TED Conversations

Levi LCL

Director-General , The Universal Party


This conversation is closed.

Is Nationalism a 21st Century Ethic - Isn't Nationalism more like Racism or Sexism than Patriotism?

Everywhere you look there are stories, articles, and studies showing a growing trend of 'global minded' citizens all around the world. We hear talk of the 'international community' in everyday articles about wars, embargos and conflict as well as arts and culture. Most know that our modern economy is highly interdependent and have come to terms with the realization that what happens in another country affects their domestic policy and the ordinary lives of their citizens. Why then is nationalism so common, among an already global world where everyday life is dictated more by what occurs in foreign countries than the people around you. From clothes, to food, to music and movies, to automobiles and gas can we afford to be nationalist any longer?

It seems that nationalism is very much like racism or sexism when your on the receiving end of the hostility and brutality it creates. People despising you just for existing or being born somewhere, something you cannot change, and even though we may be able to change our nationality (those of us who are wealthy enough) we must pick one, and any choice carries with it a long host of problems. In a global world shouldn't there be more space for global citizens, for people who don't want to listen to politicians rally against foreigners to scapegoat their policies and problems, or commit to other xenophobic tendencies.

The idea that one can be a nationalist and fair and balanced to other nations and peoples is very much based on the outdated and unjust idea of "separate but equal'. Which as we all know from history and everyday life never occurs and is merely a sweet way of asking to keep things the same, often said by those from the wealthiest and most privileged backgrounds in their respective nations.

To commit to a nation is to prioritize one country, one people, over 190 others, which means no matter who you are or where you are, you automatically care less about the majority of humanity. There is another way, right?


Closing Statement from Levi LCL

Thanks everyone for participating in a lively debate on nationalism, and the rise of supranationalism in the 21st century as a practical solution and identity to the global social problems we face.

Due to the breadth of replies, I suggest those who are still interested in arguing this case continue, and join 'The Universal Party' on Facebook - A platform of universal values aimed at creating a global political movement that rallies supranationalism and applies it to the world stage.

We are the first truly global generation and the 21st century belongs to us. Thus lets continue this debate.


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    Sep 29 2012: The political scientist Benedict Anderson describes nation states as imagined communities. ‘Imagined’, he writes, ‘because members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the mind of each lives the image of their communion.’
    Today's nation state based world is a political anarchy because each state has absolute freedom about what it does with its resources, which are not really it's resources if one draws a line through it next day. The national borders are contrived and lines with history (mostly sad) marred with wars, aggression or simply accession by military power. Just look at the cross border conflicts over rivers, land and natural resources.
    Nationalism is an idea that can make one person hero and villain on two sides of a line. It is an increasingly debatable and outdated concept in a world at the brink of environmental collapse.
  • Oct 2 2012: Every imaginary line drawn in the sand creates another bar of a real prison for oneself and every other person that approaches.

    Jiddu Krishnamurti:
    "When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of [everyone]. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a [person] who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; [such person] is concerned with the total understanding of [everyone].”

    A world citizen.
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      Oct 2 2012: Interesting way of putting it! Territory I have said is an incredibly divisive idea. Property can still exist, but we really got to work on this concept of territory.
  • Sep 24 2012: Nationalism, oh a word i hate so very much, well to me its stupid we r seperated from everyone else we r in our countryd thinkin we r better then them and we r stronger when reslly we r all just a bunch of dumb asses fighting for shit yeah like america my great country its so free we have so much freedom yet a person can go kill someone and get away but get put in jail for smoken a blunt, other countrys say oh we r men we rule the women, others say, lets keep war going and not try to help shit...wish we new how many people r actually dieing for nothing just for freedom that we could have for free .... but no . i think we should all stop being followers and make some revolution. only resson the world is like this is cuz we dont do anything about it only thing the president cares for is gay rights. I hate being called part of this nation not to sound so bitchy but it used to be a goood nation but then some how it came to this.... then nationalism u get all these fights about race ,sex, and a lot of dumb shit people dont honestly care about they just want to sound right and so much education so little smart people ....WTF!! -_- STOP MAKEN US YOUNG PPL GO TO SO MUCH SCHOOL half the ppl out there r fucking rich and havent done shit!..... i wish i was not even human and if u spent time reading this then wow u waisted a while of ur life cuz no one will listen to anyone that isnt old and blind why cant the young nation have a choice in our future yall r going to be dead! we need a say! and so manypeople r gunna read this and say omg look at how un educated this girl is... well heres what i say.... i didnt ask for ur comment thanks for paying attention but do me a favor and fuck off... spelling and punctuation isnt going to get u the good things in life which come completely free and our natioinalism put a price on it now days .....we can stand against it. but i doubt anyone would try besides me
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      Sep 24 2012: You have more people in your corner, and thinking just like you do, than you may realize. Your anger is justified, in my humble opinion. Speaking now from my own personal and past expeience, it is time to own the reasons you are upset, redirect your anger and focus on what if any future we have left before us. We have to do this if we are to make a better world for our children that are on their way. From my past, I will share with you that my unleashed anger took from me several years of freedom, giving to me incarceration due to my own choice to abuse illegal drugs in a failed effort to self-medicate. Sometimes you anger seems directed at your allies, like myself, who could not agree with you and your sentiments more strongly. Channel that anger kilani, and let us do something for the future and become people who are able to love themselves for the ground we stood. your ally, Tim
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        Sep 24 2012: Many stand.
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          Sep 26 2012: thanks Levi, you and others like yourself give me confidence to stand and think deeper than we were taught. And your right, our sharing will help others rethink, or begin to think about all that we all have shared today. may it give them strength to look deeper without feeling aloneor like a traitor. That is one of nationalisms most evil characteristic, when people think for themselves they have been taught to believe they are traitors and evil. many world leaders could not be happier about the subject consequences of thinking freely. Hope to hear more questions like this.
      • Sep 24 2012: Im not an angry person if i seem to be i just find it sad that people r so stuck in there own minds to try to exspress someone elses and understand it. People never have the exact same opinions. But that doesnt mean we should fight over that. And the freedom we have yeah sure its great but its comeing with a cost when we could have it for free and full. We dont have full freedom theres more to it that i think we havent understood because our generations have trys to block the thought out and yeah people stand but not really thinking it threw and yeah. The younger generation needs to have a voice.
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          Sep 26 2012: Hello kilani. Forgive me for assuming I knew anything about you when we have only met here at TED. My sub-conscious mind attempts to measure the whole of the world and its inhabitants from memories stored, it can be my own worst enemy, when really it only means to protect me. I assumed you're angry because of your choice of words, when I am angry, tired or frustrated, etc., etc., I use very harsh language. When I hear it, I check myself and try to understand why I am I speaking with such venom, so intellectually, when I hear similar talk I assume someone is mad as hell, like me. You have reminded me to try and listen with a heart equally strong as my mind, then I know, I will be more objective.
          I also remember , what I call shattered illusions, times in my life when I understood the planet was a much different place then the one I had hoped to be born into. People were not sharing in hopes and visions for each other, and many secretly hate another's success or happiness, sometimes, even family. These thoughts anger me, yet to this day. At times, I must retreat to sort it out. People wonder what has happened to me when they have not heard or seen me for awhile. All these years later and I remain to struggle against the anger, the same anger that fuels my positive, pro-social actions through out the other days. I t may sound psychotic, I understand, but this anger was unleashed for thirty years of my life, leaving a path of destruction, theirs and mine. I began to understand the story of the two dogs fighting within my chest, told to me by an elderly friend of mine. My Grandmother knew of this rage, and used to recite her dreams of my un-doing in an effort to help me through the struggle of owning the turmoil within my soul. The batle for the bragging rights between my heart and mind. I share this because my prejudice is due to me, not you. You are concerned and thinking, for that I thank you. The world may not heal, but I do acquire understanding
    • Sep 24 2012: Listen to the youth for they speak the truth. Rhymes aside, the feeling of entitlement is a great fan to our friend flame. Freedom has never been free that is why until now many find it hard to even find the words to describe it yet alone claim to have it in its entirety. Move forward my dear, that is the best advice this clueless adult can give you. Understand your anger and own it, use your words and solve the problem. Attitude is everything.
      • Sep 24 2012: Freedom should be free. How will anyone know until someone stands up and trys to make it free. The only reason its not is because generations b4 us and we continue to walk in the same way we should switch it up. War is how we get freedom? Thats not free not free isnt freedom we should be able to be one. Just wish presidency war and government didnt exist seperation would stop and fightwas not a solution.. sounds like an amazing life we could have
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          Sep 26 2012: You're right! Freedom should be free, and it is mind wash that tells us freedom is not free. I understand, today, there is no freedom living in civilized nations. Where ever there is organized religion, institutionalized education, and a legitimized government that takes liberty or freedom from anyone not infringing on the rights of others, or they may trick you into believing in ownership rights of earth, water, and minerals, then tax you annually for them and take them when your taxes are not paid, (is this truly ownership) then you are paying for your freedom, which means it is no longer free. Only some of the indigenous people around the world experience anything close to the freedom we speak of and we do not have to look very far back to see what happened to the native americans. We don't have to look back at all to see what is happening this day to tribal people all around the world. From the southern tip of south america to the farthest points north of canada and alaska, imperialistic conquest, manifest destiny has colonized it all, acquired our freedom for the price of a false sense of security. The lives, humans, animals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects, and spiders are bought and sold for the natural resources they own and occupy. Some think," It's too damn bad they were born on top of our oil!" (uranium, cobalt, etc., etc.) Aside from all of this, we have to remember, there could not have been a better time for us to be born, we are the help and answer we have been waiting on. The generations yet to come are counting on us to be where the ancients have foretold we would be waiting, with the strength and knowledge for a healthier earth kept safe in our hearts. There is ancient prophecy of the indigenous, several thousand years old which speaks of the days we live. Maybe, if you are interested, check out Rainbow Warrior Gathering, or Warriors of the Rainbow. It may help ease your mind, many are there who share your questions and desires
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          Sep 26 2012: kilani, one more thing. I had to smile when I read and re-read your statement and/or question,

