Are Patriotism and Nationalism ideas past their sell-by dates?

"Liberty Leading the People" (1830) by Eugene Delacroix epitomises the romantic view of nationalism,. Image via Wikipedia
"Liberty Leading the People" (1830) by Eugene Delacroix epitomises the romantic view of nationalism,. Image via Wikipedia

Patriotism, nationalism and prejudice

Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power.” - George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism (1945)

“In die stem van my volk hoor ek die stem van my God. (In the voice of my people I hear the voice of my God)” President Paul Kruger

Patriotism is the rather passive and conservative side of the coin of which nationalism is the more radical and aggressive side. It is a coin whose value has been debased beyond usefulness. Indeed, attempts in the last 100 years or so to prop the currency up have been destructive and violent, leaving misery and death in their wake.

My maternal grandmother, Grandma Morris, a doughty lady never afraid nor reluctant to speak her mind, had two deep-seated prejudices: she could not stand the Scots or the Dutch. So who does her daughter, my mother, marry? Yes, of course, a Dutch-speaking man of half Dutch and half Scottish descent! Grandma's reaction to this has, unfortunately, not been recorded.

Love, like the humanity which lives on it, knows no boundaries of nation, class or creed. Grandmother Morris herself knew this in her personal life: she was the daughter of landed gentry from the Cotswolds, England, who married “trade” against her family's wishes. Grandfather Morris was a pharmacist and therefore not of the same class as the woman he married. Because of this Grandma Morris was disinherited, cut off from her family of birth, and she and her husband had to leave England for South Africa to make a new life away from the class prejudices of her family. She clearly, though, brought a few prejudices of her own with her to her new country!

Caricature of the Berlin Conference. Note black man peering at proceedings from behind a plant at left. Image from Wikipedia
Caricature of the Berlin Conference. Note black man peering at proceedings from behind a plant at left. Image from Wikipedia
French map of 1898 showing how Africa was carved up between the European colonial powers. Image from Wikipedia.
French map of 1898 showing how Africa was carved up between the European colonial powers. Image from Wikipedia.

The imaginary reality

From the second half of the 19th Century some of the European powers began a process of slicing the continent of Africa up into colonies, a process cemented by the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884/5.

These colonies paid scant heed to the natural political formations of the African people, and so cut kingdoms and other states into pieces relatively arbitrarily to suit the colonial powers. So ties of kinship and statehood were deliberately broken.

The myth of bringing civilisation to “darkest Africa” was promoted, under which guise the resources of Africa were plundered to enrich the colonial powers. The indigenous people of Africa became landless tenants, in effect serfs, on their own land.

Then came the great age of the struggle for liberation in Africa. After World War II the people in the colonies began to chafe under colonial rule and wanted their independence back. The problem now was that it was difficult to unravel the Gordian knot created by the colonial powers out of their many colonies. Many formerly independent African states were broken up into colonies of different European powers, and so, for convenience more than anything else, the struggle for liberation took place within the borders of the colonies, rather than within borders of the previously independent Africa states. Nationalism was used to give form to the liberation struggle. What had previously been different polities were artificially, often very forcefully, welded into “nations”.

The result of this chaotic approach can be seen in some of the conflicts still going on in Africa – the Great Lakes region, Darfur, Nigeria, all are conflict zones arising from attempts to impose a “national” character onto differing peoples.

As one writer (Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism , 1983) has written, “Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist.” Or as Benedict Anderson has put it, a nation is “an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.”

Another definition of nationalism is put forward by Stephen Clark (in 'Nations and empires.' European Journal of Philosophy 4 1996), that nations are groups of people “who share stories about the world.”

Whether or not the stories are “true” is immaterial. In spite of being an imagined community, the nation, is, as W.I. Thomas would have said, very “real in its consequences.” (The Thomas theorem: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”)

Nuclear explosion image from http://helian.net/blog/category/nuclear-proliferation/
Nuclear explosion image from http://helian.net/blog/category/nuclear-proliferation/
Nazis burning the bodies of their victims. Image from http://holocaustimages.blogspot.com/2006/03/introduction.html
Nazis burning the bodies of their victims. Image from http://holocaustimages.blogspot.com/2006/03/introduction.html

Looking back at the 20th Century

"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day night." - Exodus 13:21.

