The nation-state,” Trump declared, “remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.”
"Without nationalism there can be no democracy"
CT-Interview with Dutchman Jeroen Zandberg on the nature of free societies
Jeroen Zandberg is part of the leadership of the UNPO, an organization representing the ethnic groups that are not organized in the United Nations, such as Tibetans. Last year, Zandberg wrote the book The Politics of Freedom, in which he outlined the foundations of our democracy and our striving for freedom in an unconventional way. It is mainly due to the uninhibited view of the Dutchman that he unmasked many concepts, we take for granted, and highlights their true meaning. Citizen Timeseditor in chief Felix Strüning spoke with the author about nationalism, patriotism, multiculturalism, tolerance and its significance for the free society (German version at blu-News).
Citizen Times: Mr. Zandberg, all of Germany discusses about right-wing nationalists, at the moment. You say, however, nationalism is good. Please explain this.
Jeroen Zandberg – author of The Politics of Freedom
Jeroen Zandberg: Nationalism is necessary in order to have a well-functioning democracy. Without nationalism there can be no modern democracy. Everyone who values democracy, and I do, therefore has to accept some form of nationalism.
Nationalism is an ideology that tries to bind the people to the state in such a way that the people, or the nation, coincides with the state, thereby forming the nation-state. An important characteristic of nationalism is that it doesn’t allow for a self-appointed elite to govern the people, but instead requires the people to rule themselves.
The people have to believe that the state represents them in order for them to accept the authority and legitimacy of the state. If not, then the state would need such a large police force to enforce cooperation that we would end up with a police state. Nationalism therefore is a driving force for a free and open society with no room for oppression by an elite.
Another objective of nationalism is to have all members of the nation identify with the same culture and thereby each other, which is done by standardising the language, education, legal codes, media etcetera. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to be identical to each other, but everyone needs to share a similar identity and needs to feel part of one community, that is in the same boat, so to speak. Only within such a community is it possible to have the democratic institutions that enable a modern democracy to function. Without such a national community it is impossible to have democratic debate.
Citizen Times: Don’t you mean patriotism instead?
Jeroen Zandberg: Of course nationalism can also be used to exclude and eliminate others, but this is rare. These rare occasions are however often used to discredit nationalism. An elite who doesn’t have the best interest of the people at heart, but which does want all the benefits of a high social position often tries to promote patriotism instead, and at the same time downgrades nationalism. Patriotism is simply to owe allegiance to the state even if that state is not legitimized by the people. The state is in that perspective merely an organisation like any other. If that were true it would be like asking soldiers to die for the telephone company. Without identification and an emotional bond between people and state we would have no alternative then to live under a police state. If we don’t want a police state then we need some degree of nationalism.
Citizen Times: By implication, this means that multiculturalism must be wrong or bad. Why?
Jeroen Zandberg: If you have multiple cultures present in the same location who each have different rules on how to order the world then there needs to be another ethical system to mediate between them. For example, Muslims have Sharia law which describes how a good Islamic society should be organised. These laws are not accepted by non-Muslims for if they would accept them they would be Muslim as well. In a truly multicultural society the Sharia law would govern the lives of Muslims and each of the other cultures would have their own laws as well.
Now Germany, as with other European nations, has a culture based on Christianity and the Enlightenment, which values ideas like freedom, equality and self-determination. If you implement multiculturalism then the values of the Enlightenment are degraded to the level of only being appropriate to the ethnic German population. You would get a Germany where each (ethnic) community has its own rules. Of course such a system could never work in a modern society because people are not isolated in small communities.
Multiculturalism can however also be used to invalidate all of the cultures present, because if all cultures are equal, which multiculturalism implicitly states, than none may rule over the other. This means that, in the case of Germany, the mere presence of another culture is already reason enough to replace German culture with something else. This ‘new’ culture is by definition anti-democratic, because it is one of a small elite who appoints itself as mediator between the various cultural groups. In this way an elite rules over a set of distinct peoples. In that sense multiculturalism is a leap backward in time when there were large empires ruled by a small nobility and people’s positions in society were fixed by birth. Characteristics of such empires are that they are fiercely anti-democratic, oppressive and unable to compete economically in a globalised world.
