2007-10-12. Frågar om sexism och rasism är stora i den svenska debatten. Utredningar om strukturell diskriminering ledda av professor Masoud Kamali förbryllade inte minst i sina politiska konsekvenser både beställarna i Göran Persons regering och den dåvarande oppositionen. Nu ligger bollen hos regeringen Reinfeldt. Som vanligt finns det ingen lätt lösning eller snabb fix. Här är min text kring problemen i det ofärdiga manuskriptet "The Many-splendored Society", kapitel 6.

© Hans L Zetterberg

Hans L Zetterberg

On Likes, Dislikes, Discrimination, and Immigration

Xenophobia apparently contains a sediment of bodily spontaneity; we instinctively raise our guard when we encounter new people different from ourselves. People trust people like themselves more than they trust people unlike themselves. It is enough if people are perceived as alike or different for this rule of thumb to operate. Or, more formally:

A proposition of likeness-liking and dissimilarity-dislike
In general, people have a more favorable evaluation of persons they describe as like themselves than of persons described as unlike them.

This tendency is known in proverbs such as "birds of a feather flock together." Counteracting observations are also well known in sayings such as "opposites attract," The contradiction attests to the difficulty for the untrained to analyze everyday encounters, and also to the fact that the tendency is weak and has exceptions. The first systematic empirical evidence about these preferences came in the 1930s and 40s from the marriage markets in the American Middle West. Local studies there showed that ethnically homogenous partners in marriages expressed more love for one another than spouses in ethnically mixed marriages. Reuben Hill found this by exploring life histories (Becker & Hill 1948) and Harvey Locke (1951) confirmed the finding by interviews using questionnaires. In the new century, evidence from 30 000 interviews from across the United States collected by Robert D. Putnam, a high-profile social scientist, shows that diversity and solidarity are negatively correlated in virtually all aspects of American community life. In areas of greater diversity, his respondents demonstrate:

Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.

Lower political efficacy — that is, confidence in their own influence.

Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.

Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).

Less likelihood of working on a community project.

Lower likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.

Fewer close friends and confidants.

Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.

More time spent watching television and more agreement that ‘television is my most important form of entertainment’. (Putnam 2007).

Probably most of Putnam's readers — I for one — had wished for the opposite results of this research, or at least for zero-correlations when extraneous circumstances had been factored out.

Diversities and Dislike

A significant exploitation of the likeness-liking proposition has been made by means of a Principle of Magic that proclaims that what holds for the part also holds for the whole, and vice versa. As we know, a great variety of stereotypes are linked to genetic markers such as differences in the slant of eyes, skin color, thickness of lips, the size and curvature of a nose,  etc. Viewed against the background of the entire human genome that has recently been mapped, these genetic differences are clearly trivial. By no means do they define biological man, nor do they tell us anything essential about social man. But we have been very good at magically assuming that they do, and the social consequences of these beliefs are evident in a reinforcement of the tendency described in the likeness-liking proposition. Our third magical principle has simply entrapped mankind, and allowed the small genetic differences in human parts to make us believe in insurmountable racial differences.

Thus the differences between human races as conceived by earlier generations are not a profound but rather a superficial (“skin-deep”) division of mankind. The old thought that races are profoundly dissimilar is wrong. The entire genetic history of mankind, the great migrations, wars, and slave trade, which spread homo sapiens' basic characteristics to all corners of the globe, are now well documented (Wells 2002). This journey that mankind has made across the world is marked by great historical events, mostly wars and technical innovations, and by the emergence of realms such as administration and politics, economy, science, art, religion, and morality. In addition to these developments the journey is marked by some superficial changes in genes which can now be easily measured and for all biological purposes be ignored. But our penchant for magical thinking has made the latter the cause of the former. The story of "race" is a tragedy wrought by magic, an enormous illusion.

What has been called human races are not even different species. All people now alive are evidently variations of one, just one, biological species. They can mate and produce offspring, which qualifies them as a single species according to a standard Darwinian criterion. The Neanderthals, who had different DNA and one chromosome less than homo sapiens, belonged, however, to another species; they could not reproduce a line of children with homo sapiens; the offspring of such a coupling, if any, would probably be sterile, like the mule. A definitive history of their extinction remains to be written.

