Saturday, September 3, 2016

Alexander Hamilton on US Nationalism

Here is Alexander Hamilton, one of the American founding fathers, discussing his view that the United States needed strong social cohesion through nationalism:
“The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.

The opinion advanced in the Notes on Virginia is undoubtedly correct, that foreigners will generally be apt to bring with them attachments to the persons they have left behind; to the country of their nativity, and to its particular customs and manners. They will also entertain opinions on government congenial with those under which they have lived; or if they should be led hither from a preference to ours, how extremely unlikely is it that they will bring with them that temperate love of liberty, so essential to real republicanism? There may, as to particular individuals, and at particular times, be occasional exceptions to these remarks, yet such is the general rule. The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.

The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromit the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader. ….

To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens, the moment they put foot in our country, as recommended in the message, would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.” (Hamilton 1851: 775–776).
Hamilton was no doubt a bit too pessimistic here.

However, his sentiments, broadly speaking, are true, and both Old Liberals and Old Leftists should be absolutely realistic on the importance of civic and cultural nationalism for any successful nation.

Even more, the type of democratic socialism loved by the utopian left would almost certainly require a society with a very high degree of social cohesion, trust, and free from divisive internal ethnic, sectarian or religious differences.

This is the paradox of multiculturalism, which is often pushed by utopian left-wing people sympathetic to left-wing economics: actually, multiculturalism is liable to create separate communities of different ethnic groups, more interested in ethnic solidarity and sectarian interests, then class or economic interests, which would thwart the type of high-trust socialist society that these people supposedly value.

Hamilton, Alexander. 1851. The Works of Alexander Hamilton; Comprising his Correspondence, his Political and Official Writings (ed. John C. Hamilton). John F. Trow, New York.


  1. LK

    Exactly my thoughts as i already said the 2 biggest problems of this utopian left open border fans (from cultural point of view)

    1.most of third world nations dont have (and never had) any strong left multicultural pc movements to make their nationals to apperciate values like politically correctness multiculturism while rejecting values like tribalism and ethnic sooidarity which in turn influence immigrants chance for assimilation and its perception of the host culture.

    And also third world nationals have mostly culture and values which by western standarts is intolerant and politically incorrect.

    (which is one if the major factors of tension between immigrants and host population)

    2.the second biggest problem if we are talking about open border policy is if people with intolerant politically incorrect culture and values come to the country of this SJW left wing utopians how they will insure that this immigrants will embrace pc multicultural values if any attempt to impose this values on the immigrants will go against multicultural values and pc culture since in order to insure in this case tolerant politicallycorrect immigrants they will have to confront the intolerant and politically incorrect culture of the immigrants?

    Its catch 22 of the pc multicultural left.

  2. Being that Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean, all of his criticisms against immigration should apply to himself. His opinions are harmful to America because he's not from here, and therefore cannot understand our culture. If we take his argument seriously, then we must dismiss his argument.

    1. he was part of the culture of the earlier immigrants since both cultures his and their was based on english culture so your critique is not correct.