History of the Nation State in Europe
The concept of the nation state was essentially introduced to Europe by the Romans. Although Alexander the Great had ruled the Empire before them, his reign was centered in Babylon in Asia and later under his Seleucid successors in Seleucia and Antioch, after the former capital had been devastated during the civil war (Wars of the Diadochi). The Hellenic Empire was not a European invention, but Alexander had simply taken over the throne of the Achaemenid dynasty.
When Rome finally defeated the Hellenic dynasty of the Seleucids, the center of gravity of the Empire shifted to the West. Rome became the capital of the first European Empire. The polis, the independent city state that had dominated the political order of the civilized part of Europe, was replaced by an Empire that claimed universal sovereignty.
The Roman Empire was however not a nation state as we understand it today. Not every inhabitant of the Empire was a Roman. The authorities distinguished between peregrini, essentially barbarians that lived within the borders of Rome’s influence, and Romans with different degrees of citizenship. The Empire was not the political entity of one nation, but a multinational entity ruled by one nation, the Romans. What defined the Empire, was that it included everybody who was under the protection and control of the Roman military. Its borders were defined by the reach of the Roman legions. One was part of the Empire, if one fell under the reach of the Roman military.
Over time the Roman citizenship was extended over more and more barbarians that lived within the borders of the Empire. This occurred by freeing barbarian slaves whose children could acquire full citizenship with all political rights or by granting full citizenship to peregrini after 25 years of service in the Roman military, mostly the auxiliary cohorts. Therefore Roman citizenship or nationality lost more and more its ethnic meaning. Most Romans were soon not of ethnic Roman origin.
The final step was done by Emperor Caracalla who was at least partly of non-European ethnic origin by the Constitutio Antoniniana. This edict granted every free man living within the borders of the Empire full Roman citizenship. The distinction between Roman and peregrinus was abandoned. The Empire was not ruled by a nation anymore but had changed into a solely political entity unrelated to nationality or ethnicity.
So it was only a logical consequence that shortly after Rome lost its status as capital and the Empire its Roman character. Only the name remained as a meaningless designation.
Emperor Diocletian who had moved the capital away from Rome also initiated the split of the Empire into a Western and an Eastern half. This had far-reaching cultural consequences that remain until the present day. The East became essentially Greek, the West remained Latin. Under Diocletian’s successors both parts of the Empire adopted an oriental superstition as their state religion losing much of the European character and culture.
Due to the cultural alienation in the Western, European part of the Empire the central government soon lost political control over its provinces. These provinces organized more and more into autonomous kingdoms of formerly barbarian nations. Finally during the 5th century the central government of the West was dissolved. De iure the autonomous kingdoms fell under the supreme authority of the Emperor in Constantinople, but he was unable to fully exercise his authority there. The Western provinces had de facto become independent nations.
In the year 800 the Western part of the Empire finally got its own central government again under Emperor Charlemagne. However his Holy Roman Empire could only exercise direct control over some provinces. The other provinces remained de facto independent kingdoms. These kingdoms became the nation states that we recognize today, although they remained de iure provinces under the political authority of the Western Emperor and the religious authority of the Pontifex Maximus in Rome. However there were only few occasions, when this central government could exercise its formal authority, one of them being the crusades against the Arab barbarians.
The nation states during these Middle Ages were defined by the feudal system. Citizenship in these political entities was based on personal loyalty to the corresponding feudal Lord. This is why these states are known as states of personal loyalties (Personenverbandsstaat). The feudal system superceded ethnic or territorial borders.
This entire political system fell into disorder after the fall of Constantinople to the barbarians. The intellectual elite of the Empire fled from Constantinople to the West and triggered the Renaissance. It was an attempt to restore European culture and to free Western Europe from the grip of an oriental superstition that had been the state religion during the Middle Ages.
Indeed the Renaissance managed to break the religious authority of the Pontifex Maximus in Rome and the Western Emperor (of the Holy Roman Empire), but it also caused the Reformation. This religious conflict led to the devastating Thirty-Years-War and ended the political system of the Middle Ages with a de iure Emperor and de facto independent provinces organized into feudal states.