          "War is how we get freedom?"

          I love it! I don't know how old you are and it doesn't matter, your insight inspires me. Many people who believe they are knowledgeable would tell you, "yes' we are fighting for our freedom, and spreading democracy." Wars are not fought to preserve freedom, in my humble and knowledgeable opinion, wars are fought to steal freedom and prop up fake democracies. In the next few years, we are going to hear and learn a lot about the many wars and thirty-+ invasions the u.s. has committed, the lies that led up to and the lies still perpetrated to this day in an effort to protect the guilty. Check out the new release at the bookstores by Juan Gonzales --"Harvest of Empire" The movie is soon to be released and we americans will know why I refer to this country as the united states of embarassment

          check out www.DemocracyNow,org

          If you have access to satellite tv, check out Free Speech TV channel 348 here on Direct TV, also Link TV on channel 375, also on Direct TV channel 375, great truthful programming, and as hard as it might be, as far as entertainment and cheap laughs go, quit watching cable and network news channels. I wish you the best and hope to hear more from you. You are welcome to e-mail me through TED's inhouse e-mai, anytimel. Tim
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      Sep 26 2012: "When the earth is sick and the animals are dying there will come a tribe of peoples from all cultures who believe in deeds not words who will restore the earth to her former beauty. This tribe will be known as the Warriors of the Rainbow."
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    Sep 10 2012: "There's no finer use of a flag than a blanket"

    People only defend nationalism when they want to do something that goes against human dignity. By arguing that they are doing it for their country (such as wars, terrorism, crusades) they are underrating important human values, that in normal circumstances would stop them from these acts of war.
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      Sep 10 2012: Very true, often the worst atrocities are done out of a justification 'for the greater good' or 'well-being' of a nation. Humanity would afford no such justification, or a human identity.
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    Sep 7 2012: Humans will never make progress divided into imaginary communities fighting over relatively small problems, divided we fail, united we stand. Many accept this as true, we the globally minded, merely ask for it to be translated into action.

    All for one, one for all. It is both possible, and necessary to adopt this view in the face of growing economic inequality, clossal environmental degradation, and numerous violent conflicts. We (humans) have overcome slavery, kingdoms, tribes, and empires that have kept us apart, now we will overcome nationalism. The strongest most potent force of conflict in the modern world.

    Not because any one nation so evil or unpleasant for its citizens, but because on a whole the nation-state system simply doesn't work out - no matter how hard people try to make it work, and on some level we all know it.

    This leaves us with the choice, to invent a new man made system, or to plough on without reform allowing our problems to outweigh our capacity to solve them. Some may choose the later, but many may rise to the challenge, be brave, and make a change of history that will come to define the 21st century.

    We humans have got a lot of problems, and we need unity more than anything. Nations don't solve problems, people do, and their numbers grow everyday.

    It's time people show their pride in being human, not some separate smaller identity.
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    Sep 3 2012: We live in local communities first before we are global citizens; and it is in being law abiding citizens in our local communities that we show ourselves as good global citizens.
    Patriotism is good; but we are together in our humanity. No nation should adopt the "It's us against the world" view.
    Patriotism must give way to universal charity when the two conflict.
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      Sep 3 2012: I was raised in 50 countries by the time I was 20. I have no home village, and there are millions more like me. For us there is only one option, global citizenship, as its easier for us to feel at home in Korea when we're German, or At home in Brazil when we are Japanese.

