Oct 1, 2015

My thoughts on the concept of nationalism

This is primarily inspired by the concepts of the historian Yuval Harari, the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind + skim readings on the internet.

George Carlin said this: "I could never understand ethnic or national pride. Because to me, pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth. Being Irish isn't a skill, it's a f*cking genetic accident. You wouldn’t say "I’m proud to be 5"11". I’m proud to have a predisposition for colon cancer." So why would you be proud to be Irish, or proud to be Italian, or American or anything?"


Yes, nationalism is loyalty to something that we did not have any choice in attaining. I think it is inherently dangerous.

The Free Dictionary defines it as follows:

Nationalism (n.)

1. Devotion, especially excessive or undiscriminating devotion, to the interests or culture of a particular nation-state.
2. The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.
3. The belief that a particular cultural or ethnic group constitutes a distinct people deserving of political self-determination.

In history, nationalism worked as a concept when humans had align together to stay safe, and loyalty to one’s own society made sense. This is not the true anymore, is it?

Problems with it:

- It allows the authority/government to control the country on the premise of national pride.
- It has been, and is still, used as a propaganda tool to manipulate people into buying into the authority/government agenda (e.g., Nazi campaign in WWII. The Iraq/Iran wars, and Russia). So it is primarily used as a tool for controlling entire nations of people.
- It impedes relationship at levels above (international) and critical thinking toward one’s authority/government.
- It encourages xenophobia and racism.

I think loyalty to one’s nation does not have a social meaning. Until we find other planet with intelligent life worms, we should consider life as belonging to Earth. Instead of focusing on how to improve one’s own country, we should be focused on how to improve humanity—and on a wider scale, Earth—as a whole

References:
- http://www.debate.org/debates/Nationalism-good-or-bad/1/
- https://www.quora.com/Is-nationalism-good-or-bad

(PS: If you want to read arguments against it, my literate/educated friends on FaceBook are presenting a whole bunch of counterpoints to this on this thread.)

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