Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

More on creedal nation

A couple of days ago I posted my comments regarding my friend George Mellinger’s article on America as a creedal nation. George e-mailed me a reply. Here it is, with my comments below:

I do believe that the Soviet Union was a nation founded on a particular creed, and did indeed try to create an entirely new culture based on that creed. Much of the communal living of the 1920s was not just from poverty, but mainly engineered to be part of the new culture. Pproletkult anyone? Homo Soveticus? “Cogs in the Wheel” by Mikhail Heller, another Soviet émigré, is an essential, and readable account of those early years. Of course, you don’t remember most of that, because the attempt to create Homo Soveticus failed, and the system ultimately degenerated back into something that was…”sort-of Russian” culture, but not even the the old traditional culture of the Silver Age. And that is part of the problem. Abstract formally declared creeds fail, particularly when they seek to ignore the realities of the daily culture and human nature. And far too much of what I hear promoted today under the label of an American Creed” by the creedal nationists, does just that. It seems to be a sort of inverted neo-marxianism which seeks to ignore or deny the reality of actual culture in favor of economic utility, and placing an ever-higher Dow and GNP as the main measures of success. Which is obsessed with a sort of radical egalitarianism which transcends equality before the law, and has become a social form of what Lenin himself sometimes ridiculed as uravnilovka. We are still arguing in this country about when this process began in America, but I believe it took a sudden turn for the worse during the 1960s. I believe it is at the root of many of America’s current problems.
Of course, culture changes, it evolves. But it should do so naturally, by social processes, and not by the abstract theorizing of social engineers and judges. And yes, here I am explicitly blaming everyone on the left, and some who think themselves to be on the right.

George is, of course, right when he says that there was an attempt in the Soviet Union to create “homo soveticus”. Back in school we were always told that we belong to a “new historical community of people called Soviet People”. But that could never work. There was never any attempt to eliminate the ethnic differences. Instead, those differences were maintained and fostered. Why else would the Soviet Government include the ethnic origin in the internal passport? Interestingly, it was usually explained that it was done in order to emphasize the multi-ethnic character of the Soviet Union and friendship between various groups. Reality was quite different. This distinction, marked in the passports, was used to promote local nationalities in the republics and discriminate against ethnic groups deemed insufficiently loyal to the Soviet Union, like Jews. So, perhaps there was an attempt to create a creedal nation in the Soviet Union, but it was done where historically ethnic nation existed. Furthermore, it was done while trying to preserve ethnic character of previously existing nations at the same time. Also, we were always taught that the Soviet Union was more than a nation. It consisted of nations, like Russians, Ukrainians and all the rest of the republics. Jews were specifically considered a nationality, but not a nation, since, we were told, they did not have a common territory.
America is very different. Historically anybody becoming an American would renounce all the previous ethnic-based loyalties and instead would swear loyalty to the non-ethnic-based United States of America. Many Americans I know often proudly proclaim that one set of their ancestors fought another set, but it does not matter, because they are Americans. What was always required of the new Americans is learning the English language and assimilation into the American culture. New Americans always contributed to the American culture as a part of that great melting pot. That is how American nation has evolved. That is also why maintaining and emphasizing the ethnic differences between Americans will have disastrous consequences to the American nation.
So, in the end there isn’t much difference between mine and George’s view. We both agree that a nation cannot exist without language, culture and defined borders. I just don’t think that replacing ethnic definition with creedal definition contradict that.

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December 31, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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