Nativism and Radical Republicanism: a curious relationship

Once upon a time, Tennessee was a stronghold of the Whig Party. More specifically, from about 1836 to 1852. In 1860, Tennessee was also one of three states to capture the electoral vote for the Constitutional Union Party, a splinter group of former Whigs and Know Nothings.

Despite being the home of Andrew Jackson, some of the most virulent anti-Jacksonians would come from the same state.

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“You Romans think the world ends at Ponte Molle. Don’t you know that Germany has already graduated, while you are only at the alphabet? Weishaupt scattered the first seeds of social reform; he foresaw everything, calculated everything, weighed everything. That great man could tell you, watch in hand: “In seventy years the fruit of Illuminism will have attained maturity. In thirty years it will have spread dismay throughout all this decrepit Europe; it will permit not a single king to say, “To-morrow I shall be king,” nor a single nation to say, “To-morrow I shall have my laws and my religion;” nor a single citizen, “To-morrow I shall be able to say, this house is mine, this sum of money is mine, these estates are my property.” Now we have reached the goal; for seventy years the work of the secret societies has been incessant, ever increasing in activity, vigor, craft, subtlety, and audacity. Now they are impatient: before the eyes of great politicians, writers, and economists they are tearing asunder, one by one, every link of the ancient institutions; it is undermining and crumbling the most massy foundations of every social edifice. Illuminism has issued from its hiding-place, it walks boldly over the heads of nations, it openly publishes its views, sounds the trumpet as conqueror in the great struggle, and proclaims: ‘New men, new laws, new orders, — let Christians become pagans — let kings be the slaves of their subjects, masters of their servants, the nobles of the plebeians, the rich of the poor.’

“But this is precisely the new proclamation of Giuseppe Mazzini.”

“Mazzini, my good friend, announces nothing new. He has nothing more than the merit of candor in publishing to the world that which was whispered in his ear ; all the rest is word for word extracted from Weishaupt’s secret code of Illuminism. Mazzini reproduces one after the other, various articles, clothing them, however, in that nervous, keen, fiery style of his, with which he arouses, spurs, animates, and influences the hearts of young Italy. The articles of the code of Weishaupt are written, it is true, without a tithe of the energy which the pen of Mazzini has lent them, but I repeat, that when he raises his voice so high, he is but the speaking trumpet sounded from a distance by the breath of the admiral.”

— From Fr. Antonio Bresciani’s novel The Jew of Verona: an historical tale of the Italian revolutions of 1846-9 (1854), p.201

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Sweet reassurances of old American pacifism

From the November 1869 issue of the Advocate of Peace, the newspaper of the American Peace Society (said peace was not supported for the Confederacy, though):

In 1820, says Edmond Potonie, “Europe supported 1,200,000 men; in 1865, it reached 3,800,000; now it is more than six millions. While Europe is burdened by her armies, the young and vigorous America, which reckoned 1,050,000 men in the Federal Army on the first of May, 1865, had disbanded 700,000 by the last of the same year, and to-day (1869), there are but 25,000 men under the flag. Is it better to lose the training, or to lose the people ? ”

Mark in this the tendency of large armaments in Europe to a steady, indefinite increase. Here is an increase of 600 per cent, in less than fifty years. Where is this enormous evil to stop? If not arrested, must it not end in universal, irredeemable bankruptcy?

Our own policy is a striking contrast. We have at most only the germ, or nucleus of a regular army, but nothing that would in Europe be called a Standing Army. Ours is only a handful of men trained to arms, as a species of national police to aid the government in enforcing its laws. It does not profess to be a preparation for actual war ; and whenever that comes, the men and the materials must be extemporized to meet the emergency.

Thus ours is a system, not so much of war as of peace ; and this policy, if adopted by Europe, would effect there a disarmament far beyond what even the friends of peace, most of them, have hitherto demanded ; for we do not understand them as objecting to the use, if necessary, of an armed police for the support of government in the execution of its laws. Even the London Peace Society, thought to be sufficiently radical, has always recognized the right and duty of rulers to enforce law against its violators, and thus guard the peace and welfare of society at large.

Thus our war-system, if such it may be called, is quite unlike that of Europe. The latter is kept up at as great an expense as the people can be made to bear, hot to preserve peace and order at home, but to fight other nations, while ours is used chiefly as a handmaid of our government in supporting its authority among ourselves, and ensuring a due enforcement of our laws. Its duties are for the country at large very like the local police in Boston or New York. Its main purpose is not War but Peace — peace at home ; and if the habits of our people, and the policy of our government were to prevail all over Europe, they would go far to supersede her present war-system, and certainly would insure a more entire disarmament there than has yet been proposed.

Is not our duty then plain and imperative as leaders to the world in peace, as well as in freedom and popular government ? Such, we think, is now our special mission. The habits of our people, and the policy of our government peculiarly qualify us to do this ; and we certainly can, if we will, do it more easily and more effectually than any other nation. We now stand confessedly at the head of other governmental reforms ; and if we will champion this greatest of them all, we shall cap the climax of our achievements for the benefit of our race.


That didn’t last.

“Leaders to the world in peace, freedom and popular government” did, though. Evidently the constitutional changes since Reconstruction by then had totally went under their noses, but that just might have been intentional ignorance.

Scientifically historicizing progress

A 2006 essay by Ralph Seliger, himself a left-liberal Zionist, remains one of the best article overviews of the oft-cited relationship between neoconservatism and Trotskyism. Its stated purpose is to debunk the “Jewishness” of the neoconservatives, but the author’s retelling of events that he was sometimes a first-hand witness to speak for themselves.

