“If they insist, these cannibals,
On making heroes of us,
They will know soon that our bullets
Are for our own generals.” (the internationale)
“If they insist, these cannibals,
Belonging to a country or nation seems a natural thing, a given. Countries or nations supposedly appeared in order to recognize the “obvious” fact that the world is naturally divided into different peoples who share, each, the same history, tradition, language, culture or religion since immemorial times.
However, this is pure myth. History shows us beyond any doubt that all national characteristics (history, tradition, language, culture or religion) are far from being "natural". These characteristics were nothing more than the result of the fierce and bloody competition (commercial and military) between the various ruling classes for demarcating territories and establishing their states, subjecting the population everywhere in order to use her as a cannon fodder in wars that the ruling classes themselves declare against each other. The language, culture, tradition and history that today seem to be "a given of nature" that demarcate peoples in different nations have in fact been imposed by brute force. They are pure artificialities.
THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL IS ACCUMULATION OF BRUTE FORCE: SO NATIONS WERE BORN
Before the nation-states, states were limited to the size of cities, that is, they were city-states, always neighboring to others with a myriad of languages and cultures. The empires (such as the Roman, Chinese, and Egyptian empire) were generally nothing more than a kingdom of a city-state which exacted tribute from the kingdoms of other city-states which they subjected by brute force. Sometimes an imperial city-state could impose a single language and culture on other city-states. For example, the Latin of the Romans was imposed on almost every city in southern Europe (this Latin came to be spoken so extremely "wrong" after the fall of the empire, which gave rise to Portuguese, French, Italian ...). However, there were not yet nations properly speaking.
The need to institute states so powerful that they were like abstract entities capable of imposing an armed power on territories which encompassed not only more than one city but also tended to expand indefinitely to ever wider regions of the world stemmed from the emergence of a new type of ruling class which no longer identifies her power with a specific city or kingdom. This new class is determined by the need for unrestricted expansion of capital accumulation to the entire planet - which implies the need for a corresponding enlargement and monopolization of the armed power (State) as never before, over ever larger territories, and independently of particular cities. The nation-state was created by the needs for accumulation of the capitalist class.
The first and most primitive essay of nation-state, the multicontinental kingdoms-empires of Spain and Portugal (sixteenth century), was boosted and financed by the need of the commercial capitalists of the Italian city-states (Genoa, for example) for protection and armed power to impose negotiations on increasingly profitable and broader markets (potentially covering the whole world), in order to win the competition with their peers, in order to secure ever greater profits for themselves.
But as the motor of capital accumulation is competition, soon (17th century) another competitive nation emerged, the United Provinces (Holland), which organized a monopoly of maritime armed power never seen before in history, succeeded in winning the war against Spain and gain control of much more profitable trade routes (Asia) than its competitor.
From the earliest successful state-nation essay, capital financed the emergence of nations, that is, abstract accumulations of armed power, initially throughout Europe, and then throughout the world, always in expectation, at every moment, of give rise to better possibilities of maximizing the accumulation of capital in order to overcome competition with other established capital. Thus, filling the world of borders, the world market was established.
The generalized war became a periodic routine, shaping in each military convulsion the borders between nations until reaching the borders that exist today all over the world and until arriving at the same and homogeneous language or culture imposed on the population of the respective national territories.
“IF THEY INSIST, THESE CANNIBALS,
ON MAKING HEROES OF US,
THEY WILL KNOW SOON THAT OUR BULLETS
ARE FOR OUR OWN GENERALS.” (The Internationale)
In short, there is absolutely no honest argument to justify defending any nation or country. Quite the contrary: defending the nation, whatever, always and in any case, is to sacrifice ourselves to defend our own oppressors (it´s to be cannon fodder of them, who never themselves go to the slaughter of the battlefields), and even worse, is to betray and murder our class brothers on the other side of the borders established by the same oppressors.
Fraternization is our only weapon. Without it we are always losers before the ruling class, which divides us into competing enterprises and nations, making us subject to their arbitrarinesses. Every proletarian in struggle against his oppressors, anywhere, is an ally. The proletariat has no country. This is called "proletarian internationalism".
It is only possible to stop being losers when, in all places, we stand together and establish social relations that go beyond and undermine every division in enterprises and all national borders. That is, neither more nor less than establishing the free association of individuals on a world scale, that is, communism, a society without classes, without hierarchy, without state. It is about to establish the human world community which, by abolishing private property and frontiers, liberates the means of production and of life and makes them freely available to the population in free association to use them in the universal expression and development of their senses, desires , needs and abilities: artistic, culinary, architectural, urban, loving, rational, nomadic, technical… in a generalized playful conflictity that surpasses and makes impossible the old and suicidal military and market competition.
Nationalism continues to deceive the dispossessed because any other perspective than the defense of its own exploitation (union with its own bosses against other dispossessed ones) still seems to them unrealistic (utopian) and empty. Competing among themselves to be exploited by their bosses (in the hope of one day ascend themselves as bosses), they identify other competing proletarians as if they were the cause of their own exploitation and unemployment, and become easy prey to ideologies of ethnic hatred and xenophobia that makes them a herd easily manipulated by the owners (who, if they wish, will throw them into the slaughterhouse of war at the earliest opportunity). As long as they do not break with this, as long as they do not identify the true enemy (the ruling class of their own country as well as that of all countries), and as long as they do not fraternize and associate themselves against and beyond enterprises and frontiers on order to fight the ruling class, their exploitation and living conditions will not only inevitably worsen every day, but they will also remain a herd "ready" for the bosses to throw at the slaughterhouse of the war at any moment.
Humanaesfera, November 2012
[This text was translated into English by humanaesfera from the original version in portuguese (Contra o patriotismo - contra o nacionalismo - abaixo as fronteiras nacionais!)]