Patriotism Is Not an Optional Extra

by Robert Henderson (February 2016)

1. What is patriotism?

By patriotism I mean the sense of belonging to a people, of owning a land, of instinctively favouring your own country’s men and women, of knowing that the interest of the “tribe” must come before everything else. By this definition patriotism is something which the vast majority of human beings can understand, – the only people who may be genuinely immune to such comprehension are the severely mentally retarded or those with a personality disorder such as  autism which reduces their ability to understand social contexts.

The ease and near universality of understanding sets patriotism apart from ideologies such as Marxism and liberal internationalism which ask the individual to master both the tenets of the ideology and complicated arguments to support the ideology against attack. Those who respond to the call of patriotism cannot be hoodwinked and manipulated by the few because almost everyone understands what patriotism is instinctively. Contrast this with the fate of the majority of those who while professing to be adherents of an intellectually demanding ideology, actually have little understanding of it, either because they are intellectually lazy or because they lack the intellectual wherewithal to master the ideology. Such people are left in the position of the laity in Europe in mediaeval times when the use of Latin in both translations of the Bible and church rites meant that the vast majority of the population were left at the mercy of the a small clerical elite who simply told them what to believe whether or not it was sanctioned by the Scriptures.

2. The value of patriotism

The value of patriotism lies in its ability to produce social coherence and an enduring and discrete population. Without patriotism a country becomes no more than a geographical expression and is ready prey for colonisation by overt conquest or covert conquest through mass immigration.

The notion, assiduously disseminated by liberal internationalists, that human beings are  interchangeable social atoms who may live as readily in one society as another is a recipe for national suicide, because it embraces policies such as mass immigration which directly lead to the weakening and ultimately to the destruction of their own nations. Of course, for the liberal internationalist the destruction of nation states and the subordination of nations are desired ends, but this is predicated on the demonstrably false premise that diverse populations will live as peacefully and productively as homogeneous ones. Indeed, the common internationalist claim is that diverse societies will be stronger and, by implication, more enduring than  homogenous ones. The internationalists have no meaningful grounds for believing this, for the whole experience of human history and the world as it is today says that diversity of race and ethnicity in the same territory equates to violence and social incoherence. There is no example of a diverse society which has not suffered from its diversity.

Ironically, the consequence of mixed populations is not a diminishing of national/tribal sentiment, but an inflation of it. A people secure in its own territory does not need to engage in constant national expression because nothing threatens it: a people in a mixed society must constantly do so because all the ethnic/racial groups are necessarily in conflict because of the need for each to compete for power and resources for their own group.

3. Tribes are natural

The  sense of being separate, of belonging to a discrete group with identifiable characteristics,  is a necessary part of being human because Man is a social animal. All social animals have to have boundaries to know where the group begins and ends. This is because a social animal must operate within a hierarchy and self-evidently a hierarchy can only exist where there are boundaries. No boundaries, no hierarchy, because the individual could never know what the dominance/submission situation was within their species, or at least within those members of the species with whom they interact.

Where does “must operate within a hierarchy” come from? First the observed facts: all social animals do produce hierarchies – although these vary considerably in form – and human beings always produce complex hierarchies, whether they are hunter-gatherers or people populating a  great modern city.

Why do social animals always form hierarchies? For animals other than Man the answer is, I think, simple enough: only by forming hierarchies can social groups cohere. This is most probably because animals vary considerably in their physical and mental qualities. Observe any animal, even the simplest single cell organism, and differences between individuals within the species will become apparent. Some are more vigorous than others, some larger, some abnormally small, some more adventurous and so on. Individuals will also vary by age and, in sexually reproducing species, sex.

In a solitary animal the practical consequences of differences between individuals will be decided by direct competition, most commonly by the formation of territories and the attempted monopoly of mates and food within the territory, with the best endowed animals on average being more successful.

