Anti-Nationalism 2/3

“The nationality of the toilers is neither French nor English nor German; it is toil, free slavery, sale of the self. His government is neither French nor English nor German; it is Capital. His native air is neither French nor German nor English; it is the air of the factory. The land which belongs to him is neither French nor English nor German; it is a few feet under the ground.”— Karl Marx  Notes on Friedrich List

Nationalists love the soil which makes their graves. The working class has often been, for Marx, beguiled by nationalism, organised religion, and other distractions. These ideological devices help to keep people from realising that it is they who produce wealth. Socialism is a theory that stands for a state-free society. On the other hand, nationalism stands for a state or nation. Nationalism means the development of a particular nation. For nationalists, state or nation is the primary importance. However, for socialists, the whole class around the whole world is a single entity. It is the community that prevails over others in socialism whereas, in nationalism, it is the national spirit that prevails over other thoughts. In nationalism, there is a belief that one nation is superior to other nations. Moreover, the citizens of a country are more valued than the citizens of other countries. This belief does not hold in socialism. For the socialists, the community stands above all. Unlike the nationalists, we socialists think globally. Workers’ real interests and loyalties lie in supporting the efforts of workers worldwide in the class struggle; in supporting all workers’ efforts to resist their exploiters and defeat their exploiters through the establishment of socialism. It means rejecting nationalism and the efforts of ruling-class nation-states to pit workers against each other in economic competition or set them at each others’ throats in war. It means holding up international working-class solidarity in opposition to ruling-class nationalism. Those who create wealth are the working class and in socialism, workers will collectively manage society for the benefit of society as a whole on a planned basis for human need and not for profit. Without the profit motive and without the capitalist class, there is no need for wages, racism, sexism and war. There is more than enough to provide everyone with a decent life, to restore the environment which is currently being destroyed by capitalism and use all the modern means of production to reduce the burden of labouring for surplus labour value for the benefit of the ruling class. Nationalism is a fraud whereby would-be rulers ‘self-determine’ to impose their vision of nationhood on an entire community. Nationalism is an ideology of separation, of hatred for the ‘other.’ It is a creed of violence and war and oppression. And it has absolutely nothing to offer the world’s oppressed. What is necessary is to develop human solidarity and mutual aid. Nationalism is today one of the most dangerous hindrances to social liberation.

Inside a socialist society, there would be no countries, no borders and no concept of “foreigners”. Contrast that with the normal day-to-day existence of modern capitalism. Even in the 19th Century, it was recognised that capitalism was a worldwide system and that the working class required an international workers association. The global working-class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One world, one people, where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we’ll all be citizens of the world. Differences in language, food, music and the like will continue to exist in a socialist world. Different cultures can exist in the same geographical area and individuals can partake of elements of different cultures. Those specific peoples should be free to fully develop their own cultural capacities is not merely a right but a requirement. The world would be a drab place without its magnificent mosaic of different cultures. Cultural freedom and diversity should not be confused with nationalism.

There is a system called capitalism, and it is simple – increase capital from constant reinvestment of capital, invest profits to regenerate more profits.  The Socialist Party is against all forms of capitalism: private, state and self-managed.  It makes no difference whether the capital is domestic or foreign, who personifies it, how big and small it is. Capitalist exploitation occurs despite all of them.

 We are for socialism, which is a class-free society in which all goods are distributed according to need. We are opposed to all ideologies which divide the working class, such as religion, sexism and racism. And we are against nationalism and patriotism. Nationalists argue that people long to have their very own country. Nationalism, though it is a seemingly noble effort to realize social unity, is the twenty-first century’s great plague. Nationalism continues to hypnotize us with unrealistic visions of heaven-on-earth. Nationalism divides human beings territorially, culturally, and economically.  National identity is used by the state to legitimise its actions. Nationalism is regressive.

Do national aspirations hasten the end of capitalism by weakening the capitalist class or do they inject new life into capitalism? Contrary to expectations, nationalism could not be utilised to further socialist aims, nor was it a successful strategy to hasten the demise of capitalism. Rather, nationalism destroyed socialism by using it for nationalist ends.

 Nations may gain independence, yet their formal independence does not release them from the economic and political rule. They cannot escape this overlordship. The international division of labour as determined by private capital formation implies the exploitation of poorer by richer countries and the concentration of capital in the larger capitalist nations. There is no way of escaping competition on the international scene. So nationalism, the need to superimpose the unifying myths of the nation-state, is not only generated by the bourgeois agenda of controlling and regulating the space of its market, but also by the imperative of seizing markets and resources outside territories and peoples. The defence of the nation is the defence of the ruling class. 

Against current national aspirations and imperialist rivalries lies the actual need for worldwide organisation of production and distribution beneficial to humanity as a whole. The Earth is far better adapted for occupation by men and women organised on a worldwide scale, with maximum opportunity for free exchange of raw materials and finished products the world around, than by those who insist upon building barriers between regions even so inclusive as a nation or an entire continent such as the EU. Social production can only be fully developed and free human society from want and misery by international cooperation without regard to particularistic national interests.

“The “Internationale,” the shared anthem of social democrats, socialists, and anarchists alike up to and even after the Bolshevik revolution, ended with the stirring cry, “The ‘Internationale’ shall be the human race.” The Left singled out the international proletariat as the historic agent for modern social change not by virtue of its specificity as a class, or its particularity as one component in a developing capitalist society, but by virtue of its need to achieve universality in order to abolish class society ― that is, as the class driven by necessity to remove wage slavery by abolishing enslavement as such. Capitalism had brought the historic “social question” of human exploitation to its final and most advanced form. “Tis the final conflict!” rang out the “Internationale,” with a sense of universalistic commitment ― one that no revolutionary movement could ignore any longer” – Murray Bookchin

Calls for tribal “identity” negates the spirit of The International. There is no place in a free society for nation-states, either as nations or as states.