      Perhaps an alternative is the idea of human patriotism, for the human nation. I believe it can have an even more engaging habit and powerful meaning, if we start to use it more often.

      But what you said is good as well.
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        Sep 4 2012: The word Patriotism has the ring of violent conflict attached to it. It's not the sort of name I would use for a peaceful rally call on a planet-wide level.

        I would suggest world citizen as a replacement.
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          Sep 4 2012: Suggest an alternative.
        • Sep 4 2012: Perhaps humanism.
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          Sep 5 2012: World citizen and humanism are theories, and good suggestions, but human patriotism is a feeling towards one another.

          You wouldn't be like I want people to feel (world citizen) towards one another. Changes in words can have changes in the human heart, many villagers around the world or poor citizens may not feel they have the prestige to call themselves globetrotters, but they can darn well feel patriotism for the world, and a human nation.

          Part of the strange wording, is an attempt to make the identity of global citizens less aloof, and more like something people en mass can get into, a fever to be caught.
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        Sep 5 2012: Patriotism is a level of devotion to ones country. Some Patriots feel more aloft than others, more patriotic than their fellow devotes.

        By calling into question: how devoted are you to your country, you create a standard of alignment. You could force them back into a national alignment structure.

        World Citizens would have to find their point of alignment in this devotee structure. If they didn't measure up, perhaps they might feel the need to establish their own global alignment, their own patriotic group. This would have the effect of creating Global Citizen who are aligned in different groups. We end up with the same diversity that leads to social, Global fragmentation.

        How about something simple like brother and sisterhood?
        Or, another simple word, Earthling? Citizen of the Earth, etc.
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          Sep 6 2012: "A patriot is a man who loves his country always... and his government... when it deserves it." Mark Twain paraphrased
  • Sep 3 2012: "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." ~Albert Einstein

    Nationalism is no longer relevant to this epoche of globalizing tendency. Sure, it provides a sense of identity in some form; but perhaps instead of nationality, we need humanity; and instead of nations, we need a world. This tribal thinking may have served us well in the past, where identity as a nation, or tribe for that matter, was essential for survival of both the race and their culture. Today we have the opposite. We have two tendencies nowadays: The dissolution of nationality by political/economical means (example: European Union) and the dissolution by common means, that is, growing together and accepting one another's cultures, thus improving upon them. The problem with nationality, is wide in its scope, yet simple in its explanation: separation. We separate us with fellow man, when calling ourselves german, or polish, italian, etc... That truly constitutes an act of violence toward the species as a whole.

    It takes time, but most important of all, it takes a working worldly socio-economic model to hold the glue together (not under the rule of governments or private financial institutions such as the World Bank, but under the people -for the people). I mention socio-economic system, because when shit hits the fan (economic collapse) you see hatred towards one another, instead of compassion. Take the European Crisis that is taking place. The greek are slagging off the Germans for being Nazi-like with European politics, and the Germans labeling the Greeks for being lazy, unworthy. Why did this happen? Political Union - too fast and without the whole understanding of culture. So again to nationalism, we need rather access to the necessities of life, and I assure you, nations will grow together. Look for instance what a movement like the Zeitgeist Movement, for example, has recognized to be true: we are one planet.

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      Sep 3 2012: Great points, I am in agreement - right up until the ending. The Zeitgeist Movement, its one of those organizations where you dont trust the founder, and as success isnt quickly realized it becomes progressively like a cult. When people get frustrated they become increasingly brash. Nonetheless strong points, and perhaps a very similar means.
      • Comment deleted

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          Sep 3 2012: Thanks, I am the Director-General of The Universal Party, I have no need for other movements, I only wish to add and combined movements into ours so that we may add upon one another and make real change in a consolidated global narrative.

          But as a good habit I remain open to suggestion. Perhaps to avoid my inevitable corruption as you suggest ).
  • Oct 2 2012: Yea I happen to agree... I also think nationalism is much so an illusion. It doesn't really exist. What exists are the differences in culture, and maybe race, but race is also a made thing in our heads to structure the world (so often at the expense of others); nationalism is something else entirely. Like saying that I'm "American". "American" is basically everything in the world; French, English, Irish, Native American, African, Mexican, etc. etc. Nothing really makes "American", unless you say so in your head. No nation or culture is superior to another too. And to finish this off, words of Buddhism come to mind: "The world is my home." Nationalism. Ugh
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    Sep 30 2012: Borders are evolving and will keep metamorphosing over the years. The nation-state we know today will be much different in the future.
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    Sep 26 2012: Mi Piace!!!! Thank You Levi! You put a new perspective of nationalism for me! I think that racism, sexism, nationalism, and other prejudices are stemmed from ignorance, close-mindedness, and contentedness.
  • Sep 26 2012: see finaly somone understand thank you!!! Fina;
    lly thanks TIM :)
  • Sep 26 2012: I don't care who you be knowin or what you created, what school you attended and how you were grade Yeah who you grew up with or who you just dated, and what you agree with or what you debated. You cherished or hated, different or related. You sober or faded, :) we should be thinkin like this
  • Sep 25 2012: In light of the recent tensions between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, this discussion feels painfully salient. As a 1st generation Chinese-Canadian living in urban China now, I am alarmed - even horrified - to find the divisive sense of nationalism present even amongst my tween-aged students. "Teacher, do you like Japan?" they recently asked beginning a class. All it took was my "Yes" to elicit their unexperienced and propagandized, yet strong and pervasive dislike - even hate - was towards Japan(ese) (I wasn't quite able to pin down whether it was the noun or adjective that was the target of their comments). Everything from "bomb the Japanese" to "it's okay to kill them because they killed millions of Chinese in Nanjing". Most were readily able to regurgitate facts from their history books and report news bites about American companies (read Apple) suspiciously published map data that names the disputed territory according to the Japanese name. "America wants China to go to war with Japan so that it China will stay behind in the global economic race," one student said.

    If the bitter, angry tones of nationalism exist even amongst these innocent, unexperienced children in this urban, forward-thinking country, I am afraid to think about how else they must manifest. Such senseless hate. I am left with the motivating thought, "What is my responsibility in all of this?"
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      Sep 25 2012: Changing mindsets towards racism came from people confronting it, the same can be done for xenophobia where most beliefs are held - unchallenged. Point out that being human comes first, nations second and that talking in this manner negates the humanity and dehumanizes, its not logic, its prejudice.