When an animal is social, differences in individual quality have to be resolved by something other than the methods used by solitary animals such as scent marking of territory boundaries and serious fighting because the animals have to live in close proximity. Competition for desirable goods still occurs, most notably competition for mates, but normally within behaviours which are not fatal to other members of the group or behaviours which are not so disruptive as to threaten the survival of the group. The upshot of this social accommodation is the formation of different social niches into which individuals with different qualities and histories fit.

Group behaviour is a compromise between the immediate advantage of the individual and the diffuse advantages derived from group activity. The compromise is given structure by hierarchies, whether that be a fixed biological distinction by sex or caste (for example, social bees) or a transient one due to the age of an animal. Hierarchies are built on the differences between individuals and the more rigid the hierarchical structure the greater will be the selective pressures to produce individuals in the right proportions to fill the various social niches within the group.

Consider what would happen if hierarchies did not exist. There would be constant conflict within the group because no individual would have cause to defer to another except from fear of physical harm and such fear is a blunt and very limited instrument of social control, whether it be of humans or animals. It is a strategy more suited to the solitary animal than the social one.

Hierarchies also make sense in terms of the development of social animals. Social animals are ultimately descended from asocial animals. The movement from asocial to social animal is presumably akin to the evolutionary process whereby a parasite is converted to a symbiotic partner. It is a process of gradual behavioural accommodation.

Social animals on the bottom rung of the social animal ladder may do little more than associate together at certain times. The next rung up and the animal frequently associates with others of its kind. One more step and the animal forms more or less permanent groupings. And so on until we reach the ultimate social animal: Man.

The gradual evolution of social behaviour of itself points to the need  for hierarchy, because at each stage of the evolution the natural overtly selfish behaviour of the original solitary animal has to be modified. That modification will only come through natural selection working on behavioural traits which favour more complete socialisation.

What about human beings? Are they not capable of breaking the biological bounds which capture animals? Does not their immense intelligence and possession of language place them in another category of being? Could Man not simply decide not to behave in a non-hierarchical manner? The fact that human beings have never done so is of itself sufficient evidence for all but the most ideologically committed nurturist to decide that human beings cannot do it and to conclude that the forming of hierarchies is part of the human template. However, to that fact can be added another, the dominance/submission behaviour which every person witnesses daily not merely in positions of formal dominance and subordination such as the workplace, but in every aspect of social life.

Societies which consist of human groups which see themselves as separate disrupt the creation of a healthy hierarchy. Instead of there being a single hierarchy within an homogenous group (defining homogenous as a group which sees itself as a group), there are competing hierarchies formed within each group and a further overarching hierarchy formed from the various groups themselves. No individual feels secure, there is constant tension between groups. There is no common bond of trust between people sharing the same territorial house.

Within each group the natural hierarchy is disrupted, because in addition to the natural competition for higher status within the group, there will also be competition brought about by the need for action to deal with the competition from the other groups within the territory. The consequence of such inter-group competition is frequently for the elites of a group to be divided between appeasers and fighters. This internal struggle weakens the group in itself, and if the appeasers win, will force a policy on the group which is in most cases detrimental to their group interest. – the only exception is where the group is faced with the alternative of  complete extermination.

4. Nations are tribes writ large

Nations are tribes writ large. They are remarkably durable. Empires invariably fall but a true nation is timeless and can be utterly destroyed only through an act of genocide. Even the loss of a homeland – the most traumatic loss any nation can sustain - does not destroy a people as the Jews have emphatically shown for nearly two thousand years.

A shared faith or political ideology does not make a nation. Muslims may claim to be one people, but the reality is very different as the continual strife between Muslims bears witness. Not only is there the major division between Shias and Sunnis, Muslim dominated states of the same ostensible branch of Islam are often hostile to each other, while Muslim terrorists/freedom fighters (take your pick) willingly kill fellow Muslims  – women and children included – in large numbers.

Similarly, Marxist Leninists in the Soviet Union and Red China may have maintained the fiction  to the bitter end of the Soviet Bloc that the international proletariat was as one, but the substantial deviations between their ideologies and the viciously repressive measures they used to deny their own proles contact with outside world (and hence with the rest of the proletariat) told another tale.

