Saturday, October 26, 2019

John Paul II in defense of the nation and patriotism

In chapters 11-15 of his last book Memory and Identity, Pope St. John Paul II provides a lucid exposition of the idea of the nation as a natural social institution and of the virtue of patriotism, as these have been understood in traditional natural law theory and Catholic moral theology.  The relevance to current controversies will be obvious.

What is the nation, and what is patriotism?  John Paul begins by noting the connection between the nation and the family, where the former is in a sense an extension of the latter:

The Latin word patria is associated with the idea and the reality of “father” (pater).  The native land (or fatherland) can in some ways be identified with patrimony – that is, the totality of goods bequeathed to us by our forefathers… Our native land is thus our heritage and it is also the whole patrimony derived from that heritage.  It refers to the land, the territory, but more importantly, the concept of patria includes the values and spiritual content that make up the culture of a given nation. (p. 60)

As that last remark makes clear, the ties of blood are less important than those of culture.  Indeed, multiple ethnicities can make up a nation.  Referring to his native Poland, the pope notes that “in ethnic terms, perhaps the most significant event for the foundation of the nation was the union of two great tribes,” and yet other peoples too eventually went on together to comprise “the Polish nation” (p. 77).  It is shared culture, and especially a shared religion, that formed these diverse ethnicities into a nation:

When we speak of Poland’s baptism, we are not simply referring to the sacrament of Christian initiation received by the first historical sovereign of Poland, but also to the event which was decisive for the birth of the nation and the formation of its Christian identity.  In this sense, the date of Poland’s baptism marks a turning point.  Poland as a nation emerges from its prehistory at that moment and begins to exist in history.  (p. 77)

That a shared culture is the key to understanding the nation is a theme John Paul emphasizes repeatedly throughout the book.  He says that “every nation draws life from the works of its own culture” (p. 83), and that:

The nation is, in fact, the great community of men who are united by various ties, but above all, precisely by culture.  The nation exists ‘through’ culture and ‘for’ culture and it is therefore the great educator of men in order that they may ‘be more’ in the community…

I am the son of a nation which… has kept its identity, and it has kept, in spite of partitions and foreign occupations, its national sovereignty, not by relying on the resources of physical power but solely by relying on its culture.  This culture turned out, under the circumstances, to be more powerful than all other forces.  What I say here concerning the right of the nation to the foundation of its culture and its future is not, therefore, the echo of any ‘nationalism’, but it is always a question of a stable element of human experience and of the humanistic perspective of man's development.  There exists a fundamental sovereignty of society, which is manifested in the culture of the nation. (p. 85)

In addition to shared values and religion, John Paul identifies shared history as another crucial aspect of a nation’s identifying culture:

Like individuals, then, nations are endowed with historical memory… And the histories of nations, objectified and recorded in writing, are among the essential elements of culture – the element which determines the nation’s identity in the temporal dimension.  (pp. 73-74)

The pope notes that citizens of modern Western European countries often have “reservations” about the notion of “national identity as expressed through culture,” and have even “arrived at a stage which could be defined as ‘post-identity’” (p. 86).  There is “a widespread tendency to move toward supranational structures, even internationalism” with “small nations… allow[ing] themselves to be absorbed into larger political structures” (p. 66).  However, the disappearance of the nation would be contrary to the natural order of things:

Yet it still seems that nation and native land, like the family, are permanent realities.  In this regard, Catholic social doctrine speaks of “natural” societies, indicating that both the family and the nation have a particular bond with human nature, which has a social dimension.  Every society’s formation takes place in and through the family: of this there can be no doubt.  Yet something similar could also be said about the nation. (p. 67)

And again:

The term “nation” designates a community based in a given territory and distinguished from other nations by its culture.  Catholic social doctrine holds that the family and the nation are both natural societies, not the product of mere convention.  Therefore, in human history they cannot be replaced by anything else.  For example, the nation cannot be replaced by the State, even though the nation tends naturally to establish itself as a State… Still less is it possible to identify the nation with so-called democratic society, since here it is a case of two distinct, albeit interconnected orders.  Democratic society is closer to the State than is the nation.  Yet the nation is the ground on which the State is born. (pp. 69-70)

As this last point about the state and democracy indicates, a nation cannot be defined in terms of, or replaced by, either governmental institutions and their laws and policies on the one hand, or the aggregate of the attitudes of individual citizens on the other.  It is something deeper than, and presupposed by, both of these things.  It is only insofar as a nation, defined by its culture, is already in place that a polity can come into being.  Hence it is a mistake to think that, if the common cultural bonds that define a nation disappear, the nation can still be held together by virtue of governmental policy either imposed from above or arrived at my majority vote.  For a people have to be united by common bonds of culture before they can all see either governmental policy or the will of the majority as legitimate.  (Readers familiar with the work of Roger Scruton will note the parallels, and how deeply conservative John Paul II’s understanding of the nation is.) 

Now, as a natural institution, the nation, like the family, is necessary for our well-being.  And as with the family, this entails a moral duty to be loyal to and to defend one’s nation – and for precisely the same sorts of reasons one has a duty of loyalty to and defense of one’s family:

If we ask where patriotism appears in the Decalogue, the reply comes without hesitation: it is covered by the fourth commandment, which obliges us to honor our father and mother.  It is included under the umbrella of the Latin word pietas, which underlines the religious dimension of the respect and veneration due to parents…

Patriotism is a love for everything to do with our native land: its history, its traditions, its language, its natural features.  It is a love which extends also to the works of our compatriots and the fruits of their genius.  Every danger that threatens the overall good of our native land becomes an occasion to demonstrate this love. (pp. 65-66)

Among the dangers to the nation are the opposite extreme economic errors of egalitarian statism and liberal individualism, which threaten to destroy the common culture that defines the nation – in the one case from the top down and in the other from the bottom up.  The pope writes:

[W]e must ask how best to respect the proper relationship between economics and culture without destroying this greater human good for the sake of profit, in deference to the overwhelming power of one-sided market forces.  It matters little, in fact, whether this kind of tyranny is imposed by Marxist totalitarianism or by Western liberalism. (pp. 83-84)

If liberal individualism is an error that pays insufficient respect to the nation, there is of course an opposite extreme error which involves giving excessive esteem to the nation – namely, nationalism.  Patriotism, rightly understood, is the middle ground between these extremes:

Whereas nationalism involves recognizing and pursuing the good of one’s own nation alone, without regard for the rights of others, patriotism, on the other hand, is a love for one’s native land that accords rights to all other nations equal to those claimed for one’s own. (p. 67)

John Paul II was clear that the remedy for nationalism was not to go to the opposite extreme (whether in the name of individualism, internationalism, or whatever), but rather precisely to insist on the sober middle ground:

How can we be delivered from such a danger?  I think the right way is through patriotism… Patriotism, in other words, leads to a properly ordered social love. (p. 67)

Now, let’s note a number of things about these remarks and their implications.  First, as I have said, what the late pope was giving expression to here is not merely his personal opinion, but traditional natural law political philosophy and Catholic moral teaching – the kind of thing that would have been well known to someone formed in Thomistic philosophy and theology in the early twentieth century, as John Paul II was.

