Anyone who wants you to think in a racial way about the world will, sooner or later, say: “What if you were in Africa and you were with a Frenchman and a Dutch guy? You’d all get together as ‘the whites’. It’s a convenient Schelling point around which to coordinate; it’s the obvious one.” They would be right, although there are many possible such points for coordination—circumstances depending. As it happens, in such circumstances, you would almost certainly band together with the other “whites”, even if you never thought of yourself as such before—and the locals would see you that way too.
Ironically, progressive immigration policies—based on the idea that race is a superstition that will fade away—have created just such a situation in the West. Whereas, before 1945, British people obsessed primarily about class and secondarily about nationality (e.g. Welshness or Scottishness), these differences have now collapsed. A previously unknown category—partially imported from the American bureaucracy and partly created from necessity—has been developed, “white”; and, as with the “white men in Africa”, it can as well apply to a Pole, an Italian, a Croatian, and a German on Brick Lane as it could to the pre-1945 population.
America never really had a successful overt Marxist, social democratic, or generally socialist political movement—admittedly it got socialism, but it never had European-style trade unions, socialist parties, and “class war”. At least one reason for this was that race was class in America; and so it makes sense that American egalitarianism—wokeness—is as fascinated with race and racial distinctions, as filtered through a purely cultural lens, as the Marxists were obsessed with the petit-bourgeoise, the peasantry, and so on.
We are all Americans now. As Enoch Powell pointed out, if we allowed mass migration we would end up with an American-style race problem, and we have done. There was, for a while, an ugly snobbery against the Americans along the lines that “we would never have problems like those beastly Southerners”; however, the progressive liberal intellectuals who used to push this line have vanished—mainly because to assert that the British would naturally be “race perfect” now looks foolish; besides, even if there were no problems, the government bureaucracy would have invented them.
To return to the irony, the policies that were meant to “mix the races together” to create equality have created what never existed in Britain before, a strong racial consciousness—one centred around whiteness, the “four nations” melting away; and, indeed, being purposively melted away, because the BBC will consciously put a black African in an advert and say he is Welsh—the upshot is all that remains is the bureaucratic category “white”, ideologically manipulated and controlled by the American-influenced bureaucracy and without any history or tradition. When progressives say “white people have no history” they are factually correct: English people have a history; Welsh people have a history; Americans have a history, albeit this is slightly complicated because “white” does actually mean something within that history, although what it means really is “European from the original 13 colonies”—hence there are Italian-Americans, but not really English-Americans. Substantially, however, “whites” do not really have a history or commonality—except as a Schelling point.
Nationalists used to support imperialism for this reason; it was hard to make people race-conscious in their own countries—at home people compared themselves by religion, class, language, and family ties; it was only when you got people out to Africa that they thought, “Hey, I’m British—British above all.” Progressives have done what nationalists dreamed of; by importing other races into Europe, they have created the racial consciousness nationalists previously could only generate through imperialism. Hence it is highly likely that nationalism will be a major feature of the 21st century, because the people who claim that race does not exist have created the very conditions whereby it will become the easiest means for people to coordinate their activities and their political life.