A second implementation of multiculturalism is at least as bad because it is geared towards the eventual destruction of the original population. In this view of multiculturalism immigrants with different backgrounds need to be supported, meaning privileged compared to the native population, to integrate into society because they are at a disadvantage due to their different cultural background.
However, there is always integration and disintegration in an individualistic society regardless of the presence of foreigners. Each individual strives to obtain the best possible social position and self-development, which can sometimes come at the expense of others. In Western society this is always accompanied by conflict between individuals who consequently drift apart and cause society to disintegrate. In order to keep the community intact there need to be mechanisms to keep these individuals together. The nation-state, representing and imposing a distinct national culture, has historically proven to be the best suited mechanism for this purpose. Integration and disintegration are eternal processes and there will therefore still be integration in the year 2525 even if all of humanity would have miraculously been transformed into one single community.
The fact that integration is an everlasting process and not a fixed endpoint has major consequences for individuals in Europe. By privileging foreigners you automatically discriminate Europeans. Due to the fact that competition in Western society is individualistic means that all Europeans who are not fortunate enough to belong to the elite happy few will be limited in their opportunities and simply have to accept being second class citizens. The opportunities of Europeans are then sacrificed to give those opportunities to foreigners.
Another policy which aggravates this situation even further is that the same people who advocate integration and affirmative action also try to keep the borders open. Seeing that every newcomer needs to be assisted to integrate into society, the resulting system will be Apartheid which privileges foreigners. The eventual consequence will be a replacement of the native European population. Integration can therefore best be compared to a neutron bomb which leaves the structures intact but destroys all people living within it.
Citizen Times: And what about the much vaunted tolerance?
Jeroen Zandberg: Tolerance is one of the ideas that make the West great. However, tolerance in a multicultural society is completely different from that in a national community. In the former it revolves around co-existence between different population groups, but in the latter it is a means to find new perspectives on life. This is a difference between stagnation on the one hand and progress on the other.
Tolerance in a multicultural society is about allowing distinct population groups to co-exist without the need for them to identify with each other. In such a situation it is necessary that the public domain is devoid of specific cultural expressions that favour one of the population groups because it would limit the freedoms of the other group.
Tolerance in a competitive society is only possible if the other person or group does not have a more successful strategy. It is impossible to be tolerant towards a superior group/lifestyle when you compete for the same means of existence because that would be suicide. In the case of group competition it is necessary to keep the group together and to form one coherent front against other competing groups. If that would not happen then the group would disintegrate and the individual members would loose the struggle for power. A major problem is that in order to keep a group intact its members need to abide by certain criteria. Those criteria define membership of the group. It means that these criteria are no longer available for members of other groups because they also need to be unique in order to demarcate their group boundaries. The situation then arises that a certain lifestyle has proven to be successful, but people can’t adopt it because it would threaten their identity and thereby endanger the continued existence of their group and thereby themselves. This means that in a multicultural society there are major obstacles to learn from others. Instead of providing elements for progress and freedom, a multicultural society places restrictions on everyone.
The other view of tolerance is geared towards progress and the best life for all. The ideology of tolerance in a national community states that people are free to determine their own lifestyle in order for them to be as successful as possible.
If for example someone ‘invents’ a certain lifestyle that enables him to become very successful in society then this would make him evolutionary more successful than the rest. In order for the latter to survive they need to be able to adopt (parts of) this more successful lifestyle. When the most successful lifestyle is adopted by all, the plurality in society dissolves and tolerance temporarily disappears after which the process repeats itself.
Tolerance is however not an objective but a means to an end. The objective is to be able to continuously search for a better lifestyle/truth. Tolerance therefore revolves around a set of social experiments to find the best lifestyle. The experiment that provides the best results should then be open for adoption by the entire society. Due to the fact that we live in a dynamic world it is necessary to never stop experimenting. This means that there is always a need for some form of tolerance.
The key issue here is that tolerance should not be used to exclude other people and opinions like it is used in a multicultural setting, but instead be a tool of freedom to uncover new opportunities and possibilities.
Citizen Times: This means, equality is therefore not as important as it is always presented to be?
Jeroen Zandberg: On the contrary, equality is an essential and key characteristic of western culture. However, equality is often deliberately misrepresented in order for a small elite to legitimate their position and implement ‘equality’ upon others whereby this equality can be seen as “all people being equal in slavery”. The main distinctions within equality are the equality of opportunity and the equality of outcome. I am a big supporter of the first and strongly opposed to the latter.
