America's "Republics"

By David Payne
Volume 6, Number 3 (Spring 1996)
Issue theme: "Straight thinking on immigration"

Michael Lind begins by distinguishing between ‘nation-states,' which are political entities, and ‘nations,' which are cultural entities. Thus, although the nation-state of Poland did not exist for some time in the 18th century, the Polish nation continued to exist, and now exists once again as a nation-state as well. Yugoslavia, on the other hand, was a nation-state, but was never a nation. Instead, it was composed of many different nations. There was never a "Yugoslavian people."

There is an American nation, according to Lind, which did not begin with the nation-state called the United States, but some time before that. "A real nation is a concrete historical community, defined primarily by a common language, common folkways, and a common vernacular culture" (p.5). Lind argues that the American nation should not be defined in terms of race and religion, but rather in terms of language and culture. This view he calls "liberal nationalism," and acceptance of it leads to a different view of the American past, for it disavows the democratic uniqueness or essential superiority of the American nation along with the use of such ideas for engendering patriotic fervor. "One should cherish one's nation, as one should cherish one's family, not because it is the best in the world, but because, with all its flaws, it is one's own" (p.10).

There have been three republics so far in American history, and Lind argues that we need a (bloodless) revolution to usher in a fourth. These republics are described as follows

I. The First Republic


The First Republic is com-posed of the Anglo-American race and the Protestant religion due to the original majority composition of the founding fathers. Federal Republicanism was