Ethno-Nagleism is the Idpol of fools

statue of Sean Russell

Comrade Motopu is not a fan of nationalism and did not enjoy the latest article by Angela Nagle.

Submitted by Comrade Motopu on July 15, 2020

Ethno-nationalist Angela Nagle has produced another atrocious article. In the very first sentence of her new piece at Unherd, she uses her go-to tactic of mislabelling internationalism as a pro-corporate belief. You see, educated Irish people hold the ideology of “the internationalist and multicultural open society values of Google.” You may recall that in her ridiculously mis-titled “The Left Case Against Open Borders” she made the case that open borders advocates on the left really just wanted what neoliberal economist Milton Friedman did. Never mind that Friedman’s conception of “open borders” demanded that migrant laborers be denied citizenship and remain “illegal” in their status so that they could be kept vulnerable and without labor rights or any access to welfare safety nets. Their presence as a vulnerable surplus labor pool would drive down wages for all and benefit the capitalist class. Nagle can’t seem to grasp that separating workers via capitalist borders doesn’t stop the movement of people. It just makes some “illegal” or at best “guest workers” or other categories that deny them access to most jobs and benefits.

If it’s not bad enough that she has to rely on weird lies from which she builds arguments. In the same first sentence she uses the term "open society" a thinly veiled reference to George Soros’ “Open Society Foundations,” This is a standard “Jew Banker” conspiracy dog whistle to her actual base readership on the far right. That’s just the first short paragraph.

Throughout this article she appeals to the "native Irish working class" (as against foreign) using the age old capitalist tactic of dividing and conquering workers with borders. She smears the "new generation of elite aspirants" who "parrot" the west and want to put people in "indoctrination camps" and "fill with poison" anyone who is not yet "woke" enough. Her position amounts to white nationalism because anyone who shows solidarity with Blacks in the US has to be under the control of an invasive foreign ideology.

She wants people to feel bitter, not about general capitalist exploitation, but over the fact that “young people in Dublin copied the Black Lives Matter protests from America.” The foreign contagion destroying the otherwise good nationalist capitalist project inside Ireland is coming through the conduit of “Ireland’s new young educated elite.” Nagle and her stupidpol progeny always want to posture against urban and coastal elites but they end up reading like some standoffish parent warning against the dangers of the “Negro Music” on offer from a “city-slicker” DJ in an Alabama roller skating rink in 1958.

Promoting the notion that elite traitors to the nation want to trick you into solidarity with Blacks has always been such a truly socialist idea.

She hammers on this concept of a new educated elite importing foreign and black ideas into the home country, eroding support for nationalism: “Ireland’s new young educated elite” are “parroting the imported language of ‘white privilege versus ‘people of colour’, and the dangers of nationalism versus the superior multinational capital-friendly values of openness.”

Yes, those ridiculous warnings against ethno-nationalism (and Nagle makes clear she is promoting specifically ethno-nationalism), which has been such a great thing in recent decades. Nagle reminds us that ethno-nationalism is actually a good thing when it comes to the Irish because they never practiced slavery or imperialism. She believes the Irish must avoid the “pathological self-hatred found across most of the liberal West today.”

Putting aside the fact that nationalism is built on cross-class collaboration and the repression of self-organized working class struggle against the ruling class, a country can achieve horrendous results with ethno-nationalism even if they were not among the white slave owning imperialists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1994 in Rwanda, in the name of ethnic nationalism, upwards of a million Tutsis were mass murdered in a genocide by ethnic-nationalist Hutus. The Rohingya people in Myanmar are made stateless, expelled in the hundreds of thousands, and murdered in the tens of thousands because of ethno-nationalism that is justified in part by borders created by British imperialism. This genocide has roots that go back decades or more, but it has been ongoing on a large scale since 2016. Nationalism is bad actually.