      Few people knowing participate in prejudice, once its out in the open.
  • Sep 24 2012: I think everyone is keen on change, progress and moving forward. I believe the challenge truly lies in finding something truthful common ground that everyone can benefit from and building that vision for the next generation. But first if posters are really honest about this pursuit, we all have to agree that we will not be the ones to reap.the benefits but rather the next generation or even the one after. The key lies in inspiration. No matter what anyone says in this forum, change will not follow. The status quo is what it is, and merely preaching that the world should be one is not enough to overcome inspired nationalists, patriots, the religious and anyone who values their identity over another's. That is just the nature of the beast. The real path to unity is the conceptual understanding that together we are stronger, that bigger is only better when the right system is applied. Communities and economics run on both the principle of communication.
    • Sep 24 2012: We could be something greater then and bigger then what has been on earth. Just to many negative people that wont give a single shit. We need u except that not everyone is the same and weall have our opinions but we can look deeper then just our differences i mean imagen a life where we could just be free and not afraid. Just plane free its sad though. We cant get over our small difderences. Some people r so ignorent
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    Sep 24 2012: Nationalism, along with all the other -isms is a false security for a brainwahsed people in a broken nation. So yes, I could not agree with the correlation between racism and nationalism any less firmly than I stated previously. All -isms are counter productive to balance and harmony.
    Nice observation, thanks for the question.
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    Sep 19 2012: Nationalism, compared to strict ego-centrism, is an improvement. Anything that expands the horizon of the limits of the group you call "us" is good. But yes, we have reached the point where we have to care about the large human community of the whole planet in order to get our species act together and take care of business.

    See Jeremy Rifkin's "Empathic Civilization" and many others to expand this approach and scale it up to global proportions. Bucky Fuller was there. Nelson Mandela was there. I like the "Stage 5 Tribe" described by David Logan and others.

    I like the image of the swarm or murmuration, as in
    -a reaction to the 2009 Copenhagen summit.

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      Sep 19 2012: There is defnintly more empathy in a system of world governance, as its built on the inherit equality and worth of human beings. As of today it is expected that Indians and Chinese should have a smaller voice and global role than civilizations far smaller and with less population. How does this occur? Through the nationalist inflation of human life. In which people are only as good as their nation is powerful.
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        Sep 24 2012: Hey Levi

        Point taken; however I want to reexamine our direction. It might be that civilization, in all its positive connotations, may not be the same thing as governance, which seems to be more about political traditions than cultural by usual context. Paradigms of many species of power are shifting as I speak.

        Trust is and always will be an issue and one of the central points of contention may be that many established leaders cannot seem to let go of warfare as a tool of change. Corporations and institutions have got to allow people at large to be engaged with the stewardship of our planet.

        Real bonds between humans are key for the larger good. Compassion and empathy must be involved in future paradigms. Get all people to share the planet; that's the hard part. Finding ways to do it is relatively easy.

  • Sep 19 2012: Nationalism is simply an obselete idea, much as Feudalism is. Not that it never had value, or that it has no good qualities..The experiences of the last few centureies has given us a good sense of just how unstable and uncivilised an idea it is: It has justified incredible atrocities , killed millions of people for vague reasons, all based on the premise that there can be no Law higher than Patriotism, which usually comes down to Might makes Right., and certainly has not the sllightest regard for human beings, except "Members" of the Nation. But this is exactly it's weakest point: just who constitutes the "Nation", anyway? Minorities usally don't count. Like the Irish in Britain, or Moslems in Serbia. Originally,as a historical process, the "Nation" was sort of self defined, like the formation of France at the time of Joan of Arc. But often as nations became successful, other groups were incorporated, someitmes by force, sometimes more or less voluntarily. First thing you know, you have an "Empire", no longer an Ethnic or cultural unit. That is what is happening to the US right now. No longer a bunch of WASPs.We should not mourn the end of Nationalism, we should just move on. Over time, human groups who feel "related" have grown larger and larger. And there is a tendency to create legal protections for ordinary life, so as to avoid violent conflicts.. This has been done quite successfully up to the very large City level. Citydwellers do not believe that "wars" would settle problems within their cities.; But iInternationally, it's completely different: Wars can be devastating and frequent, and the usual reason given: "We had no alternative". Indeed so. But it is just this instability that dooms Nations; they have no way to solve prolblems fairly, in the absence of a system of World Law. There is no such thing as "International Law" at present, meaning Rules that all nations follow , subject to penalties.
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      Sep 19 2012: Very true, I like the 'no law higher than Patriotism' line, it encapsulates how nationalists see the international stage.

      There are no systems of world law, but there can be - with enough sweat.
  • Sep 14 2012: Patriotism implies nationalism: a patriot would fight for his country against another country even if that other country is morally superior so you can't be a patriot without being a nationalist.
    • Sep 14 2012: I for one, consider all countries that are not Western style liberal democracies to be completely illegitimate. So yes, patriotism for a country which does not respect our fundamental enlightenment values is essentially misplaced.

      Then again, nothing is black and white. Is the US reluctance to use proportional representation mean that the country is a tyrannical dictatorship?

      On the individual level however, it is still logical, desirable even, for people to sympathize for a country which guarantees their rights, to which they pay taxes, and which is constituted by citizens they identify with. If said country does not guarantee their citizenship a certain set of rights, or fails to uphold the law, then the whole point of the social contract is practically moot.

      That does not mean that pride and commitment to a country which succeeds in doing this is misplaced - I find it necessary, and positive.

      "True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."
      - Clarence Darrow
      • Sep 14 2012: "On the individual level however, it is still logical, desirable even, for people to sympathize for a country which guarantees their rights, to which they pay taxes, and which is constituted by citizens they identify with."

        Of course, but it stops being so clear cut when two countries who fit your description go to war, which was the situation I was talking about, let alone when the "enemy" country is superior. Would an American patriot refuse to fight against a country which ensures its citizens all the same rights as the US, but with the addition of a national popular vote and more rights for gay people?
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        Sep 15 2012: I'm am for sake of convenience going to ignore how bigoted 'I for one, consider all countries that are not Western style liberal democracies to be completely illegitimate' sounds, and focus on the point the that by your own standards (successful western nation states) only 17 percent of the world would get a passing grade. Which means nation-states are by large and wide failures, why should the worlds people insist on using a model which doesn't work? The world has problems, and we need solutions. Nationalism has been tried, and it has failed to deliver results. I do not favour clinging to models, when they have been disproved.

        Pushing nationalist sentiment on people who've been at the receiving end of its discrimination, who's lives have been marred by crooked national leaders, and both exclusive and aggressive ethnic and social nationalism, is far more unnatural than asking them to liken to 'pan-human' feelings. Nationalism has made millions of refugees, two world wars, and genocides in every continent - it has far more opposition than universal humanist sentiment. It merely lacks a public theatre.

        The optimism in nationalism was better reserved for the 17th century, before people could look at a map of the world, completely dominated by nation-states and realize, nothing has changed.

