Europe’s Third State
Among those who seek the defence and resurgence of Europe, one common point of controversy is the issue of national independence versus European unification. Perhaps one reason for heightened controversy at present is that Richard Spencer has long been a champion of unification and a devil’s advocate for the EU, while Greg Johnson favours sovereign nation-states for all viable ethnic groups in Europe. So I should start this piece by stating that my own position on this question, which is in favour of unification, has nothing to do with the dispute between these two figures.
Besides, my own view would not satisfy either side – for I say Yes to European unification, but Death to the European Union. My reason for taking this view comes from the distinction that I make between Europeans and Cosmopolitans, or between the general population of Europe’s nations and the transnational ruling elite that has alienated itself from them in order to act as a hostile foreign body. Simply put, the EU is a Cosmopolitan empire that does not give a shit about preserving European civilisation; and the fact that the national governments in Western Europe are just as ridden with Cosmopolitanism is no argument in the EU’s favour, as it can still play the role of an ‘upper chamber’ limiting the impact of popular opposition upon these governments, while bullying nationalist governments in Eastern Europe and even toppling governments in Southern Europe. Our policy towards this enemy empire should be to smash it up, and our only viable means of doing so is to make use of the fissile energy of national secession.
But from this perspective, the EU would stand to a future ‘European Imperium’ much as the British Raj stands to modern independent India, or the minority- and foreign-controlled Qing Dynasty stands to independent and Han-controlled China. In other words, just as with these two great non-European peoples, the liberation of Europeans from the Cosmopolitan empire would in no way oblige them to go back to their original disunity. When the sinister mannequins of the EU play Beethoven’s Ninth and claim to have delivered our peoples from fratricidal wars, we should understand that they are invoking an ideal that is far more venerable than their bastard superstate, just as all empires try to find political justifications dear to their subjects’ hearts.
In our circles, we tend to hear two common broadsides against the unification ideal, which go as follows: 1) it amounts to an artificial ‘Whitemanistan’ cooked up by cultureless modern Americans; and 2) it is a pie-in-the-sky dream that can only distract us from practical concerns. My intention here is to refute these one by one.
Tracing the Tradition of European Unity
As the title of this piece demonstrates, I use the term Third State to refer to a future united Europe, instead of the Empire or Imperium used by others. In part, this is to avoid confusion on terms like imperialism, which would be better used against Cosmopolitans than adopted by people on our own side. However, this phrase is also intended to remind us that Europe has a very old tradition of imperial unity, which long predates the rise of the nation-states.
In this terminology, the First State is of course the Roman Empire. Most of what we would nowadays call pan-European was bequeathed to us by this state: the Christian Church, the body of Roman law, the rhetoric of selfless patriotism, the old common language of Latin, the concepts and terminology of Empire and Emperor. This state ruled in a highly centralised and direct way, and from 212 the identity of ‘Roman citizen’ was extended to virtually all subjects within its borders, weakening provincial identities and universalising a single Roman law. Although later pressures on the central government would lead to landowning elites retreating into their provincial estates and indulging in a sort of local ‘patriotism’, this did not conflict with the overarching Roman identity.
As everyone knows, in the fifth century this unity was shattered: Germanic barbarians migrated into the Empire, the western provinces were conquered and turned into independent kingdoms, and in 476 the last Roman emperor was deposed by the barbarian leader holding power in Italy. What is often forgotten is that the Roman Empire did not simply “fall” as a result of this, as it had long been divided into Western and Eastern halves for administrative purposes, and the Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) Empire remained intact. In a legal sense, all that happened was that sole authority over the Empire reverted to the Eastern Emperor in Constantinople, who was happy to confer nominal client-king status on certain barbarian leaders.
Many of the Germanic tribes near the Roman borders were partially Romanised, had converted to some form of Christianity, and were generally not hostile or ignorant enough to simply wipe out Roman traditions and structures after conquering imperial provinces. However, the non-Romanised tribes facing peripheral areas like Britain acted far more destructively; the imperial heartland in Italy suffered a crippling bloodbath as the Eastern Emperor tried to wrest back his western provinces from the barbarians; and the sudden barbarian conquests of Islam cut the Mediterranean world of antiquity in two, fundamentally altering the geographical focus of civilisation in the West. As a result of this chaos and fragmentation, we can say that a real break in the unity tradition occured from around the sixth to the ninth centuries.
