Anthony D. Smith: Culturist Hero

Dr. John K. Press

 

Anthony D. Smith (1939-2016) is a culturist hero. Alongside, Samuel P. Huntington (1927 – 2008), Smith inspired me as I wrote ‘Culturism,’ in 2006. Many will recognize Harvard’s Huntington for his having created the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ model. But, though he taught at the London School of Economics, very few know about or appreciate Smith’s ‘ethno-symbolism’ model of nationalism.

Leftist controlled academia sees the nation as an, ‘imagined,’ ‘construct,’ that was invented by the West in the 18th century and subsequently exported to the rest of the world. This view, (not incidentally), portrays nations, (like masculinity, literature, race – and all else the left discusses), as illegitimate and oppressive.

Smith, by contrast, argued that nationalism’s power comes from the myths, memories, traditions and symbols of their ethnic heritages. The characteristics of ethnic communities, by his definition, were:

1. An identifying name or emblem.
2. A myth of common ancestry.
3. Shared historical memories and traditions.
4. One or more elements of common culture.
5. A link with an historic territory or ‘homeland’.
6. A measure of solidarity, at least among the elites.

Among symbolic building blocks of nationalism, Smith includes songs, images, literature, art, history, monuments, buildings, tomb styles, myths, belief in a golden age, religion, states, films, the dead, heroes and the virtues they inspire, feeling chosen, language, redemptive hopes, coercion, clothes,
 traditions, habits, laws and institutions.

While mainstream historians reasoned, if all this is needed to sustain nationalism, it must be false; Smith reasoned that if all this was needed to sustain nationalism, we had better get to it! He wrote that, as nations were universal, essential and a source of identity, maintaining them gives historians, artists, archeologists, linguists, philosophers and others a culturist mission – reify the nation!

Smith helped invent the distinction between ‘ethnic’ and ‘civic’ nationalism. Interestingly, he noted that Western European nations developed towards civic nationalism in rebellion against absolute monarchs; Whereas Eastern Europeans veered towards ethnic nationalism to challenge empires. And, whereas he acknowledged that ethnic nationalism could create refugees, he also acknowledged that it was the firmest basis for a nation.

Of potential interest to alt-right readers, Smith considered biological ethnic purity a myth based on his reading of ancient migration, endogamy patterns and cultural openness. He looked at how the British, for example, looked Roman predecessors in the 16th century, to British, Saxon and Danish ancestors in 1685, and Germanic roots under Burke. For Smith, ethnicity was the subjective belief that those in the nation were part of a continuous ethnic group. But, DNA based or not, that the French, for example, think of themselves as a people, is the main basis of their ethno-state.

 

But, Smith’s main achievement was to stand up to an entire academic myth!  He said, nations are not just ‘imagined’ products of modern nationalist projects, designed to centralize an economy.  No!  The French culture pulls on real and long-lasting myths.  If modern nation builders said, the French culture is rooted in Confucian belly dancing, it wouldn’t have flown.  They built on pre-existing, long memories of Charlemagne, Roman, Greek and Christian heritage.   The French ethno-state is real and merits veneration.

Smith denounced global culture an oxymoron. And, as a nationalist, he questioned the viability of ‘European culture’ as a basis for solvency. His questions about the DNA and subjective nature of ethnos are still cutting-edge. But, going beyond questions, Smith called for culturism in arts and academia. And, by championing ‘ethno-symbolism’ – in the heart of academia – he led by example. Anthony D. Smith is an inspiring culturist hero.

2 comments

  • What matters most is not White Guilt per se. It is the power of the TEMPLATE.

    The power of the Template decides who can feel righteous and accuse OR who must feel ashamed and defensive.

    Once the Template is smashed, it doesn’t matter what people believe.

    Take communism in East Germany. As long as the System was in place, the Template was “Marxism-Leninism is the truth, and those who espouse it are noble and should attack and accuse those who are anti-communist.”
    Under the System, the pro-communists could accuse, denounce, and condemn anyone deemed anti-communist. They didn’t need to give reasons. The System ensured that they would be favored and protected. All they had to do was point fingers and accuse. And the accused had to either deny their anti-communism or try to defend/justify it against all odds. The System enforced the Marxist-Leninist Template.

    But once the System fell in East Germany, it didn’t matter if there were still hardline communists or Marxist-Leninist true believers. The System no longer existed to protect, promote, and prioritize them. Few or many, they were now all alone to make their case with the System propping up and enforcing the Template.

    Their accusations no longer had the power to destroy lives because the System was no longer to back them with the Template.
    And anti-communists no longer needed to cower before the accusers. They no longer needed to deny their anti-communism. They no longer needed to defend or justify their anti-Leninism. They could freely express their disdain for communism.

    Same goes with ‘white guilt’. It’s not the feeling itself that is worrisome. Same with Diversity and Homomania. Before Diversity and Homomania were promoted and enforced as Official Templates, it didn’t matter if one espoused nationalism or anti-homo-agenda sentiments. One could openly push back against those agendas prior to institutionalization of PC as New Stasi.
    It didn’t matter is some people were pro-homo-agenda or pro-massive-invasion. They didn’t have the power of the Officially Approved Template, and therefore they could be PUSHED back.

    But once Diversity was cast into an Iron Template, those who were for it had the backing of the System. And those who opposed it could be destroyed by the accusers favored by the System. Once elite institutions enforced PC, only certain kinds of views and positions were allowed, and this had a ripple effect on all of society. So, if all elites from left to right were compelled to say ‘Diversity is our strength’ in order to maintain their status and privilege, the message was loud and clear that Diversity was now a Template than a mere position.

    So, the issue isn’t White Guilt per se. It will always exist as any society(even non-white ones has its share of self-loathing types). What gave Self-Loathing Whites or SLW’s an advantage is that the Globalist elites gained the commanding heights of power in the West and push the Iron Template of Diversity and Homomania. So, SLW’s are favored in the way that communist zealots, communist toadies, and communist hacks were favored in Stasi-dominated East Germany. But notice how the commies in all walks of life lost their advantage overnight once the System came down.

    The problem isn’t so much the existence of SLW’s. It’s that they are protected by the System that calls for Open Season on White Patriots. Once the Template is smashed, the Patriots can fight back with full force, and then SLW’s will crumble. After all, those who hate their own kind will lose to those who love their own kind.

    Smash the Template.

    Like

  • Gubbler Chechenova,

    Yes. I understand and I agree. As per academic languages, I use the term ‘narrative,’ and not ‘template,’ but I totally agree.

    And, this is one problem I have with those who purely focus on race. 1/2 of whites have bought into this template. To advance, we must switch their point of view. And, switching their race has nothing to do with it, though replacing white shame with pride does. But, that is a switch in cultural precepts. That needs to be a focus.

    You point to something intriguing, biology. In so many species there is a pecking order. And, the beta males get a thrill out of challenging the alpha male. We have loosed this dynamic in the open season on shaming whites. The way this is stopped in the animal kingdom by asserting the alpha position. And, as you say, it isn’t the exact mechanism of shaming that matters, it is the shaming, the challenging itself is the relevant mechanism.

    Thanks for pointing out these culturist dynamics.

    Like

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