Today, the doctrine of liberal internationalism pretends to a universality of human experience  and commonality which is refuted every day by the manifold social, ethnic and racial strife throughout the world.

The Jews are something of an oddity. Until the modern state of Israel was founded in 1948, they had been without a homeland for nearly two millennia. Because of that they were able to convert their religion into a cultural suit to be worn by all adherents in a way that Islam and Christianity or any political ideology never could. Denuded of their own land, they could neither be oppressed by an invader nor oppress others by invasion. They could not exercise state power. All they had left was cultural power, whether that be intellectual or economic. The consequence was that Jewish culture became the badge of the Jew, not merely his religion. It is interesting that there has been a strain within Jewry since the foundation of a modern state of Israel was mooted that has been hostile to the formation of such a state because the Jewish culture which they valued was the product of not having a country to call their own.

Nations are organic growths. They cannot be constructed consciously as the “nation-builders” of the period of European de-colonisation fondly imagined and their liberal internationalist successors today continue to at least pretend to believe. This is so because nations are developed through the sociological process of establishing trust within the group. This only happens when others are recognised as belonging naturally to the group. That does not mean that every member of the nation is seen as equal as an individual, whether for reasons of personality, ability or social status, but it does mean they are accepted automatically as being part of the nation. An English duke may have little if any purely social contact with the English working man, but each would instinctively recognise the other as English because, despite their social distance, they fall within the recognised template of what it is to be English.

Just as a nation cannot be consciously created, the individual cannot decide in anything other than the legal sense that they are this or that nationality. A man may decide to become a British citizen through an act of will but he cannot decide to be English. That is because being English is the consequence of parentage and upbringing, something over which the child has no control. It is the unconscious imbibing of a culture - something visceral.

Most vitally, a person has to be accepted without thinking by other members of the nation as a member of the nation to be of that nation. That is why the claims of English men and women  to be Irish, Welsh or Scots are both forlorn and ridiculous. As the English film director Stephen Frears wittily remarked of the very English actor Daniel Day-Lewis “I knew Daniel before he was Irish.”

Like it or not, the upbringing of these wannabe Celts has made them English. Not only do they think like the English, understand English mores without thinking and are armed with a library of English cultural references, they have a personality which falls within the English spectrum. Put them in a room with  foreigners or the Celts they wish to be and they will be taken for English. Such people cannot be anything but English, because only by being raised in a society where you are accepted without question as being part of the nation can the person become part of a nation. An Englishman who wishes to claim that he is a Scot cannot successfully do so because he lacks the cultural imprinting of a Scot. Cultural nationality is not something which can be faked.

5. The importance of a national territory

A national territory is essential to the well-being of the nation. The fate of the Jews after they lost theirs is a cautionary tale for anyone who believes otherwise. The ideal is a territory which is controlled entirely by the nation, a population which is overwhelmingly comprised of people who are true members of the national “tribe” through their parentage and upbringing. The prime example of such a state is the pre-union England, which was the first true nation state.

The next best choice is for a nation state containing different peoples who each have de facto  their own national territory. Britain is a first rate example of such a state, with the four home nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – each having their own national territory. Being formally master in your own house is best, but simply having a territory in which you form the majority on the ground is a great consolation and benefit. That applies even to a people such as the Kurds who are divided between Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Being the dominant population they have both the reassurance of their physical control of the territory – boots on the ground – and the consoling possibility of converting that demographic dominance into political control in the future.

6. The democratic value of nations

Politically, nations are immensely valuable because the nation state is the largest political unit which allows any meaningful democratic control. Indeed, it is arguable that representative  government at the national level is the only real opportunity for serious democratic control, because representative bodies below the national level are always subject to the national government or a supra-national authority, while a supra-national authority signals the end of democratic control. More of that later.