Now we know that Black and White, Jew and Gentile, Chinese and Indian, and any pair of homo sapiens you would care to mention share the same genetic structure, give or take a few recent and superficial aspects. Mankind's descriptions of fellow human beings could focus on the broad genetic similarities, and in a hundred years or two I think they might. But at present we are still more apt to focus on the superficial genetic differences, a remnant of magical thinking.

What will remain, however, when "race" is ignored are a number of other diversities. They produce a large number of  implications of the likeness-liking proposition.

Persons who speak the same language tend to like each other more than they like persons with different languages. The first pillar of a nation is a common language. Vocabularies and pronunciations make a clear difference.

Persons who share the same myths of their origin and history tend to like each other more than they like persons with different myths about their origin and history. A second pillar of a nation is a common history. This history need not be accurate for the people involved to like each other more than other people, but it must be shared and believed to be the truth.

Persons in the same strata in society tend to like each other more than they like persons in other strata, be they higher or lower. In all class consciousness there is an element of preference for one's own class and a distrust of other classes. A related finding might be that in countries with small differences in income, citizens are generally happier with life than in countries with large income differences.

Persons who share the same lifestyle tend to like each other more than they like persons with other lifestyles. For example, the civil society is full of associations and networks where people enjoy meeting each other to sing, to sew, to garden, to collect stamps, play chess, et cetera.

Persons who are engaged in the same realm tend to like each other more than they like persons engaged in different life areas. In general they rate people in their own realm as more trustworthy that those in other life areas. For example, businessmen tend to like other businessmen more than they like priests, artists, politicians, and scientists.

Religion is one of the strongest sources of likes and dislikes, no matter how much some of them officially preach brotherly love. Here one cannot talk about the likeness-liking proposition as a weak tendency. This is probably due to the claim of each religion to definitely define the ultimate evaluation of a person's life, and they do not do it in the same way.

This list could be made much longer. A Periodic Table of Societal Realms, i.e. the Grand Realms of Society Created by the Language Brain presents a fuller picture of differentiation of advanced societies. A member of any cell in this table can be said to have a small initial personal inclination to like other members of the same cell more than members of other cells.

Subordination by Sex

We noted before, that there is no rationale for unequal status of men and women in our times in a society built on language brains. There are only small differences between the language brain of men and women; the female language capacity may be  superior to that of men. The reverse may hold for mathematical capacity. The present way of measuring intelligence components give men and women the same mean, but a slightly larger standard deviation around the mean for men than women. This would indicate that there are more stupid men than stupid women, and more brilliant men than brilliant women. I don't think one should be too sure of these small differences until we have measurements taken when several generations of men and women have lived as equals.

In evolutionary history when non-language brains were dominant, it is probable that the physically stronger and faster males could dominate females, and that the females in periods of childbirth and nursing needed and sought male help to gather food and to get support in cases of danger. Such a relation between females and males may have been in effect before the emergence of the language brain. No one can know for sure about such matters, and spuma and defensive bilge about sex differences always abound.

What we do know is that no immediate gender equalization occurred in societies where the language brain took over. Athens at the time of Socrates, exhibits an extreme subordination of women under men at the same time as language-based realms such as drama, philosophy and science had an unprecedented development. The rival Sparta, organized for wars, actually seems to have held their women in higher esteem than did Athens.

A broad-scale equality between men and women is a recent development with roots in Europe and North America.  A United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of  Discrimination Against Women was enacted in 1979. Twenty-eight years later 180 nations have ratified it. The Muslim countries have been late signers and Iran and Qatar had yet to sign. The convention does not meet Hohfeld's criteria for genuine rights. It does not specify who has the duty to deliver and enforce the rights of women.

It is easy to detect how unconscious an assumption of subordination of women to men is. When a man acts it out, he may not notice it until others remind him of the fact that he is engaged in discrimination that violates the modern norm in most countries of equality between the sexes.

Socially Designed Like-Dislikes

The natural tendency to be initially alert for differences in those we encounter does not mean that mankind is born to be trapped in racism, nationalism, ageism, sexism, and the like. The generally weak tendency of the likeness-liking proposition is modified by a variety of human designs that make it stronger or weaker. 

