us and them

the recent events in ukraine reminded me to remind you guys that, if you’ve never read it, you should read jerry z. muller‘s terrific 2008 piece for Foreign Affairs – “Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism” [pdf here]. it’s worth rereading periodically, too, since it’s so gosh durned excellent!:

“A familiar and influential narrative of twentieth-century European history argues that nationalism twice led to war, in 1914 and then again in 1939. Thereafter, the story goes, Europeans concluded that nationalism was a danger and gradually abandoned it. In the postwar decades, western Europeans enmeshed themselves in a web of transnational institutions, culminating in the European Union (EU). After the fall of the Soviet empire, that transnational framework spread eastward to encompass most of the continent. Europeans entered a postnational era, which was not only a good thing in itself but also a model for other regions. Nationalism, in this view, had been a tragic detour on the road to a peaceful liberal democratic order.

“[A] survey would show that whereas in 1900 there were many states in Europe without a single overwhelmingly dominant nationality, by 2007 there were only two, and one of those, Belgium, was close to breaking up. Aside from Switzerland, in other words — where the domestic ethnic balance of power is protected by strict citizenship laws — in Europe the ‘separatist project’ has not so much vanished as triumphed.

Far from having been superannuated in 1945, in many respects ethnonationalism was at its apogee in the years immediately after World War II. European stability during the Cold War era was in fact due partly to the widespread fulfillment of the ethnonationalist project. And since the end of the Cold War, ethnonationalism has continued to reshape European borders….

“Nineteenth-century liberals, like many proponents of globalization today, believed that the spread of international commerce would lead people to recognize the mutual benefits that could come from peace and trade, both within polities and between them. Socialists agreed, although they believed that harmony would come only after the arrival of socialism. Yet that was not the course that twentieth-century history was destined to follow. The process of ‘making the state and the nation commensurate’ took a variety of forms, from voluntary emigration (often motivated by governmental discrimination against minority ethnicities) to forced deportation (also known as ‘population transfer’) to genocide. Although the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ has come into English usage only recently, its verbal correlates in Czech, French, German, and Polish go back much further. Much of the history of twentieth-century Europe, in fact, has been a painful, drawn-out process of ethnic disaggregation.

“Massive ethnic disaggregation began on Europe’s frontiers. In the ethnically mixed Balkans, wars to expand the nation-states of Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia at the expense of the ailing Ottoman Empire were accompanied by ferocious interethnic violence. During the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, almost half a million people left their traditional homelands, either voluntarily or by force. Muslims left regions under the control of Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs; Bulgarians abandoned Greek-controlled areas of Macedonia; Greeks fled from regions of Macedonia ceded to Bulgaria and Serbia.

“World War I led to the demise of the three great turn-of-the-century empires, unleashing an explosion of ethnonationalism in the process. In the Ottoman Empire, mass deportations and murder during the war took the lives of a million members of the local Armenian minority in an early attempt at ethnic cleansing, if not genocide. In 1919, the Greek government invaded the area that would become Turkey, seeking to carve out a ‘greater Greece’ stretching all the way to Constantinople. Meeting with initial success, the Greek forces looted and burned villages in an effort to drive out the region’s ethnic Turks. But Turkish forces eventually regrouped and pushed the Greek army back, engaging in their own ethnic cleansing against local Greeks along the way. Then the process of population transfers was formalized in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne: all ethnic Greeks were to go to Greece, all Greek Muslims to Turkey. In the end, Turkey expelled almost 1.5 million people, and Greece expelled almost 400,000.”

et cetera, et cetera….

“Analysts of ethnic disaggregation typically focus on its destructive effects, which is understandable given the direct human suffering it has often entailed. But such attitudes can yield a distorted perspective by overlooking the less obvious costs and also the important benefits that ethnic separation has brought….

“But if ethnonationalism has frequently led to tension and conflict, it has also proved to be a source of cohesion and stability. When French textbooks began with ‘Our ancestors the Gauls’ or when Churchill spoke to wartime audiences of ‘this island race,’ they appealed to ethnonationalist sensibilities as a source of mutual trust and sacrifice. Liberal democracy and ethnic homogeneity are not only compatible; they can be complementary.

One could argue that Europe has been so harmonious since World War II not because of the failure of ethnic nationalism but because of its success, which removed some of the greatest sources of conflict both within and between countries. The fact that ethnic and state boundaries now largely coincide has meant that there are fewer disputes over borders or expatriate communities, leading to the most stable territorial configuration in European history.