Only in a country where there is a sense of shared history, culture and communal interest can  representative government function, even in principle, as a conduit for the interests of the  entire population. In a country which is riven by ethnic and racial difference representative democracy invariably deteriorates into a mass of competing groups all struggling for their own  advantage. Policy making and its execution becomes fragmentary and it is impossible to  construct a coherent approach to promoting the common good. In a nation state with a large degree of homogeneity the political process is concentrated instead upon policies which affect all, or at least the overwhelming majority, of the people. For example, before post-war mass immigration fractured Britain, the great political questions were ones related to class. Policies were put forward which either were intended to better the situation of the working class or to resist change. Either way, the policy was designed to service the entire population not merely a part of it.

Once a country’s sovereignty is breached through treaties which commit countries to bow to the will of supra-national bodies, as has happened with the constituent countries of the EU,  democratic control withers on the vine because mainstream politicians of all stamps begin to formulate their policies within the context of what the supra-national body allows, not always in the interests of the country. Eventually, a situation is reached, as has been reached in the case of the EU, where all parties with an opportunity for power sing from the same policy hymn sheet. At that point representative government becomes a shell and democratic control is gone because there is no opportunity to vote for any party which will change matters. That is so because the grip of the existing elite is so tight on all the levers of power, most importantly  the mass media, that no new party can even get a serious hearing.

Where the form of government is parliamentary, the difficulty is enhanced by the fact that  very large numbers of candidates must stand to both be taken seriously and have any chance of forming a majority. This imposes an immense organisational and economic burden on the new party, not least because the party will lack experienced politicians as candidates and party  bureaucrats. Add in things such as first-past-the-post voting in individual constituencies and  the deposit of £500 for each candidate which is at risk of being lost if the vote does not reach 8% of the total, and the British system is just about the best armoured against new parties gaining a foothold in government as any in the world.

Democratic control is vitally important to maintaining the integrity of the nation. There is only one general political question of importance in any society, namely, how far can the masses control the abusive tendencies of the elite? Elites as a class are naturally abusive because it is in the nature of human beings to be selfish and  to look for their own advantage and that of those closest to them. That does not mean that no member of an elite will break ranks and go against their class interest. What it does mean is that an elite as a whole will not change its spots, not least because the sociological shackles are too strong for most of those members of the elite who might be tempted to go against their class interest will be dissuaded from doing so because of the group pressures within the elite, for the  elite will develop a “tribal” sense of their own, with those outside the elite seen as a separate social entity.

The less democratic control there is over the elite, the more the elite will engage in behaviours which are detrimental to the coherence of the “tribe” as a whole because the elite will seek their own advantage rather than that of the nation. Before the rise of the nation state, the abuse was generally much in evidence because elites commonly took the form of monarchs and subordinate rulers in the forms of territorially based aristocracies presiding over territories which contained various national/ethnic groups, the members of which were seen as subjects not part of a national whole. The common and deliberate policy of such elites was to “divide and rule.” Territories were also frequently subject to changes of ruler through conquest, a change of royal favour (in the case of subordinate rulers), inheritance or marriage contracts. In such circumstances there was little opportunity for the masses to exercise any form of control over their rulers because there was no unity of feeling or sense of commonality amongst the peoples they ruled and the sense of “tribe“ was localised. It is noteworthy that arguably the most dramatic popular rising in Europe during the mediaeval period took place in England (the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381), the one large kingdom in Europe at that time with a broadly homogenous population and a territory which enjoyed meaningful central Royal control.

With the creation of the nation state there arose the possibility of democratic control. The creation of a sense of nation within a single territory responsible to a single ruler in itself provides the circumstances whereby dissent can be focused and power and influence removed from the monarch and diffused to an ever larger part of the population. That is precisely what happened in England, with first the gradual accretion of powers by Parliament, especially over taxation, then with the development of Parliamentary government after 1689 and finally with the extension of the franchise from 1832 onwards. By the beginning of the 20th century, a large degree of democratic control had been established because the elite were working within the nation state, were dependent on a mass electorate and were having to produce policies  within a national context. That control lasted until the early 1970s when the elite found  another way of breaking it by moving politics from the national state to a supra-national  power, the EU. Once that was done, the abusive tendencies of the elite could re-assert themselves, as they have done in spades.

