It is commonly taken for granted, that the very notion of majority and minority – is relatively new to politics, not to mention the social sciences. The French and American revolutionaries spoke of the nation and the people in reference to the electorate, and of factions, divisions, conspiracies and oppositions when describing political intrigues involving the numerically inferior; “minority” was the Latin equivalent of “small” and occasionally used to speak of political positions that were marginal, and unpopular.
Naturally, the history of a term is not the history of a concept, nor a process which it denotes. It is rather in the absence of a term’s equivalents, that scholars may discern its importance relative to a period in which it is commonly used.
The protection of community rights is as old as organised society. Tribe conquering tribe would accept tokens of servility in place of pursuing acculturation or assimilation. Depending on the degree of cooperation, the vanquished could even continue with some degree of political autonomy, provided they did not threaten the newly introduced order.
It is with the coming of democratic government, that homogeneity becomes an issue in the daily life of a larger polity. Self-rule presumes a “self.” In a community, such a “self” becomes a shared attribute across a demographic. It is no coincidence, that true democracy first appeared in ethnically homogeneous Mediterranean states (Greek, Carthage, Republican Rome) and would not reappear until the emergence of homogeneous ethnic groups in Europe, at the end of the 18th century. Equally, there is no mystery as to why the concept of genocide accompanies the rise of democracies. Democracy, apparently, is the midwife of demographic massacres.
Both the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, and the Revolutionaries of Republican France, took their demographics for granted. In using the terms “nation” and “people” they assumed a mass of kinsmen, united by a common heritage, blood, literary language, and aspirations. The term “fraternite” was no mere appendage to the traditional French “liberte” and “egalite”. Nor was the pronoun “We, the People of the United…” a mere two letter self-reference to the scribes of the founding document of the American Republic, even if amongst 200 of their number, nearly all were English.
It should then come something as a shock, that a term signifying the very antithesis of the “we” and “fraternity” of a “nation” and a “people” should be no older than three decades, and yet command such unanimous adulation, as to render the terms of the founders of all modern democracies, mute and obsolete!
The nomenclature of democracy, originates in demographics. In the early 19th century, that part of the electorate which lost the vote, was sometimes properly called a minority. Their rights, we were reminded – were to be respected. Towards the end of the 19th century, a minority increasingly became that part of the demographic, which adhered to a peculiar religion. As with voters, their rights were to be respected also. Sometime in the 1920s, the first reference to ethnic minorities rears it’s head. Entirely in connection to self-determination (there’s that “self” again!), their rights, were to be respected as with all aforementioned minorities.
Contemporary usage harks back to the seventies. As a result of the successful establishment of preferential revenge racism for “Negroes” other “numerically disadvantaged” groups, sought to game the democratic system in their favour. Demanded on the pretext of “respecting our rights,” few inquired what was happening to the old American “we” when terms such as minority now came to signify the people.
In their political campaigns Negroes insisted that the old “we” had been an exclusive term, property of Whites. Democracy, Republicanism, private property and land, property of Whites. Political nominations, ownership of capital and access to education, property of Whites. The “w” in “we” stood for “Whites”; the “e” for “Exclusively”; The “We” in the “people of the United States” read as “Whites Exclusively!”
In the sixties, a few Negroes believed, that Whites could not voluntarily cede any part of their We, and Revenge Racism was needed. That such a Revenge could only be carried out by the introduction of a new “we” to counterbalance the old – went un-though. That Negroes could demand Racism as payback, only by assuming that they had an exclusive Black “we” with a “self” distinct from that of the upper-case “We,” went unnoticed.
Now, almost four decades later, the universal American “We” is rapidly falling into decline. In its stead, lurks the inevitability of a new separatist White “we”, as low-capital as the Negro one. White seperatism will be the undoing of a Nation whose last hope of a universal “We” faints with the rise of a self-conscious White “minority.”
The tides of demography, will obliterate the Republic, of 200 or so Englishmen, as it will obliterate the Republic of their French cousins whose assumptions were equally dubious.
When there is no longer a single dominant group capable of accomodating minority parochialism, those who sought to improve their status at the cost of the common “We,” will reap the fruit of their Revenge Racism; the permanent loss of a Nation, will overshadow any possible gains of a tribe. The minorities which lived off the American People, will devour its cadaver, and subsequently die of hunger. For they will have eaten their mother, and with her, the source of their own life.