Bear with me on this one, in order to get to the point, some definitions are required along the way. Also, this touches on a lot of racial subjects. It is not for the faint of heart. If you know me, you understand I mean no harm by this. I speak plainly, even where the truth is unpleasant to some, or even myself.
Today it is common to conflate the words “nation” and “state” with one another. Some will say that America is a nation, others will refer to it as a state. Still another group, often the slightly more educated, will refer to it as a nation-state. Of the three terms, the only one which is currently applicable is state, and even then I suspect it will not remain as such for long.
To understand the difference, we must go back to the Latin root for nation, natio, which means “birth.” In this, a nation is understood as your birth people; the culture, race and society into which you were born and raised. Nation, then, is more ethnic than not, but yet not quite the same thing. State, on the other hand, is derived from the Latin word status, which should be commonly understood since the original meaning is extant in modern English. It commonly referred to the status of land ownership. It is also closely related with a Germanic word stadt, the meanings of which became intertwined in English, with its Germanic and Norman French parentage. In Germanic tongues, it meant specifically an estate or a land holding (also called a steading). In other words, a state is merely whatever entity holds the land and its contents, human or otherwise.
Now, a nation-state is where the two are coextensive. It is where a state is composed mostly or entirely of a single nation or ethnicity/culture. Consider Greece, which is mostly full of Greeks. This is a nation-state. Spain, on the other hand, is not. In Spain, the Catalans form a separate nation within the Spanish state. The Catalans seem to have no great desire to join the Spanish nation, and even their status as part of the Spanish state is contentious.
A State which is not a nation-state is, effectively, an empire or a hegemony. There are numerous examples of such in history, where one people rule another, or two or more peoples form a confederation out of common interest. We refer to ancient Western culture as “Greco-Roman” for the reason that, though the Romans were ascendant militarily, Greek culture and architecture predominated alongside of it. It was a synthesis of two nations, that of the ancient Latins with the ancient Greeks, ruling over conquered nations.
Nations can sometimes merge or be subsumed. The Gauls were conquered by Rome and eventually adopted the habits, language, and manners of Romans. They joined the Roman nation. In the United States, the original colonies were not merely English, as is commonly understood, but were a synthesis of English, Dutch, German, French and even Scottish nationals. They came together, adopting English as the common tongue (though the Plattdeutsch-speaking Amish are a throwback to this period), and created a new nation from the combination. Nations can also lose identity and split apart, which is the subject of this article. So nations are not static affairs any more than states are.
Nations are not strictly ethnic, however. There are examples of nations where multiple ethnicities regard themselves as the same nation. Ethiopia was formed from a synthesis of Black Africans with early, pre-Moslem Arab settlers, and their language is a Semitic one. There are also examples where a people who are ethnically the same differ on cultural or religious matters and regard themselves as separate. A case of the latter is the extreme division between Croatians, Serbians and Bosnians, who are otherwise ethnically identical and speak more or less the same language. That being said, ethnicity tends to relate to nationality even if the two are not precisely the same.
The United States of America isn’t united. It is no longer even a collection of states. Originally, the Articles of Confederation were closer to an alliance than a Federal Government. Even the with the adoption of the Constitution, the states bordered on near-independence, especially by the standards of the day in which European nations were strongly centralized. Today, there is no doubt that the Federal Government reigns supreme, the matter having been definitively settled in 1865.
Yet even as the state became more unified, the nation became less so. America today is comprised of several nations, some of which, like the Catalans in Spain, are hostile to sharing power with individuals of other nations. A common example of this can be seen in the Michael Brown affair, in which White policemen are seen as enemies of the Black nation. Black police officers are often seen as traitors to their own people. White officers involved in an incident with a Black suspect are regarded as immediately guilty. Black identity supersedes any American identity. Many Hispanics retain national identity as well, though some of them have also eschewed it. Muslims tend to retain their Arab, Turkish or Iranian nationality.
