Why anti-national

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wineandcheese's picture
wineandcheese
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Jun 9 2010 17:20
Why anti-national

1 Foundation Myths of the Nation

Quote:
But even if our refutations would all be wrong and any of the above mentioned characteristics or others were the source for and of a nation, it would only found the existence of the national context on some self-evident basis of affiliation. It would prove, that the people in one nation are culturally, historically or by language somehow bound to one another. But it would still fail to explain why people should refer positively to the nation. Even if one’s mother tongue is English, even if grand-pa fought in WWII for the allied forces and one likes tea. Nothing of this implies any partisanship in matters which do not affect tea, discussions in the English language and camp fire war stories. These features do not explain partisanship.

2 Foundation of the Nation

Quote:
However, nation-states do exist, they are far from illusions. Nation-states' fundamental act is their assertion of their monopoly on violence. Nobody but the state itself may use force to break someone's will. That calls for people under the state’s rule and a territory where its power is unchallenged: the nation-state asserts itself as the supreme power in society and makes the people living on its territory its subjects.

By declaring and exercising that power over its subjects, it creates some similarity among them: each one of its subjects is subordinated under its rule. The nation is a forced community and it is based on violence: at each border people risk their very lives and many die when trying to get in (or out depending on its attractiveness to people). No one born in one state is ever asked, whether they actually like it or not – they are granted citizenship. Thus, the popular “we” is objectively based on an act of power by the state. Consequently, the usage of the word “we” as a shorthand for being subject to the same monopoly of violence would not be ideological. The British state does create the British.

3 Nationalism

Quote:
This materialism – which mistakes hostile conditions as chances and opportunities – is quite a particular one. The state expects from its subjects that they ask themselves if they are permitted that which they want. As materialists of the decent kind they want the restriction of everybody’s materialism in the interest of their own materialism; they exercise a virtuous or decent materialism. They do not demand the means of living but a fair wage.

This virtuous materialism has two aspects which contain the kernel of the nationalist ideology. First, whoever follows this line, accepts the restriction of private interests in the general public interest; this person wants everybody's means to be restricted according to the general and universal rule. The nationalist call for sacrifices for the nation contains the same train of thought. Second, it comprises the idea that if one does exercise decency, behave virtuous and restrict one's own interests according to the principles of private property and such, then one shall get what one deserves.18 In virtuous materialism the initial materialism still appears. For example, the nationalist demand “British jobs for British workers” presupposes the submission on the one hand but calls for meeting virtuous interests on the other.

http://www.junge-linke.org/en/why-anti-national

Cheers,
Wine & Cheese

PS: We'll have a public meeting on nationalism on the 1.7. in London: http://www.junge-linke.org/en/anti-national-not-international

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Noa Rodman
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Jun 12 2010 16:33

I noticed there is also a point raised in a footnote of the text which could be discussed;

Quote:
The pamphlet “Against Nationalism” by the Anarchist Federation (http://libcom.org/library/against-nationalism) contains many sound arguments on nationalism, imperialism and left wing responses. However, like many other on the (far) left the Anarchist Federation considers the nation merely as an illusion: “The nation is a smokescreen, a fantasy which hides the struggle between classes which exists within and across them. Though there are no real nations, there are real classes with their own interests, and these classes must be differentiated. Consequently, there is no single ‘people’ within the ‘nation’, and there is no shared ‘national interest’ which unifies them.” Their critique of nationalism is thus based on the opposition that they “do not see a world of nations in struggle, but of classes in struggle.” On the contrary, in this text we aim to demonstrate how a “world of nations in struggle” has to be explained on the basis of “classes in struggle”; how the interest in wage labour suggests an interest in the nation

This would seem to fit with Althusser's understanding of ideology (which is not intended as a put down).

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wineandcheese
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Jun 21 2010 11:30

The text is now also available in the library:

http://libcom.org/library/why-anti-national

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Jun 21 2010 17:11

I think this is a really welcome and important article, specifically parts two and three.

Most writing on nationalism (including that I've been involved in) tends to outline well enough where nationalism comes from, its historical co-incidence with capitalism, and why communists should oppose it - that its an ideology of class collaboration, etc.

