FAR LEFT CLAIMS SCOTTISH NATIONALISM IS NASTY AND DIVISIVE!
The article below is written by one of the “People’s Front of Judea” type of Far-Left grouplets, but is nevertheless interesting and worth reading for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that Scottish nationalism is not exempted from their criticism and, indeed, is the focus of their criticism in this piece. This is despite Scottish nationalists positioning themselves as far to the Left as would be acceptable to any electorate in the Western world. This is also despite the Scottish National Party bending as far as it can towards multi-racialism and multi-culturalism and generally positioning itself as much as a politically correct and acceptable version of nationalism as possible.
So far as the authors of this article are concerned I suspect that the Labour Party and, certainly the Conservative Party, will both be considered to be nationalist parties as well, but of course they are British nationalist, not Scottish nationalist.
The second reason it is worth reading this article is that it does vividly demonstrates that it is pointless for any patriot to consider political accommodation with those with Far-Left views. The aim of patriots in dealing with the Far-Left should simply be to try and leave them as isolated and as irrelevant as possible.
The third reason why the article is well worth reading is that it does set out the Leftist argument against patriotism in a clear and unequivocal manner and is well written.
It also shows how naïve the Far-Left are in their view of humanity, since they are in effect pointing out that, within the patriotic vision for our country, that there will still be disputes, oppositions, antagonisms, etc.
Anyone who has lived in any community, even where there is no divergence of interest between various people, would know that people simply don’t all get on and that there are some that you can trust and some that you can’t. There are some who will steal and some who are honest.
It is not realistic to claim that nation states need more state power to curb human nature than any other types of state.
Indeed our experience in the world today is that states that are controlling territories where there is no nation, such as many of the Middle Eastern states, are states riven by far greater and more irreconcilable antagonisms than nation states. In those states the only effective remedy by the state itself is the use of force!
Perhaps the sheer naivety of the article and of the unrealistic understanding of human nature shown by the article is something of a partial explanation as to why, when the Far-Left get into power, that they seem inevitably to have to resort to murder?
In any case it is useful to see that our Leftist opponents are not merely unpatriotic, but they are anti-patriotic and are hostile to the very idea of a national community. Since the nation state is the largest and most successful organisation that humankind has ever managed to create, their position on the nation state puts them firmly against progress and it is therefore a rather amusing irony that such people might call themselves “progressives”!
Here is the article:-
Since you mentioned “us” — Nationalism by example of Scottish independence
We oppose nationalism. 1 With this opposition, we are not alone. For many people, nationalism has a bad reputation. For example, in the debate around the referendum for Scottish independence, the “Yes” campaign was repeatedly accused of being nationalist. On the other hand, few take issue with identifying with their home country — they might call this standpoint patriotism. 2 Many take being English, British or Scottish as a self-evident part of their own identity. But they might get a bit annoyed about others waving flags, because they do not want to make a big fuss about nationalism. Some people might even reject mainstream or right-wing nationalism as oppressive but posit the “real nation” 3 or (local) “community” 4 against it. Finally, from left to right, big fuss or not, many protests invoke the greater, national good to make their point: unions calculate how higher wages would benefit the whole economy 5 , students point out that they are a key resource of the nation 6 , bankers and benefit recipients are criticised for putting their interests before the nation (from the left and right respectively) 7 . The word nationalism might have a bad reputation in some places, the appreciation of the nation, however, is undaunted.
Many people who distance themselves from some forms of nationalism oppose the overt racism that often accompanies it. When the Left opposes nationalism, they usually take issue with the nationalist segmentation of humankind into peoples. In contrast, we criticise nationalism not just because of a wrong segmentation but also because it posits unification of actual people into the people. This particular critique is not one which is widely shared. 8 Hence, in this piece, we want to explain what nationalists think, what nationalism claims and wants and why we oppose it in any form. 9
As a running example, we are going to use the referendum for Scottish independence held in late 2014. While we realise that we are rather late to the party in writing about Scottish independence, we chose this example for three reasons. Firstly, Scottish nationalism did not go away with the referendum. Repeated calls are made for a second referendum. Secondly, the question “Should Scotland be an independent country” 10 asks exactly what any nationalism asserts and hence takes us to the core of the matter. Thirdly, Scottish nationalism — being often more left-wing — prides itself with avoiding some features of nationalism outlined above which many people object to. Scottish nationalism only serves as our example, though, the arguments presented in this article also apply to English, British or German nationalism. 11
Nationalism posits the people. This is an assertion of a distinction between a nation’s people and the rest of humanity (“The Scots are Scots and not English, not German, not French”). The starting point of any nationalism is the assertion and appreciation of a particular group: “we”.
