Martin Wolf on ‘aggrieved nationalism’, a comment by Old Socialist

In Martin Wolf’s essay of Jan 17, 2017, he engages in the intellectual plunder of Benedict Anderson’s path-breaking  book ‘Imagined Communities’to frame his Ne0-Liberal hand-wringing. His seemingly perpetual state of mind and spirit. And the Tribalism that afflicts us, even in the crisis ridden political present of ‘aggrieved nationalism’.*   But this could or might be checked by commerce. Except that that ‘commerce’ has done nothing of the sort.

Another way exists to achieve prosperity: commerce. The balance between commerce and plunder is complex. Both require strong institutions supported by effective cultures. But war requires armies, underpinned by loyalty, while commerce requires security, underpinned by justice.

But judge the final sentence:  ‘But war requires armies, underpinned by loyalty, while commerce requires security, underpinned by justice.’ This last part of the sentence is  breathtaking myopic on its face : while commerce requires security, underpinned by justice.’ The reality that the Chinese are better more profitable and efficient Capitalists than anyone in the  ‘West’, is a fact that cannot be overcome, even by the wan propaganda here at The Financial Times.

But the ‘Imagined Communities’ are under threat from the practice of commerce itself, as it undermines this sense of that ‘Imagined Community’, conceived as an independent singularity. Mr. Wolf has yet to realize that Cosmopolitanism, the notion of a ‘World Community’ in the Age of the Internet, is already a fact. Ulrich Beck’s trenchant idea of ‘global domestic politics’, as part of the fact of an actual ‘Re-imagined Community’ eludes the grasp of a thinker moored where? The answer is not reliant on the  un-moored status enunciated by Teresa May, but on the notion of ‘identity’ as a pluralism of ‘identities’, as argued by Amartya Sen in his Identity and Violence. We can be British, European, Labour, Tory etc., etc.

I find Mr. Wolf’s ‘defense’ of his conception of pluralism to be too little to late, woefully tardy, after the unstinting  advocacy of Neo-Liberalism, that has been the Party Line of this newspaper, since the rise of both Thatcher and Reagan and the glaring object lesson of the Economic Collapse of 2008, and the economic doldrums visited upon us into 2017.

It used to be that Capitalist Apologists would point to the Soviet Union as the primary example of an egregious Utopianism gone wrong. For those with open minds ‘Voices of Glasnost’ presents a collection of vivid, compelling  and revelatory portraits of ‘Communist Reformers’. Can the reader count on such a  publication featuring portraits of Neo-Liberal Theologians?

For a well written and argued alternative to Mr. Wolf and the Financial Times Capitalist Apologetics, read Wolfgang Streeck’s 2014 essay ‘How Will Capitalism End’:

* Is ‘aggrieved nationalism’ the replacement for ‘The Rebellion Against the Elites’ Party Line at The Financial Times?

Old Socialist


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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