But what it doesn't do so well is explain nationalism's success, and exactly what the 'continuing appeal of nationalism' actually is. This article does this by making a compelling argument for the material basis of this appeal in the role of the state in mediating the self-interest of workers, capitalists, the petit-bourgeoisie, etc.

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ludd
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Jun 21 2010 18:55

wineandcheese,

Did you post the cover image for that article? Can you tell me who did it or where to find more art like this?

Klaus
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Jun 21 2010 20:51

Hi juozas,

we didn't post the article to the library and I have no clue where the picture is from. Try asking the libcom crew.

Arthur
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Jun 21 2010 21:22

Surely a nation is your tribe and loyalty to your tribe is inbuilt, almost hard wired, It's how mankind evolved.
Russian communist were very patriotic.
Explain why those who love their country to the extent they will die for it.

Arthur.

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Jun 21 2010 21:32
Arthur wrote:
Surely a nation is your tribe and loyalty to your tribe is inbuilt, almost hard wired, It's how mankind evolved.
Russian communist were very patriotic.
Explain why those who love their country to the extent they will die for it.

Arthur.

It stems from a congenital defect which results in an overabundance of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes irrational feelings of violent camaraderie with a bunch of people who happen to speak the same language and come from similar background. May have to do with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Maybe the English should stop drinking so much while pregnant.

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 21 2010 22:20
Tojiah wrote:
It stems from a congenital defect which results in an overabundance of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes irrational feelings of violent camaraderie with a bunch of people who happen to speak the same language and come from similar background. May have to do with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Maybe the English should stop drinking so much while pregnant.

Keep the trolling to libcommunity if pos, eh?

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 21 2010 22:31
Arthur wrote:
Surely a nation is your tribe and loyalty to your tribe is inbuilt, almost hard wired, It's how mankind evolved.

I don't believe this is born out by modern anthropology. Tribalism actually appeared quite late on the scene; for most of human evolution human society was based on smaller groups or 'bands' rather than tribal groups.

But more importantly, modern nation-states are really very different to tribal societies - in which life was communal and the relationships between tribe-members were face to face and direct. Life in a nation-state in the 21st century is based on private property, private interests and political power standing over society as a whole.

Quote:
Russian communist were very patriotic.

Some were; but we're libertarian communists - that means we're against all nation states, whether they claim they're communist or whether they're capitalist liberal democracies. Surely you know this by now, you've been posting on here a while!

Quote:
Explain why those who love their country to the extent they will die for it.

That's not the point (I might as well ask you why thousands throughout history have been willing to die for a world without nations); to communists, those deaths are just one more reason to abolish nations, to put a stop the pointless slaughter nationalism causes.

Wellclose Square
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Jun 21 2010 22:32
BigLittleJ wrote:
Tojiah wrote:
It stems from a congenital defect which results in an overabundance of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes irrational feelings of violent camaraderie with a bunch of people who happen to speak the same language and come from similar background. May have to do with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Maybe the English should stop drinking so much while pregnant.

Keep the trolling to libcommunity if pos, eh?

Frankly, I think T's response was a totally reasonable one to a nationalist troll who had nothing of value to add to the discussion, and it should've been the last word on the matter...

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 21 2010 22:34
Quote:
Frankly, I think T's response was a totally reasonable one to a nationalist troll who had nothing of value to add to the discussion, and it should've been the last word on the matter...

Eh? Arthur's always been extremely polite and civil to my knowledge; sure his politics are pretty terrible but they're worth engaging with, surely?

Boris Badenov
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Jun 21 2010 22:37
BigLittleJ wrote:
Quote:
Frankly, I think T's response was a totally reasonable one to a nationalist troll who had nothing of value to add to the discussion, and it should've been the last word on the matter...

Eh? Arthur's always been extremely polite and civil to my knowledge; sure his politics are pretty terrible but they're worth engaging with, surely?

Jesus BLJ, "hardwired loyalty to your tribe" is worth engaging with? Seriously? Fuck sake.

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Jun 21 2010 22:47
Quote:
Surely a nation is your tribe and loyalty to your tribe is inbuilt, almost hard wired, It's how mankind evolved.

