We are told ad nauseam that the United States is a racist country. Indeed, how could this not be the case in a multiracial country? But if Americans are racist, and they are, why then is there not a strong ethnic and racial nationalism felt by her people, of any race? White nationalism, black nationalism, and in some circles chicano nationalism, are all fringe ideologies with very few public adherents. Wouldn’t nation-states with racial majorities be an obvious solution to the racist American people?
Quite evidently, they aren’t, and why they aren’t isn’t something widely explored as it would rub against the secular faith of American multiculturalism and Diversity. For Americans, race is an important part of identity, even though whites will bend over backwards in their insistence that race does not exist. Race is so significant metapolitically speaking, and together with geography strongly determines voting patterns. But it has failed to give rise to nationalism.
I think there are several distinct reasons for the bridging of race and nation failing to materialize:
1.) African slavery – Half of the founding states of the Union were caste systems, with white planters and black plantation laborers. While the majority of whites did not own slaves, they still existed within this caste system. This creates a very skewed society and one that nationalism cannot take root in organically. If in parts of the country members of one race depended upon the exploitation of the other for its prosperity, how could its elites have reasonably conceived of a homogeneous nation-state as the ideal polity? It would be a net loss.
2.) Immigration – Immigration is another system of caste labor implemented in the United States. No matter the time period or race of the immigrant, there have always been jobs stereotypically associated with them. And again, caste systems do not tend towards nationalism because of their inherent dependency on people belonging to the Other. Racism towards a thrall population does not lead to wanting separation on a national level, only forms of discrimination and a segregation. Immigration has historically been a northern phenomenon as well, parallel to southern slavery in some ways. Thus both halves of the country have had obstacles to a vertical loyalty-driven and homogeneous nationalism.
3.) Whiteness itself – Despite a shared European heritage, it remains a popular trope to say white people aren’t a race or don’t have any culture. In American English, the word “ethnic” is understood to mean non-white peoples. This is due to the legacy of European immigration to the United States and the haphazard process of assimilation as well as the strongly regionalist character of the United States. Additionally, the elite class of whites remained predominantly British in origin well into the 20th century while the whites beneath them became a mishmash of European ethnicities welded into “White American.” White Americans are in a sense more European than the European Union but simultaneously not a group that exists in Europe. And they had the peculiar situation of forming inside a
4.) ‘Proposition nation’ – Anyone born here is American. Nationality in America has had no blood component since the 14th Amendment. Since the ‘Civil Rights’ era, immigration laws have not had racial or place-of-origin restrictions. Ethnic nationalism and open borders are not policies one can pursue simultaneously.
Thus while racism would ordinarily lead one to expect a race-oriented nationalism in society and government, in the United States this is not the case. Well, based on my reflection at least. This is a situation, however, which I do not believe can endure much longer given the racialization of our politics and growing resentment between identity groups.
- Anglo-Americanism — my thoughts on the primary identity of the majority of European Americans historically and presently.
- Patriotards and their Cargo Cult — misguided faith towards the US government instead of in one’s people.
- A Partition of the United States, Revisited — Hypothetical balkanization scenario in the USA + Canada. Pretty LARPy.