Lug 14 2013, 3:05
This is by no means a scholarly essay nor does it attempt to be, it is rather an extended brainstorming session, which accounts for its meandering structure and the abrupt end.
I’m not an expert on the history of everything ever and so far I have only done some basic ad hoc research on the details and examples mentioned. So there will be some fragmentary or even inaccurate passages in it. But the basic line of reasoning seems quite sound to me.
Any criticism, discussion or outright denial is welcome.
Racism is a self-contradictory notion. The only reason mankind is susceptible to it, is that humans are not only capable of but to a degree prone to highly localised (on a topic) insanity.
From a purely theoretical perspective species undergo a bipolar process.
At one extreme is entropy/unification, at the other lies order/separation/diversification.
The process of unification is socially motivated and thereby an inherently human one and a precondition for economy. Humans are capable of astounding feats of redefining their social identities, they may associate themselves with parents, peers, complete strangers, domestic animals and even the land they live upon. “Those belong to my tribe,” they say, “those are mine.”
Nature on the other hand generally drives towards diversification which increases the natural separation into subspecies etc.
Now the one thing that is historically evident about those tendencies is its general monodirectionality. That does not by any means imply a steady or even accelerated increase in the mere number of species. Species died off all over the course of natural history. In fact an evolutionary step in a species might facilitate the rapid extinction of its ‘mother species’, since then a less vunerable prey or a more effective predator would compete for the same supply of nutrition and shelter.
But the diversification still went on. While extinction is rather common in nature reversions to previous evolutionary stages are not..
In the socioeconomical process, since the last century frequently referred to as globalisation, the increasing interconnectedness of first economy, then culture and along with those politics has increased the mixing of complete strangers (i.e. entropy) to an irreversable level because of the huge benefits of it for scientific research, industries dependent on rare or unique resources, sales markets and relocation of the centralised industries to name but a few. Every one of the participating societies potentially benefits from at least some of those developments. That the process is organised and coordinated by expanding capitalist industries and therefore is modelled to gain them the essential benefits, leaving (comparatively) little for the majority of their own population and often much less for that of countries they expand into, does not invalidate the potential synergistic effects of an international economy and culture and shall have no part in this chain of reasoning.
The breech of logic committed by the ideology of racism is the (rather furtive) attempt to create a middle path or rather walk both paths simultaneously.
The concept of separating the ‘races’ sounds so very absolute that most people who abhor the idea actually believe themselves to be the voices of moderation. But this is not at all the case.
A lot of ‘extremist’ ideologies, instead of being logically radical and uncompromising are quite the reverse indeed.
So is racism. It is neither an attempt at complete fragmentation of mankind nor at its unification. It simply wants mankind to walk in different directions with either leg and hold an equilibrium – if it is not actually demanding the annihilation of all other races, that is. In the latter case you may make up your own mind about the notion and (depending on the result) either shoot yourself in the face or join the human race.
Races are not the most natural groups for humans to identify with. In fact until one first comes into contact with a physically different human one would normally expect all humans to be alike.
The first group you belong to is self-evidently the group of one, which you are physically unable to ever surrender completely.
The second stage (of entropy) is at the same time the last natural development for mammals in general, the family, the band or the clan (the broadest non-endogamous group).
This is the biggest group you naturally identify with, all individuals you are somehow geneticly related to or bonded with. It is the basic natural unit of cooperation, of shared labour – the first seed of a subsequently developing economy. The clan will share work, food, shelter, ritual/culture, comfort, threats and disaster and will be – exogamy aside – a practically indivisible (but structured) goup.
The third stage is the joining of clans to tribes. The benefits of this are fundamentally similar to those of every following stage: differentiation of labour (as well as cooperation), trade and security.
The tribe is built of (formerly separate) clans that have no strong genetic bonds to one another but through exogamy of the clans. However they still share a lot of their culture and its main feature, the language. Tribes do not necessarily live in one unit, particularly if they’re settled, but the clans will maintain some level of frequent contact for trade, news and possibly marriage arrangements. They might even hold ad hoc councils or regular ones, especially if the tribe holds a communal court and/or is pursuing a foreign policy of some sort.
