Flag waving nationalism is growing across the globe along with reactionary market fundamentalism which collaborates with religious politics to access state power. Flag waving nationalism is not a nation building exercise. It neither provokes patriotism nor help to build unity among people. It is a sign of deep anxiety created by capitalism. It is also a response to capitalist crisis. The flag waving nationalism helps in hiding the failures of capitalism and increase the life span and legitimacy of crumbling Westphalian nation state as the organising unit of global capitalism. Flag waving nationalism helps the governments to hide its failures by reinventing themselves as protectors of people. It is a hiding ground and subtle way of asserting the falling legitimacy of populist politicians to convince people about their invincibility. Flag waving nationalisms are becoming official ideologies of the governments around the world. The political capitals of the nation states are the financial capitals of capitalist system. The reactionary religious politics upholds the interests of the capitalism and its institutional and cultural process of the market.
Religion is neither personal nor social. It is a product of ruling classes and used by the ruling classes to domesticate the masses. It is a tool of mass subordination. The religious reactionary political, social and cultural forces use religion to uphold the ruling class ideology of governance. The religious praxis is an escape route under capitalism. It institutionalises spiritualism and domesticates human emotion that is compliant and subservient to the established structures and superstructures of power, represented by the states and governments. Religions help for the growth of sectarianism in the society which destroys the idea of share and care. The collective social spirit and solidarity is replaced by puritan religious practices of individuals in search of happiness in a market society based on price tags.
Market is a product of society. It is a combination of social processes and social institutions. It brings producers and consumers together to satisfy their everyday needs and desires. However, capitalism has destroyed the social and collective character of market and replaced it with market individualism, where actions are determined by the idea of utility, pleasure and satisfaction. This is the only way market can make profit and establish a society based on consumerism that commodifies social relations, human beings and nature. The culture of consumerism destroys cultures of diverse consumption habits of people. In the process, it destroys local production, local business and local consumption to spread global market forces. Market fundamentalism helps large corporations to consolidate their global presence.
In this way, the troika of flag waving nationalists, religious and market forces are helping capitalist systems but damaging social cohesion by spreading alienation, anxiety and fear. These troika help each other to establish their hegemony over people and planet. Fighting these troika is central to the revival of the left politics. The successful of the struggle depends on reframing the left narratives by engaging with people and outlining the relevance or irrelevance of these three concepts in the everyday lives of people. It is time for the left politics to reframe its narratives and reclaim the lost glories of democratic and pluriversal internationalism, scientific secularism and social foundations of a market that is free and fair in real sense. It is time to replace religion with science and nation states with cooperative communities to establish collective control over markets and ensure social ownership over resources.
The cultural relativism and its ruinous political path had led the left forces to conceptualise national socialism, state command market economy and government led secularism, where capitalism and all its ideological tenets survived and managed to kill the democratic, socialist and secular practices across the globe. National socialism is a myth. State command market economy has helped to develop market fundamentalism. The cultural relativism and its essentialist arguments of exceptionalism have helped the religious reactionary forces to capture state power. It is within this context, the left forces need to reframe their narratives on nationalism, religion and market. These three things are weapons of ruling and non-ruling elites today.
Considering the capitalist crisis and everyday realities, most people across the globe are looking for alternatives to improve their everyday lives and advance conditions of their families. There is a greater realisation that capitalism is not an alternative. It can never offer peace and prosperity. Human emancipation is an anathema to capitalism. Therefore, the struggle for human emancipation from all forms of bondages and survival of the planet and peace depends on left’s ability to reframe the narratives for a mass struggle to establish international socialism and global citizenship rights based on solidarity of entire human race.
There is no time for pessimism. It is not the time for ideological bargain. It is time for a worldwide struggle for peace and prosperity for a sustainable world for all. It is possible and inevitable for the survival of people and planet.
Bhabani Shankar Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK