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Not one of us

Decidedly. This is one of those sentences, from one of those articles, that you read again and again in the hope that it might bear some reasonable meaning on closer inspection. No-one could really think that, could they? Today’s prize for greatest misplaced faith in the state goes to The Guardian’s Hywel Williams:

Middle Eastern tribalism, just like the African variety, is the direct result of colonial interference which frustrated the indigenous development of state-building.

For Mr Williams, the state is by definition good… but only when it is doing what he wants, promoting what he believes is social progress. The state is only the state for him when it is a mid-20th-century north European welfare auction. Otherwise it is a reversion to some more primitive social form, not a real state. If becomes an instrument for evil, then that is because it is not a proper state; someone must have interfered with it.

Nasty states that express tribalism are not in the ‘Western tradition’, but they are caused by colonialism in the Middle East and Africa, while Putin’s Russia on the other hand looks “to its Slavic roots”, and while Bush’s America is (apparently) a tribalism of politicised evangelicalism.

It is perplexing how ‘tribalism’ will stretch to cover everything Mr Willams does not like, but still he purports to think that local states for local people are a good thing (if permitting the English self-government is going too far, tantamount to endorsing apartheid). “Modern democratic states” are what he wants. But to be acceptable they should all be alike in this, in that, and in the other respect. His way of government is best. How is that different from imperial interference?

24 comments to Not one of us

  • Chris Harper

    Guy,

    It is just another example of the paucity of imagination, ignorance of history, lack of understanding of human nature and dislike of diversity which characterises generic left wing thinking.

    Not that I am stereotyping of course.

  • Chris Harper

    I have just tried to read the article, but it is utter tripe, unreadable drivel, not even worth fisking. People get paid to write this rubbish?

    I cannot believe that even the author believes this.

  • Pete

    Strewth, that’s a bad one.
    I feel for him. “Gimme a few thousand words on tribalism, Williams – need it in half an hour”.

  • RAB

    Holy fucking God!!
    Where do I start? How do you get every word wrong and still get a piece like that published?
    I will return to this later but I am off out to visit the American Museum near Bath this afternoon, to see what that “Tribe” has to commend itself to us.
    I am certainly ashamed that the asshole is one of my tribe. Cos he’s got to be a very narrow type of Welshman, I know well to avoid.

  • dobeln

    I am amused by the notion that ‘Colonialism frustrated middle eastern nation building’ – western semi-colonialism between WWI and WWII after smashing the (already crumbling) Ottoman empire was the only reason that arab nationalism got off the ground.

    Of course, then, as now, westerners underestimated the force of tribalism. Heh.

    As for African tribalism, well, I dunno – but what exactly were these grand African nationalist dreams before the Euros arrived?

  • Chris Harper

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am not aware of any middle eastern colonialism in the first place.

    Weren’t they protectorates, not colonies? And Egypt and Iran (Persia) weren’t even that. Not that Egypt is part of the middle east.

    If they were colonies then where, with the exception of Israel, are the European colonising populations?

  • Jacob

    Mark Twain said it best
    here
    (hat tip: Jane Galt).
    “The reader must not imagine that he is to find in it wisdom,
    brilliancy, fertility of invention, ingenuity of construction,
    excellence of form, purity of style, perfection of imagery,
    truth to nature, clearness of statement, humanly possible situations,
    humanly possible people, fluent narrative, connected sequence of events–
    or philosophy, or logic, or sense. No; the rich, deep, beguiling charm
    of the book lies in the total and miraculous ABSENCE from it of all
    these qualities–a charm which is completed and perfected by the
    evident fact that the author, whose naive innocence easily and surely
    wins our regard, and almost our worship, does not know that they
    are absent, does not even suspect that they are absent. When read
    by the light of these helps to an understanding of the situation,
    the book is delicious–profoundly and satisfyingly delicious. “

  • What makes this article really funny is that the nation-states of Western Europe are built around nothing but ethnic tribalism. The word “nation” originally meant “ethnic group.” A “nation-state” is a country comprised overwhelmingly of one ethnic group. This tribalism drove the European conflicts of the last 150 years.

