It’s not by accident that the notion of “virtue signalling” has become so central in contemporary political and cultural debates.
On the one hand, sections of the domestic population, the so-called, “working classes”, and other ostensibly disadvantaged social echelons, usually seek social approval and communion through patriotic expressions which are the “virtue signalling” of nationalism and ethnonationalism.
This kind of “nationalist virtue signalling” serves multiple purposes.
The fervency of “nationalist virtue signalling” is an area in which the stridency of “working class” expressions attains equality or even superiority over the usually more moderate or genteel expressions of the other social classes.
This constitutes an egalitarian component of populist nationalism.
The second purpose is more complex and stratified involving the fact that overt patriotism is most usually characteristic of wars between nations.
So what could in a sense be construed as working class appropriation of overt patriotism, functions as a double reminder; of those wars between nations; and as a warning to the more privileged classes who might be distracted by international indulgences into forgetting national obligations.
The link between war and warning constitutes another metonymic layer of reminder and veiled threat.
So populist nationalism produces multiple forms of symbolic compensation for the so-called, “working classes”, et al.
It could be interpreted as the reigning in of internationalist and cosmopolitan, interests and cultures, what is commonly called “globalisation”, by locally bound nationalisms?
Given the globetrotting antics of antiglobalist proponents, though, it’s obvious that more than fidelity to geographical locale is at play.
In the 20th century, the global mobility of capital in contrast to the fixed locality of labour was a common theme.
The global mobility of capital meant that capital could source labour anywhere on the globe.
Traditionally, the reverse wasn’t true, labour could not easily relocate anywhere on the globe.
So capital had the global mobility advantage over labour.
But the internet has given international communication to all, including labour and the “working classes”.
The internet has given global mobility to “fixed locality”, it has given it to the fixed locality of nationalism as against the global mobility of capital.
What has happened is that the ideology of locality has both informationalised and internationalised itself as the globally mobilised, international politics of nationalism.
It was only to be expected and it is quite logical.
If capital used the global mobility of internationalism to escape local obligations, the escape route it was using was precisely the inter-, the between, criss-crossing the borderlines, so to speak, between the nations.
Obviously, from that borderline realm of “between the nations”, capital can have its profits run along to offshore, tax havens. Tax havens being the epitome of evading local obligations of nations.
But this borderline realm of “between the nations” is the necessary concomitant of “nations”, themselves. Without nations, obviously there cannot be any ‘inter-nationalism’.
So, if nations are the ‘milking sheds of capital’, so to speak, which of course they are, then it obviously makes a lot of sense to exercise strategic interventions of power in those ‘milking shed’, nations.
Labour is using exactly the limitation of locality that capital has always exploited to labour’s disadvantage, as an international rallying cry of internet-driven, chaotic information clusters, that have been replaying all of the tropes of populist nationalism with such dramatic and farcical force, that entire governments and the courses of nations have been radically altered.
The irony, of course, is that of localism having to use detours of the very internationalism it is trying to condemn. But internationalism is no longer the only escape route for mobile capital. In a hyper- connected world, the difference between localism and globalism is moot if the information from both sources is equally accessible.
That is why so much energy and effort has gone into cryptocurrency.
It’s another escape route for mobile capital, which requires new horizons of secrecy.