“We” is also the assertion of an accordance between the people of the nation (“Scots belong and fit together”). When nationalists speak of “us”, they do not simply mean to describe a group that is somehow distinguished from the rest of humanity like “all people with brown hair” or “all people who like tea”, instead “us” characterises a community. Nationalists think that their personal interests and the interests of other members of the community — and hence of the community in total — are somehow aligned. Not necessarily perfectly so but at some level. Nationalists think that somehow the national community is the place where they fit in, where their purposes have a place, where people accomplish their respective goals somehow with each other. They believe that there is a connection, some accordance, some cohesion even, that “we” are “better together”. 12
Nationalists differ in where they see the basis of this accordance. Some see the basis for why “we” fit and belong together in a presumed common biology (“Celtic blood”, “Aryan race”), some in a common culture (language, customs, cultural values) and some even in a common conviction (constitutional patriotism). 13 None of these reasons holds water. There is no “Celtic blood”, language does not preform thought but ideas can be expressed in any language, a habit of drinking tea makes for a tea drinking society, not an all-encompassing community.
It is of no use, though, for the critique of nationalism to pick apart these reasons, because nationalists do not ask if their people exists. The point of these reasons is not to actually establish that a particular people exist. Rather, the existence of their people is the nationalist starting point and conviction. We can see this by looking at how nationalists relate to these reasons. Asking most English nationalists what exactly characterises the English as a nation, typically earns you a blank stare and maybe some half worked out argument. Moreover, without such prompting nationalists hardly ever ask this question. Most nationalists tend not to inquire about each other’s reasons and two typical nationalists would not find anything too worrying about finding out that they do not agree on, say, whether drinking tea is a defining British pastime or not. Similarly, most racist nationalists tend not to be too invested in the particularities of their racist theories. The relationship of most nationalists towards specific foundational arguments for their nation is characterised by a lack of interest: the reasons that nationalists give are not reasons they have. 14 Instead, these reasons are justifications for some “us” which is presupposed.
Scotland as a nation was taken for granted by all sides arguing over Scottish independence. 15 The British State considers Scotland a nation and itself a country of four nations. Consequently, Scottish nationalists did not have to agitate for its recognition as a nation. 16 The taken-for-granted starting point for all separatist and unionist agitation was Scotland and the referendum simply presupposed Scotland and the Scots as a collective who now decide on an important aspect of their lives.
In contrast, when nationalists struggle to have their nation recognised, these justifications play a greater role. For example, Cornish nationalists invoke a wide range of historical, political, linguistic and cultural reasons to illustrate that Cornwall does constitute its own nation. But these reasons ought to justify the “us”, not establish it. They do not ask if Cornwall is its own nation, but ask how to demonstrate it.
General differences between justifications, cultural or biological, play a role in political life. For example, people may be more or less relaxed about immigration based on whether they believe in blood and soil or in culture. Yet, here too, the question is not if the citizens of the host nation indeed constitute a nation, but they argue about how their national bond is characterised.
The indifference of nationalists towards the particular foundational arguments of their nation does not mean that they do not care about justifications. The point of these justifications is to assert cohesion. Asking most nationalists about the particularities of their justifications is met with disinterest. But when they smell that the inquiry seeks to undermine the certainty of their community, they get upset. How the community is justified is not that important, that it is justified is without an alternative to a nationalist.
Nationalists identify with their nation. 17 Nationalism not only asserts the existence of a group but being part of that group is an identity of its members.
If people have a shared interest in drinking fine wine they may decide to find others who share this particular interest and decide to form a wine tasting club. The people in this wine tasting club might also have different interests outside of wine tasting, but they are an affinity group based on their mutual interest in wine tasting. The membership in a wine tasting club is both conscious — they decide to join and leave — as well as based on a shared activity or interest.