    One of the dangerous conceits of Europe is the idea that the European political history sets the template for all of humanity. It doesn’t. Most people of the world do not live in countries comprised overwhelmingly of one ethnic group. Most live in multi-ethnic countries. In most places, knowing that person is a citizen of country “X” doesn’t tell you much about that persons culture or political loyalties. In Europe, Germans are Germans regardless of the form of government du jure or even the boundaries of countries. The French are French, and so on.

    I think that Europeans are such fans of transnational government because only by going beyond the nation-state can they escape tribalism.

    Americans are a post-tribal people. America is and has always been a multi-ethnic society. Our collective identity arises from our political ideology and nothing else. Europeans repeatedly make the mistake of projecting their relationship to nation-states onto America. European patriotism means loyalty to ethnicity. American patriotism means loyalty to the Constitution ands its supporting ideals. We use the same words to label significantly different concepts.

    The states of the middle-east (and many other regions of the world) do not function well because their peoples have little loyalty to them. They are to abstract and to new for most people to have developed any emotional ties to them.

    Europeans need to stop being so provincial and narcissistic and get out and see the world.

  • Middle Eastern tribalism, just like the African variety, is the direct result of colonial interference which frustrated the indigenous development of state-building.

    Personally, I blame the sociologists, or, rather, those who allowed such a crock to become accepted as an academic “discipline”.

    “Tribalism” is another slippery term they inveigled into decent intercourse. Inevitably, it has two meanings.

    First, it refers to a simple group who share some kind of identity and kinship, probably without any greatly-developed social distinctions. In effect, the pre-cyberian equivalent of a group like the followers of Samizdata.

    Second, it refers to situations where a strong sense of difference develops between one group and another. Try any group of footie fans.

    The notion that “tribalism” (either as a primitive collective or as a sense of belonging) was invented by the arrival of an external colonial power is untenable.

    As for “state-building”, huh. If we think “pre-colonial”, the only successful “states” in Africa or the “Middle East” (now there’s a term for revisionists to work on) were empires. And very few of them were based on concepts of “peace-and-lurve”.

  • cryptononcommie

    “Middle Eastern tribalism, just like the African variety, is the direct result of colonial interference which frustrated the indigenous development of state-building.”

    If the indigenous population had constructed a robust and well-functioning state “pre-colonization” it would have been quite difficult for some germanic savages to colonize them, no? Regardless, while the idea that African tribalism is the direct result of colonial interference is bull, it is quite obvious that Middle Eastern “tribalism” is very much the direct result of colonial interference. I’m not referring to French and English colonialism which only lasted for the brief period after the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the de-colonization period (a few decades at most); by the time they got there, the Middle East was already heavily screwed up. No; instead, I am referring to Arab Islamic colonialism. The very Arab Islamic colonialism invented by Mohammad, which allowed him to conquer and subjugate the entire Arabian Peninsula. The very Arab Islamic colonialism carried out by his first Caliph (direct descendent), who then led Arab Islamic conquistadors out of the Arabian Peninsula to wage war against the Byzantines, the Persians, and all the innocents of the Middle East. The very Arab Islamic colonialists who after subjugating the Middle East attempted to enter and subjugate Europe, only to be stopped by the brave Byzantines. The very Arab Islamic colonialists who blazed through North Africa, into Iberia (Spain/Portugal), and continued into France, before finally being stopped by the Franks. The very Arab colonialists who conquered cities which they could have never built such as Alexandria, Cairo, Antioch, Jerusalem, Damascus, Sidon, Tyre, Constantinople, Belgrade, Athens, Budapest, and besieged Vienna multiple times. The Middle East was once the cradle of civilization (Sumer, Akkadia, Babylon, Assyria, Neo-babylon, the Phoenicians, etc.); look at it now, after brave Islamic conquistadores subjugated or killed all the men of the Middle East and North Africa, and took their women, by force, as their wives or sex slaves (Mohammed himself did this many times). The Zoroastrians of the Middle East and Persia are no more. The Christians and others of the Middle East and North Africa are no more (with a very few exceptions who somehow managed to survive and not give in). Europe itself is an idea that exists only because of Islam; by conquering all of North Africa and the Middle East, Islam destroyed the Mediteranean world, leaving only Europe (the northern part) barely intact.

