The Nationalist Problematic in a Prager Video

Except for the partisan bits, the Prager video below is a pretty good diagnosis of the problem. My guess is that Hazony’s opposition to globalism is not hailing from the same source as mine (I’m anti-capitalist), but it is possible for contrary perspectives to arrive at similar conclusions. Here, take a look:

There is a need to elaborate the point about Hitler, who was indeed an imperialist. Hazony is right about that. Mark Mazower, Ira D. Wallach Professor of History at Columbia, argues in his 2009 Hitler’s Empire, that Nazi rule in Europe was imperialist and that, like the imperialism of other Western powers, the extension of Nazi power was motivated by ethnic and economic desire. Of course, the big difference was the Nazi focus on territorial expansion, which brought Germany into an acutely antagonistic relationship with other countries (Germany arrived late to the imperialist game). (See Chapter 8 in Hannah Arendt’s 1958 The Origins of Totalitarianism for a similar observation.)

Where Hazony gets hung up is in denying Hitler was a nationalist. This is because Hazony’s nationalism, taken at face value, is the civic species while Hitler’s nationalism is the ethnic species. Rather than differentiate between the two (which would actually strengthen his argument), Hazony implicitly denies nationalism can be ethnic by excluding this species. This in turn allows him to leave the impression that Trump is also a civic nationalist, and that therefore he does not represent a manifestation of illiberalism. But Trump is an ethnic nationalist. So one becomes suspicious of Hazony’s motives.

It is unfortunate that nationalism has become in the minds of folks on the left monolithic with its reduction to ethnic nationalism. This has resulted in tacit support for globalism and regionalism which is, by virtue of the historical epoch in which we live, capitalist globalism and regionalism, which undermines living standards, deepens the exploitation of labor, and politically disorganizes the proletariat. It means that the people are not governed by the rule of law of a republic with borders but by transnational actors operating beyond democracy and borders through largely unaccountable global political and economic power relations. While this is certainly Alan Greenspan’s wet dream, it is not something folks on the left should defend.

As Marx and Engels note in The Communist Manifesto, the national proletariat must first settle accounts with its national bourgeoisie. It takes socialist countries to make socialist globalism, not capitalist ones. Hell, under bourgeois globalism, the proletariat can’t even keep its unions.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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