Most people are nationalists, including you, most likely. We tend to think that we have a pretty good handle on what nationalist politics looks and sounds like. It’s people waving flags and banging on about national destiny, the greatness of the people and the justness of its status as a self-determining, sovereign political entity, the perfidy and inevitable doom of its enemies. This is usually mixed with healthy doses of chauvinistic disdain for other nations and attacks on internal outsiders corrupting the otherwise pure national character. The recent upsurge in nationalist politics has largely fitted this description, although of course all nationalisms are different.
Do we need a left-nationalism?
In a previous piece from March 2019, I largely ignored the role of national ideals in motivating hard-Brexit politicians, whose motives I explained in material terms. The vulgarity of this analysis was pointed out to me, so I shall try to fill in the gap a little bit here. While I am happy to aspire to a world where nationalism is mostly denuded of political significance, I am not sure that a viable strategy here and now can ignore the mobilising power of these kinds of communitarian identifications or, more specifically, of the affective bonds they can involve and succeed only on the basis of, say, class identification.