    The result of Islamic colonialism can still be seen to this day in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the Balkans. It is no coincidence that the first modern European colonial powers (Spain, and to a lesser extent Portugal) were the only two western European “countries” to have lived under prolonged Islamic occupation. It is no coincidence that the conquitadores, who had learned much from their Islamic overlords, behaved with such brutality and zeal. It is no coincidence that to this day Portual and Spain are the two most retarded western European countries.

    Greece, too, bears the scars of Islamic conquest. The “Greeks” of this tend to be backwards; having lived under the jackboot of Islam for so long, they can hardly be blamed. The same applies to the Serbs and the rest of the Balkans (though the non-greek balkans were also exposed to that other friend of the left, communism).

    The Greeks and Armenians and other non-Muslims living in “Turkish” and non-”Turkish” territory conquered by the Ottoman Empire were ethnically cleansed before the Holocaust was even a glimmer in Hitler’s eye. At least the retardant effect of Islam upon thost poor people stopped when Muslims brutally killed them.

    Because of your stupid immigration policy, you English, who supported the Ottomans in your stupid balance of power game, and you French, who did much the same, and you Germans, who allied yourselves with the Ottomans during World War I, shall come to feel the jackboot of Jihad yourselves; the very jackboot of Jihad you ignorantly helped apply to others so that you could maintain the “balance” in europe, or so that you may hope to rule Europe.

    In a way, I am glad that you have let the Jihadis into your own countries, and in a way, I am glad that the Jihadis have changed little. In many ways, you two deserve each other, and hey, if Western Europe somehow survives the Jihad, you shall have learned a historical lesson, one that you historical illiterates could not have been bothered to learn by picking up a history book in your lives.

    As for the Middle East, and North Africa, the solution is simple. A policy of decolonialization, and de-Islamification (similar to de-Nazification) must be applied. The Islamic conquerors must be pushed back to Medina. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, Zoroastrians, and any other non-Muslims must be allowed to live free in the Middle East; the Jews, who were pushed out of the Middle East must be allowed to return if they so desire. Only thus can civilization be returned to “the cradle of civilization” and to “the breadbasket,” and only thus can the sins comitted by the savages upon my ancestors, and my brothers and sisters be rectified.

    Thoughts?

  • Kim du Toit

    In tomorrow’s Grauniad:

    FOOLED YOU ALL!
    by Hywel Williams

    Boy, I can’t believe you (the reading public) are so stupid as to believe that what I wrote about colonialism and the Middle East was anything but satire…

  • dearieme

    Abraham led a tribe from Ur, did he not?

  • Nick M

    Well cryptononcommie,

    I don’t know where to start. I take your anti-europeanism with a pinch of salt. Except I have to say that lumping Britain, France and Germany into the same gang because at times in the C19th Britain and France supported the Turks and in WWI Germany allied with them and the UK and France fought against them is bewildering. I absolutely fail to see what this history at the very limit (and beyond) of living human memory has to do with Anglo-Pakistanis blowing themselves up on the Tube.

    I’m sure you will take this as another example of Euro-ignorance. That is your right. I regard your argument as being essentially unrealistic. You seem to be suggesting that any country that hasn’t always been on the side of the angels (however you personally define that) deserves what it gets. That is bunk.

    The idea of “de-islamicising” the Mid-East is equally unrealistic. It is sometimes possible by force, coercion or persuassion to “turn the clock back” to an extent but the idea of winding it back to the pre-Islamic C7th is ludicrous. You accuse others of historical ignorance and your comparison with the German de-Nazification process is telling. That was achievable because Nazism was the dominant ideology of Germany for 12 years. It is a totally different kettle of fish with an ideology which has been dominant for 1200 years.