“These ethnically homogeneous polities have displayed a great deal of internal solidarity, moreover, facilitating government programs, including domestic transfer payments, of various kinds. When the Swedish Social Democrats were developing plans for Europe’s most extensive welfare state during the interwar period, the political scientist Sheri Berman has noted, they conceived of and sold them as the construction of a folkhemmet, or ‘people’s home.’

“Several decades of life in consolidated, ethnically homogeneous states may even have worked to sap ethnonationalism’s own emotional power. Many Europeans are now prepared, and even eager, to participate in transnational frameworks such as the EU, in part because their perceived need for collective self-determination has largely been satisfied…..”

read the whole thing!

(note: comments do not require an email. us and them.)

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26 Comments

  1. I think Keith Lowe raises similar points in his book, Savage Continent. Yugoslavia remained a tinderbox because it was one of the few countries in Eastern Europe to remain predominantly multicultural.

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  2. Romania became less diverse – the Jews in the cities and market towns were killed (the last few moved away), and the Germans who had had a long presence there generally moved out as well. Serbs and Greeks largely merged into the general populations. The Hutsuls on the northern borders moved into Ukraine.

    But there are still significant Hungarian and Roma populations, especially in Transylvania. With the former, it’s working out better than it was, but as in the rest of Europe (where the concentrations are lower), the Roma population isn’t fitting in as nicely, even after centuries.

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  3. It’s very telling that one of the hallmarks of leftist anti-western ideology is the angry denunciation of European colonial policies that divided ethnic groups along artificial borders, which led to constant wars. They understand that the natural borders of humanity are along racial and ethnic lines and yet when it comes to white Western countries it’s all divide and conquer. These traitors know exactly what they’re doing.

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  4. The point is that Ukrainian sense of nationhood isn’t that old, and can be arguably said to have been made quite fast in the late 19th century.

    That’s what’s really interesting. That people are tribal should be obvious.

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  5. You could argue, I suppose, that the reason that Northern Ireland was subject to such a murderous terrorist campaign (apart from the USA’s support of the terrorists, of course) was that when Protestants were being expelled from the new Irish Free State, Roman Catholics were not expelled from the North. (Indeed, the Northern politicians stupidly argued for inclusion into the North of territory with large Roman Catholic majorities.)

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  6. “The point is that Ukrainian sense of nationhood isn’t that old, and can be arguably said to have been made quite fast in the late 19th century.” One could say the same for the USA.

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  7. Yes, exceptionally good.

    .

    “Doesn’t this support Robert Putnam’s research on diversity and its downside?”

    Yes, same thing different scale. Part of the mind-numbing wrongness of the multicult is they say they want to get away from the patchwork of nations to prevent war but what they are actually doing is recreating that patchwork on a smaller but much denser scale in every city. Prosperity is the only thing keeping a lid on it.

    .

    “The point is that Ukrainian sense of nationhood isn’t that old, and can be arguably said to have been made quite fast in the late 19th century.”

    That’s true of Ukraine as a whole but the central portion of the country had their own identity for a long time even if the label they were given by outside empires changed. Ukraine is a good example of the article in that internally it is split into three identities: Galicia, Ukraine and bits of Russia.

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  8. @Luke Ukrainian language

    I can’t vouch for the research; I’ve learned that in anthropology there is always some other research that concludes the opposite!

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  9. Robert Putnam’s research on diversity and its downside?” Yes the ‘hunkering down’ of whites Putnam talks about is a result of a deliberate policy to prevent social solidatity among the indiginous or ethnic majority population in tthe West. Imigrant diaspora’s are allowed to form tight communities of mutual assistance, but that is never legitimate for whites. Every single form of association in the West is prevented from fuctioning as a white community. So it’s silly to say ‘Several decades of life in consolidated, ethnically homogeneous states may even have worked to sap ethnonationalism’s own emotional power.’ The inexorible fragmentation of white community, and prevention of whites forming the ‘communities’ that are legitimate for immigrants is why white nationalism is helpless. EG, the BNP tried to exclude non-white members and was virtually bankrupted by a goverment quango taking legal action.

    i

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  10. “”Part of the mind-numbing wrongness of the multicult is they say they want to get away from the patchwork of nations to prevent war but what they are actually doing is recreating that patchwork on a smaller but much denser scale in every city. Prosperity is the only thing keeping a lid on it.”

    No. You can’t compare countries where there were cohesive communities to the West where any ethic community forming by the majority is actually illegal and stamped on very firmly indeed. The immigrant diasporas are cohesive, which only they are allowed to be, and they function as a wedge to fragment the indiginous communities in a way that the elite see as an unalloyed boon. It’s the ethnic majority cohesiveness that has to be dissolved for either of the liberal objectives to work (ie milticulturalism or intergration is the aim).