Second, John Paul’s teaching implies that those who seek to preserve their nation’s common culture, and for that reason are concerned about trends that might radically alter its religious makeup or undermine its common language and reverence for its history, are simply following a natural and healthy human impulse and indeed following out the implications of the fourth commandment.  There is no necessary connection between this attitude and racism, hatred for immigrants, religious bigotry, or the like. 

Of course, a person who seeks to preserve his nation’s culture might also be a racist or xenophobe or bigot.  The point, however, is that he need not be, and indeed that it is wrong even to presume that he is, because a special love for one’s own nation and desire to preserve its culture is a natural human tendency, and thus likely to be found even in people who have no racist or xenophobic or bigoted attitudes at all.  Indeed, it is, again, even morally virtuous. 

Needless to say, there is also a moral need to balance this patriotism with a welcoming attitude toward immigrants, with respect for the rights of religious minorities, and so forth.  The point, however, is that all of these things need to be balanced.  Too many contemporary Catholics, including some churchmen, have a tendency to emphasize only the latter while ignoring the former.  They have a tendency to buy into the leftist narrative according to which the current wave of populist and patriotic sentiment in the United States and Western Europe is merely an expression of racism and xenophobia.  This is deeply unjust, contrary to Catholic teaching, and politically dangerous.  It is unjust and contrary to Catholic teaching because, again, both natural law and traditional moral theology affirm that a desire to preserve one’s nation and its culture are natural human sentiments and morally praiseworthy.  It is dangerous because, when governing authorities fail to respect and take account of these natural and decent human sentiments, they are inviting rather than preventing a nationalist overreaction.

(President Trump has famously called himself a “nationalist,” which is unfortunate given the connotations of that term.  However, from his 2019 address to the United Nations it seems clear that what he means by this is just the defense of the institution of the nation against those who would dissolve it in the name of globalism, open borders, etc.  Moreover, he explicitly affirmed the right of every nation to preserve itself and its sovereignty, and the right of every human being to have a special patriotic love and preference for his own country.  He also has repeatedly called for the United States to refrain from intervening in the affairs of other nations.  So it is evident that it is really just patriotism in the sense described above, rather than some sort of American nationalism, that he intends to promote.)

The current controversy over illegal immigration must be understood in light of these principles.  In a 1996 message on World Migration Day, John Paul II emphasized the need to welcome migrants, to take account of the dangerous circumstances they are sometimes fleeing, to avoid all racist and xenophobic attitudes, and so on.  At the same time, he acknowledged that “migration is assuming the features of a social emergency, above all because of the increase in illegal migrants” (emphasis in the original), and that the problem is “delicate and complex.”  He affirmed that “illegal immigration should be prevented” and that one reason it is problematic is that “the supply of foreign labour is becoming excessive in comparison to the needs of the economy, which already has difficulty in absorbing its domestic workers.”  And he stated that in some cases, it may be necessary to advise migrants “to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country.”

The Catechism promulgated by Pope John Paul II teaches that:

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.  (Emphasis added)

End quote.  Note that the Catechism teaches that immigrants have a duty to respect the laws and “spiritual heritage” of the nation they seek to enter, and that political authorities may restrict immigration so as to uphold the “common good” of the nation they govern. 

Hence, there is no foundation in Catholic teaching for an open borders position, or for the position that those who seek to uphold the common culture and economic interests of their nation ought to be dismissed as racists and xenophobes.  On the contrary, Catholic teaching explicitly rules out those positions. 

There is a further implication of John Paul II’s teaching.  It isn’t merely that having a special love for one’s nation and its culture is natural and virtuous.  It is that a failure to have it is vicious – a violation of the fourth commandment.

Of course, every nation has its faults, and aspects of its history of which one ought to be ashamed.  For example, Germans are right to repudiate the Nazi period of their history, and Americans are right to repudiate slavery and segregation.  But there is a mentality prevalent in the modern West that goes well beyond that – that insists on seeing nothing but evil in one’s own nation and its culture and history.  This is the mentality sometimes called oikophobia – the hatred of one’s own “household” (oikos), in the sense of one’s own nation.  One sees this mentality in Westerners who shrilly and constantly denounce their civilization as irredeemably racist, colonialist, etc., downplaying or denying its virtues, and comparing it unfavorably to other cultures – as if Western culture is somehow more prone to such failings than other cultures are, and as if it hasn’t contributed enormously to the good of the world (both of which are absurd suppositions).

Oikophobia is evil.  It is a spiritual poison that damages both those prone to it (insofar as it makes them bitter, ungrateful, etc.) and the social order of which they are parts (insofar as it undermines the love and loyalty citizens need to have for their nation if it is to survive).  It is analogous to the evil of hating and undermining one’s own family.  It is a violation of the fourth commandment.

The oikophobe sees his position as a remedy for nationalism, but in fact he is simply guilty of falling into an error that is the opposite extreme from that of the nationalist.  Moreover, he is inadvertently promoting nationalism, because human beings have a tendency to overreact to one extreme by going too far in the other direction.  Nationalism is bound to arise precisely as an overreaction against oikophobia.  Those who are currently reacting to what they perceive as a resurgent nationalism by doubling down on oikophobia – pushing for open borders, indiscriminately denouncing their opponents as racists and xenophobes, etc. – are making a true nationalist backlash more likely, not less likely.  The only true remedy for the evils of nationalism and oikophobia is, as John Paul II taught, the sober middle ground of patriotism.

It is no accident that those prone to oikophobia tend to be precisely the same people as those who want to push further the sexual revolution, feminism, and the destruction of the traditional family and traditional sex roles that these entail.  The same liberal individualist poison is at the core of all of these attitudes.  As St. John Paul II said, “patria is associated with the idea and the reality of ‘father’ (pater).”  Hatred of masculinity and of the paternal authority and responsibilities that are its fulfilment, hatred of the traditional family and of the sexual morality that safeguards it, and hatred of one’s fatherland, are ultimately of a piece.  And lurking beneath them all is a deeper hatred for another, heavenly Father.

Further reading:


  1. To what extent does the Catholic state play a role in this? Given that we as Americans have a privilege of voting and ruling is it our first priority to make the state that governs our nation Catholic or ought we to be worried about moral issues? It would seem that our first loyalty is to the nation rather than the individuals that make it up. But on the other hand we are given the responsibility of ruling. So the moral status of the country is important. Which one of these takes precedence?

  2. It seems that these broad principles can be interpreted a lot of different ways in our specifically American contexts.

  3. Alice Van Hildeband makes alot of these same points in her biography of Dietrich. It would be neat to hear some of what you think of phenomenology considering it seems to be the only reval philosophy, in the church, to scholasticism.

  4. [JPIIquote] "The term “nation” designates a community based in a given territory and distinguished from other nations by its culture."[end JPIIquote]

    Funny, Pope JPII does not give the word origin for "nation". That is the first thing philosophers do. "Nation" is from the Latin, "natus" birth. Nation means "One birth", descended from same Patriarch. Does not the Bible lay out the Patriarchs of the Hebrews? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Single Patriarch--creating single nation! So you have the "12 Tribes of Israel".

    So I don't think you can have "multiple ethnicities can make up a nation". That is a Contradiction. Unless one creates a Caste or Federal system. Switzerland is a Federal system while India is a Caste system. Switzerland is NOT a Nation but a Country.

