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ethnic absolutism, hatred of difference,

racial exclusiveness and religious ortho-

Europe's doxy. But it ill behoves western Europe


to complain. Its own development oc-
curred on the back of nationalisms
which also had their own racially and
ethnically exclusive character. It is not

Other Self
The history of Europe is not only
a surprise that the Croatians, the
Slovenes, the Latvians, the Estonians,
etc, should regard the construction of a
little nation of their own as a passport to
the West. These emergent nationalisms
are not simply revivals of the past but
internal, but external: its relation reworkings of it in the circumstances of
the present - entry tickets to the new
with its Others. Stuart Hall examines Europe. Though they look like a return
the impact of fundamentalism and to a pre-1914 historical agenda, they are
functioning as a way of evading the past
Third World migration on European and making a bid for modernity (ie,
identity entry to the Euro-club).

As Europe consolidates and converges, so a


similar exercise in boundary mainten-
ance is in progress with respect to its

W
e are advancing steadily good European businessman, he had ar- Third World 'Others'. Currently, the two
towards two anniversary rived in Japan.) favourite discursive markers in this
occasions for Europe. The Europe's external relations with its discourse are 'refugees' and 'funda-
countdown has already Others has been central to the European mentalism'. The question of illegal im-
begun to 1992, the birthday of the new story since its inception, and remains migration has once again surfaced as an
Europe. Despite the rearguard action of so. The story of European identity is urgent topic of European discussion,
the Thatcherite rump, the supra- often told as if it had no exterior. But the redoubtable French Socialist prime
national shape of the new Europe is this tells us more about how cultural minister, Edith Cresson, regretting that
beginning to emerge. This occasion will identities are constructed - as 'ima- 'of every ten immigrants found to be
be inward-looking - the lowering of gined communities', through the mark- here illegally, only three are expelled',
economic and trading barriers, the ing of difference with others - than it and Jacques Chirac, that model of the
opening of convergence and integration does about the actual relations of new European cosmopolitan enlighten-
which everyone hopes will bring pros- unequal exchange and uneven develop- ment, remarking on the 'noise and
perity to western European peoples. ment through which a common Euro- smell' of foreigners which drove decent
Here, it is the waning of the era of the pean identity was forged. Now that a French people 'understandably crazy'.
separate nation-states, which have for new Europe is taking shape, the same Douglas Hurd and Kenneth Baker have
so long provided the engine of European contradictory process of marking sym- been spinning complicated webs around
growth. Once again, Europe is able to bolic boundaries and constructing sym- the distinction between 'political refu-
produce from within her own borders bolic frontiers between inside and out- gees' and 'economic migrants'. Political
and resources, both material and spirit- side, interior and exterior, belonging refugees deserve refuge in enlightened
ual, the conditions for the next phase of and otherness, is providing a silent Europe, home of liberty. Usually they
social development. This has been the accompaniment to the march to 1992. are few in number, and it is often hard
dominant narrative of modernity for One of the key sites of this discursive to prove conclusively that they are in
some time - an 'internalist' story, with work is, of course, eastern Europe - a direct danger from some oppressive or
capitalism growing from the womb of boundary which has always given west- tyrannical regime of the kind which
feudalism and Europe's self-generating ern Europe trouble. Westwards, what poverty and indebtedness breeds -
capacity to produce, like a silk-worm, used to be called 'the Green Sea of which allows a reasonable proportion to
the circumstances of her own evolution Darkness' provided a natural boundary. be bundled unceremoniously back to
from within her own body. But eastwards, the continent refuses to the waiting arms of the local police.
The other anniversary marks another,

