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Ruthless Criticism: Nationalism

Von • Nov 27th, 2017 • Kategorie: International


Ruthless Criticism

Nationalism: useful for those at the top – idiotic for everyone below


The aggressive nationalism that curses immigrants because they “take away our neighborhoods and jobs” and “do not belong here,” that sees foreign powers and peoples “taking advantage of us” – this hostile nationalism assumes that “we” are a we, invokes feelings of community, and shares this certainty with the highly respected patriotism.

Exclusionary nationalism maintains something that is both untrue and unreasonable. Untrue because it is the landlords who are increasing rents, not the immigrants who have to pay the same rents as native citizens; and it’s the business owners who are filling their jobs with the cheapest workers they can find on the international labor market and pressing down wages in general, harming everyone who lives on wages, regardless of national origin. It is unreasonable because immigrants and native citizens share a common interest as tenants against the native landlords; as wage earners, immigrants and natives share a common interest that conflicts with the native business owners; as working people, Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, and all workers have a common interest against the competition of their employers for optimal business locations and against all states that wage this race to the bottom. Nationalists, however, think that the native citizens constitute a community into which only foreigners bring strife and damage.

The argument of level-headed patriots against the aggressive nationalists is also neither true nor reasonable: that immigrants “benefit our economy,” hence “us.” This “our” and “us” is wrong: in a society based on private property, the economy does not belong to all of us, even if all of us have to make a living in it.

Business owners exploit immigrants as well as native citizens in order to enlarge their property and thereby secure it; those who are exploited only secure a lot of toil and increasingly insecure livelihoods; and unemployed wage earners don’t even do that. In opposing the inflammatory talk about allegedly parasitic immigrants, pro-immigrant patriots are completely confused about who is really responsible for these benefits and injuries; they imagine a communal benefit that immigrants contribute to (and thereby only approve their right to live here on conditional terms). They attack the right exactly the same way the right attacks the immigrants: as a plague on the nation. They say the right wants to take away the benefits that immigrants provide “all of us”; the right harms “our economy,” “our image abroad,” “us.” That’s just more nationalism: the idea that all citizens have a common interest with each other and that these citizens have a common interest with “their” state – and this connects with the urge to be concerned about this imaginary community and take sides with it; hence the impulse to treat those who do not belong to it as a threat.

These examples show that something needs to be explained: while the damages experienced by people within this nation are certainly noticed, even the economic and political conflicts between the citizens of one’s own nation – this however doesn’t seem to make nationalists question whether their idea of community is true and only makes them even more committed to their imagined community.

Nationalists do not ask: why do I need to make this nation my concern?

What kind of economic and political antagonisms does it involve me in?

What brings me into conflict with other people, my countrymen as well as newcomers? They don’t want the answer to show where they really stand in relation to their unity with the state. Their concern and partisanship for the nation is firm: from this standpoint, they categorize all their nasty experiences as a challenge to their commitment to protect the homeland from strife and discord. While nationalists may celebrate their undiminished unity with the nation on July 4th or during the national anthem at football games, for the most part they are a pretty discontent lot: they suspect disturbances and troublemakers within the unity of the nation that make them even more resolute.


That’s not correct, so we permit ourselves a question that patriots find absurd:


What causes nationalism?

Rule: its interest in the society plus its idealization of the nation

The people: the desire to cope and the national delusion of the dependent

Ordinary and extraordinary nationalism

Nationals and aliens

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