Learning from the EU Experiment (II): Intra-European Diversity Is Also a Challenge

There is a tendency, particularly but not only, among North American White advocates to downplay the ethno-national, linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe. Richard Spencer has argued that “the Herman Van Rompuys of the world can become our useful idiots in building the infrastructure for a racial and civilizational Superstate on the European continent.” Some European nationalists, such as French New Right writer Guillaume Faye, have argued the same point.

The idea of nationalists hijacking the European Union is an interesting one. But one lesson of the EU experience is that intra-European diversity often poses many of the same problems as inter-continental diversity. Pan-European activists, so quick to see the problems of multiracial and Muslim/Christian diversity, should not forget intra-European diversity — whether linguistic, religious, regional or of any cultural or ethnic type — typically poses similar problems within a given polity.

The EU, with 500 million citizens from 28 countries speaking 24 languages, provides many examples of how this diversity, a wonderful thing and a major source of European civilization’s historic greatness, can become a problem when you try to jam different peoples into the same regime. Many of the Union’s problems today stem from its multiethnic character: Germans, French, Britons, Greeks, etc., do not identify with one another, have different levels of performance (thus increasing inequality), are not willing to share economic burdens (thus reducing the means to fight inequality), are not willing to submit to the laws of a “foreign” European majority. Cultural-linguistic differences mean mutual comprehension is often lacking, and decision-making and even aesthetics are ruined by the need to cater to each ethnic group’s particular tribal sensitivities. The result is that the EU, like other multiethnic regimes, is dysfunctional, sclerotic and culturally barren.

The solution, as Raymond Aron argued, is the ethnically-cohesive Nation-State, in which the brutality of the State and factionalism within the Nation are softened or even sublimated through spontaneous identification, solidarity and cohesion both within the people and between the people and the ruling elite.

The problems of ethno-national diversity are in evidence in the EU’s absolute lack of popular budgetary solidarity. While national governments often spend 40% of GDP, with massive transfers between groups, net transfers through the EU budget are paltry. On a per capita basis, Germany contributes about €110 per year and Britain €90 to other EU countries. Nonetheless, British Prime Ministers and German Chancellors continue to bang on the table to reduce these contributions — to shift EU funding from redistributive development projects in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe to R&D projects largely in Western Europe — because it pays political dividends to do so. The German, Frenchman or Briton does not want to see his hard-earned money go to a Pole or a Greek, whether he is a White European or not.

One also sees stark national differences in the very interpretation of the EU, as everyone sees the organization through his national lens: The French seeing an Europe puissance independent from the United States, the British seeing a glorified free trade area, and the Germans seeing an extension of the D-Mark zone or perhaps an embryonic State of “multi-level governance” modeled on their Federal Republic. These stark differences in assumptions make dialogue difficult.

Finding a common culture is also difficult, as seen in the Eurovision song contest, an unbelievably kitschy and camp annual competition of European countries, including non-EU members like Russia and even non-European countries like Israel and Azerbaijan. The reigning liberal ideology and need to appeal to the lowest common denominator across countries mean that most of the songs have no distinctively “European” culture at all but are just generic English-language pop. In the 2014 contest, this included outright denigration of European culture with a crude song sexualizing traditional Polish peasant women and the victory of a bearded transvestite. Again, liberal multiculturalism actually impoverishes culture. In the 1950s and 60s, when the national cultures were stronger, it was more common for Eurovision contestants to sing in their national language, including beautiful songs by France Gall [French], Corry Brokken [Dutch] or Gigliola Cinquetti [Italian].

In general however, I personally think the EU’s problems are basically manageable with the notable exception of the eurozone. The Union is very diverse but this diversity is not too problematic because it is not too much of a polity, having a small budget and little direct intrusion in national life. To share a common currency in contrast is to give up a core State pouvoir régalien to transnational authorities, who will then hold direct economic powers over the nations and take decisions implying controversial trade-offs in terms of economic performance and distribution of wealth. Who pays, who gains?

The eurozone is both the EU’s most “advanced” area of integration and its most disastrous. I do not think this is a coincidence but a necessary consequence of intra-European diversity and lack of solidarity between European ethnoi (nations). Ironically, high eurozone officials appear quite aware of this, as European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi has observed that: “The Dutch have a problem with paying for the Greeks, but not with paying for other Dutch.”

I do not want to get too much into the technical, often boring intricacies of the eurozone and its dysfunctions. But here are some examples of the eurozone as an aesthetic, economic, social and democratic disaster.