        Nationalism will not stop or even competently handle a global epidemic of aids, war, halt poverty, or global warming - the 20th century is proof of this, as it saw the rise of each - the challenges of our time. Thus it shouldn't be our choice.
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          Sep 15 2012: From my geographical point of existence,75% of the planets problems come from the northern hemisphere,you want to rescue the planet? then ask those that humans deem less to suicide for the sake of the race,if this is abhorrent then ask anyone about resource management,at the back of every humans mind lurks that monster,it's genetic,we are predicated towards self preservation and gene disemination,get past this then the wonder and joy will pass but it will never go away,it will always be there and eventually the machine will reflect it in it's product.

          I like what you say,when are you going to run for Prime minister?
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        Sep 16 2012: To Ken, '75% of the planets problems come from the northern hemisphere' I don't even know how you'd beginning calculating that, 75% of AIDs doesn't exist in the northern hemisphere, for that matter neither does 75% of gender inequality or numerous other issues. Pollution isn't the best indicator for all social issues.

        Nothing lurks anywhere, there's no dark self that's likely a belief influenced by Christian mythology. Whatever this 'monster' is it certainty isn't genetic, making mistakes doesn't make you a beast, it just makes you wrong. There isn't suffering because the world is led by monsters, its led by people who are incompetent, mainly because their philosophies, methods and habits are to disregard most peoples opinions and help, instead of adding upon them.
  • Sep 7 2012: Nationalism is today for stone age humans.
    The universe has opened to us. To think of nationalism as a necessity is like living in the past, living in isolation from human advances, being short sighted or simply stupid. We are all in this little spec of star dust together and our destiny is the same, no matter what part of the planet you come from or even if you are human, animal or otherwise.
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      Sep 9 2012: Good point! It's nice to hear a view that doesn't assume nationalism is correct from the first seconds.
  • Sep 6 2012: You look out for those that mean something to you, that are linked to you.
    I look out for my family, my friends and my general community if I can. That community then extends further upwards to government level.

    If I had a choice between assigning a coal deposit to my country, or another one that would benefit equally from it, I would choose my own country, as what I care about is in that country. That's nationalism essentially. I prefer my country, my community, over others. Not because I dislike the other countries or communities but because I care less about them.

    When that coal deposit, and the benefiting equally parts start to change then you worry really. Then the character of the voters come into play and based on current trends, the West looks out for itself at all costs, with a little aid given to assuage the guilt.

    Is it wrong to look out for the place that you care about though?
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      Sep 7 2012: Hello, thanks for taking the time to post on this conversation. I wish you'd taken a bit more time however and read through more of the responses of people on it.

      Nobody said they dont care about their family, friends or general immediate community. It's a false choice and a inapporporiate straw man argument to invent the assumption that in order to work globally or have a global identity, you must forfeit and deprioritize your family, friends and community. Nobody would do this, nobody has ever asked for this.

      The wrongful assumption is that in order for one community to benefit another must suffer. This is the basis of nationalism, a harsh zero sum mentality, that assumes anything foreign to itself or new should be distrusted and dehumanized, this behaviour should not be projected onto other systems of belief. A example of this is the globalist party of Universalists who's slogan is, self, family, and humanity - why? Because its possible to serve each without inventing a problem, that only one can benefit.

      This is the age of mutual benefit, humanity doesn't benefit from the neglect of a family, a community, or an individual - no amount of wrongful assumptions will change that. It's completely possible to help a local community as well as the global community, as it often takes the exact same thing - which is why many problems are often global. You'll find you have little to fear from a cause who looks out for everybody, equally, and there is nothing wrong about that.

      As a general rule, assume the other people are human. I assume you have decent motivations, assume the same. Assumptions of neglect of family, friends, and community does not befit this however, I understand this may not be what you intended.
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    Sep 6 2012: We're human,we need anchor points and where you are born is the first point,as time moves on you may move around but eventually you find a place and settle down and merge with the local environment.human nature,if the human race was constantly on the move we would probably turn the planet into Mars tomorrow.
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      Sep 7 2012: Where you choose to live should not determine your identity, you should be human first and whatever local identity second. I think its best, for example just because you move from Boston to Tokyo doesn't mean suddenly you have to espouse the Japanese local political view. This wouldn't be a radical assumption based on your statement, unless you where assuming people never leave their country when they find 'anchor points', as to my knowledge many often do.

      I've said it once, and I'll say it again to this end. You can simultaneously be local and global, there is no distinction, being globalist doesn't require an out-of-body experience, although to many it seems foreign enough at the moment to appear to. Often supranational thinkers are much better at defending whatever community they are in, because they engage without the preconception their identities will clash.

      To have a global identity, one doesn't need to abandon the local, but merely loose or question local preconceptions and work with others without them.
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    Sep 6 2012: I think nationalism is linked to our capacity of organization. We started grouping in tribes, and as our intelligence and tech grew we became able to organize in bigger communities.

    I think the internet became the seed of the next challenge, may be the final frontier, a global community which gives the same value to a any human being whatever his birth place may be. Its clear that if this happen it will take a few centuries.

    However the are projects such as ours called Global Opinion Force at www.gof.do which is aware of this concepts and offers tiny steps to reach the sense of a global community.

    I think a clever perspective for the futre is to think of ourselves as HUMANS FIRST, CITIZENS SECOND.
  • Sep 6 2012: Nationalism concentrates all the worst impulses of humanity into a single backwards doctrine. While it may have had its uses rooting out the edifices of feudalism, it is essentially an ethic for which the 21st century has no use and as a consequence it must be relegated to the history books just like feudalism.

    What we need now is a anti-nationalist, cosmopolitan, monolithic, supranationalist, humanitarian, universalist, global culture that can motivate the creation of new global institutions capable of representing humanity above all nations.

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    Sep 5 2012: Nationalism should be practiced like team sports. I like the Dodgers, they are my local team, I spend my money there when I feel like going to the ballpark. I don't like the Giants... No one has to die over it... but aside from that, I believe a sense of healthy competition keeps us sharp.
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      Sep 6 2012: Yeah that's not what many experience as reality, nationalism is not like football or tennis. People die in large, large, nearly unimaginable numbers for it, and I believe it deserves deeper and longer thought on whether it is necessary at all.

      World War 1 and 2, would you consider this healthy competition? Was the United Nations very conception not an acknowledgement on behalf of all the world governments that nationalism unchecked would run astray and cause great violence.

      The best thing is to stand for one another, not compete and utilize poverty and suffering of others to expand on your own well-being. The age of zero-sum mentalities is on the decline.

      P.S. I 'm sure your own personal views are quite tolerant but the ideas you support cause many problems beyond your comparatively fantastically safe and stable country (yes I know there's high murder rates and prisons are full), and since these ideas have global applications you must be responsible to their global implications. Nationalisms true meaning cannot be seen from a case study of one country - but by measure of its interactions with others, for that's when its darker elements come out. All countries have two faces, the one they show locals and the one they show foreigners, aka America in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan probably dont feel like their cultures are being validated.
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        Sep 6 2012: I'm talking about the future of nationalism, not it's past. America has the most powerful army in the world, and we are painfully nationalist... How many nations have we conquered during our 60 years of dominance?