This is not a new phenomenon in American history. African Slaves always formed a separate nation which was originally separate and distinct, but possessed no real power. It became the basis of Black national identity. This need not have ended badly, however. Many White Americans possess Native American ancestry of varying degree. I certainly do, though it is not that high (I think my grandmother was 1/4 Cherokee or Muskegon or something — I’ll have to ask my mother about it sometime). But my identity is not rooted in this. I am American, regardless of my contributing genes. That is my nation. It could have become this way with those of African extraction, also. Indeed, to be fair, it did with many, but not a majority.
Blacks did not join in great numbers because, for a long time, the stigma of slavery and Jim Crow explicitly prevented this. The end of slavery and Jim Crow should have ended the division, but Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society actually wound up exacerbating it. If melting had happened in the regular course of human affairs, in a century or two, most Americans would have some African ancestry in their personal woodpile. It would be a thing we might discuss over dinner, and that would be the end of the matter, because we would have been one nation and genetic percentages would be relatively unimportant. But something happened which broke the “melting pot” model which had worked since English, Dutch, French and German settlers decided to merge together: Identity Politics.
You can trace that to the Irish immigration of the 1850s and 1860s. The potato famine and the resulting economic damage to Ireland produced mass immigration to America. Prior to this, immigration tended to be rather random, comprising of individuals from random European countries, of which Ireland was merely one of many. If Britain tended to predominate as a source, it was not by much and was merely an accident of language.
But Irish immigration after the famine was a massive wave, so massive, in fact, that Irish immigrants formed a major part of the Union army in the Civil War. Wealthy magnates and politicians encouraged this, wishing to capitalize on cheap Irish labor (sounds familiar, right?). So Irish people did not immediately assimilate into the American nation as the random immigrants had. Instead, they created the first ghettos outside of slave barracks, communities comprised of a separate nation. This was encouraged by political figures who made the Irish out to be some kind of boogeyman.
Oh, the Irish eventually melted in anyway, but it was a long and difficult process for America and for the immigrants, one which left permanent marks on the culture (the term “paddy wagons” should give one an idea). Even today, those with Irish ancestry tend to have an usual amount of pride in this fact, far more so than those with English or German ancestry. If this phenomenon had ended with the Irish, it would have been an anomaly in American history and things would have soon returned to normal.
But it didn’t. This pattern of encouraging separate nations, then taking advantage of them, continued. Most American nationals would have been horrified at this, but in those days, America was still largely rural, and the experience wasn’t really real for them. It is no coincidence that Socialism and all its ills was introduced to America during this time. Creating class warfare was a great way to separate people and keep them separate. What was done to the Irish over a century ago is repeated today with Blacks, Hispanics and others. This should also demolish the notion that only “people of color” (as SocJus calls them) have suffered ills and discrimination in American history. The Irish really had a rough time of it, right up until the early 20th century.
On the heels of the Irish came the Italians. Like the Irish, they brought separate communities with them. Also like the Irish, they brought their own national brand of crime to America, too. Where the Irish criminals were generally disorderly, the Italian criminals were refined and “organized” but no less lethal for this. Like the Irish, their assimilation was anomalous and left permanent marks on the culture. If folks of Irish descent are unusually proud of this, the Italian folk are more so. They are right to be proud, for it was not easy for them.
In fact, the shared Catholic religion of the Irish and the Italians was, at first, looked on with suspicion by the largely Protestant populace of America. They worried that the Pope would soon be master of America. And, in those days, Protestant-Catholic violence was still relatively common in Europe (the last vestiges of which were represented, predictably, in Ireland). So they were not entirely unjustified in their worry.
Fortunately, the contribution of the Irish and Italians to America was largely positive and the feared religious violence never got off the ground. Their culture was still rooted in Western tradition and they were close enough that, though the numbers and speed of immigration made assimilation difficult, it remained within the realm of possibility. Credit must be given to them, in fact, for having defied the expectations of their political masters and largely breaking free of them. Had this sort of thing stopped here, the American nation would have survived it. Anecdotal evidence of this can be seen in the fact that most of my family recipes are Italian dishes despite us having (as far as I know), no Italian ancestry whatsoever. They became us, and we became them.
