Practices of Ethnic Separatism – Tudor

Practices of Separatism

(Excerpt from “The Philosophy of Identity”)

By Lucian Tudor

 

Introductory Note: The following text is an excerpt from a larger essay titled “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought.” While this discussion of types of separatism can stand on its own, we believe it is important for readers to have some awareness of the context in order to not have misunderstandings. In earlier parts of “The Philosophy of Identity,” Lucian Tudor discussed the forms and importance of ethno-cultural identity, the necessity of having ethno-cultural groups live in distinct areas in order to maintain their cultural integrity and traditionality (thus rejecting “multiculturalism” and the “melting pot”), and why doing so is not in and of itself “racist” or “xenophobic.”

It is important to realize, in this regard, that the term “separatism” here is used in a very general sense, referring to any form of systematic or structural separation of ethnic and racial groups. It does not necessarily imply any form cultural or ethnic isolationism, for Tudor had already discussed the importance of inter-cultural dialogue and contact, and we can add to that also that foreigners visiting one’s country and having areas of inter-ethnic contact are acceptable as well. What really counts in the case of separatism is that there is no massive mixing which will threaten the existence of distinct ethno-cultural groups, that the various ethno-cultural groups have their own territory to exist in – which is the exact opposite of the Western-style multicultural system.

Finally, we can say that Tudor’s discussion of types of separatism is useful in understanding why the New Right rejects old-fashioned nationalism in favor of the imperial or federalistic model of separatism. While nationalists claim that their model is the only valid way to maintain ethno-cultural integrity, there have been many successful examples of the imperial-federalist model throughout history where multiple ethnic groups lived in the same country in relative harmony or were able to cooperate. Even in the present day, one can see successful examples of multi-ethnic states using the ethno-federalist or ethno-regionalist (also communitarian in many localities) structure in Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Russia, and China. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

***

1. The Class and Caste System

Evidently, racial and ethnic separatism has taken on a variety of forms throughout history. The first and commonly recognized form of separatism is the creation of a class or caste system, where a social order composed of multiple races or ethnic groups separates the population into different classes or castes. Belonging to a class or caste is determined in such societies by racial, ethnic, or cultural background. Class systems based only on ethnocultural background can be seen frequently in history wherever one people conquers others, although of course it should not be assumed here that conquest necessarily results in a hierarchical class system.

A class or caste structure of racial separation, likewise being typically the result of conquest, can be seen in Greco-Roman civilization, in certain ancient Near Eastern civilizations (such as Egypt or Persia), and in many parts of Central and South America after European colonization. Similar systems have also been developed in apartheid states during and after the Colonial Era. [38] Such class or caste systems are often seen as being essentially negative because they involve domination and the subjugation of one or more races by another. However, they also had the positive effect of preserving the racial types which have formed, even after miscegenation (the new, mixed racial types; mulattos and mestizos), due to the fact that they discouraged race mixing by class separation.

It should also be mentioned here that another very well-known example of a caste system which included racial separation into its principles is the one established in ancient India. However, in the case of India, it is interesting to note that Alain Daniélou has argued that its caste system cannot be seen as “racist” (involving unfair subjugation), but rather that it is a natural and just racial ordering; thus the racial aspect of the Indian caste system is not racist because, unlike racist systems, it is not based on subjugation and supremacism but on a harmonious and organized coexistence which involves separation.[39]

2. Nationalism

Another form of separatism is what is commonly recognized as ethnic “nationalism,” which has its primary basis in ethnocultural identity, although it is often accompanied by racial identity where interracial contact exists. Nationalism is defined, in the most simple terms, as the belief that ethnic groups or nationalities (in the cultural sense) are the key category of human beings and that they should live under their own independent states. It implies complete and total separation of ethnic groups into separate nations. Nationalism is often associated with ethnic chauvinism, inter-ethnic hostility, imperialism, and irredentism, although it is important to remember that there have been certain select forms of nationalism throughout history that were not at all chauvinistic and imperialistic, so it is erroneous to assume that it always takes on these negative features.

