Ethnicity and Liberalism

Kevin MacDonald
Occidental Observer
August 28, 2014


Ricardo Duchesne has a new article at the Council of European Canadians on a so-called conservative critique of multiculturalism (“Salim Mansur and the Conservative (Anti-European) Critique of Multiculturalism).

[M]y emphasis on ethnic identity is consistent with classical liberalism. The freedom of the individual can only be sustained and actualized if this freedom is part of a larger community, and there can be no communitarian fellow-feeling without families, traditional marriages, and without ethnic cohesion. The bureaucratic communitarianism advocated by Kymlicka and Taylor can never be a substitute for the age-old historical ancestries and evolutionary-driven associations of ethnic groups. All modern liberal states were created by ethnically unified Europeans. The liberal-democratic nation of Canada (where all Canadians gradually came to enjoy individual rights regardless of ethnicity) was created under racially discriminatory immigration policies. This is not a paradox; it is a reflection of the way liberal cultures came to terms with long-existing minorities. The deception comes when liberals extrapolate this recognition of native minorities with an endorsement of mass immigration. …
The United States, Australia, and Canada were all liberal democratic societies with strong communitarian identities before the policies restricting immigration were dismantled. The opening of European borders was imposed from above without democratic consent, and today there is no freedom of criticism of immigration policies from an ethnic position. In other words, the more traditional community of Canada was more open to critical reflection.
This is an important point — that societies based on classical liberalism were originally created by ethnically homogeneous Europeans and, at least implicitly, they thought of their political institutions as European. Recall that after drafting the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson stated that Americans are “the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and on the other side, Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs from whom we claim the honour of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed” (Eric P. Kaufmann, The Rise and Fall of Anglo America, Harvard U. Press, 2004,  pp. 17–18; emphasis in text).
Societies riven by ethnic conflict are unlikely to result in liberal societies with high levels of individual freedom because they set up between-group conflict in which ultimately one has to choose sides. Individual liberty is likely to be seen as dangerous by groups that see themselves at a competitive disadvantage under the ground rules of a liberal, individualist society. For example, late-19th-century Zionists commonly believed — correctly I think —  that an important source of opposition to liberalism among non-Jews stemmed from the perception that liberalism benefited Jews in competition with non-Jews; thus Theodor Herzl believed that “emancipation had placed an intolerably heavy strain on Austrian liberals, who had to defend an economic system that eased the way for recent outsiders into positions of prominence” (Jacques Kornberg, Theodor Herzl: From Assimilation to Zionism, Indiana University Press, 1993, 180). In the contemporary U.S., the disdain by many on the left for classically liberal (individualist) culture likely also stems from an understanding that groups favored by the left (e.g., African Americans, Latinos) are unable to compete without affirmative action and quotas in contracts, employment, and university admissions, all of which are group-based entitlements that are entirely at odds with traditional liberal culture. These groups and their supporters therefore favor the dismantling of individualist culture created in homogeneous European societies. And they oppose fundamental liberal freedoms such as freedom of speech; already viewpoints emphasizing the legitimacy of the ethnic interests of the majority are banned from polite society, and violators are subjected to job loss and social ostracism. In the U.S., the First Amendment will not survive the decline of European America and the consequent loss of individualist political institutions created by European Americans.

As Duchesne notes, liberal societies tolerate strong minority group identification, but this is predicated on the implicit assumption that these minority groups would not displace the majority and would not present a serious threat to the dominance of the majority ethnic group, as will ultimately happen with mass immigration. Hence the promises during the debates over the 1965 immigration law in the U.S. that it would not change the ethnic balance of the country.

After succeeding in this deception, pro-immigration activists — freed of laws biasing immigration to Western Europe — focused on increasing the absolute numbers of non-European immigrants (see here, p. 291) to the point that it became a policy of ethnic/racial displacement. Ethnic/racial warfare by any other name.
When non-Europeans with their collectivist traditions become the majority and they see their interests are not met by liberal societies,  there is no reason to suppose that liberal institutions will continue. Classically liberal, individualist political institutions are a product of Europeans and will not survive the displacement of European majorities.
The advocates of the de-Europeanization of the West should realize that the decline of individualist ideology and institutions will also apply to Europeans who find themselves increasingly in societies fraught by group-based conflict — a well-established consequence of multiculturalism. Such circumstances will be fertile ground for political ideologies stressing a communitarian identity based on European ethnicity. Again, it’s one thing for relatively small minority groups to have an identity within a liberal culture which remains dominant. It is quite another when non-Europeans become the majority and systematically dismantle individualist culture. At that point, the group identifications based on race and ethnicity that so many Europeans now find distasteful will gain legitimacy. What is now only implicit and weak will become explicit and powerful.
And that would be a revolution.