Tribes while having an internal exchange of economic goods and cultural developments, are not bound to do so altruisticly, as a sole clan might, but the trade, as long as it is still occasional, will not require a currency.
The tribe may also have all sorts of relationships to other tribes. They can maintain a rich trade like the continental Celts generally did or some Germanic tribes. They may be expansionist, isolationist, nomadic or even indifferent or vary in behaviour.
In the fourth stage, the nation, tribes (mostly) aren’t free to pursue individual policies anymore, neither towards other tribes of the nation nor towards strange tribes and nations. They will also need to adhere to a governmental body and a common body of law which will probably include many of the specific cultural commonalities. Judicial, executive and administrative bodies will have to become permanent institutions. The differentiation of labour may likely be solidified into formal structures like guilds or religious structures like castes, but in any case will be increased to the point where most people are specialised workers in one economic branch only. This in turn reinforces the demand for incessant regulated trade, currency and infrastructure.
The nation will generally not be unified in a single culture but in several subcultures which may ‘cross-breed’ to some degree, due to regular contact, but rarely disappear altogether. At the same time the differentiation and centralisation of labour may begin to bring forth new kinds of subculture.
The nation may even comprise several tribes of completely independent cultures and languages, like the Sorbs in Prussia or the Kurdish tribes in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. In order to belong to the nation those like all other tribes will have to be willing to at most accept a minority status, yet adhere to the indispensable components of the national culture as listed so far (government, language, law, administration, trade and currency).
This is the first point where the problems of the cultural entropy become painfully obvious. Even in central Europe where lots of the native minorities weren’t numerous or liguisticly strange enough (in the eyes of the nation’s rulers) to warrant a public education in their language there was a lot of friction. Consider the problems of the spanish nation, or the ever-unresolved problems of Austria-Hungary (specificly on the Balkan Peninsula), the czarist Russian Empire and all the more the kemalist Turkish Republic – which tried, even in its contitution, to prohibit the Kurdish language, simply declaring the Kurds to be Turkish.
There is, logically speaking, no simple solution to those conflicts. The nation needs a minimal amount of unity, which is not always achievable. Yet even the independence of a region settled coherently by the minority may be devastating to one side or the other or may be a merely formal sovereignty under a complete economical dependency.
The next step – which has been taken for the first time comprehensively in Europe in the era of opening trade and colonisation (i.e. with the beginning consolidation of the nations’ independence from the Roman Church in a overall firmly divided Europe) – was the globalisation of the nations. The exact processes over the centuries are far too complex and diverse to go into here, so the broad outline above shall suffice.
But as far as anyone can tell the pace of history will not change. Up until now every kind of social economy has borne the seed for its successor wthin itself. Exogamous clans formed tribes which began generating a surplus and trading and expanding, building nations that began to discard cultural bonds like churches (as political and economic factors). And they established trade as the sole purpose of their economies by means of the differentiation of labour.
Each time the shared identity lost some of its commonality, yet gained a good deal of strength. In a manner of speaking each time they ended up being a little less themselves but a lot more of that. Make that more graphic: The German identity has admittedly less content than the identity of Berlin, but the former is much stronger in its numbers, capabilities and (if handled well) its impetus.
The succeding development usually started with the beginning consolidation of the current one, and at the peak of the consolidation the new economical focus group began to shift the power structures of the slowly declining system.
Powerful tribal lords like Chlodowig uniting tribes into nations to establish empires after the breakdown of the Western Roman Empire.. The boom of naval exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth century that opened the way to colonisation of Africa and the Americas that was largely an attempt to avoid the growing Ottoman Empire on trade routes to India. The rise of trade unions over the course of the nineteenth century in the prime of the industrialisation process and its most unrestraint excesses against the labouring class. The onset of the information age with the telecommunication, satellite technology, electronic computers and the internet beginning to wrest the monopoly on immediate information from governments and the economic elites.
