Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Looking at various nationalism, themselves bundles of traditions at times deeply at odds, the perceived 'need' is foremost. What i mean is what is the condition, the crisis, the requirement that a modern nationalism must match? The elites and the ideologues of their nationhood propagate that the primacy of national identity, national loyalty and national power will resolve an existential problem. A fatal national 'flaw' if you will.
An example. French nationalism of the left, the Jacobins and the radical republicans conceived of a national faith as countering the power of the Church, their bete noire. The 'irrational' would be defeated by utter faith in France as 'le Grande Nation', the new Rome, the font of all that was rational and wise. In addition, nationalism seemed to square the circle of their Rousseau-ian (Rousseao-ite, Rousseau-o-ist) brand of liberalism. The patriotic were the virtuous, those worthy of liberty.
On the right, nationalism evolved around the old organic ideal of the Good King's patrimony, of a unified and inherently French macro-family. The love of estates, guilds, corporations, beautified hierarchy, ending Balzac's swirling world of money and decadence. Only by replacing a materialist world of cheque books, atheistic social 'lowers' and corruption, would France be saved. By making hierarchy, cohesion and that patrimony the nation's (instead of the property of a King) central, could this decadence be subsumed.
In the Italian case, one of the major and ongoing wounds on the nationalist body politic is the seemly insoluble disconnect from the state and the nation it proclaims to serve. The production of citizens loyalty to the new political entity, created for the first time in 1860, was one of the most urgent tasks the Italian political classes gave themselves. The rise of 'Italianism', the fore father of Fascism was fueled by these aims, whilst berating those in power for failing to do achieve that vital requirement of national 'greatness'. The liberal state seemed incapable of convincing their citizens to believe and behave like they were Italians or that the state was their legitimate focus of loyalty .
Within Italianism, was born the idea that revolutionising the state and its role was the keystone to national regeneration. The state must be holy, a sacred sword of the nation's will and a blessed curate to the 'needy, it and it alone would solve the crisis. The state must become the 'nation state' or both would be destroyed. The result was a mass of plans for various forms of totalising society with the aim of giving Italians a state they could give a legitimacy to.
This primacy of the state is not a common denominator of fascism. Movements like the Legion or the Scythe Cross were almost anarchistic in their hatred for state solutions. ''I've have no need of programs' Codreanu said, nor did he have need of cabinets, ministers, bureaucrats, even the Police (he had murdered a Police Captain before becoming a MP).
The Reich can be classified from an organisational viewpoint as a slowly corroding state, increasingly eaten up by the movement. I am not talking about party membership amongst bureaucrats (which was very high up to middle management by 1933). Rather, functions such as central planning in both war and peace, security and internal repression, resource and ration allocation, even planning permission on homes were stripped from the state to the party. There was no esteem for the state, no holding up the state as god. It was the movement, that was the font of action, the priesthood of the holy volk, that would revolutionise society and solve their 'crisis narrative' to paraphrase Paul Blokker.
In Italy today, there is still that seeming disconnect from citizen and state. Again there i a form of nationalism looking to the state to resolve this and a 'great and terrible' identity crisis. 'Go! Italy!' I personally doubt Berlusconi's fascist pedigree (though undoubtedly he is happy to lay down with them in electoral carnality :) but he plays on a current, one that predates and then saturates fascism. Italians deserve a state that can claim legitimacy to their loyalties, one, just as importantly, that is worthy of that claim. The left shouldn't leave that desire to either 'dreamers of the day' or orange snake oil salesmen.
Please read Sarah's post here http://cafeturco.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/italy-sliding-into-fascism/
ps. Just wanted to say to Sarah - hope you enjoy your break from the iron blog and chain, but (selfishly) please not too long
Stroppy blog covers the ground with panache
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Good article by Brian Whitaker on the conflict between the sacred and the secular in middle eastern constitutions