The Epidemiological Case for National Borders, Autarky, & Xenophobia

Res ipsa loquitur, no?

While we’re at it, there is a strong epidemiological case for sexual modesty and chastity, for parochialism, for patriotism, and for cultural conservatism in respect to morals and customs. What is more, the humanely small scale of Schumacher and Christopher Alexander, Moldbug’s Patchwork or localism or Catholic subsidiarity, and the traditionalism of William Morris, of Chesterton, of Carlyle, and of de Maistre and Bonald all make great epidemiological sense. Wendell Berry, Edward Abbey, Tolstoy, the Wrath of GNON, and of course we here at the Orthosphere; all echo the same notion:

Stay small, stay local, stay close to home, stay close to nature, and within the span of your own hands. Small steps, not great revolutionary saltations.

6 thoughts on “The Epidemiological Case for National Borders, Autarky, & Xenophobia

  1. Pingback: The Epidemiological Case for National Borders, Autarky, & Xenophobia | Reaction Times

  2. I saw a comment somewhere, probably deep in a twitter-based peanutgallery, that Coronavirus is giving the countries of the world a blank check to test their Tyranny protocols.

    I had a vision of standing in line at a checkpoint, they distract me with swabs while they look up my party affiliation and social media history behind a curtain. “Yep, he’s got a virus.” They’ll say. “Thank you,” I’ll ignorantly respond. “Please take me away so I don’t get anyone else sick.” Then I’ll disappear and everyone will forget my name.

    Memetics is kind of like the virology of ideas. Culture is keeping certain idea viruses and protecting against others. Tradition is the means of cultivation. My apocalyptic vision is scary because we rely on our government for so much of our security, and you don’t realize it until it’s gone.

    Subsidiarity (and self sufficiency on that scale) is looking less and less like a hobby and more like the only way to survive.

    • Your vision of a political purge administered under the cover of martial law declared in response to an epidemic might be really happening in China at this moment. There is no way to tell. Given Chinese history, and the brutality the present authorities over there have displayed in, e.g., welding people into their apartment houses, it would be surprising if it were not.

      I have no doubt that the same sort of thing might happen anywhere. When plague strikes, all bets are off; all social order can dissolve, and it can come to seem merely sensible to kill or banish anyone who is at all different, and due process be damned. No one questions the government doing it; if the government doesn’t do it, the people do.

      And that’s exactly what all cultures did until Jesus came along. It was standard operating procedure everywhere to persecute those who are anywise different, whether as to race, or to custom, or to creed. Because why? Because people who are manifestly different are more likely to be dangerous. They are more likely to carry infectious diseases, whether genetic or memetic in nature.

      In the ancient world, it was everywhere normal in seasons of plague for people to abandon anyone who seemed infected, even close family members. If you got sick, you were on your own. The Christians didn’t follow that particular tradition. They took care of their brothers and sisters in the faith through the course of their illnesses: fed them, washed them, prayed with them. This provision of basic nursing made a huge difference in survival rates. Obviously you’ve got a better chance of recovering if you are being cared for at home by family and friends than if everyone has cast you into the street and won’t come near you. Christians got sick a bit more often than pagans, but very few of them died. So stark was the difference in survival rates that the pagans accused the Christians of sorcery, and in some cases of fomenting the plague.

      I should emphasize that Christianity nowise entails abandoning the notion of the nation, or therefore of national borders, or therefore of controls at such borders. Christianity is not a suicide pact. Christ enjoins us to care for the stranger in our midst; he does not enjoin us to transmogrify that stranger into a familiar, abracadabra, hey presto. So by extension he does not enjoin us to make an immigrant into a native – i.e., into a member of the nation, strictly construed. By definition, immigrants *cannot* – logically cannot – be transformed into natives. At most, they can become fellow loyal citizens of the polis in virtue of their professed total, radical, and utmost fealty to the people thereof. The archetypal model of such fealty is Ruth:

      And Ruth [the Moabite] said [to her Israelite mother in law Naomi, herself an immigrant in Moab preparing to depart for her home town of Bethlehem], Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.

      Ruth 1:16-17

      NB that Ruth is here declaring her personal fealty unto death, not just to Naomi, but to Israel, and to YHWH. Her fealty goes all the way down to the ultimate ground of her very being. That’s what it takes to join a nation – not to become oneself a native thereof, mind, but to join it, and so to leave behind your strangeness and enter into its extended family.

      It is noteworthy that the familiar relation of Ruth and Naomi – as relatives in law, rather than by blood – is a type of the relation of the foreigner who has joined a nation. The relation is in law, rather than by blood. That does not mean it cannot be deep, genuine, and total. After all, it is not unusual for friends who have no apparent blood relation to give their lives for each other in battle; and men join themselves sacrificially to wives in law, rather than by blood.

  3. Boarders are to humanity what firebreaks are to forests, or what watertight doors are to ocean liners. Historically, humanity was divided by many natural firebreaks and watertight doors, but technology increasingly erases these divisions. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, this makes artificial borders more important, not less.

    • Exactly. Given the ingenuity of virii, I should not be surprised to find a century or two from now that international trade and travel were hindered at every border by quarantines on people and goods, and that everyone was quite accustomed to such limitations as being just normal and unremarkable. Indeed, that change may transpire after only a few years. After all, we all got used pretty quickly to the present security protocols at airports, and to seat belts in cars.


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