On our way to the citizenship ceremony, N and I drove past a huge factory. I’m from the Soviet Union, so I find enormous factories very aesthetically pleasing and intellectually stimulating.
“This is solid capital,” I said pointing to the factory. “And we are agents of fluidity, whizzing by on our way to yet another citizenship.”
When nationalism first arose in the 19th century, a huge part of its appeal was that it helped people articulate and legitimize the nostalgia they felt for the time before modernity uprooted, destroyed and swept away. Then, as now, the progressive forces unanimously rejected nationalism and scoffed at the antiquated country bumpkins who chose their bond with the neighbor over that with the international proletariat.
The inventors of nationalism very shrewdly turned it backwards towards the exaltation of the familiar. And the internationalist forces lost, every single time. Even Stalin realized that the only way to defeat Hitler was to being back the vocabulary and the imagery of nationalism. (And he did, and it worked.)