Vol.12, No.4 (Winter 2012/13)
Ethnic Identity versus White Identity:
Differences between the U.S. and Europe
A clarification of terms and concepts is in order when dealing with trendy words in the social sciences. Although the idea of identity is an ancient theme, the word ‘identity’ over the last few decades has been subject to a flurry of subjective interpretations, resulting often in contradictory definitions. One hundred years ago, the word ‘identity’ was used in forensic medicine and in police files, but seldom in the sense of national, religious or racial identities. Therefore, today’s usage of the word ‘identity’ is not always appropriate given that this word can easily elicit contradictory meanings depending on who is using it and in what political environment.
Thus, for instance, a citizen from the Federal Republic of Germany can carry multiple identities that may complement each other, but they may also exclude each other. He can describe himself as a “good European,” although he may be of North African or Turkish stock, and may in addition sport several other vocational identities that have nothing in common with his racial, religious or national heritage.
The question, however, is which is his primary identity and which is his secondary identity? How does he define himself and how does the Other define him? What comes first? His racial identity, his religious identity, his ethnic identity, his citizen awareness, or his professional affiliation? In his book on identity, Alain de Benoist, writes about the conflicting nature of identities, adding that “the belief that identity can be better preserved without [these] confrontations [among different identities] is nonsense. On the contrary the confrontations make identity possible.”
In other words, a person asserts his identity best when he draws a sharp demarcation line between himself and the Other, or by violently confronting the Other. Likewise, he will best identify himself with his ingroup in so far as his ingroup differs from other out-groups.
Seen from a historical point of view, the idea of identity has always been a heated topic in the West, although this topic has been wrapped up in different words. From Homer’s Ulysses to Goethe’s Faust, White Europeans and Americans have never tired of asking questions about who they were and who they are.
Oswald Spengler deals with the idea of identity, although in his main work he never used that word, preferring instead the expression “second religiousness” and avoiding reference to the race factor. In the anomic and rootless Western societies of today, national, religious and racial identities have given way to new identities, which manifest themselves in the worshipping of exotic and esoteric “idols” and icons, which function now as transmission belts in the new identity-building process.Spengler adds that “to this corresponds in today’s world of Europe and America the occult and theosophical gimmicks, the American Christian Science, the mendacious salon Buddhism, the religious arts and crafts.” Such “second religiousness,” or one could call it, “fake substitute identities” of uprooted masses with no racial and no national consciousness, can often be encountered today in Western multicultural and multiracial societies. Such identities seem to be a cherished topic of discussion among contemporary academics.
Also, many self-designated White nationalists, or, as they are labeled by the Left, “White supremacists” in America and Europe, resort to similar substitute identities by adorning themselves with insignia and slogans going back to National Socialist Germany or to fascist Italy. The self-perception of these new White nationalists is often embedded in a caricatured reenactment of anachronistic infra-political activities that actually never took place in the Third Reich, but which are now projected into a surreal, vicarious world of their own imagination, as if the reenactment of those “Nazi” activities could miraculously resurrect the original National Socialist or Fascist state.
Talking About Race
This raises an additional problem with the right choice of words and hence with the appropriate conceptualization of the idea of identity today. It would be far easier if one could use specific terms such as “national consciousness,” instead of a rather generic expression “ethnic identity.” However, due to semantic distortions and the post-World War II political climate, the very specific German word ‘Volk’ (people?) or “national consciousness” (Volksbewusstsein) are seldom used today in depicting someone’s identity in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Hence the popularity of the English word ‘ethnic’ — a more generic and less ideologically colored word which has become a value-free locution in the studies of different peoples and races.
For example, at American universities there are courses in “Ethnic Studies,” in which students do not study racial traits of different peoples, or deal with diverse ethnicities in Europe, but focus primarily on the study of cultural identities of non-European peoples, while prudently avoiding the qualifiers “White” and “non- White.” Sometimes euphemisms can do wonders and can get a scholar fame and lifelong tenure.