The term Second State, strictly speaking, should refer to the dual ruling powers of the mediaeval Empire and Papacy, which emerged through the radical changes of the ‘dark’ centuries to stand at the apex of a secondary Roman civilisation. Here we run into even more controversy than surrounds the “fall of Rome”, as mediaeval Europe is famous for its decentralisation while its unity tradition rests in obscurity. But the question is not whether decentralisation and even fragmentation were a reality of the Middle Ages, but whether these realities contradicted the unity tradition at the level of principle, as do the concepts of ethnic separatism and petty-national sovereignty.
In modern times, the principal means of obscuring the survival of the unity tradition has been to treat the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire of the Middle Ages as a bad political joke. The popular account goes something like this: at the end of the ‘Dark Ages’, the barbarian Franks briefly reunited most of Western Europe, and their war-king Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor by the Pope in 800 in an outrageous flight of fancy. But his flash-in-a-pan empire was partitioned after his death and split apart to create France and Germany, after which the German king Otto the Great revived the imperial title in 962, despite lacking the unified territories to justify it. From then on, whole dynasties of German kings deluded themselves into thinking they were Roman Emperors while actual royal power drained into the hands of feudal lords, until Napoleon put a merciful end to the stagnant anachronism by causing its dissolution in 1806. All in all, just as Voltaire famously smirked: “neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire”.
One might be forgiven for thinking that the mediaeval Empire – a true thousand-year Reich that straddled central Europe and northern Italy, repeatedly defended our civilisation against Muslim and barbarian invaders, and led Europe in early modern communications revolutions such as printing – deserves a slightly less disparaging treatment. For one thing, it is rich to quote Voltaire’s typically flash-blinded ‘Enlightenment’ view, when Napoleon Bonaparte – the product of the French Revolution – swathed himself in carbon-copy imperial regalia and would have usurped the Empire had it not been dissolved just in time to prevent this. But let us go back to the beginning, to the coronation of Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800.
There was more to this than anachronism and fancy. As we have seen, the Roman Empire did not fall in 476, but sole imperial authority was transferred to the Eastern Emperor in Constantinople. As this authority could not be effectively exercised, the Papacy started to cultivate the Catholic Franks as an alternative temporal protector and ally, which led to the papal crowning of Charlemagne as a revival of the office of Western Roman Emperor. The main controversy at the time – lessened by the fact that the Eastern Roman Empire had been usurped by a woman – centred on whether the Pope had the authority to do this. (Classical Rome had already furnished the precedents for foreign Emperors, imperial capitals other than Rome, and Germanic-descended Roman leaders.)
To legitimise the transfer of power from the Eastern Emperor, the theory of ‘imperial
translation’ (translatio imperii) was developed, in which Roman authority moved westwards from the Greeks to the Franks. After Otto the Great was crowned Emperor (we cannot say that he “revived” the title as such, for it continued to be awarded to claimants in Italy long after Charlemagne’s death), and the Empire came to be centred permanently on Germany, this theory was supplemented with the belief that the unconquered and victorious Germania was the true heir of Rome. Thus, the particular identity of the Germans was neatly absorbed into the framework of the unity tradition.
Although there were some grumblings at the elevation of the “uncouth” Germans from other parts of Europe, ethnic divisions alone could not threaten the role of the Empire in the Middle Ages, because political legitimacy rested instead upon the system of feudal obligations and dynastic rule. In theory, at least, the Emperor stood at the top of that complex hierarchy, which is why his office was not left to hereditary succession but rather bestowed by princely election (and, initially, papal coronation in Rome). Only an Emperor (or, on more controversial occasion, a Pope) could make a king, and the role of defending Christendom fell primarily to the Emperor. Although it is true that the structure of the Empire was highly decentralised, much of this delegation of power was part and parcel of the feudal system, and only when other kingdoms started to centralise and marshal their resources more effectively did this become a clear weakness. And even by that time, what was a weakness against external enemies may have been a strength against internal subversion: at the beginning of The Holy Roman Empire, Peter H. Wilson remarks that the conservatism of Central Europe stemmed from the corporate structure of the Empire, which caused Germans and others to reject abstract “liberty” and “democracy” as threats to their liberties within the social order.
