Monday, August 15, 2016

No to nationalism (1992)

Editorial from the February 1992 issue of the Socialist Standard

The political virus of Nationalism is spreading. In Yugoslavia and the late Russian Empire, after decades of forced national unity, new national splinters are emerging, echoed by the sound of gunfire. In the north-cast of Ireland both sectarian gangs persist in their absurd nationalist hatreds, while fanatical Welsh nationalists set English property on fire and Scottish nationalist tricksters preach independence from Britain as some kind of panacea for ending poverty. Czechs against Slovaks; Flemings against Walloons; Ukrainians against Russians; western against eastern Germans, and both against Turkish and other immigrants.

Commentators speak of neo-fascism being on the rise. To be sure, gangs of desperate, frustrated, ignorant workers are looking for scapegoats. In Poland they are blaming their problems on the Jews, even though most Polish Jews were killed in the holocaust.The growth of the French National Front, with its facile equation between immigration and national crisis, is a miserable reflection upon millions of people who seem to have learned little from the experience of Nazism.

The world capitalist economy is in a crisis. Millions are feeling the hardship of living under a system which puts profits before needs. Not understanding the system, they seek someone to blame. Deceived by their masters, they seek security in isolation, entombed by artificial borders which stifle the cultures of those who never look beyond them. In Britain, nationalists wrap their ugly flag around them and thank God (who saves The Queen) that they are not continentals.

The contradiction of capitalism is that, being a global system, it cannot allow petty national fragmentation to succeed. The complacent British must become Europeans, and the isolationist Americans must face up to the world slump they must share with Japan, and the Croatians must realise that even if they escape Serbian domination they will soon have to accept German economic rule.

Socialists, whose country is the planet Earth, do not underestimate the importance of cultural diversity. The notion of the whole world conforming to one uniform way of life is far from appealing. It is the profit system, with its inevitable cultural imperialism whereby those with the dollars dictate what we listen to, how we speak, what we read and where we travel, which reduces culture to lifeless conformity to the cheap and nasty offerings of a culture industry.

Socialism is a global solution to a global problem. The problem is that the Earth and all its abundant resources belong to the minority, not to the human community as a whole. The minority abuse the planet Earth for the purpose of making profits. Socialism will end minority ownership and control, place the world in the hands of everyone and produce goods and services solely for need. This will require global organisation and not national fragmentation. Socialism will put an end to every border; nation-states will be abolished immediately.

The working class has no countries. The British do not own Britain any more than the Russians own Russia, the Georgians Georgia, the Armenians Armenia or the Serbs Serbia. We, who produce the world’s wealth, must cast off the chains of nationalist illusion. We have a world to win.

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