    PJPII writes "It refers to the land, the territory, but more importantly, the concept of patria includes the values and spiritual content that make up the culture of a given nation."

    Did not Nations exist BEFORE religion? Does not the Septuagint say, that "God made their ways diverse"? If so, is that not by their racial instincts that are diverse and so race IS the basis of cultural differences?

    What we see here is Masonic ideology downplaying the importance of race and up-playing culture. Culture is to replace ties of kinship! That is Masonry.

    And so with the promotion of Immigration by PJPII--ethnic dilution which is Soft Genocide!

    Yea, the Catholic Church promotes and engages in the genocide of the European peoples!

    1. Did not Nations exist BEFORE religion?

      There are plenty of Catholic teachers (mostly from days of yore - cf. Lapidus) who taught that there was no period before people had religion: Adam and Even passed on their own (correct) knowledge of God, and that thread of truth remained in human history through Enoch, Noah, and on down to Abraham. All other beliefs were degeneracies from it. Until modern times, there were no peoples who did not believe in worshiping deity (in some sense).

      "One birth", descended from same Patriarch. Does not the Bible lay out the Patriarchs of the Hebrews? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Single Patriarch--creating single nation! So you have the "12 Tribes of Israel".

      And yet Adam and Noah are also Patriarchs, and we are ALL born of them: so are we all one nation? No, of course not: different nations have different histories, which includes not only different progenitors (not going all the way back to Noah) but also different customs, language, and religions.

    2. Also interestingly, the Greeks viewed the difference between their civilization - having a "polis" - and barbarians is that barbarians ruled by nothing but the paternal authority of a paterfamilias, a patriarch of a clan. Whereas the Greeks (and the Romans after them) viewed the very meaning of a polis or civitas is that because many tribes make up a city, and no tribe could legitimately prove it had a more excellent claim to rulership than any other, and (to say the same thing differently) all the tribes together could not clearly and definitively trace their roots in detail, specifically, to a single source (it was lost in the mists of antiquity and myth), it was impossible to set one man or one tribe over all the others solely in virtue of paternity and nothing else. Hence civic or political authority refers to an authority that goes BEYOND the authority of a paterfamilias, in that it rules over more than one tribe, and not by paternity.

      Even in Israel, Judah was not the first son of Jacob, but the fourth - yet kings came from him. And KING David was not the first of Jesse's sons, but the 7th. Going strictly by principles of clan and tribal rules, there could be no rational basis for David to become the ruler of Israel. (Indeed, God shows he has little regard for tribal and clan pre-eminence, when he picked Saul as the first king of Israel, for Saul had no fundamental claim to any sort of pre-eminence, except that of being tall).

      Note, also, that Ruth, a Moabite foreigner, chooses to stay with Naomi when Naomi returns to Israel, comes into Israel and marries Boaz - thereby becoming the grandmother of King David. Since Ruth was not born of Israel, David's descent from her would be "tainted" if birth and birth alone decided nationality. But of course, it doesn't: Ruth became part of the nation of Israel by declaring to Naomi (and presumably repeated to others, later)
      "Your people shall be my people,
      And your God, my God.
      17 Where you die, I will die,
      And there will I be buried.

      I don't think the Old Testament was playing up the Masonic heresy.

    3. Wheeler is some kind of literal white supremacist.

    4. @Wheeler I'm actually quite surprised Feser glossed over the substance of a nation, as you pointed out. A culture has a shared cult, a nation has a shared birth.

      The term 'racism' itself has its roots in Marxist pilpul (try to find that term in print before 1916-- you won't) so it is unfortunate to see it deployed by Mr Feser seriously.

      Otherwise really great insights.

    5. Wheeler's certainly some kind of ethno-nationalist and far-rightist. A disreputable fellow.

    6. Great reply Tony.

    7. 1st point: The phrase "ethno-nationalism" is a pleonasm. Nationalism is ultimately a Latin word and Ethnicity is a Greek word, both meaning the SAME thing! What doesn't exist is this oxymoron, "civic-nationalism", that doesn't exist. Nations are built on blood descent! An Ethnos is built on blood descent.

      Second point: Also interestingly, the Greeks viewed the difference between their civilization - having a "polis" - and barbarians is that barbarians ruled by nothing but the paternal authority of a paterfamilias, a patriarch of a clan.

      NOPE. The Greeks called the Asiatics barbarians because they were enslaved to their governments. It was Asian Monarchical Despotism. Whereas the Greek participated in his government!

      3rd point: A Rightist, now and forever, is a Monarchist! A Monarch is the nucleus of the Natus. A Monarch is tied to his kinsmen! Yes, I am a rightist---a Monarchist!

      4th point: Konrad Heiden, in Der Fuhrer reports that "They occassionaly referred to their party as a 'party of the Left." (pg 94) Nazis are Leftists. As Prof. Zeev Sternhell reveals in his book, The Birth of Fascist Ideology, fascism is a revision of Marxism! The root of Marxism, Fascism and Nazism is German Idealism which has its roots in the Kabbala. The Nazis rejected hierarchy, the aristocracy, monarchy, making them Leftists. Anyone who rejects Monarchy and Aristocracy is a Leftist.

      I stand with my fellow martyrs of the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil Wars, with Charles I and the Russian Royal Family genocided by the Bolsheviks.

      You guys listen to too much Marxist agitprop.

    8. “Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with one of different kind, and thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with diverse seed.” (LXX, Lev. 19:19)

      That verse condemns Multiculturalism. It commands the PRESERVATION of the Cosmos. It expresses the Will of God. God is the God of Order and the Order is to be maintained. Whether it be bovine---or mankind. The Tower of Babel is NOT to be rebuilt!

      “This is the thing which the Lord has appointed the daughters of Salpaed, saying, Let them marry where they please only let them marry men of their father's tribe. So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel go about from tribe to tribe, for the children of Israel shall steadfastly continue each in the inheritance of his family's tribe.” (Numbers 36:6-7)

      Miscegenation is condemned. There are instances of it but of a low degree. Moses married a Cushite, King David's heir was from a Hitite woman. There is always an exception to the rule.

      Too much miscegenation leads to Dilution, Ethnic Dilution is a form of Soft Genocide.

      On the Contrary, God "created all the nations of the earth", LXX Psalm 85. God expects YOUR DUTY TO STAY AND PRESERVE. Nations are the Order of God.

    9. Anonymous at 9:51 PM:

      The term 'racism' itself has its roots in Marxist pilpul (try to find that term in print before 1916-- you won't) so it is unfortunate to see it deployed by Mr Feser seriously.

      A term's origin is irrelevant. What matters is what the term means. Racism has a coherent meaning and thus can be employed by conservatives. Of course, often when it is used, it is used simply as a slur applied by liberals to conservatives. That sort of use obviously ought to be avoided, but of course that's not what Feser was doing.

    10. Ian writes: Racism has a coherent meaning and thus can be employed by conservatives.

      Can be employed by conservatives? That is an oxymoron! A "conservative" is about conserving! Leveling the charge of "racism" whatever that is, is about Deracination! To deracinate is to commit the Act of Genocide--which then is an Act of Treason! A conservative engages in genocide and treason? What?

      Ian, you have lost your mind. The charge of racism is Marxist/Masonic agitprop. (agititation propaganda). To say "racism is evil" IS the Marxist, Masonic ideology to "fuse all of humanity together".