The early attacks on the legitimacy of the Empire came instead from rival claimants to the unity tradition. First there was the Pope, who wielded the power of excommunication over every king in Europe, and did not hesitate to stir up opposition to the Emperor by using it against him during disputes over primacy. There was also the independent kingdom of France, which jockeyed for parity with the Empire by claiming a purer Carolingian heritage, and later developed a theory (translatio studii) by which Roman learning had been transferred to the University of Paris. These, of course, fed into each other, as the Pope could use the French king (or any other ambitious king who took his fancy) to hedge against the Emperor and maintain a balance of power.
However, demands for parity from rival states have everything to do with political power, and nothing to do with the legitimacy of an imperial tradition. (If we make a quick dash to the Far East during the period we are discussing, we see the Chinese Song Dynasty being compelled to accept similar parity demands from the barbarian Khitan Liao empire to its north, despite the strong unity tradition of China.) As for the Papacy, despite its deliberate weakening of the Empire, its perspective was no less ‘pan-European’ and its machinations did not always promote division. When the Papacy outmanoeuvred the Empire by taking direct control of the Crusades, and allowed the French to steal the imperial thunder as the defenders of Christendom, the effect was to unite Europe’s peoples in a common cause against the Muslims.
Nevertheless, petty-nationalism eventually grew out of this decentralised unity, and once again caused the tradition of Rome to be eclipsed. In order to trace exactly how this happened, we can make use of Caspar Hirschi’s recent work The Origins of Nationalism, provided we read it not as a guide to how the nation was “constructed” but as to how it gained primacy over the dynastic system and unity tradition. (Do not even bother with the ‘modernist’ accounts of nationalism by the likes of Ernst Gellner and Eric Hobsbawm, whose authors play the same court-historian role to globalism as the objects of their academic criticism once played to nationalism.)
Hirschi’s account begins with the status-seeking of mediaeval kingdoms, which spread well beyond France, and soon caused demands for independence from Pope and Emperor alike. Poring over the rediscovered corpus of Roman law, jurists claimed that kings should be “emperors in their own kingdoms”, and ideas like divine kingship and lèse-majesté began to drain away from the Emperor’s person and into the hands of lesser hereditary kings. Also, the language of Roman patriotism – the duty of all subjects to serve the common fatherland – was now used in reference to the kingdom. This eventually had repercussions on the Empire, which began to employ its own brand of patriotic rhetoric aimed at the Germans, while shielding imperial elections from papal control.
According to Hirschi, the result was “a multitude of mini-empires which were all eager to overcome what was generally seen as an unfortunate interval of political fragmentation”. The struggles of these states, however, caused them to cancel each other out.
As for how petty-nationalism began to achieve the upper hand over the ideal of unity, Hirschi draws our attention to Renaissance humanism, which initiated a craze among learned men for imitating the ancient Romans in a purist and literalist way. As the ancient Romans had divided the world into themselves and the barbarians, Italian humanists like Petrarch started to castigate the French and Germans as “barbarians”, while claiming an Italian monopoly on Roman civilisation. And of course, learned Frenchmen and Germans were quick to defend themselves and hurl their own insults right back. It is easy to see that a pan-European system with its spiritual head in Italy, its nominal temporal head in Germany, and its centres of learning in France could not survive much longer once this sort of ‘national honour’ discourse became widespread.
Hirschi goes on to give an account of the 1519 imperial election of Charles V, the closest thing to a pan-European monarch since Charlemagne. Although not fluent in German, he successfully headed off the French king’s bid for the Empire by signalling his Germanness, amidst public fury in German towns against the French election campaign. However, once Charles was elected Holy Roman Emperor and started to treat Germany as a mere province, he swiftly turned from national hero to foreign invader in the eyes of the German princes. And this no doubt facilitated the decision of so many princes to go over to the side of the Protestant Reformation, which drew on long centuries of bitter German memories of papal perfidy, and dealt a fatal blow to the unity tradition by destroying its religious basis.
