The Utter Normality of Ethonationalism
Race; Posted on: 2008-03-28 19:51:36 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
Except for whites
By Kevin MacDonald
Jerry Z. Muller’s Foreign Affairs article, Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism (March/April, 2008), is a grim and timely reminder of the power of ethnicity in human affairs. It has explosive implications for the future of the United States and the West.
Muller demonstrates that, over the last 150 years or so, the general trend in Europe and elsewhere has been has been toward the creation of ethnically-based states—“ethnostates”. This trend did not end with the close of World War II. In Europe, the war was followed by a forced resettlement of peoples—mainly Germans—to create ethnically homogeneous states. Indeed, the high point of ethnic homogenization in Europe was in the two generations in the immediate aftermath of World War II.
“As a result of this massive process of ethnic unmixing, the ethnonationalist ideal was largely realized: for the most part, each nation in Europe had its own state, and each state was made up almost exclusively of a single ethnic nationality. During the Cold War, the few exceptions to this rule included Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. But these countries' subsequent fate only demonstrated the ongoing vitality of ethnonationalism.”
This point is crucial. While the recent spreading of the European Union imperium has given rise to a great deal of “post-nation” rhetoric, it has in fact been accompanied by an astonishing multiplication of ethnostates, split out of Yugoslavia and the former USSR — not to mention, of course, the Czech/Slovak division
Ethnic conflict is apparent as well throughout the developing world, and will likely lead to more partitioning and nation-creation. As Muller notes: “In areas where that separation has not yet occurred, politics is apt to remain ugly”.
But a huge anomaly has arisen. Recently, Western societies have embarked on a public policy project in which the ethno nationalism of white people is officially proscribed as an unadulterated evil. Multiculturalism only is encouraged and viewed as morally superior. As Muller notes: “Americans … find ethnonationalism discomfiting both intellectually and morally”.
As a social scientist who takes the biological component of ethnicity seriously (although I readily agree that there is a cultural component as well), I can speak from personal experience about the hostility and moral disdain one faces from other academic social scientists when one points to these unfashionable facts.
Although World War II marked the defeat of the ethnonationalist National Socialist movement, Muller is clearly correct that it resulted in a Europe that was more accurately divided into ethnostates than ever. But World War II also saw the triumph of the political and cultural Left. These two cultural facts have been at odds ever since.
German National Socialist s remain the bogeyman of the political and cultural Left to this day. The Left is utterly dedicated to eradicating any vestiges of European ethnonationalism. Opponents of immigration are routinely labeled “racists” or “Nazis” for advocating policies that are, in fact, the norm in the rest of the world. Thus Israel favors Jewish immigrants, Spain favors people from its former Latin American Empire, India its “Non-Resident Indians” (NRIs), China favors the Overseas Chinese.
As Muller notes: “In a global context, it is the [Western] insistence on universalist criteria [for immigration] that seems provincial.”
And, Muller points out, the anomaly whereby Western nations have sought to turn their backs on ethnic homogeneity is quite modern:
“The ethnonationalist view has traditionally dominated through much of Europe and has held its own even in the United States until recently. For substantial stretches of U.S. history, it was believed that only the people of English origin, or those who were Protestant, or white, or hailed from northern Europe were real Americans. It was only in 1965 that the reform of U.S. immigration law abolished the system of national-origin quotas that had been in place for several decades. This system had excluded Asians and radically restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe.”
In attempting to account for this trend in opposition to ethnonationalism in Western societies, my own writing has emphasized the triumph of the Left and particularly the role of some Jewish intellectual and political movements and certain elements of the organized Jewish community as the vanguard of the left and the most important force in passage of the 1965 immigration law. As Muller’s essay observes, Jews were major victims of the ethnonationalism of others. Anti-Semitism was a general force throughout Eastern and Central Europe, culminating in the slaughters of World War II. And Muller notes that a prime motivation was that Jews dominated areas of the economy and segments of the social class structure to which others aspired—a principal theme of my book Separation and Its Discontents.
This history of loss as a result of others’ ethnonationalism doubtless goes a long way toward explaining the main thrust of Jewish intellectual and political movements in the 20th Century—a principal theme of my book The Culture of Critique.
For example, the Jewish opposition to immigration policies favoring the European majority of the US dates back to before the immigration cut-off of the 1920s and spans the entire mainstream Jewish political spectrum, from the far left to the neoconservative right, to this day.
However, Jewish opposition to the ethnonationalism of Europeans and European-derived peoples is in remarkable contrast to their unswerving support for the Jewish ethnonationalist state of Israel — a rather glaring double standard, to say the least. There is a rather straightforward analogy of Jews as victims of nascent ethnonationalism in Europe and Palestinians as victims of nascent Jewish ethno nationalism in Israel. (And ex-President Carter, in his recent Peace Not Apartheid, triggered much hysteria by noting the similarities between the policing techniques of Israel and the Afrikaner ethnonationalist state of pre-1990 South Africa.)
As Muller notes: “Social scientists go to great lengths to demonstrate that [ethnonationalism] is a product not of nature but of culture, often deliberately constructed. And ethicists scorn value systems based on narrow group identities rather than cosmopolitanism. But none of this will make ethnonationalism go away.” (My emphasis –KM)
Indeed, a mainstay of the intellectual left since Franz Boas and his disciples came to dominate academic anthropology beginning in the 1920s has been a rejection of any theories that allow for biological influences on culture. A corollary is that different peoples and different cultures do not, therefore, have legitimate, biologically-based conflicts of interest.
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