What is and how does nationalism go?

How to become a patriot? (part 4)

The fourth part of the series tries to explain the concept of nationalism.

Since the people of the young and the old are not made up of nothing but reasons of state, the question of the reason for the love of one’s country first lands with the existing official violence: "the political attitude, the patriotism in general (…) is only the result of the existing institutions in the state"1, says the philosopher friedrich wilhelm hegel about it. In fact: the sovereign power defines the citizens belonging to it and their life circumstances from childhood in a comprehensive way, which everybody can take from these keywords: citizenship, compulsory education, majority, military service, if any, legal and business capacity, regulation of the acquisition and transfer of private property, family law, taxation, suffrage, criminal liability, etc.

Part 1: why love the fatherland? Part 2: good ism, bad ism part 3: pedagogy of patriotism

Service to "the economy"

Nationalism, far from being an exaggeration, a derailment or an anachronism, has as its starting point the reason of the state power, cast in laws, which it executes in the name and for the benefit of the nation. This starts with the modern legislator allowing all burghers equally to legally acquire private monetary income, which is the same as committing them to it. What they, as dependent employees, as employers or other possessors, can make out of their sources of income, what feeds and increases them, separates them and, if necessary, makes them unproductive, on which even the financial side of state power depends, is called the economic state reason "the economy" and its "growth".

In the service of it the economic state reason is summarized. It knows and takes into account that for the increase of the private financial wealth the acquisitive interest of the entrepreneurship and other investors is quite appropriate.

The "revenue source capital" (marx) is the socially decisive one, because it mobilizes the other incomes, above all those from dependent labor, for its purpose and thus establishes a general and mutual dependence. A win-win-relationship does not emerge from this, rather a permanent opposition, dominated by the owners of capital. Wage costs are, after all, a deduction from profits and investments, and must therefore be limited in the interest of the business and its growth, or, as the case may be, in the interest of the company. Through appropriate working conditions.

Mentored competition

The bourgeois state has made the whole society and itself dependent on this way of doing business. No wonder, then, that he identifies the state-supervised success of the market economy on his site and from the same with the common good and calls for strength. This good is not to be confused with the benefit of all, because it is based on competing, contradictory interests, which the sovereign legislator authorizes and limits in the form of rights.

The wage earners and their employers, to whom they are completely inferior in terms of economic resources, are thus given a framework for what is permitted and prohibited in their struggle for pay and working conditions, so that the profit economy can run as smoothly as possible. Restrictions on the wage struggle are part of this, as are labor protection measures or statutory minimum wages. For the competition between the sources of income as well as within them, i.E. For tenants and landlords, buyers and sellers, savers, borrowers and lenders, landowners, land users and residents, etc., there is a need for a more efficient use of resources. Analogous legal provisions apply.

Because the frictions that arise from the conflicting interests should not cause damage to the economic basis of society in private property and in the different ways of earning a living.

The state benefits, which the legislator, as a welfare state, sees as being necessary because it is concerned about the precariousness of wage labor, are also intended to keep the property system going. Even when the economy is good, workers have to see how they and their families can make ends meet. Also, workers and employees can become destitute if no company expects business from their employment. In case of illness the proletarian source of income fails, it does not provide for old age by itself.

And that all crises "poverty risks" it is a fact of life for dependent employees, as well as for freelancers and small businessmen, that they have to bear the brunt of the crisis. For the "social peace" of its society, the state thus sees costs to be incurred, which it has to finance by withholding wage components as well as budgetarily from taxes and debts and – again "because of growth" – to limit.

What corona shows

Something else has become apparent in the corona crisis: the bourgeois state requires of its society an opposite "togetherness" in which everyone pursues his or her livelihood. The reproductive social context, i.E. The way in which the citizens feed, house, keep healthy, amuse themselves, etc., exists essentially above all.

Almost every movement of life in modern capitalism has become the moment of an "value chain" the most wonderful of all cinematic utopias has become the one to which a normal person belongs not only as an employee but also as a consumer, small saver, tourist, etc. Serves. This comes into play in a negative way when a virus, or more precisely its control by the state, first affects some – and subsequently, those who are then considered to be "downward spiral" the fact that a lot of these value chains are being disrupted by the furrowing. Last july, the author described it this way:

Each economic burger must look then, where he remains with his source of income. Entrepreneurs secure them by long hours and short-time work. Those affected restrict their consumption, have to rely on state subsidies and, if necessary, have their rent deferred. Real estate owners indicate that they can only provide apartments that are profitable in the long run. Prices for purchase and sale do not meet the necessary profit margins or try to enforce them. In addition to the reduction of mass purchasing power, there are failures due to market suppression and bankruptcies. The banks are paying more attention to lending only what yields solid interest rates, etc. In this destructive way, the assembled competing interests get in each other’s way at times of crisis, and which of them more or less come under the wheels is no question.