E
end naturally. It stretches out to the conomic migrants, on the
equally important, but less frequently Urals and beyond, into the dark unk- other hand, are simply the un-
celebrated aspect. 1992 is also the nown from which the barbarians de- witting casualties of the 'nor-
500th anniversary of Christopher Col- scended. Where does Europe stop and mal' processes of market
umbus's so-called 'discovery' of the New Asia begin? The question is critical - forces as they operate at the periphery.
World. This event, along with the Portu- European prosperity depends on find- Europe, whose banking arrangements
guese opening-up of the African coast- ing an answer to it. In the negotiations have destroyed subsistence agriculture
line and advance (with the assistance of between European capitalism and the and whose new Gatt arrangements will
Arab traders who had long plied those disintegrating communist empires of price most of them out of the commod-
waters) into the Indian Ocean and eastern Europe - the Second World - ity markets, owes them nothing. It is
beyond, marked the opening of the era we are about to discover the answer. true that, Tebbit-like, they got on their
of European expansion - the process of Currently, the line is staked out in bikes (or the nearest equivalent - a
exploration, conquest and colonisation terms of the contrast between the one-way charter flight ticket) and,
by which virtually the whole globe was 'international' West and the 'national- quite rationally, went to seek their
harnessed in one way or another to ist' East. As national boundaries are fortunes in the only place where for-
Europe. 'Globalisation', which we often weakened and eroded in western Eur- tunes are to be made. But this will never
speak of as if it began with the 'Big ope, we are told, so in eastern Europe do. Suddenly, European prosperity is a
Bang', and the computerisation of the there is a resurgence of nationalism. strictly European affair, designed
Stock Exchange, really started there The contrast between the 'rational' and exclusively for what every self-
with Columbus's 'mistake', and has civilised West and the irrational and respecting Euro-politician is calling
been going on ever since. (He was really barbarous East underpins this opposi- 'our populations'. No wonder, when the
on the way somewhere else and re- tion. Of course, many of the national- Berlin Wall collapsed, every self-
mained stubbornly convinced, when he isms which are helping to fragment the respecting Pole and East German who
hit the New World, that, like any other old communist empire are driven by had a Lada capable of making the jour-

18 MARXISM TODAY AUGUST 1991


ney climbed aboard, and like Columbus ism has done nothing for the millions of tanism about it) and 'fundamentalism'
in search of pure gold, headed west. The poor people languishing under their are not opposites but complementary;
frontiers are closing... rule. The view, held by some western two sides of the same coin. As the new
The problem is (as Colin Prescod's radicals, that because these regimes forms of globalisation unhinge the
excellent BBC2 series, Black On Eur- (sometimes) oppose the West we should negotiated compromises between tradi-
ope, about the plight of western Eur- support them, is a profound error, tion and modernity in the Third World,
ope's ethnic minorities, has been show- forced on us by the fact that we con- the process calls into being in response
ing) the 'barbarians' are already inside tinue to work with these simple binary a vigourous 'localism'. Localism can be
the gate; and face-to-face with them, oppositions. We might call this, follow- purely defensive - inward-turning,
European cosmopolitanism does not ing Marx's remark about anti-semitism, exclusive, absolutist, a retreat into an
stand up well to the test. Millions of not 'the socialism', but the 'anti- enclave form of ethnicity. But there are
Muslims in France, Sudanese and Ethio- imperialism of fools'. There was a lot of many 'ethnicities', just as there are
pians in Italy, Turks and Africans in it about during the Gulf war on the many types of nationalism, not all of
Germany, Portugal, Spain, Asians and dubious grounds that, because Saddam them harnessed irreversibly to a reac-
Afro-Caribbeans in Britain, Indone- Hussein was 'bad news' for Washington, tionary politics, as over-rationalist ver-
sians and Surinamese in Holland, bear he must be somehow 'good news' for the sions of both liberalism and marxism
witness, not only to the actual mechan- Iraqis. Whereas, what poor people in the once claimed. The construction of alter-
isms of 'globalisation' but to the diffi- Third World need, against the oli- native local histories and cultures can
culty of sloughing off in one easy move- garchic regimes which have often risen be a resource for building the future,
ment Europe's long colonial past or to power with the aid of western govern- not just a return to the 'safe haven' of
keeping the periphery in place. ments and arms merchants, is more, not 'Where does the past: an invention rather than