    London is the same size as it was in the 50’s but it’s half immigrant now. The cities are going to go completely. the patchwork will consist of different immigrant groups with strong identity in a surrounding puree of white british and mixed ethnicity. A large part of the mix will be black African. In Britain such relationships are surprising common among white girls who move to cities.

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  11. So, I presume the prediction will be that we will see a lot of self-segregation along ethnic lines? Isn’t this what we saw in urban areas in the Northeast in the early 20th century before the various European immigrant groups moved out into suburbia (and into other parts of the country) and integrated with the “general” population? It is also what we see in NYC, one of the most highly segregated cities in America at the neighborhood level (I think I recently read somewhere).

    If self-segregation is the future of America, on what scale can we expect to see it geographically outside our major metropolitan areas? At the state level? County? Municipal? Is Vermont a harbinger of the future?

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  12. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis will have their own little enclaves like Tower Hamlets, where they will they have the numbers to elect an MP in these areas. . Whites are not going to be allowed to segregate themselves. Interracial people are as common in England as in America now, which shows racial amalgamation not segregation is the trend in the UK. and not just in the white precariat who can’t afford to move.

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  13. @Sean

    “No. You can’t compare…”

    You’re looking at it solely from the point of view of white vs non-white. After the white population is removed the underlying reality becomes Pakistani vs Caribbean vs Bangladeshi vs Indian vs Chinese vs Egyptian vs Nigerian vs Tamil vs Albanian vs Iraqi etc

    The only thing keeping the lid on is prosperity.

    .

    @Luke

    “So, I presume the prediction will be that we will see a lot of self-segregation along ethnic lines? Isn’t this what we saw in urban areas in the Northeast in the early 20th century before the various European immigrant groups moved out into suburbia”

    Yes, with a level of conflict inversely proportional to prosperity.

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  14. Christians, Druze and Alawites did no turning on each other in Syria; they cooperated because they loath and fear the biggest single group. An analogue of the Alawites would be the white elite, who are dedicated to a project of reconstituting society on rational principles including global utility that means not privileging their own people. As the societal friction builds, the white elite will naturally have to blame the non-immigrants, and join with immigrant communities in taking away their ‘white privilege’.

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  15. @Sean

    “Christians, Druze and Alawites did no turning on each other in Syria”

    yes and it will be the same in western cities if and when the prosperity runs out, all the various small groups will ally into bigger factions just the same as nation states do except on a block by block basis instead of a country by country basis which was my original point – they think they are doing away with national / ethnic conflict but what they are doing is simply recreating it on a more densely packed scale – or at least the potential for it as it depends on prosperity.

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  16. Few (if any) political arrangements work indefinitely, but I think “empires” can function at least a tad better when different groups are effectively segregated into semi-sovereign territories. Isn’t this what Russia tries to do with its subdivisions?

    @Luke Lea:

    “… It is also what we see in NYC, one of the most highly segregated cities in America at the neighborhood level (I think I recently read somewhere).”

    Whatever you read is probably correct, although some boroughs here are less rigidly divided than others. The ethnic lines appear sharpest in Manhattan and Staten Island. My area, and Queens in general, seems to have a lot of bleed-through. It’s the closest thing to integration I see around these parts.

    The only monolithic populations to speak of are the sub-Saharan chiefdoms in our southeast, which I generally avoid.

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  17. I’m not sure I follow you but, factions will ally against the biggest potential threat to them and that has to be the biggest group and ethnic majority . The indigenous won’t be in a position to do anything, because their organisation and social capital must be what Putnam calls ‘ bridging’, ie an opening up to the other groups Complaints about segregation mean middle class at best white areas and white communities that the elite whites don’t lead. Non whites having tight little hierarchical groups is never considered that much of a problem.

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  18. @dearieme – “You could argue, I suppose, that the reason that Northern Ireland was subject to such a murderous terrorist campaign (apart from the USA’s support of the terrorists, of course) was that when Protestants were being expelled from the new Irish Free State, Roman Catholics were not expelled from the North.”

    absolutely. i read somewhere in some history book once-upon-a-time (please, don’t ask me to remember which one) that one of the original requirements of the planters who received permission to set up in ulster was that they were NOT supposed to hire or allow to remain on their lands any of the native catholic irish. but a lot of them failed to follow this little part of the deal. that was their first mistake right there! *facepalm*

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  19. @grey – “After the white population is removed the underlying reality becomes Pakistani vs Caribbean vs Bangladeshi vs Indian vs Chinese vs Egyptian vs Nigerian vs Tamil vs Albanian vs Iraqi etc. The only thing keeping the lid on is prosperity.”

    yes. these are the kinds of scary scenarios that worry me. =/

    Reply

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