On Rome, Russia and Multiculturalism

Our Colombian correspondent Diego returns with some reflections on Multiculturalism and empires.

On Rome, Russia and Multiculturalism
by Diego

I once engaged in an attempt to debate with some multiculturalists. Here in Colombia there are not many, at least not in the open, and I must admit that, until a dark day in 2011 I shared some of their views… However, I am derailing myself from why I am writing this.

During our debate they claimed that both Rome and Romanov Russia are bright examples of Multiculturalism working. I will do my best now to debunk this.

Rome: Multicultural or Adapting?

Rome, the great empire that ruled over the Mediterranean and absorbed so many elements of other cultures, at first glance seems to represent Multiculturalism gone right. But, please: look deeper.

Why do you think Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese and French share a Latin base? One clue: they were all part of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire is probably the most successful example of how to defeat the woes of the Multiculturalism that the EU preaches. Let’s take a look at it.

As a first step, Rome conquered a region. This region would then receive Roman colonists. Additionally, for those natives who adapted to the new ruling culture, juicy incentives would be offered, such as citizenship, which meant full political rights, the impossibility of being sold into slavery, and the possibility of holding public office.

We can say that a lot of their technology was copied, and that their philosophy was originated by Greeks living in Rome. Even in law, many innovations attributed to Rome are in fact Egyptian, Punic or Greek.

But the Punic language did not survive Rome. Egyptian became the second language in its own homeland, and Greek survived because it was already established as the tongue of trade, and because it was the language of philosophy and science. In everyday use, those three language were at least partly supplanted by Latin, even more so in Spain, or in Gallia, where most local Celtic languages died out on a few generations.

So Rome simply took a rather proactive stance that Europe should have taken. It did not seek to bring a Multicultural Paradise. Instead, in order to gain the benefits from other cultures, it decided to make good Romans out of the rest of the Mediterranean. And it worked really well.

So well, that by the early 3rd century, everyone in the Empire was, in the end, as Roman as the Old Romans, and the incentives were dropped because they were redundant.

Now, do you want to know what broke Rome’s unity?


In actuality, the Germanic tribes were not brutish barbarians seeking gold, blood and women; they were refugees from the onslaught of the Huns against the Goths. Eventually they were all forced to move west… and boy, did they.

The number of people crossing the border was simply too great for Rome to digest. There were too many Germans, in too close-knit communities to be absorbed.

Does this sound familiar? Well, it is exactly what is happening with modern immigrants in Europe — or at least that is how it appears from South America. If my view is wrong, please feel free to correct me.

Perhaps if Europe had taken some measures similar to the old Roman system (first you adapt to our culture, then you get full rights), the problem could have at least been managed, if not avoided. But, alas, it was not to be like that.

Romanov Russia, Rodina and Czar

Ah, Russia, the Great Bear! And, until 1917, the equally great Romanov dynasty, those autocrats who had to rule and managed to rule over a Multicultural Empire… well, no.

There is a huge difference between the Muslim population of the old Russian Empire, and the Muslims of modern Europe. To see it clearly, we need to take a look at Russian history.

Unlike most of Europe, Russia never had a real grudge against Islam, it was never really the target of a Jihad (the Russians were dhimmis to the Golden Horde, but they had been paying taxes to them long before the Horde turned Muslim). Their grudge was against the Mongolians, who invaded and sacked Russia in the 1240s. The fact that those Tatars turned Muslim did nothing really to increase the old grudge.

Russia’s Muslim population consisted of:

  • Tatar leftovers who had no more allegiance than to their tribe
  • Turkmens in the same situation
  • People in the Caucasus who were simply outnumbered at the time by Christian Georgians and later Russians
  • Azeris — they are a different stock and were, as far as I know, not problematic at all.

So, how is it that it did it not collapse under the Dar al-Islam already within?

Well, first, Imperial Russia was not a National State on the sense we use it. It was more like Hapsburg Spain, a Dynastic State. The true unifying factor was the Allegiance to the Czar, and the Orthodox Church.

Secondly, the Russian Empire was actively trying to “Russify” its minorities. This is often discussed in relation Poland and Finland, but that was because those peoples were, first, European, and second, they did not really feel allegiance to either the Crown or the Church. The Asian Muslims were either too remote to be actually affected, or at least some were loyal to the Crown, until the Great Game.

Ethnic unrest in Central Asia began because of the Great Game, as Russia and Britain competed. The British decided to turn the Turkmen against the Russians; a new ideology was created: Pan-Turkism, which preached that the steppe peoples were to bond together and form a Greater Turkestan. It failed miserably in Russia, but it took hold in the Ottoman Empire. The Turkmen of Central Asia could not care less about the Tatars or the Uighurs, but the Ottomans did; they needed the prestige and the population to counteract the Arabs.

