back to e-flux.com

To Make a World, Part I: Ultranationalism and the Art of the Stateless State


#1

There doesn’t seem to be a worse moment than the present to defend the project of stateless internationalism. The recent European elections of May 2014 showed the growing influence of ultranationalist parties on the political establishment; in terms of representation in the European Parliament, ultranationalist parties became the largest parties in France (National Front), Denmark (Danish People’s Party), and the United Kingdom (United Kingdom Independence Party), while gaining substantial ground in Austria (Freedom Party of Austria) and Sweden (Swedish Democrats), and remaining relatively stable in the Netherlands (Freedom Party). They suffered heavy losses in Belgium (Flemish Interest), but this was due to the success of a slightly more moderate and competing nationalist party (New Flemish Alliance). The next step for these ultranationalist parties has been to seek alliances and prepare to deliver the final blow to the supra-nationalist managerial project of the European Union. Their challenge is to convince EU parliamentarians from seven or more different countries to unite in order to, as Le Pen has said, make the EU “disappear and be replaced by a Europe of nations that are free and sovereign.”

The leaders of the ultranationalist parties seem to be in permanent competition to radicalize the discourse concerning immigration and failing economies, with the hope that their arguments will help reclaim national sovereignty from the EU. These arguments range from Marine Le Pen in France claiming that the Muslim community is the new anti-Semitic danger of the twenty-first century, to the Danish People’s Party declaring that Denmark should be kept “Danish for the Danish,” culturally as well as economically. Their main obstacle does not seem to be a strong international progressive counterforce, but rather their own incapacity to deal with each other’s extremisms, leading to two prominent, competing right-wing blocks. One block organized itself into a coalition called Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (which includes the UK Independence Party, the Swedish Democrats, and, to the surprise of many, the Italian comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement), while the other block organized itself into the European Alliance for Freedom (which includes the National Front, the Freedom Party, and Lega Nord). The parties from both blocks attempted to collaborate, as this is the only way they could gain enough subsidies from the EU, but for now were unable to reach an agreement due to opposition against the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the National Front. This means that for now, the strength of the ultranationalists is limited to the UK Independence Party’s group.

It is important to observe that at the very time that we are confronted with the rise of ultranationalism, we also face the growing influence of a set of structures which have emerged alongside and parallel to ultranationalist movements. Whereas ultranationalism uses fundamental democratic rights to spread a thoroughly antidemocratic rhetoric steeped in racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination, and so on, these other structures develop out of democratic decision-making but turn against the fundamentals of democratic politics, such as accountability, legality, and transparency. The development of these structures follows naturally from neoliberal ideology, which incessantly argues for the abolition of the state altogether (while depending on the state to be “bailed out”). These structures are what former diplomat and Vietnam-War-critic-turned-professor Peter Dale Scott has called the “Deep State,” a term he borrowed from Turkish analysts. The Deep State becomes apparent through, for example, assignments “handed off by an established agency to organized groups outside the law.” In the context of the War on Terror, writer and journalist Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed describes these practices that outsource decision-making to entities that are not accountable to the public as

a novel but under-theorized conception of the modern liberal state as a complex dialectical structure composed of a public democratic face which could however be routinely subverted by an unaccountable security structure.

Read the full article here.