The nation is no such collection of people based on some particular shared interest. To nationalists, being Scottish or English is not something you decide to do , but it is something which claims to define your being . For an English nationalist when 11 English players win a world cup, we won the world cup, not just someone from our group. Also, this is something for the whole nation, not only for football fans. Our green valleys are a feast to look at. If the British economy does well, we grew our Gdp . If the British State goes to war, we go to war and its soldiers are fighting for us . 18 Some people even say that we won World War I, despite all the people who fought in that war having died now. When nationalists appreciate something about their country, it is somehow also partially themselves who did it and it fills them with pride. When they accept that atrocities were committed by their people (usually in the name of the nation), it fills them with shame. Both of these reactions presuppose identification.
The criteria employed to decide who gets to be Scottish, English, Us American or German differ, in some cases the criteria might be lower than in others, sometimes it might be possible to be a member of two nations, but nationalists assert that belonging to a certain nation is not a lifestyle choice, a conscious, calculated decision or a particular interest, it is an identity.
However, nationalists do not rely just on self-evident and immediate identity. Where they can, they foster traditions, customs, national language and national culture. In established nation states, a lot of energy is spent by professional nationalists — politicians, journalists, teachers, etc. — on educating the population about “their” national customs, culture and history. Students learn the national language, learn about national history, about their “cultural heritage” and to respect other cultures. Cultural institutions and museums provide the population with national culture and history. National holidays encourage the celebration of the nation. Scottish, German, British might be something you are in the eyes of nationalists, it is certainly also something whose performance is encouraged and maintained — no nationalist movement trusts in self-evident essence alone.
Nationalists hold that a national community requires actualisation in a state. There are many ideologies which claim that certain (ostensible) criteria would establish some group and the identities of group members: racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Nationalism is distinguished from all these essentialist ideologies in that the group it is concerned with is a community and requires some form of stately authority. 19 Nationality — in the eyes of nationalists — is an identity which requires a political authority. The nationalist proposition is “the right of nations to self-determination”. Or rather the right of their nation to self-determination, e.g. “Scotland should be an independent country”. That is, nationalists posit the nation which then finds its actualisation in its own state. For example, the Scottish Government wrote:
If we vote for independence, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland as our ancient nation emerges — again — as an independent country. 20
In established nation states this idea often finds expressions in the preamble of constitutional documents where it is claimed that it is the people who establish a state of law. 21
The true relationship between state power and nation is the other way around. A state does not make itself dependent on the nationalism of its human resources, it subjugates them and the territory they live on. Borders of states, and therefore what is and is not a people, are results of wars between states, a question of power. When most European states were established, the respective nationalisms were ideas amongst small groups of intellectuals. It was only through the subjugation of “the people of …” by their state that the unity which nationalists posit was produced. When the United States were founded, it was not “the people of the United States” who founded them but some people with enough power bent on subjugating their fellow countrymen to a new democratic state. Despite what preambles in constitutional documents might claim, “the people” have never given themselves a state.
Even if the “Yes” campaign had won the independence referendum, it would not have been “the Scottish people” who would have given themselves a state. The Scottish independence referendum was an attempt of a nationalist movement — around the Scottish Government — to subjugate Scottish people under a new state. If the “Yes” agitation had been successful, then the Scottish Government would have subjugated those it defined as Scottish under a new Scottish state, regardless of whether they voted “Yes” or “No”. It would have been able to do this because it was tactically backed by the existing monopolist of force — the British State. The referendum could happen because the British State, which asserts absolute authority over its citizens, gave a part of itself — the Scottish Government — permission to subjugate a part of the British population in the case of “Yes” vote. 22 Usually, separatist movements are not met with tactic approval from the state they seek to separate from. In this case, the question of violence is posited directly: who can assert power over those defined as the chosen people against the contender also claiming to represent them.
A demand for political autonomy is a rejection of rule from outside of the national community. Foreign rule is not simply rejected because of what it wants and does, but because it is foreign. In the words of the Snp :
Today, we have a Tory government in Westminster that most of us did not vote for, and yet that government is able to take decisions that cause real harm to families and communities in Scotland. 23
The Snp notes that the Westminster Government rules over a majority of people in Scotland who did not vote for it, just as it rules over many people in England who did not vote for it. This is a feature of every democratic election, elections the Snp stands in and wants to happen in an independent Scotland: in some part of the country or in some strata of society there usually will be some majority who did not vote for the government.