Again, it is up to the bourgeois sovereign to save or restore as much as possible of the contradictory context that is in danger, by means of upwardly open indebtedness. Thus the goat becomes the gardener.


Another department of state action concerns the question of who is a legitimate subject or who is a citizen of the state. As one can become one. The first case is regulated in germany mainly by the principle of descent, which endows the citizen with special rights and duties that unquestionably place him under the authority of the state and distinguish him just as unquestionably from a foreigner as one can become one. The second case has mainly to do with the services and their duration, which the neuburgers render to the german economic growth, which then also affects their offspring. The location of the world export champion now sees itself as a country of immigration, and the frg, as the leading power in europe, even resigns itself to dual citizenship. Temporarily, in order to set the tone also in refugee ies, it even used a "willkommenskultur". Otherwise, the european network ensures that unwanted foreigners stop at the city’s borders.

Good rule

The capitalist state makes the acquisition of money the right and the duty of its competitors, regulates their collisions, does its part to ensure that wage labor remains exploitable as a means of existence in the long run, maintains its class society even in crises and defines who its subjects are. Nothing else than this omnipresence of state power constitutes, embosses and preserves its subjects as a people and evokes their nationalism. Hegel declares it to be a habitually mabby attitude, a "the attitude, which in the usual condition and life circumstances the community is used to know for the substantial basis and purpose".

It is as banal as it is written here: the inescapability and the lack of alternatives of living conditions, the silent compulsion that emanates from them and that is practically unquestionable, lead to a partisanship for them and for the power that preserves and orders them. Because the means that the state-based market economy opens up and allocates to the citizens are the only ones available, they are already considered to be theirs.

This attitude of taking the community as the positive basis of life is self-evident for patriots, but it is constantly challenged by the negative experiences of everyday life in a market economy, including its state support. Employees and trade unions complain about low and unfair wages, social welfare organizations report insufficient wage replacement benefits, rents are running away, the average pension is getting closer to the poverty line, the tax rate is considered excessive, higher earners complain that performance is no longer worthwhile, entrepreneurs criticize the investment climate, and so on.

However, these pleasantnesses of the everyday life of the class hardly bring anyone to go in search of their reasons. The bourgeois reflection tends rather to the quick shot and confuses the reasoning mostly with the determination of the culprits for the lamented cases of damage. It quickly finds in the dear fellow citizens competitive subjects, who unjustly took more than they were entitled to.

Also with foreigners it becomes fundig (to it shortly). And purposefully the search for guilt lands with the instance, which cares for and administers the whole store: the state in the shape of its rulers lacks good governance. This finding is often so sure of itself that even contradictory evidence seems suitable to it. A current case of this concerns the minister of health, who was allegedly too stingy in the procurement of corona vaccine and ordered too few doses, and too wasteful at the same time, because too many of the expensive variety were ordered.2

The complaint from the first weeks of corona that the government had neglected health protection, which turned around two months later and now criticized its economically damaging exaggeration, fits in with this.3 such questions of guilt are naturally also the preferred field of action for the democratic opposition, which promises to serve the nation better in the future as a government in the making.

Logic of a false consciousness

That’s why the gathered civic discontent normally gives even more impetus to nationalism. It is not the donkey’s habituation to the burden of the flour sack, but a "wanting that has become a habit", which for hegel therefore contains the moment of freedom. And that modern citizens of the state are subjects of their own free will cannot be denied.

This attitude in general is the confidence – which can pass over to (…) insight – that my substantial and special interest is preserved and contained in the interest and purpose of another – here of the state – (…).

It is indeed the elementary conviction of every patriot that his needs are taken into account in the purposes and concerns of the nation, or at least their means or means. Have their chance – at least they should have it. The reason for this is that the competitive interests, as allowed and supervised by the state, are served unsatisfactorily, at least for the majority. From this, burger was able to draw the right conclusions and get to the bottom of the matter.

