By Lawrence Zitha
(Tokologo African Anarchist Collective)
What is nationalism? This is the idea that your nation is more important than your class. You have more in common with other members of the nation, regardless of their class position and therefore must unite as a nation. This nation should represent itself through its own national state. The state is seen as representing the will of the nation. (Nationalism is not the same as nationalization, which is when the state takes over industries).
What are the anarchist criticisms of nationalism?
Different classes in the nation do not have a common interest. National unity across the class divide is only possible if the working class in the nation accepts the role of being exploited by capitalists and the state. The state is part of the system of class rule. Therefore it will not represent the majority of the nation, which is the national working class.
While the national state and national ruling class, can play a role in opposing imperialism, they cannot do so in a way that benefits the national working class.
When the nationalists are in state power and have control, they consistently prove themselves to be enemies of the working class people. An example, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is against British imperialism, that cannot be doubted, but he severely oppresses his own people.
What happens in decolonization led by nationalists is that the foreign ruling class is replaced by a new local ruling class. This new local ruling class oppresses the national working class. The radicals that join the state will be changed. Their ideas and views will be changed. The former liberators of the people will become their oppressors. This is an iron law across the post-colonial world.
Instead of nationalism, anarchists are for working class internationalism? This is the political strategy that is based on an idea that the working class and poor internationally must unite to achieve a common international class interest – and not be divided and confused by nationalism.