The strengthening designs may be hate-mongering such as the old shibboleth that diversity brought by immigration is the root of all evil: neighborhood crime, family disintegration, political strife, degradation of the mother tongue, and what have you. The weakening designs, on the other hand, may be the newer multi-cultural shibboleth that flourished at the turn of the twentieth century and promulgated that ethnic diversity enriches our society; neighborhood, corporation, party, church, etc. The latter requires us to define people in terms of age, sex, race, ethnicity, and then to set quotas, formulate anti-discrimination laws, et cetera. The process maintains our attention to diversity in our encounters rather than our attention to similarity. There is an obvious risk that such a cure prolongs the disease. What a diversified mankind seems to need to do to stop personally disliking one another is to keep totally silent about irrelevant dissimilarities. Easier said than done. 

The personal like-dislike responses can be embedded in collective preferences. Likes and dislikes become part of social beliefs, public sentiments, and social norms. When this happens the like or dislike you have toward some people is not only yours, "everybody" in your circles shares them with you. From there on, the social beliefs, public sentiments, and social norms become included in the language that shapes positions and roles. Now the like-dislikes become part of an ascribed identity of some people, and they shape the way you are expected to treat these people. This is called 'structural discrimination.'

Said (1978) argued that "The Orient" is in large measure a Western construction. During the 19th and into the 20th century the Orientals were generally depicted by Europeans either as outright criminals, or as lazy, false, and sexually obsessed non-criminals. Said holds that the top authors and scholars of the West thought along these lines, but it was rather the pulp writers who did so. At any rate, this had nothing to do with reality. Said says it fitted the ambitions of British politicians when the Ottoman empire after centuries of rule lost its tight grip over the Orient. My impression is that it primarily suited the need of European media to create attention and large editions by focusing on negative emotive symbols more than on positive emotive symbols, giving readers an emotive choice rather than a rational analysis of news from the Orient.

Also newcomers into our encounters tend to accept what is structurally defined. In this way we arrive at the striking conclusion that a newcomer or someone from a new generation without a personal dislike of a people may nevertheless act as if they dislike them. People who have personally overcome any dislike of others nevertheless treat them inequitably because of the existing structural discrimination.

As individuals many modern males accept with all their heart that men and women shall be treated as equals. In a many-splendored society in which all essential activities are based on language this is the only reasonable position since women are equally or better skilled than men in the use of language. But in practice these modern men discriminate against women because of the inequities built into the prevailing definitions of women's positions and roles in family, work, and public life.

Structural discrimination of immigrants is common. The message of Swedish polls is that personal dislike of immigrants in Sweden is quite modest in the host population. But discrimination in practice is pervasive. This is convincingly shown by Burns and his coworkers (2007). Like Gunnar Myrdal in his classical American Dilemma from 1944, they found that the lion's share of Swedish discrimination cannot be explained by any number of psychological, cultural, and ethnographic studies of the minorities, nor by any normal degree of xenophobia in mankind. Only by studies of structures that are routinely maintained by society at large, i.e. among the majority, can lasting and blatant discrimination of minorities be understood.

Burns emphasizes immediately that the processes also works in the reverse. "A prejudiced person, even a racist, can act neutral and non-discriminatory in his occupational role" (p. 1). Work is a key to counteract structural discrimination of immigrants, work for the host population and work for the immigrants, and common workplaces for both. Countries like the Scandinavian ones with strong labor unions that oppose immigrant labor and only want to admit a quota of refugees for humanitarian reasons become hotbeds of discrimination, if they fail to integrate the refugees into the labor force. Needless to say, it is easier to integrate foreigners who arrive in order to work than foreigners who come as refugees from persecution.

The linkage of occupation to a non-discriminatory reception of immigrants is particularly clear in the occupations we call bureaucratic, technocratic, or professional. They  have roles marked by high specialization, high impersonality, low or one-way contingency, low emotivity. A judge in his courtroom or a physician in his practice may not be able to always keep out all his personal likes-dislikes, but at least they are trained to do so. Even the Muslim medics and paramedics in the British National Health Service who became linked to the bombing in July 2007 of Glasgow Airport and an attempted bombing of the London Underground had records as professionals in dealing with patients in accordance with individual medical needs regardless of the religion and race of the patients. Only in their role as amateur agents of jihad did they plan to randomly kill the infidels. 

