The Quest for Identity

Article by Siryako Akda.


As a resident of the Philippines, I would be lying if I did not entertain thoughts of immigration at some point in time. One of the deepest desires of Filipinos is to stop being Filipinos in the Philippines, and instead become Filipinos in [insert wealthy country of your choice]. I personally don’t like this mentality, but that is how things are. I seriously doubt most non-Whites who immigrate to Western Nations want Whites to become a minority. I doubt most of them fully understand what multiculturalism, anti-racism, or political correctness, not to mention their consequences. For the most part, what people want from immigration is the ability to earn cash and cease living in poverty.

However, the question of immigration is not just about immigration per se. It is also about identity. Immigrants to Western Countries—by implication—want to be American, European, Australian, etc… That is to say, there is an implied desire among Non-White immigrants to become “Westerners” (since, you know, they can’t be White).

I personally don’t hold this desire. I may be inclined to visit other nations, study in them, and meet people from other cultures, but looking at the bigger picture, I rather like being a Filipino, despite all the problems and issues that go along with it. There is a subtlety and depth to my particular identity that is essential to how I perceive the world, and how the world perceives me. And besides, I rather like being a darkie!

Of particular relevance to this topic is an old cinematic masterpiece called Ganito Kami Noon… Paano Kayo Ngayon (This is How We Were Then…How Are You Now?). The setting of the movie was around the end of the 19th century, when Spain’s grip over the Philippine islands was weakening, and the fury of nationalism was getting stronger with each passing day.

Among the most important elements of the movie was the theme of identity, and in this case, Filipino identity. “Filipino,” during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines, was a term reserved exclusively for Spaniards born in the Philippines. In other words, “Filipino” was an identity which was reserved exclusively for people of a specific ethnicity.

In contrast, those who were of non-Spanish or of partial Spanish ancestry were called “Indios” and “Mestizos” respectively, and in effect, were not Filipinos, at least not in the strictest sense. To put it another way, “Filipino” was a racial identity, which originally referred to people of a specific European ethnicity, and over time, gradually began to take on a broader definition.

In one part of the film, Don Tibor, a Mestizo calls out to Kulas, the Prince Myshkin-like protagonist and an Indio, and tells him that the Filipino identity is no longer reserved for those of Spanish ancestry, and that they (Mestizos), because of their, growing influence, and the social changes that were taking place, were now “Filipinos,” too.

Kulas, in his natural naiveté, asked if he, too, was a “Filipino,” and Don Tibor replied  with some level of amusement, “not quite yet, but maybe someday you’ll deserve to be so.” The response implied that Tibor saw himself as Kulas’ social (and racial) superior, and therefore the latter is undeserving of the title “Filipino.”

This issue of identity, of who is a Filipino, who is an Indio, and who is a Mestizo was a prevalent one throughout the movie, and offers certain historical insights which may be of some benefit to those of us in the present who must contend with the complicated nature of globalization, and its effects on ethnic consciousness, particularly in the West.

The message of this theme is that identity goes with power, and that just as ethnic Spaniards were keeping a specific identity for themselves by virtue of their power, Mestizos, or at least wealthy Indios (ethnic Malays), because of their growing influence, were now in a position to get that identity for themselves.

To put it another way, the Filipino identity was a source of power as well as a symbol of power. It was also a symbol of authority and legitimacy. From a certain perspective, Filipino Nationalism was the process of seizing a specific identity, and with it, the means to redefine heritage, culture,and history. This is why, in certain parts of the movie, everybody was making a big deal out of who is a Filipino and who is not a Filipino. It was in truth a power struggle between ethnic as well as class groups. The identity of who is “Filipino” was the prize.

In this regard, it’s also  important to distinguish between identity as set of interests or perceived interests, and identity as a reflection of collective experience. Although both overlap to a very great degree, they nevertheless represent certain differences. An identity can be fabricated simply out of a desire to pursue certain economic or political goals, which is one of the defining characteristics of Nationalism (regardless of any actual sense of commonality between ethnic or linguistic groups existing within a nation). This kind of identity can also arise out of perceived common enemy, or a common ideology against another opposing ideology, a phenomenon that Tomislav Sunic, in his various speeches, describes as negative identity.

On the other hand, identity can also be described, in a Spenglerian sense, as a common bond that ties a people to a specific soil, and with it a specific form of organic experience and growth. It is based upon a shared experience, and finds expression in a specific context.