Hence, one could be tempted to accuse the Snp of hypocrisy, but this is not fair. By making a distinction between Labour voters in the North of England and in Scotland, both of which are ruled by a government they did not vote for, the Snp expresses what standard it applies. If Scottish people are ruled over by a party in Westminster they did not vote for, this is a problem. For people in England not so much. The Snp does not propose to split up the Uk along voting lines or interests. The problem for the Snp is not rule but that it is exercised by people from the wrong community. Westminster is wrong because it is not Scottish; that it is Tory is just an additional sin. Put differently, if a Scottish government voted in by the Scottish people would do “real harm to families and communities”, then it would at least be home rule. The rejection of foreign rule on the grounds that it is foreign is an affirmation of home rule. 24
A demand for political autonomy wants rule by a nation state over those who belong to its nation. The self-determination of a nation means that the members of the national community are subjugated to their national political authority. Practically, a people realises itself by its people being subjugated under their nation state.
On the one hand, nationalists want an authority which objectively subjugates the people. The people are its objects . On the other hand, those people are assumed to want this authority and their collective will is thought to find actualisation in this authority. To a nationalist, the people is the subject . 25
To a nationalist, this is no contradiction as she posits the state not as a force of domination but instead as an administrator of the community. This is not because she does not understand what a state does, but because she considers this as an adequate actualisation and administration of the community she wants. Nationalists know that laws passed in Parliament apply to everyone regardless of whether they like them or not and they know that states have coppers, judges and prisons to enforce those laws. But to them, this means us taking care of ourselves. In the words of the Scottish Government:
Independence means that the people of Scotland will take responsibility for our future into our own hands. 26
The Scottish Government wants to rule over those who it called to the polls, but this demand for subjugation is understood as the Scottish people taking matters into their own hands to do what they want. Nationalism is consent to domination , which is understood as a people’s freedom , self-determination and self-actualisation .
As with any other nationalism, Scottish people are invited to think of acts done to them by the state as actualisations of themselves. If an imagined Scottish government bans nuclear energy, this is done by our government, we are banning nuclear energy. If a Scottish government guarantees the right of my boss to cut my breaks, this is an act of our government. If a Scottish government institutes a maximum working day, this is an act of our government. The order of policy and rule is so that identification with and affirmation of rule comes first, then come questions of policy which may affect me positively or negatively. 27 In the words of a Scottish nationalist:
There is widespread confusion among some politicians and media pundits regarding the independence referendum planned for Autumn 2014 and the Scottish general election scheduled for May 2016. Many pundits are treating the two events as if they are the same thing. They are not. This cannot be stressed, underlined, or shouted from the rooftops loud enough. 2014 is a referendum on relocating power, relocating the tools of democratic governance, from London to Scotland. 2016 is about the people of Scotland picking up these tools and using them in any damned way we choose. I’ll say it again: 2014 is about Democracy . 2016 is about Policy . 28
The “Yes” campaign and the Radical Independence Campaign argued for independence by listing many nice things which could be done in an independent Scotland: better health care, higher benefits, greener energy … None of these policies were actually on the ballot. The ballot did not ask voters what they think of the welfare state, citizenship laws or where government spending should be directed. The question was if the authority ruling over Scotland should be Scottish and this is the first standard by which nationalists judge it. 29
However, the rule these people appreciate does not make itself dependent on their appreciation. While nation states want and encourage the appreciation of their populations (hence the referendum), if consent is absent then time after time the question of rule is settled by force. This does not make consent to domination a harmless private matter, though, with no effect on the world. Rule over people is easier if they accept and appreciate it. When, for example, people argue if this or that politician is fit to rule over them, the question what purpose the rule over them serves is not one to worry about. Furthermore, if people think of what is done to them as their own doing, it not only saves costs on coppers and prisons, but also mobilises their energy and creativity for the rule over them.
