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Zionism has become an important if unexpected object of interest among the new nationalists, among whom the Catalan independence movement draws the most explicit inspiration from its example. Jordi Pujol, the president of Catalonia’s Generalitat from 1980 to 2003 and the father of modern Catalan separatism, told Israel’s Knesset in October 2007 that at the age of 17 he read Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State, as well as the writings of Chaim Weizmann and numerous works on the history of Zionism. “My interest in Zionism,” he told Israel’s parliamentarians, “is explained by my Catalan nationalism, as a citizen of a country that during the past three or four hundred years has been subjected to a harsh policy of linguistic and cultural persecution and general denationalisation.” As it happens, the first printed translation of the Bible to appear on the Iberian peninsula was the Catalan version of 1478, made by the monk Bonafacio Ferrer in Valencia with the assistance of local rabbis. “All available copies were destroyed by the Inquisition before 1500, but a single leaf survives in the Hispanic Society of America’s library,” reports the Cambridge History of the Bible.

Although a great gulf is fixed between the sense of the sacred in Great Britain and America, they remain siblings who in different ways draw upon Israel’s idea of the sacred as conveyed by the Bible. What is sacred in both countries, moreover, pervades the popular culture, and is understood as easily by the least-   educated citizens as by the mandarins of their high culture. Herr Gauland could not be more wrong to claim that Americans have no culture. German culture is a far more elusive entity, which helps to explains why German nationalism remains a problematic movement.

A brief aside on the question of what identity is and how it is formed is in order. Identity is above all being and time; we do not need to consult Heidegger on this point, for St Augustine explained it a millennium and a half before him in Confessions XI. The durability of biblical identity stems in part from the fact that it anchors memory in time. “Revelation is the first thing to set its mark firmly into the middle of time; only after Revelation do we have an immovable Before and Afterward,” wrote Franz Rosenzweig. “Then there is a reckoning of time independent of the reckoner and the place of reckoning, valid for all the places of the world.” The peoples of the world look back in time, though innumerable conquests, migrations, and forced assimilations that stretch beyond all records and encounter not time, but “once upon a time,” in myth. America’s identity, like Israel’s, begins with an event. The peoples who imagine themselves to be the autochthonous sons of the soil find that memory dissipates into the mists of time.

That is a conundrum for the Christian world, which sees its spiritual origin at Golgotha but its ethnic origin in the impenetrable mists of the distant past. To be a whole person, the Christian must find a way to reconcile these two demarcations of memory. One solution is to embrace myth. C.S. Lewis argued that Christianity “is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: i. e. the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call real things.”
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Pan Cogito
December 10th, 2017
4:12 AM
@Alan Vainman Do not dispense the f-word before trying the perfect fit it makes for you. You no more understand Trump than you do, it appears, the greater mysteries of life. God--and you may translate it as "the Energy of the Universe," the Great Wheel of Karma or whatever--often chooses a broken vessel to carry the most precious nectar. Maybe Spengler would consent to write an essay titled "The music and the men," illuminating for fool vainmen what shits the vessels we know as Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Chopin were and why their music attained the highest degree of luminosity.

December 5th, 2017
10:12 PM
Anonymous: America is indeed experiencing a wave of fascism, but it is not at the hands of the nationalists. It is at the hands of ANTIFA, BLM, and university students, faculty, and staff beating to a pulp, or attempting to murder, those people who believe that nations are allowed to have borders. What name would you apply to the belief system that commanded the decapitation of a British policeman, and the systematic rape of a continent's women? AnonymousHegelman: Most of the world's sacred systems prohibit murder. Only one religion's scripture commands the murder of all non-believers.

Rick Groves
December 5th, 2017
3:12 PM
In America, enlightenment values used to be held sacred. This was the key differentiating point about America. It was not based on arbitrary lines on a map nor wrongly held ideas about the superiority of one's own tribe. It was an idea of a polity held together by the commitment to liberty and justice. Cultural practices evolve by their nature. That's what they are and what they do. Holding cultures sacred is misguided and destined to create conflict as that inevitable evolution pushes forward. The path forward is not through embracing the arbitrary and superficial and trying to entrench and protect it. It is finding core, deep values that benefit all peoples and following those ideas where they lead us.

December 5th, 2017
9:12 AM
When people talk of the sacred, they usually mean murder. All of us have a sense of the sacred. We just differ as to what precisely.

December 5th, 2017
4:12 AM
there is no such thing as a new nationalism, as there is no such thing as an illiberal democracy. There is a good, old fascism.

December 4th, 2017
9:12 PM
Anglo-American identity is built on the individualism of Appalachia and the pragmatism of Colonial Virginia as much as the Utopianism of the Puritans.

Warren Bonesteel
December 4th, 2017
4:12 PM
A great start...but... imposing your own belief system upon a movement comprised of several billion people, from a wide variety of ancient and modern cultures and sub-cultures, who hold a wide variety of religious and spiritual beliefs? That supposition is unfounded. Instead of religion, try 'freedom' and 'personal liberty'. I think you'll find a better fit, with that premise.

Marvin J. Greenberg
December 4th, 2017
8:12 AM
I greatly appreciate the way Goldman takes the usually superficial level of political discussion to a much deeper level, as he does in this essay emphasizing the vital importance of the sacred.

December 4th, 2017
2:12 AM
Alan Vanneman, America will not go gently into that bad night of sharia. Enjoy Europe, while its women are not yet required to wear burqas!

Alan Vanneman
December 1st, 2017
3:12 PM
"occasionally vulgar"? Don't you mean "constantly vulgar and utterly meretricious"? What fools these mortals be.

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