On Responding to Arguments for Nationalism

When someone talks to you about expanding your point of view to better understand the mental gymnastics that make their subtle racism, bigotry or hate palatable to them, know that their values are the ones history has left behind, they are the ones refusing to grow.

For the record, I don’t hold to conventional ideals of patriotism, especially when it comes to blindly thinking my country is better than the rest of them, or that America is derived from any one cultural ideal, religion or race, or that working with other countries of the world, or even more, removing the imaginary barriers between our species so we can work as one is such an awful idea. In fact, I think it’s probably the only way the future goes, at some point, and I’d rather it be peacefully than in a nuclear flash.

I also hear people talking about how we have to work with what is, not with what could be. Well, actually, it’s a lot of both. Yes, we have to have the practicality of mind to manage things as we go. But we have to have the vision and the courage to dream, and more, to make the dream the goal, instead of reaching backwards or refusing to let go.

For those out there running into the “nationalism doesn’t mean racist” argument here are some thoughts…….

“Nationalism isn’t something I’d be so proud to hang my hat on. It’s about as close to turning politics into a religion as possible, which is probably why it’s such a favorite philosophy of the evangelical right and other self described conservatives in the first place. Nationalists seek to support their own nation above all others, to govern without interference from others, while adopting the position that their state or nation is better than all the rest. They adhere to unified ideals of culture and race and language and religion (to name a few) while alienating those characteristics they deem foreign or not part of their perceived and self-described nation- something so close to racism that it can be hard to distinguish. Nationalist states make poor neighbors for other countries, are sometimes oppressive to segments of the people within their own borders, and become isolated from the international community- something the ruling nationalists prefer but the citizenry in general may not. And if we want to read from the Alt-Right playbook (and paraphrased by Trump) and talk about the “slippery slope,” then nationalism is a mere step away from ultra-nationalism (which encompasses violence for power and more societal control) which itself is just a hop away from fascism, defined as radical authoritarian nationalism, and well, that never ends well. So no, I’m not inclined to defend nationalists, white or otherwise, or to excuse their behavior in support of their goals. Frankly, patriotism, nationalism and any sorts of supremacy-isms are backwards thinking and undefensible in the modern world. Technology, transportation and communications have made our world interconnected in a million different ways, like it or not. Yes, our world is changing, and it’s not going to go back to the 1950’s or the 1850’s (unless we bomb ourselves there.) It’s moving forward, and that same technology I mentioned will be both our benefit and our bane. Real leadership moving forward will have to guide our species in a world where there is less physical work for humans (due to technology), less comfortable temperatures, more and more of us, and lots time on our hands to fill. We aren’t seeing political leaders in this or many countries willing to address the real problems we face. Nationalism and it’s ugly cousins are an expression of the fear of that reality, of the lack of vision for the people of the world, but it’s a discredited expression and it will not win out because more people reject those ideas and embrace the advances of equality. Spasms of rage from the ideologies of yesterday met by shock that they still have the adherents to rage at all will continue until humanity either grows up or generations die off. If humans weren’t still so tribal, and had the vision to work together to maximize the best of our species instead of each seeking to destroy the other and anything not already possessed…were the ideal of our one species working together for shared purpose not scorned by those pretending to know better yet never really proving it and constantly working to divide us… then globalization would have already been the norm, we’d have solved most of our problems and be so much farther towards our potential. Globalism isn’t the enemy so much as irrational proclamations that we can’t work as one, a position happily embraced by the minority power brokers of our species. In the meantime, while we wait for the leaders of tomorrow be found, as we hope for the flames of irrational hate to be extinguished for good, those who are here today must stand tall against ideologies that proclaim one person has innate supremacy over another. Today we must commit to the ideal that there is no gray line to walk on the issue of innate, inherent equality of all human beings. There is no middle ground on whether or not one gender has more value than another. There is no mistaking inclusion from exclusion, no misunderstanding when word play is used to skirt the responsibility of taking a stand. If we can’t even agree on this most basic of beginnings then none of the other things even matter. We will continue to live in the mirage of an ideal that we pretend to have achieved but have never actually even been near.

Think about it. Feel free to share.


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