Nationalism is at all times an enemy of freedom. At its core, it undermines individualism in favor of the collective. As part of a greater agenda of power centralization by the state, nationalism perpetuates an “us vs. them” attitude amongst the public. The outside world is made out to be a threat rather than a welcoming opportunity. Foreign influence is turned into a menace that threatens everyone’s way of life. What could possibly enrich society is tossed out and ridiculed in favor of stagnation. The latest in this astern way of thinking comes to use from the province of Quebec.
In Quebec, the leader of the Parti Québécois political party is promising to reform the province’s language laws to ensure that the French language remains dominant over the increased use of English. From the Globe and Mail:
The PQ leader expressed concerns that the English language was becoming increasingly present as the preferred language of communication in Montreal. According to Ms. Marois, data collected by the Office québécois de langue française, the government agency that oversees the enforcement of the language law, showed that between 2010 and 2012 the number of merchants in Montreal who welcomed their customers in French has dropped had dropped from 89 per cent to 74 per cent.
Ms. Marois said the decline of the French in Montreal signals the need for a tougher language law.
“The message has to be clear: in Quebec we live in French, we work in French, we communicate in
French,” Ms. Marois said during a campaign stop in Montreal on Sunday.
Nationalist doctrines like the enactment of tougher language laws are based on a mistaken bond many develop with national borders. Yet the boundaries which separate today’s nation-states are largely arbitrary in the sense that they no longer represent pure organic divisions but segregations established and enforced by international bureaucracies. As famed investor and commentator Doug Casey describes it:
…almost none of these other nation-states today are truly “a people.” They’re cobbled together hodgepodges of various mutually antagonistic racial, ethnic, linguistic, and other classifications of people, resulting from war and conquest. Most people in most countries today don’t have anything significant in common, except the name of the government on their ID papers.
But society is not the state or vice versa. Society, or what may be called community, is formed by the free association of individuals. Instead of eking out a life of meager, hand-to-mouth existence, primitive man banded together in order to better their productivity and take advantage of economies of scale. The division of labor, that is the ability to specialize in a given task, can only form when goods that sustain minimal life are produced in abundance. To put it plainly, living residences can’t be erected on a grand scale if the builders must harvest their own food. What is known as the marketplace developed from the simple, but nowadays maligned, concept of producing more than you consume. This flurry of activity is driven precisely by the fact that individuals are always seeking to obtain a level of material satisfaction. As Adam Smith famously wrote in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interests.
The marketplace adapts to changes rather than sending in armed goons to keep things neat, orderly, and easy to govern.
The above explanation isn’t to suggest a businessman doesn’t have the right to deny service to someone who doesn’t speak the native tongue. In a society where property rights are sacrosanct, nobody should be forced into serving another. The alternative is servitude where meeting the needs of another take precedence over oneself.
The state’s weaponry consists only of compulsion or the threats thereof. Those who refuse to abide by government edict have no alternative but to suffer the forceful consequences. Mr. Marqois is also proposing that the children of immigrants be forced into what are known as Cegeps or post-secondary colleges that would teach French if they wish to attend university. Under current law, prospective students have a choice in the matter. Marqois regards such a choice as “intolerable.” Being disgusted over the ability of others to choose is quite revealing of her thinking.
The freedom to exchange with others leads to a more efficient allocation of goods and ultimately rests upon man’s moral character and natural right to do as he pleases as long as he abstains from harming others. Humanity can’t be content living under a gun. As Albert Jay Nock put it:
The practical reason for freedom, then, is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fibre can be developed. Everything else has been tried, world without end. Going dead against reason and experience, we have tried law, compulsion and authoritarianism of various kinds, and the result is nothing to be proud of.
Without free will, capitalism cannot function properly. And without capitalism or any semblance of a market economy, civilization stagnates and regresses. Deteriorating economic conditions provide the perfect fodder for the state to expand its scope of authority. That is why freedom is the enemy of the state and those who seek it are disenfranchised at every opportunity. In the war between liberty and compulsion, he who does not speak up for those stripped away of a simple choice will have no one to speak for him when his rights are inevitably whisked away by government decree.