    Your final, rather emotional plea, is peculiar. I for one don’t give a monkey’s chuff about returning civilisation to it’s cradle. What I care about is that the great nations of this planet remain civilised (despite the pressures upon them from Islam and other things). A bunch of fuckwits playing “Dark Ages” in a distant desert is irrelevant to me. It becomes relevant when they start playing that game in the civilised world. At that point (and that point was passed a while back) there is nothing to do but bomb the buggers back to their sand-pit.

    To paraphrase the great Konstantine Tsiolkovsky…

    The Middle-East is the cradle of mankind but one cannot live in the cradle forever.

    (If you’re unsure about the identity of said gent, ask Dale – dollars to donuts he’ll go into a rapture about him).

  • RAB

    You were going well there Cryptononcommie until those ludicrous last three paragraphs.
    Still Nick M has Fisked them for me.
    The American Museum is well worth a visit. Get there mid morning, as apart from the museum bit Shaker furniture, incredible quilts etc, the grounds are extensive and the views to die for.

  • Nick M

    RAB,
    Where exactly is the American Museum? My mother is planning a trip to South Wales in the near future.

    Your kind words are greatly appreciated. I’ve always wanted to be able to say I’ve done a Fiskie.

    Ah, the weekend is coming soon and I can imagine prowling the flesh-pots of Manchester asking fit girls, “Do you Fisk?”

    Well I might if I wasn’t getting married in October…

  • RAB

    Nick M, the Management will probably kill us for this, but what the hell! it’s a slow night.
    If your mum is going to S Wales specifically, tell her to go to St Fagans first. This is a museum of buildings collected from all over Wales from, oh Tudor times onwards, brick by numbered brick like. It is vast, being set in an estate of hundreds of acres. There are are all sorts of stuff like whole rows of houses from Merthyr Tydvill that walk you through house to house from when they were built (1700′s) through to when they were transported Late 80′s) It is an incredible time capsule of different living experiences, throughout the ages. And it’s free !!! It’s just outside Cardiff by the way.
    As to the American Museum.
    Well as some folks may have noticed, I use my Welshness as a cod comic device. I am proud to be Welsh, er but not fanatical. I have lived in Bristol for 30 years now.
    So If your mum wants to see the American Museum then she must get over the Seven Bridges, one or tother, then it is the other side of Bath from Bristol as it were.
    Today, because they have roadworks ongoing, took us about an hour to cover what should have been a 20 minute drive from Bristol.
    Still What do I care! I have my ipod and illegal fm transmitter to while away the time.
    Love to your mum, Nick M . Never forget, as Joni Mitchell said-
    You dont know what you’ve got till it’s gone

  • cryptononcommie

    I take your anti-europeanism with a pinch of salt.

    How so? Please elaborate.

    Except I have to say that lumping Britain, France and Germany into the same gang because at times in the C19th Britain and France supported the Turks and in WWI Germany allied with them and the UK and France fought against them is bewildering.

    I suppose you do have a point. After all, the actions of Britain and France were far more damaging than those of Germany, and were it not for Britain and France, Germany would not have had the oportunity to ally with the Ottoman Empire, as it would no longer have existed. Furthermore, Germany at least had the good sense to lose WWI, thereby facilitating the dismanteling of the Ottoman Empire. Furthermore, after the Ottomans lost WWI, England and France lacked the good sense to properly support the (now retarded due to prolonged Muslim oppression) Greeks in liberating all the non-Muslim people from the Jackboot of Islam, thereby ensuring the genocide of those innocent non-Muslim people at the hands of the Muslim Turks. Finally, long before WWI, germanic Austria (&Hungary, and with help from the Poles) did far more to push back the Jihad than France and England. So yeah, I suppose you do have a point (in the manner that I just outlied :) ).

    I absolutely fail to see what this history at the very limit (and beyond) of living human memory has to do with Anglo-Pakistanis blowing themselves up on the Tube.