A striking example of these problems is offered by the very aesthetics of the common currency. Euro bills have no real-life historical figures and even the bridges and architecture they feature are imaginary. The name “euro” itself evokes nothing (the French for a time fantasized that the original name, European Currency Unit (ECU), stood for écu, a medieval French currency).

This was intentional. Because the eurozone is multinational, consensus demanded that the common currency be designed so blandly as to offend no national sensitivity. As is paradoxically common in “multicultural” settings, this meant erasing cultural and historic figures. This meant not only that any figure found “offensive” to any nation would be unacceptable (e.g. Bismarck for the French, Napoleon to the Germans), but indeed any figure identified with any country had to be avoided, because otherwise every other country would complain they did not have a national hero or piece of architecture included. Thus, Plato, Charles Martel, Nietzsche and other European heroes do not grace “Europe’s money.” There is no day-to-day reminder of what Europeans at their best were and what they can aspire to be.

The absurdity of the founders of the euro was that they recognized no consensus was possible — even on the aesthetics of banknotes — but that there would be enough consensus to manage a 12 trillion-dollar economy. (As an addendum, the European Central Bank (ECB) has recently begun issuing new €5 and €10 bills with, for the first time, a face: the woman Europa of Greek mythology now (almost invisibly) appears in the hologram and watermark. I suppose it’s a start.)

The negative consequences of intra-European diversity on the euro are also visible in its architecture and day-to-day management of the currency union:

  • The Germans demanded that the ECB be “above” democratic institutions and that hard money be locked into its mandate, rightly fearing that accountability to majoritarian elected bodies would probably lead to a more flexible, inflationist approach.
  • Tolerance for transfers of wealth across national borders — typical between states within federations like the U.S. or Germany — is extremely low. Economists have argued such transfers are necessary when other adjustment mechanisms, such as devaluation, are not available. Since 2010, there have been endless excruciating negotiations on bailouts of eurozone countries, the resulting games of chicken often leading to financial instability and ill will. The Germans resent bailing out the Greeks, the Greeks resent being told what to do by the Germans.
  • The ECB is banned from directly lending to national governments, again because of fears that this would lead to cross-national redistribution, rendering them dependent on financial markets. This has meant that formerly sovereign states are disastrously vulnerable to usury. Italy’s debt in particular is largely artificial and would be dramatically lower if it could directly lend from its own central bank, rather than see 4–6% of GDP being sucked up by the transnational financial sector every year. Italian public debate is surprisingly mature on this question — Italians being obsessed with lo spread, the extra price Italy pays for lending compared to other countries — perhaps due to influence of neofascist groups like CasaPound and populist ones like the Five-Star Movement (M5S). (See: Ezra Pound reading “With Usura.”)

Economist Paul Krugman spent a good part of his early punditry in the 1990s explaining why the lack of common consciousness would cause problems for the euro. As he argued in 1998:

But while the ultimate if rarely acknowledged purpose of a unified currency is to move Europe toward the long-run goal of political union, at this point euroland is anything but ready to think of itself as a nation.

Of course, Krugman would never acknowledge that the disintegration of national identity due to non-European immigration could lead to similar problems in the United States. (One wonders how long historical White figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln be celebrated when the U.S. becomes a majority non-White country.)

The result has been an authoritarian and dysfunctional economic system making eurozone nations particularly vulnerable to boom and bust, transnational financial speculation and usury, foreign competition, and all the other dangers of the globalized world economy. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at 11.5%, a mere 0.5 point drop in the past 18 months, much of it probably attributable to part-time work and labor force dropout. Youth unemployment is staggeringly high, often including over one-in-two job-seekers in Greece and Spain.

From a demographic point of view, the effects of the euro crisis have been mixed. On the one hand, many will rejoice that crisis countries — Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland — have seen a drop in non-European immigration due to lack of jobs. (The hordes assailing Spain or landing at Lampedusa push on to greener pastures, notably Britain and Germany.) On the other hand, the crisis has worsened Europe’s catastrophic demographic collapse, with a fall in fertility and increase in emigration from the periphery.

The point here is not give a comprehensive assessment of the eurozone or the current financial-economic system. I am not claiming that the Bank of England or the Federal Reserve are less corrupt or that our financialized, globalized economy more generally is sustainable. I actually think the eurozone’s “Prussian” emphasis on sound money and living within one’s means is healthy in principle. But I do think there is something profoundly sick about boomer-run nations acting as though “nothing can be done” and that their young people have no alternative to bumhood or emigration. (Of course, many of these countries have a history of emigration, but that was before their fertility rates fell to 1.3–1.4.) It is the sign of a wider sickness.

