This article originally appeared in Dusnieuws number 16, November 1999. The introductory letter by the author, Marco from the EuroDusnie collective in Leiden, was written for the a-infos mailing list.
Web site of EuroDusnie: <>.

This text was originally written in German for the weekly newspaper Jungle World and was published in slightly abridged form and without the footnotes in Issue 51, 24 November 1999 <>.

[Intro letter written for the a-infos mailing list:]

Hi there everyone,

This is an article which has appeared in Dusnieuws, an free monthly newspaper distributed by EuroDusnie, an anarchist collective from Leiden (Holland). I think the article raises  some important questions which have everything to do with the right-left discussion on this list. The writer (me) and quite a few others from the EuroDusnie collective have in contrary to our (city) colleagues form the Fabel - collective (NL) chosen to continue the anti 'free trade' campaign. We think we always have been perfectly able to move within this campaign as anarchists. When you persist in rejecting the (national) state, capitalism and hierarchies there is just no way people will confuse you with fascist and  nationalists. Personally i really think the discussions about this issue are been held in a light that makes everyone who is not anarchist or radical left on forehand  a threat to 'our' struggle. This kind of attitude can and does easily lead to sectarism. In this kind of atmospheer more and more people get excluded form the public discussion (because the are wrongly branded nationalist or even worse) and more and more topics get tabooed. This can of course hardly be our aim in the discussion.

Further more i just briefly want to remark that although my English isn't bad it remains difficult for me to find the right words and to take part in the discussion. English and the English speakers do dominate the right-left discussion internationally and that i do think is a major handicap and keeps certain visions unseen and unspoken.

Marco (form the EuroDusnie collective, Leiden Holland)

Anti-nationalist identity

Nowadays, left wing and anarchist activists have to be extremely careful, because the extreme right has reemerged in the world of direct action. Fascists and nationalists are becoming increasingly visible in political areas which used just to be the preserve of leftwing and anarchist (1) Holland. There are a number of interesting but superficial similarities between the sloganology of the extreme 'left' and the extreme 'right' and in my opinion, these definitely deserve a closer look. What should we make of for example the term 'identity', a typical rightwing buzzword? Is it really a rightwing concept or should the anti-nationalist/fascist also use it?

On 16 October 1999, world anti-McDonalds day, members of the 'all-Dutch' (2) peoples-nationalists group 'Voorpost', a Dutch extremist right organisation, were handing out Dutch apples at various McDonalds outlets. They were demonstrating against mass culture, Americanisation and in favour of their beloved and unique 'all-Dutch' national identity.

Clogg dancing at Calais

On first sight it looks like the boundaries between 'right' and 'left' are fading. What were formally exclusively leftwing and anarchist topics, such as animal rights and imperialism more and more being picked up by nationalist and fascist groups, who on first sight seems to have given in to an ideological renewal. Where nationalist Dutch politician Janmaat and his party, the 'Central Democrats' (CD) are content with crude racism, Voorpost uses a new blurb for the product: nationalism. In the beginning of 1998, Voorpost devoted an entire issue of their magazine 'Revolte' to nationalism. With the help of pseudo-science, the people's nationalists try to gain some intellectual credibility. They employ self-criticism and distance themselves, at least on paper, from racism, fascism, imperialism and even the old colonial times.

Voorpost categorically denies that nationalism has anything what so ever to do with (the origins of) fascism, imperialism and the causes of the two world wars. Anyone who is reasonably politically grounded and left or anarchist orientated will be able to see through Voorpost's 'all-Dutch' nonsense, but to many other people their story will sound reasonable. There are enough frightened (3) people in Holland, who would like to believe Voorpost's prefab fear-analysis, even if it is just so they don't have to think about it themselves.

Moreover, with a few startlingly left wing soundbites and conclusions, Voorpost has managed to build - apparently without difficulty - onto the 'old-Dutch' leftwing rhetoric.

How about the following quotes from 'Revolte':

