Postcolonialism aka Nationalism

“Postcolonialism” has uniformly positive connotations while “nationalism” has become a swear word. I conducted an experiment with students, asking them to list the words they associate with these terms.

Postcolonialism was associated with freedom, liberation, and rights.

Nationalism was associated with white, racism, and hatred.

This defies all reason because the two words are synonymous. What does postcolonialism want? A country of its own. What is a country in the only sense that we are familiar with? A nation. Every postcolonial movement in existence wanted a nation. Because what else could it possibly want? If it’s bad to be a colony and also bad to be a nation, then what’s good? What should you be?

This is a gaping contradiction at the heart of leftism that nobody is noticing and analyzing. If empire is bad and the only thing that has been known to defeat an empire (which is nationalism) is also bad. . . then what exactly are you trying to say? Why has the word nationalism been reduced to an insult? Whose interests does that serve? What is the postcolonial anti-national model that we are pursuing? Why does it have no name? Why does it remain hidden behind these rhetorical tricks? Is there something wrong with it that we aren’t supposed to notice?

Sometimes, an ideology leaves a seam open to view. The smart thing to do is to pick that seam apart and take a look inside. This is one of those situations.

4 thoughts on “Postcolonialism aka Nationalism

  1. “What is the postcolonial anti-national model that we are pursuing?”
    “We” are certainly not pursuing it, “they” are.
    “Why does it have no name?”
    It does have a name, of sorts, but we are not supposed to know what it is: it’s the globalised liquid society that Zygmunt Bauman so presciently warned us against and that sinister types like Klaus Schwob constantly rave about as the best of possible worlds for “us” so that we don’t realise that it is the best of possible worlds for “them”.
    “Why does it remain hidden behind these rhetorical tricks? Is there something wrong with it that we aren’t supposed to notice?”
    It remains hidden behind rhetorical tricks so that “we”, the turkeys, do not realise that we are being reared as the main course for “their” turkey dinner, whether for Thanksgiving or Christmas being totally irrelevant: “we” are supposed to be the blind, willing victims while “they” get to play-act their role as our supposed benefactors.
    While this charade is going on, they keep telling us to shut up while all the time shouting that they are doing it “for our own good !”.

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  2. I don’t particularly think there’s anything purposefully hidden here.

    Nationalism slash postcolonialism works pretty alright in post-soviet Europe, Africa, Asia. It doesn’t particularly work in the US because the major historic grievance that would lead to a nationalist movement in most other places can’t in the US, because the US is too powerful, the people have neither historic nor de facto ties to any specific land, and the body politic was created in reaction to the grievance rather than precede it. We’re not going to see a black secessionist movement.

    The rest of us, for whom a nation state is a reasonable answer to our concerns, are nonetheless beholden to this discussion because English is where it has to happen now, and because America decides what gets talked about in English.

    I also have doubts about this pro-postcolonialism, anti-nationalism theoretical impulse being deliberately concealing – I think it’s just an impulse of the “not this, not ever again this” variety, grasping at something without knowing what it is. It’s losing to technolibertarian state of grift not because the two things are identical, but because the latter does have a schema for society, a plan to achieve it and the capacity to produce both power and dreams, and so becomes the default through inaction.

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    1. I would argue that states tend to act more like nations than the US as a whole. People tend to have ties to specific places in their own state. Which makes sense because for the most part the states are about the size of other countries.

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  3. Nationalism is completely inevitable. How long it takes for the globalists to give up their post-geographical post-human fantasies depends entirely on how far along we are on the downslope of fossil fuel production. Globalism takes a lot of oil. The smarter globalists realize this, and that is why they are trying to shut down things like commercial international travel and private car ownership. Whatever oil’s left, they need it to run the systems that track us, sort us, and anesthetize us. Every mile you fly, every grocery run I make in my car, that’s a little less oil to keep the global hegemony going. There are better ways to use it (building low-tech, low-maintenance infrastructure for the future, such as gravity-fed rain-catchment irrigation systems), but that won’t be permitted.

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