Thursday, 31 October 2013

Black Ram and Anarcho-Nationalism

Although a tiny and short-lived organisation that existed in the early 80s, Derby's Black Ram Group is significant to us for their innovative approach to questions of nationality and freedom.  Their 'anarcho-nationalism' which pre-dates the too often racialist 'National Anarchism' we see today, which grew out of unorthodox elements on the far-right and Strasserist groups/individuals.  The Black Ram's synthesis instead came from the direction of 'mainstream' anarchist thought and remained committed to anti-racism and anti-sexism.  Their positive evaluation of nationalism derived not from any roots in far right political organisations, but from the theoretical consideration that:

"the pseudo-'nationalism' of the 'nation-State' - which anarchists unequivocally oppose...must be distinguished from the nationalism of the people (Volk) which in its more consistent expressions is a legitimate rejection of both foreign domination and internal authoritarianism, i.e. the State."

It is with regret that this alternative vision of a national anarchism faded so quickly.  Sadly we will never be able to read either 'Theses on Volkisch Anarchism, or beating the fascists at their own game'  or 'Towards and Anarchist Nationalism: first time anywhere! –provisional manifesto of the National Anarchist Pagan Resurgence', which were both slated for the next (never to be seen) issue.  The left has grown ever more averse to the continuing resonance of nationality and traditional symbols, whilst leaving the field of debate to be dominated by the far-right.

For many people, nationalism is just a natural attachment to home, the place one grew up.  Anarchists can distinguish between nationality (that is, cultural affinity) and the state and government itself.  This allows us to define what we support and oppose -- the nation-state, at root, is destructive and reactionary, whereas cultural difference and affinity is a source of community, social diversity and vitality.  Such diversity is to be celebrated and allowed to express it itself on its own terms. Or, as Murray Bookchin puts it, "[t]hat specific peoples should be free to fully develop their own cultural capacities is not merely a right but a desideratum. The world would be a drab place indeed if a magnificent mosaic of different cultures does not replace the largely decultured and homogenised world created by modern capitalism."  But, as he also warns, such cultural freedom and variety should not be confused with racist nationalism. The latter is far more (and ethically, a lot less) than simple recognition of cultural uniqueness and love of home.

1 comment:

  1. It is, indeed, regrettable that this intellectually defensible form of anarchistic nationalism has faded into oblivion. Instead reactionary National-"Anarchism" has taken up the mantle and, consequently, set back the effort to imbue the left with a nationalism consistent with the class struggle.