[Greeeman 2017 start - Nationalism And Capital] The paradox of the late capitalist era was that the globalization of capital coexisted with, indeed exacerbated, nationalism. One might even argue that the fragmentation of the world into ethnicly based, militarized, nation-states was the ultimate political form of the rule of international capital. Features like militarism, state-sponsored terrorism, race- and religious-based repression and violence seemed to be necessary conditions to make areas of the world safe for investment. The liberalism of global “free markets” no longer implied traditional liberal values like the rule of law, freedom of the press, the right to assemble or (Heaven forbid!) to strike, and there was much less loose talk about “democracy” except for a privileged handful of long-established rich republics.
Thus the highest conceivable stage of capitalism, globalization based on cyberchip technology, entailed the revival of the worst features of pre-capitalist society in every variety of local particularism, warlordism and religious fundamentalism. The global village had been realized as a refugee camp.
The capitalist nation-state, a recent development in history, had become a fetish. It was no longer possible to conceive of a human individual or person in any other form than as a member (actual or aspiring) of a nation-state. Every last human on earth had to be herded by force under the “protection” of an armed government and derive his or her identity from it. Ethnic cleansing (division of peoples into states organized on racist rather than democratic or territorial bases) was the rule, not the exception at the end beginning of the 21st century.
Yet historically humans often normally grew up speaking three or more languages and had parents of mixed ethnicities (like many unfortunate Bosnians and Lebanese in the late 20th century) or belonged to migratory groups attached to no particular territory. And just as capitalism turned every useful product of human labor into a acommodity to be bought and sold (making people ‘forget’ centuries of pre-capitalist economic relations), so the fetishism of the nation-form made people forget millenia during which humans did without the state and the 5,000 years of recorded history in which most civilized people lived in multi-ethnic empires, where the imperial court may have spoken one language, the clergy another, the tax-collector a third, and the peasants or artisans a variety of dialects.
The international institutions of capitalism only aggravated the militarization of the globe. The United Nations sanctified this system of armed domination. The UN provided a cover for US imperialism's interventions from Korea (1951) to the Gulf (199?). It intervened to certify a status quo imposed by war or to lure the victims of genocide into disarming, as in Bosnia. It did nothing to stop the capitalists from arming dictators and belligerant governments with the most destructive and indiscriminate anti-people weapons like mines. It was even less effective than the old League of Nations, which had at least attempted to limit the arms race between wars. It epitomised the capitalists' concept of “peace” as a land partitioned by barbed wire strewn with abandoned mine-fields and mass graves.
What kept people from uniting across national, religious and sectarian lines to defend their very lives?
To begin with, capitalist politicians and media deliberately exacerbated the natural and historical differences of national traditions, customs, ideologies and religions among us working people to divide and divert them. They armed them with hate and weapons of destruction and incited them to kill one another in order to prevent them from uniting against our common enemy: the capitalists. After murdering millions during the two world wars of the first half of the 20th Century, capitalism spread its unending “local” wars and civil wars around the entire globe during the second half.
While workers remained divided, the capitalists organized and provoked endless and senseless wars on every continent to ensure their domination and profit. They promoted and finance tyranical governments in every land who ruled by terror and torture in order to prevent us from organizing democratically or uniting in trade unions to better their lot. They sell weapons to both sides in every conflict at huge profits, so that whichever side “wins” will be enslaved to the international banks and arms manufacturers by huge debts.
The working (and unemployed) women and men of the world were artificially divided by nationality, ethnicity, tradition, color, culture, religion and what they called race.
Yet they were united as workers under the same conditions of labor throughout the planet. International unity was their only means of survival as a species, as a race – the human race.
Globalization / Nationalisms
By the year 2000, the terms “developed” and “underdevoloped”, “advanced” and “backward” lands had less and less meaning after a decades in which the major global corporations had been systematically shutting down their industrial plant in the U.S. and Europe (de-industrializing). The United States was producing little or no steel, TV's or appliances, and most “American cars” were assembled from Asian and Mexican parts. On the other hand, the most modern, technologically advanced productive plants were being built in the poor lands of the former “Third” and “Second” worlds to profit from unemployment so high and standards of living so low that workers have few rights and are forced compete to work 80-hour weeks for pennies. After the “Asian Tigers” China became the engine of world capitalist growth. What were known as ‘Third World’ working conditions became First world working conditions as capitalist globalization continued and workers failed to unite internationally. The American or French worker who bought a Walt Disney or Toys-R-Us stuffed toy for her three-year-old child, may or may not have been aware that that the product was probably made by a seventeen-year-old Chinese worker earning 8 cents (US$0.08) an hour under a totalitarian regime supported by the U.S. and French governments. Or that unless workers organized internationally, that three-year-old French or American would be working under identical “Chinese” conditions in France or the U.S. by the time she was seventeen – IF she could find a job. [Greeman end]