Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are Americans European?

by Nicholas Stix

April 6, 2004
A Different Drummer and ‘round the Web.

The European tradition is one of centralized absolutism and obscurantist, metaphysical speculation.

Today, the terms “the West” and “Western” can refer to America alone, to America and her former European allies, or even simply to white folks. The terms are successors to the terms “Europe” and “European.”

Most Americans under the age of 40 know little about Europe, and have only the most tenuous relation to the Old World. What they do know, however, is that we bailed the Western Europeans out of two world wars, and then saved them from communism.

And yet, today our relationship to Europe, even the concept of “Europe,” is typically exaggerated here at home. American socialist writers speak still of our “European allies,” when referring to countries (France and Germany) that can only honestly be referred to as rivals or outright enemies. And multiculturalists, black racists, and white nationalists alike refer to white Americans via the euphemism, “European Americans.”

The socialist writers’ practice is not hard to understand. They are writing not of America’s allies, but of their own. They see themselves as domestic enemies of America, and consider America’s foreign enemies their friends. (Hence, I disagree with Lee Harris’ thesis that American “liberals” have no concept of an “enemy.” Sure they do – the term refers to their own country, and its patriotic defenders.) You can find these traitors all over the world, sucking up to America’s foreign enemies, the latter of whom hold the traitors in contempt, but who find them useful idiots. Sound familiar?

And so, when the Spaniards turned on us, the New York Times’ March 16 house editorial engaged in double-talk: “It is possible to support the battle against terrorism wholeheartedly and still oppose a political party that embraces the same cause.”

No, it isn’t.

In theory, one could “support the battle against terrorism wholeheartedly” while voting against a political party embracing the same cause, if say, that party had botched every other aspect of statecraft, particularly the economy. But before 3-11, the vast majority of Spaniards had never even halfheartedly supported the battle against Islamic terrorism, and the Popular Party’s stewardship of the economy had been excellent. But at the Times, anyone who screws over America is their friend, and must be defended.

Such traitorous anti-Americanism is nothing new. In Oliver Stone’s anti-American movie, Platoon (1986), set during the War in Vietnam, the “good” American sergeant, “Elias” (Willem Dafoe), says, “We've been kicking other people’s asses for so long, I figure it's time we got ours kicked.” The character was a hero to anti-Americans across the land, who saw his murder by the evil sergeant, “Barnes” (Tom Berenger), in terms of the crucifixion of Jesus. That reaction was odd, coming as it did from a group of atheists.

The use of the term “European-American,” has had an even odder trajectory. As far as I can determine, it comes from the Nation of Islam, when it was known as the Black Muslims, under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (aka convicted felon and traitor, Elijah Poole; 1897-1975) and Elijah’s momentary favorite son, Malcolm X (aka convicted felon, Malcolm Little; 1926-1965). The Black Muslims identified the races with continents. Well, sort of. Early on, they referred to blacks as “Asiatics,” so their geography was as nutty as everything else they said.

I think white multiculturalists are simply imitating black racists, as they do whenever they discuss race relations.

The white nationalists are the oddest bunch. The typical white nationalist knows as much about Europe as he does about Timbuktu, and the more intelligent ones, most notably Sam Francis, should know better than to join the words “European” and “American.”

America does have a very close cultural and historical relationship to England, but if there’s one thing I learned in over five years of living in Europe, it is that England ain’t in Europe. (I also learned that I am no “European.”)

I know the Brits are now members of the European Union, but when I lived in the former West Germany, the Brits were part of the EU-forerunner, the Common Market, yet I never heard any Continentals speak of the British as “Europeans.” There was a palpable tension between the Brits and the Europeans, and there still is.

We got our language, our Common Law traditions, our notions of representative government, and our empiricist philosophical tradition from the Brits. The European tradition, conversely, is one of centralized absolutism and obscurantist, metaphysical speculation. Since FDR, unfortunately, we have been moving toward the Old World, as the American people have acquiesced to creeping socialism, centralization, absolutism and anti-scientific thinking.

Europe is for us less an ideal, than a cautionary example.

And yet, I was once in love with Europe. The idea of Europe, at any rate. I got over that love, by living there. And yet, I shall never forget, and never regret, the five years I spent in West Germany, reading old editions of old books; studying philosophy with the world’s greatest living classicist, Hans Joachim Krämer (not that I’m a classicist!); working on the assembly-line, producing the world’s greatest production car (at Daimler-Benz—“Mercedes” to you civilians); falling in love with the German language and one of its speakers; and traveling on both sides of the Berlin Wall.