Fire and smoke hang over the 20th Century, which must surely be the most bloody in human history. The fire is the atomic flash of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the smoke rises from the piles of burning corpses and belches from the chimneys of Auschwitz and Belsen, and from the barrells of millions of guns.

The century opened on the sere veld of South Africa with the first examples of that iconic form of organisation for the 20th Century, the concentration camp. It closed with the smoking corpses of Rwanda and Afghanistan, Sudan and even the Twin Towers.

One common feature of all the many genocides that have happened is that "groups" are involved, an "in-group" and an "out-group". This is where the relationship to nationalism comes in.

In his book Nationalism and the State , (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985) John Breuilly defines nationalsim as "a political doctrine built upon three basic assertions:

  1. There exists a nation with an explicit and peculiar character.
  2. The interests and values of this nation take priority over all other interests and values.
  3. The nation must be as independent as possible. This usually requires at least the attainment of political sovereignity." (p.3).

The infamous gateway to Auschwitz. Image from http://mally-gildedbutterflies.blogspot.com/
The infamous gateway to Auschwitz. Image from http://mally-gildedbutterflies.blogspot.com/
Jews being deported form France. Image from http://mally-gildedbutterflies.blogspot.com/
Jews being deported form France. Image from http://mally-gildedbutterflies.blogspot.com/
Skulls in teh Rwanand massacre museum. Image via Wikipedia
Skulls in the Rwanand massacre museum. Image via Wikipedia

Principalities and powers

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." - Eph 6:12

The existence of an "explicit and peculiar character" in a nation is where the big problem comes in, as this "explicit and peculiar character" is often seen as in opposition to the "explicit and peculiar character" of the "other" who is thereby defined as "inferior" and of less account.

Although he was writing in 1543, long before we can really begin to talk of "nations", Martin Luther gives a graphic example of this kind of idea in his book On the Jews and Their Lies, in which he describes the Jews as a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth."

Closer to our own time we notice that in Rwanda in the late 1990s almost a million were killed by people who called their victims "cockroaches".

Nationalism flourishes on exceptionalism, on the idea that "my" nation is qualitatively different from, and therefore better than, "your" nation. From this comes the absurd notion of a "national character" which, because of its "superior" nature, needs to be preserved and protected, kept "pure", often with extreme violence.

Nationalism reached a kind of apotheosis in Hitler's mad 1000-year Reich with its crematoria and Zyklon-B gas. The attempted "purification" of the so-called "Aryan race" was nationalism gone totally mad.

The reality is that there is no "pure" nation, no "pure" race. We are all products of a process of admixture going back millenia, to the distant days of the emergence of homo sapiens on the African savannas.

The great adventure of the emergence of human beings can be traced in the DNA of all present humans. We are all one, despite the artificial boundaries of the nation states.

We only have to look at the permeability of borders everywhere to see that humanity knows no borders.

Logos of the Eight Millennium Development Goals

Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
mage UNDP
mage UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image UNDP
Image from Worldwatch Institute. http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org/vs-trend/world-population-growth-slows-modestly-still-track-7-billion-late-2011
Image from Worldwatch Institute. http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org/vs-trend/world-population-growth-slows-modestly-still-track-7-billion-late-2011

Nationalism and development

"A reformulation of the national interest to include global interests is necessary because our world scarcely resembles that of 17th century Europe, when the global population was less than a billion, the overwhelming human activity was agricultural, and few people ever traveled more than ten miles from their birthplace." - Vincent Ferraro, Ruth C. Lawson Professor of International Politics at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts,

We are in the midst of a Malthusian nightmare. Population growth is far outstripping the ability of the world to sustain it. The prospect in the relatively near future is war after war over resources - in particular water, but also oil, land, food.

