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Old 04-24-2005, 10:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Nationalism

Most of us have the freedom to travel to other countries. We pay close attention to the news from far off lands, and also that of our closest national neighbours. Many of us were born in a country different than that we live in, and even more of us speak multiple languages. We have supposed international governing forces, and meddle in eachothers affairs. Online, as long as we speak a common tongue, we are common people.

Despite all of this, we still cling steadfast to the idea of nationalism. I do not suggest that we have a world government, or any such thing as that. I realize that economically and for general management sake we are still run as nations. What I ask here is if nationalism as an idea is still needed in modern times.

What do you suppose would happen if we as a planet began to think of ourselves as World Citizens above our current notions of being American or Canadian or Where-ever-you-areian? Instead of saying to oneself "I am a Canadian above all things" we said "I am a citizen of the world"

Is nationalism still needed, or will it slowly dissapate?
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Old 04-25-2005, 12:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If we all began to think of ourselves as world citizens, I imagine we'll have plenty of social strife, crime, and class struggles but international war would become a thing of the past! Okay, maybe I'm a bit of a cynic in regards to this issue.

The problem with convincing people to give up nationalism, and declare themselves world citizens, is getting them to give up something they believe in fiercely. It's like asking people to give up religion. Furthermore, that belief has to be replaced with something more powerful that will allow them to settle differences peacefully without wanting to break off from the rest of the world and start their own nation.

Nationalism is definitely still needed, but it's taking different forms these days. It seems to me that nations are starting to become defined by their ideologies as opposed to their ethnic groups. This is a step in the right direction, but more work is definitely needed in this area. I think the real work to be done is through the UN, where people can at least have the illusion of living in a nation where they feel they belong and that what they believe in will be protected by the nation-state. If they find a way to cooperate with one another through a larger organization, then that will be just as good as being world citizens.
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Old 04-25-2005, 01:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Likely, there will be a slow death to nationalism. Unfortunately by slow I mean over the next century. I have given much thought over the past decade to what direction we humans will take, and can see a larger picture in my mind of an evolving pattern of hesitant steps. Up until perhaps, five years ago, The United States had an opportunity to lead the world down a unified road. We have sadly squandered a rare opportunity to guide the world population toward a closer relationship of peace and relative harmony. Primarily by losing any respect we once held in the eyes of the collective Earth population. A true Pity.
I anticipate great change over the next Fifty years.....mostly due to the EU, and the likely, and in my mind inevitable redirection of Asian politics. If by chance there is a change in the mindset of the United States that allows for a return to a dominant Humanitarian role in world affairs, things may be expediated. Sadly my faith in this prospect has been badly shaken. It has come to the rest of the world to pave the way to a unified world......One can only hope they are up to the task.
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Old 04-25-2005, 05:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I cannot add anything new other than I agree with a society based of a world, not nations, but that it would most likely take longer than Tecoyah thinks. From personal experience and history learned, it seems that humanity (generally meaning Americans) takes much longer to bring about a change than anticipated by the people that set forth a change. It is not a question of years but generations. Yes the future will be run by the children of today however what goals and ideals are we teaching children? Have we taught them to find their own beliefs or have we simply impressed our own onto them? This forum acts like a society to foster radical ideas in humble arguments. As a teen I enjoy politics, strictly through my scientific mind. If my desired occupation falls out, I will shoot for politics to be an advocate of these ideas, no matter how unfavorable they may be. Just think of a politician that speaks the truth? It will be the people like us that can change the future if we seize it.
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Old 04-25-2005, 05:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It seems unlikely that Nationalism will die out without being replaced by something else. It is possible, as suggested, that it will evolve into something like 'citizen of earth', but this seems unlikely. National identities seem to be nearly always defined against an other, either explicitly (we're German, not French) or implicitly (America, Land of the Free; not land of the not-Free). But as a planet we do not yet have an other we can define ourselves against, and given the vast interstellar distances, it seems unlikely we ever will.
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Old 04-25-2005, 06:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've always disliked the concept of nationalism and wouldn't be entirely sad to see it go away... That said, it is a powerful glue that gets people to work together for a common cause (real or imagined).

If we were to replace this concept with anything else, I would prefer it to be a two stage process... on one hand I would like to see people engage more with their local community while having a better grasp of of their impact on the world as a whole... (I suppose this is just another way of saying: Think Globally, Act Locally).

The cynic in my though, sees it more likely that we will divide into factions of different sorts: Corporate Branding, Religions Sects, Hemisphere (i.e. North America, European Union, Asia Pacific, etc.)...
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I hope for the slow death of nationalism (it's a great way to ralley troops to your cause), I don't see it ending any time oon. Do you guys see those bumper magnets that say 'proud to be an American' going around (those always make me laugh)? I think as long as governments are able to throw words like 'patriot' and 'terror' at people, internationalism will have a tough fight.