Concerning the issue of “ethno-nationalism,” one must be careful to distinguish between “racial nationalism,” on the one hand, and actual ethnic nationalism, in which race plays a role but in which it is not the primary element. For some theories of racial nationalism, the biological race is seen as the foundation of the nation, and any ethnocultural factors are regarded as being mere emanations of the race or as being secondary and unimportant when compared with the racial factor (thus it commits the biological reductionist or determinist error; more specifically, it can be said to be racial reductionist). [40] Ethnic nationalism in the proper sense, on the other hand, regards the ethnocultural factor as primary, but still acknowledges that the ethnic group’s identity is linked to race to some extent, and that thus the racial type must be maintained if the ethnos is to survive.[41]

However, we should note that “nationalism” is a problematic term because it has been defined in different and sometimes contradictory ways. In one, very generic sense, nationalism means simply the desire of a people to live separately from others, under its own state and by rule of leaders of its own ethnic background—in essence, a basic ethnic separatism and desire for independence. In this sense, nationalism is a very ancient idea and practice, since all across history one can find many cases where a people of one particular ethnic background desired to be independent from the rule of another different people and fought for this independence.

This is not, however, the way nationalism is always defined, and aside from the fact that it is sometimes defined as being necessarily chauvinistic, it is also often defined in a certain manner that makes it particularly an early modern phenomenon.

In particular, many Identitarian (or New Right) as well as Traditionalist authors have defined nationalism as a form of state in which the “nation” is politically or culturally absolutized, at the expense of smaller local or regional cultural differences, and regarding other nations as completely foreign and of lesser value. This form of “nationalism” is exemplified by the Jacobin nation-state and form of sovereignty (since the French Revolution was a key force in initiating the rise of this state form), and is identified by the elimination of sub-ethnic differences within its borders and the regard for differences with other peoples or nationalities as absolute. Naturally, this form of nationalism has the consequence of creating hostility and conflict between nations because of these ideological and political features. [42] Thus, Benoist, in a statement which summarizes the Identitarian position on this matter, rejects nationalism and proposes in its place a view which reconciles patriotism with the idea of a right to difference: “The identity of others is no longer in principle a threat to mine. I am ready to defend my identity because this defense is a general principle, whose legitimacy I also recognize for others. In other words, if I defend my ‘tribe,’ it is also because I am ready to defend those of others.” [43]

3. Traditionalist Imperial Federalism

The Perennial Traditionalists propose a form of ethnic separatism based on the model of the traditional imperial state, which has manifested itself numerous times across history, including well-known examples such as the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Russian Empire. In the imperial system, peoples and ethnic groups (“nationalities”) are generally organized in a federation in which each people lives in its own region within the empire. The traditional empire is therefore incompatible with nationalism because it is organized as a supranational federalistic union with a central spiritual authority.

Furthermore, the empire in the traditional sense must not be assumed to be imperialistic, for the traditional empire unified peoples without destroying their particular cultures and ethnic characters. [44] According to Evola,

The scheme of an empire in a true and organic sense (which must clearly be distinguished from every imperialism, a phenomenon that should be regarded as a deplorable extension of nationalism) . . . safeguarded the principles of both unity and multiplicity. In this world, individual States have the character of partial organic units, gravitating around . . . a principle of unity, authority, and sovereignty of a different nature from that which is proper to each particular State . . . due to its super-ordained nature, would be such as to leave wide room for nationalities according to their natural and historical individuality. [45]

In the imperial state, which Evola asserts is the true traditional model of the state, ethnic or national groups are thus separated federally; different peoples live under the same state and serve the same ultimate monarchical authority, but they live in separate parts of the kingdom or empire. To quote one of his key works: “The Middle Ages [and also certain ancient civilizations] knew nationalities but not nationalisms. Nationality is a natural factor that encompasses a certain group of common elementary characteristics that are retained both in the hierarchical differentiation and in the hierarchical participation, which they do not oppose.” [46]