But the account that patriotic thinking takes of it, sees itself obliged to worry about the economic and political conditions of the sources of income. If these presuppositions were real means of materialism – and not blob such of its capitalist condition and dressing -, it had a certain logic. But this way only the "logic" of a false consciousness. Then the people concerned, rich and poor for their own reasons, actually want to keep the coercive community that their state presides over. Democracy, for its part, stimulates this will by periodically calling upon it to order the rule. In this abstract commonality, statists tend to overlook the coercive nature and chalk up adversity as a deviation from the good of their national homeland.

For the vast majority, in the everyday life of class society, it remains the opportunism of conformity, their concern is idealistic, their criticism remains opinion, while a small minority is drawn into politics to help shape the nation’s reason. For these internal and external concerns, the one can be captured and harnessed by the other. This includes that the one the "constraints" the pirate party calls for a phase-out of nuclear energy within three years, because it is not possible for foreigners to govern themselves or to accept that others are willing to relativize and take back their own interests in consideration of their prerequisite as a nation.

This goes to the point where the relationship between interest and precondition is reversed, because it is put at risk and given up for their preservation. Then is "the imposition to extraordinary sacrifices and actions" (hegel) asked when z.B. "Our security in the hindu kush" or elsewhere "must be defended" – what to do with and without "jingoism" is done. That is and so goes nationalism.

"We" and the "other" (1)

The distinction that democratically minded people like to make between normal and healthy patriotism and its "ubersteigerung" called nationalism still has a meaning in relation to foreigners and foreigners, which is to be briefly explored. It is said that the former is friendly and open to the stranger, while the latter is exclusionary and hostile. The very fact that friends of foreign countries commonly claim that their attitude is that of their fatherland, that is, necessary and proper at the same time, could indicate two things:

On the one hand, they participate in the clarification of a national question, to which their opponents also offer a patriotic solution. On the other hand, their xenophobic answer also contains an exclusionary moment, because it expresses not only an interest but a responsibility for germany, which the xenophobes lack.

If one considers the arguments that are put forward for openness to foreigners, even more of their native core emerges. That germany "colorful" colorful, shows the "different color" at least the order to, "our country" to decorate and enrich. Who claims that foreigners were "our" the fact that he is trying to solve the shortage of skilled workers and the problems of aging, as well as to help economic growth, leaves little doubt about the patriotic side of his xenophilia. And that migrants thankfully do the work for which germany is responsible "we germans" are either too expensive or too bad for us, could almost make sense to a xenophobe.

Such pleas advocate to admit also foreigners – of course not all, but the suitable ones – to the competition of the german economic burghers and to pay respect to their contribution, which brings for them predominantly economical yields. If they then "with us" vaccines, they even become a role model as nouveau riche new germans.

"We" and which "others" (2)

The opponents of welcome see it differently. Driven by dissatisfactions and adversities they themselves have experienced and/or. To their community, they have embarked on a special search for culprits who allegedly cause such harm willingly or at least factually, because they do not belong to "our way of life", but to belong to a foreign or hostile race of people. In the state sorting of domestic and foreigners they find the decisive point of reference for their diagnosis and demand "germany for the germans" as a therapy.

Depending on the depth of this crisis finding, the ruling compatriots also come into view. Their political acts are confused with an inability or unwillingness to provide for patriotic jobs, housing, old-age incomes, together with associated "guiding culture" instead of in favor of the "global elites" a "uberfremdung" or a "great reset" .

The author characterized this xenophobia and its fault in a tp essay thus:

It imagines the social systems as a common fund for the purpose of an exclusive claim of the germans on it – (…) not as a demand for better social benefits, but by putting the accused foreigners in a worse position, as a nationalistic distance commandment. (…) this is repeated in the demand for jobs or rented apartments, where "germans" should have the precedence or the monopoly. Here the plaintiffs know that all assembly halls, offices or dwellings have a legally protected owner, who uses the dependents of this property as needed as wage earners or, if solvent, as rent payers (…), for which they must compete against each other. The nationalists accept these conditions as "the reality", as the habitat of their preservation – with one reservation: they want to see the poor right to competition reserved for their own kind.

It should be clear that the described patriot or nationalist does not see himself as a subject who relativizes and drops his interests for wrong reasons. The contradictory relationship to one’s own interests is rather determined by the accompanying ideologies of a pre-state identity of history, language, culture, or the "essence" (formerly: the "blood") tenable, as they were criticized in the first parts of this essay. They claim for the nation higher reasons than the political-economic ones, values that can be put in the limelight and celebrated, entitle to pride, "us" from the "strangers" and for which sacrifices are supposed to be worthwhile.

Read in the fifth and last part how adolescents are brought closer to patriotism: what hanschen learns.

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