Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NATIONALITY: Chapter 2 of “Jeffersonian's” Restoring America

Restoring America
By “Jeffersonian”




I) What is a nation?
A dictionary defines a nation as a large group of people whose members feel connected because they share the same language, customs, territory, origin, religion and/or history.
Not all of these similarities are essential. Perhaps the most important of them is a shared historical memory. The shared historical memory often includes periods when the nation was conquered by foreigners, or enslaved, or persecuted. It also includes and glorifies the leaders or heroes who liberated the nation from its oppressors. It can also include positive achievements, such as great works of literature, by members of the nation. The term also implies that many members of the nation feel a special loyalty to other members of the nation, or to the nation as a whole.
Some examples of nations (or national groups) are the Poles, the Japanese, the Bulgarians, and the Danes. In each of those four cases, the nation involved has its own independent country or state. However, there are some national groups that do not have their own independent state. The largest of these, at present, is probably the Kurdish nation. Most Kurds reside in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, or Syria; but they do not comprise a majority in any of those countries.
A nation is not the same thing as a country or state. Those are just political terms, referring to a group of persons who have the same government. Nor is it the same thing as a race, which refers to shared biological features. (See Chapter 4 for a more careful discussion of what the word race refers to.)
Note that which nation a person belongs to is a socially constructed fact. It is true not because of his DNA, but only because the person feels he is a member of that nation and other members of that nation accept him as such.

II) Mono-national states and multinational states
Poland, Japan, Bulgaria, and Denmark are all examples of mono-national states, or simply national states (i.e., states in which one national group constitute a clear majority. Such states normally have an official language, and often an established religion as well.
There are also states that include several large national groups. We call these multinational states. Examples include Yugoslavia (a country, now defunct, that was situated in the Balkans), the Hapsburg Empire, the Russian Empire (and its successor, the Soviet Union), the Ottoman Empire, and Nigeria.
Multinational states often arise as a result of a powerful country invading and conquering nearby territories. When a multinational state arises in that fashion, one national group typically has a preferred status, and the conqueror’s language and religion often become official.

III) Problems arising in multinational states
Although some multinational states are large and powerful, they frequently have problems that mono-national states do not.
One of the most common problems that multinational states encounter are independence movements. By definition, every multinational state must include some substantial group of people who belong to a nation other the largest one in the state. Current examples − many others could be mentioned − include Kurds living in Iraq, Ibos living in Nigeria, and Copts living in Egypt. Some prominent earlier examples included Czechs living in Austria-Hungary; Irish living under English rule; Poles, Latvians, and Estonians (and many other groups) living in the Russian Empire; and Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire
It is only natural for such peoples to desire their independence. Some of those independence movements engage in terrorist activity, or even full-scale rebellion. However, even when they involve only peaceful agitation, they often require substantial police activity to monitor and control.
Sometimes a determined tyrant − such as Stalin in the USSR; Tito in Yugoslavia, or Saddam Hussein in Iraq − can prevent those problems from getting out of hand. But when the tyrant dies or leaves office the problems re-emerge.
Even in the absence of independence movements, there is often great mistrust between members of different national groups. In addition, the mere fact that members of different national groups speak different languages causes problems in communication and entails translation expenses. As a result of these various problems, multinational states typically do not function as smoothly as mono-national states do.

IV) Nationalism
Many people tend to strongly support the interests of their own nation above the interests of other nations. We call these nationalist feelings, or simply nationalism. (Patriotism is a similar term, but with a much stronger implication of self-sacrifice for the good of the nation.) Nationalist feelings are often accompanied by a belief that one’s own nation is superior to others.
Conflicting nationalisms have often led to wars. A notable example of this was World War I. Because that war was so terribly destructive, it led to a widespread belief that nationalism is a bad thing, even a terrible thing. However, nationalist feelings within a given nation tend to benefit the majority of those who are part of that nation. This is because many people within that nation will put aside minor personal desires and instead act to further the common good.
Furthermore, a country in which few people have patriotic feelings is often at a serious disadvantage when in conflict with another nation in which nationalist/patriotic feelings are stronger. In unity, there is strength. The government of a mono-national state should therefore strive to increase nationalist feelings within its citizens.

