Thermidor

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Trouble in the European Diaspora

Recently here at Thermidor, we've hosted several fascinating pieces by Titus Cinninatus concerning the reality of Post-National models for European Identity. While he makes many excellent points, I do have some qualms with his ideas—which admittedly haven't been laid out in full detail yet though the basic outline is generally clear.

While Titus is correct that the nation-state model being defended by most of the New Right-Wing Nationalism sweeping the globe is dying. If for no other reason than that the people populating its administrative area (its "state") simply no longer identify with the "nation" part of their nation-states. Or as Titus put it:

Narratives of these nations being oppressed by “globalists” fall flat when one realizes that most Westerners outside of Eastern Europe see themselves not as members of an ethnic nation, but as colorblind communities of people whose ethnic or racial similarities are politically irrelevant to them. The most agency rests in the ethnic nation itself in suppressing its ethnic nationalism. Otherwise, there would simply be too large of a politically nationalist majority for it to be discarded...

The reality is that Europeans and Eurocolonials in the aggregate do not believe their own nations matter enough to be perpetuated as demographic majorities inside what were once their nation-states. While an extremely grim picture for people who believe in celebrating and continuing our Western heritage and legacy for generations to come, the problem is ultimately one of attachment to a form of social organization, that of the nation-state. The notion that “we” will become minorities in “our own countries” is not appealing to us, but it is of no negative political consequence to everyone else. A minority of Westerners care about this (and of that minority, some actually celebrate becoming a minority as atonement for racism or colonialism, etc.). As the minority that cares about this from a self-interested perspective and not one of masochism, we need to ask ourselves different questions about how to continue our traditions, our cultures, and our lines. We need to think in the terms of the world we are living in, a de-nationalized world.

In my estimation, it is now extremely difficult for any but the most naive of civic or even ethno nationalists (of which, admittedly there are many) to sincerely argue that doubling down on this model will be the key to the future they long for. Western nation-states long ago ceased to be legitimate "nations" which housed particular peoples and have instead, for better or worse, now merely become "states" administered by a class of managerial technocrats who view the citizens which inhabit them as merely consumer units to be managed. As Cincinnatus pointed out, it would be one thing if this phenomenon was purely imposed from above upon an otherwise traditionalist populace, but this is obviously not the case. Most individuals who identify as "European" throughout the West, but particularly in the Anglo-American world, do so, at best, in a profoundly superficial way. Even if their grandparents were European immigrants, the residual cultural heritage they bequeath to their grandchildren consists, outside of peculiar ethnically homogeneous pockets, mostly of recipes for ethnic food or a habit of getting ritually intoxicated and stumbling down the street every year on Saint Patrick's day.

The immigrant grandparents and others may bemoan this depreciation of "European Cultural Heritage" yet the fact that it happened as it did should surprise precisely no one. This cultural dissolution was, after all, part of the deal these immigrants made when they came to America: they would abandon the old world and all its works in exchange for a new life of potentially unimaginable wealth and opportunity in North America. The American nation made good on its end of the bargain and the fact that some of the other parties may be experiencing buyer's remorse as they watch their grandchildren drift listlessly through life, consider gender reassignment surgery, or die of a heroin overdose at the tender age of 24 doesn't negate the legitimacy of the contract.

But let's return to the issue at hand: Cincinnatus's prescription for a new transnational diaspora to counter the ills of a rootless and miserable modern culture. The prescription itself is certainly not bad per se, as many ethnic groups (from the Amish to Sikhs to Orthodox Jews etc.) seem to have made it work. That being said, almost all of the groups in question seem to have something which modern members of the so-called "European Diaspora" lack, namely a religious context to structure their transnational identities. Legitimate religions generally provide not only a system of morality and belief but also a narrative structure or flow to communal life i.e. feast and fast days, religious ceremonies, as well as a plethora of unwritten social codes and customs. The closest most European (or "White") communities in America today get to this "communal narrative" creation is on the Superbowl or Black Friday when they indulge in the sacred American ritual of mass consumption for its own sake.

At the end of the day the question ultimately comes back to what exactly is Cincinnatus's "European Diaspora" actually attempting to preserve? Is it the bloodless, bourgeois culture of the American Upper Middle class? The plodding, mechanical intelligence of the Anglo homo economicus? Is it the Super Bowl and Black Friday and a two car garage? If so, you can count me out of any attempt to "save it." Of course, I doubt this is what Cincinnatus is actually referring to. Instead, I presume he means "Western Culture" as a whole: Shakespeare, Dante, The Mona Lisa etc. But, as desirable as these things most certainly are, they do not in and of themselves constitute a living culture. They are not narratives which structure communal life, rather they become merely a set of museum pieces or relics which can be venerated by history nerds before the midday duel at the renaissance fair.

This being the case I'll be curious to observe exactly how intelligent individuals, such as Cincinnatus, attempt to address these difficulties.