Decisions by some administrative bureaucrats that are informed by resolutions at party congresses, and thus involve no independent intellectual effort, may not necessarily be non-discriminatory. Professionalism is a good handle to use against discrimination. The decisions among technocrats or professionals are also informed by academic knowledge, a fact which should help them toward objectivity. Is it true then that countries with a higher share of bureaucrats, technocrats and professionals have lower levels of discrimination? Data on this is available but lacks conclusive analysis. Some studies show that the opposite may occur. If there is racism or sexism in biomedical knowledge taught to medical students, the doctors become trapped in structural discrimination. If there is racism or sexism built into  the legislation and procedures taught to law students, judges and lawyers become trapped in structural discrimination.

Structural discrimination is not a hydra, the legendary creature that grew two new heads for each one you cut off. But it is insidious and requires vigilance.

Ethnic Like-Dislikes

The ethnic differences between man and fellow man are brought about by upbringing and living in different places. You can open any inquiry about someone's ethnicity by establishing his or her place of birth and upbringing. There are profound differences between growing up in, say Mexico and in the United States. Some are linguistic, economic, and educational, i.e. of a kind that can be erased by two or three generations by policies of integration. But some are more profound, as Paz (1985) has shown, and virtually built into life itself.

Technically speaking, survey researchers need two questions to establish ethnicity: "where were you born?" and "where did you grew up?" Usually give the same answer so questionnaires may be simplified to contain only one of them. Often researchers include the lingering ethnicity indicated by questioning "where were your father/mother born?" and "where did your father/mother grew up?" In some countries these are sensitive questions, in others they are answered routinely.

Ethnic dislikes surface in two ways: when persons with different ethnicity enter your encounters, and when you get into encounters dominated by other ethnicities. The former may be a result of emigration, the latter a result of immigration. Ethnic like-dislike thus occurs as a result of mobility, and it becomes pervasive in any modern society. Ethnic bonds of liking override the anonymity of city life.

The ethnic dislike can result in neighborhood changes whereby one ethnic group succeeds another in a residential area. Short of strict legislation fanatically enforced, ethnic ghettos are seem impossible to avoid in world of a mobility. Sociologists living in Chicago in its peak years of immigration in the beginning of the twentieth century developed an elaborate theory of the zones of the city shaped by "invasion and succession" of ethnic (and racial) groups.

Ethnicity and Immigration in The United States

The North American colonies and the free country of the United States that they formed after the liberation from Britain became engaged in what nowadays is called "ethnic cleansing." Forced relocation of Native American peoples from their traditional areas to remoter reservations elsewhere in the country was official policy that cumulated in the Indian Removal legislation of the 1830s. The legendary Trail of Tears of Cherokees, and the Long Walk of the Navajo are examples of the effects. Genocide, that is extinction of American Indians, was never official policy. But General Philip Henry Sheridan’s word at Fort Cobb in 1869 — "the only good Indian ... is a dead Indian" sums up a minority sentiment of those days that opened for "overkill" in the Indian wars.

At the same time of the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, Canada and the United States left the continent open to all comers, particularly from Europe, in a liberal immigration policy. As predicted by the likeness-liking proposition, the people in the American colonies and later the United States looked more favorably upon persons like themselves than upon the native Indians who were persons more unlike themselves.

In the nineteenth century the United States was the foremost representative of liberal immigration from abroad. The country had revolted against European traditionalism and hierarchy and had proclaimed that all men were created equal. The Statue of Liberty was raised in 1886 and greeted immigrants from the old world with the inspiring words of Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me;
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

In the United States of 1900, with a population of 76 million, 10,3 million were foreign-born and 15,6 million were the offspring of foreign born. A total of 34 percent of the population was thus being assimilated. It was not possible to maintain these proportions. Immigrants from southern and eastern Europe did not fit into the American communities as easily as had immigrants from western and northern Europe. Again we see the operation of the likeness-liking proposition.

Liberal politicians did not want any authoritarian thinking of the Old World replanted in the New. But they were ill informed. In an early, and now classical, work on immigration, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-20), W. I. Thomas and F. Znaniecki showed that although the Polish peasants did shape an ethnic subculture that differed from the established American culture, it also diverged from the old Polish culture they had left behind, among other things, by being less patriarchal in family life and less autocratic in community life.

