28 Jun
2016

Patriotism, Nationalism and Fascism

During the recent referendum campaign much of what passed for debate on Facebook seemed to consist of greenies saying that anyone who voted leave was automatically supporting the official leave campaign. Of course this is obvious nonsense, and amounted to little more than an attempt by people without a clue what they were talking about to browbeat those who didn’t agree with them. Classic ad hominem stuff.

At its worst this degenerated into accusations of racism, nationalism and fascism (although I never saw the H word being used) as if there were no other possible reasons for wanting to get out of a deeply centralised , inherently captialistic, neoliberal owned, growth project.

Commenting from across the Atlantic, Dimitry Orlov today drew a useful distinction between patriotism, nationalism and fascism. Its about 2/3rds of the way down his post so it is worth quoting here:

  • Patriotism is one’s love of one’s native land and people. It is a natural, organic result of growing up in a certain place among a certain people, who have also grown up there, and who pass along a cultural and linguistic legacy that they all love and cherish. This does not imply that those not of one’s family, neighborhood or region are in any way inferior, but they are not one’s own, and one loves them less.
  • Nationalism is a synthetic product generated using public education and is centered around certain hollow symbols: a flag, an anthem, some yellowed pieces of paper, a few creation myths and so on. It is supported by certain rituals (parades, speeches, handing out of medals) that comprise a civic cult. The purpose of nationalism is to support the nation-state. Where nationalism serves the needs of one’s native land and people, nationalism and patriotism become aligned; when it destroys them, nationalism becomes the enemy and patriots form partisan movements, rise up and destroy the nation-state.
  • Fascism is the perfect melding of the nation-state and corporations, in the course of which the distinction between public and private interests becomes erased and corporations come to dictate public policy. An almost perfect expression of fascism is the recent transatlantic and transpacific trade agreements negotiated in secret by the Obama administration, which at the moment, to everyone’s great relief, seem to be dead in the water.

Actually he is technically wrong about Fascism which was only ever defined by Mussolini who said the three principles were “Everything in the state. Nothing outside the state. Nothing against the state” but modern usage seems to align more with Dimitri’s definition.

Certainly TTIP could be seen as a tool of supra-national fascism though where the state has become identified not with the nation but with global capital. In these terms  the EU itself can be seen as a fascist organisation promoting the interests of a pan-European super-state. Every closer union and all that…

In this sense not at all surprising that many people voted for patriotism rather than European nationalism.

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