Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

No Country: No Flag

The Tory government wants to drench Britain with nationalist imagery. The union Jack is now to be flown all the time on government buildings.

Robert Jenrick, The Housing. Communities and Local Government, said that the changes would be a
"proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us" (INDEPENDENT 25 March 2021).

There is nothing in the Union Jack to be proud of. It is a symbol of war, genocide, death and destruction. A socialist wouldn't use it to clean the toilet floor.

And to prove our point that the capitalist class has its own distinct class interests supported by a servile political class we only have to consider Robert Jenrick when he was Housing Secretary. In January 2020 he unexpectedly overturned civil service advice and granted fast-track planning permission for a £1 billion development in Tower Hamlets, East London.

The move saved the developer, the onetime DAILY EXPRESS owner and pornographer Richard Desmond, £45 million in local taxes in Tower Hamlets one of the poorest boroughs in London. Nothing bound Mr Jenrick and Mr Desmond to the working class. They had no shared history with the poor of Tower Hamlets.

Workers have no country. They do not own and control the means of production and distribution. They do not own the land, the minerals, the trade routes, the transport and communication systems the factories and the distribution networks.

And the working class and the capitalist class are only bound together by chains of servility and class exploitation. Capitalists exploit: workers are exploited. This is what binds capitalists to workers.

Furthermore there is no common history. There is only a history of class struggle. Workers have nothing in common with those who force them onto the labour market and pay them less in wages than the commodities they produce.

Class and class relations existed before the nation state. Throughout history one ruling class or another has attempted to impose its ideas and beliefs onto a subject class. And a key idea and belief is that workers should stand behind their ruling class in its periodic quarrels with capitalists elsewhere in the world. As a consequence, capitalism's history is punctuated by war and conflict as workers fight each other for the interests of the respective ruling class.

Nationality is a fiction, a convenient fiction, a lie. Under capitalism there is no collective society with a shared history. To follow the nationalist lie with its flags and symbols is to abrogate the class struggle. The country belongs to the capitalist class not the working class. Capitalists pay taxes to fund the armed services to protect their private ownership of the means of production and distribution.

History for the working class has only one destination. And it is this: freedom from nations, nationalism and nationalist symbols like flags and crude, corrupt and facile politicians like Robert Jenrick.

In socialism there will be no Union Jack except those displayed in museums highlighting the iniquity and brutality of Empire and the rogue's gallery of those, like Cecil; Rhodes and Winston Churchill, who profited from the genocide and colonisation of other countries.

When socialism is established there will be no union jacks flying from buildings. In fact world socialism will see no nationalist flags or 'government buildings', as an administration of things rather than government over people, establishes itself within a social system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.

Instead socialism will be a world without nations and nationalist symbols. It will be a global system without borders. We will be free to travel the globe without passports, border guards and barbed wire. We will be living in an open and global society, producing useful things directly for each other.

We will be celebrating a classless society of free men and women bound together by a common purpose:

'an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all' (COMMUNIST MANIFESTO).

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