One wonders why young educated people in Ireland should not have solidarity with Black people toppling Confederate statues that were erected in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to celebrate the defeat of Reconstruction, meaning the end of hope for real freedom and equality for Black people throughout the US, not just the South, until at least the 1960s. (And yes, obviously the goal of equality has not yet been fully attained.) The fact that the British developed a lot of their plantation system in Ireland before it was implemented in the North American Southern colonies might suggest a common ground of experience, making an awareness of and concern over ongoing racism desirable.

The idea that people have to ignore the suffering of white working class victims of capitalism in order to focus on Black Lives during the current black led uprisings throughout the US is ludicrous at best. Might Angela Nagle and others have missed the working class cross-ethnic cooperation in these riots? I thought cross-ethnic class solidarity was the goal of Marxists and even vulgar “anti-idpol” Socialists.

On the other hand, you can’t claim to be engaged in a class struggle approach to politics if you ignore the ways that race is central to the formation of class oppression in the US, and thereby globally at least since the Industrial Revolution. That revolution was fed largely by slave grown cotton from the American South. Bacon’s Rebellion and the beginnings of the solidifying of race laws in the US were part of the class struggle, even with the repugnant element of anti-Indian racism. The current struggle to make Black Lives Matter is part of a broader class struggle too.

It’s true that British colonialism and landlordism caused massive famines (a million killed in the Irish Potato famine of the mid nineteenth century) and out-migrations in Ireland. It’s also true that in recent history, British immigration law was racialized in a way that gave Irish people the right to enter into England while “non-whites” were legally excluded. In her book Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants, Nandita Sharma notes that “Nationals of the nation-state of Ireland (who were no longer British citizens after 1949 when Ireland left the Commonwealth) were made _exempt_ from these immigration controls, even though they were the largest group of people to come to Britain after WWII (R. Miles 1993, 133). Indeed, in 1961, approximately 645,000 people with Irish national citizenship lived in Britain. To avoid accusations of racism, the 1962 act granted formal powers to the government to control immigration from Ireland, but with the understanding, made clear in Parliament, that it had no intention in doing so (Hampshire, 2005, 20)” (Sharma, 2020, 191).

I bring this up to suggest that the focus on Black Lives Mattering can speak to many different aspects of the phenomenon of racism and capitalist exploitation globally. There is simply no reason people in Ireland should be described as dupes of an imperialist cold war psyop (see below) for taking up solidarity with US blacks and acknowledging and focussing on the ways racism seems to touch all things, including the class struggle, if you look hard enough.

Then Nagle sets her sights on the anarchists, whose real mission, she says is "indistinguishable from every elite institution, from academia to the NGO sector to the international capitalist class." To me though, it’s Nagle whose focus on foreign contagions sounds like she subscribes to a liberal nation-state ideology. After all, nation states are cross-class collaborationist projects, and nationalism is the ultimate form of identity politics, throwing out the issue of the class divide to preserve culture and the functioning of the capitalist “national bourgeoisie” who allegedly provide protection to the “national workers.” It’s pure garbage on its face.

For Nagle, capitalism is not the main threat, but "international" and "multinational" capitalism. In fact, the recent austerity and mass out migration can't be blamed on any fellow Irish, regardless of class, but should instead be pinned on the fact that "we were simply passing from one form of colony to another." Yes, it's "neocolonialism" that's the real problem. Nagle is signalling that Irish people should embrace their national identity and let the Irish national bourgeoisie off the hook for their part in destroying lives via economic methods. “Have you hugged your national bourgeoisie today?”

She also laments that "immigrants" will be taught to despise the "native population" and thereby not assimilate. But that's just another wedge she uses to divide the working class along national lines, her real goal. And the descriptions of capitalist exploitation inside Ireland are not blamed on the capitalist class there, but on the American Empire using "cold war psychological warfare" to create a "world dominating oligarchy."

