My argument is that there is a need for ideological contestation, which is not met in the conditions of contemporary politics, where liberalism has cornered the ideological market. (p.10)
According to Schwarzmantel, this counter-ideology has to be popular, forward-looking and inspire emotionally. Only in this way can it hope to be a mass movement.
And here Schwarzmantel hits an interesting problem. Gramsci himself suggested that Marxists should aim at a "national-popular" movement; the idea being to use national symbols and traditions to inspire an emotional commitment:
So for Gramsci Marxism could meet these criteria for being the new counter-ideology ... It was ... national-popular in that it tried to inspire people with symbols and emotions rooted in popular culture and national traditions.
Notice, though, that nationalism is to be used to mobilise people to support the ultimate aim of internationalism:
... the concept of the national-popular is also problematic, especially in a country like Britain where many of the national traditions have connotations which are redolent of an imperialist past, rather than a democratic and international future. (p.13)
I don't think this admission will shock too many readers; it's been clear for many years that Australian politicians are willing to invoke a sense of national identity at times to garner support, whilst continuing to undermine the same national tradition.
Schwarzmantel recognises another problem in invoking nationalism to mobilise support for a democratic and internationalist mass movement. Modern Western countries have become more multicultural, so the sense of national unity is not as strong as it once was:
... a counter-ideology must possess the emotional resonance needed to inspire the mass basis needed in the conditions of modern politics. Gramsci saw that emerging at least in part from the national-popular dimension, but that may be a weaker base in times when the solidarity and unity of the nation have been reduced by a much more multi-cultural and heterogeneous population. (p.18)
How then can our neo-Gramscians emotionally inspire a mass movement? Schwarzmantel turns to the idea of a civic nationalism:
In order for an ideology to be popular, the mixture of nationalism is certainly effective. Hence, one could argue, the fact that a whole range of ideologies of the past ... have linked up with nationalism to give them greater pulling power ... I would suggest that the concept of the national-popular may be dated and not much help in forging an ideology of progressive politics suitable for our time.
Nationalism can certainly be separated from its ethnic an exclusive connotations by giving emphasis to a civic form of the ideology. Such civic nationalism would appeal to all those living on the same national territory, irrespective of ethnic origin, cultural or religious identity and belief, and would find its affective element in symbols of civic unity and shared political rights.
An ideology of shared citizenship rights, open to all, is the basis for a new ideology which opposes or seeks to contain the fragmenting and dissolving tendencies of the market. (p.16)
Several things strike me on reading this. First, Schwarzmantel sounds like an orthodox liberal himself here. Is there much of a difference here between Schwarzmantel the neo-Gramscian Marxist and your ordinary left-liberal? Both focus on civic nationalism and a criticism of the market.
Second, the argument doesn't work well. Schwarzmantel has already admitted that the "national-popular" is less effective in a multicultural and heterogeneous population. A civic nationalism, in which there is no regard for a shared ethnicity, will only serve to make a population more multicultural and heterogeneous.
Schwarzmantel chooses to blame the market for social fragmentation, but it's his solution, civic nationalism, which has done just as much or more to fragment and dissolve.
Third, it's questionable that shared citizenship would really inspire people as the older nationalism once did. Schwarzmantel himself is aware of this problem. He doesn't think that ideas of political or economic citizenship, shorn of national identity, will be quite enough to motivate people. Some sense of a shared membership in a "historically based community" are still necessary:
It seems to me that the strength of the national-popular is that it calls up two ideas, those of solidarity, which is in turn based on a shared history, an evolved tradition. Can the combined idea of political and economic citizenship aspire to the same emotional resonances which could be conjured up by the idea of the nation?
... Here the issue is whether a concept of shared civic rights is rooted firmly enough in an affective base which is needed in order to give citizens the incentive or emotional stimulus to internalise and make their own ideas of shared political community. My own view is that the idea of the 'civic minimum' and joint political/economic citizenship ... does need to be rooted in a historically based community. The idea of the nation has a role to play, but it takes second place to one of reciprocity and citizenship. (p.17)
So membership of a "historically based community" is still necessary to further certain political ends, but is secondary to citizenship rights.
You can see from the above why those committed to political modernism haven't entirely ditched nations and national identity. It's not that they think such things are important in themselves. They are aware, though, that the future they are planning for us, of citizenship within a state rather than membership of a nation or ethny, does not have the same power to inspire or motivate our commitments to society.