Perhaps with Russia there was some truth? Well, no. The issue was that even Siberia was more developed (and the Siberians more thoroughly Russified) than Turkestan. Maybe if, instead of antagonizing the Poles and Finns, the Russians had devoted a bit more energy to Russifying their Muslim populations, Central Asia would be Orthodox today. But, in the end, Romanov Russia was nothing like a Multicultural Empire. It was an Empire of Russia, ruled by Russians, and made to allow Russians (and to a minor extent the Belorussians and Ukrainians) to thrive.

Regrettably, neither of those two empires can teach us what to do about the modern problem, but at least we may learn what not to do. Do not appease them, but at the same time we must be careful: the Romans attempted to be too aggressive in dealing with the Goths, and it ended with Rome being sacked. Then they were too lenient, and they lost their Empire.

Previously by Diego: The Islamization of South America.

15 thoughts on “On Rome, Russia and Multiculturalism

  1. Interesting article Diego,

    I’d agree that the Roman Empire wasn’t “multicultural” in the contemporary ideological sense, however in my opinion, the bi-cultural nature of Greco-Roman civilisation is understated, Greek was far more important than simply the language of the political elite. Probably most of the population of the Eastern Empire didn’t speak Latin, so the Eastern half of the Empire was culturally Greek not Latin, when the Western Empire collapsed, Latin culture was rapidly eclipsed in the East.

    “Now, do you want to know what broke Rome’s unity? Immigrants”

    Agreed. However there’s a significant difference between modern Europe, and Rome in late antiquity, the Empire was under enormous military pressure from the ancient world’s other superpower, Persia. The Romans might have been able to resist the Germanic tribes, and the Huns, if resources were not needed to fight the Persians.
    In contrast, modern Europe, prosperous and powerful, has, insanely, opened its gates to the barbarian invaders. With a few exceptions, such as in Britain, Muslims were usually the agents of destruction of Greco-Roman civilisation, not the northern “barbarians”, and Islamic culture hasn’t changed in the last 14 centuries.

    • When I meant Rome’s Unity, I did not meant the end of Roman Culture, that, as you said, died when the Arabs took Syria and North Africa

    • The effect of the Persians on the decline of both Rome and the Byzantine state should not be understated. One reason that Rome opened its borders to the Goths is that it needed troops to fight the Persians. Adrianople in 376 was the indirect result. Similarly it was the Persian war that ended in 629 (or so) that so weakened the Byzantines that they fell before the Arabs in 635.

  2. “So, how is it that it [Russia] did it not collapse under the Dar al-Islam already within?”

    Perhaps also, because back in those days, there was no Al Jazeera for its “minorities” to watch 24/7, thanks to which they’d remain mentally part of their “spiritual homeland”, and no Isis twitter feed to radicalise impressionable adolescents?

    Such a “successful integration” is also cited in the history of Poland – where in the East, Catholics and Orthodox, Jews and Muslim Tatars coexisted for centuries… in fact, the Muslims fought alongside King Jan Sobieski against the Ottoman Caliphate at the Battle of Vienna!

    Alas, in spite of its multiculturalism, the Poland of old was also a place which very strongly emphasised its Catholic character. The others simply adapted, even if they kept their customs (there are still centuries-old mosques near the border with Belarus). And, returning to the present day, the current Mufti of the Polish Tatars, Tomasz Miskiewicz, was trained in Saudi Arabia, and has already made noises about Islamic terrorists arrested in Poland being “brothers” (even if he publicly declares support for the government to combat terrorists).

    In any case – are we likely to see the same type of multi-kulti in the West? Will the likes of Germany, Sweden, Britain and the US insist on immigrants accepting their values? The evidence suggests more the opposite… and France, the only country making a semblance of a fight to make newcomers accept its values, is having enough of a struggle already, with annual car-burnings on New Year’s Eve, attacks on Jewish-owned places and support for Isis among all French placed at 16% (roughly the same as the percentage of Muslims). Is it more likely that in the future, there’ll be more integrated immigrants, or more Charlie Hebdos?

  3. You reminded me of a powerful book I read a few years ago…went to look for it but I think it accompanied the Baron on one of his trips to Europe:

    Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization

    Rémi Brague makes the case for the primacy of Rome as Europe’s foundation:

    The author’s interest is especially, with regard to the transmission of that culture, to articulate the dynamic tension that has propelled Europe and more generally the West toward civilization. It is this mainspring of European culture, this founding principle, that Brague calls “Roman.”

    Yet the author’s intent is not to write a history of Europe, and less yet to defend the historical reality of the Roman Empire. Brague rather isolates and generalizes one aspect of that history or, one might say, cultural myth, of ancient Rome. The Roman attitude senses its own incompleteness and recognizes the call to borrow from what went before it.

    Historically, it has led the West to borrow from the great traditions of Jerusalem and Athens: primarily the Jewish and Christian tradition, on the one hand, and the classical Greek tradition on the other. Nowhere does the author find this Roman character so strongly present as in the Christian and particularly Catholic attitude toward the incarnation.

    At once an appreciation of the richness and diversity of the sources and their fruit, Eccentric Culture points as well to the fragility of their nourishing principle. As such, Brague finds in it not only a means of understanding the past, but of projecting a future in (re)proposing to the West, and to Europe in particular, a model relationship of what is proper to it.