One of the most effective ways to control the population time bomb is by sustainable development, most especially in the areas of education and health.

“The lesson of the last 30 years is that where women are educated and have opportunities to work outside the home, fertility declines quite rapidly—no matter what the religious or ethnic background.” These are the words of demographer Richard Cincotta in a 2005 interview.

The United Nations Millennium Project's Millennium Development Goals provide an excellent way of guiding and directing development. In the UN Millennium Declaration, signed by the Heads of State of all member nations, those Heads of State declared "we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs."

The world's nations face a stark choice - either collaborate effectively to reduce poverty and improve education across the globe, or retreat into national bunkers, building ever higher walls of arms to protect their narrow national interests, walls which will fall as surely and violently as the Twin Towers fell on that nightmare day in 2001.

Prof Ferraro said in the paper quoted above, "Territorial integrity and political autonomy will always be important to states, but the threats now facing states do not respect or even acknowledge those parameters."

Nation states are going to have to re-define their interests and their concept of sovereignty to take the new realities of a globalised world into account. The prospect of a world population of more than 7 billion people this year, possibly rising to 9 billion by about 2050, makes this an urgent demand.

Narrow definitions of national interest and sovereignty are now luxuries which the world cannot afford.

Albert Einstein once said (back in 1949), "Large parts of the world are faced with starvation, while others are living in abundance. The nations were promised liberation and justice, but we have witnessed and are witnessing, even now, the sad spectacle of liberating armies firing into populations who want their independence and social equality, and supporting in those countries by force of arms, such parties and personalities as appear to be most suited to serve vested interests. Territorial questions and arguments of power, obsolete though they are, still prevail over the essential demands of common welfare and justice."

Image from http://irishautismaction.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html
Image from http://irishautismaction.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html

"Imagine" by John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Patriotism

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

  • from "Vitai Lampada" (1892) by Sir Henry Newbolt.

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England's, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

  • from " The Soldier" (1914), by Rupert Brooke.

These two quotes epitomise the romanticism of patriotism, perhaps the best of it. It is an appeal to a sort of "hearth and home" sentimentality designed to bring tears to the eyes and a warm feeling to the heart, quite different form the gritty reality of which other poets of World War I wrote:

Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire,
Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles,
Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.
What are we doing here?

The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow...
We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,
But nothing happens.

  • from "Exposure" by Wilfred Owen

The positive side of patriotism is the development of the idea of service, of being part of something greater than the individual. It promotes a sense of belonging, a sense of the beauty of the land and culture from which the individual has sprung.

Patriotism in its best sense is a desire to serve the greater good. In the world of the 21st Century it is important that this service be not exclusively to the country of one's birth or domicile, but to the world as a whole. Yes we need to love our country, but to love it in the context of the world.

We need to think globally, we need to act locally with the interests of all the people of the world in mind. Otherwise disaster will result: the need for paper causes the destruction of the rain forests; pollution in the United States causes acid rain in Canada and elsewhere; the nuclear fall-out from Chernobyl endangers the dairy industry in Western Europe. The examples can be multiplied.

If patriotism is defined as love of my country, then in the 21st Century I need to recognise that my country is no longer defined by its borders on a map. My country is the world.

"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule." - Buddha. Image from http://my.opera.com/minhlinh85/blog/2010/02/17/anger-dedicated-to-the-tv-series-life
"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule." - Buddha. Image from http://my.opera.com/minhlinh85/blog/2010/02/17/anger-dedicated-to-the-tv-series-life
Albert Einstein. Image source http://www.southbedsda.org.uk/dyslexia/geniuses
Albert Einstein. Image source http://www.southbedsda.org.uk/dyslexia/geniuses

So what?

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." - Albert Einstein

"The contemporary contradiction between an abundance of technical means for material satisfaction and the incapacity to use them for peace and the welfare of the people is soluble; it is not a necessary contradiction but one due to man's lack of courage and widom." - Erich Fromm in Man for Himself (Routledge, 1947)

In relation to nationalism my answer to the question posed in the title is an unqualified "Yes". The world can no longer afford nationalism. It is a threat to all we hold dear - peace and freedom in particular. While national interest and sovereignty are narrowly defined poverty, ignorance and disease will continue to threaten the peace and well-being of all.