The post WWII global capitalist order certainly was built with US capitalism in mind, and the global markets of ex-colonies of old empires were opened up to US capitalist investment and outflow of capital, eventually in the form of massive debts. One overlooked aspect of this is the way in which “national self-determination” is precisely what allowed for the creation of the new, capitalist states. Whether the liberation of states from colonial status was “given” or fought for, the capitalist governments that formed in the aftermath always enacted nationalist immigration controls and citizenship laws to define “National-Natives” as against “Migrants” those not belonging, not deserving of access to welfare, labor protections, full legal rights, benefits, etc. Revolutionary hopes for ending capitalist social relations in the newly liberated states were crushed by their new ruling classes. Many of those same ruling classes pointed to the foreign threat of colonialism as justification as they crushed unions, created one party states, or worse (Sharma, 2020, 141).

Angela Nagle’s ideology stems in part from this national bourgeoisie theory of neocolonialism. Ethno-Nagleism is bourgeois ideology.

Comrade Motopu
July 15th, 2020


Black Badger

3 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by Black Badger on July 15, 2020

"Then Nagle sets her sites..."
please change that to sights, thanks.

also, it's pretty clear that calling out "international" or "multinational" capitalism is a dogwhistle for the old antisemitic canard about international bankers "really" running the economies of allegedly sovereign nations...

R Totale

3 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by R Totale on July 15, 2020

On a proofreading note, this sentence is a bit confusing: "She smears the "woke" and the "new generation of elite aspirants" who "parrot" the west and want to put people in "indoctrination camps" and "fill with poison" anyone who doesn't subscribe to her comically over the top reactionary (truly socialist?) white nationalism" - it reads as if the woke internationalists want to put everyone who disagree with Nagle in the camps, it'd be clearer to say something like 'anyone who doesn't subscribe to her comically over the top reactionary (truly socialist?) white nationalism has been "filled with poison in the indoctrination camps"'.

But that is a truly dreadful article (Nagle's, not yours) - having had a look at it, there's a few especially bad bits that you didn't even mention:
"Russell fought in the War of Independence and died trying to secure arms from Germany in 1940. Wrongly thinking that historical facts could ever stand a chance against the wrecking ball of the current international woke cultural revolution, some Republicans correctly pointed out that he was not doing so out of any allegiance to Nazism, having tried to secure arms from any nations that might give them. Protesters still vandalised the statue anyway..." Those dreadful protesters, vandalising a statue even after people have pointed out that it wasn't to the bad kind of nazi collaborator, just someone who collaborated with the Nazis out of realpolitik, not ideology!

- On the "historically unsullied by the sins of slavery and imperialism" bit, I'm sure it'd be possible to fill a book with all the examples of former colonies where nationalism turned out to still not be good, but off the top of my head I can certainly think of one prominent example of a state founded in the 20th century by a people who've historically been the victims rather than the perpetrators of state violence, and where ethnonationalism is currently in vogue - would Nagle also applaud Netanyahu for refusing "the culture of pathological self-hatred"? Maybe she would, I don't know.

- The bit about anarchists comes in the middle of a really impressively dishonest bit about James Connolly: "Surely they’ll let us keep the Marxist James Connolly, one might think, who could be spared due to some often cited quotes that liberals love about the limitations of nationalism without economic equality or against the oppression of women. In fact, the Connolly statue was defaced by anarchists years ago. On May Day 2005, the statue of James Connolly in Dublin was graffitied, and a black bloc hood and mask — the kind associated with antifa today — placed on its head, supposedly in the name of “appropriating” and “reclaiming” the figure." Having had a brief look, you can find an indymedia report about the incident here, the comments are indeed full of people saying things like "I reckon you can't be an irish radical without claiming Connolly as a forebear. The mask is the symbol of this generation, of the bloc that marches, organised and resilient. And of course the symbol of the wannabes. So to mask up Connolly is to pay homage, to claim his tradition. It shows the RTS/Anarcho/DA/whatever movement is looking at it's roots." and "I don't think there was any disrespect meant by putting the mask on Connolloy, in fact I think it was affectionate more than anything else. I was chatting one of the lads who did it and thats how it came accross anyway. I really liked the whole location actually, like masking Connolloy it was a conscious attempt to link with the more traditional Mayday celebrations" and so on.
So, because in 2005 some anarchists playfully put a mask on the Connolly statue as a way of paying homage, that proves that they want to get rid of the statue and he "won’t stand a chance when they come for him next time"? She's genuinely operating on the same level as those lads who stood around the George Eliot statue in Nuneaton now, except that at least they didn't write an article about it.