I can't see many good uses for nationalism continuing, but there are plenty of bad reasons it will continue for a long time. What is nationalism doing today in America, Russia, and a slew of other countries? It's gone from a 'I love my country and I will defend it from it's enemies foreign and domestic' to 'CNN told me that terrorists can get anthrax in my tofu, I'm going to vote for Bush and go get some canned food'.

/sidenote Do you think Charlatan's avatar is more proned to nasal alergies?
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:13 AM   #8 (permalink)
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sidenote: the avatar reminds me of the masks that doctors wore in plague times to prevent sickness!
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Nationalism is perfectly rational, and I think necessary in the real world. When it really comes down to it, a government really should have only one purpose: to protect and serve the needs of the citizens it contains. It makes sense that the citizens should be loyal to their country because it is in turn looking out for them. One country does not look out for the wellbeing of the citizens in another country (unless you count huge humanitarian contributors like the US), their only goal is their own. Until everyone thinks of themselves on the same side nationalism is required, and unfortunately there are quite a number of people out there who would like nothing better than to rape your wife, enslave your children, and steal all of your wealth. Preventing that is one of the major purposes of your government, and you ignore that at your own peril.
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Old 04-25-2005, 08:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think that nationalism will continue to thrive until we encounter an enduring common enemy or threat to all of the nations we hope will join together.
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Old 04-25-2005, 04:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It seems to me that nationalism is just an advanced form of something that has been going on forever within humanity. Whether it is love of your family, clan, tribe, community, city, state, nation, or anything of the sort, it seems to be ingrained within us. Any sort of advancement, to a "worldwide" form or something like that, would just be a further advanced form of the same thing.
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Old 04-25-2005, 08:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phage
When it really comes down to it, a government really should have only one purpose: to protect and serve the needs of the citizens it contains. It makes sense that the citizens should be loyal to their country because it is in turn looking out for them.
I agree with this. John Locke said that the government should just ensure that our rights to property (including life, labour and profits) and no more, and I agree with him on this. Paying taxes and such to help benefit one's country is definitely a good thing, and I don't question that at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phage
One country does not look out for the wellbeing of the citizens in another country (unless you count huge humanitarian contributors like the US), their only goal is their own.
This is the problem that I've begun to see dissapate. As a world we have begun to take things into a more global perspective. Countries are beginning to support eachother more regarding global issues. Sure, Canada will have little to do with an election in Holland for example, but that is because Holland knows best about regional issues. I am not trying to say that nations should cease, but that the idea that we are seperate entities from those outside of our national borders should. With our greater levels of technology and education, individuals and communities are beginning to think on a grander scale, thinking of how to benefit not just themselves, but also other countries as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phage
Until everyone thinks of themselves on the same side nationalism is required...
Why must we all think of eachother on "the same side" before we can join as a world collective? In each country there are people with radically different ideals from our own, and yet we manage to live relatively peacefully. I am as far from Stephen Harper as I can imagine (I think the man may be a little evil ) but he and I are still fellow Canadians. Even here on the forums there are people who strongly disagree, but we are still peaceful TFPers.

What you say next, in my humble opinion, is a bit radical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phage
...and unfortunately there are quite a number of people out there who would like nothing better than to rape your wife, enslave your children, and steal all of your wealth. Preventing that is one of the major purposes of your government, and you ignore that at your own peril.
Perhaps it is the nationalism that causes us to so passionately believe that everyone out of our borders wants to kill and rape and plunder. There is no doubt in my mind that there aren't people in every country right now who wish to do this very thing, but is that not more reason to join together to find a common solution?

I am not suggesting that we are in the process of abandoning our countries. I am suggesting that we are in the process of creating something greater that will assist in our understanding and peace regarding our worldly neighbours.


(Sidenote: Moxy Fruvous's "The Gulf War Song" came on as I was typing this. Thought it was kind of funny. http://www.fruvous.com/barglyr.html#gulf)
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Old 04-26-2005, 07:59 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Nationalism is a facet of cultural identity, whilst nationalism may indeed die (although I think as long as there are country boundaries there will be a form of nationalism) we will not stop forming cultural identities, Whats wrong with a sense of pride of where your from anyway - within each nation there is a sense of identity with which side of the North South divide you are from then there's your birth city, football team, musical preference, political party, xbox or pS2 we form a sense of who we are by using the values that are given to these identities, we would only consider ourselves world citizens an an alien environment
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Old 04-26-2005, 11:26 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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if you look at nationalism as just another version of community solidarity, then i can see how some woudl treat it as inevitable and maybe eternal--but the fact that it shares some features with other modes of solidarity does not mean that it is the same, either logically or historically.

