Part 1 of 3
This lecture was written for the Scandza Forum in Zagreb, Croatia, on May 2, 2020. Unfortunately, the event was postponed due to Covid-19.
When you look at human history, identity politics is not the exception, it is the norm. History is the story of us and them: tribes, city-states, and nations trading with and fighting against one another. If you look at the members of any of these groups, you will find that they are united by ties of kinship, a common language and culture, a common history and sense of destiny, and bonds of fellow feeling.
Of course, all other groups have these traits as well. But those people belong to different kinship groups; they are bound by different languages and customs; they have different histories and destinies; moreover, their bonds of fellow feeling don’t extend to their neighbors, who might well be enemies.
The power of the state can touch every aspect of life. Thus anything can become the topic of political debate. Political debates can appeal to many kinds of arguments: moral, religious, scientific, historical, etc. Identity politics happens whenever the final argument for or against a political proposal comes down to “This is who we are.” This is a statement of identity. We want this law, this institution, this custom, because it fits who we are, and a political order should fit the people who live under it as comfortably and flatteringly as a well-tailored suit.
When we appeal to abstract principles and objective facts, they are supposed to be true for all of us. But appeals to identity are true for some people but not for others. They are particular, not universal. The politics of identity is also the politics of difference, for our identity is precisely what differentiates us from others.
The opposite of identity politics is universalism, which upholds the idea of a single, one-size-fits-all political order based on universally true principles. Universalists claim that identity politics is dangerous because different groups can never reach agreement on political matters if we allow what makes us different to be a final argument. And if different groups can’t agree about passionately polarizing political issues, then the only recourse that remains is to fight.
This argument fails for two main reasons.
First, agreement vs. conflict is a false alternative, since two parties can simply agree to disagree. But agreeing to disagree only works if the different parties really don’t care all that much about the issue that divides them. If they care a great deal, however, then they can’t agree to disagree, since only one position can actually prevail. For instance, abortion is either legal or illegal, which means that the only alternative to fighting is for one side to bow to the will of the other.
But this brings us to the second problem in the universalist argument. Abortion cannot be both legal and illegal in the same state, but it can be both legal in one state and illegal in another. In short, there is an alternative to fighting when two groups have passionate and irreconcilable differences about political issues: they can go their separate ways.
Abortion is a single political issue, but people feel passionate enough about it to shed blood. The clashes between different peoples are far more complex, involving language, religion, culture, whole ways of life. Thus their potential for deep polarization and explosive violence is far greater, as is the need for political separation.
This is why I argue that ethnonationalism is the best system for handling the politics of identity. Ethnonationalism upholds the right of all peoples to sovereign homelands if they feel their identities are threatened in multicultural, multiracial societies. Note that a right is an option, not an obligation. If a people is content in such a society, it is not obligated to break away. But if it chooses to exercise its right, then heaven and earth have no right to stop them.
Multicultural societies are, however, prone to conflict around issues of identity. There are two ways to handle these conflicts. First, in order to decrease social frictions, different peoples can simply cease caring about the things that separate them. This, however, only works if their differences are trivial to begin with. But what if they differ on important matters?
This brings us to the second option: to fight. When fighting about important differences starts, there are only two ways to end such conflicts permanently: the utter destruction of one group or political separation and the creation of new sovereign states. Separation is the best option because it ends the violence and erosion of identities endemic to multicultural societies, giving all parties the chance to flourish in their own homelands, where “This is who we are” can go unchallenged.
Of course “who we are” is not always good. Sometimes aspects of identity are bad. Peoples cling to alcoholism, imperialism, and the worst sorts of superstition because of appeals to identity. Some peoples are afflicted with genetic disorders that they should not want to afflict on their posterity. Every people can be improved. Moreover, it is entirely natural, normal, and right for peoples to want to improve themselves: to hand on a better society — and better genes — to future generations.
Ethnonationalism, however, leaves different peoples to work out their own problems. We reject progressive and paternalistic arguments for ruling over other peoples. “This is who we are” always trumps “It’s for your own good,” even if it really is for their own good, since the greater good is to create peace between different peoples and let them wrestle with their own demons.
Separating hostile peoples can be accomplished through moving borders and moving people. In practice, it usually involves some combination of the two. Separation can be accomplished peacefully, as in the “velvet divorce” between the Czechs and the Slovaks, or through terror and violence, as in the breakup of Yugoslavia. The results are the same, but the violent path is far more costly. Since the goal of ethnonationalism is creating peace between different peoples, we naturally prefer to achieve it by peaceful means as well.
It has been known since ancient times that the tripod is the most stable foundation. (Remember that when you sit down in a coffee house, at a wobbly four-legged table, and end up stuffing sugar packets under one of the legs to stabilize it.) Identity politics rests on an unwobbling tripod, three facts about human nature that make identity politics inevitable and ethnonationalism preferable: kinship, culture, and love of one’s own.
The first pillar of identity politics is kinship. In connecting kinship and identity politics, I follow the arguments of J. Philippe Rushton and Frank Salter.  
Politics aims at living well together in society. The more amicable, cooperative, and trustworthy the people are, the more harmonious the society. The more willing the people are to come together and make sacrifices for the common good, especially in times of emergency and war, the more likely the society is to survive and bounce back.
