Blood, kinship and diversity

-The sexual revolution has developed so as to insist that blood and kinship relationships are not more fundamental than legal and arbitrarily chosen ones. This is perhaps the definitive anti-nationalist move – the ultimate deconstruction of the nationalisms that were blamed for causing the wars between 1914-45.

-The more benign deconstruction was racial integration. Blood and kinship relations found racial distinctions, and there has been a campaign since the wars to minimize their significance. One sign that problems have arisen in this attempt has been the transition from integration to diversity, i.e. where as before we wanted all races to share a common life we now want them to live different lives, but put them on display for an alleged pedagogic value. “Separate but equal” returns as celebrated.

-Still, integration holds on in our ideals. While races stubbornly ghetto themselves in their own clubs, studies programs and neighborhoods our movies and television programs depict worlds where the races are oblivious to racial differences and are engaged in common tasks. A picture doesn’t look like a school-promotion packet or a movie cast without both sexes and three different skin tones. Whether this ultimately gets judged good art will depend on whether people find this sort of harmonious, racially indifferent co-operation possible, but, again, the shift from integration to diversity is an ominous sign.

-The tenacity of the integration ideal has motives from both the Left and Right: the Left seeks fulfillment in an internationalist cooperative, the Right (after the war) sought fulfillment in the legal unity that in the US was called “a proposition nation”. For the Left we will all integrate under a single worldwide law, the Right we will all integrate under our own legal traditions.

-In shortest form, we want legal ties to be more fundamental than breeding ties. Now in one sense they certainly are: spouses are chosen. One does choose his family if you’re talking not about who bred him but whom he chose to breed with, but to take this as the end of the story is clearly leaving something out.

-We can’t live without a political life, and we can’t have the shared life that politics demands without pride in a shared history. Diversity problematizes both the history and the pride we could take in it.

-The Olympics and the World Cup are nothing if not bald nationalism, though they’re the exception that proves the rule: every so often we vent unbridled nationalism, but only as a game. Our desires for nationalist domination and excellence are simultaneously satisfied (we crushed them / they only beat us by cheating!) and criticized (since we know that lives were not on the line). Local sports franchises play the same role in our desire for local communities.

-The sexual revolution shifted sex from being a source of blood and kinship ties to something essentially individual. One thing making this shift attractive were the horrors associated with nationalism after 1945, but, as everyone knows, there are just as many horrors done in the name of an internationalist brotherhood of all men. So what are we left with?

 

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