Sam Francis and 'White Nationalism'
An article appearing on Americanthinker.com referring to the late controversial conservative author and syndicated columnist Samuel Francis misconstrued his views.
In "Identity Politics: The Denial of American Exceptionalism," Dean Malik suggested that Francis was the "spiritual and intellectual father" of contemporary white nationalism, an outlook that Malik believes misunderstands the nature of America's cultural beginnings by restricting America's identity to only a racial component. He said, "Francis dismisses the notion that America is defined by ideas and traditions independent of race," and disapprovingly quoted Francis as having written that a nation is "defined primarily by a common blood."
Malik is wrong about Francis on every count.
Francis was not a white nationalist. Defining white nationalism is itself problematic, since there really is no particular political party or existing political movement with a statement of principles that explains just what exactly white nationalists advocate. Do they want a return to segregation? Do they intend to expel all non-whites from the U.S.? Do they want to break up the U.S. into racially-defined regions, or do they want some as yet undefined territory somewhere as their own exclusive white enclave? No one knows, because there is no acknowledged leader of white nationalists, nor any leading organization that claims to speak for them. In any case, Francis advocated none of those things.
Far from being a white nationalist, Francis was a traditionalist conservative who believed that racial differences are real, genetically determined, and culturally significant. He never advocated an exclusive white nation, but only white racial consciousness.
In "Prospects for Racial and Cultural Survival," Francis said racial consciousness for whites was needed for three reasons: The first reason is for whites to recognize that "their own racial endowments [are] essential to the continuing existence of Euro-American civilization." This consciousness "does not mean that whites should think of themselves only as whites to the exclusion of ethnic, national, religious, regional, class, or other identities.... Racial consciousness means that we add recognition of biological and racial factors to our traditional concepts of human nature...."
The second reason for whites to develop racial consciousness is to "counter the demographic threat they face from immigration and non-white fertility...." Francis was referring to Census Bureau projections that whites will become a minority in the U.S. by 2050.
The third reason for white racial consciousness is "to correct the political and legal order.... This political effort would involve a radical dismantling of all affirmative action and civil right legislation as well as a good part of the federal governmental superstructure that entrenches minority power. It would also require recovering an understanding of constitutional law that permits local and state governments to govern and private institutions to function independently of government."
Those are not the arguments of a white nationalist, but of a conservative for whom race matters.
Malik quotes Francis defining a nation, but takes the quote out of context. The quote Malik cites is from "The Enemy of the Nation" that appeared in Chronicles, October 2004, and reads as follows: "[E]very real nation is a 'people of a common blood' and 'descended from the same ancestors.' A nation -- from the Latin word meaning 'to be born' -- can have no other meaning. A nation is a community defined primarily by a common blood, and it is only on the basis of a common blood that its population becomes a people."
Malik said that means Francis "dismisses the notion that America is defined by ideas and traditions independent of race..." Wrong. Malik misunderstood or ignored the context of the quotation, and in his criticism, conflated "nation" with "country." Francis was making a political scientist's distinction between state and nation, using "nation" to designate a people, not a country. There is a French nation, a German nation, a Cherokee nation. Not all are countries. And a country may consist of peoples of many nations. Czechoslovakia, for example, created by the victorious allies after WW I, was composed primarily of Czechs, Slovaks, and Germans. It was a country, but not a nation-state (and notably did not endure). Francis was arguing that in some cases, the state can become the enemy of the nation -- the people it rules.
Malik also failed to cite in its entirety the sentence he quoted. Inadvertently or by design, he left out the very words that would have contradicted his criticisms of it. The full sentence reads, "A nation is a community defined primarily by a common blood, and it is only on the basis of a common blood that its population becomes a people -- a community united by a shared language, religion, moral values, social institutions, government, and political and social beliefs ('creeds')." In other words, Francis did not, as Malik claims, assert that race solely defines a nation. It is merely the basis. He specifically included language, religion, social institutions, etc.
Francis made the same point quite explicit elsewhere. In "Prospects for Racial and Cultural Survival,"* he wrote, "The skeleton of race acquires concrete meaning and generates concrete loyalties only as it takes on cultural and political flesh, as race becomes tied up with community, kinship, nationality, territory, language, literature, art, religion, moral codes and manners, social class, and political aspirations. It is precisely such accretions that convert the biological abstraction 'race' into the concrete category of a 'people.'" In the same essay, Francis overtly criticizes the very same attitude Malik finds objectionable in white nationalists. Francis wrote, "The reason for the lack of any precedent for a purely racial foundation of a white state, society, or culture ought to be clear. An appeal only to race selects the thinnest possible reed on which to base a movement."
Sam Francis may be a hero to so-called "white nationalists," but he was not one of them in the sense intended by Malik.
*Essential Writings on Race, Samuel Francis, edited by Jared Taylor, New Century Foundation, Oakton, Virginia, 2007
Jerry Woodruff is editor of Middle American News