Opposition and cohesion
Nationalists demand self-determination in the form of a state and seek to subordinate their people to their nation state. Their national community must be enforced by superior force; the same community which they hold to be a self-evident part of their being. Therewith nationalists practically acknowledge that their community is not as self-evident and matter-of-fact as they claim, it does not simply flow from their essence but needs a nudge or two from the state. Nationalists posit their community as self-evident and — in insisting on a stately authority over it — as frail. In other words, to them, the members of the community are drawn together and apart. While Scottish nationalists posit a self-evident ancient nation which has to find actualisation in a state yet again, they find this status quo untenable: to them the Scottish need a state. They do not merely seek to drive out Westminster, but to establish a rule over Scottish people for Scottish people because they are Scottish people. The unquestionable essence in them which they believe to bind them together — being Scottish — is not firm enough to bind them together — this the Scottish state ought to provide. Amongst all claimed unity and accordance, nationalists also presume divisions within the nation. The interests and actions of the individuals are not simply assumed to be aligned with the interests of the community and, hence, each other.
Thereby, nationalists address the objective divisions that exist in their community. Democratic nationalists know of and do not deny the many little and big divisions that characterise life in a capitalist society. Workers know of the pressure to work harder and longer, they know of the threat of unemployment, tenants know that their landlord hikes the rent when she can, they know that they struggle to make ends meet. The economy — how a society produces, distributes and consumes — is a continuous source of conflict. 30 At the same time, nationalists posit a common interest with those on the other side of their disputes. In the words of a British nationalist:
Whatever happened to that post-election stuff about “one nation”? It is clear that David Cameron and some of his ministers genuinely believe in the Disraelian ideal of social cohesion at some important level. Yet in the wake of the government’s latest move against trade unions, the commitment will look to many like mere hypocrisy. Part of the essence of any kind of one-nation politics, whether from the left or the right, must be an effort to reconcile old antagonisms. But these new measures to make it more difficult to join a union are only designed to provoke this antagonism still further. 31
The author acknowledges the continued necessity for workers to organise in unions against their employers and calls for a reconciliation of “old antagonisms”: opposition and cohesion.
To nationalists, oppositions are, in principle, not in opposition to their community. Instead, oppositions amongst the members of the community fit in with their community, are accepted and filed as part of how it functions. Life in their community is no easy, harmonic life. Oppositions and their consequences are, in principle, to be expected, accepted and endured. Indeed, democratic nationalists appreciate “everyone for herself” in the economic sphere as a contribution to their community. This way, they think, the community becomes more productive, this way all give their best, this way the community prospers. Collateral damage and benefit is part of community life. 32
However, nationalists distinguish between opposition and antagonism. The accepted and presumed conflicts ought to have their limits. They notice the expressions of oppositions around them, but would deny that systematic, fundamental antagonisms are produced from the way their community functions. Amongst all divisions they seek cohesion and call for restrictions on the pursuit of opposing goals; they seek a balance.
Nationalists do not ignore that they have to follow the rules of the community (cf. “State”), that their community does not allow them to do whatever they want. In the nationalist perspective, though, the restrictions placed on them are for them , not an external constraint: this community is their community, where they can pursue their interests, it is the place and premise for their “pursuit of happiness” (cf. “We”).
They appreciate the community for allowing opportunities for its members — they can try to get that job, apply for that loan to start a business, win the lottery — and think of moderation as an exchange relation: if each of us moderates herself, lives by the rules of the community then the community prospers which means that we get to pursue our respective goals in this community. They moderate their goals in the hope that this allows these goals to be realised: voluntary compulsion or worthwhile renunciation. 33 They expect this imagined relation of exchange to be honoured, expect what is fair and what is deserved : a fair wage for a fair day’s work, a just minimum level of sustenance as a member of the national community, a just reward for providing jobs etc. In the words of a Radical Independence campaigner:
We believe the success of a country comes from the hard work and commitment of all. We believe that a good country is one in which all share fairly the success of good times and all share fairly the burdens of bad times. 34
In the nationalist ideal, if everybody takes a step back from their respective interests, if all work hard and commit, if all interests are moderated in the name of the common good, then they all get the fair share they deserve.