      The charge of racism is to make people conform to Marxist ideas. The charge of racism is about destroying national preservation.

      11 encyclicals condemning Masonry by the Catholic Church and yet they all miss the fundamental aspect of Freemasonry. But Fr. Gruber in his excellent article in the 1910 Catholic encyclopaedia entry for "Masonry" does not. Masonry calls nations the "accidental divisions".

      God DOES NOT MAKE accidents! Nations are by blood decent. Ethnic Dilution is a form of Soft Genocide.

    11. Ian,

      Racism, as it is currently used, doesn't have a coherent definition. It's a word that has a constantly shifting definition depending on time and context.

      To see what I mean, consider the following statement.

      "Julia is a racist."

      What does this statement mean? Is it true? Is it an important statement? The answer to all these questions is more or less indeterminate because the word racist is just a synonym for "bad" or "in an outgroup." If we attempt to replace the word "racist" with a common synonym, very likely either the veracity or the emotional power of the statement contains vanishes.

      For instance, if the person calling Julia a "racist" is progressive in their political leanings, they likely mean something like "Julia has a strong in-group preference" or "Julia is only attracted to members of her own ethnic group" or even "Julia wants to preserve her own cultural heritage." But none of these statements evoke the negative emotional reaction calling her a "racist."

      It's only because the word racist itself is associated on an emotional level with the policies of Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South that the word "racist" has power. The progressive speaker could not say "Julia possesses an irrational bigoted hatred of other races," because this (clearer and direct) statement is obviously false. And he could not say any of the above statements because they wouldn't get the emotional reaction he desired. However, by using the word racist, he's able to connect "having a strong in-group preference" or "wanting to preserve one's own culture" with "irrational hatred of other races," and by extension "Nazism" and "Southern Segregation."

      In short, don't use Marxist agitprop language. The words themselves are designed to create an emotional response for cynical, political reasons, not to actually convey information.

    12. What about people who rant about Judeo-masonic-bolshevism? Can we at least call them racist?

    13. Anonymous,

      Let's take a look at the statement.

      "People who talk about Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevism are racist."

      Let's translate it into the synonym for racism most often used.

      "People who talk about Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevism have an irrational bigoted hatred of other races."

      Granted, some people who talk about "Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevism" might also hate Jews. But there's no necessary connection between the two. I can talk about "Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevism" without hating people of Jewish ethnic origin. I could talk about it as a religion or ideology, either to criticize or defend it. I could even posit its practitioners have taken over Western countries and are enacting a policy of "replacement migration" (in the EU's own words) for the purposes of undermining the native European populations of those countries. But that alone wouldn't mean I held an "irrational bigoted hatred" of any race, much less Jews. To stomp your foot down and insist "you must be motivated by bigotry! You just have to!" is itself a form of meta-bigotry and is supremely uncharitable.

      Wheeler may be a kook, I'll grant you, but you can't conclude that they hate Jewish people as a race.

    14. Mister Geocon,

      Racism has a perfectly understandable and coherent meaning. It is a particular species of injustice: injustice motivated on the basis of race.

      Of course the term is abused all the time, and for that reason it might be wise generally to avoid using it to prevent misunderstandings. But that does nothing to call into question that racism points to an intelligible concept.

      The late blogger Zippy was good on this:

      Adopting nominalism by insisting racism doesn't mean anything won't get us anywhere.

    15. Mister Geocon (I have a feeling you are just Wheeler with another account), what crap. It might be logically possible to believe that sort of conspiracy theory about Jews and not consider them inferior or hate them, but what's the betting that extensionally just about everyone who does hold such views does consider them inferior or hate them? We all know this. You aren't fooling anyone with such sophistry. No one holds such ridiculous views about a race or ethnic group without being prejudiced against them, not in the real world. Wheeler is certainly a racist. He can rant at length about the Jews, has defended black slavery, worries about interracial marriage, etc. No one who is not racist, again in the real world, has such a bundle of obsessions. He's not just a racist, but some kind of far-rightist or white supremacist, clearly. That the left abuses these terms doesn't mean they never apply. They apply to Wheeler.

  5. Do you think that there is a little spiritual oikophobia amongst some clergymen? Given the goings on at the Amazon Synod (Pachamama idols, etc.) it almost seems like some clergymen hold other religions in higher esteem than Catholicism.

    1. No. There is a GREAT DEAL of it amongst many clergymen. At least 4/5 of sermons and diatribes I have heard or seen by them are filled with it in one form or another.

  6. Serious question: Would it be an offense against patriotism to love another nation's culture more than one's own? For example, what if I love European classical music more than the folk music of my nation - is that wrong?

    1. I think a particular aspect can be loved more. For example I can love the fact that my friend loves football more than the fact that my dad loves baseball (let us say). But that does not mean I love my friend more than my father overall.

    2. I agree with Scott, but even more, it is viable (even under virtue) to love another culture more tan one's original one. See Ruth and Naomi: Your God will be my God, your people will be my people. In recognizing in another culture something gravely more right and critically more necessary to good living, one can indeed leave behind one culture and adopt another. In some sense, to be an upright immigrant is to do just this - otherwise they should have remained at home and just stuck it out, whatever difficulties that entailed (even death).

    3. Tony,

      Agreed. Although one key difference is the prioritization of loyalties. A man must care for his direct family before his country, so that may involve emigration. However, a single man with no direct responsibility for others (assuming his life is not in imminent danger) may be called to stick it out and either rebel against the state (justly) or call for reform, etc. That is more debatable though.

    4. Right, I agree. If the family man must flee his home country and go to another, he might do so as a temporary measure, or permanently. If the latter, what I am suggesting that it is obligation to adapt to the new nation and even to give it his loyalty, and not just his outward obedience.

  7. It's always seemed to me that America is not a nation in St. JP2's sense, but a loose conglomeration of nations. American regions such as New England, the South, the Midwest, etc., all seem much closer to being genuine nations than the U.S. is, or could be. In every sense but the purely governmental, I'd say that a man from Georgia, a man from Iowa, and a Canadian are all equally distinct--calling the first two "countrymen" feels like an assertion of national kinship that doesn't really exist in the sense of a common patria.

    1. There is some justice to this, but I think that a better description is that in the US there is an imperfect instantiation of a single nation. It imperfection is, fairly enough, brought out in the regional differences, but Poland too has regional differences and yet is one nation.

      Far more importantly, the imperfection of the nation is found it the lack of a unifying religion. The two strongest unifying factors of a nation - apart from mere birth alone - are language and religion. These two factors are either controlling or modifying elements of literally thousands of other customs and behaviors and formative of mental framework, and a perfect nation will have them in common. To the extent that the American colonies in 1776 had a unified religion, it was (roughly speaking) Protestant along with a (more or less) generous tolerance of other Judeo-Christian groups. This was enough to allow the 13 colonies to form a nation, but not a perfect one. Other factors of cultural unity were stronger in America than they typically are in other nations, and hence the revolutionaries in 1776 were right when they asserted their distinct nation from Britain (see Declaration: "He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country,"). Arguably, America had far more unity of nation before 1960 when its religious heritage remained (still) largely Protestant with a (more or less) tolerant view of other Judeo-Christian groups, than it is now when at least 30% (and probably 40%) are unable to even articulate clearly normative Christian doctrines much less believe them wholeheartedly. We are falling apart as a nation, but this is an historical accident that need not have happened and need not continue.