V) The American Nation 1776-1950
An important nation – and the one that is the main topic of this book – is the American nation. The American nation had its origins during the colonial era (1607-1776). Most of the original settlers came from England, and they brought with them their language, customs, and laws. Indeed, for a long time they were English citizens, and considered themselves Englishmen.
However, conditions in the North American colonies were very different than those in Great Britain, and gradually the colonists began to think of themselves as a separate group. In 1775, disagreements over tax policies led to fighting between colonists and the British government at Concord and Lexington (in Massachusetts). The following year the American colonies declared their independence from England. Nationalist feelings in the colonies were greatly strengthened during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), and by the time the war ended an American nation was in existence.
That nation did not include the Indian tribes who had been living in the territory before English arrived. The Americans considered those people to be members of foreign nations and viewed them with contempt. (Indeed, the Declaration Independence referred to them as the “merciless Indian Savages.”) Nor did the colonists consider the black slaves to be part of the American nation. In no state could the blacks vote, or hold public office, or serve on juries. For practical purposes, the new nation could have been called the “white American nation.”
This is evident from the early laws the United States passed concerning immigration: Those laws permitted immigration from Europe, but not from Asia or Africa (although the importation of black slaves was not prohibited until 1808). Throughout the 1800s, the United States permitted large numbers of immigrants from Europe. The majority of these were assimilated, and by 1950 there was a strong, confident American nation.
The shared historical memory of that American nation includes the following items:
1) The early settlers, whose descendants became the founders of this nation, came from England.
2) Most of the early settlers were Protestants, and many of them, such as the Pilgrims, were seeking religious freedom.
3) These settlers set up over a dozen separate colonies, including Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York.
4) In 1776, representatives of the colonists declared their independence from England., resulting in a war for independence (the Revolutionary War).
5) The colonists’ armies were outnumbered, but they fought bravely and prevailed.
6) A few years after the Revolutionary War ended, representatives of the various former colonies (by then called states), met together and agreed on a Constitution for the United States.
7) The Founding Fathers who supported the Revolutionary War, and produced our basic documents (such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) included such admirable men as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, and − most importantly − George Washington.
8) America has always been a land of liberty and opportunity.
9) Americans were, on average, more independent and more enterprising than the members of other nations.
10) This enabled them to tame the wilderness, to spread out quickly across the continent, and to become the world’s leading industrial country.
11) In the course of our westward expansion, we fought a long series of wars with the Indian tribes who had been here before us.
12) We have created a large number of ingenious and useful inventions. The inventors include the Wright brothers (who invented the airplane); Alexander Graham Bell (who invented the telephone); Henry Ford (who designed and manufactured cheap, practical automobiles); and Thomas Edison (who invented the phonograph, the electric light, and many other useful devices).
13) In the twentieth century, this energy, industry, and ingenuity enabled us to create atomic weapons, and later to even succeed in sending men to the Moon!
14) The country was badly divided on the issue of slavery, which eventually led to a bloody Civil War (1861-1865), which was won by the anti-slavery forces under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln.
15) Because of our industrial prowess, we were able to intervene in World War I and prevent the German militarists from dominating Europe.
16) Later in the 20th century, we beat back two of history’s worst tyrannies: Nazi Germany (under Adolf Hitler), and then the Soviet Union (under Josef Stalin and his successors).
17) We have produced many excellent novelists and poets − including Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Emily Dickinson − plus a large number of great songwriters, lyricists, and singers.
The reader may feel that this resume is oversimplified and that it omits some of our faults, as well of some of our accomplishments. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Americans have every right to feel proud of their nation and its accomplishments.