        A few islands we treated pretty horribly. We got involved in a few scirmishes that wrere none of our business... but... be honest... In the history of human empires of our wealth and military might, name one power, which took less territory at the height of it's power...

        We're the worst form of government which ever existed... Except of course, for every other form of governance humanity has yet tried : p

        National pride keeps you sharp, and you should be proud to be British as well. Especially when making purchasing decisions, you should focus on your local economy, to raise workers standards of living, and improve the lives of your neighbors... It's just common sense, the imaginary, nonsense faith, we place in our own local economy, increases its value, in a faith based economy. Everyone should have local pride... That is my opinion though, I could be wrong.
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          Sep 6 2012: I find peoples political beliefs are often contrary or hypocritical to the values the actually hold dear. Simply because people spend most of their time developing their own relationship to the world and much less time considering others.

          So I read your profile, it says world-traveller (surprising), someone who cares about gender neutral parent incomes and human dignity.

          Based on the little I get from how you describe yourself, I'm guessing your somebody who doesn't like assigning labels to somebody, then mistreating them because of it. But that's exactly what your doing when you practice nationalism, you only need to realize it.
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          Sep 6 2012: P.S. Last time I checked eliminating a generation of Vietnamese males and embargoing Cuba into the ground, carpet bombing of Lao, the routine assassination of South American leaders, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq coupled with the nuclear annihilation of cities in Japan was much more than a few Islands.

          Also china... China at the height of its power expanded very little beyond its present borders for thousands of years, and ruled in a time when the west was little more than tribes wandering the woods.
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        Sep 6 2012: "I'm guessing your somebody who doesn't like assigning labels to somebody, then mistreating them because of it. But that's exactly what your doing when you practice nationalism"

        Not at all. When I practice nationalism I simply engage in pride that I live in the most diverse, and creative empire in human history. I strive to improve my nation, and return it to its senses. If I had no sense of national pride, I would not care that my country has gone off the rails in recent years. Since I love my country, and respect what people suffered through to create it, I strive to make it better.... That is all my nationalism does.

        China had issues with legal slavery until 1905 btw... and were very racist, admittedly justifiably, against the Japanese. No ones hands are clean. Let he who is without yada, yada yada : p

        Also, I just have to mention this... For all the travel Europeans do... You seem to have no realistic concept of how white and homogenous you all are... At least, the 10 countries I've been to... and that was in tourist cities... The concept that Europe is diverse, can only be entertained by a European.
        • Sep 6 2012: I would say that Europe is diverse because it happens to be a continent encompassing many different countries with different languages, histories, and traditions. As such, the idea that it isn't can only be entertained by the ignorant.

          Let's ignore your offensive comment that all of Europe is "white" for a moment and focus on your underlying assumption that diversity comes from the color of people's skin. I would say that is a pretty problematic criteria because skin color does not reflect life experience or personal character and therein lies the problem with nationalist logic that says humanity can be conveniently categorized like insects into prepackaged, one-dimensional categories.

          And yes, if you make statements like "I am from the greatest country in the world" you are implicitly making a judgement about the inferiority of other countries. There is nothing wrong with celebrating one's culture but that does not necessarily mean that you have to make normative judgements about it being better than others.
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          Sep 6 2012: To David,

          You have stated you don't like to stereotype people by nationality. Interesting notion.

          I imagine thus far you have been narrating my comments in your head with a British accent, seeing as you've told me to be proud of the fact I'm British. The truth is the reason it says United Kingdom under my name is that's where I went to university, its my biggest network of friends and contacts and is relevant for business - I am not British, I can't even fake a British accent.

          I've neglected correcting this because thus far I have hoped to convince you with the power and content of my ideas, but I see that it requires a more personal demonstration.

          I'll pause, while you struggle to find me a new label - I am rather rebellious perhaps I'm Palestinian, then again I do look rather Mediterranean perhaps I'm Italian or Greek, or maybe something exotic like South African. Personally I've always wondered what I'd sound like with a Rastafarian accent. People get wrongful perceptions about people all the time based on nationality, and its not okay - that's the theme of the original question.

          Anyway, have fun allotting me to my new category. Just don't expect it to affect my actions, thoughts, or beliefs.
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        Sep 6 2012: Didn't say greatest... Most diverse, and creative, so far. I think those two things are linked, that was why Rome was good for awhile, it accepted everyone. Also we have the best military, but personally I'm not proud of that, it should shrink. China has been doing better in the last decade honestly, but Nikola Tesla invented more of the devices you use, than most countries.

        I didn't mean white to just mean white... What I meant, is that in Paris, you meet white people from Paris. In Rome, you meet Italians, from Rome. In Athens, you meet Greek people, from Athens. It's not a diverse culture internally... The continent as a whole is diverse, but you don't have a uniform government.

        In Los Angeles, you meet Greek people from Athens, and white people from Paris, and Italian people from Rome, and Africans, born in Africa, and 4th generation latino Americans, and Cuban refugees... You can't walk down the street without seeing people from all over the world. Europe is not like that, each city is very homogenous.
        • Sep 6 2012: As somebody born in Europe and somebody who has spent extended periods of time living, working and studying in those cities you dismiss as being "homogenous" I have nothing else to say other than you don't know what you're talking about.

          And what you qualify your claim that America is more diverse than the entire continent of Europe with, anecdotal personal experiences about meeting people from random countries in LA, can easily be matched by anybody who has lived in a major European city.

          Try telling European cities are homogenous to the 1 in 3 foreign born inhabitants of London from such countries as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Poland, and Jamaica and the millions more who come from other areas of the United Kingdom.

          Try telling European cities are homogenous to the 19% of people (1 in 5) who live in Paris that were actually born there.

          Try telling European cities are homogenous to the population of Vienna, 40% of which were not even born in Austria.

          Even though I disagree with with your comments, thank you for illustrating how nationalism can make one resort to wild unsubstantiated claims to validate a quality of their particular locale.
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        Sep 6 2012: In Los Angeles... Almost 50% of the population is from the continent of Europe... Is that a demographic?

        Again, you just don't even realize how different it is.
        • Sep 6 2012: I don't prescribe to the ideology of American exceptionalism and therefore don't find anything novel about cultural diversity in America when compared to Europe.
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        Sep 6 2012: Benjamin,

        Sorry Levi, no reply button. I did not say exceptional. I said we are the most diverse, and creative nation in history. By creative, I meant in terms of inventions we (humanity) use and love today... that may be a bit biased... i'll give you that, I'm a techy. To be fair, America also gives a good run for the money in terms of artwork though, again, not over the last decade : (

        I am proud of the 2 things we do well. I am ashamed of the fact that we are the most violent nation of the last decade. I am ashamed that we abandoned the bill of rights. I am ashamed that we teach young boys how to fly killer robots with playstation controllers... but, what little nationalism I have left is reserved for creativity, and diversity, my countries two greatest strengths.