The point is that the eurozone has particular dysfunctions because of intra-European diversity and this diversity would also pose challenges in an eventual nationalist Europe. Whiteness is not enough. And while genetic proximity is certainly helpful, ethno-national, linguistic, regional, cultural and other diversity also pose problems within a single State.

While genetic kinship may be the evolutionary rationale for ethnocentrism — and therefore genetically close peoples like the French and Germans should in principle get along — the fact is that religion (when people believe) and especially language are markers upon which the ethnocentric impulse becomes fixated. These markers come to define in- and out-group identity. All multiracial, multiethnic and multilingual countries (with the possible exception of Switzerland) are dysfunctional because clashing ethnic loyalties overwhelm and do not coincide with the political community.  The universality of these trends means that ethno-nationalists can have confidence that anti-nationalist opponents are building a castle resting on foundations antithetical to human nature. We can take heart that their Utopian project is fundamentally based on falsehoods and will therefore, sooner or later, prove unsustainable.

In an electoral regime, a multiethnic society provides irresistible incentives for politicians to race-bait. They will appeal to whatever triggers support in their constituents. How could politicians resist appealing to ethnocentrism, that most powerful, evolutionarily-determined drive to stand by one’s kin in the face of danger? The key for the “democratic” politician is to trigger the base with enough coded signals to get elected and then go about serving their real plutocratic or neoconservative constituency. Schizophrenically, “right-wing” media like Fox News or the Daily Mail will endlessly dog whistle and race-bait, but do not allow any intellectually sophisticated or politically coherent ethnic program to be presented.

These mechanisms are depressingly well-known in the U.S. Republican Party: pro-life, “welfare queens,” guns,  Terri Schiavo, flag-burning, gay marriage, etc, are so many forms of race-baiting or of cryptic appeals to the (White) Christian ethnocentrism, which allow Republicans to get elected so they can then ignore fundamental racial-ethnic problems (above all immigration) and cut taxes for their campaign contributors. After 9/11, anti-Muslim animus and American nationalism were stoked among Whites, this energy then being diverted by the Bush Administration to destroy Iraq, one of the enemies of Israel.

One finds the exact principle at work in all European countries, although obviously the issues and vocabulary may differ. In France, former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign was a perfect example of media-savvy race-baiting – saying just the right things on secularism and crime – in order to get the nationalist vote, while having no nationalist program.

The truth, whether one finds it depressing or not, is that the same incentives to race-bait would exist in an all-White, multiethnic European Superstate. As a result, in my view, the degree of power of any pan-European authorities should be strictly proportionate to the real feeling of pan-European identity and solidarity across European nations.

Those wondering what a European Superstate would look like need only look to English-/French-speaking Canada and Dutch-/French-speaking Belgium. The countries are dominated by ethno-politics and constant awkward compromising between the two main ethnic groups. In the case of Belgium, the main Flemish party has successfully won elections by baiting allegedly wasteful, lazy, welfare-prone Francophones, while the main Francophone party (the Socialists) wants more equality and handouts. These dynamics are the consequence of the fact that Flanders is richer than French-speaking Belgium, and of the very real cultural differences and lack of ethnic solidarity between the two. A nationalist Europe will not eliminate these forms of ethnic conflict, but it would limit them where possible by giving each ethnic group its sovereign polity. As Gregory Hood as argued:

Even if we could establish an order that would render such [ethnic] competition non-violent, tribal conflict would still continue. In tiny Belgium for example, the Flemish, Walloons, and German speakers fiercely contend over money, language rights, and control over public institutions even as the country fills with Muslims from the Third World. If the Flemish succeed in achieving independence, even in the context of an entirely White Europe, new battles would ensue that can only be solved with political or physical struggle. An Identitarian utopia in some future Europa would get us no closer to an objectively “correct” answer about who gets to control the historically Flemish but now largely Francophone city of Brussels.

Politicians will do whatever it takes to gain political power. Metapolitical intellectuals should know better however. Opportunistic race-baiting is antithetical to principled nationalism: The low race-baiter appeals to a natural impulse in humans in order to serve alien ethno-plutocratic interests, while the principled nationalist appeals to these sentiments both as part of a legitimate cultural struggle (society needing national cohesion, belief and aspiration, a sense of purpose, of self-esteem, indeed of selfhood) and to implement policies which actually address ethnic problems (namely by halting immigration or through secession). In this sense, the multiculturalism of left and right, where White and non-White ethnocentrism is stoked for electoral gain without solving fundamental problems, is deeply hypocritical. In contrast, in being both truthful and serving the common good, the nationalist project is deeply moral.

14 replies

Comments are closed.