Robert Ogman, Against the Nation: Anti-National Politics in Germany.

Author:Gordon, Uri
Position:Book review

Robert Ogman, Against the Nation: Anti-National Politics in Germany

Porsgrunn, Norway: New Compass Press, 2013, 110pp; ISBN-13: 978-8-293064-20-6.

In Against the Nation, Robert Ogman discusses the (re)emergence of anti-national politics in the German Left in the early 1990s. The main audience of this short and interesting book is anti-capitalist, anti-war and Occupy activists in the USA, who are encouraged to develop their own anti-national analysis in order to better confront both far-Right presence early in mass mobilisations, and the Jeffersonian sentiments prevalent in American social justice movements. Indeed, the American state's founding myths of Revolution and a new social contract remain a powerful ideological buffer against outright dissent.

In 1990, the platform 'Never Again Germany' campaigned against reunification--in fact and in law annexation of the GDR by the FRG--and articulated a purely negative, retardant reaction to the surge in German civic nationalism. Following reunification, the far Right also surged, and in 1993, amid a wave of attacks on foreigners, the 'Something Better than the Nation' caravan brought anti-fascist activists, artists and intellectuals to public spaces, raising awareness of the government's 'Asylum Compromise', a severe curtailment of the generous asylum policies instated post-1945. The text includes important background information and moves to a discussion of translated statements from the papers, speeches and reflections of participants in these campaigns and their immediate allies.

Both groups combined a Marxist critique of capitalism with feminist, anti-nuclear and ecological agendas to articulate a critique of the nation and the nation-state. They mounted an ideological assault on nationalism from the margins, in opposition to almost the entire German left. Their critique, argues Ogman, reads nationalism as loyalty to an imagined community, and in reality to the capitalist/patriarchal nation- state. An insight they stressed, especially in view of the German experience, was that nationalism is not merely imposed by the ruling classes, but actively taken up and promulgated...

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