constantly invoke not Absolute Universal Divine Law but "chr*stian civilization" as the Jews' target, ever ready to manipulate the sincere but puzzled Fundamentalist chr*stian into trading the Objective Universal G-d for the local, the subjective, and what is allegedly in his "blood" and in his "folk-soul." It is Jewish liberalism which more than anything else makes disciples for Rightwing national subjectivism and gives a cover of religious Fundamentalism to a G-dless philosophy that denies any universal absolutes. And it is the repudiation of Jewish liberalism by the true rulers and teachers of `Am Yisra'el--the "Orthodox" Rabbinate--that is most needed. Indeed, what is needed is the transformation of the Jews of the Galut from a minority "religious denomination" into a self-governing Theocratic polity under the G-d-ordained rule of the Sages.
There is yet one more "dead horse" to be beaten before concluding this essay, and that is the great masses of decent people who are neither subjectivist nor anti-Semitic (indeed, they are personally quite Fundamentalist in their religious beliefs) but who simply cannot condemn homosexuality or any number of other evils without first invoking an authority other than the Creator of the Universe. When asked why homosexual marriage should not be legalized many begin by saying "the American people do not agree with this," or "our country was founded on deeply religious Western principals." Ultimately, this is no different from the "dese are de ways of our pipples" rhetoric emanating from every Leftist "national liberation movement" on the face of the earth. In fact, one of the most quoted "justifications" for the codification of G-d's Law is George Washington's observation that religion is necessary for public morality. Not only is George Washington's permission not necessary for the True G-d to be recognized, but this is one of the most blatantly utilitarian arguments ever offered for religion. If Torah leadership needs to assert itself and repudiate liberalism in the Jewish community, then at the same time all G-d-fearing non-Jews must stop appealing to any other authority or any other "religious tradition" other than the One True G-d Who created the Universe to make their point. Unfortunately, as long as our people's devotion to HaShem is adulterated by chr*stianity they will be unable to make this appeal and will be open to charges of ethnic-civilizational chauvinism by their anti-religious opponents. Only an appeal to the Jewish G-d is valid and will actually work. Chr*stianity is merely another form of subjective localism and, more importantly, is simply a false religion. And if religion's only legitmate "function" is to be true, then no false religion has any legitimate function whatsoever.
Finally, I would like to record how reading the article quoted above has opened my eyes and mitigated my self-pity somewhat. Always I have envied the "ethnic traditions" of other peoples, with their ancient languages, their mystical motherlands, and their religious traditions which are celebrated as genuine treasures of humanity while I am asked to forego any religious belief in favor of "abstract scientific truth." I have usually blamed this abstraction on the misfortune of being a person of English descent, since the English seem to have a desire to dissolve into a greater "British," "American," "Australian," or world population (and the criticism of the English character on the cited web site does sound much like "Southron" criticism of the "Yankees"). To some extent this is still true. However, I see now that because of my rejection of subjective mystical nationalism (along with any other non-Theistic philosophy) as the be-all and end-all of human life, I would be a rootless abstraction even if my ancestors had come from Ireland or Armenia. Because I believe in One G-d and ultimately One Humanity subject to Him, because I believe we are descended from one original pair directly created by G-d rather than that we all "spring from the soil of our homelands," I am forever marked as a rootless, cosmopolitan, subversive, corrosive, decadent leveller. But maybe this isn't so bad. The "roots" of the "rooted people" are in subjectivism and falsehood which they have created themselves (as the article admits), while my roots are in Heaven. They have their "homelands" while I have 'Eretz Yisra'el (even though not for myself), the World to Come, and the Garden of Eden. They have their ancient languages, while I struggle to familiarize myself with the Language of Heaven, the One original language of Adam, from which all other human languages are descended. And I choose to cast my lot with those "rootless, cosmpolitan, decadent" Jews rather than with any or all of the various "nationalists" who oppose them as if their lives depended on it (I guess they do!).
Maybe I don't have it so bad after all.