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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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Jenny Retief
May 7th, 2018
1:05 PM
I find Dr Jordan Peterson's lectures on western nihilism and his interpretation of stories in the bible as archaic archetypal tales fascinating. One needs to look beyond postmodernism's neo-Marxism and its mask of compassion for minorities at the cost of the rest of society. The "sacred" is perhaps a contemporary adaptation of tradition and value systems without blowing the postmodern trumpet. My stance is somewhere in the middle between the extreme right and the neo-Marxists on the left.

February 1st, 2018
1:02 PM
Matt, your comment on what Anglo-American identity is built on neglects so many things, two of which immediately spring to my mind: the pragmatic tolerance of the New Amsterdam Dutch, and the vicious racism of the Deep South slave lords. The Appalachians were indeed individualistic, but easily swayed by Southern racism. The bandying about of the word "liberty", meaning the right to oppress others, has always been persuasive to whites who feel powerless.

January 5th, 2018
3:01 PM
Vast emptiness, nothing holy ( Lao Tzu). The universe/Nature is inhumane. Scientists say humanity has peaked. Tory membership has shrunk to 70,000. What`s public sacred in the UK is Brexit and voting Labour.

Arnold Ward
January 3rd, 2018
9:01 AM
This appeal to romantic sentiment aka The Bible opens a pandoras box of confused irrationality. A better approach is principle based, i.e how can we create the conditions whereby all the individuals in a society are best able to achieve their full potential? Markets tempered by democracy are the tried and tested route and national sovereignty is the most reliable basis for democracy. There is no "New Nationalism". Belief without evidence is delusion.

Lawrence James
December 26th, 2017
12:12 PM
What makes me suspicious of the promotion of the 'sacred' as an antidote for contemporary woes are its historic stage props: priestcraft, intolerance, fairy stories and the coercion of the sceptical.

December 22nd, 2017
3:12 PM
It was inevitable that the fall of Western Civilization would occur as history attests to the objective truth that man, severed from God and thus relieving himself from his obligation to worship and serve God, simply acts according to his lower, animalistic nature. Human nature does not and will not change although man, playing God, has always believed he can construct all of creation, including and especially, humanity to his own liking. 21st century man has come to the point where he no longer has even a natural survival instinct as he has placed all his faith and trust in both himself and in science to create this idealistic but fruitless life and future as the "new man", created by him and for him. God has other ideas and since He is Creator and ruler over Heaven and earth, man's designs for himself will always be thwarted and his self-destruction inevitable.

Andrew Hamilton
December 19th, 2017
6:12 PM
Spengler gives true intellectual depth and seriousness to the existential issues facing the West. Weaving threads of great philosophers with current trends, he gets to the nub of the catastrophe and provides a way forward.

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.

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