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Left-wing nationalism (also occasionally known as "socialist nationalism") refers to any political movement that combines left-wing politics with nationalism.


In Europe, a number of left-wing nationalist movements exist, and have a long tradition. Nationalism itself was placed on the left during the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars. The original left-wing nationalists endorsed civic nationalism which defined the nation as a "daily plebiscite" and as formed by the subjective "will to live together." Related to "revanchism", the belligerent will to take revenge against Germany and retake control of Alsace-Lorrainemarker, nationalism could then be sometimes opposed to imperialism.


During the 1940s and 1950s radical intellectuals, most of whom joined the Communist Party of Australia, combined their philosophical internationalism with a "radical nationalist" commitment to Australian national culture. This type of cultural nationalism was possible among radicals in Australia at the time, in part because of the CPA's patriotic turn in line with Comintern policy from 1941, and in part because the most common understanding of what it meant to be "patriotic" at the time was a kind of pro-Empire Anglo-Australian "race patriotism". To promote an anti-British nationalism was, until the late 1960s, a "radical" activity. At the same time, this "radical nationalism" dovetailed with a growing respect for Australian cultural output among intellectuals, which was itself a product of the break in cultural supply chains - lead actors and scripts had always come from Britain and the United States - occasioned by the war.

The post-war radical nationalists promoted a type of national culture which had been canonised during the 1890s by writers including Henry Lawson, Joseph Furphy and Banjo Paterson. This culture was informed by the "bushman" myth, which held that Australians were naturally egalitarian and "practical" and anti-authoritarian. All this was represented in the "outback" working-class tradition of "mateship". The post-war radical nationalists interpreted this myth, or tradition, as having implicitly or inherently radical qualities: they believed it meant that working-class Australians were "naturally" democratic or even socialist. The apotheosis of this line of thought was in Russel Ward's book The Australian Legend (Melbourne, 1958), which sought to trace the development of this ethos from its convict origins, through bushranging, the Victorian gold rush, the spread of agriculture, the industrial strife of the early 1890s and its literary canonisation. Other significant radical nationalists included the historians Ian Turner, Lloyd Churchward, Bob Gollan, Geoffrey Serle and Brian Fitzpatrick, whom Ward described as the "spiritual father of all the radical nationalist historians in Australia", and the writers Stephen Murray-Smith, Judah Waten, Dorothy Hewett and Frank Hardy.

The radical-nationalist tradition did not survive the 1960s, as the New Left came to interpret much of Australian history - particularly labour history - as fundamentally racist, sexist, homophobic and militarist. The bushman myth, however, has survived the modernisation of Australian culture and its economy. Having informed a significant amount of cultural output during the period of the new nationalism, the "Australian Legend" was "raided" by the third-time Liberal Party leader John Howard for the conservative political Right during the 1990s.


The 1960s in Canadamarker saw the rise of a movement in favour of the independence of Quebecmarker. Among the proponents of this constitutional option for Quebec were militants of an independent and socialist Quebec. Prior to the 1960s, nationalism in Quebec had taken various forms. First, a radical liberal nationalism emerged and was a dominant voice in the political discourse of Lower Canada from the early 1800s to the 1830s. The 1830s saw the more vocal expression of a liberal and republican nationalism which was abruptly silenced with the rebellions of 1837 and 1838. In the 1840s, in a forcibly annexed Lower Canada, a moderately liberal expression of nationalism succeeded the old one, which subsisted but was confined to political marginality afterwards. In parallel to this, a new catholic and ultramontane nationalism emerged. Antagonism between the two incompatible expressions of nationalism lasted until the 1950s.

According to political scientist Henry Milner, the manifestation of a third kind of nationalism became significant when intellectuals raised the issue of the economic colonization of Quebec, something the established nationalists elites had neglected to do. Milner identifies three distinct clusters of factors in the evolution of Quebec toward left-wing nationalism: the first cluster relates to the national consciousness of Quebecers (Québécois), the second to changes in technology, industrial organization, and patterns of communication and education, the third related to "the part played by the intellectuals in the face of changes in the first two factors".


  1. Political Science, Volume 35, Issue 2; Class and Nation: Problems of Socialist Nationalism
  2. Prophecy and Politics: Socialism, Nationalism, and the Russian Jews, 1862-1917 by Jonathan Frankel (Cambridge, 1984)
  3. Stephen Alomes, A Nation at Last? (Sydney, 1988).
  4. Russel Ward, A Radical Life (South Melbourne, 1988), p.222.
  5. Humphrey McQueen, A New Britannia (Melbourne, 1970).
  6. Judith Brett, Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class (Cambridge, 2003), pp.203-206.
  7. Henry Milner (1973). The Decolonization of Quebec: An Analysis of Left-Wing Nationalism, p. 9
  8. Kevin Pask, "Late Nationalism: The Case of Quebec", New Left Review, 11, September-October 2001
  9. Henry Milner (1973). The Decolonization of Quebec: An Analysis of Left-Wing Nationalism, p. 188
  10. Henry Milner (1973). The Decolonization of Quebec: An Analysis of Left-Wing Nationalism, p. 191


  • Milner, Henry and Sheilagh Hodgins (1973). The Decolonization of Quebec: An Analysis of Left-Wing Nationalism, Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 257 p. ( online)
  • Kevin Pask, "Late Nationalism: The Case of Quebec", New Left Review, 11, September-October 2001 ( preview)

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