Rat's Nest
Bloggage, rants, and occasional notes of despair

Nations of nationals

Via Charles Johnsonís Little Green Footballs comes this link to a Daniel Pipes interview on the differences between "nations of citizens" and "nations of inhabitants".

In considering only the U.S. versus the Muslim world, I think that Pipesí analysis is quite accurate. In the larger context, taking into account the rest of the world, however, I think that he leaves out the "nation of tribesmen".

Europe is the home of the tribe par excellence, although itís possible to find examples of tribal states in Asia. The tribe is viewed, internally and to a considerable extent externally, as being united by mystic ties of blood, language, and culture. The Auslander, save in exceptional circumstances, can never be adopted or assimilated into the tribe. The ultimate Ė and ultimately vile Ė expression of this view was the Nazi regime in Germany; the superficially more benign phenomenon of Gastarbeiter in the 1970s, however, pointed the way to the unassimilated Muslim populations in the U.K., France, Germany, and other European nations today. Multiculturalism is merely the scholastic expression of this tribal attitude; the mystic ties prevent between a tribe and its culture prevents them from ever being assimilated.

At the other extreme are Pipesí "nations of inhabitants", living in the territory that a particular tyrant has mastered. This is the case in Africa and much of Asia; in Latin America, we see the case of "nation of inhabitants" evolving into "nations of tribesmen" over the past two hundred years. In the past, both tribes and arbitrary dominions fought it out for dominance when they could; a tribal chieftain often converted his tribe into an aristocracy to achieve empire.

The third element today, of course, is the "nation of citizens" or "nation of ideas", a notion that prevails, to a greater or lesser extent throughout the Anglosphere, including the United States. It has been said that America is the only nation one can study to become a citizen of, although this is an exaggeration that might be overlooked for the sake of the aphorism. This is not to deny that America contains both tribal and arbitrary elements (in many cases, the "tribe" conjured up is merely the vision of would-be tyrants), but, despite the best efforts of the chatterati, they are not and have never been dominant.

Empire has traditionally been the unification of many tribes under a government that is little more than a self-perpetuating police measure (or so they have begun). If America must be the nucleus of Empire (and, as I have written before, I have little hope that it will not be, and less hope that there will not be an Empire of some sort in this century), let be the nucleus of an Empire of Ideas, and not of an Empire of Order, as has so many times been tried in the past.

John "Akatsukami" Braue Sunday, July 21, 2002