    None are as blind as those who choose not to see (or something like that). As for “Anglo-Pakistanis,” this is not Stormfront, so I fail to see what the racial makeup of the people who blew themselves up has anything to do with anything. No “Anglo-Pakistanis” ever blew themselves up for their homeland of “Anglo-Pakistan” or “Pakistan;” they were in fact Muslims blowing themselves up for the Ummah. Furthermore, it is not just “Anglo-Pakistanis” who are doing it; many wannabe suicide bombers are “Anglo-anglos” who were imbecilic enough to convert to Islam. Many other “racial groups” are involved in this as well, so your attempt to frame this issue in terms of race fails to properly model the real situation; the real cause is Islam, a fact apparent to anyone with an open enough mind and enough intellecual capacity to notice the (true) pattern. Consider this: if the British had properly freed the Hindus(/Sihks) from Mogul (Muslim) oppression through a policy of de-Islamification (akin to de-Nazification) in the Indian subcontinent, you would hardly be having these problem today (so again, you suffer from your historic mistakes). I suppose you could also consider the British partition of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) and India another English mistake that might have rectified the problem; after all, left alone in a single country, the Muslims would have probably ticked off the Hindus (&Sihks) sufficiently to cause the Hindus (&co.) to take matters into their own hands, riding you of your current problem before it could even enter your country (due to your crappy leaders, or better said, lack thereof).

    Furthermore, Britain (after partitioning India) stood by while the Muslim Pakistanis comitted genocide after genocide in now-Pakistani Punjab and other parts of Pakistan (why is it that Muslims are always comitting genocides??). Perhaps if you had done something back then, you would not be facing the problems with “Pakistanis,” now 99.999% Muslim that you are now. In addition, Hitler was great friends with the Mufi of Jerusalem, who proved to be quite the inspiration for Hitler; perhaps if the British had implemented a de-Islamization policy in the British Mandate of Palestine, and thereby removed the Mufi of Jerusalem, the Holocaust may have never happened. Britain could have been such a force for good in the world…

    You seem to be suggesting that any country that hasn’t always been on the side of the angels (however you personally define that) deserves what it gets.

    Har

  • RAB

    Fancy a round of golf, convoluted handle?

  • cryptononcommie

    Hmmm. There appears to be some sort of hard coded comment limit as my comment gut cut off at “har” although it looked fine during the preview. Let us try posting the rest of the comment:

    You seem to be suggesting that any country that hasn’t always been on the side of the angels (however you personally define that) deserves what it gets.

    Hardly. I understand that extreme circumstances require extreme measures. As such, I did not have a problem with the US and UK allying themselves with the USSR during WWII and helping them through projects such as the lend-lease and opening up a second front; even though the USSR was a vile regime, supporting it allowed the downfall of the 3rd Reich. Now, once the 3rd Reich was actually defeated, perhaps the US & UK could have freed the rest of the world from Soviet domination, but they were too weak and small-minded, and the rest is history. Similarly, I do not have a problem with the US supporting various dictatorships and Islamic movements during the Cold War as bringing down the USSR was a very important goal, and those were necessary steps in attaining that goal. Just as the 3rd Reich was a greater threat than the USSR at that time, and the West could not take them out simultaneously, it always makes sense to ally yourself vith the 2nd greatest thread to take out the greatest threat if that is what is required for victory. Now, France and England supported the genocidal Ottomans not because they faced some threat that was even more dangerous or vile than the Ottomans, but more or less for “shits and giggles.” It was all part of a game that England and France played, that frankly was not all that important for the wellbeing of their own people, but doomed the non-Mulsims occupied by Muslims to rape, oppression (the lucky ones), and genocide, and through their support of the Muslim Ottomans, the English and French were complicit to all the attrocities they comitted (and the worst part was that unlike Western support for other Western regimes, e.g. USSR vs. 3rd Reich, Muslims & Dictators vs. USSR, the West did not do it to attain some greater good). Furthermore, my point can perhaps be summarized as such: Live by the Muslims, die by the Muslims. Ally with Islam, die at the hands of Islam.
    As for your insinuation that my dislike for Islam is personal (subjective), I assure you, Islam is objectively evil. More people have died at the hands of Islam and been oppressed by Islam than have by Nazism or Communism. Now, granted, if we take the derivative of the genocide function, we may find that the rate at which Islam kills (d(genocides)/dt) may be a bit lower than the rate at which Nazism or Communism kills, but what Islam lacks in speed, it more than certainly makes up with stamina.