        Germany has and abundance of the worlds greatest engineers, and they should be proud of that... the way they are proud of their sports teams in the olympics. It's fun to talk a little sh"t, and mess with each other a bit, it's how you break down one anothers defenses, and learn. France and Italy make the best wine, and have some of the most amazing religious artwork ever created... and they should be proud of it. Spain has Gaudi... How can you not be a bit nationalist about that?

        As someone who grew up in New York, and moved to Los Angeles however, I'm confident very few European nations experience the inter continental cultural exchange enjoyed in most major American cities. Paris was a horrible example though, even my own memory betrays me... Paris was a bit different in that regard. Never been to London, much to my regret. Hopefully I remedy that after a month or so doing Egypt Israel. And no I'm not a rich man, I work hard, save for a year or two, and choose to spend what little disposable income I have exploring the world as cheaply as possible, in hostels.
        • Sep 7 2012: "As someone who grew up in New York, and moved to Los Angeles however, I'm confident very few European nations experience the inter continental cultural exchange enjoyed in most major American cities."

          Ever heard of the EU?
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        Sep 6 2012: I apologize for the proud to be British thing... I should have said "Proud to be a member of the United Kingdom", but it's longer, so I took a percentage based guess. I just meant you should be proud of wherever you are, and wherever you are from. It's a necessary tool of survival, which encourages you to make it a better place.

        For the record I did not narrate you with a British accent, I like most Americans, think globally... I'm Scottish, Polish, German, and Irish after all.
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          Sep 7 2012: I would have to reiterate my position once more on this issue. It's not a necessary tool for survival, and America is not unique. Last time I checked Canada was made of immigrants too, and they have a whole section of their country which speaks another language, Australia is also a country of immigrants.

          Countries like India and China have actual diversity, where they speak different languages and have significant differences and problems. Kerala (South India) has a communist government and countless local languages. American differences are bland, regions change in America and slight changes occur in accent, and largely newly invented idiosyncratic issues. Regions change in China, and police presence dwindles, the land changes, and the majority religion is Islam. Russia extends from Japan to Eastern Europe, the Congo still has pygmy tribes, Countries in Micronesia Yap still trade with stones, If you had a global perspective, the last thing you'd do is tell us how diverse America is, its nothing compared to the world around it, and no offence very few outside of America care.

          International news covers genocide in Sudan, civil war in Syria, not the differences between Alabama and New York, I know that's putting it too harshly, but to many foreigners its just not relevant. If they ask when your abroad, its just courtesy, just like how you don't know difference between their states - nowhere really is it that big a deal.

          There's 185 plus countries, people can barely recall important information about each, let alone each providence or state inside. It'd be Herculean. It's not kind to expect foreigners to memorize differences between states, when you cant reciprocate. It's petty, every country has it.
        • Sep 7 2012: The term "member of the United Kingdom" makes no sense. It's a country, not a church. But they have a word for when somebody is a member of a nation-state - citizen. I think he made clear that he wasn't a British citizen when he said "I'm not British."

          The thing is having distant ancestral ties to a place doesn't suddenly imbue one with an understanding of it. I mean my great grandfather was Russian but I don't walk around calling myself Russian because I can't speak Russian, I'm not a citizen of Russia, and I've only been to Russia once. That's why I find it amusing when some people in the United States go around calling themselves Irish, for instance, when they can't even identify Ireland on a world map. For some being Irish isn't some novelty they can pull out of the bag to seem diverse, it's their actual country of citizenship, birth, and residence.

          "I like most Americans, think globally."

          Don't you see at least some contradiction in being nationalist about thinking globally?
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        Sep 7 2012: I already explained my definition of nationalism, and it is a global one. The Dodgers, and The Giants, are both part of Major League Baseball, they don't murder one another... but they still manage a healthy rivalry, and sense of competition. That's the way I'm nationalist. I'm proud of what's good about my country, I care enough about it to change what's wrong with it... and, I've chosen to live here.

        Canada, and the USA are very similar in how we approach diversity. The United States, does not even have a national language, and if you immigrate here legally, we have to be willing to teach you in your own language, until you learn the common language of english. Australia, is right there with us, we are all nations of immigrants, and most of us are very proud of that. It's a great thing to be. Canada, and Australia, have much smaller populations, so maybe they're just as creative, but simply have a smaller place on the world stage.

        We are not exceptional, we are not the greatest, but we do have the most diverse population, more diverse even than Canada and Australia. The United States grants full citizenship to over 1 million people a year... On that one thing, no one competes... I'm allowed to say diversity is our greatest strength because it is objectively, verifiably accurate. Creativity, again, there's good argument... but the idea that you think a country which speaks 2 languages is more diverse than Los Angeles and New York is ludicrous... Every language on earth is spoken in New York city. That's the cool thing about us.

        My point is not about America being special... It's about how all nations are special, and America has people from all nations working together. America, Australia, and Canada, are where nationalism came to die. They are where Japanese and Chinese people get along, and French and German people get along, and Huutu, and Tutsi have gotten along... for over a hundred years. That's cool, denounce it all you want.
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          Sep 7 2012: I think part of the difference in view here is that Levi is considering only differences among states within the US, and notably slight differences in accent, while you are considering the diversity of culture and language within metropolitan areas.

          When the teachers at a school look around them and see kids speaking 45 different languages in one school and bringing cultural traditions to match, they, fortunately, do not find these differences "bland." Rather these differences children bring, along with the common features the children all share, represent an opportunity.

          I think people regardless of where they live or have traveled seem to perceive countries as more homogeneous than they, in fact, are.
          People have a lot to learn about each other, despite what they may think they know.
  • Sep 5 2012: I was in Kenya when the train to Mombasa derailed - hundreds of passengers were strewn across the savannah, and the local government was unable to rescue everyone in a timely manner. Whites were airlifted to hospitals in Nairobi. Blacks were left to die - some with only minor injuries.

    The East African newspaper was on fire for days, condemning the priorities of their own government.

    The law of economics is quite clear on this subject. The more you have of anything... ANYTHING - the less value is attached to same. Period.

    End of discussion.

    Rail and stomp your feet - evangelize on the sanctity of HUMAN life - even as those humans continue to breed to the detriment of every other living thing.

    Xenophobia, nationalism... call it what you want. The 21st century will be a time for choices - between Bangladeshis and Tigers. Between African farmers and giraffes.

    Right wing xenophobia aligns perfectly with Left wing environmentalism - policies to rid the planet of poor breeders is mandatory. Econ 101.

    Pick up a copy of Outside Magazine. Or any publication by and for the Wildlife Federation and Peta.