Prior to World War II it was rare in Europe and America to use the word ‘ethnic’ in the study of various peoples of the world. Instead, politicians and academics were quite at ease, regardless of their ideological background, with the word ‘race’ and with “racial science” as a legitimate academic field. Even prior to the fateful European year of 1933, the locution “racial science” (Rassenkunde) was a common denominator in Germany and Europe in the study of different ethnicities and was often used by anthropologists, biologists and social scientists. Back in those days, the word ‘race’ was a value-free paradigm in anthropological and medical sciences and commonly used in the description of different peoples. Only after World War II did the word ‘race’ begin to acquire a negative connotation, whose legal ramifications gradually made it disappear from the academic and political discourse, giving way, instead, to the less value-loaded word ‘ethnic’. Today, if a White person utters the word ‘race’, or claims to have a “racial identity” when talking about his in-group, his ethnic identity, or his family affiliation, all hell breaks loose. The noun ‘race’ and the adjective ‘racial’ have acquired by now a quasi-demonic meaning and are used only when race riots occur, or when a White person insults a non-White person. Immediately, the White person will be labeled as a “racist.”
There seems to be an inconsistency in this new public and academic discourse. According to the modern academic and political vernacular there is no such thing as racial identity, but only ethnic and cultural identities. Should this reasoning be accepted at face value and if it can be backed up by empirical evidence, in that case there can be no “racists” either. According to the allegedly scientific results produced by modern academics and frequently echoed by contemporary politicians, there are no racially marked identities, as there is only one race, the “human race.” Modern academics and media people, however, cannot completely dispense with these negative words and expressions such as “White racists” because they badly need them in order to justify their own theories on the alleged non-existence of races.
America’s identity and Explicit and Implicit Whites
Kevin MacDonald introduced the concepts of “explicit and implicit identity,” with explicit or self-confessed White Americans being those who are aware of their racial background and who openly assert their racial identity. By contrast, implicit White Americans rarely assert their racial awareness, or probably do not even think conscientiously of it, yet they prefer to socialize with other Whites and to live among other Whites, and they are attracted to various aspects of traditionally White culture, such as classical music or country music.
As a result of the modern egalitarian dogma, fueled by different schools of thought, explicit White nationalists in America are often dubbed with derogatory labels such as “White supremacists.” The purpose of such a generic across-the-board defamatory expression is to denounce any inklings of racial awareness among Whites, including those Whites who are not the least inclined to denigrate or belittle other racial groups, but who solely wish to retain their own racial specificity and their own cultural heritage.
White people are gradually coalescing into implicit White communities that reflect their ethnocentrism but “cannot tell their name.” They are doing so because of the operation of various mechanisms that operate implicitly, below the level of conscious awareness. These White communities cannot assert explicit White identities because the explicit cultural space is deeply committed to an ideology in which any form of White identity is anathema.
The huge subject of American or European White identity can be observed not only from the perspective of race alone. Other factors, such as culture, religion and politics must be also taken into account. How do White Europeans perceive White Americans and how do White American nationalists perceive themselves?European White nationalists typically perceive America’s identity through its foreign policy. Whether White American politicians perceive themselves in the same fashion as they are perceived by White European nationalists, is quite a different matter, often leading to serious misunderstandings.
In the eyes of many explicit White Europeans, American politicians, as well as large segments of the American society, are perceived as Bible zealots. Accordingly, many White scholars and activists in Europe view White Americans as subscribing to a version of ancient Hebrew thought. It is no accident that American foreign policy decision makers are often scorned by White European nationalists as Yahweh’s messengers attempting to punish moral transgressions. Recall George W. Bush’s crusade to “rid the world of evil-doers” in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack and the many references by the Bush Administration to the “Axis of Evil” in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Likewise, it is no coincidence that America has been far more sympathetic, over the last 50 years, to the state of Israel (seen as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy) than European states.
White nationalists in Europe are thus prone to emphasizing cultural and religious factors in the identity-building process among Americans. For example, the secessionist Southern states were once viewed as the symbol of evil by the Yankee Bible-inspired world improvers. In the eyes of many White Europeans this is seen as yet another example in which Americans have been motivated by a Bible-inspired world view of stark contrasts between good and evil.