    It is sometimes possible by force, coercion or persuassion to “turn the clock back” to an extent but the idea of winding it back to the pre-Islamic C7th is ludicrous

    A handfull of Hebrews were able to turn the clock back even further more or less single handed. Furthermore, the de-Christianization policies implemented in the West have been able to turn the clock further back as well. In many ways, Islam was more or less dead in the Middle East and North Africa after its glory days had ended; it took Western meddling and stupidity to rekindle it’s spark.

    You accuse others of historical ignorance and your comparison with the German de-Nazification process is telling. That was achievable because Nazism was the dominant ideology of Germany for 12 years.

    For those young children who were indoctrinated since youth by the ideology, Nazism may have existed for eternity; they certainly knew nothing else, and yet, there are no more Nazis today (for all intents and purposes).

    It is a totally different kettle of fish with an ideology which has been dominant for 1200 years.

    So, the longer an evil ideology has oppressed and murdered, the more legitimate it becomes, and the less moral justification one has for its removal? If der Tausend Jahr Reich had lasted one thousand years, would a de-Nazification policy have become immoral? What is the magical length of time after an evil ideology is alowed to persis, oppressing and murdering, until the end of time?

    I for one don’t give a monkey’s chuff about returning civilisation to it’s cradle. What I care about is that the great nations of this planet remain civilised (despite the pressures upon them from Islam and other things). A bunch of fuckwits playing “Dark Ages” in a distant desert is irrelevant to me.

    Hmmm. I wonder of what your statement remings me… could it be this: “How horrible, fantastic it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. I am myself a man of peace from the depths of my soul.” ? Do you know who the speaker is? Surely you must. Are you English incapable of learning any lessons whatsoever from history? Must you constantly return to your Chamberlainian roots, completely ignorant of where that sort of policy has lead you in the past?

    For contrast, here is what one of your better leaders had to say. Then again, you British never listened to that man, at least not until it was too late. Furthermore, once he delivered you from death, you threw him aside, like a dirty sock, of which you no longer had any need. Perhaps had you reelected him after WWII, your “country” would not be such a pitiful excuse for one as it is today. He truly was too good for you. Keep this in mind: as long as Islam exists, it will be a problem for you, just as it was a problem for the Byzantines/East Romans, for the inhabitants of mesos potamos, for the Persians, for the Hindus, for the Budhists, and for every other civilized peoples of the world. As long as it exists, it will hate you and threaten you, and with the help of your left-wing as well as the completely ideological open-borders right, it will kill you. Even without their help, even you mighty British, in your so perceived Fortress Britania, cannot with a 100% success rate prevent a nuclear attack from Islamic jihadis more than willing to meet their 72 virgins in order to dispatch with you (thereby nullifying the mutually assured destruction deterrent).

    At that point (and that point was passed a while back) there is nothing to do but bomb the buggers back to their sand-pit.

    Personally, I prefer a two state solution: one for the Muslims, to be located in the Oil rich Arabian Peninsula, and one for the non-Muslims, who have for so long suffered under Islamic oppression, from Morocco to India and Bangladesh (I can be apathetic about Indonesia and Malaysia). Frankly, though, your solution is just as workable (“I like [you] – we can do business together” to paraphrase another one of your better leaders). Once Islam is removed through any means, civilization will eventually return.

    P.S. While I may often seem insulting in my use of “English,” “British,” and the collective “you,” it is mostly for rhetorcial purposes; I indend no provocation by it. P.P.S. Consider yourself proprly Fisked (not like that half-assed “fisking” some claim that you gave me.) :P
    All in good fun, though, of course.

