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To end the collectivist right and left, end the nation state

The biggest reason that we’re having the problems with the Alt-Right is that people like Fukuyama nonchalantly decided that there was nothing to fear in the established political order.
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The latest election in Germany, where the Alt-Right AfD has managed to send shockwaves through Europe and the world by becoming the third-largest party in the Bundestag, once again sent people questioning how such things can even be possible — in a country that saw that party’s more radical ideological brethern create one of the most horrible orgies of violence in human history.

I think, ultimately, the biggest reason that we’re having the problems with the Alt-Right is that people like Fukuyama nonchalantly decided that since nation-states didn’t bring about another world war since 1945, there was nothing to fear in the established political order in developed countries and all politics would thereafter consist in petty cycling between the Center-Left and Center-Right. According to this logic, nation states had some growing pains but they brought the good things about modernity with them. Hence, generations of school children were taught about liberal democracy and the rule of law, civic ideas, externalities, public goods and such, the possibility of any notion that there may be an alternative to the modern nation state disappeared.

In reality, nation states were established at the time when liberalism and the social changes brought by indidual intitative in science, commerce and technology were in the process of thoroughly delegitimizing the old post-Medieval order. While they were unable to preserve that order within the fabric of a centralized state (and they didn’t give up without a fight), they managed to later partly hijack modernity. They did it through projects like colonialism, nationalizing schooling, welfare, and making people confuse political priviliges like the right to vote with genuine individual freedoms. With them they brought total war, totalitarian movements, rigid controls, major economic distortions, closing of borders, overtaxation and overregulation. In the 1940s they brought modern society to the verge of bloody collapse.

However, the reason that the next 60 years were relatively calm is not because the fundamental danger presented by states disappeared and the deamon inside them was finally tamed. Rather, in the decades when the West saw unprecedented growth, social changes and scary rivalry with the USSR and its sattelites, people were preoccupied with other things. But at present, there is a sort of lull in terms of visible major changes and processes (although huge technological shifts are happening under the radar of most people), and ugly, mysticist collectivism inherent in the idea of a national identity has got the chance to capture many people’s attention again.

And competing with it the most prominently are the ideas of the collectivist Left represented by ruthless demagogues like Melenchon, Corbyn and postmodernist SJW crazies: renationalization of whole industries, expropriatory taxation à-la Piketty, speech controls, forced imposition of economically unviable technologies, etc.

The only way to start ending the collectivist threat once and for all is to start dismantling the conventional wisdom that nation states are necessary, as well as delegitimizing the idea that national identity (as opposed to, say, racial one) is a noble or at least a neutral thing. As long as they exist, they will be placeholders for grand collectivist projects. It is not possible to neutralize inherently collectivist phenomena via non-collectivist ideologies like social democracy or classical liberalism, instead they should just be weeded out.


Photo by Tracy Thomas on Unsplash

Submitted by Daniil Gorbatenko on 29 September 2017