(This is an edited version of an article originally published at The Council of European Canadians)
To most Westerners today, the words ‘nation’, ‘nationality’ and ‘law’ seem only to mean the state, citizenship, and legislation enacted by the state. But there are other meanings to these words, which were their primary and even sole meanings in the past. The nation was once the ethnic group, the tribe at large — nationality being one’s ethnicity. Likewise, the law was once the customs of the kin-group; in Europe. So how is it that kinship is ignored by Western states as the criteria for citizenship? And is there a future for the original understanding of these words?
Ricardo Duchesne points out that the rise of Western nation-states, including the US, was not based on civic nationalism, noting their ‘White-only’ immigration policies. He writes,
The nations of Europe were not mere “inventions” or functional requirements of modernity, but were factually rooted in the past, in common myths of descent, a shared history, and a distinctive cultural tradition. While the rise of modern industry and modern bureaucracies allowed for the materialization of nation states in Europe, these nations were primordially based on a population with a collective sense of kinship.
Aliens (foreigners) have always been granted special rules, notably, being treated according to the law of their own people; this wasn’t because they had the wrong passport, but because they were simply not of one’s nation. Many today will presume this was just ancient tribalism, fuelled by irrational xenophobia. Rather, as Duchesne notes, the modern liberal democracy of the West denies the biological impulse to protect one’s own and mistakenly assumes that this denial and even the individualistic, classical liberal ideals of the West, are shared by all the peoples of the world:
Humans are social animals with a natural impulse to identify themselves collectively in terms of ethnic, cultural and racial markers. But today Europeans have wrongly attributed their unique inclination for states with liberal constitutions to non-Europeans. They have forgotten that liberal states were created by a particular people with a particular individualist heritage, beliefs, and religious orientations… They don’t want to admit openly that all liberal states were created violently by a people with a sense of peoplehood laying sovereign rights over an exclusive territory against other people competing for the same territory. They don’t want to admit that the members of the competing outgroups are potential enemies rather than abstract individuals seeking a universal state that guarantees happiness and security for all regardless of racial and religious identity.
This liberal ignorance of racial impulses only really became institutionalised as late as the 1960’s, with the rise of cultural Marxism. Of course, it became more fashionable to distance oneself from ethnic and racial discrimination as this became increasingly associated with the defeated nations of WWII (as though they were the only ones with such considerations). But, as with much of classical liberalism, the basis of this anti-racialism was inspired by the same hyper-individualism which grew out of the Enlightenment and has since reduced Westerners to mere economic units, void of any meaningful cultural identity.
With the demonisation of those who sincerely take racial and other socio-biological considerations of social order into account, Western nations were primed to accept universalistic and civic notions of citizenship.
Right of Blood
The law relating to citizenship around the world is based on the two Greco-Roman legal concepts — jus sanguinis (right of blood) and jus soli (right of soil). The latter grants citizenship if one is born within the national territory and was famously imposed by Napoleonic France, granting citizenship to many foreign slaves. But the right of blood, that is, citizenship granted to children of citizens, is not exercised as a radical alternative, as this most commonly goes hand-in-hand with jus soli.
Only a matter of a few decades ago, ‘British’ still primarily had an ethnic meaning but, today, the civic meaning is dominant by far. Of course, as Francis Fukuyama shows in his book, Trust, cultural homogeneity is a prerequisite to developing high trust societies with Western values and sound markets. But, we cannot ignore biology, that is, the interplay of genes, culture and environment – what Greg Cochran and the late Henry Harpending called the ‘endless dance of biological and cultural change’, in their brilliant book, The 10,000 Year Explosion.
Civic nationalism is an unsustainable mistake which leaves the ethnic groups of Europeans vulnerable to aliens more conscious of their ethnic loyalties and willing to take advantage of the democratic system which pits all conceivable groups against each other in a competition to wield political power. We must not be blind to ethnic nepotism — we are all, as individuals, in competition with others over resources in order to achieve our aims, whatever they may be. But we do not just compete for ourselves but our families also, other associations too perhaps; nor do we use brute force but other political and economic means.
Biology draws a line where we humans are prepared to stretch our altruism. Ordinarily, we only really care about our immediate family; what sort of parent wouldn’t put their child’s interests before those of another? But, Frank Salter, in On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration, argues that groups who share a greater percentage of their genes form ‘ethnies’ — biological populations that will act for the welfare of the group in times of need. Thus, when endangered, ethnic groups extend their protective impulses to ethnic kinship, as a natural extension of family kinship.
Those who would find such a grouping too vague of a definition should recognize that, for example, half of Europeans are descended from a single Indo-European king and should study further the fact that our nations have been largely homogeneous through most of history. The Japanese, as one of many other examples, do not have such a problem identifying their own.
As a strongly libertarian lover of Western civilization, to which such individualism is unique, it is important to me that the natural, socio-biological order of the European civilizations is maintained. Indeed, it should be important to all of us with a preference for our own societies and cultures. As Richard Dawkins rightly pointed out, we are machines, blindly programmed by selfish genes for their preservation.