  1. The unity-world (a world dominated by one culture of mass consumption, ed.) is absolutely undesirable: Firstly it is a form of imperialism. It assumes the superiority of one culture (that of the West) above all others. There is no moral base on which to ground this.
  2. Universal Capitalism on the one hand leads to a spectacular growth in wealth for a small elite, but jeopardises the prosperity of millions in Europe and the US. Bill Gates, the chief of Microsoft, was doubled his already formidable fortune in the space of a year. Yet for us, social gains and wages are increasingly coming under pressure. Large corporations build factories in Third World countries, where workers worked for extremely poor wages under Nineteenth Century circumstances.
It is with such statements that the Voorpost nationalists open the door to various anti-authoritarian campaigns. Still, we shouldn't exaggerate the danger of 'infiltration' of 'our' campaigns. As has already been examined in the fifteenth issue of the magazine Dusnieuws, although it looks like the right wing and the anti-authoritarian movement is finding more and more common ground, the analyses and suggested solutions are fundamentally different. (4) In addition to this, the terms 'extreme right' and 'right wing' suggest a greater unity in the right than is actually the case. Between the 'left wing of the right', the PVDA or Dutch Labour Party and the extreme right wing of the right, the Dutch People's Union (NVU) there is an enormous difference. The PVDA and the VVD, the Dutch liberal party, represent the greatest part of the right and are internationalist. They advocate a multi cultural Holland; the 'free' global market and oppose economic protectionism. They represent the globally accepted political view, of which the darker side causes immense suffering. In this vision, our future lies with the supra nationalist institutions, such as the EU, the UN and the WTO, precisely those institutions which make society increasingly undemocratic.

At the other side of the rightwing political spectrum, exactly the opposite is advocated on many points. The NVU calls for a neo- police state, whilst Voorpost claims to be satisfied with an ethnic 'people's state'. A 'people's state' rules by 'people's capitalism', which is protected by protectionist government policy. According to Voorpost, our future lies with a strong capitalist people's state, which co-operates with other ethnic people's states.

The world as a patchwork quilt of ethnic states is, incidentally, an idea, which is more and more being openly chosen by politicians from the so-called 'moderate' right wing. Just think back to Yugoslavia, where international politics has, from the very beginning, depended on the creation of ethnically pure states.

Although the party politics of extreme right frighten me a lot more than those of for example the VVD representatives, you could ask which of the two is more dangerous.

Clog dancing Voorpost-cheese heads, or the neo liberals. I am convinced that in making dangerous nationalist or fascist ideas acceptable, groups like Voorpost only play a tiny role and that the really dangerous powers of the right wing embedded themselves in the institutionalist power structures long ago. What maybe distinguishes the institutionalist right most from the so called dangerous groups such as Voorpost, is their never ending pragmatism, whilst organisations such as Voorpost are led by blind right wing idealism.

Commercial identity

So, the nationalist right-wingers of Voorpost chose, with increased frequency, to join the 'traditional' campaign topics of anti-authoritarianism. They publicly speak out against the 'free', unlimited global capitalism and in favour of protectionist people's capitalism. They are against biotechnology and mass (people) culture and for biodiversity and national identity.

Rightly, this development makes many an anti-authoritarian activist nervous. The Voorpost activists are aware of this and clearly enjoy it. Voorpost, in contrast to for example Janmaat's CD is not a political party. In due course, it does intend to start a party, but doesn't believe the time is ripe yet for this. Whilst the CD gained votes through blatantly racist and populist hate campaigns, Voorpost has assumed a more cautious approach to activism. With a clear long-term strategy, Voorpost wants first of all to make the Flemish and the Dutch aware of 'their' own nationality. Floating along on the waves of politics, which has generally become more right wing, they are waiting for the correct moment to set up a party and make the electoral kill. Personally, I can't see people en masse calling for an all-Dutch federation from Groningen to Calais just yet.

But this doesn't mean that groups like Voorpost shouldn't be monitored closely, especially as their 'right hugs left' campaign might well mislead people. What's more, it is noticeable that the foreign counterparts of Voorpost are managing to strike a chord with the electorate.  The neo-nationalists are indeed concerned with tendencies such as: the increased cold heartedness, individualisation and social alienation. Voorpost contrasts these tendencies with its own idea and very idyllic sounding all-Dutch people's state. With this utopian state go the traditional 'national value and moral principles', as defined by Voorpost.

Voorpost holds that the capitalist 'conformism' leads peole slipping into an existence without their own identity and to universal barbarism. Then Voorpost contrasts this to a world view where the peoples of the world live separate from each other, for their own good and for world peace. Of course, according to them all of this should be organised by newly created ethnically pure people's states.

Although it is possible that undesirable nationalist and fascist conclusions can be drawn from emphasising the fact that capitalism has a levelling and monopolising character, this should not be a reason for ignoring certain societal tendencies. Capitalism not only homogenises and monopolises but is above all opposed to anything, which even vaguely resembles collectivism (meaning the free association of people). Hi-tech capitalism is quickly tearing down what were, for a very long time, the cornerstones of society. Your family, your neighbourhood, you job, a hundred years ago these were for many people certain factors. Not that everything used to be wonderful, certainly not,  but they did largely form the basis for a person's life and the loss of this has, consciously or unconsciously, not left people's lives untouched.