They demand the national community to be a community of the decent, a community where participants want the restrictions placed on them, a community where the participants are willing to a step back in the interest of the greater, national, collective good. The Radical Independence Campaign version of this ideal goes like this:
Scotland can be a moral nation. Where mutuality, cooperation and fellowship define our relationships. Where we are good stewards of our country and hand it on to the next generation in a better state than we inherit it. Where our values are not dominated by greed, selfishness and disregard for others but by patience, generosity, creativity, peacefulness and a determination to be better. 35
Different nationalists address their calls for “determination to be better” towards different groups. Some ask for jobs and payment of taxes from companies, some demand wage moderation from workers, some demand decency and guidance from politicians. But they all demand decency.
For nationalists, cohesion, decency, the will to the nation, — “we” — is not a calculated, rational decision but a natural part of them.
The assertion of a self-evident unity of the nation is not merely a mistake that could be rectified by educating a nationalist about differing interests in a capitalist society. They know of them, which is why they want to moderate them. The assertion “we” is as much an invitation as it is a demand. Firstly, “we” is an invitation to look beyond the day-to-day competition and to recognise the needs of the community as being greater than mere individual materialism and calculated decisions for personal gain. 36 Secondly, “we” is also a demand that this unity is not up for debate, it is an invitation you cannot refuse, it is essential.
For a biological racist nationalist, it is a natural essence which guarantees the national bond, which is not only self-evident but natural. She asserts that the will to the nation is not a product of volition but of a biological essence. To her, this founds a strong, irrefutable bond because the members of the community have it in their bones. They cannot but stand for their community and act decently for the benefit of their community. This is an uncompromising demand against the members of the nation.
Nationalists who invoke culture (language, customs, values, etc.) seek the same result but without a recourse to biology. They, too, found the will to the nation in a pre-voluntary essence of the members of the community but an essence which is produced by society — which is why they can be more open to the idea of others being integrated into the collective. They disagree that biology can account for a will but seek the same, firm result from a source outside of the will, beyond decisions.
Here, too, the demand against the members of the community is expressed as the assertion that these members have their national bond in their being. 37 They have no choice in the matter, they are English, Scottish, German and so on. For example, “National Collective”, a group of artists campaigning for Scottish independence, offered their view on a progressive civic nationalism in Scotland:
In Scotland, we make a lot of noise about our ‘civic nationalism’ — an open, inclusive brand of national pride based on shared goals, values and institutions, summed up by the late Bashir Ahmed, Scotland’s first Asian Msp : “It is not important where we have come from; it’s where we’re going together, as a nation.” 38
Civic nationalists claim that sharing certain liberal values is part of a particular national identity and they are proud of these values: freedom, equality, democracy, the rule of law — the accomplishments of modern democratic rule. People who criticise nationalism for excluding others from the national community might read statements like these as an open invitation to everyone who shares Scottish values. However, this is a misunderstanding. Who would get to be Scottish is not some individual choice of sharing a certain set of values, but up to the Scottish Government to decide in the interest of the nation. 39 Civic nationalism posits that the members of the nation share certain values, not that sharing certain values makes you a member of the nation.
When civic nationalists speak of shared “goals, values, and institutions” this expresses that they expect those who are part of the national collective to share these. Especially, when a politician says “It is not important where we have come from; it’s where we’re going together, as a nation” this is not merely a true or false analysis of what constitutes the nation, but a demand to get in line. When someone in power tells you “this is how we do things”, this is an imperative indicative: a demand against you to follow through. When someone who shapes the values and goals of the nation tells you that you share those defined goals and values, this is the demand to want what they want for the nation.
The same applies to other pictures that nationalists draw of their respective peoples. Nationalists will not shy away from statements like “Germans are punctual” or “British are polite” when confronted with a disorganised resp. rude person. These statements are not intended as statements of fact but expectations and demands against the members of the national collective. “We” is a demand.
Nationalists think of the national community as a moral community, a community with just rights and responsibilities, a community formed by and for decent people. This is a peculiar view towards their actual social relations.
