The Utter Normality Of Ethno-Nationalism - 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 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.

Muller writes:

“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 Socialists 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 entirely 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 (PDF). 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

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.

But the data are quite clear: There are genetic distances between
different peoples and different peoples therefore have legitimate
conflicts of interest. And: there are deep psychological roots to
ethnocentrism that make us attracted to and more trusting of
genetically similar others. (PDF)

These biological realities will not simply disappear, no matter how
fervently social scientists and other political and cultural elites
wish they would.

But that does not mean that these realities cannot be repressed—at
least temporarily. The response of the Left has been to entrench a
culture of “political correctness” in which expressions of
ethnocentrism by Europeans are proscribed. Organizations such as the
Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League seek
draconian penalties against such expressions by Europeans—and only
Europeans. Many European countries and Canada have savage legal
penalties that enforce intellectual conformity on these issues. In
America the sanctions are more informal—but nevertheless similarly

Whatever the drawbacks to ethnic nationalism (and the most obvious is
the bloodshed that sometimes accompanies the creation of ethnostates),
it has at least three overriding advantages expressed or implied by

* As also noted by Frank Salter, because of closer ties of kinship
and culture, ethnically homogeneous societies are more likely to be
open to redistributive policies such as social welfare.

* Sociologists such as Robert Putnam have also shown that ethnic
homogeneity is associated with greater trust of others and greater
political participation.

* And finally, as noted also by historians of European
modernization, ethnic homogeneity may well be a precondition of
political systems characterized by democracy and rule of law.

Political correctness in the West cannot be maintained without
constantly ratcheting up the social controls on individual thought and
behavior. Western societies will experience increased ethnic conflict.
Their governments will increasingly be obliged to enact draconian
penalties for deviations from political correctness. And probably also
to “correct” ethnic imbalances in social status and political power—
much as the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires of old were forced in their
declining years to constantly bargain with rising ethnic pressure
groups. Democracy, representative government, and freedom will be
likely casualties.

Finally, Muller’s essay is interesting in that it highlights how
normal ethno national strivings are, even among Europeans.

In a very short period, Europe and European-derived societies, which
had achieved an unprecedented level of ethnic homogeneity following
World War II, have developed a stifling political correctness, in
which any tiny vestige of ethnocentrism on the part of Europeans is
crushed with all the power the ruling elites can muster. This is
taking place while the rest of the world continues to undergo
modernization via the creation of ethno states. Muller’s essay makes
one realize that this multicultural fad really may be just a phase—and
a backwardly echoing phase at that, recalling the failed multicultural
empires of the pre-modern era.

The climate of anti-ethnocentrism in the West is utterly anomalous,
and set against the rest of the world. In my own writing, I have
emphasized biologically-based European tendencies toward individualism
and relative lack of ethnocentrism as flaws that have predisposed
European whites to these tactical blunders. And I have emphasized how
political correctness works at the psychological level (PDF) to
suppress the legitimate ethnic aspirations of Europeans.

However, Muller’s essay reminds us that Europeans have a long history
of ethnic conflict. Ethnic nationalism was a precondition of European
modernization. It also reminds us that, whatever their tendencies
toward individualism, Europeans certainly also have sufficient levels
of ethnocentrism to assert their interests and to establish ethnically
homogeneous states of their own.

As Muller points out, though, the process is can be ugly. Just ask the
Israelis—and the Palestinians.

Finally, as Muller notes, ethnic homogeneity is compatible with—
perhaps conducive to—liberal democracy. At a theoretical level, this
is because ethnic conflict produces deep, frequently irreconcilable
divisions within a society and ultimately, causes group-based
competition for resources and political power. These can be very hard
to mediate.

The difficulty of establishing democracy and the rule of law in
societies divided by ethnic conflict is a major theme of the
contemporary world.

So is the campaign to bully European-stock whites, alone of all the
world’s groups, to forswear ethnocentric politics and consequently to
fatally disable themselves in an unchangingly ethnocentric world.

Kevin MacDonald is Professor of Psychology at California State
University-Long Beach.