Unlike virtually everyone else, I don’t regard neoconservatism by itself as ever having been a significant phenomenon. It’s nothing more than the Jewish wing of Wilsonianism, and the perspectives of neoconservatism and mainline gentile liberal internationalism do not differ significantly from each other, except that some of the first-generation neocons did partially criticize various Great Society programs — like Nathan Glazer did. Even without the neocons, it is unlikely to me that the US and Israel’s cozy relationship (beginning with LBJ, thus predating AIPAC influence) would have differed. Before PNAC, there was the UDA. The Old Right had already dissolved by that point, and in fact I’d say that realistically it was the final defeat of the Taft Republicans by Eisenhower during the debates on the Bricker Amendment that was far more traumatic to American conservatism than in whatever influence the social democratic ideas of the Partisan Review and neoconservatism may have had.

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Geneva 1782

Bertrand de Jouvenel, in his Pure Theory of Politics, recounts a general state of optimism during the fin-de-siecle of the 18th century, a time when enlightened absolutism had began to settle in a state of rest, and cabinet wars (Kabinettskriege) were the predominant form.

He specifically quotes from a 1792 work by French revolutionary Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne, quite fittingly enough published months before the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars proper…

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Comte de Ferrand on the factions of the Estates-General

From Le rétablissement de la monarchie (1793) by Antoine François Claude, comte Ferrand, pp.33-38:

They had succeeded in speaking incessantly to man of his rights, and raising the body politic against wisdom; in the Estates-General they were given the opportunity to assemble their hitherto isolated attacks, and to ensure their success by giving them a national character:

1. Protestants. Enemies of the royal authority and of the Catholic religion, they had in the last but one century attempted to destroy both: both had resisted their efforts; but they had not lost the hope of renewing them: their deputies arrived at the Estates-General, with the same plan to divide France into departments: a project which they had conceived at a time when they were persecuted, & whose execution they came to attempt at the moment when the goodness of Louis XVI. had assured their repose, their fate, and their civil status. Although in general the Protestants practice religious precepts more exactly than Catholics, their hatred of the church brought them closer to the Atheists, who in their writings had always sided with them, not so much by error as by aversion to the truth. They will implore their help in the name of tolerance; and the philosophers, whose secret had been revealed to one of them, when he had said, that if the philosophers should become masters, they would be more enlightened than the others, they would prefer to be with the passion carried with it by the Protestants, and so they flattered the latter’s credulity with espousals of revenge, and congratulated themselves for having acquired, by granting the protection which they were asked, an additional means of attacking the Christian religion which they had sworn to destroy.

2. All those whose irreverence, pride, and ambition had believed that the moment had come to declare themselves legislators, to give the calculation of their interests, or that of their abstract ideas, as the result of a wise political conception. Each of them pretended to honor or to give a constitution to France; each one in his own way, but all too systematic, too proud, or too little educated to lend themselves to the proprieties of the times, things, and people, and so they wanted a clean slate on which they could be destined without constraint and without obstacles. The first step which they all had to make was thus to destroy what existed; & in following the execution of this plan, the oldest establishments were to be the first to be proscribed.

3. The partisans of anarchy. This class is always numerous, because, to disturb a state, it leaps with more audacity than talent; but it multiplies itself in public discords, because anarchy presents to all passions the success of one hand and the inability of the other. The Estates-General convened near the capital, in a moment of want, in a corrupt century, in the midst of all the rising parties, offering to the eyes of those men who always inspire terror or contempt, the hope too well probed of a rich harvest of profits and iniquities. To ensure its enjoyment, it was sufficient to destroy everything; and of the multitude of interests which were to work in the overthrow, were to be born countless difficulties which, by delaying the renewal/restoration, prolonged the anarchy or the triumph of all crimes.

4. Supporters of bicameralism [monarchiens].

To see from that moment what interest, what means and what desire they had to kill and to overthrow the old regime, they only jumped at the opportunity for their arrival at the Estates-General. Already being sounded by others as the deserters of all orders, they could not hide from themselves that they were exposing themselves to being rejected by all; they wished, therefore, to create a new one, the entrance of which could only be opened to a small number, but could be promised to a multitude whom this chimera would not fail to seduce. It was by betraying their order and their oath that they had to begin; and it was easy to conceive what such a beginning would produce; that nothing would cost the legislators, who gave themselves their mission, and who established it on a perjury. These transgressions of honor and truth offer to their proselytes a seductive appeal, in the humiliation and destruction of their own bodies. For those who are not equal, all the distinctions which apprehended the happiness of their equals, were not the object of a sacrifice. When men of birth are made to go to discontent, they despise their own order, in proportion to the degree to which their arrogance gives them the idea of their own merit.

Lastly, this party was dangerous, because it endeavored to show in a favorable light the example of a neighboring and powerful nation [England]; and because it took care to conceal the local differences and the definite inconveniences. It seduced thus those who judge with enthusiasm, without reflection, and who content themselves with seeing things en masse. It seemed to wish to clarify the three powers/branches of the state, and it announced itself as respecting property…

The monarchiens and Necker, he lambasts a lot. On the former, see also: “Old school cuckservatism.”

In general, these four factions are a recurring pattern: the Protestants (1) are a stand-in for ethnic spoils (complete with their advocacy by philosophes), the (2) managerialist, the (3) rent-seeker and the (4) ineffectual reformist conservative.