marxism-digest V1 #5505

Richard Harris rhh1 at lineone.net
Thu Feb 27 13:07:57 MST 2003


On Thu, 27 Feb 2003, Tom O'Lincoln wrote:

>Of course all national identities are constructs, but some constructs are
progressive and some reactionary.

This was siad to be the case in the nineteenth century, but how can it be
now?  There was once a time when it made sense to argue that Russia might
reach communism (not Kruschiev - Marx!), skipping over the devastation of
capitalism.  It also made sense to support societies that were struggling to
avoid the maw of the major states which were run for capital (later called
imperialism.)

How can it make sense now to defend the notion of national identity, a
notion inextricably grafted to that of a sovereign state,
self-determination - a wlole raft of ideas that were sunk, if not in the
trenches of the Somme, then at least by the capture of Saigon?  How can the
working class adopt a 'national identity' that is not also a livery
controlled by a national bourgeoise/party bureaucracy?  Capital now strides
the world like a collosus.  There is virtually nowhere that the reach of
Coka Cola, Nike, RTZ/United Fruits/Exxon etc. does not reach.  The run up to
the coming war in Iraq must press that in the face of each of us.  Far gone
are the days when any community in the world could meaningfully collect
under a flag to resist the incursions of a capitalist nation (except for
small native groups in South America, Africa and elsewhere - who are really
worth fighting for as their lives point to a real alternative to the atomism
and alienation of our civil societies.  They destroy the lie that our world
is as natural as the weather.)  How can we now tell workers to group with
'their' bourgeoise - because they've got one in 2003?

All national identities are constructs.  In each metropolitan city
throughout the world, the whole world is represented in the cities people.
The whole world of the past, that is.  The world of the future is yet to be
made.

Dump this 'progressive and reactionary' nations nonsense.  Wage-workers of
all lands unite!

> I remember learning to avoid the term "Islamic fundamentalist" because in
> fact "fundamentalist" is a Protestant Christian term. The correct word is
> "Islamist". But then I discovered that when you talk to most people from
> Muslim backgrounds, they call it "fundamentalism" too.

Exactly.  We are at a time when the class cards are truly on the table in
the major states.  Could the bankrupt. pathetic Labour Party of the UK be
more exposed as being a capitalist party?  Don't mince words.  I gave out
leaflets on 15th February in London with an Iraqi exile - he had escaped
from the savagery of the Hussein regime.  Do we really want to defend the
state or national bourgeoise anywhere as allies?  That Iraqi worker was my
comrade, fellow worker and fellow human being.  The brutal Iraqi leadership
hardly fall into any of those categories.  What is 'nation' to the modern
western working class except division under the control of small scale
wanna-be bourgeoise or nascent state bureaucracies?

Richard.
Canterbury Kent.
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