It is worth noting that many Perennial Traditionalist authors such as Julius Evola and Frithjof Schuon reject nationalism as an anomaly—a deviation from valid state forms—not only because they are proponents of the imperial model, but also because they regard ethnicity and race (in the biological sense) as secondary qualities in human beings. [47] That is to say, although they are still acknowledged as having some level of importance, they are insignificant when compared to the values of religious type, elitism, aristocracy, or caste (in its spiritual sense; the racial aspect is still acknowledged but regarded as secondary). Furthermore, Evola has argued that “the notions of nation, fatherland, and people, despite their romantic and idealistic halo, essentially belong to the naturalistic and biological plane and not the political one; they lead back to the ‘maternal’ and physical dimension of a given collectivity.” [48]

However, it should be noted here that many ethnically and racially conscious authors have argued that some conservative scholars have pointed out that race, nationality, and people were regarded in many ancient and traditional societies as possessing a character which surpassed the material plane. According to the studies of conservative scholars of religion such as Mircea Eliade, the religious view of archaic and traditional societies often endowed ethnicity and culture with a spiritual (in the religious sense), mythical, and transcendent dimension. [49] Thus, the traditional view in general cannot be confined to that of well-known Traditionalists such as Evola, Guénon, or Schuon.

4. Identitarian Separatism

The New Right and the Identitarian movement is influenced by Perennial Traditionalist thought, especially in regards to the idea of empire in the traditional sense; Identitarians, for the most part, also support the idea of a federalist empire as their primary model of the state and of ethnic separatism. However, there are a number of key differences between the two groups. First, Identitarians naturally regard the depreciation of ethnic identity by certain Traditionalists such as Evola to be an error. Identitarianism regards ethnic, racial, and cultural identity to be an important part of human existence, not only on the material plane (which is not as demeaned by them to the extent we see among Traditionalists), but also—in accord with Eliade and other conservative religious scholars—on the mythical and spiritual plane.[50]

Of course, there are various other philosophical issues on which there are disagreements—particularly in regards to religious doctrine, the structure and form of polity, and the importance of feminine values—but this is no place to discuss those in depth. [51] The most important point of disagreement which we must recognize here is with the particular construction of the imperial federalist state, which becomes evident when we look at the details of the Identitarian ideal in this regard.

The concept of federalism in Identitarian thought proposes the idea of a federation or confederation which is based upon the principle of subsidiarity, whereby decision-making power is granted to the lowest authorities. In this system, local and regional political structures hold the power that is due to them, while the central authority rules primarily when decisions affecting the whole state must be made. This form of state and sovereignty “implies plurality, autonomy, and the interlacing of levels of power and authority.” [52] Of course, the Traditionalist concept of the empire also involves the practices of subsidiarity and allowing decisions to be made at lower levels. However, for Traditionalists, subsidiarity is more limited in practice, and their concept of sovereignty leads them to assert the importance of the ultimate authority of the sovereign (the central ruler) far more.

The Identitarian conception of the federal state is accompanied by the juridical element of the “right of the peoples.” Hence the fact that, according to this conception, ethnocultural groups of all levels and types have the right to live with freedom and separately from others in different states and territories in the federation. Thus, while the traditional imperial state is used as a reference for the ideal political organization of peoples, in this scheme it is also accepted that “each nation or region, in conserving its freedom, has the right to leave the Federation at any moment.” [53] Furthermore, the Identitarian vision of the empire can also be said to be a “democratic empire” because it involves practicing what is known as organic democracy.

Notes:

[38] On the matter of historical examples, see Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity and Elav-Feldon, Isaac, and Ziegler, The Origins of Racism in the West. On the race-based caste and class systems in Central and South America, one classic mainstream resource is Magnus Mörner, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967).

[39] See Alain Daniélou, India: A Civilization of Differences. The Ancient Tradition of Universal Tolerance (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2003). On race in the Indian caste system, see also the preface to Arvind Sharma, Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

[40] See, for example, the commentaries on race and biological breed in William Gayley Simpson, Which Way Western Man? (Costa Mesa, CA: Noontide Press, 1986).

[41] For a commentary on this matter, see for example Tomislav Sunic, “Culture: The Missing Link in Euro-American Nationalism,” The Occidental Observer, July 20, 2009, http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2009/07/sunic-euro-american-nationalism/.