The resulting Peace of Westphalia finally established the modern concept of the nation state (Territorialstaat). Since then the nation state has been defined by its territorial borders and its citizens developed an own national identity with a national language, culture and sense of patriotism. This was often independent from the former ethnic origin. Celts, Franks, Roman and Normans considered themselves French, because they lived within the borders of France. Visigoths, Romans and Iberians became Spaniards, because they lived in Spain, Lombards, Normans and Romans became Italians because they lived in Italy. When the national borders shifted due to wars, the population was often moved along with the territorial borders.
These new national identities even survived the Great War from 1914 to 1919, while in any other regard the political system of Europe was completely restructured, the Emperors of East and West overthrown and the republican system established throughout the Empire. The citizens maintained their national identities unaffected by their nation being a monarchy or a republic.
The Westphalian concept of the nation state therefore survived almost unchanged for over three centuries.
Westphalian Definition of a Nation State
The Westphalian nation state is a territorial state. It is defined by the borders of its territory rather than by its population. A citizen is expected to live in the territory of the nation state.
Apart from the territory the citizens of the nation state are usually united by their common language, their common ethnicity, their common values and culture and their solidarity community. The last one has in Europe developed into a sophisticated welfare system, where all citizens contribute to a common fund which pays for extraordinary expenses in case of unforeseeable misfortunes like accidents, sickness, unemployment or incapacity due to old age.
Nation states with a high degree of ethnic homogeneity usually have ius sanguinis (right of blood) as basis of their citizenship. This means citizenship is inherited by the parents. Citizen is who has parents of the corresponding nationality. An example of a nation with ius sanguinis is former Germany.
Nation states, which are ethnically rather heterogenous or have a constant influx of immigrants have their citizenship usually based on ius solis (right of soil). This means citizenship is automatically acquired by being born in the national territory. An example of a nation with ius solis are the United States of America.
Exceptions to ius sanguinis and ius solis were usually possible under special circumstances, and a person could acquire another citizenship by the process of naturalization, when he had proved his loyalty to the nation. Usually continuous residency in a nation for a period of many years or sometimes military service for this nation was accepted as sufficient proof of loyalty, so that the new citizenship could be granted. There were different regulations regarding dual citizenship, with some nations permitting such a status and others not.
The nationalization of new citizens undermined the strict sense of ius sanguinis or ius solis. But even then the nation maintained a unity based on common values, language and solidarity system. The new citizen became part of the host culture, which he adopted as his own and contributed to the common fund of the welfare system. Ethnical differences were expected to disappear due to intermarriage with the host population.
This was the definition of the nation state that prevailed until the second half of the 20th century and which has finally ceased to exist with the refugee crisis of 2015.
The common definition of a nation state has so far been based on at least one of the following points:
- Territorial borders
- Ethnic community
- Linguistic community
- Community of common values
- Community of solidarity
End of the European Nation State
Since the second half of the 20th century the European nation states have systematically been abolished by populist far-left governments. With the refugee crisis of 2015 most of the European nation states have ceased to exist. There is no logically consistent definition of a nation state anymore. Citizenship is instead determined arbitrarily on a case to case basis without a generally applicable rule. Neither residency nor culture, language, solidarity contributions or ethnicity can definltimately determine citizenship.
Most European nation states have lost their territorial integrity, since they have to share their territory with significant proportions of foreign nationals. As a result most Europeans cannot call any nation their own. Ius solis is effectively abolished, since citizenship is granted independent from the place of birth and not necessary anymore to live permanently in a certain country. Therefore the territorial definition of a nation state does not apply anymore.
The European nation states are not ethnically homogenous anymore. Many non-Europeans hold European passports, so that the possession of European citizenship allows no conclusion regarding the ethnicity of the person. This means ius sanguinis is effectively abolished too. Therefore the ethnic definition of a nation does not apply anymore either.
Many non-Europeans hold European passports while only having rudimentary knowledge of the language of their host country. In the cities of large urban areas Arabic and Turkish is more often heard in daily life than the native language. International corporations use English as primary internal language. So language does not reflect national borders anymore. The linguistic definition of a nation state had always had serious flaws, but meanwhile it has become meaningless.