Whether or not the political will exists to change the minds of people in time to avoid disaster is the question. There are powerful interests involved in maintaining the status quo. The "principalities and powers" still hold sway.

Einstein stated it well: “So long as the individual state, despite its official condemnation of war, has to consider the possibility of engaging in war, it must influence and educate its citizens—and its youth in particular—in such a way that they can easily be converted into efficient soldiers in the event of war. Therefore it is compelled not only to cultivate a technical-military training and mentality but also to implant a spirit of national vanity in its people to secure their inner readiness for the outbreak of war.”

The fact that nationalism in the past brought great benefits should not blind us to the dangers it poses today in a vastly transformed world.

Is it not time that we heeded the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me," (NIV) and put the measles of humanity behind us?

Patriotism, on the other hand, can have beneficial outcomes - we can learn from it the rewards of service, the love of people and the cherishing of the environment. Indeed, if focused on the wider world and all its people, patriotism can be a great force for good. Focused on a narrowly-defined nation, though, it can be a hindrance to peace and stability.

So I say, "I am a patriot. My country is the world."

Why Patriots are a Bit Nuts in the Head - a poem by Roger McGough

Patriots are a bit nuts in the head

because they wear

red, white and blue-

tinted spectacles

(red for blood,

white for glory

and blue ...

for a boy)

and are in effervescent danger

of losing their lives

lives are good for you

when you are alive

you can eat and drink a lot

and go out with girls

(sometimes if you are lucky

you can even go to bed with them)

but you can't do this

if you have your belly shot away

and your seeds

spread over some corner of a foreign field

to facilitate

in later years

the growing of oats by some peasant yobbo


When you are posthumous it it cold and dark

and that is why patriots are a bit nuts in the head.


  • The Mersey Sound (Penguin Modern Poets 10) 1967

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2011

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Comments 42 comments

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Very well said Tony. I can see the conflict with these terms in the United States. The Republicans and conservatives especially of the Far Right, continually accuse President Obama of putting down the U.S. and not stressing its exceptionalism. They skewered him after his landmark Egypt speech in 2009. Its ultimate results can be seen in Egypt now. They now are saying that he has helped facilitate the great "Caliphate" in the Islamic world. They also howl every time something about the United Nations is mentioned. It really sickens me. You are right that we all should be embracing the world. High speed communications and travel have shrunk our world and this should be embraced. Nationalism is evil but can be seen all over the world including the U.S. I sincerely wish we could lose this tendency to fall back on this. Nationalism and religion have been the cause of so many wars in this world that I cannot count. True peace in this world will not be achieved until we can put this to bed. Thank you Tony for writing about this critical subject for the world.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Absolutely beautiful! Yes sir Tony. Way back in a darker world that was harder to see, we needed to make sure "we" banded together. We needed to support those around us. We still do. But this world is so small now. The "traders" or business people make the world very very small. We can be anywhere in moments or hours. We are global. We need to see all the world's people as God's people. Everyone needs to be brought into the fold of humanity, not to enslave, get a better "price", or take advantage of- but to lift mankind up. With the evidence presented to me- we cannot do what mankind needs done with the 1% at the top of the world. The 1%, who own most of our US and the world, need to find a job. That 1% should not own resources for the entire planet. We are global and we need to manage our world and all its people more efficiently and that means with love. God bless you brotherman!


jandee 5 years ago

Tony,Sorry only read the starter bout Mother Morris !