7. What the individual owes to the nation

Membership of a nation places a natural duty on the individual to support the nation. Patriotism should be viewed as a matter of utility, an absolutely necessity for the maintenance and  coherence of a society. The idea that a society can survive which is merely a collection of deracinated individuals has no basis in history or observed human behaviour today.

It is a very great privilege to be unambiguously part of a nation, for it is the place where you automatically belong. Just as a family is the place where most people can find automatic  support so is the nation. In fact, the nation is even more reliable than a family because no one can remove the nationality which has been imprinted into a person while a family can reject a member. In an advanced country such as Britain, membership of the nation state is valuable indeed, for materially at least, it is still (just) a fully fledged life support system.

That which is valuable needs to be defended, because what is valuable is always envied by others and will be stolen if possible and destroyed if not. The state recognises this by  expecting its nationals to fight to protect the national territory against an overt invader. The principle can be extended to other things such as opposing mass immigration (a surreptitious form of conquest) and defending the nation’s vital industries.

Being patriotic by my definition does not mean constantly and stridently asserting a nation’s achievements and superiority to other nations. It merely, means looking after the national interest in the same way that an individual looks to their own interest.

8. The liberal internationalist

Liberal internationalist ideology is diametrically opposed to what Nature has decreed. As  mentioned previously, it states that Homo sapiens is a single species whose atoms, the individual human being, are interchangeable. For the liberal internationalist discrimination is the dirtiest of words and a word which he interprets to the point of reductio ad absurdum.

That is the theory. In practice, the liberal internationalist complains if discrimination only when it effects those whom it includes within the protective embrace of political correctness. Those outside that embrace may be abused and vilified strenuously. Most perversely, this attitude frequently results in members of a majority actively discriminating against their own people.  Nowhere is this behaviour seen more sharply than in the attitude of the British elite towards the English to whom they deny any political voice – a privilege granted to the other parts of the UK -  and actively abuse them by representing English national feeling as a dangerous thing.

The liberal left internationalists may have made truly immense efforts to portray nations as  outmoded relics at best and barbarous survivals from a less enlightened past at worst, but despite their best (or worst) efforts they have not changed the natural feelings of people  because these feelings derive from the general biological imperative common to all social animals: the need to develop behaviours which enhance the utility of the group.

But if an elite has not destroyed the naturally patriotic feelings the people they rule, they have  tainted them by suppressing  their public expression through the use of the criminal law (law relating to incitement to racial hatred ) and civil law (law relating to unfair dismissal through racial discrimination) and by the ruthless enforcement of their liberal-left ideology throughout  politics, public service, academia, the schools, major private corporations and the mainstream media. So successful have they been that rarely does any native dissent about immigration and its consequences enter the public realm, while it is now impossible for anyone in a senior position in any public organisation or private organisations with a quasi-public quality, for examples, large charities and companies, to make any public statement without religiously observing the current elite ideology which has solidified into what is now called political correctness. The consequence is that people have developed the mentality common in totalitarian regimes that  certain feelings, however natural, are dangerous and should be the subject of self censorship.  People still have the feelings but they are withdrawn from public conversation and increasing from private discourse.

It is important to understand that even the most vociferous liberal does not believe in his or her heart of hearts that humanity is a single indivisible entity whose atoms (the individual) are in practice interchangeable. They wish it was so but know it is not so. However, the ideologically committed continue to live in hope that minds and behaviours can be changed by what they are wont to call “education,” for which read indoctrination. The rest go along with  the idea because it has been built into the structure of the elite and the doubters prize ambition and their membership in the elite above honesty.