[42] See Alain de Benoist, “Nationalism: Phenomenology and Critique,” Counter-Currents Publishing, May 16, 2012, http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/05/nationalism-phenomenology-and-critique; Michael O’Meara, New Culture, New Right, 228ff.; Edgar Julius Jung, “People, Race, Reich,” in Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870–1940, ed. and trans. Alexander Jacob (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002). See also the overview of Evola’s position in the chapter “Nations, Nationalism, Empire and Europe” in Paul Furlong, Social and Political Thought of Julius Evola (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2011).

[43] Benoist, “Nationalism.”

[44] See Alain de Benoist, “The Idea of Empire,” Telos, no. 98–99 (December 1993): 81–98.

[45] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2002), 277.

[46] Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, 338–39.

[47] See Frithjof Schuon, Castes and Races (Bedfont, Middlesex, UK: Perennial Books, 1982).

[48] Evola, Men Among the Ruins, 127.

[49] See for example Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1987); The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); Myth and Reality (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1998). Other scholars who could be mentioned in this regard are Georges Dumézil, Rudolf Otto, Gilbert Durand, and Alexander Dugin.

[50] See for example Alain de Benoist, On Being a Pagan (Atlanta: Ultra, 2004), and the entry “Paganism” in Faye, Why We Fight, 205ff. Of course, it should be noted here that not all Identitarians are pagans; there are, in fact, many Christians with similar views among the Identitarians. Furthermore, many Identitarians recognize that Christianity and paganism can in fact be reconciled; they are not necessarily in complete conflict. These facts have been pointed out, for example, in the discussion of the New Right’s position on religion in Rodrigo Agulló, Disidencia Perfecta: La Nueva Derecha y la batalla de las ideas (Barcelona and Madrid: Áltera, 2011). In this regard, we can also mention that there have been historical examples of pagan ideas and values being reconciled with Christianity, as has been shown in many scholars’ works, including Eliade’s.

[51] For an in-depth critique from the Identitarian perspective of Radical Traditionalist thought, specifically that of Julius Evola, see especially Alain de Benoist, “Julius Evola, Reaccionario Radical y Metafísico Comprometido: Análisis crítico de su pensamiento político,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea, no. 16 (June 2011): 25ff. http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__16. In this analytical work, Benoist establishes that he agrees with some of Evola’s ideas, such as his critique of nationalism, the support of the imperial idea, the basic anti-egalitarian idea, and certain ethical principles. However, Benoist also criticizes and rejects a number of other ideas and attitudes in Evola’s thought, including many (although not all) of his metaphysical and religious principles, his rigid elitism, his contempt for social and popular principles, his rejection of the value of collective identities (such as ethnicity), his lack of true organicism and rejection of the value of community solidarity (in the anti-individualist sense), and his hostility to feminine values. (Benoist, like other Identitarians, advocates a gender differentialism, as opposed to Evola’s position, which can truly be described as sexist.) Benoist acknowledges Evola as an intellectual worthy of study, but emphasizes that his thought must be examined critically.

[52] Alain de Benoist, “What is Sovereignty?,” Telos, no. 116 (Summer 1999): 114. Benoist has also explicated his views on these matters in “The Idea of Empire” and “The First Federalist: Johannes Althusius,” Telos, no. 118 (Winter 2000): 25–58. Other notable studies of sovereignty and federalism from the Identitarian perspective can be found in the following works: the entries “Empire” and “Sovereignty” in Faye, Why We Fight, 130–32 and 247; the chapter “Imperium” in O’Meara, New Culture, New Right; the articles in Sebastian J. Lorenz, ed., Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea, no. 37, “Federalismo Poliárquico Neoalthusiano” (November 2012). http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__37_federalismo.

[53] Faye, Why We Fight, 131.

 

————–

Excerpt from: Tudor, Lucian. “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 99-106. This essay was also republished in Lucian Tudor’s book, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).

See also: The other excerpts from Lucian Tudor’s essay titled “Identity and Politics: Organic Democracy” and “The Vision of a Multipolar World.”

 

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