    2. It would also be fair to point out that those original Americans were comprised mostly of North Sea Europeans which were of similar ethnicity and disposition. So the original American nation (not just the culture) was practically another Celtic-Teutonic outgrowth, like Iceland or the Isle of Man but on a huge scale. (Fwiw I wouldn't consider myself to be a North Sea person, just making the observation).

    3. America is NOT a nation. Never was. America is a country. Nation is built on blood descent.

      America is a Masonic Construct! Half of the FFofA were Masons. To further that problem there were many fellow travellers of Masonry. Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were quite aware and favorable to Masonic teachings, though not Masonic members! The Seal of the US is full of Masonic imagery and the two sayings on it, "Novus Ordo Secularum" and "E Pluribus Unum" express Masonic ideology! The whole of Americanism is built on the teachings of the Enlightenment which was Atheist, Deist, and most especially Spinozaist! America is a Hebrew republic.

      Now, if the 1925 Nationalities Act was still preserved, maybe America would have grown into a more homogeneous country but since the 1965 Immigration Act, America has been turned into the Tower of Babel. Thanks to the Roman Catholics of John, Robert and especially Ted Kennedy. "E Pluribus Unum" bespeaks the Tower of Babel ideology!

      America is a Failed State; it is going to follow BOTH Yugoslavia and Venezuela. America is gone. America is also, like Yugoslavia, a Marxist state. America is a Failed State because it is UNnatural! It is against Nature and the Natural Law will destroy America--it is in the process now. Blood is thicker than water!

    4. So I should sell some stocks, then, Wheeler?

    5. Mr. Wheeler, you're overthinking things ... and I'm writing this as someone absolutely NOT affiliated with the Space Bankers, and certainly not aboard their cloaked orbital craft the "Weishaupt." Nor am I typing this from a keyboard adapted to handle the input of my pseudopods.

    6. My analysis and conclusions are based on the following books:

      Jasper Ridley's The Freemasons, A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society which talks of Masonry's influence in America.

      Steven Sora Secret Societies of America's Elite which also talks of Masonry's influence in America.

      Matthew Stewart Nature's God, The Heretical Origins of the American Republic which is about the Jewish sophist Benedict Spinoza's influence in the creation of America.

      Eric Nelson The Hebrew Republic The American Revolution was first called the Presbyterian War because many people at that time saw it as the continuation of the English Civil Wars and their implementation of this so-called "Hebrew republic". Nelson is a Harvard Professor.

      Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
      The Influence of Marxism in the United States Today A Catholic priest who has described America has already Marxist in the 1970s.

      I "overthink things"? Methinks you people are illiterate, no-nothings who have no situational awareness. I know what I'm talking about. Read those books above--and you will come to the same conclusions I have.

      Also, The Unseen Hand by Ralph Epperson. And None Dare Call It Treason by John A. Stormer and his larger book, None Dare Call It Treason, 25 Years Later.

      So please spare me your snark. Scripture teaches: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."

      The Englightenment writings belong in the trashcan. I do NOT listen to the ravings of the ungodly. Everything about America is poison. Our Duty is to the Old Order.

    7. As should now be obvious to all, Wheeler is some kind of far-right nut and should be avoided. Who wants to bet he isn't a fan of the Jews?

    8. Dictatortot,

      I'd say that a man from Georgia, a man from Iowa, and a Canadian are all equally distinct--calling the first two "countrymen" feels like an assertion of national kinship that doesn't really exist in the sense of a common patria.

      A man from Georgia and a man from Iowa have a shared collective history that neither of them share with the Canadian: for example, both of former will recognize George Washington as one of their own and will feel a cultural connection with specific American holidays such as Thanksgiving in a way that the Canadian won't.

    9. Respectfully, Ian, I must disagree. Washington's presidency was a political episode that doesn't seem linked to "nation" in the thick sense that we're discussing. (Also, earlier on George fought in & for British Canada as well, lest we forget!) Also, not many in my family ever celebrated Thanksgiving; they considered it a northern holiday that had little to do with them.

      No, I'm perfectly content living in a different country than Canadians do, and would be content living in a different country from Iowans--in any important respect, in fact, I'd say I already do.

    10. Dictatortot,

      If you regard the life of Washington (with respect to its connection to our nation) as reducible to a mere "political episode" and don't celebrate Thanksgiving, this suggests to me that you are rather atypically alienated from your own culture. Washington is part of our mythology, as are other figures and events such as the signing of the Declaration, Lincoln, slavery, Martin Luther King, etc. I expect that in this respect the typical Iowan and Georgian are no different. These things don't figure in Canada's mythology. Likewise, as an American, I feel no connection to Canada's specific mythology (and hardly know what it even is), except insofar as it relates to the shared history of the broader Western civilization.

      If our nation were to break up, it ought to be regarded with some sense of sorrow. One should view it in a similar way to how one would view his family breaking up. Not to feel such sorrow bespeaks a deficiency in piety.

    11. Thing is, Ian, I don't really consider "our" culture a thing, or that there's such a thing as "us" that stretches to the East & West Coasts, from Canada to Mexico. I'm not really sure the Lithuanians were "impious" to the extent they celebrated no longer being Soviets, even though they were urged to consider the latter their rightful culture to the end.

    12. Ian,

      We are Catholics. We ought not believe in myths of any kind.

    13. Of course I don't mean myth in the sense of being false.

      Every nation will have a mythology. It could be based on a true self-understanding or a false self-understanding.

  8. This is great, but it's not an official document. Could anyone quote a magisterial document on patriotism?

    1. I will go one better than "magisterial", how about scriptural? In Titus 3 we have "Remind them that they have a duty of submissive loyalty to governments and to those in authority, of readiness to undertake any kind of honourable service.

      That "submissive loyalty" is just that virtue of patriotism.

      For magisterial source, I came across this passage of Leo XIII's Sapientiae Christianae" recently:

      Now, indeed, if we are bidden by the law of nature especially to love and protect the land in which we were brought forth and raised into this light, so that the good citizen does not hesitate even to encounter death for the fatherland, it is a far greater duty for Christians ever to be affected in similar wise toward the Church. For the Church is the holy land of the living God, born of God himself, and established by the same Author, who indeed is on a pilgrimage in the land; calling men, and training and leading them to eternal happiness in heaven. Therefore, the fatherland must be loved, from which we receive the enjoyment of mortal life, ...

      But if we wish to judge rightly, the supernatural love of the Church and the natural love of the fatherland are twin loves coming from he same eternal principle, since God himself is the author and the cause of both; ..."

      So, the same truth is taught both in Scripture and in the papal encyclicals.

  9. I liked this post as an examination of Pope John Paul's views on patriotism. It's a pity it was ruined by the reference to Roger Scruton. No Pope's teaching could really be like Scruton's ideas because he is a typical believer in conservative ideology.

    Scruton's idea of God and religion is naturalist and evolutionist. One has only to look at Burke (Kirk's attempt to baptise his ideas made this even more obvious) to see that religion is seen as a product of human nature and society, instead of revelation. It's so bizarre that conservatism spends so much time talking about the need for the sacred in society, and so little (in Burke, zero) on God speaking to us. It's doubtful if Burke could have believed in revelation.