After World War I, American immigration laws became more conservative. Since World War I, the United States has thus been partial to immigration from countries that bear an ideological heritage from the French and English revolutions and thus can more readily accept America’s own heritage of freedom. In 1924 quotas were introduced that cut immigration from a spontaneous influx of over one million persons per year to a controlled entry of first 358,000 and finally 154,000 persons annually. The laws favored immigrants from Europe over those from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Within the European quota, immigrants from western and northern Europe were favored over those from southern and eastern Europe. At one point it was seriously proposed that the ethnic composition of the population be maintained as it was according to the somewhat dubious census in 1890.

The motives were partly racial and partly cultural. The racial argument for immigration restrictions eventually became invalidated. The individual differences within each race are so enormous that using racial criteria to decide whether an individual be allowed to immigrate or not would lead to egregious inequities. The cultural arguments, have, however, survived as an idea that every society has the right to preserve its distinctive character.

An immigration law introduced in 1990, set the annual quota at 700,000 — 0.3 percent of the population — plus extra quotas for refuges, which are determined each year. The law did not change the stance that permits immigration as long as it does not overwhelm America’s distinctive character. At this time most immigrants come to the United States from Latin America. They are Christians, the same religion as most Americans, a fact that facilitates integration. Their language is Spanish, a world language commanding pride among its speakers. They seem less motivated than many earlier immigrants to the United States to adopt English. It gives some southern parts of the country an unexpected situation of de facto having two parallel languages through several generations.

Ethnicity and Immigration in Europe

Europe cannot imitate the liberal history of immigration of the United States. Europe in historical times has never been a nearly empty continent, open to all comers as after the ethnic cleansing of the American Indians. Europe's major native ethnic groups have remained intact, and are historically rooted in different geographical regions. In Europe, ethnic groups cannot be quickly integrated into a melting-pot of the American kind. Only slowly will they take in a limited number of outsiders and allow a fusion of their cultural heritages.

Going back some centuries we observe the slow but powerful integration processes in several of regions of Europe. For example, in the north-eastern part of the present territory of France a natural center emerged in Île de France, where the land was fertile and many navigable rivers flow in different directions. There some clans of Franks, a Germanic tribe, managed to subjugate a very divergent lot of neighboring Romans, Celts, and Burgunds. When sufficiently united, they took on the Normans, Bretons, Basques, Corsicans, and some Catalans.

For a long time, the French language was not universal at the local level where other forms of Romance were spoken, such as Picard, Champenois, Bourguignon, Gascon, Provençal. It is said that the people of Marseilles, where Provençal lingered on, could not understand  La Marseillaise, the present national anthem, composed in 1792 as "War Song of the Army of the Rhine."  Only some solders from Marseilles in this army had learned enough French to sing it so energetically during the revolutionary march on Paris that the song became nicknamed "the Marseillaise." 

In medieval Spain the process of fusion of regional identities and languages was fired by the struggle between Muslims and Christians. A process similar to the one in France has since taken place, and is still under way -- and still meeting resistance. In parts of Eastern Europe and particularly on the Balkans struggles between ethnic identities are the order of the day. On a larger scale, a process of integrating identities to a common one for all of Europe is noticeable; it may have been helped along in recent years by the pan-European media and pan-European institutions and projects. However, the latter seldom reach deep into peoples’ hearts. This is clearly the case of the European Union, a project of the political elites, not the broad masses.

In Europe, with possible exception of France, you may be seen as and called “foreigner” — not merely " foreign-born" as in the United States and Canada — even after you have acquired citizenship in your adopted country. European languages generally lack a common term such as the designation “American” enjoyed by all citizens of the United States irrespective of their ancestry or country of birth. Identities that people in the United States may take pride in, such as Afro-American or Italian-American have no counterparts in Europe. Designations such as Afro-German or Afro-European, Chinese-Italian or Chinese-European are unknown or odd in Europe, at least at the time of this writing.