Equality doesn’t mean that everyone has or should have the same genetic make-up and social position. Equality for me revolves around the equal value of each individual whereby this value is determined from the perspective of the individual itself. The key to equality is therefore to offer equal chances to each individual to strive for his personal success. When someone has the aptitude to become a professional wrestler then it would be unethical to force him to take ballet lessons. Else his chances of a successful life (his evolutionary fitness) would be sacrificed for an ideal that has been formulated by an elite in order for them to hold on to power.
People are social beings. An individual can therefore only be himself if he is part of a group. Individualism however is seen as an important achievement in Western culture and the idea that the group limits the freedoms and opportunities of the individual is widespread. In order to solve the contradiction between individual freedom and the necessity to have a community in which this freedom can be enjoyed, Western culture strongly emphasises the freedom of association. People are then able to decide for themselves to which group they wish to belong. If this freedom would be absent then a totalitarian state would be the only alternative and people would have to conform to an imposed culture. People are after all unable to survive as an atomised individual.
Is a Jew racist because he is Jewish? Judaism is first and foremost a religion based on ethnicity and descent whereby everyone who is of different descent is excluded. Exclusion is in Judaism then discrimination on ethnic grounds. Despite this, Judaism is not illegal. Is it for people allowed to determine with what group they identify or should it be imposed by government? And what identity should people have? Is it racist to exclude others when they also have the ability to form their own group?
Every form of association necessarily involves excluding others who do not fit certain criteria. If a society accepts freedom of association, it needs to accept that people form associations with people they identify and exclude those they don’t.
Freedom of association usually did not coincide with a specific ethnic identity previous to the large flows of immigrants to Europe. In the 21st century however many groups organise themselves on the basis of ethnicity. The multicultural society is an everyday reality. Left-wing activists consider it normative; the multicultural society is good. Everyone who is against the multicultural society is then considered evil. Furthermore, it is incorrectly assumed that discrimination is a major threat to the multicultural society and that racism needs to be strongly condemned and outlawed. However, a multicultural environment is based on the existence of groups that organise themselves based on descent and affinity. A multicultural environment can’t exist without discrimination based on ethnic criteria. The principle of discrimination can therefore never be bad in a multicultural environment because it is the foundation of that system, thereby labelling it as ‘good’. In light of the fact that the term ‘racism’ is used as a moral judgment to state that the exclusion and prejudices of others based on ethnicity is evil, we can conclude that discrimination in a multicultural environment is not racism.
Equality doesn’t mean that everyone has to be identical and that therefore people should be outlawed to form associations. In our society equality should be seen as the equal possibility for people to strive for their objectives in making the most out of their lives. Being part of a community of your choosing is an important element in this. As long as others are also able to strive for their objectives and form associations then exclusion and equality can go hand in hand.
Citizen Times: And this self-determination should look like?
Jeroen Zandberg: Self-determination is about being in control of your own destiny. You decide what is best for you and not someone else who might not have your best interest in mind. It is then essential that all the mechanisms that influence the level of self-determination be transparent and democratic. Far too often science and politics are directed at undermining self-determination. It is therefore essential that the rationalisations be identified and countered with real facts instead of elitist opinions.
For example, an essential element of the left-wing world view is the idea of one moral truth that can be attained by any rational well thinking person. Every person will come to this same (left-wing) conclusion. Everyone who has a different opinion is then either stupid, unreasonable or an evil person. The left-wing view only knows ‘facts’ and they speak for themselves. This left-wing rationality can in reality be better described as a rationalisation because an absolute moral truth is impossible to achieve, seeing that nature itself knows no morality. All ethics are ultimately based on unproven assumptions which are only considered true because it suits our best interests. The left-wing world view can therefore be considered a religion. Anyone with a different world view is then blaspheme and is terrorised in order to maintain the hegemony of the assumed superiority of the left-wing elite. The fact that the left-wing ideology is inevitably correct also means that other opinions are excluded from the debate because the assumptions of left-wing ideology determine the boundaries of this public debate. Anyone with a different vision is then excluded with the rationalisation that they are evil or stupid. This false reasoning by the left-wing elite is consequently responsible for the fact that a large part of the population feels that they are no longer represented. They are excluded because they are considered unfit due to the fact that they don’t follow left-wing logic. In order to regain self-determination it is important to see that a moral truth can never be absolute and that the so-called ‘facts’ of the left-wing elite are mere opinions of the establishment that desperately clings to power.
