Nationalism

States of exclusion

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The nation state with distinct borders is a recent idea, tied up with the development of capitalism. It is workers and the poor who suffer at its edges, writes Phil Marfleet.

Why are borders so important to the modern state? Why do politicians and the media obsess about “border security”? What lies behind the politics of exclusion?

Until the early modern era (17th to 18th centuries) borders between local kingdoms and principalities in Europe were fuzzy and seldom closely controlled. Mobility of goods and people was essential to sustain regional economies — most of the population was tied to the land but many people moved relatively freely as merchants, artisans, itinerant labourers, pedlars, seafarers and pilgrims.

A new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe

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Fascist parties are once again proclaiming the anti-Semitic filth they have kept hidden for years. Rob Ferguson explains why they feel confident to do this now, how their ideolgy works, and how anti-racists and the left must respond to this growing threat.

On 26 January 20,000 right wingers marched through the streets of Paris in a protest against the Socialist Party government of Francois Hollande. Their "Day of Anger" included attacks on defence cuts, rising crime, high taxes and "destruction of the family".

However, besides the manifesto demands, the march was marked by an chillingly organised parade of anti-Semitism. The "Day of Anger" took place on the eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day, referred to in France as Shoah (Hebrew for "the catastrophe").

A contradictory revolt in Ukraine

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The situation in Ukraine is fast moving and complex and it is easy to misunderstand what's at play.

In the liberal press the talk is already of "post revolutionary" Ukraine -- "the storming of the citadels of power recalls the overthrow of Slobodan Milosev... the indiscriminate terror created by sniping from roofs and buildings is a reprise of the assault on protestors in Bucharest," wrote Misha Glenny, omitting the role of fascist forces in the events.

Fighting the war on the home front

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The claim of national unity during the First World War is a myth. The reality, argues Chris Fuller, was huge levels of repression by the British ruling class and a largely untold history of resistance.

The carnage of the First World War has been seen by many commentators as different from any conflict that went before. In fact there were hints as to how terrible a war between the rival imperial powers of the early 20th century might be. At the battle of Omdurman in 1898 the British had deployed the Maxim gun for the first time and slaughtered 10,800 Sudanese rebels. However, the war mindset was still that of the "cavalry charge"; few people envisaged the scale of the horror that was 1914-18.

Sectarianism and the Arab revolutions

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What explains sectarian divisions such as the Shia-Sunni divide in the Middle East?
Lebanese socialist Bassem Chit rejects claims that sectarianism is a "pre-modern" force and argues it is rooted in the pattern of capitalist development and crisis in the region.

There is a growing debate over the role of religious sectarianism in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Arab Revolutions. Most writing on the issue deals with the question from a cultural perspective. One of the most striking examples of such an approach is the debate surrounding the supposedly Shia-Sunni divide, which many authors treat as an extension of a conflict over who should have assumed power following the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 CE.

Strikes, independence and indignados

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Rafel Sanchis and Estelle Cooch spoke to David Fernández, an MP for the Catalan parliament, about the origins and politics of the anti-capitalist coalition, CUP, and its relationship to the wider movement

An important feature of the crisis in Europe has been the rise of radical left political formations in Greece, France and elsewhere. In last November's elections to the Catalan parliament, an anti-capitalist and pro-independence coalition, the CUP (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, or Popular Unity Candidates), got three MPs elected.

The 2012 elections were the first time that the CUP has decided to run for Catalan parliamentary elections. Why was this?

Regime crisis in Spain

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Spain has seen increasing calls for independence for Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia, alongside strikes and protests. Joel Sans Molas argues that economic turmoil and austerity are creating the biggest political crisis in the country since the overthrow of Franco's regime 35 years ago

The economic crisis in the Spanish state continues to deepen, intertwined with a political crisis of ever greater dimensions. The conservative Popular Party (PP) government is under pressure on all fronts: economic, political and social.

Rehabilitating the military

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In 2007 General Richard Dannatt, head of the UK armed forces, complained, "The British public do not support the troops enough." Within weeks a range of support the troops initiatives materialised including a new annual Armed Forces Day, homecoming parades, Help for Heroes, Tickets for Troops, concerts for heroes, on X Factor "song for heroes" (twice), and various military-inspired album releases.

Most recently we've seen the introduction of the government's Military Covenant accompanied by a £30 million sweetener to be shared among councils who agree to produce military-related propaganda initiatives. These multi-agency practices and invented traditions bear a remarkable similarity to the propaganda-centred activities of the US and Canadian governments' programmes "Operation Tribute to Freedom" and "Operation Connection" which both seek to "re-connect" civilians to the military.

The politics of the Olympics

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The London 2012 Olympics look set to be a jamboree of profiteering and nationalism. Brian Richardson recalls how past Olympics have been the site of struggles against racism

The Olympic Games have been associated with three of the most inspirational moments in the struggle for black emancipation. In August 1936 Jesse Owens confounded and humiliated the Nazi dictator Hitler by winning an unprecedented four gold medals at the games in Berlin. Twenty four years later Cassius Clay was crowned as the light heavyweight boxing champion in Rome. He was lauded on his return to the US, but still found himself refused service in "whites only" restaurants and targeted by racist gangs.

Economic crisis and job losses: who's to blame?

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Nationalism is always a dead end for the working class movement, argues Martin Smith, after the wildcat strikes that demanded "British jobs for British workers"

Two things became abundantly clear when standing on the picket line outside the Lindsey oil refinery in Immingham. It was the second day of the wildcat strike and for the first time since the economic crisis started there was a whiff of the class struggle we have witnessed across the Channel in Europe.

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