Hilarious! I'm sure she is 'my Aunt' Same place of birth, same family history ..I have just been reading george Galloway of the respect party-very Scottish bloke so it really made me laugh.look forward to reading later-dog time now,bye jandee


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Thank you Tony for the eye-opening historical perspectives on Nationalism/Patriotism,seeming a controversial history.I don't see myself in a patriotic fashion and only appreciative to the opportunities my country offers and critical of it's shortcomings.;)


jandee 5 years ago

Tony,my answer is NO! if only I lived in a country that I was proud of would I consider myself a patriot ! Nationalism is sometimes forced upon a nation in order for it to unite against aggressors in contrast to the 'Gung Ho' nationalism of powerful nations enjoyed reading,m


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Tony, this is the most interesting, informative, objective, relevant, just and feasible reassessment of patriotism, nationalism and prejudice. I just don’t have better ideas about these ‘archaic’ isms. And yes, if we must use at least one in this century, it has to be as you said: “I am a patriot. My country is the world."

I must say I don’t agree with oom Paul: “In the voice of my people I hear the voice of my God.” I can’t believe that us people, busy to survive in a limited space under the rein of a president, are the voice of God. On the contrary we voice but only our own selfish ideas to survive. I hear the voice of my God in the words of uninvolved spectators – wise people who are objectively able to see the wrongs we commit towards each other in our selfish strive to survive in luxury.

Bible scriptures you used as references are staggeringly relevant!

Alarming is your prediction: “The prospect in the relatively near future is war after war over resources - in particular water, but also oil, land, food.” I believe xenophobia will become more common in the near future, and not only in SA.

Thanks for a most enjoyable read and lots and lots to ponder over. Enjoy the weekend!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hi Tony. We are very much on the same socio-political wavelength. Nationalism is anachronistic and has no place in a connected world. I think too few people realise how recently the lines on the map were drawn, and by whom, and in what circumstances.

John Lennon's Imagine is also right on the mark in this whole field.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

HS - thanks for that interesting comment. Indeed when nationalism and religion get together the result is always and without fail disastrous. We have seen it in hisotry and we see it still now. It is toxic to human beings.

Exceptionalism is also bad news and really is racist.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Interesting and articulate hub. But if one were to be presented with hubs of this magnitude on a daily basis, one would have little time to go out, wave the flag, sing a few patriotic hymns and tell all the other foreign buggers that one's country is the best.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

What a wonderful article this is Tony! Truly well done. Unfortunately, we humans do not evolve easily and we are destined to repeat our errors. Some years back I read Thucydides history of the Peloponnesian Wars and it is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING how 2,500 later we behave EXACTLY like the people in those wars. Even G W Bush's "You are either with us, or against us" is there! A truly amazing eye opener, so I am not hopeful that things will change easily, That of course means that we should try all that much harder to change them, where we see change being necessary.

Good job, this :-)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

"Nationalism is an infantile disease." That may be so, and once it presents in the patient it becomes a chronic disorder. So far, there's no cure for it and no prevention, and it is epidemic.

I don't believe that nation-states have any ability to globalize their principles; to do so is to threaten their own existence. The eradication of nationalism will come from cure and prevention, where the first step is education and the second is responsibility.

The stories that "groups of people share" need to change to reflect reality, and the agent of that change needs to be that 99 percent who do not hold the power and the wealth.

As always, your perspective is stimulating. Your essays energize my brain, which generally spends too much of its time dozing when it comes to politics and the state of the world (a condition conducive to harboring that infantile disease). Thanks for shaking up the grey matter.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Brotherman Micky - you are so right. We need to follow the great Jimi Hendrix's dictum, "When the love of power is replaced by the power of love we will have peace." I love your suggestion that the rich 1% need to get a job - that's hilarious and so, so true!

Thanks for stopping by my dear brother.

Love and peace

Tony


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

"The lesson of the last 30 years is that where women are educated and have opportunities to work outside the home, fertility declines quite rapidly—no matter what the religious or ethnic background.”

This is so true. However, the educated women also raises the IQ of her very few children. It's more about quality than quantity nowadays.