    Good conversation. I await your comments.

  • CFM

    Anybody else notice ? It’s getting really windy in here . . .

    CFM

  • guy herbert

    No “Anglo-Pakistanis” ever blew themselves up for their homeland of “Anglo-Pakistan” or “Pakistan;” they were in fact Muslims blowing themselves up for the Ummah. Furthermore, it is not just “Anglo-Pakistanis” who are doing it; many wannabe suicide bombers are “Anglo-anglos” who were imbecilic enough to convert to Islam. Many other “racial groups” are involved in this as well, so your attempt to frame this issue in terms of race fails to properly model the real situation; the real cause is Islam, a fact apparent to anyone with an open enough mind and enough intellecual capacity to notice the (true) pattern.

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to note that Britain’s Islamist terrorism problem (such as it is) has connections with Pakistan. It might not be too far from the point to describe it as tribalism, or ethnic, but it isn’t racial or national, nor is it – except in the rhetoric of the Islamists and the terror-warriors – about a worldwide religious identification.

    I’ve noted here before that Pakistan in particular is an incubator for a nasty Saudi-inspired Islamist school and that therefore Pakistani links are significant. People from other backgrounds are less likely to go to Pakistan and are less likely to be infected, unless they are converts who don’t know any better because they don’t have access to more mundane traditions.

    It might just be that British suicide bombers are overwhelmingly from Pakistani backgrounds, because British Muslims are. But I suspect there is more to it than that.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Williams (as has been pointed out already) was wrong – the groups of the Middle East and Africa (whether one calls them tribes, clans or whatever – and there are lots of layers of different sorts of group) have nothing much to do with empire building by Europeans.

    As for “The Character of a Modern European State” (whether it is a matter of an ethnic group ruling itself or is more complicated than that) – I would suggest that people start their reading with M.J. Oakeshott’s essay of this title (the third essay in “On Human Conduct”).

    As for England (the nation I know most about) the old view (that goes back to Bede) that it was basically ethnic (i.e. that various germanic tribes came to a new land and started calling, and thinking of themselves, as a new people called the “English” long before there was political unity – whether or not that was a good thing) seems to be comming back (thanks to the work of the D.N.A. people).

    However, it was always possible for people to adopt the language and customs of the English and be English (I doubt that even modern workers in the field of genetics would deny that some of the people of the West of England have Celtic and preCeltic bloodlines).

    As for whether a nation can exist with simply a political ideology to unite it – I do not know.

    Certainly the United States is not such a nation, as the majority of people have not believed in the limited government ideas of the Constitution since at least the 1930′s.

    American Libertarians and old style Conservatives (as opposed to those “Conservatives” who accept unlimited government) are fine people – but they are certainly not the majority of the population.

    As a matter of historical record the United States was even in my own lifetime (and I was born in 1965) fairly united in such things as language and basic culure.

    Whether the United States can continue to exist without such things as common language and basic culture is a moot point.

    I really do not know.

    However, things are not as bad as in Europe. The difference between Americans and Mexicans is (in my view) not as great as the difference between Europeans and North Africans (and that the North African or Middle Eastern person is born in a European country and lived their all their lives has been shown not to be as relevant as was once hoped).

    There are Protestant Hispanics (more and more of them actually – and Conservative Protestants at that), and Roman Catholic Hispanics do not tend to be on the “liberal” (i.e. modern American usage – “liberal” as in antiWestern civilization) wing of the Church.

    And darker skin and eye colour is sensible given the level of light, heat and other forms of radiation from the Sun in much of the United States (already in my lifetime the line “blue eyed American” has dropped out of usage – I believe people will learn to accept darker skin also).

    However, language may be tougher problem.

    There is such a thing as a “first language” – and it can not be English and Spanish (one must be first in the mind) any more than it can be English and Welsh. One may know many languages – but the tends to be one that is the basic one.

    To be English the Celts (and precelts) had to drop Celtic speech and customs. Other groups did this later (although the weight of immigration has been wildly exagerated – it really became a large scale thing in the last few decades).

