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Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:04 PM

The concept of nationalism is essentially ethically empty...we need to change the narrative.

America is shut for business. Nationalism, isolationism, xenophobia and protectionism is the name of the game. Nativism is all the rage. Nation hood and national identity are taking centre stage after 50 years of relative globalisation and it is not a good look. Here in the UK the Prime Minister (for the next week anyway!) keeps saying we are open for business, which is ironic for a nation that is about to slam shut its borders, and I am very sure that if we did not have an ocean between us and everyone else one of our many right wing wankers would right now be demanding we build a wall to keep the ‘other’ out. Hell, right now, some of the runners for new Prime Minister are calling for a suspension of the mother of all Parliaments so they can force through a no deal Brexit.

It seems to me that across the west we are currently seeking to redefine ourselves, however the obsession with nationalism and national identity from some (mostly white, mostly left behind communities), being driven by a populist narrative, is more than a little problematic. We against them may be considered understandable by some but as a narrative it teaches you to hate people you have never met. It certainly teaches you to externalise why your life has not gone to the plans you dreamed about when young. Pay sucks? Blame the immigrant. Feel scared? Blame the Muslim. Feel powerless? Blame the minority. Those who cling to national identity over rationality tend to need to look outside their own community for someone to blame for everything that sucks, but they will also vote for the nationalist sabre rattler over and above looking at what is really in their economic best interest, based on a false narrative that somehow, we are better than everyone else. Assertions of nationalism fundamentally stand in the way of the realisation of a ‘nationhood of man’. It excludes rather than includes people.

Populist strong men (and women) are playing on the fears and anger of the ‘left behind’ and the use of nationalism as a tool of control of the masses essentially creates a dichotomy between ancient feelings of communal loyalty and our modem democratic systems of popular sovereignty - of the people and for the people. Nationalism in its most benign form may undeniably expose in us a fundamental part of human nature - a hankering for self-determination and justice (but does not every human wish for this irrespective of where they come from?)– and which is why popular sovereignty is probably the best form of governance of our age. However, when this is inevitably exploited by cynical nasty fuckers what is benign can too often in the 21st century turn into something with dark tribal undercurrents and taken to extremes we see the banning of people from nation states because of their religion or ethnicity and taken one step further, as we have seen all too often, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The question today is how much we should let them get away with? Bad behaviour, racist behaviour and protectionist behaviour all excused and condoned because of some arbitrary sense of identity based on a loyalty to a border, to a language, to a race? Build that wall, Ban that Muslim. Stop free movement. Looking at it in the context of what is happening today I am unsure if nationalism, even in its most benign from should ever be seen as a force for good. I am unsure that we can justify some the cohesive benefits that may come from national identity with the fact that populist leaders exploit those natural feelings of communal identity into something horrible. If you look at Trump and you look at Brexit it is not overstating the case to say that the concept of nationalism is essentially ethically empty. It in no way feeds into moral choices, individual values or the concept of self-identity. It is a canard. Nation states are arbitrary units. There is no divine right to exist. Nations disappear, but the people who populated that nation remain.

In 1941 there were only 11 democracies left in the world. Are we heading there again? I don’t believe so but it is a shame that people allow nationalist rhetoric to distort their better selves. Nations are only as good as the people that govern them. And so, we enter an age when history potentially repeats itself. Again.

As I wrote yesterday, the right wing will lose in the end, but how far history repeats itself before this bollocks is stopped depends on us. The history I want to repeat is the positivity of nation states working together post WW2 to create a period of stability the West had never known previously. We saw this last week with the D Day celebrations and how life affirming they were. We need to kick serious arse over the next 18 months. We need to stop history repeating itself.

Just sayin'

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Reply The concept of nationalism is essentially ethically empty...we need to change the narrative. (Original post)
Soph0571 Jun 2019 OP
Post removed Jun 2019 #1
ismnotwasm Jun 2019 #4
sop Jun 2019 #2
Name removed Jun 2019 #3

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Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:13 PM

4. Yawn.

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Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:07 PM

2. Intolerant people can be made to fear Democracy

Political scientists Steven V. Miller's and Nicholas T. Davis' paper titled "White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy" found a correlation between white Americans’ intolerance and their support for authoritarian rule: "When intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy." I think that's what we're witnessing today.

The abandonment of one's "commitment to democracy" because of intolerance can be self-defeating, the resulting authoritarianism often only favors the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. President Lyndon Johnson, describing working-class southern whites' willingness to accept their own economic exploitation by simply stoking their intolerance and sense of racial superiority, wryly noted, “Hell, give 'em somebody to look down on, and they'll empty their pockets for you.”

Trump was able to harness this intolerance and exploit deeply-rooted racism, nativism, christian fundamentalism, white nationalism and hatred of the dreaded "other" among "white outgroups," or what he calls his base. He didn't create this dynamic, it's been a part of American politics for decades. As with all authoritarians, Trump just used it to the economic detriment of these outgroups.

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