Very interesting hub, Tony. Thought provoking.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is wonderful Tony, as i read, i thought of the song, 'We are the world' The people of this world are all one, none above the other. If people could only see people, not different languages, not different colors, man , woman, equal. Education is the key. Greed takes over from the leaders and the poor, uneducated are left behind. There is no better axample than Egypt. The young educated people have spoken for equality. I believe this will happen all over the Middle East and possibly other places. Thank you for writing about this. I hope you will write about the Middle East. I know there is much to learn and you write in such a manner that we can understand.

Cheers, Love and Peace.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Maxine - great comments, thank you. Appreciate your coming by twice! Grandma Morris was apparently quite a lady! She died before I was born, sadly. Would have loved to have known her.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Bryan - thanks for stopping by. The point about the history of nationalism is that it is very short in the bigger scheme of things.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Martie - thank you for such a kind and wonderful comment. I think I worked longer on this Hub than on any other I have written. The outlook I think is rather bleek unless we all start to change our ways of thinking and acting. Education is a key and all governments everywhere should really be prioritising especially primary education. Every child in the world should get at least 5 years of quality education. When that is happening we might see the negative factors start to turn around, especially the fertility and hence birth rate, which to my mind is the greatest risk factor we face. There are just too many people in the world.

Thanks again for stopping by, my baie goeie vriend. Ek waardeer elke woord wat jy vir my skryf!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dave - thank you very much. Thanks for the reminder about "Imagine" - I have now added it to the Hub as it does capture a lot of what I'm trying to convey here. I think we as a sepcies are faced with a very real danger and the only way we can deal with it is by talking about it and raising awareness. There is no light at the end of the tunnel - just a train coming extremely fast towards us and we have no way out of the tunnel. We can only hope to stop the train, or at least slow it down drastically, before it hits us.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Tony, at the risk of pissing a lot of folks off this hub is exactly why I think you're the BEST writer on HP. You're ability to put all this together and just make it so interesting that you can't stop reading is amazing to me. I love your lessons! Peace!! Tom


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Tony, good hub.

Education may well be the key to our survival on this planet as you have said. The world is becoming overpopulated and resources are drying up.

I saw a recent documentary on the Punjab in India. This was the bread basket of that particular country. The rivers feeding the Punjab, however, are in trouble. In some places wells have to be sunk deeper and deeper and the water to be found is not always good. My heart at first goes out to the people facing this crisis then I wonder what they are doing about their population. If their population is continuing to increase then nothing really can be done for them.

In Australia we have had the strangest of summers. To begin with heavy rains came in time to destroy the NSW wheat crop and two tornadoes made sure the banana crop would be totaled. There has also been massive flooding in Queensland, northern NSW and Victoria plus a horrific bushfire out west. All of this points to global warming. It also means food shortages that will have to be made up for by importing more food from overseas.

Despite recent events, Australia is warming up and the desert is growing. People look at the map and see Australia as a vast land as big as the USA. What tragically too many of them don't realize is that much of the land is uninhabitable or only inhabitable by small bands of Aborigines. This lack of understanding will destroy my country. I hope I don't live long enough to see it happen.

The world is a finite place as you have pointed out. Until everyone realizes this and works together towards helping the planet get back on its feet then the national boundaries must remain.

The Red Chinese have had in place a one child policy that has caused social havoc but was and still is necessary if mainland China is to remain viable. In Japan there is no government policy on children but most Japanese have two children at the most.

Throughout much of Europe the number of children per couple does not exceed three in households where the families have lived in that country for generations.

To my way of thinking promoting large families at this time is morally wrong. It is also economic suicide for said families. I don't really see why we should persist in helping those who persist in this matter. Mind you, education may eventually come to the fore and provide a way for all to understand their obligations to our world and our shrinking resources.


secularist10 profile image

secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

Tony, a fascinating and great article. Enjoyed reading it. I certainly agree that in the perfect world humans would respect each other and work together in common cause for peace and prosperity. But the world is far from perfect. Accordingly, I am afraid that nationalism/ patriotism will be with us for a long time.