But the model of immigration coming in waves, the endless source for cheap labor, continued apace. Each one was more difficult and more distant than the last. The Italians were followed by the Chinese. Today it is Mexicans and Somalis. The cultural distance and relative size of each bloc of immigrants determines how fast they can become part of the American nation, or if they can at all. The Chinese at least come from a country with a long and proud history of civilization, and a respect for tradition, traits it shared with nascent American culture. The Somali immigrant, on the other hand, has neither.
Progressives actively discourage assimilation into the American nation, instead preaching a doctrine of diversity. What they fail to understand is that a state which is not a nation-state most resort to peacekeeping measures within its own borders. In other words, America had to become Imperial in scope just to keep the peace. Policemen started to look an awful lot like an occupying army even if, as KodeTen pointed out, they aren’t there yet. The self-appointed PC-police, on the other hand, crossed that Rubicon a long time ago. They are the new Gestapo, except that they resort to character assassination instead of the more literal variety.
Empires often fail because the costs of occupying what is, essentially, hostile territory becomes greater than the benefits of controlling that same territory. There are portions of Detroit where cops will not go because the hostility is so great. Parts of America have been abandoned entirely due to cost. Collapse is coming.
Czechoslovakia had to split into two countries, although they at least managed to do this peacefully, despite there being relatively small differences between the two nations. In America, there is a Black nation, a Mexican nation, arguably a Puerto Rican nation and even the White European nation is fracturing into Progressive and Conservative varieties. Muslims are definitely in their own category. There is little in common between a White hipster and his rural counterpart any longer. Even the language is demonstrably different, if still mutually intelligible. Calling them all American, that is to say calling them all functionally the same is a stretch of the highest order. They often do not share religion, culture, language, race or values with one another.
These nations are often hostile to one another in varying degrees and they each understandably don’t like being told what to do by others. There is suspicion, often justified, that a Black politician will take pork from Whites (indeed, that’s why they are often elected in the first place – bring home the bacon), or vice versa, for certainly plenty of Whites do this too, extracting cheap labor from Mexican nationals while simultaneously claiming to be worried about stopping illegal immigration in order to placate Conservative Whites, a contradiction pervasive in the Republican party. Each nation looks out for its own except the White Progressives, who seem to be hellbent on national suicide instead.
Washington D.C. increasingly micromanages a hostile populace, most of which hate it actively, because it is not their nation in charge. Rural White Conservatives are not ruled by others of their nation. Mexicans are not ruled by other Mexicans, despite the fact that Mexico shows us the mixed results of that particular idea. Progressives bemoan rural Conservatives achieving office. Blacks are not ruled by other Blacks, except in shitholes like Detroit. Ironically, despite how terrible inner-city Detroit is, you hear hip-hop songs singing its praises because at least, in the minds of Black nationals, it is theirs. There is something to be said for that.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, please. Not all Blacks are Black nationals. Some are American nationals who happen to be Black (remember that nationality is not the same as ethnicity, even if there is some relation). Even some Progressives, despite all that has happened, remain fundamentally American at some level. The problem, however, is that the trend is increasingly to disassociate from American nationality and join the smaller nations. Indeed, the notion of being American is often seen as jingoistic. The idea of America has become too big, too thinly spread. Roman identity fractured into modern Europe. What will American identity fracture into?
This shows us the trajectory of America into a disunited people. Breakup of the state must soon follow, for empires have shorter lives than nation-states. France has been France for nearly 1,500 years (and China has been China for all of recorded history). The French Empire, on the other hand, was measured in decades.
I would like to hope that national divorce could be accomplished peacefully, like Czechoslovakia, but I doubt it. Like it or not, folks, war is coming. I would like to hope that an American nation could survive the wreckage, somewhere, but even that is not clear.
Voltaire once said this of the old Holy Roman Empire:
The Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.
I say that The United States of America is neither united, nor composed of states, nor is American. The Holy Roman Empire did not outlive Voltaire by much. I doubt the American one will outlive me at all.