This piece was first published in blog form by Dissent: A Quarterly of Politics and Culture, 15 April 2014, on the unfolding events in Ukraine. The rise of nationalism, or identity politics is widespread across the world in the face of ongoing integration into globalised capitalism. A perhaps softer yet nevertheless insidious sentiment is prevalent here in Australia, as can be seen with proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow bigots to have their say. Or to the heinous treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres from Villawood to Manus Island and Nauru.
As Adam Blanden states, ”historically, ultra-nationalism has only emerged where existing systems of social security and the organization of work have been radically undermined (as in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia) and where social forces for change (in the form of political parties or unions or wider civil society movements) have splintered. In these circumstances, the highly disciplined and increasingly articulate far right tends to outpace the centrist dinosaurs and eclipse the left. These are the conditions we’re in now. And they’re bringing ultra-nationalism and racism back to the heart of the EU.” As market fundamentalism stretches its tentacles into every pocket of this earth, a steady suckering and furling back into the mouth of this voracious beast through imposed structural adjustments of the IMF, the string-laden loans of the World Bank, the pressures of the World Trade Organisation, through corruption and sweetheart deals, and as this fundamentalism disenfranchises the poor and forces millions into even greater poverty, little wonder such nationalisms are on the rise.