The root of pro-social behavior is empathy, meaning the ability to see oneself in others. The expression of pro-social empathy is altruism, meaning treating the interests of others as equal to — or even more important than — one’s own. I am going to refer to empathy and altruism simply as pro-social virtues. The result of pro-social virtues is social harmony and well-being.
There is a strong correlation between kinship and pro-social behaviors, ranging from fellow-feeling to willingness to sacrifice one’s interests and even one’s life for the common good.
But the connection between kinship and pro-social virtues is problematic. Kinship, after all, means sharing the same genes. Genes, however, are notoriously “selfish”: they aim at their propagation into the next generation. Since individual organisms are the carriers of genes, wouldn’t individuals be selfish as well? How, then, is altruism anything other than a biological disadvantage, a kind of handicap or morbidity?
The answer is that the individual is not the only carrier of his genes. His genes are also present in other people. The closer the kinship, the more genes we have in common. The closer the kinship, the greater the empathy, for we can literally see more of ourselves in our kin. Thus we would expect more altruistic behavior directed toward closer kin. This is why, from a selfish gene’s point of view, it makes sense for an individual to die for his family and his tribe, since they contain more of his selfish genes than he does. Thus we would expect greater social harmony and well-being in societies that are more genetically homogeneous, and less harmony and well-being in more genetically diverse societies. This fact alone refutes the modern dogma that genetic diversity strengthens societies.
Until the twentieth century, it was universally acknowledged that kinship is the foundation of politics. The very concepts of “nation” and “ethnicity” are etymologically derived from concepts for kinship. Even today, the primary way that people become citizens of any political order is being born that way, meaning that they are kin to those who are already citizens. Even globalists acknowledge the importance of kinship by declaring that “All men are brothers,” therefore, we should have no borders and no countries, just a global market and a global state, because common blood trumps everything that sets us apart.
But not all men are brothers. Your brother has the same parents as you do, which means that you both descend from the same set of genes, although mixed in different ways. Unless, of course, you have a twin brother, in which case you have the exact same genes.
So not all men are brothers. But as far as we know, all human beings descend from common pre-human ancestors. Thus we are all more or less distant cousins. But the distances between the great continental races and subraces — whites, blacks, Asians, Amerindians, non-European Caucasians, Australoids, and Capoids — are significant enough that radically different forms of societies suit them, which means that societies with multiple races suffer from conflicts that do not afflict racially homogeneous societies.
This is why some globalists declare that we will have a stable global society only when all racial and cultural differences have been erased. In short, some globalists are ethnonationalists. They believe in the “one people, one nation” principle. Thus to construct a single world state, they wish to construct a single, mongrelized humanity. So much for diversity. Ethnonationalists also believe in “one people, one state” (at least one state per people), but instead of destroying all existing peoples to create a world state, we wish to preserve all of them by giving them their own sovereign ethnostates.
Does this imply that the natural political unit is the racial state, i.e., all whites in one state, all Asians in another? And what do we make of mixed-race people?
Note that I said the first pillar of identity politics is kinship. I did not say it is race. Race alone is not a sufficient foundation for several reasons.
First, even within races, there are different degrees of relatedness. Genetic diversity, even within a race, may weaken the unity of a society and lead to conflict or the erosion of genetic differences, which are valuable and should be preserved. Note that I have said nothing of cultural diversity within the same races. Culture is the second pillar of identity politics, which we will discuss later.
Second, even societies in which most individuals are of a typical mixed-race type — such as countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, or Southeast Asia — still have an interest in propagating their genes into the future. They are still improved by greater homogeneity and undermined by greater diversity. Race mixing in the past is never an argument for increasing diversity in the present. In fact, one reason race-mixing took place in the past is to overcome the problems of diversity, i.e., of multiple races living in the same society.
What, then, is the political utility of the concept of race? Race is first and foremost a biological category. How does it become a political category?
First, race is politically important because people don’t stay in the same place. They migrate to new lands and intermarry with foreigners. Thus the question arises: What are the outer boundaries of assimilability, beyond which foreigners are not good candidates for becoming part of one’s society? Race is clearly the outer boundary of assimilability. Thus it made sense for the American founders to limit naturalization to “white persons.” Being white is not a sufficient condition for being American or German. But it should be a necessary condition.
Of course, if a society truly values homogeneity, then mere race is far too expansive a criterion for naturalization, since within the same race there is a great deal of genetic diversity. Beyond that, linguistic, cultural, and religious homogeneity also promote social harmony.
Second, race becomes a political category when Europeans find themselves facing common enemies of other races. When an Irishman and an Englishman spend time together, they tend to focus on their differences. But when they live alongside members of other races, they tend to notice their similarities, especially when there are racial conflicts.
Third, race becomes a political category when Europeans appeal to their common race, as well as deep cultural commonalities, to mediate and mitigate disputes among them.
White Nationalists are fond of the phrase “Our race is our nation.” But this is not literally true. The white race is not a people, because peoplehood is more than just kinship, which brings us to the second pillar of white identity politics: culture.
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  J. P. Rushton, “Ethnic Nationalism, Evolutionary Psychology, and Genetic Similarity Theory,” Nations and Nationalism 11 (2005): 489–507 and Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, & Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2006).