Friday, August 16, 2013

Nationalism: A Menace To The World

Why do people take pride in something as random as their ethnicity, creed, gender or the place they were born in? Pride is a sense of one's own proper dignity or value. For me I interpret this as conceit. It’s bizarre how somebody can take pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement of something they had nothing to do with. Association with a crowd contained by arbitrary borders is laughable.
How does it feel to worship
a bunch of lines on a map?

There's the type of nationalism that stems from occupation/colonialism (as long as people realise that it's a means, not an end) and a type of nationalism rooted in tradition and local customs. The first is a struggle against oppression and illegitimate authority, that needs to be supported as authoritarian human relationships cannot justify themselves.

Struggles against national oppression cannot be necessarily termed as nationalism, though it is sometimes confusingly glossed over as "nationalism of the oppressed". It aims to end existing oppression of the population (such as the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli colonial regime), not unite some imagined nation against foreigners.

The second kind adds extra artificial separations and barriers between the people of each side. People find fraternity with other people belonging to the same arbitrary division of societal order has forced them into, rather than finding fraternity with their real natural ally. The very concept of a ‘Nation’ is a very narrow one- it is used to create an illusion of unity; just because we were born on the same patch of land does not mean I share anything fundamental with the ruling class or the society of the country I was born into. What Nationalism is in essence, is an irrational feeling of being united with a group with the same characteristics - be it culture, cuisine, religion, language or ethnicity. History shows us that new nations can be created any time - nations, after all, are artificial constructs. Nationality can change over time depending on conquests by 'foreign' powers, immigration, civil wars etc.

Nationalism promotes the idealistic notion that the 'nation' (a cultural group that usually defined by the ethnic, religious and racial make-up of the majority population within the borders of a state) is something to be valued, and to take pride in. As such, they see various groups that deviate from the homogeneous make-up of the nation as threats towards it. Racism usually goes hand in hand with nationalism.

One of the constant themes pursued by the ruling class across the World is that the population should be proud of "their" country and if necessary from time to time take part in wars to protect it. During two world wars millions of civilians died, often because they imagined they had a country.

Conflict comes about when people of different cultures/faith/ethnicity etc. fail to integrate, and instead cling to their "own kind". People adopt a tribal mentality and this is where people begin to exalt their race/religion/etc. and conflict arises. The whole stick to your “own kind" mentality will only serve to stunt your potential growth as a person by the repeated feeding of the same idea from similar people as opposed to the introduction of new ideas from outside sources.

What Nationalism does within the society is to divide it deeply by means of divide and conquer-tactics. For example, if the workers from country A feel an unrest about the crisis (diminishing jobs and wage cuts), Nationalists tell them it is the fault of people from country X or have the colour Y. Soon enough the workers from A begin to despise X's and Y's. It does nothing but teach you to hate people you never met.

Never underestimate the pure destructive power of raw idiocy. Exposure to nationalism for extended periods of time or during formative years in children may cause decreased cognitive and reasoning abilities, and in extreme cases, hatred, bigotry and violence including, but not limited to fanaticism, murder and genocide. It amazes me the amount of people that cannot discern right from wrong on their own accord or common sense.

Nationalism in British tabloids
Being born in a country is not an achievement, it’s fine to be proud of what you have accomplished and achieved not for just so happen to be born in a country along with millions of others. People are proud of their country because they have no sense of themselves and are looking for something bigger, more encapsulating and symbolic to represent the potential they feel locked up inside but are hardly ever able to realise. For instance, I have friends who are "proud to be English", but if I ask them what "English" is they fall back on bland stereotypes and so we don't get anywhere beyond, "A group of people living contiguously who share random ideals". More often than not, these are innate tropes and I question whether one can be proud of something innate. There is nothing beneficial to your character if you care that deeply which side of an imaginary line you're born.

The most historically illiterate people in the entire world feel proud about things they have absolutely no control over. One should be curious to find out about their origins. But, it's not okay to pretend you're superior to others because of that place. Why humans busy themselves with which country is supreme, [when there are so many more worthwhile and intriguing things to study and explore (for example, space)] is beyond me. At the end of the day, it's a useless fight designed to divide the population; the same way that religion and racism did.

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