A major part of the European population is Mohammedan, and “Mohammed” has become the most common name given to newborn babies in several European nations. Mohammedanism does not share any values with European traditions, and the ultimate loyalty of every Mohammedan is with Islam not with his nation state. Nevertheless Mohammedanism is not considered an obstacle for acquiring a European nationality effectively nullifying the cultural definition of the nation state.
Many people in Europe are supported by the welfare system of their nation state without ever having made a significant contribution to the common fund. It is therefore not a community of solidarity, but a class system with some people belonging to the recipient class and others belonging to the donor class. Entitlement to social welfare does not have an earlier contribution to the system as prerequisite. The vast majority of immigrants never contribute to the system but are supported by it right after being admitted to the European host country. The definition of a nation state as a community of solidarity is therefore not fulfilled, since there is no in-group that protects its interests as community against an out-group.
In Europe two different concepts preceded the concept of the nation that was established by the Roman Empire: the tribe among the barbarians and the city state (polis) in the more civilized part of Europe.
Neither of these two concepts will return after the idea of the nation state has been abandoned. Instead we see other concepts developing.
Western politicians currently try to sell the idea of a globalized world without national borders as the evolving political system of a post-nation-state world. This would de facto mean the abolishment of the autonomy of the provinces of the Empire, which would at the same time expand over the whole globe. However this vision is a far cry from reality. Only the elite benefits from globalization, while the normal people still experience the same restrictions of movement at the national borders. Visa regulations, import and export restrictions and residence permits continue to limit their possibilities to the borders of the former nation states, which have become nothing more but administrative units that they have been assigned to. Free movement and economic opportunities across the borders are only available to the wealthy, while it becomes more and more restricted for the vast majority due to increasingly stringent visa, residence, banking and taxation laws.
So the dream of a globalized world instead of a world of nation states has become a failed concept, which is limited to the virtual world of the Internet.
Mohammedan Concept of Nation
An alternative concept of nation is meanwhile propagated and quite successfully established by Mohammedanism. It rejects the territorial state returns to the pre-Westphalian concept of the state of personal loyalties (Personenverbandsstaat). Citizenship is determined independent from the national territory where a person resides but by his personal loyalty, in this case to the Mohammedan umma, as they call their nation.
The Mohammedan concept in principle distinguishes between three classes of people, quite similar to the Roman Empire.
- The Muslim (civis) - a person that enjoys full citizenship in the umma.
- The Dhimmi (peregrinus) - a foreigner living within the zone of influence of the umma and is subject to its laws without political participation.
- The Kafir (barbarus) - a foreigner not part of the Mohammedan world.
This concept of nation and citizenship has turned out to be quite successful in the post-nation-state world. Mohammedans have their own laws (sharia), their own language (Arabic), their own conventions of civil registry (Arabic names, polygamy laws, burial procedures), their own customs and culture (dress code, beards, diet rules), their own calendar, their own consulates (mosques), their own public offices (imams, muezzins etc.) and their own central government (caliph), independent from the territorial borders, in which they reside.
This seems to be the future path of the definition of a state in the post-nation-state world.
A European Answer to the Fall of the Nation State
The original European answer to the fall of the nation state was the idea of globalization. As has been explained above this concept has not worked out successfully or the vast majority of the people. They are restricted to a political entity that has lost its original meaning and has become a mere administrative unit of an international community that is only real for a tiny upper class minority and in the virtual world of the Internet. This answer is therefore not a viable option.
The Mohammedan concept however has successfully established itself in the post-nation-state world. Europeans have to adapt to this new situation and need to develop a similar concept of nation based on the same principles. A system of territorial states and states of personal loyalties cannot parallely coexist. It is either the one or the other. The former is dying, the latter emerging. Europeans have to accept this fact. They have to correct their concept of nation following the Mohammedan example. Of course it must have a European, not an Arab design.