However, they are not unmitigated cancers. Every society that is wealthy and stable today, from Japan to Canada, from Norway to Spain to Australia, has a strong nationalist heritage. You correctly point out that nationalism/ patriotism can serve to unite a large group of people who, because of their lack of family, tribe or clan ties, otherwise would not be united.

The fact of the matter is that the nation-state, by uniting a population of millions under a single culture, language, heritage and identity, coupled with a centralized and rational-bureaucratic government system, has proven to be the most effective tool yet developed for delivering massive amounts of prosperity and peace to as many people as possible.

This nation-state system is responsible for the worst wars in history, but is also responsible for the most peace and prosperity in history, enjoyed by the greatest number of people in history. We must look at both the good and the bad.

The positive effects of nationalism/ patriotism are seen primarily in economic development--whether in western Europe and Japan several hundred years ago, or China today. There has never been a society that has gone from poor to rich without a unified and homogeneous identity.

Once wealthy, these societies can then embark on projects of transnational or international unity and cohesion. The vanguard on this front is Europe, of course, with the EU. And even the 19th century states of the US can be seen as examples of this.

But enlightenment is a luxury good, Tony. Until people are wealthy enough on a per capita basis, the old tribalistic, nationalistic, confessionalistic, sectarian or Balkanized identities will resonate with them. Rather than try to quash that basic primal tendency, I think we should work to harness that energy and channel it in the proper direction toward peace and stability and prosperity for those peoples, so that eventually one day they can join the wealthy nations in a tighter global community. That seems to be the most sustainable way forward.


Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 5 years ago from USA

Excellent article Tony with strong points to make one think outside the obvious...


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Twilight Lawns - glad you got the point! I will continue to write Hubs of this magnitude for that very reason! LOL!

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


McHamlet profile image

McHamlet 5 years ago

Brilliantly done. This is an issue I've written about myself elsewhere and I think it's a very important one. There are too many artificial divisions in this world that keep us from understanding and cooperating with each other and serve only selfish and destructive interests. Nationalism is chief among them and patriotism also plays a part, as does religion.

As James Joyce said:

"When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets."

And so should we all. Great hub.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dimitris - thank you for such a wonderful comment. I appreciate it very sincerely.

It is true there is much to be done if we are to save ourselves! And truly, no-one else is going to do it for us!

Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Sally - I'm so glad you found this discussion stimulating. You note: "The eradication of nationalism will come from cure and prevention, where the first step is education and the second is responsibility." I think that is so true and such a valuable addition to this discussion, thank y9ou.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a great comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ingenira - you make an excellent point which adds greatly to this discussion, thank you.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ruby - thanks so much for a wonderful comment. Your words mean so much to me! The events in the Middle East are very interesting, to say the least. I will think about your suggestion, though I'm not sure I have sufficient knowledge about it to really do a good job of it. Will definitely bear it in mind though, thanks.

Thanks for stopping by, dear friend.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Tom - I am overwhelmed by your kind words, my friend. Thank you very much for the vote of confidence! I really appreciate it more than I can say.

Thnanks for stopping by, my friend.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Rod - thank you for adding some very relevant and important information to this discussion. Education is vital for the coming generations and governments which fail to provide adequately for the education of all are courting disaster.

The issue of global warming is also vital. I think many in the so-called "First World" are sheltered from the effects of it by the immense wealth of those countries, though even there the world is striking back - New Orleans and other disasters are bell-wethers, I think.

Thanks for a really wonderful comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Secularist - while I agree that Nationalism has created good for many societies. My contention here is that nationalism (which I distinguish from patriotism) tends to prevent the cross-border development that is necessary to save us. The very wealth created by the nation-state becomes the problem - "why should we share what this great nation has achieved?" tends to be the reaction.

Then "development aid" tends to get given out as a gesture of the generosity of the nation state.

The nation-state is like capitalism, which works fine for those who have, and is disastrous for those who don't, and is tending to crush those in the middle.

The self-interest of the nation-state, the one thing that letting go of would ensure its survival, is the one thing that it will hold onto with the most violence - its sovereignty. Until we re-define sovereignty we will have a problem.

