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)
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.
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':
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.
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 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.
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
(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'.