Future European nations need to be states of personal loyalties (Personenverbandsstaaten) and not that much territorial states (Territorialstaaten). They need to reflect ethnic and cultural reality and not just serve an administrative purpose.
Reality is that a German is a German, no matter if he lives in the administrative district called Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of France, United States of America or Republic of Argentina, while a Turk or Arab will never be a German, whether he holds a passport of the administrative district called Federal Republic of Germany or not.
The same is true for a Celt who will always be a Celt, no matter if he resides in Scotland, France, Australia or the Caribbean, while a French passport will not make a black African or an Arab a Celt.
Nation is based on ethnicity and culture. It cannot be arbitrarily acquired. Like with Mohammedanism ethnicity is not an absolute requirement. Even non-Arabs can join the umma. Therefore a European definition of nation does not need to be more stringent in this regard either. But nationality should require a complete immersion into the host culture. This would include a name change and the joining of the whole family, as well as the use of the new language in daily life. The nation is part of one’s identity. Changing the nation means getting a new identity. A change would therefore be a rare exception. Commonly the nation is inherited from the parents and never changed.
The old nation states are dead. Terms like Italian, French or British have become meaningless. They only describe administrative assignations. A French can as well be a Celt or Frank as an Arab or Bantu. Even when French still were homogeneously European, they were already a mixed population consisting of Gauls (Celts), Normans (Vikings), Romans and Franks (Germans) often having retained particular phenotypical features and cultural habits of their original nation. Cultural borders often divided established nation states. Germany for example has maintained the division along the former border of the Roman Empire, one part being predominantly Catholic while the other being predominantly Protestant, one part having a wine culture while the other having a beer culture, one population being predominantly dark-haired the other rather fair-haired. So on a cultural basis South-West Germany was rather related to France than the rest of Germany. In Italy the former borders of the Lombard kingdom that ruled the North and the Roman part in the South have also remained visible in the population that appears quite distinct in the North and South of Italy.
The nationalities that emerged during the Middle Ages cannot serve as designations for European nations anymore for more than one reason.
First of all these names are already taken by the modern administrative units of Europe that do not describe nationality. It already creates confusion, when an Arab terrorist is called a “French citizen” in the news creating a distorted picture of the mentioned incident. The term “French” does not describe the nationality of a person anymore. It would therefore be misleading to call a European nation as “French” under the new definition.
Another reason for these modern names being unsuitable for a European nation is that that they have emerged in a time when the oriental cult of Christianity had already destroyed the original European culture. These names are therefore associated with oriental Christian rather than European culture.
It is therefore necessary to return to the names that were in use during pre-Christian antiquity.
According to these rules we can therefore identify the following culturally and ethnically distinct European nations today:
- Celtic Nation
- Germanic Nation
- Roman/Latin Nation
- Slavic Nation
- Greek/Hellenic Nation
- Finnic/Ugric Nation
The new national communities need to be based on these groups or even smaller subunits, each defined by its own distinct culture and religion. To which of these nation one belongs is not determined by the territorial state or administrative unit that he was born in. A European French is not automatically a Celt or Gaul. He could be a Frank (German) or Roman. He has to find out his nation according to his family history, his cultural affinity or his physical appearance.
If the European people want to survive the ongoing islamic invasion, the original European nations have to assess their identity. Otherwise Europe will within one or two generations become just another part of the Arab world; and what Europe once was will be forgotten as insignificant pre-islamic history, just as it happened with so many other civilizations before in other parts of the world.
Those Europeans who are not willing to rediscover their original nation are doomed to become either Dhimmi or Muslim in the new islamic European continent.
For the centuries to come the European nations have to accept that they cannot claim a particular territory for themselves. The situation today has in many ways become like the diaspora of the Jewish people during the past centuries - a people without a home, its remnants spread all over the world. Europeans therefore need to adopt the same survival strategies as the Jewish people did. Not territorial borders but only the cultural and religious community can hold them together. Loyalty to these nations must supercede any loyalty to the administrative district where they live. It is the only way how the European nations will be able to see the 22nd century. With effect of the year 2015 the age of the territorial states is over; the states of personal loyalties have returned.