National borders must survive so that political hirelings can divert taxes to "corporate welfare"; & so that huge profits can be made on arbitrage & currency exchange; & so that labor can be disciplined by "migratory" capital. Otherwise the State retains no real function
-- everything else is empty ceremony, & the sheer terrorism of the "war on crime" (i.e. the State's post-Spectacular war on its own poor and different).
Thatcher & Reagan foretold with true prescience what government should & would do once it had fulfilled its last historical goal
-- the overthrow of the Evil Empire.
Government would voluntarily dismantle itself (at the "people's" bidding of course) & gracefully submit to the real Hegelian absolute:
Of course to speak of the "end of History" when there has been no ending (for example) of writing
-- nor for that matter of material production
-- is merely a form of insanity
-- perhaps even a terminal form! Like religion, the State has simply failed to "go away"
-- in fact, in a bizarre extension of the thesis of "Society against the State",
we can even re-imagine the State as in institutional type of "custom & right" which Society can wield (paradoxically) against an even more "final" shape of power
-- that of "pure Capitalism".
This is an uncomfortable thought for a good anarchist; we've always tended to view the State as the enemy, & capitalism as one of its aspects or "accidents".
The ideal opposite of the anarch is the monarch.
[In fact there were some amusing & futile attempts in fin-de-siècle France to forge links between anarchism & monarchism against the common enemy, the fading illusion of "democracy"
-- & the emerging reality of Capitalism.]
In this sense we may have been out-thought by syndicalism & by "council-communism", which at least developed more mature economic critiques of power.
Like the left in general however anarchism collapsed in 1989 (a growing North-american movement for example suddenly imploded) in all likelihood because at that moment our enemy the State also secretly collapsed.
In order to move into the gap left by the defeat of Communism we needed a critique of Capitalism as the single power in a unified world.
Our careful & sophisticated critique of a world divided into two forms of State/economic power was rendered suddenly irrelevant.
In an attempt to rectify this lack, I believe we need a new theory of "nationalism" as well as a new theory of Capitalism (and indeed a new theory of religion as well).
So far the only interesting model for this is the EZLN in Mexico
-- (it's gratifying to see Zapatista slogans scrawled all over Dublin!)
-- & it would be worth analyzing their theory-&-praxis for inspiration.
The EZLN is the first revolutionary force to define itself in opposition to "global neo-liberalism"; it has done so without aid or influence from the "Internationale" because it appeared in the very same moment that "Moscow" disappeared.
It has received the support of the remnants of Liberation Theology as well as the secret councils of Mayan shamans & traditional elders.
In the Native-american sense of the word it is a "nationalist" movement, & yet it derives its political inspiration from Zapata, Villa, & Flores Magon
(i.e., two agrarian anarcho-syndicalists & one anarcho-communist). It is concerned with "empirical freedoms" rather than purist ideology.
[As Qaddafi says, "In need, freedom remains latent".]
No wonder the NYTimes called Chiapas the first "post-modern" revolution; in fact, it is the first revolution of the 21st century.
James Connolly, one of the founders of the IWW, developed in Ireland a theory that socialism & nationalism were parts of one & the same cause
-- & for this theory he suffered martyrdom in 1916. From one point of view Connolly's theory might lead toward "National Socialism" on the Right
-- but from another point of view it leads to "third wold nationalism" on the Left. Now that both these movements are dead it is possible to see more clearly how Connolly's theory also fits with anarchist & syndicalist ideas of his own period, such as the left volkism of Gustav Landauer or the "General Strike" of Sorel.
These ideas in turn can be traced back to Proudhon's writings on mutualism & "anarcho-federalism".
[The quarrel between Marx & Proudhon was for more unfortunate for history than Marx's much noisier & more famous quarrel with Bakunin.]
Inasmuch as we might propose a "neo-proudhonian" interpretation of the Zapatista uprising, therefore, Connolly's ideas may take on a new relevance for us [and thus perhaps it's not surprising if the EZLN sparks a response from the Irish left!].
Nationalism today is headed for a collision with Capitalism, for the simple reason that the nation per se has been redefined by Capital as a zone of depletion. In other words, the nation can either capitulate to Capitalism or else resist it
no third way, no "neutrality" remains possible. The question facing the nation as zone of resistance is whether to launch its revolt from the Right
(as "hegemonic particularity") or from the left
(as "non-hegemonic particularity").
