Recently, the head of the Texas Nationalist Movement, Daniel Miller, wrote an article about the importance of nationalism. The problem is that he confused the concept of nationalism itself. Before I state the problems with the article, I want to make clear that I am a strong supporter of the right of Texans to secede from the United States. My disagreement then, is not with the notion of Texas independence. I support secession essentially on three grounds: as a nationalist, as a de-centralist and as an anti-imperialist (which is closely related to the first position). I would like nothing more than to see the people of Texas throw off the Federal yoke, pull down the Stars and Stripes and kick the Feds out of their State. All of this said, Mr Miller makes some major mistakes in his article and as a nationalist – and furthermore since this relates directly to Southern nationalism – I believe these mistakes have to be addressed.
Mr Miller concluded his article with these words, and they get directly at the point I wish to make:
Texas is a nation. It is our nation and, as such, deserves our loyalty, attention and respect. Texas Nationalism is the expression of who we are, who we have been and who we can become. It is the fulfillment of the words of Sam Houston.
“Texas will again lift its head and stand among the nations.”
Sam Houston, standing side-by-side with William Barret Travis and the countless others who have given their lives to preserve our nation, along with the people of the world who are exerting those same principles as witness, beckon us, the current generation of Texas Nationalists, to take our place among the nations of the world.
Texas is not a nation. Texas is a government. It is lines on a map defining a particular territory, a flag, a bureaucracy in Austin and so forth. Governments are not nations, no matter if they are independent or not. An independent (sovereign) government is a state. Subordinate governments have many names such as provinces, counties and districts. A nation is an ethnic and cultural group with a shared history and identity. The Japanese are a nation. Japan is not a nation. Japan is a state. The Scots are a nation. Scotland is neither a state nor nation. It is a subordinate government of the United Kingdom (though it may secede from the UK next year and become an independent state). The Finns are a nation. Finland is a state. To make it as simple as possible, a nation is a distinct people while a state is a sovereign government.
In the US system the words are purposefully confused through government indoctrination such as the Pledge of Allegiance. In this pledge people proclaim their loyalty to a non-existent nation. Notice that the pledge specifically refers to the government of the United States by name in its long form, the flag of that government and the structure of that government (republic). The States were at one time true states – that is, they were independent, sovereign governments; they were recognised as such by the United Kingdom (then the strongest state on Earth) in the treaty which concluded the Revolutionary War. The States then (unwisely) delegated part of their sovereignty to create a central government which ultimately turned against them violently. Under Lincoln the Federal Government of the United States snuffed out self-determination and created a consolidated US state. The fifty States are still called States but in truth they are no longer sovereign. Our so-called ‘States’ are really just provinces of the government in Washington, DC. Any of their laws can be overridden by the Federal courts. Their militia can be Federalised at the whim of the Federal president. Our ‘States’ are just outposts of DC’s rule.
It could be argued whether or not the Texan people are nation. I would contend that they are not, but are instead part of the Southern nation of people. Yes, they have their own subculture (especially the further west you go in Texas) but they are part of a single national culture and ethnic group that stretches from the Carolinas westward to Texas. These are our people – Southerners. Of course, not all Texas citizens today are Southerners. In fact, a minority of the people living in Texas are Southerners. Many millions of Mexicans and other foreign peoples live within Texas’ borders. In this respect, Texas, like the rest of the United States as a whole, is a multi-national society. No one could in good faith argue that Mexicans, Southerners, Asians, Arabs and all the various other ethnic, cultural and religious groups that live in Texas constitute anything like a real nation. The founding stock of Texas who descend from the (mostly Southern) settlers who won its independence, made up its citizenry and governed the State are closely linked to the rest of the South. They are our people. They seceded right along with the rest of the Southern States in 1860-61. Tens of thousands of Texans fought for Southern independence under the Confederate banner. They may have their own unique Southern sub-culture (just as other regions of Dixie have subcultures of their own) but they are part of a single nation of people. Texans are Southerners.
This is not to say that Texas has to be part of a future Southern union if it secedes from the United States. Just because we are single people does not mean we should necessarily all be consolidated together under a single government. Southerners have always favoured a de-centralist form of government. There are many other examples both from the past and present of nations of people having multiple governments. For example, the German people have three states: Germany, Austria and Lichtenstein. They also constitute the major part of Switzerland’s population and have a recognised community within the Belgian system. The French people have two states: France and Monaco. They also make up a large portion of the Swiss population and they control one of the two major regions of Belgium, Wallonia. Once upon a time most of the national peoples of Europe were divided into numerous independent governments. Several hundred years of consolidation (generally at the point of a bayonet or gun) has resulted in the circumstances we see today. But even today we can find lots of examples of national peoples having multiple states. So, recognising that Texans are Southerners does not mean that they must join a Southern confederacy, it is simply recognising the cultural and ethnic reality of who they are.
Of course, it could be argued that the founding people of Texas became so significantly different culturally from the rest of the South that they now constitute a distinct nation of people. I don’t accept this argument but it is a legitimate position. Even so, this would not make Texas a nation; it would make the founding people of Texas a nation (Texans are a people while Texas is a government). Of course, this says nothing of the millions of foreign people who live in Texas. They come from lots of different national backgrounds and by strict definition this multi-national mix of every sort of race, culture, religion, etc. under the sun can not constitute a single nation. Lines on a map do not define nations. Allegiance to a particular government does not define nationhood. These things are statist concepts and are wrapped up in the idea of the state, not the nation. True nationalism embraces the ethnicity, culture, history and identity of a distinct people. It revels in the things that makes one people somewhat different from another. It celebrates these differences. It is organic, not manufactured by peace treaties, government edicts or anything of the sort. This it the sort of romantic, genuine nationalism we at SNN embrace.