Actually the first real seeds of the information age were sprouting in the sixteenth century with the invention of movable type printing. Yet this was far too limited in terms of distribution and too dependent on physical resources. So the virtually immediate and extremely cheap transmission of information really marks the ascent of a new era.
Again, this step means a loss of substance in the shared identity in favour of an expansion of the community. Again this will be a long and intermittent process towards a basically unpredictable goal. And again there are those who ‘won’t stand for it!’ Regardless of the futility of reversing a process that is not only logical and irreversable but mostly beneficial (definitely for all parts of the driving societies, and in the long run probably as well for the driven and conquered ones).
Some countermovements respond with a reactionary yet at least in its directionality rational or rather consequent ideology, an isolationist or supremacist nationalism. It has an irrational and futile goal but it at least actually is as radical as it appears to be and it orients itself toward an economic model, namely the national one.
Racism on the other hand is either an isolationist or supremacist ideology that actually promotes a further (partial) unification of mankind in order to artificially fragment it again, which is in terms of economy as schizophrenic as it is in terms of pure logic.
Meaning: Economy has always been the driving force behind the socialisation of humans (beyond the mere family). So the formation of social groups is based on the current production processes. Two hundred years ago the social group of marketing consultants didn’t exist since the industries weren’t yet overproducing on this scale, so they didn’t need to find ways to convince people to buy goods they didn’t need. On the other hand the institutions of slavery and serfdom have largely gone out of fashion (Break a leg!), so these social groups hasve dissolved into other classes.
But races are not social groups, they are cultural ones (initially at any rate) similar to religions. With the ascend of modern industries entire professions like blacksmiths virtually dissappeared and social ranks like feudal lords and arch bishop were marginalised. But however the economy might change it will not change a single man’s colour (beg pardon Mr. Jackson), although social group can of course be made up mostly or entirely of people of a certain nation or religion.
Countries like the US and Brazil for instance couldn’t possibly establish racially coherent economies. Granted, there are some countries that have traditionally had a purely white population until the migration from the former (quasi-/) colonial regions began to ‘flood’ the western world, but even so quite a few of those have been colonial conquerers. Those colonies have also been economic acquisitions, not just a bit of land to stick a flag into. So while brave little French and Dutch citizens never had to actually come into touch with ‘their’ nègres or kaffern, the native populations of their colonies did very much form part of their economy.
Logically the globalisation isn’t much different, in that it incorporates foreign produce into the national society.
If you don’t think that this has a cultural dimension check the shelf in your local grocery store and research how much of the food is from abroad and how much is native to your country. Alternatively you may reflect on foreign countries growing your native food… And that is even without touching the effects of mass media on the cultural entropy. Imagine apartheid on the world wide web.
Yet all of this merged economy and ‘cultural contamination’ that brings about the mingling of races would be prerequisite even for the unification of single races. And once the language barrier is broken there is nothing much substantial left to divide by. ‘Racial heritage’ is a pretty hollow slogan considering Europe’s tribal ancestry of Germanic, Celtic, Romanic and Slavic tribes. Much of Africa doesn’t even have firm national identities yet, partly due to the arbitrarily drawn borders of the former colonies
Where those tendencies actually exist internationally they are attempts to fortify against interference of foreign powers, like the gradually building Latin American unity front against the US supremacy, or the much more confused, divided and less purposeful Arab resistance against the western world. But those two examples show again that the fundamental lack of a lingustic barrier (in the case of the Arabs also of a religious barrier) vastly facilitated an international movement.
The white population of industrial countries do not need such a united international front since they don’t have any foreign oppressors to fight. There are only two substantial goals behind an ideology of racial separation: The readiness of the nation to support geostrategic wars and expansionist policies. And the fortification against immigration - which is once again just an analgesic to the real problem: About two thirds of the world not being able to support anything even close to our living standards.