From this point, the line of “progress” to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution is clear enough – and this, as we have seen, led to the final demise of the Empire. In the wake of this, imperial titles proliferated until there were six empires on the European continent (Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Ottoman Turkey), none of which could carry on the torch of pan-European unity. In hindsight, the only surprising thing is that they waited as long as the twentieth century to initiate a general slaughter.
Asserting the Practicality of the Third State
Those of us who, like the two-headed imperial eagle, look to the future of European unity as well as its past, can draw a lesson from Hirschi’s book that goes beyond the argument of its author.
Recall the essence of the theory: multipolar nationalism emerged as an universalist imperial ideal was forced to adapt itself to a reality of political fragmentation. Well, do we not see a similar transition today on a worldwide scale, as formerly universalist civilisations are forced to confront each other and adjust their self-image accordingly? In this new world, other civilisations are shifting away from universalist pretensions and towards ‘civilisational nationalism’, as we see with both the technocrats of China and the fanatics of Islamic State. But Europeans alone hold onto a mixture of high-flown ideals and petty political fragmentation, much as the Holy Roman Empire did during Europe’s early modern transition towards nationalism.
Perhaps the only good thing that can be said for the present exhaustion of national loyalties, and the barbarian migrant invasion into Europe, is that these factors may pave the way for the emergence of civilisational nationalism in Europe. Indeed, in our own underground circles, the change has already taken place in practice: regardless of our disagreements over European unification, who on the True Right would criticise an Englishman for marrying a German, or even a Pole for marrying a Russian? Who really has any more patience for the petty territorial disputes of nations now facing a common oblivion? Petty-nationalism seems to be treated as a luxury on top of racial and civilisational survival; the question is whether we can afford that luxury, or at least, whether we can afford to let it dictate our vision for a new Europe.
The obvious retort is that a vague sense of civilisational unity in no way implies the formation of an unified European state. And I do not intend to rest in the lazy position that the history of the First and Second States must needs give birth to a Third State. There are, in fact, plenty of practical reasons why such a state is necessary.
Let us begin not in an ideal future, but a few strides away from where we are now. If a large-scale nationalist political uprising were to take place across Europe, it would be unlikely to take the whole continent by storm, but might gain control of a few states while non-state forces carried on the fight in others. Now, the Cosmopolitan states attempting to suppress the nationalist ones would have the advantage of supranational coordination from the European Union, as well as massive fifth columns in the form of non-European minority populations in the nationalist states. As it would be an act of world-historical idiocy to let the enemy pick our states off one by one, the Third State would arise from a close alliance and pooling of resources between the embattled nationalist states and non-state actors.
Let us now envisage the entirety of Europe wholly converted to nationalism: why should the Third State still be necessary there? First of all, there is the threat from without: although military attack might be headed off by a conventional alliance, undesirable regime changes in petty states caused by foreign money would be difficult to reverse without violating national ‘sovereignty’, and only an united Europe capable of economic self-sufficiency could be sure of resisting these. Secondly, there is the threat from within: national competition in a pacified Europe would presumably take the form of economic competition, and one way to grow your economy faster then your neighbours is to import lots of cheap Third World labour.
Do not think that a general ideological commitment to nationalism would suffice to head off this second danger. As Hirschi’s account makes clear, many European nationalisms were not just ideologies of ethnic self-defence; they were rival imperialisms, born in contradiction to the pan-European one represented by the Empire, and for which national sovereignty was a means and not an end. In a world where every European state has its own sacrosanct nationalism, who is to separate British nationalism from British imperialism, or French nationalism from Revolutionary universalism? The American-dominated Alt-Right tries to “solve” this problem by imposing a Germanocentric view by default; but whatever the problems of uniting Europe’s peoples around a common racial-civilisational identity, surely they are nowhere near as daunting as the prospect of convincing all her bickering petty-nationalist states that one particular state among them was literally right about everything. Especially when that state spent the last war invading most of Europe and treating the eastern half of the continent’s population as wogs.