In their daily lives, the subjects of a democratic state are endowed with rights and responsibilities by the state; it provides its subjects with general rules which they have to follow. There is much to regulate, permit, prohibit and sanction when people who are dependent on each other compete against each other. For their interactions in the economy, the actors make contracts. These are agreed upon because each party expects to gain from them but this does not extinguish the economic opposition of the contracting parties. A low or no price is better for the buyer and worse for the seller. More concretely, a low wage is a means for profit and a detriment to workers sustenance. Capitalists have reasons to squeeze more out of their workers and workers have reasons to resist this through collective action. 40
The capitalist economy needs an arbiter to decide who prevails when the members’ interests collide and to provide general restrictions keeping competition from eating itself, to make the unity of competition and mutual dependency feasible. This feat is not accomplished without force: when everybody’s goals are pursued against the others, under rules which restrict the means of success of each party, then it makes sense to bend or break the rules here and there to realise these goals — theft and fraud are ways to take part in competition with other means. Therefore, a capitalist economy requires a state ruling over it with force. Capitalist states happily oblige because they rely on their capitalist economies as the basis of their might. They guarantee private property and provide the rule of law, infrastructure, the welfare state and economy policy to facilitate accumulation of their national capital which they count as the growth of the gross domestic product ( Gdp ) and which provides their rule with means.
Where the state in its laws defines the conditions under which its subjects must pursue their own interests, nationalists see conditions under which they can pursue their own interests. Conditions become opportunities. Where the state excludes the mass of its citizens from the wealth around them, where it ensures their continued existence as human resources for the accumulation of capital, they see general regulations being implemented which ensure that their decent community — and hence them — can function and consider the rights provided by the state as their means to participate justly in their moral community. They treat conditions, which they do not decide about, as their own, as expressions of themselves and of their morality.
This reversal — that the objects of rule think themselves as the subjects — does not mean nationalists are content. When they interpret law as a realisation of their morality, not as the form in which the state organises its society for its own might, they also judge it this way. Hence, as much as they are one with their nation and its state in principle, they always tend to find some transgression, some violation of decency, some instance where someone receives what is not deserved and where those who deserve do not.
Nationalist criticism detects deviations from decency, identify culprits and demand a correction from the state: more crack down on benefit scroungers, more restrictions on strike action, a tighter tax regime for corporations, restrictions on banker bonuses etc. Left-wing and right-wing nationalists often target different groups with their criticisms, but both want to mobilise the guardian of the national community against “excessive” self-interest.
However, because the state’s purpose is not to realise the often conflicting moralistic national ideals of its subjects but its own might and a strong capitalist economy, it often fails to live up to the expectations of its nationalist critics. What they imagine as decent and fair is not on the agenda. Most nationalists are content with airing their complaints down at the pub, armed with the righteousness of their respective standpoints of justice. Some of them, though, become critical of the government, which they accuse of having lost sight of what is important and seek more grounded alternatives. Some become even critical of the form of the state in general and become disciples of a fascist state which ruthlessly cracks down on vested interests everywhere. 41 Some turn the claim of national identity around and seek culprits amongst those they do not consider the right kind of English, Scottish or German. They extend the idea that identity ensures national cohesion to the idea that the wrong kind of identity undermines it — just as firm and unchangeable as the former.
Not every nationalist takes these last steps. In fact, many do not. But what they all share when they say “we” is plenty: appreciation for a community which requires force over its members to make their relationships passable, acceptance of the antagonisms produced by the capitalist economy which ought to be endured, identification with the conditions we are confronted with by the democratic state and moralistic demands to submit to these conditions.
Postscript: Into the world
Nationalists judge all and sundry from their nationalist standpoint, also other nations and their states. On the world stage, nation states confront each other with their demands and compete for power. They compete economically, threaten each other with their military might and engage in open war. Nationalists observe these conflicts in a peculiar way. To nationalists, their own nation is the home of the decent and universal, the guarantor of everything that is good in the world. In contrast, other nations are merely French, Russian, Us American etc. The respective national standpoints are merely their particular standpoints. This does not necessarily make them foes, but every nationalist can identify base motives driving other nation states’ policies. Reading any British newspaper’s reporting on Russia or watching an hour of Russia Today provides ample material of this kind. From this perspective then, it only makes sense for nationalists to wish their own the best of luck in every endeavour, even base ones because this is the basis of success for everything that is decent in the world.
(Here is a link to the original >>> https://antinational.org/en/since-you-mentioned-us/ )