NO HEART FOR A NATION

NO HEART FOR A NATION

Oddaja
30. 11. 2015 - 12.00

Today’s topic will be on nationalism and therefore we have prepared few contexts in which we will light on the appearing and dangers of nationalist frames. First we will go especially into the field of uprising nationalism in Europe right now. We will describe the complex manifestation of nationalist thought with the example of Lithuania. Hopefully this example will be useful to imagine nationalism elsewhere. Additionally we will talk to Clara from the UKSSD, a German student organization that is connected worldwide and stands in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle in Syria and the autonomous regions. She will tell us about how nationalism plays a role in their contexts and how antinational support can look like.  We want to stress out how nationalism in different contexts works and why the topic is a current and problematic one.

Just last week ago, after the cruel and shocking terror attacks in Paris, you could watch Facebook explode referred to national symbolic. In order to show solidarity many people colored their profile picture in blue, white, red – the national flag of France. Famous buildings all over the world were lightened in the French national colors – the Tower Bridge in London, the Brandenburger Tor in Germany and even in Ljubljana the castle was illuminated. The world largely adopted the national symbolism of a country as a sign of solidarity without even questioning the symbolics or the contexts in which it usually takes place.

No one really seemed to be aware of the fact that the French flag is at the moment mostly used by Marie Le Pen's far-right-party “Front nationale” in order to lead a disgusting – but in case unfortunately super successful - campaign against migrants. Apparently people are not aware of the uprising nationalist initiatives in whole Europe and especially their national symbolic and character. In Germany, thousands of people follow the racist and anti-semitic PEGIDA- and AFD- movements, waving German flags. In Austria there is an uprising racist Movement called “Identitäre Bewegung”, waving Austrian flags. In the Netherlands Geert Wilders mobilizes many people under the topic of Anti-Muslims and oh wonder, they are waving Dutch national flags there. How does this actually work?A common notion of nationality is usually and especially in Europe connected to fix cultural or ethnic perceptions, something how people have to be in order to pass the national framework. People who don’t refer to these cultural and ethnic norms often have to face exclusion and discrimination. Within a national identity there is necessarily always a certain “other”, a contrary part which is not seen as part of the common inner notion, but as a threat. Nation states build fences, they deport people and they discriminate. While nationality might seem to unite people under a bunch of conditions, it’s on the same time rather separating for people who do not fit in those conditional frames. National frames are excluding people every day.In the current situation of refugees seeking refuge in Europe, they are facing racism and stereotypes everywhere. This racism and its stereotypes are highly connected to the notion of nationalism and the unreflected and as “harmless” considered waving of flags actually has to do with it. Therefore we want to try in our today radio show to raise awareness of the topic of nationalism.

As I mentioned before I will try to see nationalism as a complex issue which does not only appear in one group. I will try to draft three flexible archetypes of nationalisms manifestation. They all have the common notion to the wealth of a prosperous nation, which does have to be defended form threats from outside and inside the nation state. Shaping the nations body through the production of the other - in Lithuania’s case its Russia which has been the enemy for 800 years and now is re-emerging again - as the main threat to the nation with the escalation of the Crimean conflict. The body also requires a production of the appropriate national citizen and it's strict control. I have observed these three types of nationalism in Lithuania and hope to draft a kaleidoscopic image we could all refer to.

Let me start with the classic taste of nationalism- the radical skinhead who is offended to see gratifies with the message "Racists not welcome". Skinhead is not just a hairstyle but a context for views and actions stemming from nationalism. You as I were surprised to see this type coming out of their rock into the streets of Ljubljana.

The Lithuanian radical Nazis have been out of their racist closet for quite a while. Though I do have to admit that quite a few decided to change their usual skin hat for something more conservative and get rid of their chants "Juden Raus" and the Lithuanian jingle which translated sounds "Take up the stick and beat the little Jew". This did increase the size of their organised march up to a few hundred people and its diversity. A lot of families, old folks and successful businessmen people joined it. Even though the chant „Lithuania for Lithuanians“ stayed.

Let me finish this persona with its last performance on the political stage. In a recent protest against forced immigration or in other words "Refugees go home" he gave an interview. Answering the question why is he there he said "I think Lithuania is a white nation and should stay a white nation. I don't want to have a kid, a grandson some cream skin, black ass." This statement of his went a bit viral in Lithuania and didn't do well for his groups image.