The burden of proof is on you Arthur. How the heck does loyalty to tribe and nation relate to evolution? What about stuff like violence or gift giving? I guess the next thing you'll tell us is that belief in Islam comes with being an Arab and all Jews are inherently good at making money. It's fucking bollocks.

Tojiah's response makes just as much sense as Arthur's crap.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 21 2010 22:54
Django wrote:
But what it doesn't do so well is explain nationalism's success, and exactly what the 'continuing appeal of nationalism' actually is. ... This article does this by making a compelling argument for the material basis of this appeal in the role of the state in mediating the self-interest of workers, capitalists, the petit-bourgeoisie, etc.

Yeah that's an important point, but I think the appeal of nationalism is mainly ideological, despite having material causes. Even a "naive materialist" would realize sooner or later that the "fair wage" and the "opportunities" that politicians talk about are a load of wank, and would soon become sceptical towards the nation, if not for the constant self-fulfilling prophecies of the nation (war against terror, war against migrants, economic crisis, etc. - all of which reinforce militant patriotism in a way that the illusory cornucopia of "the land of the free" type discourses couldn't).

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 21 2010 23:11
Vlad336 wrote:
Jesus BLJ, "hardwired loyalty to your tribe" is worth engaging with? Seriously? Fuck sake.

Yes? It's certainly not the first time I've heard that argument in a discussion about nationalism. What's the point of communists producing anti-nationalist propaganda if not to argue against nationalist ideas?

Boris Badenov
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Jun 21 2010 23:25
BigLittleJ wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Jesus BLJ, "hardwired loyalty to your tribe" is worth engaging with? Seriously? Fuck sake.

Yes? It's certainly not the first time I've heard that argument in a discussion about nationalism. What's the point of communists producing anti-nationalist propaganda if not to argue against nationalist ideas?

Clearly 'communist propaganda' has worked wonders on Arthur in the year he's been here trolling.

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 21 2010 23:51
Quote:
the year he's been here trolling.

That's neither fair nor accurate. He's been registered here for seven months. In that time he's posted on five threads, very intermittently. He's not some hardened troll, he's an occasional poster with an obviously limited knowledge of the kind of politics this website is about. So I thought I might as well answer his questions honestly. God knows I've said more retarded things on the internet in my time...

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Jun 22 2010 01:25

Good point BLJ...

Out of curiosity, what's your thoughts on abolishing wage slavery Arthur? (Dont know if someones asked this already)

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 22 2010 01:29

Mhager - Arthur's in, or defending at least, the English Defense League.

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sabot
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Jun 22 2010 02:04
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Mhager - Arthur's in, or defending at least, the English Defense League.

Regardless, my question still stands for Arthur.

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Jun 22 2010 06:26
juozas wrote:
wineandcheese,

Did you post the cover image for that article? Can you tell me who did it or where to find more art like this?

I posted it. The image is a satirical map from WW1. There are plenty more like it here.

Wellclose Square
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Jun 22 2010 10:26

Far too much latitude has been given to a certain poster. Far more fruitful, I think, to focus on the original post rather than a nationalist drongo's response to it.

baboon
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Jun 22 2010 11:01

A bit of haughty contempt here. I agree with Biglittle.

There's been no abuse from Arthur despite much of the stupid abuse directed against him and his question, or query is extant in the working class, just like the "belief" in trade unions. You can make out it doesn't exist or you can make out it's all cut and dried but nationalism is the nut that has to be cracked and communists can contribute to this by patient explanation.

There's a clear break from primitive communism - what might be called tribal society - the begining of civilisation and the development of the nation state. The coherence of the modern nation state and the material advances that went along with it was something that the proletariat could fully support. Despite all the "blood and iron" the nation state was a progressive force in the rise of capitalism.
Just like the capitalist economy, the bourgeoisie has kept this illusion alive in its phase of decay through various methods: competition, patriotism, various permanent forms of propaganda, rallies, flags, enemies and so on. The height of the Russian revolution was expemplified by internationalism, "workers of all countries unite" and "the workers have no fatherland" the bourgeois opposites of which have been clearly demonstrated throughout the 20th C as the graveyard of the working class: nation and country = imperialist war in the interests of capital.

