A truly excellent article appears in Foreign Affairs describing how the European peace and prosperity of the last 50 years were a product of increasing ethnic homogenization among almost all of these nations since WWI.
Far from this being the age of post-nationalism, the EU and Franco-German detante conceal the fact that our age is witness to the apotheosis of the traditional nation-state. While nothing earth-shattering appears in Muller’s essay, it is very clear and precise. Ideally, it would disabuse American readers of the hoary notion that the ethnic state is an anachronism that should be eliminated through mass immigration, meddling in other nation’s internal affairs, and constant hectoring by a******s like George Soros.
Projecting their own experience onto the rest of the world, Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. [Well, liberal ones, minorities, and recent arrivals do.] After all, in the United States people of varying ethnic origins live cheek by jowl in relative peace. Within two or three generations of immigration, their ethnic identities are attenuated by cultural assimilation and intermarriage. Surely, things cannot be so different elsewhere.
Americans also find ethnonationalism discomfiting both intellectually and morally. Social scientists go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is a product not of nature but of culture, often deliberately constructed. And ethicists scorn value systems based on narrow group identities rather than cosmopolitanism.
But none of this will make ethnonationalism go away. Immigrants to the United States usually arrive with a willingness to fit into their new country and reshape their identities accordingly. But for those who remain behind in lands where their ancestors have lived for generations, if not centuries, political identities often take ethnic form, producing competing communal claims to political power. The creation of a peaceful regional order of nation-states has usually been the product of a violent process of ethnic separation. In areas where that separation has not yet occurred, politics is apt to remain ugly.
The author does a good job of explaining the present state of the ethnic state. It’s the super-tribe, the most modern of kinship identies, and also the weakest, but it is also a natural bond, considering the common histories, languages, religions, and physical similarities that unite most national groups.
I do think he misunderstands the nascent American ethnic nationalism that bloomed in the post-war era, only to be scrubbed away after 1965 through mass immigration and a “counter-cultural” ideological program. But the main point stands, and it probably stands doubly strong once American exceptionalism is rejected as an ideological tale told by self-interested parties, mostly unassimilated minorities and our foreign enemies.