The history of nationalism thus requires ongoing analysis and critical debate because nationalist assumptions continue to shape political parties and public policies as well as the identity of almost every modern person. Individuals always carry a collective national identity, even when they strongly affirm their own selfhood or personal independence. ~ Lloyd Kramer, ~ Why the History of Nationalism Matters in a Global Age
The case for some form of civic nationalism is accepted by most people from most political leanings- even socialists types are at the core a variety of civic nationalist. It surprises me then that this conversation of civil-versus-ethnic nationalism is taking place in Western countries at this time as, to my mind, the civic nationalism agreed on by most people is contingent on the ethnic-nationalism of a nation-state. Civics do not exist in a vacuum.
How we arrived at this point of confused terminology is one for the etymologists.
Suffice to say, our civic nationalist societies -lands of constitutions and suffrages and rights and so on- are incredibly new developments in the world. This is not to say that the concept of ethnonationalism is not also far younger than our tribalistic senses might suggest to us, but to say that civic nationalism is an attempt by nation-states to justify themselves to themselves. Civic nationalism is a definitional expression of an ethnostate. An early form of this would be the formation of Great Britain with the Act of Union in 1707 which formalized the 1603 Union of the Crowns into a united kingdom. The reasons for this civic act were far from ethnic in origin- as the religiously motivated Jacobite rebellions that sprang up in support of the Catholic Stuart dynasty show.
Politically expedient for the English and economically necessary for the Scots, the Act of Union brought together two nearly ethnically identical peoples into one nation through a civic sense of nationalism. It should be obvious from this example alone that there are still distinct cultural differences between ethnically homogenous nations and as such an ethnostate should not be seen as some form of panacea for utopian living. As we still see today in Britain there is sectarianism motivated by animosity between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland, and both parties can generally agree with each other on their superiority to the English. Welsh folk, the original inhabitants of the British Isles, are genetically distinct to this day. All parties exhibit a certain distrust of the others, particularly of the 'colonized' nations against the English.
What I have just described is the modern world attempting to civilize the differences between disparate cultural groups- even when ethnic homogeneity is near total, animus remains. In theory, the civic cultural identity removes the possibility of violence between the individual states within the union as the ethnic identity is subsumed by the acceptance of civic values. You might recognize this as being a core part of both the on-paper versions of the United States of America, and what is proposed by advocates of transforming the European Union into a United States of Europe. In theory, civic nationalism appears to have worked out very well indeed for modern humanity.
A united Europe means we can stand tall in the world against those who threaten liberal democracy. pic.twitter.com/yj6ONNWAwe— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) April 15, 2017
Even so, we must recognize that civic nationalism- this desire to define one's people- has almost always occurred in the wake of either conquest or the destruction of former empires. In the former situation, one ethnic -or unified ideological group- conquers territory and then attempts to impose a civic nationalist system to maintain the rule of law and forge a new national identity. The story of Great Britain is one such tale, told over centuries and culminating in the extinguishing of ethnic violence between Scots, English, and Welsh- at least in any sense that would involve armed militias. The story of Ireland is an interesting aside as we see now the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland only now forming a certain civic nationalist sense of identity in the post-Troubles period. We have seen in Scotland that it is possible for Christian religious sectarians to be both united as Scots and divided by faith and not exterminate each other. Perhaps that is the future of Ireland also, over the coming centuries.
Brevity requires me to draw broad strokes over a genetic canvas that is truly huge in the United Kingdom. As Oxford University discovered, most of 'my people' still live in our Anglo-Saxon tribal kingdoms of 1500 years ago.
Geneticist Professor Sir Walter Bodmer of Oxford University said:
“What it shows is the extraordinary stability of the British population. Britain hasn’t changed much since 600AD.
“When we plotted the genetics on a map we got this fantastic parallel between areas and genetic similarity."
I contend that it is this huge timeframe that enables us to call Britain a historical ethnic hegemony.
The period in which these different tribes have lived together -in near isolation for 900 years- created the grounds for the formation of Englishness. The British stereotypes of getting along together in adversity, tolerance for difference and the appreciation of being left alone could all stem from our tribal roots. How better to forge a nation from different tribes than from these shared values?
As we talked about when discussing how 'Cheddar Man' was not a Briton, the concept of what makes one a Briton is under postmodernist attack. The argument goes that as on a long enough time frame nobody is genetically British, anybody can be British today. This cannot be true- in fact, it is the opposite. The very slowness of the creation of British identity is proof that Britishness rests on more than just civic nationalist ideas. Therefore it has to have been the slow conversion of disparate genetic tribes that still exist today into a nation-state. The power of the early kings of England begins the process through religion, conquest, and economic control, laying the ground for the later grand ideas about the rights of man and proper behavior. The imposition of civic nationalist ideals on non-homogenous nations has proved problematic to say the least.
