Capitalist Narratives of Religion, the Market, Flag-Waving Nationalism: The Options Before the Left
By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Flag-waving nationalism is growing across the world with reactionary market fundamentalism collaborating with religious politics to gain state power. Nationalism waving the flag is not an exercise in nation building. It does not cause patriotism or help build unity among peoples.
It is a sign of deep anxiety created by capitalism. It is also a response to the capitalist crisis. Flag-waving nationalism helps hide the failures of capitalism and increases the lifespan and legitimacy of the crumbling Westphalian nation-state as the organizing unit of global capitalism.
Flag-bearing nationalism helps governments mask their failures by reinventing themselves as protectors of the people. It is a hiding place and a subtle way of asserting the waning legitimacy of populist politicians to convince people of their invincibility. Flag-waving nationalisms are becoming official ideologies of governments around the world.
The political capitals of nation states are the financial capitals of the capitalist system. Reactionary religious politics defends the interests of capitalism and its institutional and cultural market process.
Religion is neither personal nor social. It is a product of the ruling classes and used by the ruling classes to domesticate the masses. It is a tool of mass subordination. Religious reactionary political, social and cultural forces use religion to support the ruling class ideology of governance.
Religious praxis is an escape under capitalism. It institutionalizes spiritualism and domesticates human emotion that conforms and is subject to the established structures and superstructures of power, represented by states and governments.
Religions contribute to the growth of bigotry in society which destroys the idea of sharing and caring. The collective social and solidarity spirit is replaced by puritanical religious practices of individuals in search of happiness in a market society based on price tags.
The market is a product of society. It is a combination of social processes and social institutions. It brings together producers and consumers to meet their daily needs and desires. However, capitalism destroyed the social and collective character of the market and replaced it with commodity individualism, where actions are determined by the idea of utility, pleasure and satisfaction. This is the only way for the market to make a profit and establish a society based on consumerism that commodifies social relations, human beings and nature.
The culture of consumerism destroys the cultures of people’s various consumption habits. In doing so, it destroys local production, local businesses and local consumption to propagate global market forces. Market fundamentalism helps large companies consolidate their global presence.
In this way, the troika of flag-waving nationalists, religious and market forces aid capitalist systems but harm social cohesion by spreading alienation, anxiety and fear. These troikas help each other to establish their hegemony over peoples and the planet. Fighting these troikas is at the heart of reviving leftist politics.
Given the capitalist crisis and daily realities, most people around the world are looking for alternatives to improve their daily lives.
The success of the struggle depends on reframing left-wing narratives by engaging with people and highlighting the relevance or irrelevance of these three concepts in people’s daily lives. It is time for left-wing politics to reframe its narratives and reclaim the lost glories of democratic and multi-versal internationalism, scientific secularism, and the social foundations of a free and fair market in the real sense. It is time to replace religion with science and nation states with cooperative communities to establish collective control over markets and ensure social ownership of resources.
Cultural relativism and its ruinous political path had led left-wing forces to conceptualize national socialism, the state-led market economy and government-led secularism, where capitalism and all its ideological tenets survived and succeeded in killing democratic, socialist and secular practices around the world.
National Socialism is a myth. The state-led market economy has contributed to the development of market fundamentalism. Cultural relativism and its essentialist arguments of exceptionalism helped reactionary religious forces seize power from the state. It is in this context that the forces of the left must reframe their narratives about nationalism, religion and the market. These three things are today the weapons of ruling and non-ruling elites.
Given the capitalist crisis and daily realities, most people around the world are looking for alternatives to improve their daily lives and advance the conditions of their families. There is a greater awareness that capitalism is not an alternative. He will never be able to offer peace and prosperity. Human emancipation is anathema to capitalism.
Therefore, the struggle for human emancipation from all forms of bondage and the survival of the planet and peace depend on the ability of the left to reframe the narratives of a mass struggle to establish international socialism and the global citizenship rights based on the solidarity of the whole human race.
There is no time for pessimism. This is not the time for ideological haggling. It is time for a global struggle for peace and prosperity for a sustainable world for all. It is possible and inevitable for the survival of people and the planet.
*University of Glasgow, UK