PM5610: Against Nationalism

Nationalism is a fraud. It claims that each “nation” should have its own state, but what is a “nation”? Well, an ethnic group. But in doing so it must ignore its own internal ethnic diversity; if we take its logic to the conclusion, the nations are all broken up into ever smaller nations. Unless, we accept the viewpoint that statehood and ethnicity need not coincide. Nationalism ends up meaning that some ethnic groups are entitled to their own nations, and others aren't; as such, it is inherently a form of ethnic discrimination.

Europe may be evolving in this direction — on the one hand, independence movements will shatter the artificial constructions of nationalist states (e.g. Spain, Italy, Belgium, the United Kingdom), based as they were on false consciousness of a uniform national ethnicity which never actually existed. At the same time, a new level of statehood is evolving over the top (the European Union), one which is decidely non-ethnic and non-national in character. I think the future of Europe is many small regional states, organized into one overarching European Union. A return to the past, in a way, before the murderous cancer of nationalism (and its offspring such as Nazism and the Holocaust) spread across Europe... going back to the Holy Roman Empire (many small states, combined into one overarching entity)

Types of nationalism:

  • civic nationalism: the most benign form, this is a nationalism based on membership in a political body, on citizenship and a particular territory, but without any great concern with its linguistic, ethnic or religious makeup. A good example is the movement for Scottish independence. This form of nationalism rarely leads to linguistic, ethnic or religious discrimination.
  • linguistic nationalism: nationalism based on a particular language. Does not care what ethnicity people are, or what religion they are, so long as they adopt its language. This form of nationalism inevitably involves linguistic discrimination, but need not necessarily involve ethnic or religious discrimination.
  • ethnic nationalism: nationalism based on membership in a particular ethnic group. Inevitably leads to ethnic discrimination.
  • religious nationalism: nationalism based on membership in a particular religion. Inevitably leads to religious discrimination.
  • ethno-religious nationalism: nationalism based on concurrent membership in an ethnic group and a religion. Zionism falls into this category. Zionism is ethno-religious, not purely ethnic, because Israel gives preference in immigration and citizenship to ethnic Jews, but not to ethnic Jews who have converted to another religion such as Christianity (see Oswald Rufeisen case). (Atheism or irreligion are fine, but converting to another religion is not.)