VI) Do “black Americans” comprise a nation?
Yes, they do, even though they do not have their own independent country. “Black America” is a nation held together by language, geography, race, and – above all − by a shared historical memory. The shared historical memory of black Americans is very strong and dramatic. It goes something like this:
1) Our ancestors lived in Africa.
2) Starting in the early 1600s, many African blacks were captured or kidnapped, and sent to America in chains, where they were slaves and were treated cruelly.
3) Attempts to escape were treated harshly.
4) Eventually, there was a Civil War in the United States, fought between the northern states (who wished slavery to be abolished), and the southern States (who wanted the institution to endure). The northern states won the war, but their leader, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated near the end of it.
5) Slavery was abolished in the 1860s, but the freed Negro slaves were not given equal rights or opportunities. Instead, the southern states passed discriminatory laws (“Jim Crow” laws), and used violence to keep the former slaves subservient.
6) Even in the Northern states, white racists constantly discriminated against blacks and denied them equal rights.
7) In the 1950s, a champion arose (Martin Luther King, Jr.) who led a series of peaceful protests that eventually led to civil rights laws and to the dismantling of the Jim Crow system.
8) Despite that, many American whites are still racists, and blacks in the United States are still treated unfairly, although much better than before.
This story is repeated incessantly by most black leaders, and also by many white leaders and by most of the white-owned media, often with many horrifying details supplied. The result is a “black American nation” with intense nationalist feelings.

VII) Are black Americans part of the American nation?
Some are, but many are not. It is true that many of the blacks now living in the United States are honest, hard-working men and women, who are loyal to this country and are assets to it. A considerable fraction, however – perhaps a sizable majority − do not feel that they are part of the American nation, and many of them are plainly hostile to it. (This will be discussed in more detail in chapter 5.)
In a perfect world, human beings would all be able to shrug off hatreds that arose due to centuries of conflict and injustice. Alas, the world we live in is far from perfect, and it is that world that we must live in.

VIII) The USA is now a multinational state
The United States of America includes two main national groups. One of them – which we might call the white American nation − consists primarily of the descendants of European whites; the other one is the black American nation described above, which consists mostly of blacks.
There are many people living in this country who do not belong to either of those two national groups. American Indians, for example, are certainly not blacks; many of them, however, do not feel loyalty to the American nation. (Why should they, when they feel that the whites who are running the USA today are the descendants of the European whites who invaded their country and stole their land?)
In addition, there are millions of Hispanics living here who do not feel part of the American nation and who feel no loyalty to this country. Many of them do not speak English as their native language. Even among those who do, many are unacquainted with our history. A fair number of them consider themselves Mexicans who are living here only for the purpose of obtaining higher pay. (I am not suggesting that such individuals are bad people. They may be very good people, but they are Mexicans, not Americans.)
There are also many Asian groups living here, including Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Indians, and Pakistanis. Many of these are loyal American citizens; others, however, do not consider themselves Americans, and feel little or no loyalty to this country.
There are also two or three million Moslems in the United States who were born in predominantly Moslem countries such as Egypt, Syria, or Saudi Arabia (or who are the offspring of such persons). Some of those people consider themselves part of the American nation, but many of them, although they reside here, do not feel strong loyalty to America, and some of them are hostile to us.
This lack of unity is a great disadvantage to the United States of America today, just as it was to the Russian Empire in 1900, or to Austria-Hungary.


Anonymous said...

At least they refer to this group as "people" instead of "teens". Is that progress? Jerry


Anonymous said...

Both blacks and Mexicans living in America are a nationality but it is a nationality often strongly with a lot of hate toward whitey.

NOT necessarily pride in themselves but hate of the other [whitey].

Anonymous said...

American Indians as a nationality actually have it both ways.

Citizens of their sovereign American Indian nation and also citizens of the United States.

Anonymous said...

There is a white American nationality and it includes the ancestors of the original English ancestors and those whitey who came afterwards. Groups that seem to have mixed very well and maintained a strong American identity. Now being destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans by Mexican law are subject to Mexican law at any point in the world and at any point in time.

Mexican very liberally defined as to mean having even the slightest smidgen of "Mexican blood" inside of you.

Whatever "Mexican blood" is?