Comrade Motopu

3 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by Comrade Motopu on July 16, 2020

Thanks for the proofreading help!


3 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by sherbu-kteer on July 16, 2020

There is something to the idea that "race-centric" ideas are transferring outside of the US to circumstances that don't really fit -- the dividing lines in most of the rest of the world are around ethnicity, not race, which are two different concepts. But this is not as big of a problem as Nagel suggests; it can even have positive outcomes. She makes it sound like the apocalypse:

Why wouldn’t our literary heroes also be wiped from the canon and from the public space? The continued dominance of Irish literature in our universities is certainly open to the accusation of being exclusionary and too white. What about George Bernard Shaw, who once wrote that “Any competent historian or psychoanalyst can bring a mass of incontrovertible evidence to prove that it would have been better for the world if the Jews had never existed”? What about W. B. Yeats, who preferred fascism to democracy? Who will be left in our compliant little colony of Silicon Valley to defend any of these figures a few years from now after the woke cultural revolution has replaced the unsuspecting old guard with the new?

Please, won't somebody think of our national literary heroes??

Nagle's piece is exactly the kind of dumb thing that considers any real attempt to come to terms with past bigots as "cancelling". I don't know what point she's trying to make by listing old Irish "national heroes" and showing that they frequently believed awful things and acted in awful ways. Why are we supposed to be considerate of the Catholicism of many of the Irish nationalists, when it was so clearly a reason why they failed?

It's obvious that when push comes to shove, she'd rather stick with a nationalism that is becoming rapidly outdated than go with any kind of politics that might potentially tarnish that nationalism.

Ireland is interesting to me in that it has historically been a relatively impoverished country and has served as a source of proletarians for capitalists across the world, from the UK to the US. It still is like that to an extent, Australian construction sites are filled with Irish workers and Australian hospitals are also filled with Irish nurses. But my impression is that within the Republic itself, there has been a growing "underclass" of immigrants from other nations like Poland, China and Vietnam, who are placed in particularly exploited positions because of citizenship-related stratification, labour movement weakness, and more general cultural exclusion from native Irish.

What does Irish nationalism have to offer these people, beyond "go home"? I mean Irish nationalists still can't get Catholic and Protestant workers in the North fighting together, even though the nationalists generally think of the Protestants as Irish as they are. It's one thing to be nostalgic about the days when the leading Irish nationalists were open socialists, but it's another altogether to try and cling on in a period when the Irish are obviously no longer in the same social position they were in 1880 or 1920.

It makes sense to expect this stuff from the kind of website that suggests to me articles with titles like "Why shouldn't the curriculum be 'Eurocentric'?" as recommended reading. It makes less sense that there's an amount of at least nominal radicals that will recommend her and be charitable to this sort of nonsense. I could understand the sympathy in her Kill All Normies days, but at this point she's not even bothering to appear like a socialist.

Another thing -- she is noting in a very roundabout way the growth of the middle-class/petty-bourgeoisie and the associated attitudes but instead of looking at it in terms of how the Irish economy has really developed and what it means for the working class, she just thinks it's some kind of a conspiracy by Google. I wonder if she'll stop to think what class of people it is that make a living by going on podcasts and writing whiny articles about identity politics ;)

R Totale

2 years 4 months ago

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Submitted by R Totale on January 1, 2022

Just uploaded an Irish anarchist magazine from 2005, I was looking at the cover thinking "huh, where do I remember seeing someone talking about the James Connolly black bloc thing?" God, that was a ridiculous argument Nagle tried to make there.