Moving on to another type of nationalism - the nostalgic. Remembering the good old past in 1930ies when our great moustached dictator Antanas Smetona was ruling Lithuania before the Russians came with their moustached dictator Stalin. The nostalgic longs for the time when Men were men and women were women, we had culture, were prosperous, owning our own land and exporting large amounts of pork and butter. The nostalgic might say: You know back then It is the strong fist that was needed to control the country and GOD knows it is needed today. Censoring, detaining oppositions parties members and killing a few seems like a necessary evil to maintain the nation.There is also a nostalgia for the Soviet Lithuania but it difficultly fits in the national narrative. Because of occupational regime, banishment to Siberia, alcoholism, corruption, religious persecution and strict censorship the soviet past is seen as a dark period which we should leave behind and never comeback to. Especially with Russia now being portrayed as the main villain who is trying to take back his old provinces. But now a lot of people are facing social exclusion which they might have not felt in the Soviet time because of all the wealth-are, social housing, free education and a guaranteed job which still existed back then. In the usual media political discourse these people are perceived as backwards remnants and Russophilic, who should soon die out. Well with the current pension size and healthcare systems it could be pretty soon. You cant blame the nostalgic. Well you got to be remembering things or thinking back to good old days, cause the present isn't offering you that much. The Pink Floyd song- A great day for freedom enacts this disappointment following the fall of the Berlin wall.

Well and the last type of nationalisms manifestation. My most hated. Best disguised. And most dangerous. The successful neo-liberal patriot. He knows he is working for a better Lithuania. He does earn a lot of money from his advertisement freelance business and that should translate into large amounts of GDP. His biggest problem is the rest of the country. He might say: Why can't everyone earn as much as I do? Everyone has the liberty to succeed if they try hard enough. The good Lithuanian citizens isn't just hard-working but successful too. Those who emigrated or live of welfare chose the easy way out. In this neo-liberal framework class is one of the main categories to make you into a good citizen or not. And underclass is not the right one.

You should also be well EuropeanUnionised. Know which homophobic/sexist/racist jokes are Okay and which are not. You don't need to welcome the refugees but just be polite about not like the before mentioned skinhead. Maybe if the refugee is well educated and can create a better Lithuania, please come, but the economic migrants might need help and we already don't help our own people.

All three types manifest themselves in the political arena. For example with the refugee issue: the skinhead is openly racist about it and the majority will only connect nationalism to his image while missing the other types. The nostalgic can't really fit the refugee in his dream of a joyful past, so isn't too happy about it either. Also the fragile economic position he is in sets the ground to fear of it getting even worse. And the patriotic successful liberal doesn't want him to be another burden on the society because the refugee isn't the successful citizen which will bring prosperity for the nation.

Another issue I'd like to touch is the militarisation of Lithuania during the Ukrainian and Russian conflict for Crimea. Putin became Public enemy number one. The main media portals showing his face daily with suggestions of an immanent Russia's attack. A lot of sanctions were past to protect Lithuania from Russia- giving police the access to personal internet data without a warrant, granting the military police rights in a state of emergency (sounds familiar?) and the most discussed- bringing back obligatory conscription army. The skinheads didn't say much about this because they didn't have to because the other two types were fully on-board. They both want our nation to be strong and protected from Russia. They want our men to be men and to get some discipline to become better citizens. Gendered insults of being a coward, not manly enough and accusations of collaborating with Russia crushed opposing opinions.

The majorities feeling was the condition for passing these laws not the few skinheads painting svasticas on the streets. It is the categorisation of righteous civilians and our enemy that helped this pass. Russia became the main other, but not the only one. The one who is not producing a bright future for Lithuania also falls out of the definition of citizen. This is the main source of control within the neo-liberal framework. We produce and reproduce the national standard and as Vincent mentioned the standardized categories is a big source of exclusion.

On Friday I talked to Clara from the UKSSD as I already mentioned before. We talked about how UKSSD's work actually looks like, about how the Kurdish struggle is connected to an emancipatory thought which somehow goes beyond the notion of nationalism and about how international support can be in a way anti-national.

The statement is available on click

And that's already the end of our todays show. We hope that you liked it and took away some new impressions and thoughts.

The conclusion we want to make at this point is that Nationalism is namely not a phenomenon that is reducible to a certain group of people but a general category through various layers of society. We all are part of it. Clara’s example gives us a link to tie in with further seeking for alternatives of the national frame. Let's all reflect our roles of receiving and reproducing nationalism. So when your next Erasmus Flag Party gets announced, be aware of it! That is our concern for today. Have a nice time and hear you again at the next show of Erasmus on Air.

 

 

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