T
he so-called 'homogeneous less democracy - just like us. simply a rediscovery of tradition, which
populations' of the new Eu- As a concept designed to help us under- Europe stop provides marginalised people with the
rope - the ethnic absolutism stand the rapidly shifting relations bet- and Asia cultural means to construct those new
on which the new 'openness' ween the different 'worlds', fundamen- begin? The identities and counter-narratives with-
is being constructed - has always been, talism is virtually useless. Islam, the question is out which they cannot survive, let alone
at best, an elaborate metaphor. As Daf- principal culprit in this fundamentalist contest and negotiate with the West on
fyd Ellis Thomas, the Plaid Cymru MP, discourse, is an immensely diverse set critical - anything approaching equal terms.
recently pointed out, no single western of peoples, beliefs, traditions and prac- European This is why, paradoxically, in the era of
European state corresponds to one tices. What it shares with Christianity is prosperity globalisation, the margins, the periph-
people. The Slovenes, like the Scots, the more extensive than that between any depends on ery, the 'local', has time and again proved
Welsh and the Basques, may hope to other world religion. It may be the fact to be culturally the most productive
bring into existence a nation which is a that they are so close which makes them finding the space. Face to face with the contradic-
state - that is, a state which is the such implacable enemies - think of the answer to it' tory realities of 'globalisation', every-
expression of a homogeneous ethnic way Christian, Jewish and Islamic theo- body is discovering their ethnicity: not
group. But all the major European nat- logical history converges on Jerusalem. the purity of their origins, which in a
ions are already hybridised - multicul- 'Fundamentalism' as a term is a way of migrating world is impossible to dis-
tural. And now this is compounded by suppressing this diversity, forgetting a cover, but simply the fact that they
the most astonishing aspect of 'global- shared history too involuted to submit come from particular places, speak par-
isation' - the tidal wave of migrations to simplifying slogans, of refusing to ticular languages, inhabit distinctive
which it has stimulated. Peoples, drawn live with difference. In fact, Muslim cultural traditions, belong to particular
inexorably through the laws of uneven responses to the Ayatollah's fatwa landscapes and share with many others
development into the networks of a glo- against Salman Rushdie were much who are not 'the same' as them, particu-
balised world system, and long accus- more varied than has been recognised; lar histories. In short, living with,
tomed to dwell simultaneously in the and they had as much to do with the rather than simply forgetting, 'differ-
'local' worlds of traditional societies local contexts and historical conjunc- ence'. This is preferable to the endless
and the 'global' worlds of international tures in which they were expressed as forgetting - the historical amnesia -
capital, have simply packed their few the 'essential fundamentalism' they coupled with a vapid postmodern
belongings and set out - legally or il- were taken to represent. nostalgia which is globalisation's stock-
legally - to cross those visible and

I
f what we mean by 'fundamenta- in-trade.
invisible frontiers designed to keep lism' is a defensive and exclusive Identity is always an open, complex
them immured in the 'backwardness' of retreat into a rigid and unchang- and unfinished game - always 'under
their ethnic particularisms, in search of ing version of the past inhabited construction' (in Europe as much as in
the far side of Paradise. Every major as Truth, then there is plenty of it the Middle East, Africa or the Carib-
European and North American city about, not least in the so-called 'modern bean). It always moves into the future
today is a multi-cultural metropolis. West'. The attempt to shore up the by a symbolic detour through the past.
market-driven destruction of the social It produces new subjects. But they al-
The category of 'fundamentalism', revived fabric of British society during the ways bear the indelible traces of those
with new vigour somewhere between Thatcher years by an appeal to Victo- specific histories, traditions and cul-
the Rushdie affair and the Gulf war, is rian values, the evocation of Britannia tures through which identities form
the latest mechanism whose frontier Resurgent in the Falklands war, the themselves - produce themselves
effect is designed to keep the migrat- Thatcher-Tebbit test of 'are you one of anew. The people of the periphery have
ing millions on the other side of the us?', the stout defence of 'Englishness' no other cultural resources with which
fence. It collapses the extraordinary which is being inscribed by diktat to defend themselves against the homo-
diversity and proliferation of differ- through the National Curriculum in genising 'indifference' of globalisation,
ence which is the law of globalisation schools, the backlash, both here and no other languages in which to define a
into the simplifying oppositions of with much greater vigour and venom in different, more vernacular, set of
Western rationalism, modernity and the US, against 'multiculturalism' - modernities for themselves. In this
liberal tolerance of one side, versus the these are but a few of the outward and sense, the rise of ethnicity (only some
retreat into the irrationalism of ethnic manifest signs that a kind of fundamen- variants of which are 'fundamentalist')
and religious particularism. Would that talism is alive and well at the centre of is one of the products of 'globalisation'
liberalism and fundamentalism were so 'modernity'. Some would argue that it - the most subversive of its many unin-
easy to distribute into their respective has stood at the side of modernity - the tended consequences.
spaces. Of course, there are 'fundamen- Enlightenment's 'dark shadow' - from
talist' regimes in the world; and their its inception.
retreat into racial purity, religious or- In fact, 'globalisation' (which carries Stuart Hall is professor of sociology at
thodoxy and a rigid cultural traditional- the ring of modernity and cosmopoli- the Open University.

19 MARXISM TODAY AUGUST 1991