First, a definition of the purpose of this book. Nativism is an ideology according to which the degree of belonging to a nation is measured in terms ofs of “seniority”, and therefore, of a certain form of “purity” – there are French “of stock”, others “of paper”. The nativist conception of society thus rules out equality between citizens and proposes to classify them in order of arrival and proximity (ethnic, religious or cultural), by arbitrarily determining “The moment when the ‘national community’ will close and which groups will be able to integrate it or not”. It is a nostalgic thought, born of the crisis of liberal democracy, and of which it is the poison.
The book Nativism (Les Petits Matins, 128 pages, 14 euros), written mainly by two researchers in social sciences, but also by Aurélien Taché, deputy of Val-d’Oise elected under the label La République en marche in 2017, a a party that he has since left, is as austere as it is well thought out and carefully analyzes the roots of “national preference”, the ideological base of the National Rally, which gradually irrigates part of the public debate. The aim of the book is to show that, contrary to appearances, far from canceling each other out, “Nativism and republican citizenship feed on each other” with the debate on Islam and immigration.
To do this, the authors compare the situation in France with that in the Netherlands, after the assassination of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamist in the fall of 2004. “Two countries that are incomparable at first glance”, which brings out more forcefully the rise of nativism, in the name of an idealized past – Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world in terms of population, is a former colony of the Netherlands, even if their immigration comes mainly from Morocco and Turkey.
Component of national identity
According to the authors, the supposedly universalist conception of French citizenship itself poses a problem: from the end of the 1980s, the republican discourse opposes Muslims to the “universal” of the French model, which is not in effect. only a cultural distancing from the wave of immigration. The debate on secularism, then, promotes the rise of nativism and makes it a component of national identity: secularism, a simple organizing principle in 1905, becomes a moral, selective and identity value.
“This double discourse makes the republican discourse particularly subject to its instrumentalisation by nativist logic”, they believe, with a consequence: anti-racism is attacked in the name of the defense of republican values. “Such is the effect of nativism on republican universalism: it nullifies its critical scope.” »
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Nativism, a nostalgia for identity