Today the situation is radically different. People have become more flexible and internationalised and are acquiring a more and more neutral, cosmopolitan identity. The basis of human existence, and with that an important part of the basis for the individual identity, is increasingly often 'hijacked' by big business. Nowadays, people derive their identity to a lesser extent from the traditional 'social and cultural identifications' such as the family, language, and place of birth, work, social environment or the place where you grow up(5). The developing cosmopolitan acquires his or her identity from big business. Identity is determined by chose in clothing and music, and by a commercially promoted life style. The bond between the individual and the traditional 'social and cultural identifications' is smaller and has been substituted by a commercial identity. The relationship between the individual and the social environment therefore falls to a great extent in the hands of th! e communicative and programming capacities of business. And business is not interested in developing a sustainable society, but is lead by the possibilities of maximising the possibilities for short-term profit.

The goal of the strategy employed by capitalists is simple: breaking down societies into unorganised consuming and producing individuals, which are easy to manipulate and program. The modern cosmopolitan is, by the capitalist dictionary, not much more than a business created en commercially manipulated 'consumer without borders'.

Alienation in the New World order

It was Karl Marx who was absolutely on the mark, when he stated that capitalism, purposefully or not, alienates people from their labour, the commodities they produce and the community of which they are part. With each day that passes, it becomes more obvious how painfully right he was.

Alienation is an important cause of the disintegration of societies. When people don't identify themselves with the society of which they are part, they don't feel any responsibility towards it. If, on the other hand, people feel connected to one and other, they also feel responsible for one and other and the society can develop into a strong unity. It seems excessive to add that 'unity' is necessary to be able to end the constant attacks by the state against humanity.

Therefore, it is important that the anti-authoritarian social movement, of which I myself believe to be a part, would be wise not to let 'loss of identity and diversity' become an exclusively nationalist or fascist theme. Ignoring it would mean leaving one of the most important issues, on which the societies of the world are attacked by the capitalist system, in the hand of the 'extreme right' that evidentially doesn't mind formulating a nationalist and authoritarian answer. The challenge for the anti-authoritarian social forces must be to develop a workable anti-nationalist response to the social uniformisation. One that takes issue with the nationalism that places people in an idealised and fabricated historical 'national context' and asigns them with a national identity, which is just as standardised. Such an anti-nationalist identity starts out from the premise that each individual is unique and autonomous and really does justice to the diversity, which characterises life.

Movement against the consensus

The Action Movement is, as the name says, primarily concerned with action. Almost exclusively, it is geared against the power and the practise of its political and economic enemies. Action is necessary, but it only transcends the fight against new attacks against society to a very small extent. Resistance, by contrast, is difficult, as behind the policies of our political and economic opponents lies a broad consensus in society, with regards to the way in which we should be going. The consensus is fabricated (6) and must be shattered if we are ever to be in a position to 'turn the tide'.  Making people question this consensus is not an easy task, and calls for a lot of courage, patience, work and persistence in the elementary areas of people's lives. The broken and alienated society must be repaired, before a solution can come into sight. An anti-authoritarian movement does not allow itself to be scared off by for example institutionalised racism and sexism with which society is invested. Instead it seeks to confront it. The movement does not allow itself to become trapped in a safe and recognisable subculture, but builds, in the midst of the capitalist state structures, anti-capitalist 'counter-structures', which attempt to repair what is being destroyed around our ears at an alarming pace: the society itself.

The message is simple: don't trust the state, whether it calls itself nationalist or multi- cultural, to organise society, because the state's interests are opposed to those of by far the most people. Don't believe the nationalist alternative, which relies on a made-up mythical connection and destiny of ethnically pure peoples. A society should not be built on hierarchical (state) structures or on a fabricated group identity. In a liberated society, every ideological straightjacket has to be opposed.

thanx to anna for translating the article


(1) Call it a personal obsession, but I don't think anarchists nowadays should associate with the term 'left'. 'Left', like, for that matter 'right', is too vague.

(2) Voorpost calls for an all-Dutch federative state. The territory for this new state includes the Netherlands, Flanders and a part of Northern France.

(3) Frightened by a government policy that systematically dehumanises people. Keep reading for further explanation.

(4) In the articles 'Globalisation', 'Freedom and the new right' and 'Who the fuck is Edward Goldsmith'

(5) In general, this trend is more prominent, the richer a country is.

(6) In view of the absolute monopoly on information of the mass media and the government, it is possible to fabricate this consensus. More on this in Chomsky's 'Manufacturing consent'.

We are eager for comments and suggestions!
Back to our Homepage.

Right-Left - critical texts / Pressebüro Savanne /
Last updated 2000-04-13