It has always been common for petty-nationalists to refer to European unification as an impractical pipe-dream. Nowadays, they can also point to the popular nationalist movements sweeping European countries, and assert that the supporters of these movements have no interest in unification. And in the present context, they are right: popular feeling naturally attaches itself to the smaller patria, which is why I suggest using these secessionist movements to break the yoke of our enemies.
However, if the last couple hundred years have taught us anything, it is that every revolution carried out by popular force against a sitting elite succeeds only in raising another elite into its place. We can legitimately demand a better elite than the hostile Cosmopolitan one, but we cannot hope to change the basic desires of all elites, which include status, power and grandiosity. Cosmopolitan virtue-signalling and world-colonisation can satisfy these elite desires, and so can the great project of building a new Europe, but playing steward to a small parochial tribe dancing around its totem pole doesn’t really cut the mustard. If and when our movement – at present heavily dominated by the lower classes – gives birth to a new elite, we can expect that the prospect of European unification will start to look more realistic.
That said, paradoxical as it may seem, there is no reason why this ‘grandiosity’ of elites should take a hostile attitude to the regional ethnic identities of European peoples. As the recent Catalan secession attempt has reminded us, it is the petty nationalist states that have been most assiduous in suppressing these identities, stamping out all those little dialects without armies. As an unified European state would have no obvious candidates for a common language and dominant ethnic group, and would have to fight a propaganda battle against petty-nationalism, one would expect that it would buttress its legitimacy by emphasising regional ethnic identities within the old nation-states. And if it should be objected that these ethnic groups would have only a false freedom within an European state (as they would not be able to secede, go to war with their neighbours or flood their territories with non-whites), we can legitimately ask how much freedom they would truly have in a world of unrestricted nationalist competition.
A few words remain to be said on the subject of two marginal nation-states, Britain and Russia. As an Englishman, I think it particularly important to explain what on earth I am doing advocating European unification, when the traditional policy of my country – as famously stated by Sir Humphrey – has been to maintain a division of power in Europe. In the wake of the Brexit vote, I have read some wonderful screeds from armchair diplomats detailing the serpentine geostrategic interests of Britain, which generally forget little details like the total loss of our colonial empire and the fact that even our nuclear deterrent is dependent on Washington’s goodwill.
What must be remembered is that Britain did not hedge with smaller powers against European hegemons out of spite, but because the maintenance of division in Europe was the best way to prevent Britain herself from falling under another power’s sway. Thus, we can say that Britain’s leaders betrayed this policy in the first half of the twentieth century, when they allowed her to become a de facto satrapy of the United States (largely done out of soft-headed notions of “Anglo-Saxon brotherhood”, which were foolish when the US had large German and Irish populations, and are even stupider in the current era of Jewish ascendancy and non-white race replacement in the US). Britain no longer “chooses the open sea” over Europe; the “open sea” has conquered her and removed all semblance of a “choice”, and she would gain a better chance of influence, freedom and mere survival by throwing her lot in with her European neighbours.
Then there is the Russia Question. Many advocates of unification, though not all of them, envisage a dominant role for Russia in a future Third State; and I suspect that at least some of the opposition to unification stems from doubts over the suitability of Russia for such a role.
As the self-described ‘Third Rome’, the conqueror of Germany in the last war, and the patron of the Orthodox Church (whose influence might go some way towards sorting out the utter joke to which post-Vatican II Catholicism has reduced itself), Russia certainly has a case for old-style translatio imperii. But historical events do not work out according to poetic justice: the Russian demographic energy that so impressed Westerners like Spengler has dried up, and Russia’s present leadership is far overrated in traditionalist and nationalist terms, although in most vital respects Russia is in a healthier state than Europe or America.
Although it is not easy to predict which way Russia would turn in the event of a nationalist uprising in Europe, what is clear is that a sceptical attitude towards Russia cannot be used as an excuse to reject the ideal of the Third State. If Europeans were to create the Third State under our own steam, then we could accept or reject Russia on our own terms. If we remain disunited, it is likely that we shall sooner or later be preyed upon by the vast civilisational blocs developing elsewhere; and next to continued dominance by America, economic colonisation by China, and soumission to Islam, dominance by a resurgent Russia is probably the least worst option. If we do not desire such an outcome, then this should serve us as a spur to get our own act together.