There are many other examples. During World Wars I and II, it was the turn of Germany and the “Nazis” to become the symbol of evil. Then, during the Cold War, it was the turn of communism to become the new symbol of evil.
Given that the American political system sees itself as the embodiment of goodness, its diplomatic actions and foreign policies will rarely suffer from bouts of bad conscience, be it during the bombing of Dresden or the bombing of Baghdad. This is because, as White Europeans often observe, America’s identity is centered in the Jewish-inspired Biblical idea of political chosenness. This chosenness results in Americans behaving as if they have a moral imperative to punish all non-believers in the values Americans hold dear. Thus rulers who do not subscribe to democracy are perceived as less than human — as little more than dangerous animals. Accordingly, such dangerous animals need to be killed or at least removed from power.
Today, there are no evil Confederates, fascists, or communists in the official America’s identity-building process. Another symbol of evil in the identity-building process must be created, such as ‘Islamism’, a word which is frequently invoked by many White nationalists today.
For the time being anti-Islamism in America, like anti-fascism in modern Germany, is a risk-free intellectual endeavor. It operates as a socially acceptable substitute identity and is often encouraged by neoconservative Jewish circles. Such a negative identity serves as a nice cover for White nationalists when they need to tone down their own explicit White identity. Since it can be professionally damaging to criticize non-White immigrants in the USA, let alone openly criticize Jewish influence, many explicit White Americans prefer to hide their criticism of multiracial America behind criticism of Muslims.
Some well-known members of European nationalist parties even go a step further. For fear of being labeled “White supremacists,” or “anti-Semites” — or even worse, for fear of being called “neo-Nazis” — they resort to similar anti-Islamic rhetoric mixed with eulogies of the Jews and coupled with atonement trips to Israel.Such a psychological cover is viewed by many White American and European nationalists as the safest way to get a free ride at home for their anti-Muslim hectoring, or for their criticism of multiculturalism.
State and Ethnic Identity
White Americans identify themselves with America quite differently than White Europeans do with their various nations. The foundation of America was a case of rational political constructivism, whereas in Europe a strong notion of the nation (‘Volk’) preceded attempts at state building. Incidentally, there is no corresponding word in English for the German word ‘Volk’. The English word ‘people’ is ambiguous, as it can yield different meanings.
Therefore, the idea that America is “a proposition state” (or a “construct state”) has a certain surface plausibility. Moreover, a rationally constructed state, such asAmerica, in contrast to an organic state in Europe, is far more vulnerable to the ideology of multiculturalism, which in turn can prompt its architects to be more open to the influx of foreign races and other cultures.
This in part explains a weaker sense of national community among White Americans than among White Europeans. In this sense one can say that even the highly acclaimed American constitutional patriotism resembles a Spenglerian “third religion”; or more specifically, it reflects a new political theology with all the hallmarks of the bygone Enlightenment period. Even the so-called constitutional patriotism in the Federal Republic of Germany, which can be described as an acquired “civil religion,” is just a meager post-WWII imported copy of American constitutional patriotism, with one important difference: America was founded by White politicians of the Enlightenment period, whose explicit racial identity was far better formulated and more freely voiced than by European thinkers and politicians of the same epoch. Unlike White racial “identitarians” in Europe, explicit White racial awareness in America continued to hold the judiciary high ground until the mid- 20th Century.
Identifying with the state in America has little in common with the traditional “folk-culture-bound” form of identifying with the state that is so characteristic of Central and Eastern Europe. For this reason, the substitute factor of race has traditionally played among White American nationalists a stronger role in the identity-building process than among White European nationalists. However, despite differences in their historical self-image and self-perception, White Europeans and White Americans are becoming more and more aware today of the factor which binds them together and which, in a state of economic crisis or in the distinct possibility of their country’s break-up can play a crucial role: their common racial heritage.
