As nation-states in Europe wipe away their borders and dilute the flavors of their national cultures in a European Union slumgullion, their peoples are adopting new identities. Instead of Spaniards, they will be Catalans. Instead of Italians, they will again become Venetians, Lombards, and Sicilians. A story in the October 18 New York Times quotes the newspaper Il Tempo’s Antonio Rapisarda, who tracks separatist movements, as saying, “In Italy, there has been a resurgence of separatist energies. From the South Tyrol to Sicily, passing through Rome, there are separatist movements.” The Times adds that “Separatist movements are also simmering in Britain…as well as France, Germany, Belgium and Romania.” Here at home the Left Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington host growing movements to separate from the conservative heartland they despise.
The driving force behind separatism is the same as that which has created Fourth Generation war, war waged by non-state entities. That force is a growing crisis of legitimacy of the state. While its intensity varies greatly from place to place, the state’s crisis of legitimacy is now nearly universal. More and more citizens of states are transferring their primary loyalty away from the state to something else. In the case of separatist movements, it is to regions, often regions that once were states. In Fourth Generation war, new primary loyalties come in a wide variety of flavors, including religions, race and ethnic groups, gangs, and “causes” such as “animal rights.”
Why is this happening? If we look at states’ ruling elites, we can identify at least three causes. First, the states controlled by those elites are no longer effectively performing the state’s primary function, the reason it first arose: establishing and maintaining order, safety of persons and property. In some places, such as most of black Africa, Mexico, and Brazil, the collapse of order has been spectacular. But it is evident in First World countries also. In Britain, the number of people in private security is larger than the total personnel of the Queen’s armed forces. Where the state is doing its job, there is no need for private security.
The global elite has responded to this failure of the states they run by hiring private security to guard them and their property. Their fellow citizens are left to live in fear. Not surprisingly, they are questioning the legitimacy of a state that fails to protect them.
A second cause is that the global elites long ago transferred their primary loyalty away from their states. They blamed the state and nationalism for the vast, pointless slaughter of World War I. Their response was to de-nationalize themselves, giving their primary loyalty to the League of Nations, the United Nations, the European Union, free trade, “world peace,” and so on. Seeing themselves as the vanguard of the boobsoisie, they expected their less enlightened countrymen to follow them in the push toward de-nationalization. They did not anticipate, and still do not grasp, that most people want to give their first loyalty to something more concrete, not more abstract. And so regions displace hollowed-out states in that role, as do many other things.
In the West, another powerful force is at work to undermine the state—the old enemy of conservatives, ideology. The West’s political elite has adopted the ideology of cultural Marxism, commonly known as “political correctness” or “multiculturalism.” Cultural Marxism denounces Western culture, the Christian religion, the white race, and heterosexual males. They represent “oppression,” in this view. No one who dares defy this ideology can be a member of the elite.
The result is that the elites that run Western nation-states are at war with the common culture, the culture in which most of their fellow citizens (subjects?) still believe. Not surprisingly those ordinary people are rejecting the elites. As we saw in Donald Trump’s presidential victory and are witnessing in Europe, the unwashed masses are starting to cast their ballots for anti-Establishment individuals and parties, people who reject cultural Marxism.
In the end, cultural Marxism brings us back around to the first reason for the state’s crisis of legitimacy, its failure to protect people and property from crime. One weapon the cultural Marxist elites use to destroy the Western culture they hate is mass immigration from other cultures. The goal is to swamp the native population and their beliefs in a sea of foreigners. With those foreigners comes crime. When I lived in Austria and Germany in the early 1970s, crime was not a consideration. No woman thought anything of walking alone at night through a park in Vienna. No longer. Now in Malmo, Sweden, the young Islamic male “refugees” talk of going out to “hunt Swedes.”
Such developments call to mind the words of the Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld, who once told me, “Everyone can see it except the people in the capital cities.” Either they will learn to see it and will address its causes, or the fleas will lose their dog.
William S. Lind is the author, with Lt. Col. Gregory A. Thiele, of the 4th Generation Warfare Handbook.