7pm, Conway Hall (Club Room) 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Critique of nationalism is nothing unheard of on the Left and among Marxists and Anarchists. However, for many radical critics of the nation, it is merely a smoke screen that distracts the working class from its own interests. We argue that this theory does not capture the essence of nationalism and fails to explain why it is so appealing to so many people. On the contrary, we will argue that the process of people (as citizens) learning to appreciate the nation-state is based on their private interests (as bourgeois) - and therefore how the material basis of a capitalist society invites people to make the national cause their personal cause. All this does not diminish the fact that nationalism is an ideology of fundamental sacrifice and that the abolishment of capitalism must not be international but anti-national. The reality of the nation calls for its abolishment not its acceptance.
1 There is no biological determination for being homo-, bi- or heterosexual. All scientific attempts to prove the biological origins of homosexuality rely on finding statistical correlations between sexual preferences and physical attributes. Bigger earlobes, properties and condition of testicles, features of the brain, DNA sequences etc. cannot count as causalities, even if there were correlations within the group under investigation. That is because in order to prove a cohesion, one has to find not only a formal coherence of phenomena, but one with regards to contents.
The implications of the budget deficit and the public debt reach far beyond the state's ability to pay for its undertakings such as killing people in Afghanistan and maintaining the miserable existence of workers in the UK. The public debt weakens the national currency. Since many groceries etc. are imported from the eurozone, this drives up prices for many people. Even prices for goods produced in the UK rise; a development well known as inflation.
It just does not stop, they do it every two years. Athletes come together to compare their stamina, strength and skill. At the time of the writing of this article it happens in Vancouver and in two years time London will be the city the whole world will be watching ...on the telly. By and large this seems like a rather harmless event and most people would shake their heads in disbelief when they hear that this was a very political affair. We do it anyway1.
Recently passengers using the German public transport system have been advised about something quite astonishing: Big posters of the Kindernothilfe ('Help for children in need') point out that the reader has got a well hanging on his/her ear and that one rubs school books on one´s skin (Oxfam's appeal to donate two pounds a month to provide clean water for an African village is a British version of the same principle.)! The following attempts to show that this does not only appear to be strange, but that it is quite strange indeed.
In the very first issue of SHIFT magazine the Berlin-based group TOP delivers fragments of their critique (http://shiftmag.co.uk/?p=73) of the anti-G8 mobilisation in order to "make a foreshortened critique of capitalism history'" (TOP). A sympathetic cause indeed to challenge antisemitic currents and nationalist floods (not only) in that movement. Unfortunately TOP fails to deliver a striking critique of those positions. In some cases they provide a wrong explanation and in other cases critique is replaced by moral appeals and warnings. In this reply we aim to provide arguments against these shortcomings hoping to aid TOP's cause which we subscribe to (This article first appeared in SHIFT Magazine #2 (cf. http://www.shiftmag.co.uk).).
2007 saw the worldwide breakdown of the particular market for commercial paper (collateralised debt obligation). Bit by bit it became evident that just about every important financial institution was involved in this market and was heading for trouble. Subsequently, (for the time being) shares of banks came under pressure at the stock exchange. At the beginning of 2008 the breakdown in value spreads to other kinds of shares and affects the whole stock market. Already by the end of 2007/early 2008 some financial institutes start to struggle and states start to support the financial sector with substantial financial aid. However, those aids do not stop the downward trend. In summer/autumn 2008 quite a few renowned banks are about to collapse and the most severe financial crisis for 80 years unfolds. Among nation states controversy emerged about how to support the financial sector and in Iceland and Hungary we saw the first threats of national bankruptcies. A general commercial crisis began to unfold as well. Crisis management dominated the news and we kept hearing that this and that rescue package by one nation state was at the expense of another national economy1, which sparked more material for controversy as well as adjusted rescue programs by the other nations.