European Identities, “Civil War Identities”
The term “European identity” is lexical nonsense. Just as there are differences in self-perceptions between White Americans vs. White Europeans with regard to their state and their racial identity respectively, there are also different and conflicting ethnic identities among the dozens of European peoples. It is questionable whether it will be ever possible to set up the common European identity of which so many Europeans like to dream. Theoretically, such “pan-European” identity would probably conform to the views and dreams of many White Americans, who are, to be sure, less plagued by their own tribal interethnic squabbles than White Europeans.
There is no European identity as such; it has never existed, other than among some theoreticians nursing the idea of a continental Euro-Asian homeland. It remains a mystery how hundreds of different ethnic groups stretching from the Elbe in Germany to Vladivostok in Russia, can construct a common identity. Despite living in the same general geographic location, most Europeans identify themselves first with their clan, community and ethnicity and not with their next door neighbors—whom they often violently reject. European peoples often frame their identity on what Tatu Vanhanen aptly calls “ethnic nepotism,” whereby the crucial characteristic of an ethnic group is that its members are genetically more closely related to each other than to the members of other groups. Such ethnic or clannish nepotism—so frequent in Europe and even within one single ethnic group—can in no way foster the idea of an all-encompassing White identity, which many White American nationalists consider as their primary goal.
In contrast to the “multicultural,” or more precisely, multiracial societies of Western Europe, peoples of Central and Eastern Europe are relatively racially homogeneous, but ethnically they are highly heterogeneous. Their present state of racial cohesiveness, albeit with always simmering interethnic chauvinism, owes much to the legacy of the bygone communist epoch. In retrospect and paradoxically, the good side of the communist legacy is that communism had never appealed to potential non-European immigrants and therefore had made the East European peoples racially more homogenous. Here, of course, the usage of the word ‘ethnic’ is appropriate, since it would be very complicated to talk about different sub-races among East and Central Europeans. Yet on the implicit level East Europeans are far more aware of their Nordic, Dinaric, Alpine, or Mediterranean phenotypes respectively. Their historical and interethnic grievances are not based on interracial hatreds, but lie exclusively in the field of culture and religion. Therefore, one must never underestimate interethnic, inter-White and inter-European resentments as a source of possible new conflicts in this region of Europe.
Clearly, from the perspective of “Whiteness” or their “European identity,” Central and Eastern Europeans are more “European” than Western Europeans. Moreover, feelings of historical guilt or self-hatred, as encountered often in Germany, Great Britain, or even in the USA today, are almost unknown among Central and East Europeans. The national pride of White citizens in Eastern Europe is relatively strong and determines to a large extent their identity.
The average citizen in Croatia or Hungary, for example, doesn’t need to read academic treatises on the failure of the multicultural system in West Europe or in the U.S. Nor does he need to immerse himself in the studies of different races in order to find out who he is. In Croatia, for instance, citizens know they are White, Croats and Catholics. And they are quite proud of it. The same applies to citizens in Poland or Hungary.
The reason for their explicit ethnic and racial identity, in comparison to citizens in Germany or in the USA, is two-fold: on the one hand, it is a logical response to the violent denial of their national identity by the preceding communist system. On the other hand, their “Whiteness” and their national identity, in view of the extremely small number of non-European residents, do not appear to them as a serious out-group threat. On the agenda of nationalist parties in Eastern Europe one comes across endless passages depicting real or perceived historical threats from their White European near neighbors, whereas the subject of non–European immigration is seldom discussed.
The interethnic resentments in Eastern Europe resulting from ethnic nepotism are very pronounced, and they often turn ugly. Thus the national identity of a Polish nationalist, who may otherwise agree on all points with his nationalist counterpart from Germany—such as their common criticism of globalism, their anticommunism and their antiliberalism — is often accompanied by strong anti- German feelings. One third of ethnic Hungarians — more than 2 million — living in Slovakia, Serbiaand Romania typically define their national identity through their resentment of the peoples among whom they live. Czech nationalists seldom like to discuss with their German counterparts the issue of the forcible deportation of 3 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Despite some semblance of peace between Serbs and Croats, these two ethnically similar, neighboring peoples identify with two entirely different historical narratives and two completely different and mutually hostile and exclusive victimihoods. In short, Serbs and Croats, despite their remarkable ethnic and linguistic similarity, display two radically and mutually exclusive identities. For a Croatian nationalist it is difficult to become, despite his anti-liberal and anti-communist rhetoric, “a good Croat” without describing himself all too often as an “anti-Serb.”