Incredible as it may seem to those who witness their public posturing, liberal internationalists  experience the same fears as everyone else, an unsurprising fact because they have the same biological template. This is what drives them to live in a manner which is directly at odds with their professed ideology. Look at the life of a white liberal and you will find that they arrange their lives so that they live in very white, and in England, very English worlds. They do this in  two ways. They either live in an area which is overwhelmingly white – the “rightest of right-on” folk singers Billy Bragg chooses to live in the “hideously white” county of Dorset - or a gentrified white enclave is created on the outskirts of an area such as Islington which has a significant ethnic content to its population. The latter tactic allows the white liberal to luxuriate in the faux belief that they are “living the diversity dream” whilst in reality encountering little if any of the “joy of diversity” they are so vocally enthusiastic about.

These people socialise in worlds which are almost entirely white. (The drippingly wet pc BBC presenter Adrian Chilles described in 2003 how he realised this when he looked at his wedding photographs which were taken only a few years before. With a guest list of several hundred he was unable to find a single non-white face staring out at him.) The only ethnic minorities they  have equal or extended contact with are those they meet in their work, ethnics who are middleclass and westernised. They will also be few in number, for even the workplace of the white liberal will generally be very white.

9. How to move from multiculturalism to patriotism

It is of course impossible to consciously force someone to be patriotic, but there is no need to because the natural instinct of human beings is to be patriotic. All that needs to be done is to  remove the constraints placed on national expression by the liberal internationalists and the  natural instincts will re-assert themselves. That can be done by the political elite changing their tune towards a defence of the nation and the nation state. Let the political rhetoric alter and  the public mood will soon swing towards the patriotic.

All treaties which restrict the power of a government to act in the national context must be thrown away. In the case of Britain that means leaving the EU and repudiating treaties such as  the UN Convention on Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The institutionalisation of political correctness within public service must be destroyed, both by  dismissing all those employed explicitly to enforce such views (who are de facto political commissars) and by repealing all laws which both provide powers for officials and those which  restrict free expression. I say political correctness in its entirety because the various strands of political correctness support each other, most notably in the general attack on “discrimination.” Leave anything of the “discrimination” culture intact and it will be used to bring in multiculturalism by the back door. It would also require many of the de facto political commissars to be left in office.

Public office, both that held by politicians and officials, should be restricted to those with four  grandparents and two parents as nationals born and bred. This should be done to prevent any lack of focus because of the danger of divided national loyalties.

Mass immigration must be ended. Immigrants in a country illegally should be removed in short order where that can be done. Where possible, those legally in a country who cannot or will not assimilate fully, should be re-settled in their countries of national origin or the national origin of their ancestors or in other countries where they will be in the racial/ethnic majority. Those who are in a country legally but who do not have essential scarce skills which cannot be supplied by the native population, should be sent back to their countries of origin – there would be few from countries who could not be returned because they would be definitely identifiable as coming from a country and few countries will refuse to receive one of their nationals even if they do not have a passport.

A written constitution is a must because otherwise any change to remedy matters will be vulnerable to reversal. Such a reversal could be thwarted, as far as these things can ever be thwarted, by placing a bar on what a government may do. That should include prohibitions on the signing of treaties which restrict national sovereignty or encourage mass immigration. Provisions must be made for the protection of strategic industries and the restriction of public office to born and bred nationals and a clear statement that the nation state exists to privilege its members over those of foreigners. Most importantly, there  should be an absolute right to free expression for that is the greatest dissolver of elite abuse and general chicanery.


Robert Henderson is a History and Politics Graduate who has worked in both private business and the public service. He is now retired but runs the blogs  and


To comment on this article, please click here.

To help New English Review continue to publish thought provoking articles such as this, please click here.


Join leaders of the American Middle Eastern community to endorse

Donald J. Trump
for President of the United States

and spend an evening with his foreign policy advisors featuring
Dr. Walid Phares
and other surprise campaign guests.

Monday October 17th

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20008

cocktails at 6pm - dinner at 7pm
Business casual attire

$150 per person / $1500 per table

Sponsored by the American Mideast Coalition for Trump

Buy Tickets