    The other point was the reference to open borders. Of course we're all against them. However, as the post mentions, nations can make mistakes, and slavery and segregation were not the only ones. Borders should be controlled by nations but they are sometimes in the wrong place, like the Irish border and the one on the Rio Grande. The "current wave of populist and ptriotic sentiment in the United States" is partly good, but it is also a resurgence of what had been an ugly anti-Catholic and anti-hispanic movement which created the present border (on the back of illegal immigration) in the nineteenth century. However, history has a habit of correcting such aberrations and the current "wave" is provoking something else that may be even more longlasting than the 1848 boundary. We'll see.

  10. Does Catholicism have any room for an ethnic sort of nationalism, whereby the nations exist for the sake of ethnic groups - and thus, justifying the action of restricting immigration to a certain point in order to keep the country's ethnicity and culture in the majority?

    Can a Catholic support the idea that ethnicities should have their own countries and should be the majority in that country over time?

    1. Many (most?) nations do seem to contain a dominant ethnic group whose culture is the basis of the national culture. Given the way demographic trends are going in various Western European countries it should be possible to put the idea of a nation and national identity divorced from ethnicity to the test. One example; in Great Britain the white British population is projected to be a minority by around 2060 and under 20% of the population by 2090. Intuitively I don't think that what was British culture during the time of an 'indigenous' majority will survive this. The only way I can see it happening is if there is some large scale intermarriage and the resulting population retains some 'blood' or ancestral genetic ties to what has gone before.

      I expect there is some way of taking account of this cultural and probably evolutionary/biological reality within Catholicism, the Church seems to have been able to accommodate things like this in the past.

    2. Didn't Feser tell you to get lost? You're a troll with silly obsessions who doesn't know who what he's talking about.

    3. Haven't you worked out that I don't give a rat's arse about anomymous teacher's pet remarks? Try a serious comment. Slapping don't work.

    4. You apparently also don't care you were specifically told to knock it off. Great manners there.

    5. Slapping via keyboard is even less effective than in real life! Adios, until you work out who you are and how to argue.

    6. If only you'd AdiĆ³s, you creep.

    7. Anonymous, try do something about your obsessions and allow others to have a different opinion. Bile can rise to the brain and do all sorts of things.

    8. Don't feed the trollsNovember 4, 2019 at 6:06 PM

      Has Feser not banned Cervantes/you? Simple answer please.

      Is it not hugely disrespectful to feed trolls explicitly banned by Feser? Again give a simple answer to the question.

      It would be nice if the troll partisans answered such questions instead of dishonestly implying that it was all opposition being objected to rather than trolls who have either been explicitly banned by Feser or exactly resemble them (and Feser has explicitly asked us not to feed such posters).

    9. Don't feed the trollsNovember 4, 2019 at 6:12 PM

      It's also ironic someone would defend Cervantes by talking about my obsessions. Cervantes was banned because he is an obsessive and brings up his pet issues, sophistically argued for, at every opportunity. He is so obsessed he keeps coming back despite being told to get lost.

      I admit being piqued at him, but his sheer lack of concern for his ban and the clear lack of respect our implied irritates me.

    10. You're so right. What naughty people. How can one be expected to sleep at night when others insist on voicing their own opinions! Jaywalking is another crime that makes my blood boil. It's incredible it still goes on, almost as hard to believe as differences of opinion online of all places. What is the world coming to! But don't let me put you off your crusade for a second if it makes you feel useful to the world.

    11. Don't feed the trollsNovember 5, 2019 at 5:17 PM

      Is this Cervantes or Tomislav? Of course you didn't answer the questions. Trolls can easily drag down a blog. This is why Feser has to tell them to get lost. We get it. You don't care about the blog and have no respect for it or Feser. How about you get lost then and leave us all alone. Whether you are a troll or a troll feeder, you won't be missed.

    12. Yes, you're very non-obsessed, as all can see. If you have bilious attacks every time "creeps" say something you don't like, perhaps you should try following the comments on some other blog. Edward Feser seems quite able to survive people who don't agree with him. Will you?

    13. Cervantes is a creepNovember 6, 2019 at 1:10 PM

      Says the compulsive troll feeder or the troll who's so obsessed he keeps coming back despite being told to get lost. For a start, you're a liar, as I said before. You cast this as about people simply disagreeing when it is about trolls literally banned by Feser. No one he calls anyone a troll just for disagreeing. And you a scumbag with no respect for Feser or this blog, because you are either a banned troll (presumably Cervantes) himself or a compulsive feeder of banned trolls. Do us all a favor and get lost. Feser has told us explicitly not to feed trolls. I will continue to point this out, as will others. We aren't going to let scum like you ruin this blog.

    14. Obsessives are pretty creepy, or haven't you noticed that you're the only one who keeps going on about it? Keep your bile out of your brain or the results will be impossible to foretell. Instead of trying to police what people can or can't comment, how about becoming a parking inspector. You'll have more luck.

    15. Cervantes is a mega creeperNovember 7, 2019 at 12:49 PM

      Cervantes, why are you hiding? Afraid that Feser will tell you to get lost again? It was must happen to you a lot. Why do you have nothing better to do with your time than obsessively troll where you're not wanted? You even started a site to incoherently ramble about Feser. What a loser. Is it because you're too creepy for a job and for friends?

      Don't worry. I will be here to remind everyone you are a troll whenever you show your creepy face around here or any of the other notorious trolls turn up (last time Santi turned up several other posters sounded the call before me. I was impressed).

    16. Anti-Cervantes: Yes, of course — but do take care that your zeal does not run off the tracks, lest you end up becoming as much of a nuisance in an equal but opposite way. Remember that feeding trolls doesn’t mean “replying to them seriously”, it means “replying to them at all”.

    17. Don't feed the trollsNovember 7, 2019 at 5:48 PM

      Mr. Green, good point.

    18. Yes, good point Mr. Green made. If I am a troll-feeder, then your obsessive carrying on ought to have been a feast for me. What's more important is that your hatreds only foul up the feed more than any troll could, so take the blog's gentle and concerned advice to find something else to do.
      Course it's not going to happen. You like stirring up trouble. Reminds me of this woman called Lisa, who was always trying to get her new boyfriends to fight her old ones.

      As this is now boring for me, and very bad for you in every way, I'll let you have the last word (till next time I catch you making a mess). Try not to pour too much vomit and brains over the blog! It's a Christian place, or should be.

    19. Troll feeding anon, I think you need to reread Mr. Green's post. I don't think he was supporting you. You are much worse than Don't Feed the Trolls guy and most here think so. It's just that guy needs to make sure he doesn't end up feeding the trolls himself.

    20. Tim's right. No decent poster here blames anyone for getting annoyed at trolls. If that's bile, it's righteous bile. I for one think the anon(s) who remind us not to feed trolls do a good job. They just need to make sure they don't feed trolls themselves or clutter the place up.

  11. Prof. Kevin MacDonald in his great dissertation "Jewish Involvement in Shaping American
    Immigration Policy 1881-1965: A Historical Review" points at Frank Boaz, a Jewish professor who denied the theory of scientific racism, the idea that race is a biological concept and that human behavior is best understood through the typology of biological characteristics and REPLACED it with the idea that " culture as the primary concept for describing differences in behavior between human groups, and as the central analytical concept of anthropology."

