A few weeks ago, someone I work with invited me to attend her citizenship ceremony. I told her I would go, and I did. Another young lady I know was also receiving Canadian citizenship at this same ceremony.

I figured it might be interesting to observe a citizenship ceremony, since I’d never observed one before. It was something of a STIHIE experience for me. Of course, I knew what to expect. There were 70 new Canadian citizens: most of them were Africans, and most of the rest were Middle Eastern. And all of the speeches were filled to the brim with the usual liberal democratic dogmas about freedom, tolerance and multiculturalism.

(I might also mention that there was a considerable lack of solemnity to the occasion, and that at least two of the people who spoke (the presiding officer and a guest speaker) really need to work on their speaking skills. Not to mention how absurd it is when Anglophones are required to say everything in French as well as in English.)

{Beginning of digression on immigration}

One of the fallacious dogmas of liberal democratic discourse in Canada – proudly uttered by the female presiding officer – is the notion that Canada has always been a nation of immigrants. This is false.

The term “immigrant” properly denotes a person who moves to an established country in order to reside in that established country. No one ever used the term “immigrants” to refer to the settlers (or colonists) of any European colony anywhere in the world before liberal types started doing it in recent years.

When the French established the colony of Canada in the St. Lawrence valley in the 17th century, there was no established country there at all. There were only a few tribes with a few small settlements. The French were settlers and colonizers, but they certainly were not immigrants. In fact, the French colony of Canada was truly the beginning of Canada; there certainly had never been any such thing before then.

(Yes, the Aboriginal peoples were certainly here first (for what it’s worth), but they never established any country whatsoever.)

As for the British, they didn’t immigrate into French Canada; they conquered French Canada. The British were not immigrants at all; they were conquerors. Only after the British conquest of Canada (made official by the Treaty of Paris in 1763) can one properly speak of the immigration of other ethnic groups (i.e. ethnic groups other than the French, the British and – of course – the Aboriginals) into British Canada.

{End of digression on immigration}

The citizenship ceremony that I witnessed prompted me to think once again about the nature of citizenship, of nationality and of ethnicity. Here are my understandings of these:

Ethnicity is a social status naturally produced by cultural integration (normally through a child’s upbringing in a particular ethnic group). It is normally tied to a common culture consisting of a common language, common customs and common beliefs, and is usually a function of shared ancestry. Ethnicity defines particular, distinct groups of human beings called ethnic groups.

Citizenship is a legal status granted by a state to anyone who meets a minimum set of requirements. It doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to any ethnicity or race whatsoever, and may totally disregard any differences in language, customs and beliefs. As far as citizenship is concerned, ethnicity can be regarded as being practically irrelevant (which is why ethnic differences can be encouraged through the official policy of multiculturalism), and particular groups of human beings could just as well not exist (although it doesn’t really matter if they do).

Nationality depends on the group that one is born into (Latin natio “nation” from natus “born”, the past participle of nasci “to be born”). It is therefore essentially a biological form of identity. During most of human history, nationality generally corresponded with ethnicity, and this is still (and always will be) the normal state of affairs. The reason for this is that the cultural essence of a particular ethnic group (ethnicity) normally derives from the biological dispositions (nationality) of the members of that ethnic group.

One’s nationality and ethnicity will be the same unless one is brought up in a different ethnic group than the one he was born into (which can require some degree of adaptation). But in the modern age, nationality has been tied increasingly to citizenship rather than ethnicity. In some of the more progressive Western countries (e.g. France), nationality is tied to citizenship exclusively and ethnicity is completely disregarded.

Obviously, tying nationality to citizenship rather than ethnicity makes traditional culture irrelevant, diminishes the importance of national history, and reduces language to a purely functional purpose. This serves to put the focus of the citizen’s attention more squarely on materialistic and economic concerns as well as base desires and mindless entertainment, which is undoubtedly what the rulers of this world want, and what they are trying to achieve in countless ways.

It is interesting to note that a concern with the concept of citizenship is found only in the more advanced civilizations. Citizenship was important in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, and it became important again in the nation-states of Europe after the French Revolution.

Taken together with Spengler’s belief that the beginning of a full-fledged civilization indicated the end of a culture’s development, this may indicate that the concept of citizenship is related to the process of a once-vital nation transforming itself gradually into a fully civilized monstrosity (like a main-sequence star that becomes a giant or a supergiant for a relatively brief period before its life ends).

In any case, although I share Canadian citizenship with every new Canadian citizen, this means absolutely nothing to me. And as far as nationality is concerned, I refuse to recognize it as being tied to citizenship; I insist on recognizing nationality in terms of ethnicity.