Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Blood over water

Back when the world was young, a favourite maxim of yours truly was class war, not race war - but these days I'm not overly interested in either. Even so, the old 'class or race' chestnut continues to rage between the 'Left' and 'Right', but is it just another red herring?

Of course, some radical nationalists argue for both: The autonomous nationalists, inspired by the Strasserites, advocate national revolution based on the working class. Radical nationalists and tribalists should undoubtedly support the autonomous nationalists for their dynamism and as allies against globalism and for tribal identity against cosmopolitanism. But won't future battles be drawn less along class lines but increasingly along those of tribal identity? Certainly, class is a major factor in society, but the trend in the UK and elsewhere is towards a diminishing political role for the working class.

The Left (and some nationalists) have a tendency to canonise the working class as the chosen people, an indestructible force. But nowadays, at least in the post-industrial west - the working class has become blurred and suffers from identity crises, its self-consciousness vague, transient and abstract. Class solidarity is fleeting, momentarily flaring up now and then like bush fires through history, before soon burning out. If class stands on shifting sands in a state of flux, then race, ethnicity, heritage, culture, tradition and folk myth surely stand on more solid foundations. These are organic features that have been around a lot longer - much better cornerstones to rely on in the face of global capitalism. These concepts stir up genuine loyalties in people, leaving class as an academic afterthought.

The 'working class' in the 'advanced' western democracies look increasingly unlikely to make a comeback - they are, in a general sense, just too well off to care. Bloated by affluenza, all their potential rebelliousness has been neutered by consumerism. Sure, in the UK the imminent public spending cuts will result in mini skirmishes, cries of disdain, marching up and down and increased paper sales! But they'll be no shift in the prevailing political culture - the neo-liberal agenda will continue.

Global capitalism has damaged national identity at the expense of an ever-growing bland cosmopolitanism. But ask a sample of heads where they are within the class system and there will be a lot more chin rubbing than if you asked them to comment on their racial/ethnic/national identity. Feelings of tribal loyalty and patriotism naturally hit a common nerve in people, not because they suffer from a false consciousness, duped and divided by the ruling class into accepting bourgeois attitudes and thereby ensure the smooth running of the bosses set up. These feelings occur naturally in all human beings because we ARE DIFFERENT. We feel closer to those that look and sound and act like ourselves. Most of us prefer to associate with, play and procreate with, our own kind - our own tribes. Tribes tend to self-segregate from those who don't share common traits. This is not 'good' or 'bad' its just how things are.

Capitalism will not leave the stage through the class struggle and the dawn of communism - those of us who are fed up with it stand more of a chance of damaging it by developing the Third Way and a new corporatist and/or distributist order. These models encourage a common national interest (an organic, genuine national interest - not the Daily Mail variety!) in place of the sectional, antagonistic and fractious interests that dominate capitalist economies and societies. A rocky road it will be - history doesn't do smooth transitions! Still, tribalists and radical nationalists can promote Third Way economic models as their success will result in a unified, single, genuine national solidarity - meritocratic and socially just. It will render the class war (and the class system) redundant. Truly national economies will not try to suffocate the competitive urge as Marxism et al does. Rather it will will keep it in check while nurturing national rebirth.

What are the real battle lines today? They are nationalism versus internationalism, cosmopolitanism versus tribalism. The real rebels are those who fight for national identity against the global village. For radical nationalists, socialism means social cohesion, national solidarity. Why this folkish socialism? Because the Left's promotion of international class solidarity is ludicrous! Human beings are not defined by economics alone. For the Left, man is reduced to Homo Economicus - a blank sheet to draw on. But human beings are a lot more complicated. The only factor uniting the world proletariat is their (relative) economic position, but so much more divides them and this need not be a problem. Common ancestry, custom, culture, roots and heritage - these make up the real social glue in human societies and bind them together in tribes. They transcend class boundaries and are cemented in time and place. The human sense of place is as old as the hills (even the Communist regimes understood this) Against the class model it wins every time. It's blood over water.

Because our common tribal origins stretch back into unrecorded time, our history effects us all. A nation has a shared heritage influencing all social strata. History is not partisan - it overlaps and it molds a people organically out of their ancestral lands. The English for example, are just as much products of the crusades, Magna Carta and the break with Rome as they are by 1381, the Levellers, Diggers and Chartists. So yes comrades, in a meaningful sense an English dustman does have more in common with ALL of his ethnic kin, than he does with a road sweeper in Soweto (and vice versa). Of course, in capitalist society there is no national interest - the class system with all its vested interests, dictates otherwise. But a post-capitalist world with just bland cultural sameness? No thanks.

We don't need class warriors - we need pioneers for tribalism and the Third Way, whatever their social background. These pioneers won't try to smash the system head on - they will fail if they do. They will stand a chance of succeeding if they turn their backs on it and create alternatives outside of it.