The Definition of a People
By Guillaume Faye
People: An ethnic ensemble — biological, historical, cultural — with a territory, its fatherland, in which it is rooted.
‘The people’ — the very term is suspect to the cosmopolitan Left, which sees it as bordering on the politically incorrect — is not any statistical ‘population’; it’s an organic community embracing a transcendent body made up of ancestors, the living, and their heirs. Though marked with a certain spirituality, a people is diachronically rooted in the past and projects itself into the future — it’s submerged in biological and genetic matter, but at the same time it’s a historical, and spiritual, reality.
It’s belonging to a specific people that distinguishes a man and makes him human. Though modern Western egalitarian doctrines reduce peoples to indifferent socioeconomic aggregates, peoples actually constitute the organic bases of the human race; similarly, such doctrines conceive of the ideal man as an individual ‘emancipated’ from his organic attachments — like an undifferentiated cell in a human magma.
It’s necessary to recall, especially for certain Christians, that a people’s attachment is incompatible with Christianity’s present cosmopolitanism. The claim, for example, that ‘I am closer to an African Catholic than I am to a non-Christian European’ is a universalistic claim that relegates a people’s nation to something of secondary significance. This is, indeed, the great drama of European Christianity, marked as it is by Pauline universalism. A Catholic attached to his people and conscious of the biological and cultural dangers threatening them might instead say, ‘I respect all the Christians of the world, but hic et nunc I fight for my people above all, whatever their religion’.
The Jesuit spirit might resolve the contradiction in reference to the Old Testament’s Hebraic tradition: ‘Babel — the mélange of disparate peoples — is a punishment from God, Who wants His peoples to be separate and diverse — humanity is one in Heaven, but multiple on Earth’. *
Arab Islam has no difficulty reconciling the notion of people (the ‘Arab nation’) with that of its universalism. The Jews, on their side, have similarly reconciled a ferocious defence of their ethnicity — their singularity — with their religion, however theoretically monotheistic and universalist it may be. At no moment have Judaism and Islam, unlike the Christian Churches today, engaged in doubting, guiltstroking diatribes against ‘xenophobia’ and ethnocentrism. They are not masochistic . . .
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Like every anthropological notion, ‘people’ lacks mathematical rigour. A people doesn’t define itself as a homogeneous biocultural totality, but as a relationship. It’s the product of an organic alchemy that brings various ‘sub-peoples’ together. The Bretons, Catalans, Scots, etc., can be seen thus as the sub-peoples of a larger people — the Europeans.
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We ought to highlight the ambiguity that touches the notion of the people. The universalist ideology of the French Revolution confused the idea of the people with that of an ‘ensemble of inhabitants who jurisdictionally possess nationality’, whatever their origin. Given the facts of mass immigration and naturalisation, the notion of the French people has been greatly diluted (as have the British or German peoples, for the same reason). This is why (without broaching the unresolvable issue of what constitutes a ‘regional people’ or a ‘national people’), it’s advisable to dialectically transcend semantic problems — and affirm the historic legitimacy of a single, European people, historically bound, whose different national families resemble one another in having, for thousands of years, the same ethnocultural and historical origins. Despite national, linguistic, or tribal differences, haven’t African Blacks, even in Europe, been called on by Nelson Mandela or the Senegalese Mamadou Diop to ‘think like one people’? From Nasser to al-Qadhafi, by way of Arafat, haven’t Arabs been urged to see themselves as an Arab people? Why don’t Europeans have the same right to see themselves as a people?
As for ‘regional peoples’, it’s necessary to oppose Left-wing regionalists, self-professed anti-Jacobins and anti-globalists, who unhesitatingly accept the concept of French or American jus soli — who confuse citizens and residents, and who recognise as Bretons, Alsatians, Corsicans, etc., anyone (even of non-European origin) who lives in these regions and chooses to accept such an identity.
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In belonging to a people, its members are emotionally inclined to define themselves as such, which implies political affiliation. For this reason, we say that a people exists at that point where biological, territorial, cultural, and political imperatives come together. But in no case does mere cultural or linguistic attachment suffice in making a people, if they have no common biological roots. Alien immigrants from people X who are installed on the territory of people Y — even if they adopt cultural elements of their host people — are not a part of Y. As De Gaulle thought, there might be minor exceptions for small numbers of compatible (White) minorities, capable of being assimilated, but this could never be the case for, say, French West Indians.
Similarly, in defining the notion of a people, territorial or geopolitical considerations must also be taken into account. A people is not a diaspora: the Jews felt obliged to reconquer Palestine as their ‘promised land’ because, as Theodor Herzl argued, ‘without a promised land, the Jews are just a religious diaspora, a culture, a union, but not a people’.
There’s a good deal of talk today, on the Left and the Right, about people being ‘deterritorialised’. In reality, there’s nothing of the kind. Every healthy people, even if they possess an important diaspora (Chinese, Arabs, Indians, etc.), maintains close relations with its fatherland.
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Modernist gurus have long claimed that the future belongs not to peoples, but to humanity conceived as a single people. Again, there’ll be nothing of the kind. Despite globalisation and in reaction to it, the Twenty-first century will more than ever be a century of distinct peoples…
Note (for the New European Conservative):
* This is not necessarily the only way for a Christian to reconcile the concept of distinction between peoples with the Christian religion, since throughout history Christianity has been interpreted in numerous different ways. Many Christian conservatives and nationalists in the past have in fact argued that humanity is divided into distinct and separate peoples, and in some manner continues to be so in Heaven (similarly to many Pagans who believed that peoples continue to exist in the Afterlife [excluding those Pagans who believed exclusively in reincarnation]).
From: Faye, Guillaume. Why We Fight: Manifesto for the European Resistance. London: Arktos Media, 2011, pp. 211-213.