“Blood and soil”? Mr. Chesterton respectfully disagrees


Imagining a dialogue between G.K. Chesterton and a white nationalist.

Friends who know that I have made a study of the writings of G.K. Chesterton have asked me what I thought that public commenter would have to say to the troubling rise of white nationalism in America. I’ve resisted answering, because I suspect he would have adjudged the movement as something so transparently seeking attention as to be well worth ignoring. But I do think that if he were invited to debate a white nationalist, he would accept the offer; he loved nothing better than to engage with thinkers — George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells come to mind — with whom he strenuously and respectfully disagreed. In my imaginings such a debate, between the pearly white ghost of Chesterton (GKC) and a white nationalist (WN), would proceed like this:

WN: Mr. Chesterton, did you not support the creation of an independent Jewish state?

GKC: Yes, I did.

WN: I agree that the Jewish people should have a homeland. But, white people should have a homeland
too …

GKC: One moment. You’re conflating two different things. “Jewish” is an ethnicity. A real national
identity. “White” is a racial term. White is a linguistic construct.

WN: No it’s not. It’s a genetic reality.

GKC: Are the Irish white?

WN: Yes. Of course.

GKC: Are Jews white?

WN: Well, that depends on who you ask. Genetically, they are. But, they have a distinct ethnic identity …

GKC: As do the Irish, the Italians, the French, the English, the Polish, the Russians, the Romanians,the Estonians, the Scots, the Dutch …

WN: No. They are bound together as members of a greater white world. They have similar genetics and a common identity and all of those people can look at one another and know they are white in the same way a black man from Morocco can look at a black South African and feel a similar kinship.

GKC: There have been countless times the English and French have looked each other in the eye and tried to kill one another. Haven’t you read any European history? Or any Shakespeare? Henry V centers on the battle at Agincourt where the English slaughtered the French. Shortly after I died, there was a Second World War where the English fought the Germans. England, France, and Germany are different nations with different peoples and different cultures.

WN: What matters is that they are white. If you flood France with Moroccans, it won’t be France any more.

GKC: If you flood France with Englishmen, it won’t be France anymore.

 WN: Would you rather live in a mono-racial country or a multi-racial country?

GKC: I’d prefer to live in a Christian country.

WN: No. Suspend God for a moment …

GKC: It’s hard to suspend someone who is omnipotent.

WN: Imagine God doesn’t exist …

GKC: To imagine creation without a creator is impossible. You might as well say “Imagine a detailed painting that was painted by no one,” or “imagine a builder-less building.” Everything man thinks is referential to existence, and existence is logical. Even in the most corybantic parts of man’s imagination, two and two still make four. He cannot imagine two and two making five. To ask me to imagine a creator-less creation is to ask me to imagine two and two making five. This is something I cannot do. A musician named Lennon once said, “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.” I’ve tried. It’s not easy.

WN: All right! Fine! All things being equal, would you rather live in a mono-racial country or a multi-racial country?

GKC: I’d rather live in my home, England.

WN: Why?

GKC: I love my home.

WN: Why?

GKC: Because it’s mine.

WN:  Why is it yours?

GKC:  I was born there. I lived there. I’d die for it. And, I did what I could to preserve its culture.

WN: By “culture”, you mean whiteness.

GKC: No. “By culture”… I mean culture.

WN: But race dictates culture.

GKC: France, Germany, and England all have different cultures, but they also have what you would call the same race.

WN: But French culture is much closer to English culture, than say Chinese.

GKC: Yes. That is true.

WN: And race accounts for the significant cultural difference.

GKC: Not so. “If the Church had not entered the world then, it seems probable that Europe would be now very much what Asia is now. Something may be allowed for a real difference of race and environment … But after all we talk about the changeless East very largely because it has not suffered the great change.” The Cross. (“The Escape from Paganism,” The Everlasting Man)

WN: What did the cross change in the West that set it apart from the East?

GKC: Tone and proportion. If the cross hadn’t happened the tone and proportion of all these things, and especially the proportion of good and evil things, would be in the unchanged West what they are in the changeless East.” (“The Escape from Paganism”)

WN: Even if there is truth to that, you cannot have culture without race.

GKC: No. You cannot have culture without cult. The faith is what matters. Especially when comparing the eternal east with the young west.

WN: Just think of England.  The people speak a common language, they dress a certain way, they celebrate certain holidays, and they have certain heroes who are all white. England is white.

GKC: No. England is English.

WN: And “English” means white.

GKC:  “Mere jingo self-contentment is commonest among those who have some pedantic reason for their patriotism. The worst jingoes do not love England, but a theory of England. If we love England for being an empire, we may overrate the success with which she [ruled India]. But if we love it only for being a nation, we can face all events: for it would be a nation even if [India] ruled us.” (“The Flag of the World,” Orthodoxy)

WN:  This is completely unreasonable.

GKC:  That’s the point. We love things without a reason. Love is unreasonable.

WN:  This is not natural.

GKC:  Nay, it is supernatural! Glad we could find common ground!

WN: Okay. Look here, mono-racial places are less violent than multi-racial places. It’s that simple …

GKC: Is it? Haiti is almost completely mono-racial. Would you rather live in Manhattan or Haiti? Bosnia is mono-racial. How’d you like to live there?

WN: You’re picking outliers. You’re not addressing the larger question. Are people products of nature or nurture? I say nature.

GKC: Do you believe it is ethical to judge a man based on the color of his skin?

WN: (looking defiantly at Chesterton) I think it is practical and we all do it.

GKC: Why is it practical?

WN: Because man is largely a product of his genetics. Environment does enter the picture, but to a much lesser extent.