nationalism seems to me a kind of collective mental disorder specifically associated with 19th century style capitalism in general terms--with capitalist socio-economic systems that were in general organized within discrete boundaries that you see starting to come apart after world war 2, but which really starts to come under pressure from the 1970s onward.
this nationalism is of a piece with any number of other glorious achievements: wonders like colonialism, "scientific" racism, genocide, world wars on scales never seen before--with the development of standardized mass production, and all that it entails (for better and for worse). it is a central element in the construction of the ideological system for justifying and and all actions of capital, starting with the pretense that history only happens to other people, on through notions of manfiest destiny (a particularly lovely byproduct that you can map onto any number of other situations).

there is a way in which the notion of nationalism outlined above is already wholly obsolete--there are obviously other ways in which it continues to operate, usually for the worse (witness the sorry situation generated by the mayberry machiavellians around george w bush). the sad fact of the matter is that even as it might be obsolete, the category continues to structure how folk view their world, and probably will for another generation until new modes of thinking and acting within and with reference to the world begin to be worked out.

on the other hand, no-one wants to live in a transitional period.
but it seems to me that we do.
it also seems pretty clear that transitional periods are scary.
this is why, to my mind, lots of folk prefer to pretend that nationalism is something eternal--so maybe it makes more sense to look at it in psychological terms and wonder about why people seem right now to need it.
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Old 04-26-2005, 12:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Nationalism allows people to replace part of their self-image with that of their nation. This permits them to be personal failures, while still having self worth. It also allows them to justify acts as "in the national interest" which they would otherwise find unjustifiable.

If you yourself are dehumanized as a mere instrument of the grand state, viewing those who you kill/oppress/exploit as less than yourself effectively removes most of the ethical problems involved. They are either against the state (in which case, it is morally required that you destroy them), or they are poor tools of the state (failing to support it), and should be corrected and/or amputated.

It is an effective meme for a number of reasons. It centralizes power, so people who seek to have large amounts of power will encourage it. While half of the population is below average (and, if their goal is success along a mutually agreed upon measure, means that half will be failures), everyone can be a success if the success of the state as a whole is your souce of pride. It lines up with "other-fear", or the fear of strangeness, that most people seem to have. And, unlike many other simular isms, it isn't denegrated that much by modern society, so most people haven't been immunized against it.

And, like most large-scale memes, it has it's benefits.
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Old 04-26-2005, 05:34 PM   #16 (permalink)
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National Ism, is a meme that will be with us for centuries to come, Here is why I think so:

I will use America as an example, but try not to read anything into it... it's just an example.

Nationalism isn't just a meme that is a projection of ones self, (for instance America is a great country, I am proud to "be" american and therefore I am also proud of myself) it is also a meme that allows one to protect ones self. (to attack me is to attack all that is good about america - to attack america is to attack me personally)

The part of the nationalistic Meme that will be toughest and longest lasting will be the part of the Meme that is tied to the lower portions of Mazlow's needs Hierarchy. When enough American's feel Hungry because the world government had decided not to subsidize wheat production, as an example, American's will do what they have to do to protect themselves... and their Meme will modifiy itself in order to justify protection.

That's how Memes work. They are self replicating and they modify themselves based on circumstance.

Any world government would have to account for this phenomenon by ensureing that equity accross borders is paramount. Personally I cannot see a world government working unless it had an IRON fist. This would be a governement whose main focus would be keepings it's own subjects in line. The negative reinforcement provided by this government would have to be enough to overwhelm the feelings of inequity felt by those who lose out to others who are successful.

This all seems a bit scary to me, but if strong "national" government remains to represent the individuals in thier jurisdiction of the world they would have both a nationalistic "feeling" and a world society that just might work.
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Old 04-27-2005, 09:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
 
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problem with the above include:
in a globalizing capitalist context, the notion of a "strong national government" is becoming increasinglyu problematic. to see among the furthest extensions of this, look at the eu---much policy-setting that was once the pourview of nation-states has been transferred to the metanational level--creating all kinds of problems, not least of which is that these metanational institutions are no directly accountable to the population in any coherent way. nationalism, in its 19th form, has already taken quite a beating there, particularly in france, where you get a kind of collapse into an incoherent center of the main political parties, "left" and right, a kind of floating residuum of the oplder left, and the rise of a kind of neofascist position that argues the nation has to be understood as essential, as the privileged center for collective modes of articulation/identification/discourse, that this nation is defined by/around "real" french or "real" americans, who in turn use this category to marginalize another--in france, the main target is islam. but this whole move is fundamentally reactive and ultimately--there as in the states--will implode, and this most likely as a result of incompetence (thos you could see it as a matter of zeitgeist).

the interesting-ish twist is that if you reverse the polarity of the above description (sitting in the states, talking about france to using a grod based on french politics to classify american options) you arrive at the sad fact that both major political parties would be understood as essentially neofascist insofar as this aspect of their ideology was concerned--the republicans and those folk to their right explicitly so. might give you pause when you talk about nationalism as an eternal Truth, as something with an essence that is not effected by history, a history which is made by people and not by the unfolding of some Form.
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