13 March 2006
Socialism and nationalism.
I would like to begin by thanking Neil Clark for his kind words. I really do not know what to say in reply, so a simple thank you will have to suffice.
Neil makes two points in the remainder of his post. The first is that imperialism will continue its onward march and the second that all "patriotic forces of both left and right" must come together to stop this happening. I am not convinced that the first point refers to an immediate danger, but the second one strikes me as basic common sense: we need unity.
I must be candid and say that it strikes me as incredible that the USA and its vassals can mount another attack on another country so soon after the disaster that has been Iraq. On the other hand who would have thought in May 1941 that Germany was going to attack the USSR the following month? You cannot predict what an unstable power will do - you can just hope for the best.
That said, even if the danger is in the long-term, sooner or later the beast will attack someone else, so Neil's second point is one that should be taken on board by all anti-imperialists.
Up to now we have allowed our class enemy to monopolise patriotism. It is time that this stopped. By demanding that Britain leave the European Union, almost be definition, it is the socialists who are the patriots. Our enemy wants the UK to continue to be governed by Brussels, so it is they who are anti-British: we are the nationalists. It does not matter one hoot that our motives for leaving the EU are basically economic: what matters is that we can argue our corner from a position of patriotism. Follow our lead and Britain will govern herself.
The same is true of NATO: our basic objection to the organisation is that it is about extending imperialism abroad and class enemy control at home. However, if Britain left the organisation, then our armed forces would no longer be under the control of a foreign power. By default our position becomes the nationalist position.
In Latin-America this fusion of nationalism and socialism has had a lot of success: it is what lies behind the triumphs in Bolivia and Venezuela. I might add that it is also what keeps Cuba afloat.
An counter-argument might be that British nationaliosm is, ipso facto, an imperial nationalism, and that this is not the case in these countries. Put another way, Venezuelan nationalism can be said to exist in opposition to colonialism, anyway, whereas the British version doesn't.
However, that argument ignores the fact that nationalism involves an invented tradition, so all we do is create our own version, and we don't need to go back very far to do it. We can start with Britain as a vassal of the USA and a province of the EU. It would involve a people yearning to breath the free air of national independence once more. Under this, we are the insurgents, the nationalists, and our party is the party of Britain. By definition, all parties and classes that oppose this are unpatriotic at best and downright treasonous at worst. Funnily enough, this argument has the advantage of being true.
Over the past few days I have been writing about a putative new socialist party for Britain. It looks like this could be its main plank.