The British ruling class was intelligent in creating "countries" and borders that took in different elements in order to create national divisions and instability for its own advantage. We see, even more so in some cases, the result of these imperialist "configurations" today. Stalin followed the British example in the Russian republics creating all the imperialist faultlines that we see today - Uzbek and Kyrgyz the latest example.

Nationalism is the enemy of the working class.

Angelus Novus
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Jun 22 2010 17:34

A good document. Clear, basic, to the point.

Is there a German original, or is this an English-language 'exclusive'?

Boris Badenov
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Jun 22 2010 19:14

So does everyone agree with the OP's thesis that it's a "virtuous materialism" keeping nationalism alive rather than the "state of emergency"? (I'd say it's probably both, but moreso the latter)

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Jun 22 2010 19:24

I'm afraid I'll have to agree with BLJ: there was no need for me to be so confrontational and trite. It was unwarranted. I apologize, Arthur.

Angelus Novus
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Jun 22 2010 19:29
Vlad336 wrote:
So does everyone agree with the OP's thesis that it's a "virtuous materialism" keeping nationalism alive rather than the "state of emergency"? (I'd say it's probably both, but moreso the latter)

Well, the JL document explains pretty clearly what is meant by the term "virtuous materialism", but you don't really explain what you mean by "state of emergency" or why it sustains nationalism.

I mean I'm an enthusiastic Benjamin reader and it's not quite clear to me what connection you're drawing between "state of emergency" and nationalism.

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Jun 22 2010 20:27
Angelus Novus wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
So does everyone agree with the OP's thesis that it's a "virtuous materialism" keeping nationalism alive rather than the "state of emergency"? (I'd say it's probably both, but moreso the latter)

Well, the JL document explains pretty clearly what is meant by the term "virtuous materialism", but you don't really explain what you mean by "state of emergency" or why it sustains nationalism.

I mean I'm an enthusiastic Benjamin reader and it's not quite clear to me what connection you're drawing between "state of emergency" and nationalism.

The working class is kept under the impression that if they do not adhere to national lines, the evil "other", whether it is Arabs, the Goyim, the Western devils, or whichever, will physically destroy them. The national bourgeois enact policies which make sure that these are self-fulfilling prophecies, thus cementing cross-class, nationalist collaboration.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 22 2010 20:55
Tojiah wrote:
Angelus Novus wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
So does everyone agree with the OP's thesis that it's a "virtuous materialism" keeping nationalism alive rather than the "state of emergency"? (I'd say it's probably both, but moreso the latter)

Well, the JL document explains pretty clearly what is meant by the term "virtuous materialism", but you don't really explain what you mean by "state of emergency" or why it sustains nationalism.

I mean I'm an enthusiastic Benjamin reader and it's not quite clear to me what connection you're drawing between "state of emergency" and nationalism.

The working class is kept under the impression that if they do not adhere to national lines, the evil "other", whether it is Arabs, the Goyim, the Western devils, or whichever, will physically destroy them. The national bourgeois enact policies which make sure that these are self-fulfilling prophecies, thus cementing cross-class, nationalist collaboration.

Yeah pretty much that. Nothing riles up militant patriotism like the fear of a parasitical subhuman scum comin' o'er here takin' our jobs, or telling us how to live our lives. Look at EDL for example; their whole reason d'etre is "teh EVIL ISLAMZ" not the defense of a liberal "virtuous materialism." Actually the "virtuous materialism" consensus is bound to take a serious hit under the ConDem regime (to continue on the British example) I reckon, and you'll either see nationalism fueled by war and by "we're all in this together and we've got to tighten the belt" type thinking (see the Thatcher years), or outright rebellion (with a resigned apathy in the middle). In a state of crisis the 'common sense' liberal patriotism of "the pursuit of happyness" doesn't stand much of a chance, as far as I can tell; it is quickly subsumed by aggressive jingoism.

Angelus Novus
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Jun 22 2010 22:45

What you describe as "state of emergency" merely strikes me as an acute form of "virtuous materialism". Not a distinct type of nationalism, but merely the intensification nationalism undergoes in extreme circumstances.