By the early 20th century, Europeans tended to speak synonymously of “Europe,” “Christianity,” and “the West.” But Christianity was born in the same place as Judaism – the Middle East. Christianity may have achieved its greatest political power in Europe, but by the mid-19th century, at the height of European power, Christianity was a decadent, empty shell. And the ideas associated with “the West” were already moving … west.

Until the past generation, the notion of being a “European,” as opposed to the national of a particular country, was an oddity. There were no “Europeans,” there were only Frenchmen, Germans, etc. Today, since “Europeans” do not identify themselves in opposition to Asia and Africa (and South America isn’t a part of their consciousness), the only reason I can see for their identification with the Continent, is in unified opposition to America. (No, not “North America;” Europeans are indifferent to Mexico and Canada. The term “North America” functions merely as a petty insult to Americans.)

The official story today is that nationalism destroyed Europe. As is so often the case, the official story is nonsense. Nineteenth century European history is largely split between wars pitting nation-states and alliances against each other, and the rise of revolutionary, transnational movements (communism, pan-Germanism). Those two trajectories converged and exploded, in the first half of the 20th century. In each case, a transnational movement (communism, national socialism) bonded with a national base and nationalistic passion (Russia, Germany, Austria). The irony is that one of the reasons that Europe failed to stop Nazism, was due to the interwar influence of a bureaucratic, pacifist humanitarianism. After the war, that pacifist humanitarianism was left standing, unchallenged, in Western Europe, where it still saps the Continent’s strength. Today, corrupt, supranational bureaucracies (the UN, EU) are manipulated by nationalist interests (France, Germany, Russia) in the name of “internationalism.”

And as Europeans permit their nations to be swamped with their Muslim enemies, one wonders if the nations of the Old World will go down with a bang or a whimper. Thank goodness, no American president would be so foolish, as to let the U.S. be overwhelmed by hostile foreigners!

Europe functions today as a grand museum. It is home to much of the world’s great art, literature, philosophy, architecture, libraries, churches and museums in the traditional sense … and oh, the food! Unfortunately, this treasure is largely lost on the Europeans, who have been culturally bankrupt and politically socialist since at least the end of The War. Given their embrace of the inferior fare at McDonald’s, Europeans’ appreciation of even their own food is suspect.

Rather than studying the masterpieces of the past, in order to create new ones, Europeans today often are simply satisfied to know that previous Europeans created great works, to patronize cultures that have not, and to smugly believe that their neglect of one legacy, and frivolous elevation of the other, makes them superior to the rest of the world.

Thus should Americans study Europe’s triumphs … and its decline. For if we are not careful, in the not-so-distant future, Europe’s fate will be our own.


Anonymous said...

The British philosophical tradition may be more accurately termed an anti-philosophical tradition since British philosophers maintained that truth was unknowable.

S. said...

1. I have never seen "the West" refer to just America.

2. The term "the West" is certainly not a successor to "European." Historically, if this is indeed not the case today, "the West" does not cover all of geographic Europe (see e.g. Andalusia or Russia--especially before Peter I). Conversely, Western culture is not confined to Europe.

3. "European-Americans" is basically a racist term, except when used to describe naturalized American citizens from Europe. For it suggests that white Americans have more in common with Europeans than with other Americans.

4. America has a close cultural and historical relationship with Great Britain and to a lesser extent with the Netherlands, France, Germany, etc.

5. And Britain has "a very close cultural/historical relationship" with France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, etc. One cannot separate Britain from Europe. British culture and customs cannot be explained without reference to the history of Europe and the West.

6. Specifically, British legal and philosophic tradition is part of the European tradition and could not arise without Europe.

7. One is rather at loss to deduce what is meant by "obscurantist metaphysical speculation." Surely the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason, democracy, and empirical science, with its origin in the Netherlands and its intellectual epicenter in France, can hardly be dismissed wholesale in such terms.

8. That which is today understood by such words as "the West" and "Europe" had been universally known as "Christendom" from roughly the 11th century until the rise of modern secularism. Christianity was confined to Europe after the Byzantine Empire fell, and nearly so since the Arab 7th century Arab conquests of the Middle East and North Africa.

9. It makes no sense to speak of Christianity as an "decadent, empty shell" in the 19th century, during which time Christianity was perhaps the fastest-growing religion with the most political power, and during which time ideas associated with "the West" were spreading through the world along with the people who carried them.

10. The "official story" is that nationalist hatreds, having been stoked for the preceding century, were one of the chief causes of World War I. Pan-Germanism is nothing but German nationalism. National Socialism is quite obviously a form of German nationalism. The First World War had nothing to do with leftist internationalist movements, but marked the triumph of nationalism.

I have commented only upon the assertions I could make sense of.

Nicholas Stix said...


Which British philosophers might you be referring to?