Finkielkraut
The "National Question" Goes International: Alain Finkielkraut Defends The "Inherited Corpus Of French Culture", Putin Defends "The Interests Of His People"
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March 21, 2016, 08:02 AM
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While a large fraction of the content here at VDARE.com is explicitly about our daft, nation-breaking immigration realities, there's a deeper theme behind it all: The National Question.

For example, VDARE.com's Matthew Richer (writing, actually, at The Unz Review), recently invoked the National Question in the context of the presidential campaign:

The central question of our time is not who is or what is conservative. The real question is the National Question. And Donald Trump has risen to that challenge better than any candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower. [Up From Buckleyism, March 3, 2016]

To quote founder and editor Peter Brimelow, the National Question is "well-defined in [British journalist] Anthony Browne's terms as whether a country has a 'right to sustain its own culture.'"

Operationally, what does this amount to?  On a later occasion, Brimelow explained: "A National Question Strategy would feature, at a minimum: (1) an immigration moratorium and the systematic dismantling of the illegal presence in the U.S.; (2) abolition of affirmative action, which has become a zero-sum shell game squeezing out the historic American nation from desirable positions; (3) an Official English policy, designed to compel linguistic assimilation."

In 2010, German politician and economist Thilo Sarrazin was clearly ruminating about the National Question—with application to his country—in his runaway best-seller Deutschland schafft sich ab ("Germany abolishes itself"), unfortunately still not available in English translation.

And quite recently, without being explicitly named, the National Question popped up in—of all places—the New York Times, in a feature on philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. (French-born Finkielkraut's distinctly unFrench surname reflects his Jewish/Polish lineage.)

An excerpt:

A former philosophy professor at France’s elite École Polytechnique, he is arguably the most visible of France’s public intellectuals. ...

The national audience for Mr. Finkielkraut’s themes, returned to obsessively and buttressed by a seamless web of references, is now larger than ever in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 2015.

Before and after the attacks, those themes have not varied: Much of Islam is radically incompatible with French culture and society; Muslim immigrants represent a threat; French schools are crumbling under a mistaken multicultural outreach; the inherited corpus of French culture is in danger; and anti-Semitism is on the rise again, this time by way of Islam.

[Once Hopeful for Harmony, a Philosopher Voices Discord in France by Adam Nossiter, March 11, 2016]

Strikingly, reporter Nossiter expresses none of the reflexive horror over such notions that one expects in Times articles, perhaps because 1949-born Finkielkraut's "political roots are on the left."

In my view, more striking is what the always interesting Christopher Caldwell has to say about Vladimir Putin in his essay-review of two books (The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin, by Steven Lee Myers; and Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West, by Walter Laqueur) on the Russian strongman.  Caldwell's piece, The Prince, appears in the Winter 2015/2016 issue of the Claremont Review of Books but is behind the paywall (probably until the next quarterly issue of the CRB appears).  Insightful throughout, what's pertinent to my theme here can be gleaned from Caldwell's opening and concluding paragraphs, comprising about nine percent of the full essay:

By certain traditional measures, Russian president Vladimir Putin is the pre-eminent statesman of his time. When he took power in the winter of 1999–2000, his defenseless and bankrupt country was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals. Much as Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey seven decades earlier, Putin rescued a nation-state from the ruins of an empire and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s unaccountable plutocrats, restored its military strength, and refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, the subservient role in an American-run world system that foreign politicians and business leaders had drawn up for Russia. His voters credit him with having “saved his country.” So do many of his Russian detractors, although they worry he has stayed in power too long. He is among the more popular democratically elected leaders in the civilized world and, incidentally, a hero to certain right-wing rebels against the international order, particularly in Europe. This is awkward for him and for them, since, unlike Atatürk, Putin has no programmatic ideology. ... It is sovereignty that plays the role for today’s Russia that secularization did for Atatürk’s Turkey. The ability of U.S. and other Western authorities to intrude abroad into what once were thought strictly domestic, and even local, arrangements has confounded and challenged those who still see a use for national autonomy. Putin is one of these. He views his job as every leader outside the Communist bloc did a generation ago, and as pretty much every head of state outside of the U.S. and the European Union does today: as defending the interests of his people, the first of which is its independence. At this task he has succeeded against long odds. Since the Ukrainian revolution, this success has come at a considerable price, in both diplomatic isolation and lost trade. We will understand nothing about Putin until we realize that, in the eyes of most of his countrymen, he has been right to pay it.

"Defending the interests of his people"!  That such a motive warrants noticing in 2016 demonstrates the salience of The National Question.