Interethnic hatred in Western Europe today plays a far lesser role than ever before, largely due to the constant influx of non-Europeans, who are now perceived as the main threat. The negative image of Third World immigrants has prompted many West European White nationalists to see themselves no longer as victims of the national myths of their White European neighbors, but as victims of pan-racial pandemonium brought about by the liberal capitalist system. For many White European nationalists today, this raises the question: What good is it now to define oneself as a Swede, or a German, or to dream of Greater Germany, Greater Sweden, or Greater France, considering the fact that more than 10 to 20 percent of French, Belgian, or German citizens are of non-European and non-White origin?
Negative Identities and Random Identities
The phenomenon of negative identity, which usually surfaces in a state of emergency, needs also to be mentioned. One could paraphrase Carl Schmitt and argue that a country’s degree of sovereignty is best visible in a state of emergency. At that moment even an apolitical person becomes well aware of who he is, prompting him to make a quick and sharp distinction between “the friend and the foe.”
Likewise, in times of war a White citizen in the USA or Europe can become best aware of his explicit Whiteness. When a major crisis looms on the horizon, each of us knows whether he is an implicit or explicit German, Croatian, or American. And he knows which racial group he belongs to and to which he needs to swear his allegiance. Should he forget his identity, it is likely that the Other from an out-group will quickly remind him who he is. For example, during frequent brawls between members of different racial groups in the German town of Neukölln (a center of Muslim immigration) or in the U.S. cities of Cleveland or South Los Angeles (home to many different non-White groups), even the most implicitly identified Whites — i.e., Whites who would otherwise not have any explicit awareness or concern about their racial background and their racial ingroup — are likely to experience sudden racial reawakening. As a result of such conflicts, the process of White identity-building takes place in an unusually rapid manner.
It should be noted that this is also the case with many White nationalists who embraced an explicit racial identity after finding that their professional career was destroyed or in danger. There are a lot of belated White nationalists in America and Europe who like to boast about how “they have experienced their nationalist and racial awakening.” In most cases these individuals were once apolitical individuals. But when their careers ran the risk of being ruined due to the multicultural system and its “positive discrimination” in favor of non-Whites, they do not hesitate to become vocal and explicit White nationalists.
Such reactive random identities were quite common among Croatian politicians in 1991 with the breakup of Yugoslavia. Many former high Communist officials began to detect their nationalist identities only after the Yugoslav Communist Army (JNA) and the Serb paramilitary units had begun their assault on secessionist Croatia. Many of those belated Croat nationalists, prior to 1991, were explicitly anti-Croatian apparatchiks; oftentimes they were virulent “Yugoslavs.” It was strange to observe in late 1991 how former communist party members converted in a twinkle of an eye into Croatian and Serbian explicit nationalists respectively. In a similar vein, one cannot exclude that with the deepening political and economic crisis in Europe and America, White German, French and American citizens will begin to vote for nationalist parties en masse.
Political opportunism can often be described as a psychological response to a state of emergency.
In terms of negative or reactive identities, one could also draw a parallel with long-standing Christian anti-Semitism, which may be also called a form of negative identity. Millions of Christians resent the Otherness of the Jews, yet at the same time they pray to the Jewish God Yahweh, or devote their lifetimes to the study of ancient Hebrew texts. Alain de Benoist cogently argues that Christian anti-Semites turned the ethnic Jewish God Yahweh into their own anti-Semitic and globalist god.