As the French historian, Ernest Renan wrote in answer to his own question "What is a Nation?" ("Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?"), a nation is contingent on three aspects living within her people:
(i) possession in common of a rich legacy of memories,
(ii) the desire to live together
(iii) the will to perpetuate the heritage that one has received in an undivided form.
If we accept Renan to be accurate (and some do not, it must be said) the concept of a globalized world of no borders or national identity is a poison to most people. Your national identity is not your civic nationalism alone, or there would be no ethnic identity prefix-Americans who adopt both parts- ethnic and civic- into their concept of self- and here we find the kernel of truth which underpins this entire discussion. The reason why this discussion of nationalism is even resurgent in the modern day comes from the impossibility of applying civic nationalism borne out of centuries of European ethno-hegemony to ethnopluralist nations in the New World. Further, thanks to the vast numbers of migrants headed to Europe over the past decades, this conversation has become transcontinental.
Demographics inform everything.
The concept of a universal civic nationalism is fundamentally flawed in this way. Civic nationalism, the very societies around us, are intrinsically linked to the ethnicity of the people who described those common civic values. This is why the USSR's brand of Soviet socialist patriotism was a failure in a short period of time- Lenin saw no need for the bourgeois concept of nationalism, preferring to promote the ideology of Communism to workers everywhere. Do you think that the Poles thought themselves less Polish, or the Georgians? Of course not- the idea of national identity lives within us all. It is a necessary aspect of the self- it enables us to provide a framework with which to understand the world and ourselves.
If demographics are not important and it is only civics that matter then it does not matter one bit if the White population of the United States is bred out or replaced. This pure civic nationalism is endemic in centrist and leftist politics throughout the Western World. Even most so-called conservative parties are beholden to the false narrative that large-scale is if not outright desirable then at least inevitable.
"We believe our diversity, our differences, when joined together by a common set of ideals, makes us stronger, makes us more creative, makes us different.” ~Barack Obama, 4th July 2014
This Browning of America is policy- whether you agree with my assessment of the relationship between ethnicity and civics or not, this is happening. There is also precedent for what is happening in the United States with previous empires that are begun by ethnic groups. The British, the Hapsburgs, the Romans and the Ottomans all found the strains of a large and diverse empire too much to handle. Even today the resulting nation-building enterprises that take place at the fall of empires still shake with the desires of ethnic minorities to determine their own futures or settle grievances with their former conquerors. States such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Turkey provide automatic citizenship to their ethnic diasporas across the world.
The civic nationalist creation of the nations of the Middle East in the post-colonial era directly contributes to sectarian violence today as different tribal and religious groups vie for dominance. Would Iraq have given rise to Saddam Hussein if the conditions were not conducive to requiring a dictator to subjugate the ethnic violence that was magnified by the arbitrary Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916? This autopsy of the Ottoman Empire left the ethnic Kurds today still demanding a homeland and refusing the civics of the Turk. Their own struggle for what is, in essence, an ethnostate has been ongoing for over 200 years since the fall of the Zand Dynasty in 1794. The Lithuanian and Polish nations did not exist for 123 years during the partition of those countries by the Habsburg Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Russian Empire. Today, those ethnically homogenous nations stand- and the Imperial powers are gone. A victory for demographics.
America is violent because white people are violent, and other countries with violent ass white people have already figured out they can’t be trusted with weapons designed to kill.— Cold Bitcoing Jezebel Li'l 🌴 (@karengeier) February 16, 2018
It’s not any more complicated than that
In every case of imperial conquest in history, the slow inexorable march of demographics destroys the quick imposition of human dreams and ambition.
There is no avoidance of this fact that to conquer territory and to keep it means genocide for the previous occupants or the imposition of a totalitarian regime- this second of course will only last for as long as the regime can support itself and maintain control over the occupied territories. Whether we wish to use the term genocide for the fate of the Native Americans, I don't think that it can be disputed that the lands that those people lived upon were taken by force and the people's decimated- this is not an article that goes into the whys and wherefores of that topic. Understand only that the founding fathers could not install their civic nationalist document which represented the ethno-nationalist interest of themselves without breaking the influence of the tribal nations that already occupied the lands. Demographics wins the day again.
Perhaps the first example of a successful modern empire that transgresses this law against survival will be China, though the odds are not in their favor. At the formation of the Chinese Republic the first leader of the new Republic Sun Yat Sen advocated for the generation of a Chinese Nationalism. As a Han ethnic nationalist himself he sought to expand this idea to all peoples- Mongols, Manchus, Uyghurs and Han, united as a Chinese identity to fight both imperialist aggression and retake the country from the warlords who fill most power vacuums.