    We see that Pope John Paul II is following in the footsteps of Boaz, an infidel, an ungodly person. This is the strategy of the Masons and the International Socialists, to deny the racial component of Differences in Mankind!

    To use "Culture" instead of Biology, is to Deracinate. To Deracinate is to commit Genocide!

    In India, giving a speech, Pope John Paul II used the phrase “New World Order”. The New World Order IS Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevism!

    The phrase "Novus Ordo Secularum" on the US Seal is a Masonic Code phrase. It stands for New Order. Pope John Paul II is calling for the Masonic New Order of doing away of Nations! If a Nation is not based on blood descent---then immigration is allowed.

    Pope John Paul II is NOT a saint but an apostate. He is part of the Internationalist, Globalist cabal running this world. Instead of upholding the Old Order, he is promoting a New Order. He is also committing the act of genocide.

    1. Mr Wheeler I think calling JPII an apostate is going a little far, but in general I enjoy your insightful posts, thank you.

    2. You think a far-right kook banging on about Judeo-masonic-bolshevism is insightful? It takes all sorts, I suppose. I think his posts are an embarrassment and should be deleted, if any should.

    3. What is America? America is part of the New World Order; that phrase is on its seal. What is the New World Order? The keeping of names but redefinition under it. America is a Propositional country meaning it is defined by ideological goals instead of by blood descent.

      Nation is being redefined by Pope John Paul II. That by itself is morally wrong, attacking the definition of words, redefinition of words.

      What Pope John Paul II is doing is "Americanizing" the word 'nation' to mean "A Culture" which is about the same as Propositional.

      If you analyze Pope John Paul II prescription of a nation defined as “”” culture””, then one can fill Hungary with nothing but Africans and Chinese and if they are all Catholic and speak Hungarian, then it is still Hungary! That is the Logic of Pope John Paul II’s extraordinary definition! There is Still the Tower of Babel–you just create a Tower of Babel inside every nation if you follow the evil design that a nation is a just a culture! It is about wrecking Homogeneity in every Nation! Pope John Paul II is an Apostate for he is following the Jewish idea of re-defining a nation as a culture.

      I refer to The Chief Rabbi of the London Synagogue, Rabbi Ari Kahn (2012), teaches that World Unity and a Utopia have to be established before the Jewish Messiah can come.Talk: The Messiah.

      In her pamphlet The Nationalities Question, the German Jewish socialist, Rosa Luxemburg hails the prescript of Karl Kautsky, an Austrian Jew:

      “Kautsky formulates – as far as we know, for the first time in socialistic literature of recent times – the historical tendency to remove completely all national distinctions within the socialist system and to fuse all of civilized humanity into one nationality.”

      "To fuse all of humanity into one nationality".

      That is the dogma of Jewish Messianism. I stand by my charge that Pope John Paul II is an apostate. To follow the dictates of another religion is to apostasize.

  12. Ed writes:


    President Trump has famously called himself a “nationalist,” which is unfortunate given the connotations of that term.


    To some extent words have connotations because we allow them too. What is so bad about nationalism? When I hear 'nationalism' I don't think of the holocaust, etc.

    Neil P.

  13. See:

    But I saw somewhere that there were people that held service in the army of Rome was against the Catholic faith.

  14. Of my nation! What ish my nation? Ish a villain,
    and a bastard, and a knave, and a rascal. What ish my nation? Who talks of my nation?

    henry v, III, ii

  15. Hello, Dr Feser, I am making my way through your books (now on to my 4th). Brendan Vogt on 'Word on Fire' says that somewhere you have a given a full reply to Dawkins' "We're all atheists in respect to other gods etc' line. Could you please point me to your response? Thank you.

    1. It's in the chapter 7 on responding to general objections to natural theology from his book "Five Proofs of the Existence of God."

  16. Thank you - found it on page 289. BTW, I did once teach a boy called Zeus, so I hope that at least his parents believe in him. I resisted the temptation to ask him if his father was called Cronus.

  17. Nice post.

    A couple questions though:

    As that last remark makes clear, the ties of blood are less important than those of culture. Indeed, multiple ethnicities can make up a nation. … It is shared culture, and especially a shared religion, that formed these diverse ethnicities into a nation…

    If you have a shared culture, aren’t you basically a single ethnicity then? Isn’t part of what it means to be an ethnicity having a distinct culture?

    It seems to me that if there are multiple ethnicities that share the same culture, then over time, they will merge into a single ethnicity.

    For a people have to be united by common bonds of culture before they can all see either governmental policy or the will of the majority as legitimate.

    But can’t you regard a government as legitimate and having real authority over you even if you are not united by common bonds of culture? For example, first century Jews in the Roman Empire.

  18. The Lonely ProfessorOctober 30, 2019 at 6:33 PM

    Nations, and culture, and governments, and societies should be supported insofar as they are good, and work to the benefit of the people (and notice I mean actual, real benefits, and not some amorphous "common good"). They should be opposed when they fail to do this. I deny any and all obligations on the part of men to societies unless such support redounds to their eventual benefit, pious claptrap notwithstanding. Societies exist for the sake of humans, and not the other way around, unless your idea of utopia is the Borg. If you want to call this "individualism", so be it, but I am in reality far from being a libertarian.

    Thus the problem with "oikophobia" is not that it is "unpatriotic". The problem is that it fundamentally lies about Western civilization. If it were actually true that Western society was irredeemably and fundamentally evil, then it cannot in any way claim our "love" when it should rightly be hated.

    And all this ignores the fact that political boundaries are to a quite large extent arbitrary, the result of wars or other factors, and don't neatly coincide with "culture", making it difficulty to define a "nation" other than what is defined arbitrarily by those boundaries. An Anglo-Saxon family in Fargo, ND likely has a lot more in common with another Anglo-Saxon family in Winnipeg, MB than a Hispanic family in Miami, despite being in a different "nation" and thus ostensibly claiming a different "allegiance". And why should a Native American have any fealty to Western culture which is not his, and in fact many times has treated his own outrageously injustly? Such questions are not answered.

    1. If it were actually true that Western society was irredeemably and fundamentally evil, then it cannot in any way claim our "love" when it should rightly be hated.

      That would be true if a society were irredeemably and fundamentally evil, but no society is irredeemably and fundamentally evil. Not even Western society, in spite of its embrace of secular liberal autonomy and its rejection of God.

      And all this ignores the fact that political boundaries are to a quite large extent arbitrary, the result of wars or other factors, and don't neatly coincide with "culture", making it difficulty to define a "nation" other than what is defined arbitrarily by those boundaries. ...

      It doesn't matter if boundaries are arbitrary - that doesn't make them any less real. What matters is that the State has legitimate authority over its territory. One State can rule over many 'nations' (taking nation to mean how I understand Feser to be using it). An American Indian does not necessarily need to feel any connection to a culture that is not his, but he is still compelled to obey any legitimate authority over him, even if that authority does not share his culture.

  19. You could be underestimating country or nation. Like a family, they can be founded, and might seem to be the product of arbitrary circumstances, but they still require the loyalty of those born into them. Things always change, but it can't be compared to changing soft drink brands.

