…from George Friedman’s piece in RealClear World, Nationalism and Liberal Democracy. Friedman was writing about a different, if related matter, the relationship between liberalism (in the classic sense) and nationalism. The point I’m calling out bears on our own immigration debate.
A nation is a group of people who share history, culture, language, and other attributes. It is the existence of a common identity, a coherent sense of self and nationhood that make self-government possible, because it is that sense of self that permits self-government.
Notice that: shared history. This is not the same thing as possessing the same history. Assimilation is what bridges the gap; assimilation is what brings people with widely differing histories—as widely different as English from Germans from Russians from Chinese from Japanese from…—into the jurisdictional boundary of a polity to become part of the nation that exists there. Assimilation is what lets those folks with and from those differing histories obtain a shared history, the common history of the nation to which they’ve come and of which so many of them wish to become a part.
Assimilation is critical to nationhood because
a random collection of people without a core set of shared values cannot form a coherent regime, because nothing would hold the regime together or prevent internal chaos.