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About the nation-state celebrations

Nation State
1984: National Day celebrations at Kvarnbyvallen in Mölndal. Photo: Harry Moum, Mölndal City Museum (CC BY-SA)

On National Day celebrations and the eternal enemy of spontaneous order and voluntary communities

Lars Anders Johansson has just in time for the nation-state celebrations written an article on National Day, where he discusses the difference between forced and volunteers communities - looking at Swedish history and the relationship between nation and states. Definitely worth reading, and I'm not just saying that because Project Allmogen gets a nice mention at the end.

The nation, the imagined community of destiny based on a common language, history and culture, has proved to be one of the more enduring communities and a commonality with which many people naturally identify.
[...] When the national community does not coincide with the political goals, the state can instead try to divide and break up, creating other communities that run counter to the old ones. The clumsy attempts to create from above a kind of "nationalism" for European cooperation is one of the clearer examples.

Lars Anders Johansson

In addition to Lars Anders' contemporary example, the Swedish nation-state is also an example of a community that was once imposed on the common people of the many different regions. In the old border settlements of Blekinge, for example, the peasants could be told one day that they were Swedes and the next Danes, depending on which king's soldiers were passing through the settlement at the time and demanding loyalty and taxes from the commoners.

Another contemporary example is the Swedish "multiculture", let us call it "diversity nationalism", just the latest of the communities imposed from above by the central power. A "community" that also lacks popular roots, an elite project through and through, which, amusingly enough, in its self-aggrandizing appearance and language is reminiscent of the very chauvinist nationalism that makes its main proponents see red. But as Lars Anders Johansson writes, the future of the state's latest community building is far from certain:

Natural communities, based on common language, culture and history, emerge over time and through spontaneous order. Their inertia and voluntary nature mean that they tend to persist over time. People who feel a sense of belonging and community based on these parameters tend to be viable and able to endure the most difficult hardships.
[...] Unnatural communities, imposed from above through political decisions, tend to be weak and short-lived. People simply do not feel the same sense of community with political documents and bureaucratic forms as they do with those with whom they share language, culture and history.

Does this mean that we should not celebrate National Day? No, of course you should if you want to. But think about what you are actually celebrating. Put a thought behind the action. Vilhelm Moberg did. In view of the worrying developments in this country, I think that it last that deserves to be celebrated today is states and whatever politicians claim we should be celebrating today.

Well, as you may notice, I don't like forced communities, nor the "multicultural" one - precisely because it is based on state coercion instead of voluntary action.

The old Swedish community was certainly also imposed on it from above in its beginnings, but through a long and painful birth it eventually became the community from which the Swedes drew strength in the darkest of times. It was the Swedish flag around which Vilhelm Moberg and his compatriots gathered when the forces of violence surrounded Sweden during the Second World War. It was in the Swedish community that they found strength to defend themselves. Even I, who consider myself to be a libertarian anarchist, a libertarian who puts the freedom of the individual first, cannot therefore belittle the Swedish nation of which I am a part through the language I speak, the culture I carry within me and the history I share with other Swedes. But National Day is and remains the day of the state, the day of power, and the "Sweden" that is celebrated is whatever the power says it should be.

Midsummer, on the other hand, is a different story! It is the Swedish true holiday this time of year, which Lars Anders has also written about, a celebration that is much older than the nation state of Sweden, and a celebration whose roots go right into the soul of the people.

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