  20. Haven't read this in its entirety, but will get back to a comment when I do. For now, I'm uncomfortable with Dr. Feser's facile "So it is evident that it is really just patriotism in the sense described above, rather than some sort of American nationalism, that he intends to promote." "Evident"? As I say, I'll come back to this comment, but "America first" seems a long way from any catholic family of nations spirit that Catholics accept and promote. Stay tuned.

    1. Professor Feser is merely applying the definitions of nationalism and patriotism previously introduced. Trump doesn't want the U.S., or China, or Spain, or Italy, or Peru, dissolved into borderlessness. He asserted the right of every nation to preserve sovereignty, and the good of every human being to having patriotiotic affection for his country (whichever country that might happen to be). That's patriotism not nationalism (given the definitions in use by Feser).

      In context, then, "America first" would seem to be asserted as a civic obligation of Americans, and especially of American elected officials. Trump doesn't mind a win-win negotiation between himself and another country's leadership, but thinks its his job to argue for the best possible outcome for Americans in that negotiation. Trump doesn't think it's his job to argue for the other side. But he does think it's the other side's job. There's no trace of evidence that Trump thinks "America first" is the civic obligation of Madagascarians. He thinks that's the job of the delegation from Madagascar.

      Still, I slightly share your discomfort (but perhaps for slightly different reasons). One can't expect rigorous precision in the use of words from Donald Trump. But Professor Feser makes this point by parsing Donald Trump's words and comparing them against definitions-of-terms. Philosophers tend towards that kind of reasoning. Does Trump?

      Probably not, so I think we should take Trump's words here to represent, at best, a loose approximation of a gut instinct he'll reflexively follow, most of the time, provided it's convenient.

  21. What would have become of our nation when we were united under the Articles, had New York declared itself “first”? I’m afraid the President’s “America First” philosophy similarly vitiates a necessary integration of nations that respects sovereignty but aims for a more perfect union. More later.

  22. Uh-oh! Is Benedict a "globalist"?

    "...There is urgent need of a true world political authority..."

    Cf. Charity in Truth, no. 67

  23. Christian NationalistDecember 8, 2020 at 8:51 AM

    Dr. Feser, I am Polish catholic quite regularly reading your blog and books. Unfortunately you have a wrong understanding of nationalism, and it is probably based in philosophical chaos JPII introduced.
    It is probably also overlapping with general, intuitive understanding from angloamerican culture you were raised and educated.
    To begin with you should check scholastic and neoscholastic resources from other nations than English-speaking ones.
    First of all nationalism is a very broad term in sense of historical sciences. If we want to make an analogy to philosophy it is like realism or aristotelianism and its particular implementation, version is like more concrete, specifi theory like hylemorphism.
    From the point of view of social sciences each nation has its own nationalism in this sense and even more visions of it since there were many of them sometimes in one nation.
    Many historians which analyze nationalism divide it up into christian and non-christian one.

    Please make a research about it and even in some English translations of neoscholastic books you will find definition of nationalism as love of ones own nation. And definition of patriotism as love of ones own fatherland.
    These are considered to be both virtues. What is more from scholastic perspective it becomes clear that both patriotism and nationalism can degenerate if mentioned love is practiced wrongly, especially it is risky in non-christian nationalism, when you are not corrected by universal moral law as taught by the Church.

    In my opinion JPII is simply wrong and he is conflating nationalism with chauvinism or at least assumes apriori that all types of nationalism must necessarily become toxic.

    This is just not the case in light of definitions I provided and serious mistake.

    Also D. Trump is of course right, he is a nationalist and also a ptriot. This is not unfortunate what he said.

    Between 1790 and 1945 we had in Poland hundreds of catholic clergy who identified themselves as nationalists and were promoting massively idea of christian/catholic nationalism as I described above.

    As a christian nationalist of course you have to respect other nations. This simply means you love people of your nation slightly more than otthers which is totally natural and consistent with natural law and Church teaching.

  24. Christian NationalistDecember 8, 2020 at 9:35 AM

    What is more there is also support of what I said previously not only in Church seminary handbooks but also in official ordinary Church teaching which simply has magesterial weight and JPII's personal book has no magesterial weight at all.
    This is probably difficult to find because of differences in translation - in English translation of Pope Pius XI encyclical Caritate Christi there is no mention of nation. But this is just mistake or imperfection of translation.
    In this ecnyclical in fourth paragraph there is precise mention of nationalism (understood as love of ones nation [people]).

    Original Latin text:

    "Quod si legitimo in patriam studio abutens debitaeque erga suam Nationem pietatis sensus plus aequo extollens (quam quidem pietatem rectus christianae caritatis ordo, nedum improbet, at suis normis sanctam vivacioremque efficit), nimius id genus sui suorumque amor in mutuas inter populos rationes ac necessitudines subrepserit, nihil iam erit tam abnorme, quod culpa carere non videatur; adeo ut quod facinus a privatis hominibus perpetratum omnium iudicio vituperandum haberetur, idem, patriae caritatis causa interposita, et honestum et laude dignum censeatur. "

    English translation:

    "4. Now if this excessive love of self and of one's own, by an abuse of the legitimate care for our country and an undue exaltation of the feelings of piety towards our own people (which piety is not condemned but hallowed and strengthened by the right order of Christian charity) encroaches on the mutual relations and the ties between peoples, there is hardly anything so abnormal that it will not be regarded as free from fault; so that the same deed which would be condemned by the judgment of all when it is done by private individuals, is held to be honest and worthy of praise when it is done for the love of the country."

    Also please take a notice that Pope Pius XI is speaking here precisely about fatherland (Patria) and nation (Nationem) because these two were traditionally understood in scholaticism to be principles respectively of patriotism and nationalism.
    Of course the text is a warnign against excesses but also positive concept can be understood from here since if anyone is speaking about any excess he necessarily assumes some moderated, golden middle approach.

    Also very important! Pope refers here to potential excesses of both patriotism and nationalism, not only nationalism.

    This is very consistent with original scholastic definitions and thinking. If a ptriotism and nationalism are relations of love, they both can be in some way degenerated.

    And this furhter show misunderstanding of the topic by John Paul II

  25. The major religion in Poland is Christianity, with around 24% of the population identifying as Catholic. Muslims make up about 5% of the population, while there is a small Jewish population of about 1,000. There are also a number of Protestant and Orthodox churches in Poland.

  26. I think that there are many people like myself who are "nationless". So what I am a citizen of the US? My mother wasn't born here, my father's family wasn't from here in recent memory. I grew up in an enormous multicultural city- just as exposed to Anglo-American culture as to Latin or Chinese. I have family in multiple different countries, and I am ethnically rather mixed.

    So how must I have any special loyalty to the culture and attitudes of a nation which I am hardly connected to historically and frankly has little cultural unity of its own?
    What cultural unity the US has is contrary to my principles. In the past, it was a nation united by a Anglo-Protestant culture and an avaricious mercantile spirit. Nowadays it is just a broadly secular morass of 300 million atoms from all over the globe united perhaps only by the "almighty dollar" rather than almighty God.

    I feel a stronger pride and cultural kinship with Catholics everywhere on the Earth than with the post protestant business venture + army masquerading as a nation which we call the "USA".

    I think you have to be Polish to speak about the nation and patriotism in a way like JPII did. As for me, I believe "neither Jew nor Greek... but all one in Christ Jesus".