If the left has in mind proletarian internationalism it will lose the people to right-wing populism
A theme in Nazi thought was this idea that “we’re the strong, pure people who come out of nature. We contrast ourselves to the debauched, cosmopolitan people, the urban people.” In the 1960s and ’70s, some people on the far right sought to reinvent themselves by becoming involved in certain green anarchism themes — deep ecology and anarcho-primitivism — and tried to recruit some of those ideas toward a notion of ethnic separatism and “indigenous” autonomy. And you increasingly see this theme among white supremacists: “We are the indigenous people of this land,” whatever it might be, even of North America, “and everybody else is an interloper, and we have to maintain this land for our pure blood or they are going to contaminate us.” This is a very long-standing and deep theme, and it was pushed very heavily in the sixties and seventies. It wasn’t in any way generalized, but some people within anarcho-primitivism and deep ecology succumbed to that theme — and they, in turn, were picking up something which had been there at the beginning of the twentieth century among people like Madison Grant in the United States, who was a white supremacist and conservationist. The whole idea was “We’re going to preserve the land for the right people and keep the wrong people out; this is going to be our heartland, but not their heartland.” He was very influential in setting up anti-immigration platforms and campaigns at the same time as he was doing a great deal of conservation work.
This is a standard leftist take on the “dangerous places people’s communitarian impulses can lead.”
“Oh, it’s tribalistic” . . . to want to relate to a stable group of familiar others in a particular beloved place on earth. It takes us in a “Nazi blood-and-soil” direction.
Hey, left: What if a Palestinian in 1920 said, “This is our heartland. The flood of encroaching Others [Zionists] is threatening the integrity of our community.” Is that tribalistic and reactionary or is that an understandable communitarian sentiment? Consider that perhaps the Nazi Party got more votes in 1933 than the Communist Party because people relate more readily to that kind of sentiment than the left’s delusional proletarian internationalism.
Blame the Nazis for distorting and perverting it. But don’t blame the people for reacting to the fact that cosmopolitan modernity has decimated grounded and bounded local community life.
It’s natural and healthy for people to crave the latter. Leftists think that “what people want” is to “democratically own and control the economy.” Nope.
If the left doesn’t address the communitarian sentiment then people will turn to the populist right.