    Of course the Scottish people prove that just adopting a language does not mean that you become part of the same nation.

    The idea of “northern and southern Britain” (instead of England and Scotland) did not work out in the end. Perhaps if the capital had been moved from London to somewhere like York…..

    Still these are might-have-beens.

  • K

    Funny, I’ve always thought of the modern state WAS a colonial edifice. A government of the majority imposed upon the minority without its approval. Usually manifested as the less productive confiscating work units from the more productive by force.

  • My major contention with Cryptononcommie’s historical critique is that it’s terribly clever after the fact, taking into account current information and modern events that could not have possibly been predicted back then. Many of his historical “fixes” were simply not feasible at the time.

    if the British had properly freed the Hindus(/Sihks) from Mogul (Muslim) oppression through a policy of de-Islamification (akin to de-Nazification) in the Indian subcontinent, you would hardly be having these problem today

    The British were not in a position to militarily defeat the Mughals for at least one and a half centuries after landing on the subcontinent. By the time the Mughal empire had declined sufficiently for the British to subjugate its rulers, Islam was well and truly entrenched in India. You blithely suggest that the British should have “de-islamified” the country. This assertion is utter bunk for a number of reasons. For starters, can you imagine the scale of such a task? We’re talking about converting many tens of millions of individuals. Do you honestly think that’s possible – considering the difficulty of converting just one convinced religious believer – even if the British were mad enough to have had the will to do so? De-Islamifying India would have caused chaos for (at best) unspecified or (realistically) highly doubtful gain. The British didn’t want an unstable India – like all the European colonial powers, the British did not hold foreign territory to impose some ideological doctrine (although spreading Christianity was often used as a handy justification, though that has no relevance to this discussion) – they were there to acquire resources. A nation in religious upheaval makes the primary objective of the coloniser infinitely harder. Besides, Islamic violent fanaticism back then did not pose the threat it does today, and it’s unreasonable of you to castigate the British because they were not able to accurately peer two hundred years into the future and govern accordingly.

    I suppose you could also consider the British partition of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) and India another English mistake that might have rectified the problem

    Whilst the partition was enacted by British parliamentary decree, the Indian Hindu and Muslim nationalist movements were instrumental in its design. Besides, Indian Muslims and lots of Hindus demanded partition, because they (probably correctly) saw it as the only alternative to wide-scale and doubtless enormously bloody civil war. Post Indian independence, a war-weary Britain was hardly in a position to intervene in the subcontinent. And why would they – it was no longer their problem. The Indians and (henceforth) Pakistanis had struggled for independence; they won it and governed their respective nations with full sovereignty. A British invasion of Pakistan to stop the massacres you mention would have been an act of war. Do you believe that the British would wish to do that after granting independence? You are erroneously using current conditions to prosecute the British, whilst ignoring the prevailing conditions at the time. Thus, your historical critique is deeply flawed.

    France and England supported the genocidal Ottomans not because they faced some threat that was even more dangerous or vile than the Ottomans, but more or less for “shits and giggles.”

    To suggest that the Brits and French supported the Ottomans for “shits and giggles” is errant nonsense. The Ottomans were backed to check the Russian empire’s expansion in the region. Irrelevant now; a pressing geopolitical concern then. You are again using only the situation today to judge the actions of leaders who governed in markedly different times. You could certainly make the argument that France and Britain did not have the prescience to recognise the Islamic threat that would manifest in their nations at a later stage. However it would not be terribly useful to make such an argument in the context of your wider point, for it is unclear how destroying the Ottoman empire in its early stages would somehow alleviate the modern problem of Islamofascism; a problem birthed and fuelled by Islamic doctrine rather than 19th century foreign policy machinations concerning an extinct empire.

    Perhaps had you reelected him after WWII, your “country” would not be such a pitiful excuse for one as it is today.

    You’re talking about Churchill, right? They did re-elect him after WWII.

    Anyway, that’s enough for now.