GKC: A great statesman came about in the United States long after I died. He said, “We ought to judge a man by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin.” He was a Protestant but that sentiment is especially Catholic. It presupposes free will. The reason it is bad to judge a man by his race is because he has free will. And so, we should assess him by the things he chooses to do and the philosophy he holds …

WN: All right. But, when you’re walking down the street at night, you don’t have the approaching stranger’s history or record at hand.

GKC: But, is it good or evil to judge him based on the color of his skin?

WN: It is practical.

GKC: Not what I asked.

WN: We need to move beyond good and evil.

GKC: (Chuckling) Oh, not Nietzsche …

WN: Yes, Nietzsche!  He was a bold and strong thinker.

GKC: “No one will deny that he was a poetical and suggestive thinker; but he was quite the reverse of strong. He was not at all bold. He never put his own meaning before himself in bald abstract words: as did Aristotle and Calvin, and even Karl Marx, the hard, fearless men of thought. Nietzsche always escaped a question by a physical metaphor, like a cheery minor poet.” (“The Eternal Revolution,” Orthodoxy)

WN: How so?  Give me an example.

GKC: “He said, ‘beyond good and evil,’ because he had not the courage to say, “more good than good and evil,” or, ‘more evil than good and evil.’ Had he faced his thought without metaphors, he would have seen that it was nonsense.” (“The Eternal Revolution”)

WN: (laughing heartily) This is peak Christian Universalism. It is adorable!

GKC: But, is it good or evil?

WN: We must move beyond good and evil.

GKC: What is good? And, why is good so good?

WN: These are semantical word games. They mean nothing.

GKC: Would you say they are “good” semantical word games?

WN: You play with words while your people, white people, face extinction.

GKC: What do you mean?

WN: I mean there is a white genocide. White people are being outbred and outnumbered in their own countries.

GKC: You call this a genocide?

WN: Yes!

GKC: And, you want to stop it?

WN: Yes!

GKC: Why?

WN: As a white man, I have interests. As a people, the whites have interests.

GKC: Do all races have interests?

WN: Of course.

GKC: Should the interests of all races be respected?

WN: All indigenous peoples should be respected. All peoples should have a homeland.

GKC: If I were to say that I don’t respect the interests of your people … furthermore, if I were to support the elimination of “your people”…

WN: That would be evil, because…

GKC: Evil!  We move beyond it, and back towards it.

WN: I misspoke. I believe it would be against my interests.

GKC: If I were a black man from Morocco, should I respect your group’s interests?

WN: What is your point?

GKC: My point is, you have an ethos. You haven’t progressed, or regressed, or run past, or jumped over, or walked by, or … moved beyond good and evil.

WN: Oh no.  I’m not making an appeal to ethics; I’m making an appeal to strength. The “other” won’t accept your ethics. The barbarians at the gate do not care about your logic and abstract arguments. All they know is that you are not them. They don’t know that you’re Catholic or smart or witty. They know that you’re a fat old white man. And, they know you’re the “other” and you are a potential threat. The question is, who has the whip hand? The majority does. In a democracy, the majority has the votes and thus the political power. We need to maintain our strength. We need to be a majority where we live.

GKC: Why?

WN: I do not want to live as a minority.

GKC: Why not?

WN: Historically, being a racial minority is very difficult. You get oppressed, ostracized, discriminated against, and treated unfairly.

GKC: By whom?

WN: The majority. The majority always holds the whip hand over the minority. The question is: which are you? It’s not a matter of good or bad, right or wrong. It’s a matter of strength. “History is a slaughter bench,” as Nietzsche said. Will you be the one getting slaughtered, or the one doing the slaughtering? The hordes of dark peoples coming to England do not understand logical arguments, they understand strength.

GKC: Most people don’t understand logical arguments. Most French and Germans don’t …

WN: They are still our people. They are white.

GKC: No. They’re French and German.

WN: Not to a black African. He looks at them and only sees white people.

GKC: (Rolling his eyes) What did the French see when they looked across the field at the English soldiers at Agincourt? White brethren … who wanted to kill them?

WN: (Ignoring GKC)  When all institutions have broken down, when the state has fallen, and men are left to their own devices … What side does he take? He takes his own side, he sides with his own kind, other blacks. What binds men together and creates order in a country?

GKC: The Holy. A sense of the sacred and divine.

WN:  No. Race.  Men of the same race reach an understanding: “I won’t hit you, if you won’t hit me.”  You can’t have that social compact in a multi-racial society. And, that agreement is how morality began …

GKC: “Morality did not begin by one man saying to another, ‘I will not hit you if you do not hit me’; there is no trace of such a transaction. There is a trace of both men having said, ‘We must not hit each other in the holy place.’ They gained their morality by guarding their religion.” (“The Flag of the World,” Orthodoxy)

WN: What is your point?

GKC: Communities need a sense of the divine in order to have a true sense of place. Biological differences exist among all men, but when earnestly contemplating the divine all men are brought to the same level, to their knees. When we contemplate the final judgment, these biological differences melt away and we realize that “the mere man on two legs, as such, should be felt as something more heartbreaking than any music and more startling than any caricature.” (“Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy)

WN: But, in matters of life and death, people don’t think that way. They run to their racial brothers and sisters.

GKC: Are you sure? Consider America: when a natural disaster strikes, Americans aid those in their nearest vicinity and then they aid others farther off. First their families, then their neighbors, and then others in their town. Americans understand that “Death is more tragic, even than death by starvation.” (“Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy)  Watch when a hurricane hits. You won’t see racial tribalism. You’ll see something closer to subsidiarity. They love their home simply because it is theirs and they’ve always been a religious people. They don’t have ‘blood and soil,’ but soil and soul. The Americans don’t have a sense of race, they have a sense of place.

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]