America to surpass the liberties of the Old World?rnAs if this question were not broad enough to tackle, I wouldrnalso like to reflect this afternoon on an interrelated question:rnWHiat made America into a nation? And what is a “nati(3n,”rnan\va ? It seems clear to me that a country or a nation can bernheld together either by a dynastic empire, such as the Habsburgs;rnbv ethnic ties, such as we are seeing in the new nations ofrnEurope and western Asia; by some overarching idea or ideology,rnsuch as communism (although the Soviet Union was also inrnmany wavs a cover for imperial domination by Russia over otherrnnationalities); or by some unique blend of the last two,rnwhich I hope to show was the case in the United States.rnWe start our treatment of these cosmicallv broad questionsrnbv harking back to what is supposed to be an old discreditedrnnrth: that North America, despite the hidians, was basically anrnempt continent. Compared with denseh populated WesternrnEurope, North America was a rich and emptv land, full of greatrnresources, ready to be settled. Being relati ely empty, the landrnwas peopled by various groups of settlers, each of whom couldrndo in the New Worid what they could never do in the Old: setrnup their own cherished institutions without rubbing up againstrneach other.rnIt is a cliche that America is uniquely a nation of immigrants,rnand from this supposed fact, the intellectual and media elites,rnfrom left-liberal to left-libertarian to neoconserative, go on torncelebrate the multicultural melting pot or mosaic of America.rnMoreover, these same elites are using this alleged tradition tornstimulate an ingathering of one and all, thcrebv turning Americarninto what Ben Wattenberg calls the “first universal nation.”rnThere are several grave problems with this disastrous oxvmoron.rnThe whole point of a nation is that it cannot be “universal.” Tornhave a country or a nation at all, there must be close ties ofrnshared customs and traditions, values, principles, and institutions.rnT’hese ties cannot be imposed externally and suddenlyrnbv fiat, or by a handful of bureaucrats or ideologues. Theyrnmust grow, “organically” as it were, over the centuries, fromrnwithin or from below among the people. In almost all cases, thernfoundation of these ties is a shared ethnicity, which inspires andrncements the common customs, principles, and institutions.rnThat is wh- the collapse by the end of World War I of multinationalrndynasties such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and thernrecent glorious crumbling of the imperial, ideological, multinationalrnSoviet Union, have allowed ethnic nations, or nationstates,rnto come powerfully to the fore.rnIf there are no such shared ethnic and cultural bonds withinrna country, then the “country” cannot be a nation at all: it canrnonlv be a congeries of clashing peoples and groups, held togetherrnb}’ the coercive force of the state apparatus, which growsrnand swells in its attempt to try to hold the collapsing entitv together.rnThe state apparatus, of course, does not mind this processrnat all, since under the cover of a grotesquely warped formrnof “patriotism,” it can maximize its own power at the expensernof persons, families, communities, and local goernments,rnwhich may be the point of the whole exercise. TragicalK, this isrnpreciscK’ what has been happening to our beloved country, ourrnonce ibrant and now dying nation, America.rnLet us look more closely at the slogan that “we are a nationrnof immigrants.” It may be true enough, but it misses the point:rnevery nation on the face of the earth, after all, was originally settledrnbv immigrants. The difference is that these other nationsrnof immigrants were by and large ethnically homogeneous, andrneach of them—Welsh, Serbs, Tajiks, or Uzbeks—has more orrnless settled into its own territory, if not always its own nationstate.rnOf course, there were many admixtures, many placesrnwhere, for various reasons, no one ethnic group was preponderant.rnBut America needs to realize that it is precisely thosernareas—whether Bosnia, or Afghanistan, or Northern Ireland—rnwhere bloody conflict seems to be unrelenting and eternal.rnThe idea of the peaceful coexistence of ethnic groups within arncourrtry is a chimera, an absurd and impossible dream thatrnturns rapidly into a nightmare. National and ethnic separation,rneach group with its own nation or country, seems to be thernonlv workable solution.rnWhat does ‘American’rnmean nowadays,rnexeept to be born on Americanrnterritory, to be entided to welfarernbenefits, or to be subject tornAmerican taxes?rnAnd here w c need to point out that a shared religion is, in virtuallyrnevery case, a necessary part of ethnicity. This truth offendsrnmodern liberal ideologues, left and right, who like tornthink of religion as uniquely personal to each individual. Inrnfact, a religion is always a community, a community of specificrncreeds, liturgies, and buildings. It is a community of ideas andrnpractices that parents pass on to their children.rnBut docs this not contradict one of mv first points: that a crucialrnreason for the freedom, the economic prosperity, and thernglorious ci ilization of Western Europe was that the state didrnnot dominate and cripple the Church, that the ChristianrnChurch, at least before the Reformation, was transnational?rnNot at all, for the same Christian or Catholic Church, evenrnwhen all services were in Latin, took a different cultural form inrneach country. There was no mistaking the differences, for example,rnbetween Italian and Irish Catholicism. Furthermore,rnbecause the Church was transnational, it could not be dominatedrnby the state, whose power over civil society was kept withinrnstrict limits.rnH ow did America forge a new nation out of these diersernips of immigrants? The answer is worked out in Albion’srnSeed, in which David Hackett Fischer demonstrates thatrnthe founding immigrant groups in America, virtually all the immigrantsrnin the first two of the four centuries of American life,rncame from the British Isles. It is true that these immigrantrngroups came from different regions of Britain, and that theyrnsettled homogeneously in different regions. Essentially, therernwere three groups: Puritans, who came mainly from East Angliarnand settled in close-knit townships in New England; Cavaliers,rnlULY 1995/15rnrnrn