On Nationalism and Its Value
How many different nationalists can you fit in a conference?
If I held a Nationalism Conference and invited a representative from every nationalist collective, what do you assume would happen? I would have a member of the Black Panther Party sitting next to an Alt-Right supporter across from a Shiite Muslim and a Jew. How much should I spend on security? Before we can consider the value of nationalism as a construct we must first understand the concept of nationalism. There have been many people who have bought in to the concept of nationalism lately, but may not fully be aware of what it truly means. Furthermore, nationalist supporters may be unaware what the social construct is fully capable of producing if left misunderstood, and to it's own devices.
Nationalism can be defined as a "loyalty and devotion to a nation especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations" (1). In this definition it can be said that individuals who promote nationalism look to their nation as supreme. Under such a notion, one may look at other nation populations as inferior to their own. We live in a multi-lateral world; such thinking is dangerous. Later, the definition says that such intense beliefs can lead to war.
It is also worth noting that a nation can be identified as a group of people who share a common believe structure or land mass. Israel can be considered a nation; a nation can be seen in Palestine. A nation can be a collection of Nations like the USSR. A nation can also be a collection of federations like the United States. Look at the history of Palestine and the Isreali people. Intense nationalism causes confusion, death and destruction.
Consider this list of notable notorious nationalists from history (2): Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo Benso, count di Cavour, Yasser Arafat,Sun Yat-sen, Giuseppe Mazzini, Gabriel Dumont, Lajos Kossuth, and Charles Stewart Parnell. Each of these individuals possess a passion—real or falsified—for their respective Nations. Each of them committed atrocities upon others for the sake of their "nation". Adolf Hitler forged a nation that aimed to remove anyone contrary to the master Aryan race. In America right wing nationalists look to erase any notion of supremacy not connected to the Aryan Race. Donald Trump would like to add his name into the ring as the next installment of nationalism in a time where other nationalist collectives are rising. But is this a wise political action?
Nationalism calls for an adherence to a set of shared cultural beliefs. Nationalism is translated from generation to generation via parents and social norms. Social norms mirror what popular culture deems appropriate. Therefore in order to understand the brand of nationalism someone follows you must look at their history and their current social activities. We have seen Donald Trump's regard for women in the comments he says about their genitalia, as well as the respect level he has for his wife. We know what he has said about minorities at home and abroad. We know his opinion on the majority of working class Americans. We have witnessed the types of people he chooses to surround himself with as well as what he does with people who disagree with him. His version of nationalism falls in line with toxic Alt-Right, neo-Nazism philosophies. These antiquated beliefs were the cause of WW2. These beliefs opened the door to eugenics. Nationalism can choke international commerce because of its separatist virtue.
As stated above, we live in a multi-lateral world. Nationalism was a powerful force contributing to WW2. Why would our world leaders turn back to a philosophy that tore the world apart once? I am very much proud to be an American. I believe that American is one of the greatest countries on Earth, but I will forever leave room for others to grow. America can still be great while helping others to actualize their greatness. I understand that such a notion is monument without international support. We can no longer afford to be Earth's sole police force. It is an unfair request. I propose that we still stand with American pride and growth. I say we take a step back from international engagement and work on national development. I request that we work with our international policy makers and NGOs to maintain international peace. The international community should be mature enough not to employ the philosophy of "If your not first you're last."(3)
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