Nationalism: Poison for the Working Class

msbrown at msbrown at
Wed Apr 10 18:24:06 BST 2002

Meanwhile back on Planet Earth.....

The expressions "ivory tower mentality" & "pissing-in-the-wind" come to mind! 

Try telling a Palestinian that they don't have a right to their own national 
status & the right to protect their borders from violent incursion by Sharon's 
and his fascist compatriots!

OK, I don't totally dismiss you. Anarchist cooperative self determination. OK, 
but it can only ever be achieved if devolved but still subject to some kind of 
state assembley-central governance - across the world on a national-by-national 


Quoting Jan Pole <anticapitalist2 at>:

> Across the world nationalism has been rearing its ugly head again,
> most
> notably in the cockpit of violence that is the Middle East. As we
> write
> Palestinian and Israeli workers continue to butcher one another in a
> senseless round of tit-for-tat atrocities. 
> As the shooting of Palestinian children and the suicide bombings aimed
> at Israeli workers in Jerusalem continue, socialists have no
> hesitation
> in stating that this violence is in no way, shape or form in the
> interest of the working class of wage and salary earners. 
> Many on the political left will argue that Palestinian nationalism is
> somehow progressive and different to Israeli nationalism and should
> therefore be supported (in a similar way to why they often think Welsh
> and Scottish nationalism should be encouraged in Britain and Irish
> Nationalism in Ulster). 
> As socialists, we say that this is a dangerous poison that is being
> spread by the left and that no side engaged in such conflict can
> either
> speak for the working class as a whole or be an example to it. 
> History is replete with minorities in existing states using terrorist
> methods so that a new state may be formed or territory transferred
> from
> the “ownership” of one state to another. The working class of wage and
> salary earners is never in a position to benefit from this process, it
> is only in a position to suffer. 
> The working class – by definition the class that does not possess any
> significant titles to land or private property, including capital –
> has
> quite literally nothing to gain from a situation where one group of
> rulers and owners is replaced by another group.
> In the nineteenth century when the modern capitalist system was
> expanding across the globe “national liberation” struggles, typically
> led by a local growing capitalist class against the old autocratic
> empires, were part of the process which swept away the old political
> arrangements and opened the way forward for liberal democracy and the
> development of capitalist methods of production. 
> It was often argued that it was in the interests of the working class
> during this time to take the side of the capitalists against the old
> autocracies like the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, etc. It
> was
> said that this process would open the way up for working class
> organisation and for the development of an advanced industrial system
> which is a prerequisite for a socialist society of abundance and free
> access to available wealth.
> Since then, the capitalist system has become a world system. The
> alleged justification for the working class taking sides in 'national
> liberation' struggles has now gone if ever it existed and today all
> such struggles are just deadly battles between sections of the
> capitalist class, even though it is the workers – imbued with
> nationalist poison – that naturally enough end up doing the fighting
> and dying.
> We argue that every nation state is by its very nature anti-working
> class. The “nation” is a myth as there can be no community of
> interests
> between two classes in antagonism with one another, the non-owners in
> society and the owners (the workers and the capitalists). 
> And the state ultimately exists only to defend the property interests
> of the owning class at any given point in history – which is why
> modern
> states across the world send the police and army in to break strikes
> and otherwise seek to protect the interests of the capitalists and
> “business” at every turn.
> The goal of the socialist movement is not to assist in the creation of
> even more states but to establish a real world community without
> frontiers where all states as they currently exist will be destroyed. 
> In a socialist society communities, towns and cities will have the
> opportunity to thrive – and people will no doubt feel an attachment to
> places that are real and tangible – but the 'imagined communities'
> that
> are nation states will be consigned to the history books where they
> belong.
> Our message to the workers who call themselves Israeli and the workers
> who call themselves Palestinian is to cease the slaughter. As workers
> you have no real community of interests to gain from your present
> struggle. You do, however, have an “imagined community” you should
> lose
> and an entire world to win instead.
> Jan Pole
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