Of the two kinds of identity, the former provides is more pervasive in an urbanizing and globalizing world. Identities – on the world stage – become defined as voting blocs, political consituencies and ideological interests. And instead of seeking self-determination, Identity interests, including political, religious, ethnic or even sexual orientation, become a means of extracting concessions from governments and corporate bodies.

So when people from non-white nations move to the Western and European nations, and begin thinking of themselves, as Westerners, it is an attempt, even in an attenuated and subliminal way, to cease power for themselves, and to redefine past historical narratives for their own benefits. Specific kinds of identity are, after all, based on specific narratives of history, and it is that narrative that requires people to think in a certain way about themselves and those around them. A good example of this would be the narrative of victimology which persists in relation to the identities of whites/westerners vis a vis non-whites/non-westerners.

Naturally, the same relationship applies to any nation-state where several ethnic groups are competing to assert their own particular ethnic identity, and not just in the Western World. Who’s Who, and Who’s Not is an essential formula in the identity of any people, and such discrimination, although oftentimes, blurred, remains necessary in the functioning of any cohesive society.

However, in the current global dispensation, a new dimension is added into the equation, and that is globalization. Certain aspects of the modern global system creates new pressures upon small and local communities to move from low economic areas to high economic areas just to survive. And it is this movement that disrupts traditional forms of ethnic and racial identity all throughout the world.

Of course, this sort of thing has been going on for quite some time now, but the fact is that the world, due to dependence upon the global economy (i.e. mass consumerism, mass entertainment, integration of global financial market, etc…), and the socio-political systems which sustain it, actual organic identity begins to erode. And once that organic identity dies away, consumer culture fills the gaps of common experience.

In this sense, it needs to be said that Modernization is the move towards a certain kind of experience, and therefore, a certain kind of identity. And this identity is one that is slowly moving the world, not necessarily towards a world state, but towards a one-world consumer culture. It is from this culture of consumerism that a nascent global identity arises. One can even say, to use Chomskyite terminology, that global identity is a manufactured identity.

And from a manufactured identity, what you ultimately get is a manufactured set of interests, but a set of interests that will be subservient to those institutions which manufactured it.  So any immigrant who complains about racism in the West can complain as much as he likes. He’s simply being used.

Moreover, the drive to Westernize the World, and Globalize the West is driven by many people’s desires, even if such people may not be willing to be honest about it. And as long as the desire remains in place for  most of the rest of the world, Imitatio Whitey if you will, the growth of a global, consumer-based identity, now endemic in the West and a primary factor of mass immigration, will continue, because to have the wealth of the West requires adopting the bureaucracy, mindset and socio-economic systems of the West in its current form.

So on an international context, global identity can be said to be one of the main pillars of mass immigration. An immigrant from the Philippines who claims to be a Finnish, for example, by virtue of a piece of paper and a passport, knows full well that he or she is not Finnish. The same thing is true the other way around. Rather, that person is claiming status for a new identity that is yet unspoken but is desired by many: the Global Citizen.

That person is anyone who renounces his or her biological and national heritage in exchange for the chance to become the citizen of any wealthy country, and as such is based upon superficial motives. The immigrant to the West is not concerned about which country he or she is immigrating to, or even the culture that he or she will encounter. What matters is that he or she is able to get the wealth that comes from moving into a nation with a “developed” economy (which increasingly means unstable, highly leveraged consumer-capitalism.)

So in a way, it almost seems like people are trading in their heritage and identity to partake in global culture. I see this partly as the result of the global consumerist culture, but it is also the result of an unspoken desire to redefine national identity in an entirely new way. The Zeitgeist of boundless progress, the accumulation of material wealth and the boundless need to have the technological and economic benefits of Westernization has prompted in many non-Whites a need to merge or attenuate national and ethnic identity in favor of global prosperity.

This also applies to Westerners (that’s you, Whitey), especially among so-called “civic nationalists” and multiculturalists. An identity that is removed from its historical and ethnic context becomes an abstraction, and any nation which is reduced to the level of its institutions lack a deeper existential and teleological character that is essential for most societies to function.

Identity is subject to how people experience the world, how they view their collective past and future, as well as their definitions of who they are, both on a collective and individual level. Therefore, identity must be based on something deeper, and not just a series of institutions and abstractions, which is what modern Western Society is based on (and perhaps the rest of the world as well, if present trends continue).

On the other hand, a global identity is an expendable identity, and if people in the West are expendable from the perspective of their globalist elite (and replaceable through mass immigration and multiculturalism), then the same thing holds true to those who are replacing them—even more so. And that is what global identity ultimately amounts to—Being turned into capital.


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