Mark Steyn thinks that pan-Islamism represents a serious challenge to the nation-state. I concur.
Steyn marshals as evidence for his theory several factors:
- The collusion of the MSM with those who wish to destroy Western traditions. The latest example, of course, is Reuters’ conspiracy with Hezbollah. One could also point out the special care some members of the French press have taken in setting up “scenes” in Gaza for the Palestinians to demonstrate the barbarity of the Israelis.
- The Pew poll taken recently in Britain: eighty-one percent of British Muslims consider their primary allegiance to be Islam, not Britain.
- The situation in Lebanon.
As Steyn says:
Lebanon is a sovereign state. It has an executive and a military. But its military has less sophisticated weaponry than Hezbollah and its executive wields less authority over its jurisdiction than Hezbollah. In the old days, the Lebanese government would have fallen and Hezbollah would have formally supplanted the state. But non-state actors like the Hezbo crowd and al-Qaida have no interest in graduating to statehood. They’ve got bigger fish to fry. If you’re interested in establishing a global caliphate, getting a U.N. seat and an Olympic team only gets in the way. The “sovereign” state is of use to such groups merely as a base of operations, as Afghanistan was and Lebanon is. They act locally but they think globally.
“And,” he adds, “that indifference to the state can be contagious.”
I used to be sanguine about the pseudo-intellectuals’ takeover of our academy, the press, an exponentially expanding governmental bureaucracy and an activist judiciary concerned with a “living” Constitution – though the death of this document had escaped the notice of most of us.
I thought this change was a generational thing brought on by the silliness of the sixties and the historically, economically, and philosophically ignorant — i.e., those who swallowed the Soviet line about the triumph of Marxism. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union, like many others I thought it was simply a matter of time before peculiar people like Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky aged out and left the field to those who has seen the mistakes socialism had wrought, even in this country.
Of course, that was before 9/11 and the steep rise in the national consciousness of militant Islam, and the national argument about whether or not it represented a “real” threat to our country or to its sovereignty. And my illusion was also prior to the full impact of the EU’s transnationalist agenda, or the attempt to blanket world governments with the faux science and unfair practices of the Kyoto Protocols, or the endeavor to place the U.S. under the laws of a world court — an appalling menace that seems welcome to some members of our own Supreme Court.
These are all threats to our sovereignty, but none is as loud, as violent, or as large and relentless as the threat of Islamic terror — bloody murder carried out in the name of Holy Law, beyond which there is no appeal. It is this we must address first because it is this rebirth of the idea of empire (call it the Ummah; it’s still an empire) that most jeopardizes the United States and the Anglosphere. At least those members of the Anglosphere which are obviously firmly in the camp of the notion of the nation-state and even those, like Britain, who might eventually be retrieved from the maw of the transnational EU — a nation-killer if ever there was one.
But before discussing the critical issue of the nation-state, we should step back a pace and consider the alternatives to national sovereignty, and what these alternatives represent both historically and to our future as a country.
We have known only two other choices when it comes to political organization: anarchy or imperialism. [Yes, of course, the U.S. has been accused of imperialism — when it is not being accused of isolationism — but we’ll leave that aside for the moment since the accusation exists in theory only. There are no examples of colonies for our so-called empire, so we’ll dispense with evil Amerikkka for the moment and simply define the idea of empire for the sake of clarity, not to mention brevity.]
Part III of Redefining Sovereignty (edited by Orrin Judd), covers a wide range of concerns under the title of “ The Transnational Threat.” For our purposes, the salient essay is On the National State: Empire and Anarchy, by Yoram Hazony.
Mr. Hazony posits the national state as the “linchpin” of the central ideas in the political traditions of the West, and on it depend our ideas about the rule of law, representative government, and, above all, personal liberty. He compares the “tyranny and disorder” of these two alternative polities, anarchy and empire, and gives a brief historical account of their persistence in history.
Anarchical arrangements are distinguished from imperial ones by focusing on the principal political loyalty of each: in the former, the loyalty of the individual is to himself alone. He transfers his fealty to clan, tribe, or lord, and that loyalty is indeed transferable.:
For if allegiance is given to a familiar individual or lord, and if allegiance to this lord will remain unshaken [until] the day he withdraws his allegiance to his own lord and gives it to another, then… [it is the nature of] the anarchic or feudal loyalty [that it] remains always with the particular and the concrete individual who is our lord, and to whom we have sworn allegiance…
Under empire, on the other hand, one’s allegiance is never to a familiar individual, but rather to the empire itself, whose ruler is distinguished precisely by the fact that he is so remote and unapproachable as to in effect be no more than an abstraction.
On this basis we can recognize that empire and anarchy are not merely political constructs, or competing methods of ordering political power. Each is in fact a political ordering principle that draws its legitimacy, and therefore its strength, from its rootedness in the moral order… men understand the political order in which they live and to which they are committed in terms of principle and that struggle between empire and anarchy is not only a war of opportunists and villains seeking the greatest power for themselves, but equally a confrontation between men of goodwill who disagree regarding the degree of moral legitimacy and sanction that can be ascribed to each.
As Mr. Hazony points out, both impersonal universal rule — the moral order of empire — and individual rule — the moral order of anarchy — lead to endless strife. The empire must expand, while anarchy quickly leads to arbitrary violence (think of the anarchic and conflicting urban gangs). As he says, “it matters little whether the tormentor will be one or many.”
This dilemma arises out of our very nature, but the conflict between these two extremes of subservience is resolved by the creation of the nation-state, whose laws are derived neither by lord nor emperor, but by the citizens of a bounded country. Personal liberty is assured by the very nature of this polity where leadership passes from one elected leader to another in an orderly manner. Personal allegiance to one’s country arises from the experience of living in freedom, balanced by the personal obligations all citizens have to preserve the nation that claims one’s allegiance and bestows citizenship.
Next: On its surface Islam is simply another form of imperialism, although its content is — and always has been — murderously anarchic fragmentation.