Our position on nations and nationalism

Nationalism is an ideology that creates the illusion of a “natural community” that does not exist. Those who identify with the nation ignore the existing conflicts of interests. Nationalism covers up class differences. It is the glue that holds people together and makes the exploited sacrifice for the ruling class. They are supposed to forego wages for the sake of the common good, they are supposed to save energy while others fly around in private jets, and they are supposed to serve and uphold the nation.

But nationalism only emerged with capitalism and the modern state, which replaced the reign of thrones and crowns. Essential instruments and media of the nation are a supposedly uniform culture and history as well as a uniform language enforced through administration, army and school, radio and television. It is thus historical and political processes that create the conditions of nationalism.

The supposed unity of the nation was and is always the product of border demarcation and exclusion, including expulsion and murder. The nation is therefore on the one hand an ideological construct, a myth, and on the other hand, a material reality: it entails exclusion and inclusion through borders and citizenship, as well as laws that decide on material existence, which are different for nationals and foreigners.

Although in different forms, nationalism as a whole is taken for granted by the majority of the population, including the left. While the right and conservatives adhere to an ethnic nationalism based on racist ideas, Social Democrats and the Green Party in Germany promote a refined patriotism. They are united in a location-based nationalism intended to reinforce Germany’s status as the leading export nation at the expense of others.

The anti-colonial movements rightly fought against brutal European colonial rule, and their victories marked historical progress. However, the result was not liberation but nation states that remained in neo-colonial dependency due to the weakness of their national capital. In many cases, the leaders of supposed liberation movements mutated into a new ruling caste of exploiters, as most recently shown by developments in Nicaragua or South Africa.

The contradiction remains that fights against national or colonial oppression are to be supported, yet national liberation is impossible because nation and nationalism always lead to domination and exclusion. LEA therefore rejects separatist movements because the result would only be more bourgeois-capitalist national states. We believe that an emancipatory left must think and act transnationally and cosmopolitically. We aim to overcome capital, state and nation and thus all borders. We want a human coexistence, which Marx described as an “association of free people”.

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