We start to wonder about our identity at the moment when we are about to lose it. )
Our grandparents never asked questions about the meaning of identity; they never worried about who they were. They took for granted their affiliation to their religion, to their tribe, and to their race. It is with the rising tide of multiculturalism, followed by the waning of the traditional nation-state that identity becomes a problem.
The term “identity” has become fashionable because it can mean everything and nothing at the same time. It is no accident that it is much in vogue today because, as noted in a recent publication of the Institut für Staatspolitik, "it has a resonance more scientific than 'national consciousness' or 'national soul.'
" After the tragic experience Europeans had with their brands of nationalisms during World War II and its minor extension during the recent Yugoslav war, the European political class prefers to use neutral terms such as ” national identity.” The old expression "national consciousness," which in the German language has a particularly strong resonance (i.e., Volksbewusstsein) or in the French language conscience nationale, smacks of fascist vocabulary and must be prudently avoided.
By contrast, the expression "national identity" sounds neutral. It can be used by all — even by those who reject their national identity or who discard the notion of racial pride. Even the icons of the left often give lip service to national pride by posing with patriotic symbols.
It is true that when a White European or White American speaks of the "national conscience" of his ingroup, the mainstream media will automatically point to the rising spectre of racism. In the postmodern world, the barren term "identity" provides a certificate for decent civic consciousness, excluding any suspicion of xenophobia or the rejection of the Other.
Most White Europeans and White Americans resort to “functional” identities with no ties to their racial or cultural identity. Psychological research shows that Whites have fairly strong identities as Whites at the unconscious level — what Kevin MacDonald terms "implicit Whiteness." But at the explicit, conscious level they identify themselves as Americans, or Christians, or classical music fans.
Indeed, for many Whites in the postmodern world, identity is expressed by the choice of different life styles and adherence to exotic mores. These new postmodern trendy identities replace the old identities derived from our racial and cultural heritage.
For example, an ever growing number of Whites, while gleefully expressing their French, American, English or German roots, extol bizarre supranational and transnational identities. They gladly embrace exotic Afro or Asian escapism, or the rap music of urban America. They detect their new identity not in the primeval White vicinity of their own village, but places as far away from their actual lives as possible.
Alain De Benoist observes that in postmodern society, individuals often seek alternative identities by identifying with trade marks, logos, or exotic imagery. If a new fashion dictates that new identity must be sought in Jewish Kabbala or in the mimicry of the life style of a Negro tribe from Timbuktu, it will be gladly embraced.
Quite possibly modern European Americans or Europeans at large cannot become racially conscious without first facing serious physical threat by someone else’s well defined identity. Witness the break-up of Yugoslavia, when many Croats discovered an intense form of national identity thanks to the onslaught of Yugoslav communist tanks.
Victimology: A negative identity
In a multiethnic and multicultural society, the identity of different ethnic groups is incompatible with liberal individualism. On the one hand liberalism preaches the free market with happy consumers as the ultimate identity for all; yet on the other, the very dynamics of liberalism cannot dispense with the conflicting racial and ethnic identities in its own multicultural body politic.
In fact, as ironic as this may sound. multiculturalism (which is the fraudulent euphemism for multiracialism), presents the biggest threat to the liberal system This is because it provokes the sentiments of victimology among its different ethnic and racial constituents. Modern multicultural society, as the former Yugoslavia has shown and as modern US is showing daily, is a fragile system prone to racial and ethnic tension. Pierre André Taguieff a French left-leaning writer and politically correct dissident, notes, that "particularly interethnic rivalry can be radicalized by the slightest spark (a minor event ) and merge into a conflict resembling a civil war.”
Since the end of the Cold War, the political class claims its identity by constant resurrection of the fascist straw man and the forever looming anti-Semite. Even if that anti-Semite bogeyman is not around, he must be reinvented in order to provide credibility to the liberal system. Over and over again.
At the beginning of the third millennium, one can hear on all wavelengths endless horror stories about the evil Hitler — a man who is surely destined to live forever in infamy. It appears that liberal democracy cannot function at all without using the negative Other.
The Jewish Holocaust has become a critical component of identity for the Western world in need of new quasi-religious symbolism — the culture of the Holocaust. In 2005, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Horst Köhler, tearfully declared in the Israeli Knesset that the responsibility for Shoah is part of German identity.” ("Die Verantwortung für die Schoa ist Teil der deutschen Identität.) Similarly, the former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder declared that “the remembrance of the Shoah belongs to our identity.”
Think about that. If taken literally, it would mean that one could not think of oneself as a German without also thinking about the role of Germans in the Holocaust. To be a German is to have the mark of Cain branded on one's forehead.
This culture of the Holocaust is staunchly maintained by the judicial system in Europe. The perception of either real or surreal anti-Semitic identity triggers judicial wrath. Any academic who questions the modern Jewish narrative can easily land into the claws of the Criminal Code — the dreaded German StGB, Section 130, or the French “Loi Fabius- Gayssot.”