In most countries in Europe around the year 2000, the balance between births and deaths means a decline in the population unless it is balanced by a higher rate of immigration than emigration. Most areas surrounding Europe are Muslim, a minority religion east of the Ural Mountains and north of the Mediterranean sea. Inside Europe Albania, Bosnia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan are predominantly Muslim. Immigrants from Muslim areas are not as secular as the native Europeans, in fact, they often become more religious in their new country than they were in the old, since this supports them in a novel and sometimes tough environment. Europe needs more immigrants than America does, but the ethnic gap between the newcomers to Europe and the resident Europeans seems greater than the gap between the predominantly Latin immigrants to the United States and resident Americans. To this circumstance must be added the huge differences in the historical conditions for immigration between North America and Europe.

Nationalistic Like-Dislikes

The word “nation” has the same root, “natio,” as “nativity,” and has traditionally represented the area where one is born and grows up. Thus it is an ethnic group. But the the term 'nation' has an additional attribute: it is an ethnic group that is or aspires to be a state. Poland is an example: in some  periods it has been a nation and a state, in other periods it has merely been a nation that is a part of another state.

Rational Nationalism

In the not so distant past, less than 250 years ago, Europeans lived in kingdoms. Their identities rested on their membership in a clan living in a hamlet or village, a city, or a region. The French Revolution made a people of the French, members of a French nation, not only of a local clan or community. They should henceforth be loyal to the new rational and revolutionary nation, not to a king. The revolutionaries applied the teachings of the Enlightenment, and particularly that of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Sovereignty lies with the people, not with the royal families. Frenchmen were to be citizens, not subjects, and were to have universal rights.

The French Revolution promised help to all people who sought freedom from the strong power of their king. The Revolution was to be spread throughout the world. It would serve as a model for Europe's countries much as the court in Versailles had been the model for Europe's monarchies. In the beginning, the idea of nationalism was this French export.

After the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, Europe’s greatest kingdoms were still intact: the Hapsburg in Austria, the Hohenzollern in Prussia, the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov in Russia, and the Turkish sultans in the Ottoman Empire. The peace congress at Vienna in 1815, however, endorsed the creation of the German Confederation (Bund). Thus, they recognized that birds of a linguistic feather may flock together, if not in a federation, Bundesstaat, so at least in a Staatenbund, a confederation. Nationalism was about to be redefined.

Romantic Nationalism

The year 1848 in Europe has become known as the “year of nations.” It began with police actions against demonstrators in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin. There were soon uprisings in Switzerland, Italy, and Poland. Even in far-away Stockholm crowds broke windows and were met with fire from soldiers. Throughout Europe people were clamoring for liberalism, for the right to vote and for citizens’ rights. At the time, nationalism was a part of the political left. People wanted a transfer of power from the privileged institutions of the monarchy to a parliament.

Opposition from the establishments was surprisingly weak. In 1848, liberalism was in the air. A German regent defended his inaction with the assertion: “One cannot mount a cavalry attack against ideas.” The Hapsburg Empire was under the pressure of the demands for independence among different groups: Slovaks, Serbs, Italians, Hungarians, Bohemians, Rumanians, and Croats. Metternich, the architect of the established order, fled from Vienna.

However, the various liberal and nationalist interests lacked unity and a common plan to break up the Holy Alliance, to decentralize the power that rested in Vienna, and to create a parliamentary Germany. No durable change was effected, and the lid was replaced. The terrorist shot in Sarajevo in 1914 that led to World War I was an expression of one of the unsolved national and ethnic conflicts that had surfaced already in 1848.

In the meantime, European nationalism had changed character from a revolutionary movement of the Enlightenment to a conservative movement of the Romantic Era. The intellectual father of the former had been Jean Jacques Rousseau. A Lithuanian social philosopher, Johann Gottfried von Herder, residing in Weimar, inspired romantic nationalism. For him, a nation was not a juridical unit based on mutual, general principles of protection and advantages of the kind envisioned in a social contract. Romantic nationalism stresses and further develops the unique sense of belonging that is nourished by a common language, a common history, a common geographic region of birth.

The peoples of Europe thus developed ethnic identities expressed in symbols and feats: flags, anthems, languages, church services, food, exploratory expeditions, historical accounts and historical falsification, school trips to the capitol, world fairs, parades, cultural and sports events, etc. In the name of "our people," not the people as Rousseau had put it. They have fought and bled for their kin, their birthplace, their beliefs, their historical perceptions of themselves. Their background and the history of the everyday lives of their forebears are contained in museums with so called ethnographic collections. The peoples of Europe became conscious 'ethnic' groupings.

