Tribal nationalism was the political theory behind two of the most important ideologies of the last century - pan-Slavism and pan-Germanism. It grew up in peoples who were scattered between several nation states, none of which had a strong enough national identity to mature on their own. In both cases there was one large national home country and then other rootless peoples scattered abroad. The tribal nationalist held that his people were the "chosen ones" regardless of their location, and that this "chosenness" was an attribute of the bearer's soul. So strong anyway was the Romantic's notion of race in the nineteenth century, that if these theological grounds were rejected then biological ones could soon be "found". After all, this was a time when learned men wrotes articles and tracts containing "biological perspectives" on the foreign and domestic policies of nations. This is not to suggest that racialism was all-persuasive in the latter half of the nineteenth century; it was merely not discredited and remained respectable. The history of the twentieth century proves that its political usefulness is as ostensible as its incredulity to the modern mind.

The tribal nationalist had no truck with the Enlightment concept of the Rights of Man - rather, he was concerned with the Rights of Slavic Men or the Rights of Germanic Men. It is natural that such thinking should have sprung up among the oppressed peoples of Eastern Europe, where the peasantry were not approaching emancipation and there seemed to be no national past. Tribal nationalism allowed people instead to look to the future and focus on the goal of the people - the job of the individual was merely to submit to the laws of history, which in the view of the tribal nationalist led inexorably towards the domination of all "lesser" races by the chosen people. The catalyst for the transformation of this into one of the defining political issues in Central and Eastern Europe was the burst of imperialism by the powers of Western Europe in the 1880s. As the Western powers scrambled for Africa and Asia the Slavic intelligentsia and the Austrian students looked on with envy, knowing they themselves had little chance of expansion overseas. If the Western powers sought to compete by the acquisition of overseas colonies, then the Eastern and Central powers sought to compete by the acquisition of land and colonies on the Continent. They promised to unite the Slavic or Germanic people, who shared a common folk origin, as it was their "destiny" to do so.

The unhappy center of the pan-movements was Austria-Hungary, having as it did both German and Slavic nationalities. Because the Dual Monarchy united both these peoples in a single nation state, the logical starting point for the pan-movements was its destruction. Connected to this was the transformation for the first time of antisemitism into the mainstay of a political ideology. Because the pan movements opposed the nation states in which they resided (the nation would not pander to their race interests), they quickly discovered and learned to make political capital of the strong connections between Jewish financiers and governments. Georg von Schoenerer, the main mover in Austrian pan-Germanism, is often regarded as the founder of modern poltical antisemitism, and Adolf Hitler declared himself his disciple. Schoenerer declared "we pan-Germans regard antisemitism as the mainstay of our national ideology". Hitler's further debt to pan-Germanism is sufficiently obvious in the Anschluss (annexation of Austria), after which he declared to the Austrians that "we are all sons of the German people". Both Hitler and Stalin acknowledged their debt to the pan-movements, Mein Kampf being full of examples of pan-Germanic thinking (it also eludes indirectly to continental imperialism, European tribal nationalism's bedfellow, stating that it is the right and goal of the German people to expand, particularly East, to acquire more living space for the German peoples).

There is another reason why antisemitism should have become the mainstay of the ideology of the pan-movements, perhaps one more introverted and psychological than politically expedient. European Jewry, after all, represented the ideal of the pan-movements' aspirations for their own peoples, and as such were a direct - and much better off - competitor. The "chosenness" of the Jewish people clashed with their own - only one could be true, and no doubt at the back of his mind the tribal nationalist wondered which it was. The Jewish people had retained a strong identity since antiquity, one which was conferred upon them by the very fact of their birth and not by individual achievement. What the tribal nationalist hoped to achieve - the creation of a separate people united by "folk" tradition and with no specific state loyalty - had already been achieved by European Jewry. The Jewish brand of tribal nationalism, which took the form of a strong sense of identity even in secular Jews, was a threat to the tribal nationalist's own identity and "chosenness".

The tribal nationalists didn't try to form political parties - they instead called themselves "movements". Political parties, with their claim to represent a particular class or interest group, were to be subordinated to these "movements" which represented the whole nation. They were heirs to the tradition of the first antisemitic parties which had declared themselves "parties above parties", with supranational goals. It is logical that to advance a supranational issue a supranational structure is needed. The structure of pan-Germanism and pan-Slavism were necessarily different though, because their environment was so. In Russia, there were many brands of Slavophilia and the intelligentsia was almost without exception pan-Slavic. The evolution of Bolshevik ideology, which had started with that most international and democratic of ideologies, Marxism, eventually reverted to pan-Slavism when it became clear what a great adhesive expedient this could be. Other pan-Slavic groups opposed the democracy and internationalism of Marxism, instead developing theories which justified the absolute power of the Russian Asiatic autocracy. It was pan-Slavism, in the sense of wanting to maintain the Russian Empire, that caused the rapprochement of some of the White intelligentsia with the Bolsheviks during and after the Civil War.

The ease with which vulgar tribal nationalism could appeal to the mob would eventually allow it to gain massive support among broad strata of society, especially the pan-Germanic brand. The ideology of race and the characteristic interest of the imperialist in foreign policy (which he claims to pursue for the whole nation, and hence to be above the party system) prepared fertile soil for totalitarianism, the first political system interested not just in men's outward actions, but in their very souls. By stressing in its "chosenness" the homogenuity of each human soul in their sphere of interest, the pan-movements in fact reduced their subjects to automatons used to advance the abstract interests of "the nation".

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