“Nationalism” and Anarchism
Whatever one thinks of “nationalism” on an abstract level, the idea of local sovereignty, voluntary associations, intentional communities, eco-villages, startup societies, free cities, and micronations is a preferable alternative to both conventional statism (whether capitalist, communist, or fascist) and the impossible concept of “world domination anarchism.” Take that, O’ Goofy One.
By CW Ensor
Long read, but some thoughts on a syncretic view of Nationalism and Anarchism:
Can nationalism and anarchism be compatible? This is a question I have long pondered being that I have been involved in both of these ideologies. Many anarchists would say no, as many nationalists would say no. But, I would say: it depends. It depends on how you define those terms.
If we look at the etymology of the word anarchy, “The word anarchy comes from the Medieval Latin word anarchia and then from the Greek word anarchos (“having no ruler”), with an-+ archos (“ruler”) literally meaning “without ruler” we can see that contrary to the mainstream conservative belief that anarchy means chaos and Antifa rioting in the streets, it simply implies a society based on voluntary associations. Many anarchists will also imply that anarchism means a society devoid of any form of hierarchy. This also would be simply untrue and virtually impossible as hierarchy exists in the natural world and is evident through structures such as family and tribe. These forms of natural hierarchy however do not have to represent oppression, coercion and tyranny. A cohesive group structure can make voluntary community decisions together with some taking on the role of natural leaders. Total horizontal social hierarchy would inevitably reduce the whole to the lowest common denominator.
Now what is nationalism? Many anarchists would immediately associate the word with flag waving, blind patriotism, police state, colonialism and imperialism. This again is simply untrue. The modern nation state and its exploits is a relatively new phenomenon. In the medieval and ancient world, the nation and the state were not always inextricably linked. A nation could be defined as
a body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory. Native American tribes often identified themselves as nations. The Germanic tribes of the bronze and iron ages lived in a very decentralized way, with many tribes scattered over Germania controlling their own affairs with unique characteristics to each tribe. Nationalism in its essence is simply a cohesive group of people preserving their culture, identity, religion or ideological standpoints. This is often times related to a specific land or territory in which these people lived and developed over thousands of years, but in my opinion could also denote a group of people with any common bond – sexual orientation, philosophy. In short the right of peoples to self determination and autonomy.
With these definitions, there’s absolutely no reason specific groups of people could not live in an anarchistic way, sovereign, controlling their own affairs, retaining the things about their culture that make them who they are, through voluntary institutions and mutual aid not tied to large governments, international organizations or capitalism.
The concept of merging anarchism with nationalism is not new by any means. Proudhon himself talked about his love for the French culture, and Bakunin said about homeland, a “manner of living and feeling” which is “always an incontestable result of a long historic development”. Love of homeland among the “common people…is a natural, real love” while “political patriotism, or love of the State, is not [its] faithful expression” but one “distorted by means of false abstraction, always for the benefit of an exploiting minority”. Kropotkin talked much about the medieval free cities based upon guilds that were largely autonomous where kings could exert minimal rule. Ernst Jünger with his concept of the Anarch and other conservative revolutionaries rejected their modern form of the nation state and capitalism especially after seeing the horrors of WW1. Cercle Proudhon was a National syndicalist group who sought to synthesize some of Proudhons ideas with nationalism. Else Christensen the matriarch of modern Odinism, was an anarcho-syndicalist and cultural nationalist during WW2 in Europe. Orwell and Tolkien both were considered Tory Anarchists. The Independence Anarchist movement, the concept of panarchy. In this era, Troy Southgate’s National Anarchist movement promotes freedom without judgement, diversity without globalization, acceptance without universalism, community without coercion, culture without supremacism, sovereignty without statism, organization without politics and free markets without capitalism.
I see no reason whatsoever why anarchist principles can’t be applied to any community, tribe or nation regardless of the culture and whether or not that community or nation decides to be homogenous and cohesive. People have the power to work together. To have pride and seek preservation. The right to be inclusive or exclusive. The rigid anarchists who are either completely individualistic or completely collectivist do not serve the spirit of freedom and are unrealistic. There are shades of gray. Given the state of current global crises, I don’t see it being unrealistic that the modern nation state will crumble in the next 20-30 years and we could see real possibility of autonomous micro nations arise.