There is an obvious double standard here. It is widely permissible to exercise one’s own identity by cracking jokes against “fat Krauts” or “stinking Frogs.” or “hypocrite Wasps.” One can go even go so far as to utter a mild joke against proverbial “camel riders.” But a minor joke about Jewry is unthinkable in the media and political circles of America and Europe. One can criticize the Other by invoking free speech, provided that the Other is not a Jew.
In their desperate search of a non-racial identity, White Europeans resort to ersatz identities. For instance, they espouse the Palestinian or Tibetan identity or the identity of some distant Third World tribe as if it was their own identity. They will spot some lost Indian tribe in the Amazon forest and then, with all vicarious passion, strive to protect and preserve it.
But when it comes to defining and preserving their own racial identity — let alone preserve their race, they remain silent. To say aloud “I am proud of being a White European” smacks of racism.
Such substitute or foreign-inspired ersatz identity is particularly strong when it is couched in the narrative of victimology. Europeans are keen at erecting monuments to exotic tribes that they never heard of until the day before yesterday — especially ones that may have been victimized by Europeans. Days of atonement keep accumulating on the calendar. Every White European or American politician is obliged to pay moral and financial tributes to peoples whose identity has nothing in common with his own.
While Western media and opinion makers assure us that history is creeping toward an end, we are witnessing a staggering demand for the revival of non-European micro-identities, often couched in self-centred victimhoods. And each of those non-European victimhoods requires an expanding number of its domestic dead and foreign culprits. Culprits are always White Europeans, who are forced to practice the ritual of remorse.
The old sense of the tragic, which until recently was the fundamental pillar of the old Greco-Roman historical memory in Europe, cedes its place to Levantine- inspired jeremiads for victimhoods of Asian and African tribes. Slowly but surely, the European sense of the tragic is supplemented by a fixation on non-European identities.
What a scandal if a White European or American statesman fails to display remorse for the past suffering of some non-European people! What counts is the endless enumeration of non-European victims of the European past.
In this postmodern “battle of memories,” victimhoods cannot be equal. Some must take precedence over others, and it's quite obvious that the Jewish Holocaust is the apex of victimhood in the postmodern West.
But there is a grave danger for all. Given the victimological atmosphere that prevails today in the multiracial West, each non-European tribe, race, or community is led to believe that its own victimology is unique. This is a dangerous phenomenon because each victimology competes with other victimologies for pride of place.
The story of the 20th century is that the greatest mass murders in history — the mass murders of communism — were made possible by the Marxist ideology of victimization and they were rationalized in the name of tolerance and so-called human rights. The communist ideology of victimization resulted in the dehumanization of dissident intellectuals and political opponents, and even whole groups of people — with monstrous consequences.
The spirit of victimhood must search for its negative identity by negating and abolishing the Other, who is henceforth no longer perceived as human, but depicted as a monster. The spirit of victimology does not serve to prevent the conflict. It renders the conflict inevitable.
The diverse identities in the multicultural West are a severe problem. On the one hand, modern liberal Western societies require that each non-European ethnic group receives an appropriate identity and its right to historical grievance; yet on the other, liberal societies are unable to function well in an environment beset by ethnic Balkanization.
In particular, the contest of diverse victimologies makes the functioning of the liberal system extremely precarious. In essence, each victimological spirit in multiracial society is confrontational and discriminatory. It creates a climate that promotes divisiveness in the society. The only way such societies can function is with high levels of social control. This prospect is doubtlessly viewed quite positively by postmodern intellectuals. But it will lead to alienation and disengagement for the great majority — especially for Whites who cannot claim victimhood and who are forced to witness the disintegration of their once homogeneous communities.
American and European societies are facing a schizoid situation. On the one hand, they are being overwhelmed by the rhetoric of negative identities derived from guilt feelings — the various anti-colonial victimologies and the endless palaver about past European fascist crimes. Yet on the other hand, one can barely hear a word about gigantic crimes committed by Communists and their liberal allies during and after WWII — crimes committed to avenge the Marxist victimology of the class struggle.
Whites in Europe and America have to overcome the sense of territorial rootedness and intra-ethnic infighting. European racial and cultural identity stretches from Argentina to Sweden and to Russia and to many other places on the globe. Even more importantly, White people must explicitly accept a White identity.
This explicit White identity does not imply that Whites are superior to other peoples or that other peoples are not also unique and have a right to maintain their uniqueness. It merely states that we are a unique people with a unique culture and that both our people and our culture are worth preserving.
White identity can best be preserved in the transcendental sphere of its own uniqueness. But White uniqueness need not and should not come at the price of denying the uniqueness of other peoples and other races.
Tom Sunic (http://www.tomsunic.info/; http://doctorsunic.netfirms.com/
)is an author, former political science professor in the USA, translator and former Croat diplomat. He is the author of Homo americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age ( 2007).