It was symptomatic of romantic nationalism that its new generation of European intellectuals reacted against the dominance of French civilization around the middle of the nineteenth century. They unreservedly began to extol their own literature and culture. French, like Hebrew, Greek and Latin — the languages of educated Europeans — received stiff competition from other tongues, the mother tongues.

The cosmopolitan rationalism and liberal nationalism gave way to local and patriotic fervor. It is easy to find myths, and an abundance of mystical and flowery expressions in romantic nationalism. But its core cannot be dismissed as unfounded. Common experiences and myths that become common have consequences for a society. As we have repeatedly seen, man may be born as a biological creature, but he becomes a social creature when he is introduced into a symbolic environment and can use language, not only as a means of communication, but de facto to define reality for him, give him a personal identity, and social roots.

The theories of likeness-liking and of collective identities give us a beginning understanding of the dynamics inherent in nationalism. Nationalism fed on existing traditional symbolic environments and developed them: mother tongue, folklore, songs, flags, etc. The theories also understand the dislike, nay hatred, that follows repression of ethnic expressions. To prohibit people from using their own language in newspapers, in school, in contacts with authorities — sometimes even in public placesis to deprive them both of their perceptions of reality and of their identity. The outcome of such repressions is that people want to be ruled by their own kind, not by strangers.

Figure 6.2 shows the ethnic symbolic environments in Europe as they were in the second half of the nineteenth century up to World War I, and the political boundaries as they were in 1848. They fit rather badly, and this discrepancy is one of the most important keys to the following history of Europe. A nation-state is a territory that consists of only one integral ethnic-linguistic symbolic environment. Most of the European states that have been created during the past 200 years have approximated nation-states in this sense. The practices to draw boundaries with little due consideration of ethnic-linguistic symbolic environments has not ceased but greatly diminished.

Figure 7.2. Ethnic and National Borders in Europe in 1850
Figure 7.3. Ethnic and National Borders in Europe in 1920

The map of Europe after World War I in Figure 7.3 contains new nation-states formed from the former Hapsburg Empire. But the war’s foremost loser, Europe’s largest nation, Germany, did not represent a closely knit state. Ethnic Germans were to be found, among other places, in the Saar, Austria, Böhmen-Mähren, Danzig. Hitler’s Germany incorporated them, one after another, in the period leading to World War II.

After the war, The German Democratic Republic, DDR, ("East Germany")  was not a nation-state, but a construction of the victorious powers intended to permanently weaken a vanquished Germany. During its short existence DDR did establish a certain identity as a nation of respected athletes and as window dressing for successful socialism. It had state ownership of industry, extensive state welfare measures for children, the sick, and elderly. It also paid heavy subsidies to food and housing, rationing such commodities by using queues rather than prices. The queuing system annoyed the broad masses more than the low prices pleased them. Compared with other countries in the Eastern Bloc, DDR fared relatively well, but it did not compare well in total wealth with the market economies in western Europe. By 1988 West Germany had attained an income per capita of GNP of 20,000 dollars, while East Germany had attained a corresponding income of only 5,340 dollars. This kind of inferior performance undermined communism as a system — particularly among the communist elite.

During the last few decades of the 20th century, a reawakened nationalism in Eastern Europe outside of DDR would sunder Yugoslavia, it would give Moscow massive difficulties in most of the republics of the Soviet Union, it would become a driving force in politics in Poland, Hungary, Rumania and other countries of Eastern Europe.

The believers in the rational nationalism of the Enlightenment regard ethnic conflicts as something primitive that belongs to a former era. They view the courage of the warrior in a romantic ethnic movement as abhorrent stupidity, their nationalism as a loser’s ideology. As long as the remnants of this rational nationalism from the Enlightenment survive, they open for relaxed solutions to ethnic conflicts. Thus Swedes surrendered Norway in 1905 without a fight; they also accepted the ruling of the international court in the Hague for independence of the island of Åland in 1919. On January 1, 1993 Czechs and Slovaks of Czechoslovakia parted ways peacefully. Unfortunately, this level of rational nationalism is in short supply.

In the era of nationalism the ultimate consequences of our Proposition of Likeness-liking and Dissimilarity-dislike are war and uprisings to let people be ruled by their own kind, not by strangers. 


References are listed here.