Today the Communists who deposed Sun Yat Sen employ some of his ideas.
A single administrative center rules over the autonomous regions of Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet and Xinjiang, and all are ethnically, culturally and/or linguistically distinct from China itself. If Communism in that giant nation fails, will the autonomous regions dissolve once more to pre-Qing Dynasty ways? To the Warlord Era? Will the separate ethnic-conscious Chinese peoples dissolve into autonomous states, or did a century of communism and the preceding three hundred years of Qing Dynasty forge a nation beyond ethnic boundaries? We know that religious persecution is commonplace, as is violent jihad from Muslim separatists. We know that after the Qing the nation dissolved into a simple power-struggle with little ideological influence. What of China in a century from now?
If you're still questioning that a civic nationalist society is not contingent on the ethnicity of the founders then look around at your own community. The vast majority of people who will read this piece are already in micro-ethnostates either through your choice or the choice of your forebears. You probably live with people who look like you- as centuries of my English ancestors have done and millions of immigrants of all races do all over the world today.
In the case of every other empire and nation in the history of mankind, one ethnic group has dominated for sufficient time for people to forget the exact differences between the tribes involved. I am far enough removed from my Anglo-Saxon ancestors that I do not know if they were Anglo-Saxon at all- they may have been Celt, or Jute or any number of minor tribes. Over centuries they bled together into the understanding of what became England.
Is that epoch-long process what we see today in Europe or the United States?
Since the advent of the era of mass migration we have seen seismic shifts in demographics- I hope I have explained well enough that this is a profoundly dangerous state to be in. I don't mean to give credence to some kind of North Korea analog, entirely isolated from the rest of the world, far from it. It cannot be said that the trade of ideas and indeed people between nations has been a universal ill- but nor can it be said to be a universal good, as the dominant paradigm states. Do you know what is better than diversity? Not being ethnically cleansed.
The West — and, for clarification, I mean the US, Canada and Western Europe — has become so obsessed with its historical misdeeds and flaws, and unappreciative of its unique virtues and accomplishments in the grand scheme of human history, that it is reluctant to assert its moral authority to lead in the world. ~ Austin Frank
In the modern age, we are seeing a reverse-colonization of European nations. Some of this is a result of short-sighted immigration policy towards former colonial subjects, and much more is in service of progressive and neoliberal ideologies. Unless we are to accept some kind of original sin mindset- which would be "White privilege" in a nutshell- then it follows that the civic nationalism of European peoples (including the Founding Fathers) will be replaced by something else. The civilization of the West will be annihilated or annihilate the newer arrivals as the stress of incompatible ethnic identities grows in intensity until sectarian violence ensues- which will lead to either civil war or the rise of authoritarian states to enforce the peace. In order to maintain large-scale diversity –many different kinds of cultures in a nation- it is necessary for homogeneity on a much smaller scale. This homogeneity can withstand immigration at very low levels to ensure the new arrivals adapt to the host nation-state rather than the nation-state being forced to grant special treatment to the new arrivals.
I'm sure there are many out there who think this is a madness, that you have friends of different races, and we can all just get along. In honesty, I wish those people are proven right and this is just another scary story; but the evidence does not stack up to support that position and I can only make assessments based on the world as I see it. As we have seen after the last half-century of the diversity experiment, the self-interest logic that Whites had shrugged off is returning with gusto to parallel the self-interest that has bound human communities together throughout human history.
Given the growing, more diverse racial populations that are central to the nation’s future, it is imperative that the kinds of laws and policies put in place to ensure equal access to employment, housing, education, and voting are enforced, monitored, and—where necessary—augmented to accommodate new groups and needs, including the integration of immigrants and their families. …[T]he demographic die is cast… racial minorities will not just “fit in” but will hold sway. ~ William H. Frey, Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America.
This is the mentality that believes the pro-immigration myths about aging workforces and cultural enrichment. The differences between our cultures are indeed beautiful and worthy of preserving. I do not see why this is not permitted for European cultures as it is for Japanese or Judaic or Turkish. When the Turkish President Recep Erdogan instructs Turks living in Europe to have as many babies as possible and become the “future of Europe” he is in full understanding of the demographic shift that is occurring.
When Islamic clerics say the same it is in recognition of self-interest and the loss of the will to fight for self-interest evident in the West today. I don't think many people actively wish to see all out race-war yet for all the ubiquitousness of George Santayana's quote about learning from history, the full scope of his words are lesser known.
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ~ George Santayana