Opinion: Nationalism of the Left & Right

As I stated in an earlier post about how socialism and the national question are compatible with each other a lot of socialists and Marxists struggle to see this. Marx seen nationalism as a capitalist creation used to divide workers so they’d have a common aim. In a sense this is true as we can see that British imperialism used divide and conquer tactics all over the world e.g. partition of this island created a sense of British nationalism within Ulster Protestants.

Another good example is how this state will try to use the green banner to control the people into what they see best for them this was even used by the IPP (Irish Parliamentary Party) before the creation of the free state. But at the same time Marx was wrong because we can see that left wing nationalism exists. We can see African nationalist movements suggest that socialism existed in their society before the concept of feudalism or capitalism existed or some Irish historians would suggest that Celtic Ireland was progressive it’s also seen the Irish nation existed over 1000 years meaning the Irish nation is older than the modern concept of capitalism but I’m not criticising Marx on his theory because he eventually did support progressive nationalism. But we do need to make clearer that nationalism itself is not a capitalist concept but rather it’s used by the elite class to try and show that we are the same despite class. The concept of nationalism that Marx identifies is bourgeois nationalism. It is used by the elite to show the ordinary person that they are the same blood or are from the same land etc. I would strongly argue that although it is known as nationalism it is not true to that idea and makes the people delusional.

The other concept is left wing nationalism, this is where we see the concept where someone has a love for their country and culture etc but by also respecting others and promoting social equality including brands of socialism. Bourgeois nationalism creates the idea of fascism which is reactionary this is where we see the thought of how people begin to think that their race or nationality is superior to others. The elite can accept fascism as it poses no threat to their wealth this is dangerous and this is why Marxists generally tend to oppose nationalism. Again it goes back to it does not necessarily represent all nationalist thought.

It also seems to be clear that extreme far right nationalism is strongest in the oppressor nations e.g. England, Germany, Israel and the USA and then those who oppose it usually don’t feel a connection with their country as it as created such destruction. In Ireland the so called nationalists or those of bourgeois nationalism have abandoned the national question as greed was more important to them over what they considered their beloved country. It was clear that the wealthy were willing to accept a compromise freedom over complete separation from Britain. This was only due to the fact the Irish people wanted freedom if this wasn’t the case they would not have even looked near Home Rule. So when the free state was created those who profited stood behind the banner of nationalism and made the people feel they have achieved their freedom. But in Ireland we don’t use the term bourgeois nationalism or left wing nationalism. We refer to the bourgeois nationalism as just nationalism or in more modern times free staters. The left wing nationalism in Ireland is obviously identified as Irish Republicanism. It was clear since the foundation of the 26 county state that the nationalists as they are known only cared about their watered down freedom. Why is this you ask it’s clearly for capitalism and the want of greed they then use this as their tool to maintain the status quo. Not once have they cared about the Irish Nation as a whole. The only people that have showed interest in the country and her people is Irish Republicans and as stated they have maintained a left wing rhetoric. 

As Irish Republicans we feel we should show solidarity to other oppressed people and other minority’s. We refuse to accept that we are a superior race like how the fascists want it. In saying that we need to educate our people to avoid chauvinism. Even those like Lenin who opposed nationalism felt people should show pride to the motherland. So in my personal opinion I believe the only genuine nationalism is left wing nationalism and that all oppressed nations if they really love their country needs to promote left wing ideals. Various examples of left wing nationalist movement or countries include ANC, Cuba, ETA, FARC, Venezuela, Catalan nationalism and of course Irish Republicanism. We need to break England's imperialist connection to free our ancient land, promote our culture from a non chauvinist stance and create a socialist Republic based on the principles of the 1916 proclamation and the democratic program of the first Dáil.

By Adrain Gallagher 

Ógra Shinn Féin