You wrote here, "we should work to harness that energy and channel it in the proper direction toward peace and stability and prosperity for those peoples, so that eventually one day they can join the wealthy nations in a tighter global community." That is precisely the problem - nationalism as presently practiced militates very directly against this.

You also place great emphasis on the so-called "trickle down" effect (though you don't mention it, it is implied in your comment) which doesn't work. Unfortunately concentrations of power and wealth into smaller and smaller groups is what happens - the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful while the poor and powerless go the other way.

Those concentrations of power and wealth tend to suck more and more power and wealth to themselves. The nation-state is going to have to become more and more authoritarian to maintain itself in the face of growing inequities and we already see this happening.

Even the EU which I agree was a brave experiment has become a bureaucratic nightmare beause of centralisation, or at least the attempts at centralisation.

Thanks for sparking me off again!

Appreciate your comment immensely.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Nancy - thanks for stopping by and for the great comment. I appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

McHamlet - thanks for the kind words. I love the Joyce quote. Do you know where it comes from? Also a link to where you have written a similar piece, if possible?

Thanks again for stopping by and leaving such a super comment. I appreciate it very much.

Love and peace

Tony


McHamlet profile image

McHamlet 5 years ago

Hey Tony, the Joyce quote comes from "A Portrait of the Artist as a young man", a brilliant book (then again all of his are aren't they?). I wrote about this issue myself, not in a hub or a full piece, but on philosophyforums.com in one of the threads. I was making a similar point to you. I wish I'd used the "I am a patriot. My country is the world" line, that would have summed up my argument perfectly')


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Paul - thanks for coming back with that info. I have the book but have not yet (blushing!) read it.

Love and peace

Tony


nifty@50 profile image

nifty@50 5 years ago

I thought that after Vietnam that Patriotism was all but dead in the United States, but after 911, the flags started waving and our boys were off to Iraq to settle the score. Never mind the small details like Iraq had nothing to do with 911. By the way, are we even still looking for Bin Ladden? Great hub!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Nifty - thanks for the super comment. And yes, we should never let inconvenient things like the truth interfere with our flag waving now, should we?

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

Divide and conquer has been the way of the world for half a millennium or better. Wealth has been accumulated in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. Capitalism and fascism are failed political models which have exploited both patriotism and nationalism. This third millennium needs to realize the past and hold the aristocracy accountable for the disparity of wealth in the world.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Gerry - thanks for the wonderful comment. Have you seen this amazing video? http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/12/200-count...

Well worth watching.

Thanks again for stopping y.

Love and peace

Tony


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

Thanks Tony for the terrific video. It is my new favorite because the statistics prove how far our world has come in narrowing the gap in the discrepancy in health and wealth.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Gerry - glad you liked the vid. The worrying thing that is not shown fully in the vid, though he does mention it, is the wide discrepancies that still exist within countries.

Love and peace

Tony


SilentReed profile image

SilentReed 5 years ago from Philippines

Will tearing down borders end conflict? Our culture and tradition defines what we are.Better understanding and communication is what is needed. Unfortunately there are forces at work that create these conflicts.The history of civilization tells us that decisions affecting people's lives where made and are still being made by the ruling class.There are no borders or country,for them the world is their oyster.As you indicated in this article it is their greed that has cause so much suffering.The use of "patriotism",Nationalism and other "ism" is their way of divide and conquer.Now they use the word "Globalization" to further expand their economic and political dominance.Large tracts of land in third world countries are being gobbled up to mass produce the materials needed for their world market. Displacing and disrupting the lives of the local population.Their Hedge funds are use to manipulate world currencies artificially creating financial crisis for their own selfish profits.Politicians are bought to legalize and enforce decisions made in corporate boardrooms.Globalization may finally bring peace and order,but at what price? A totalitarian world where people are define by a number in a data base with big brother watching.

"there must be recognition of the existence of the soul apart from the body,and this recognition must amount to a living faith.Non-violence does not avail those who do not posses a living faith in the God of love"~ Gandhi

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