Not all nations are zones of resistance, & not all zones of resistance are nations. But wherever the two coincide to some extent the choice becomes not only an ethical but also a political process.
During the American Civil War the anarchist Lysander Spooner refused to support either side
-- the South because it was guilty of chattel-slavery, the North because it was guilty of wage-slavery
-- & moreover because it denied the right to secede, and obvious sine qua non of any genuinely free federation. In this sense of the term, nationalism must always be opposed because it is hegemonic
-- & secession must always be supported inasmuch as it is anti-hegemonic.
That is, it can only be supported to the extent that it does not seek power at the expense of others' misery.
No State can ever achieve this ideal
-- but some "national struggles" can be considered objectively revolutionary provided they meet basic minimal requirements
-- i.e. that they be both non-hegemonic & anti-Capitalist.
In the "New World" such movements might perhaps include the Hawaiian secession movement, Puerto Rican independence, maximum autonomy for Native-american "nations", the EZLN, & at least in theory the bioregionalist movement in the US
-- and it would probably exclude (with some regrets) such movements as Quebec nationalism, & the militia movement in the US. In Eastern Europe we might see potential in such states as Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, the Ukraine
-- but not in Serbia nor in Russia. In the "Mid-East" one cannot help supporting Chechnya & the Kurds. In Western Europe the EU must be opposed, & the smaller nations most likely to be crushed by the weight of Eurotrash & Eurodollars should be encouraged to stay out of the Union or to oppose it from within.
This includes the Atlantic littoral from Morocco (where Berber resistance & Saharan independence have our sympathy) to Ireland, Denmark, perhaps, Scandinavia, the Baltics, & Finland. Celtic secessionism should be encouraged in Scotland, Wales, Brittany, & Man; this would add a strong socialist & green tint to any possible coalition of small Atlantic States.
In Northern Ireland the best possible solution to the "Troubles" might be an independent Ulster based on socialist anti-sectarian solidarity
-- a dream perhaps but far more interesting than "Peace" at any price
-- & a free revolutionary Ulster would no doubt release an unbelievable burst of energy into the anti-Capitalist movement
-- despite its size Ulster would emerge as a leader of any such movement
-- it would possess tremendous moral prestige.
Since we're indulging in dreams let's imagine that an anti-Communist/anti-Capitalist movementemerges in E. Europe, & allies itself with new movements within Islam, no longer "fundamentalist" & hegemonistic but definitely anti-Capitalist & opposed to "One World" culture.
In turn an alliance is made with the anti-capitalist anti-"Europe" states of the Atlantic littoral
-- & simultaneously within all these countries revolutionary forces are at work for social & economic justice, environmental activism, anti-hegemonic solidarity, & "revolutionary difference".
NGOs & religious groups lend their logistical support to the struggle.
Meanwhile we can imagine Capitalism in crisis for any of a myriad reasons, from bank-collapse to environmental catastrophe.
Suddenly the radical populist critique of "neo-liberalism" begins to cohere for millions of workers, farmers, tribal peoples, x-class drop-outs & artists, heretics, & even "petit-bourgeois" shopkeepers & professionals...
..."After the Revolution" of course all nationalist forms would have to be carefully reconsidered.
The goal of "neo-Proudhonian federalism" would be the recognition of freedom at every point of organization in the rhizome, no matter how small
-- even to a single individual, or any tiny group of "secessionists".
No doubt these freedoms would have to be ensured through constant struggle against the "natural" tendencies to greed & power-hunger inherent within every individual & every collectivity.
But that's a matter for the future.
In the present we are faced with the monumental task of constructing an anti-Capitalist resistance movement out of the shattered remnants of radicalism, some glue, some tissue paper, & some hot rhetoric.
We can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring politics.
This does not mean I'm about to ruin a perfect anarchist record & vote for the first time
-- since in my country voting means nothing & gains one nothing, not even $5 or a free drink
(as in the old days of Tammany Hall).
I mean politics in the Clauswitzian sense.
And war makes for strange bedfellows
-- even for unexpected comrades & allies.
I'd like to believe that revolution could be a non-violent "war for peace"
-- but like a good scout, one should be prepared.