When we talk about self-determination we can’t ignore the sciences. Virtually all scientific discoveries in the past centuries have been done in the West and it has been crucial in enabling us to control nature and ourselves. However, social science doesn’t simply measure things but at the same time creates a new reality as well. By selectively doing certain research you are able to manipulate the outcome in such a way that it influences the opinion of the people in any desired direction. Social science can therefore easily turn into a means of oppression instead of a means to increase self-determination. This doesn’t mean that social science isn’t useful. On the contrary, social science is one of the West’s most important achievements with which we can not only control nature but also ourselves. In order to have self-determination and thereby having our destiny in our hands we need to make sure that social science is free from abuse. Due to the fact that social science is always relative, means that abuse is always around the corner. The scientific climate of the last decades clearly shows that a lot of so called science is based on left-wing activism.
For example, studies prove that most of the media is not left-wing. These studies are based on counting the number of left-wing and right-wing people and items. In the same way it is easy to prove that the Discovery Channel is in fact a propaganda machine for neo-Nazi’s. When you count the number of times Hitler or the Third Reich is mentioned and compare that with the number of times American president Roosevelt is mentioned, then the former exceeds the latter making the Discovery Channel, in left-wing social science style, a neo-Nazi propaganda machine.
Citizen Times: More generally: How should a society be organized so that it becomes as free as possible?
Jeroen Zandberg: In my view democracy is the key to coming to the best possible society in which freedom for as many people as possible can be guaranteed. In today’s democracy however, there are many undemocratic forces at work which disguise themselves as being democratic. If we re-evaluate the values of the Enlightenment we have a good opportunity to defeat these anti-democratic forces. Regaining self-determination, understanding equality and the role of nationalism are all key elements in this struggle. Another element is to fully comprehend what democracy really is. In my book I spend many pages on explaining the principles of democracy and the positive effects of populism. Often people have just a general idea of what democracy means. They would come up with things like elections, the rule of law, freedom of expression and debate. This is all correct but it doesn’t fully address the essence of democracy and the threats to its proper workings.
The essence of democracy is not a specific defined content but it is the procedure to come to a result, a Truth, whereby the democracy in itself has no objective other than the creation of the public domain in order to make the search for Truth possible. This public domain than has to create an environment in which all persons have the ability to participate in the public debate as equals in order to get to the best possible truth together. To this end the public domain should not be based on a morality and should also be devoid of power.
In a democracy ‘the Truth’ consists of the best possible arguments and ideas at a certain point in time for a given problem, that promotes the well-being and survival of the people. Unfortunately, many forces are at work to manipulate this process where as a result the Truth that is reached is not in the interests of the people but of an elite.
For example, debate is often the exclusive domain of politicians who then come to form a Truth without a major role of the majority of the population which they only ‘consult’ during the elections after which they ignore their interests.
Populist politics understands that the existing procedures that ought to guarantee democratic debate and transfer of power have been hijacked by an elite, causing democracy to disappear. The search for the best truth for the people can therefore only take place outside these hijacked institutions. Populism is about regaining democracy by circumnavigating the hijacked, and consequently dictatorial, institutions and replacing this with a direct connection with the people.
The most important element is to make sure that society arrives at truths through debate by and for the people and not through debate by and for the elite.
Citizen Times: In your book you always criticize the Liberals. But you yourself are not one?
Jeroen Zandberg: Yes, I consider myself to be liberal and I can see the merits of many of the liberal and even left-wing principles. However, those principles can be explained in various ways. My main critique is that these principles are often deliberately interpreted in such a way as to legitimate the elite’s privileged position and in the process undermine the potentials of others. They have corrupted the principles that made the West successful and as such prove a major threat to the continued success of our society. I hope that the arguments I put forward in my book will help in attacking this corruption and provide alternatives for them.
Jeroen Zandberg (2011): The Politics of Freedom. 93 pages, self-publishing. Buy at lulu.com