    Note: That is an excerpt from the Amazon page. Made me realize I shouldn’t have given it away…but I see there are some used copies…

    If we had room on our sidebar, this book would be there, next to Emmett Scott’s work.

  4. The main thing that is different now is universal suffrage. For this reason, we have politicians who actively do not want immigrants to assimilate because they know it will create conflict which they can then exploit by promising to “save” the unassimilated from the evil anti-sharia “racists”.

    The thing is, politicians shouldn’t actually need this conflict, but if there is conflict then the politicians can be lazy and held to low standards whereas otherwise they would be held accountable for poor performance. So all of this is really about politicians who are lazy and want a guaranteed job that they won’t get sacked/fired from.

    This model of politics is pretty clear from the latest corruption video provided by TR, but that one incident is really just the tip of the iceberg. We have similar crap going on in the US with Ferguson, MO.

  5. The Athenians expanded their citizenship rolls because of their need for soldiers and sailors in their pursuit of empire. The Romans expanded their citizenship rolls because they needed more men for the military in their quest for empire. Was it that insatiable appetite that ultimately produced their downfall? Why is the West expanding theirs?

    • If they were not expanding, someone else would expand over them. This is what happening now in Europe. Europe stopped expanding.

  6. “The issue was that even Siberia was more developed (and the Siberians more thoroughly Russified) than Turkestan. Maybe if, instead of antagonizing the Poles and Finns, the Russians had devoted a bit more energy to Russifying their Muslim populations, Central Asia would be Orthodox today. But, in the end, Romanov Russia was nothing like a Multicultural Empire. It was an Empire of Russia, ruled by Russians, and made to allow Russians (and to a minor extent the Belorussians and Ukrainians) to thrive.”

    This whole paragraph is an astonishing piece of [information that I deprecate] to my Russian mind with its knowledge of the topics passingly touched there.

    (If Russians were thriving in the Romanov’s Russia, why did the February anti-Romanov revolution happen?)

    How silly it is of the people in the West, knowing next to nothing of the huge and complex Russia’s past and present, to keep bringing it up as some exemplary, for ethnic whites, entity. It is not. Write on what you know and what matters. Russia matters mostly as an ongoing source of troubles only, and your lack of understanding it amply shows itself in this article.

    • Perhaps, instead of a bald denunciation, a rhetorical question and a claim of silliness and lack of understanding, you offered some substantive criticism instead.

      One, such as myself, may be prepared, after informed consideration, to reject the contentions made by Diego, or at least the one you quote, but would require much more than you have provided.

      “Russia matters mostly as an ongoing source of troubles only …”

      The same could, blithely and frivolously, be said of China, the USA, Israel, my ex-wife, but it’s hardly meaningful analysis.

  7. Spengler (Decline of the West) argues that the decline is organic. Out of all the arguments that makes most sense to me.

  8. What I say below is just guessing:

    You can’t have all that European killing in the 20th century and not have profound effects. First of all, people with slightly more courage than others probably had a little lower survival and these genes did not do as well, so that Europe is now enriched with less courageous genes.

    Secondly, when a species loses so many of its members with Y chromosomes, there must be some deep biologic repurcussions. We know that the sex ratio at birth changes after wars. This is pretty mysterious and profound. There could be much else happening–deep biologic stuff–after wars. We don’t know.

    Thirdly, there must be a heavy blanket of collective remorse and guilt over all that killing, so that they really do not like themselves very much. Cultures that don’t respect themselves probably do not survive as well or thrive as well. Maybe they unconsciously want to dilute their nationalistic cultures by all this harmful immigration and they don’t even realize why they are acting this way. How can they be immune to history? Everyone has to live with the consequences of the synaptic patterns their brains have mapped out during living. Some things are just tough and too bad.

    Whatever, we witness some astonishing, almost world wide, national and international mental illness.

  9. Ancient Rome yes, but I considered USA to be the other place where multiculturalism worked–to some degree, at least; but that was before Americans began importing the ‘religion of peace’.

    When my wife and I arrived in Canada the government was already giving in to the demands of immigrants to be allowed to wear turbans in the RCMP, no such nonsense in America where immigrants had to become Americans, the way it had always been, and worked admirably, until the arrival and DEMANDS of the ‘religion of peace’, which causes chaos in every country it infests.

    Interesting, that so many people say: “They’re here now, we can’t get rid of them”. Idi Amin must be laughing…………

    • It was not multiculturalism that worked for the USA, it was American Dream. People who were coming to America wanted to become Americans. People of all faiths and cultures were coming there with the desire to become something else. This is dramatically different from the mindset of people flooding good old Europe now.

      • You’re quite right in saying the ‘immigrants’ invading the entire western world now have nothing in common with the real immigrants who flocked to North America, Australia and NZ; but they were from different countries, it was therefore multicultural, and it worked, until Canadians began to give in to ethnic demands.

        That pandering to ethnic demands has become worse in Canada is therefore understandable but I’m surprised and disappointed that Americans are now following suit.

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