Culture and Race: Perishable and Inherited Identities
Historically, different brands of nationalism, as transmitters of identities, have played a negative role in Europe. In this sense, White Americans, despite their weaker sense of statehood have an advantage over White Europeans. First off, they have been able to avoid destructive interethnic disputes among themselves. Traditional methods of self-identification with a specific territory, as romantic and poetic as they may have been in the past for many European nationalists, are hardly suitable for today’s global capitalist system which destroys all identities, including those of White peoples everywhere in the world. The traditional obsession of White Europeans with their state and their tribe at the expense of neighboring European tribes and states has turned out to be counterproductive. One may argue that non-European immigrants, including non-European foreign powers, have been the only true beneficiaries of these inter-White disputes. In fact, interethnic, inter-White disputes only seem to provide legitimacy to the neo-Marxist/liberal experiment with its ideology of mass immigration and multiculturalism. Such old and small-time European nationalisms, coupled with the veneration of the nation-state have become anachronistic in view of today’s changing racial picture in Europe and America.
One could also suggest that in order to preserve their true identity White Europeans and White Americans must first resurrect their common cultural and racial awareness. It is true that the word ‘race’ in modern political vernacular, as an identity-building factor, has by now acquired a quasi-criminal meaning. In the opinion of the ideologues of the left, the social environment must pave the way for the identity-building process. Here, however, American sociobiologists can be helpful in formulating the view that racial and ethnic identities are an integral aspect of human nature.
However, first and foremost the meaning of race should be re-evaluated. Race is not just a biological phenomenon: it also has spiritual implications. The metaphysical base of the race should come first, as Julius Evola argues:
The mistake by many racial fanatics, who think that the resurrection of race, within its ethnic unity signify ipso facto the rebirth of a nation, lies precisely there: they conceive of a people as of “purebred” horses, cats or dogs. The preservation or the restoration of racial purity in the narrow sense means everything in so far as an animal is concerned, but not as far as humans are concerned.
The common racial heredity of White Americans and Europeans appears as the only valid factor in the identity-building process. It cannot be changed at will. One can change his ideology, his language, his theology, his favorite football team and his geographic location. But a person cannot change his genetic heritage. However, as Evola wrote, to consider genetic heritage or the race factor as the only hallmark of identity boils down to biological determinism and is unlikely to generate strong emotions of loyalty. This is particularly true with many White nationalists in America, who focus too often on the anthropological aspect of race — the physical phenotype — while neglecting the spiritual part of race.
The resurrection of identity among White Europeans and Americans in a broader racially spiritual way appears as the only valid answer. “Not only breeding and selection are part of race,” wrote the German pedagogue Ernst Krieck, who himself played a prominent role in higher education in National Socialist Germany, “but also the form, the style, and personal attitude and the “folkish lifestyle” — within which racial value come to the fore.” Furthermore, Ludwig Clauss, who also played a prominent academic and racialist role not just in National Socialist Germany, but much earlier in the liberal Weimar Germany, wrote in his little known book Rasse und Charakter:
Race is not only, as is still frequently believed in laymen circles, a lump of inherited characteristics (e.g., talents, musical skills, organizational skills, intelligence, etc.), but an inheritable law of Gestalt, which manifests itself in all traits that man can have and that bestow those traits with style. Not by the possession of those traits can one recognize the race of a man, but by the style he uses those traits.
The overemphasis of the physical and biological features in search of racial identity is often a dead end street. Have we not met many good-looking White individuals in Europe and America who are the textbook cases of intellectual and moral depravity? The genetic heritage of Whites must be the main part of his identity only in so far it holds a racially good spiritual direction. A beautiful White body is not necessarily a reflection of a good character. Only spirit can provide a people and an individual with finite identity.
 Kevin MacDonald, “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism,“ The Occidental Quarterly 6, no.4 (Winter, 2006-07): 7–46; Kevin MacDonald. “Effortful Control, Explicit Processing and the Regulation of Human Evolved Predispositions,” Psychological Review 115, no.4 (2008): 1012–1031.
 Alexandre Latsa , ”Moscou: capitale de l’Europe!“ In “Le retour de la troisième Rome” Eurasia Vol 3(4) (Dublin: Éditions Avatar, 2009). One of the most popular spokesmen for “Eurosianism” is Alxander Dugin, a Russian writer. See Eldar Ismailov and Vladimer Papava, Rethinking Central Eurasia (Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, 2010 ).