    Outside is published in Santa Fe, and a quick perusal tells you the choices of their readers and writers. Too many people. Too few animals, plants, and open spaces. We don't want to look into the eyes of dying children. We just want them gone.

    I join Paul Theroux in my misanthrope, which increases exponentially with my passport stamps.

    I blame penicillin, AID and anthropocentric religion for our desperate situation. If they cure Malaria, all of middle Africa will be destroyed.

    Nobody wants to live in a world with 9 billion people. And the law of economics will prevail. Not a good time for brown eyes or skin.

    I choose Elephants over Masai. I choose wildlife parks over Bangladeshis. I choose whales over Japanese.

    sorry... but I speak for millions and millions of others - too timid to confess
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      Sep 5 2012: Look you volunteered and Africa and got startled, so you changed your world-view. It happens, I lived in Africa from a young age I don't really see them as foreign, and I don't get surprised when atrocities happen, they happen all the time and have been happening for millions of years - which is a great reason to support something seeking real worldwide solutions, not accept it as inevitable and hide behind 'radical' ideas that are actually old, and have been tried over and over to no effect.

      What's the definition of insanity? "Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result', trying emotional fascism over and over and expecting anything but failure, is ridiculous. Being fascist about the environment doesn't make you brave, it makes you to weak to collect yourself and exercise the discipline necessary to get real results, for both people and the environment. There is a better way, so lets do that, not the easy, emotional, dramatic way.

      Prejudice is weakness, populations which are wealthy have done so through openness and cosmpolitian values, nobody trades with someone trying to eliminate them, as you say economics prevail.
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    Sep 5 2012: I would like to start by thanking you for this very well put question. I’ve had this thought as well on the 4th of July this last year. Im only twenty years old and I’m looking on social networking sights and just evaluating the community and the people put off the vibe ( and a lot of the time plainly say) “America! F**k all the other countries!” This is especially prevalent in the younger generations and others around my age. I don’t understand this at all. We shouldn’t care where the person is from all we should care about is that they are another person! If everyone was taught at a young age to accept the differences and it and to try and make other lives better then we wouldn't have to worry about constantly protecting ourselves from attackers.Once again I greatly appreciate it because ive been looking for the words to say and you just said them.
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      Sep 5 2012: Thanks Stefon. Young peoples hearts, especially your generation can be stirred again with feelings for human sympathy with the right words, the right actions. I suggest you put yourself to it, if it is an issue you find yourself drawn to, with a sense of duty.
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    Sep 5 2012: Sometimes, your national cohesion is all that keeps you alive. The state of Israel is surrounded by enemies. They have been taken on the carpet by other countries many times for clamping down on the number of Palestinian immigrants. There is a strong inclination towards genetic exclusiveness. But, I believe this is done for the sake of survival in support of their National interests. They have no valid political alternatives. They are a people of unique quality that may never join in with a global community under one banner. Saudi Arabia is also such a nation.

    In this sense, it may be correct to call Israel and Saudi Arabia a form of National Racism. It wasn't that long ago that the United States, touted as a melting pot, actively sought to give a primal, National, sense of self to white people over people of color. They do, appear to be moving away from this personification, due in part to the fact that people, not exclusively white, are themselves becoming a majority.

    I'm starting to understand the question that Levi is asking us to consider.
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      Sep 5 2012: Do not fear for the people of Saudi Arabia or Israel. Their countries national narratives will not overcome their ability to first be human.

      I grew up partly in the middle east amongst the royal families of many nations, there is much humanism and internationalism amongst them. Most are raised in Europe, educated in America or Britain, and citizens of a foreign land. They preach anti-western sentiment to get votes (per se), not because its a inner belief. Religion is like the East Asian concept of 'face', it is applied similarly to the practice of their faith with the same kind of one-upmanship that leads to bipolar views in the public sphere.

      In Israel a popular genre of music for the Israeli youth is Palestinian hip hop/rap, why? It preaches against Zionism and the Israeli state. Because on many levels they agree, and sympathize. In Saudi the House of Saud has mercantile history with little inclination towards religion and nationalism, they maintain them both to keep hold of the Whabbist faction they long ago partnered with who maintain their police and military, a regrettable alliance they well know, as they find themselves unable to easily transcend its expired mandate.

      There are contradictions to our national narratives everywhere, we need but find them.

      People everywhere are sympathetic to a global cause, they only need to believe there is energy and footwork behind it, to begin to consider it more seriously.

      And thanks as always for your participation in this conversation.
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        Sep 5 2012: I only brought it up because I'm Jewish and pretty updated on things overseas. In the Temples, we have people who live in Israel proper come and give talks and updates on what is happening in Israel, how we can help, etc. Most Jews are very updated on what's happening in all the issues, especially things relating to defense.

        If you are Jew in American, you are also an Israeli Citizen.

        "People everywhere are sympathetic to a global cause, they only need to believe there is energy and footwork behind it, to begin to consider it more seriously."

        I can agree with this statement. What was Canada's contribution to the Liberian civil war to over throw the Kadafi's regime? What is their take on the Syrian conflict?
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          Sep 5 2012: Really? You have dual citizenship, that's great. I do imagine however that Jewish-american alliances aren't particularly keen on highlighting the other side to the story. Although some temples are quite sympathetic. However I'm sure your much better informed than the majority of the planet.
      • Sep 5 2012: I really admire and root for your dedication and hope you're very
        successful in encouraging and nurturing a universalist view. Whatever the reality
        at the moment, this is what all should strive for.

        As I wrote earlier, we've been there done that and wore all the T-shirts before, in
        the heady 1970's. We were absolutely convinced the old mean divisive belligerent
        way was gone. It was a bit of a shock to discover that you had to keep starting
        from scratch.
        Our epiphany was not even skin deep - it was restricted to a limited part of the world
        and even more limited milieu of western educated people. I believe things are really
        getting better, but it will be a long haul, maybe slightly shorter thanks to social media -
        at least there's now a really good reason to become literate...
        But it's useful to consider that most of the world's population still cannot fathom the
        world beyond the clan, that we may be programmed to put some personal allegiances
        first, and plan the universalist strategy accordingly. (I caught part of a documentary on
        Papua, where the old clan fights used to be with bow and arrow (it was like a game,
        one said) and now it's bullets and people die. Same thing in the South Sudan; so maybe
        things will get worse before they get better?)
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          Sep 5 2012: We, my generation of similar thinkers and I. Will do our best.
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          Sep 5 2012: We should fight wars with paintball weapons. I know it's off topic but the bow and arrow comment was too hard to pass up. If we had wars where no one died, perhaps that would evolve to hmmmm let's say communication and cooperation. No death means no need for revenge. We all just wash the paint off and go grab a beer and talk about how fun of a war it was.
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        Sep 5 2012: There tends to be a homogenous ideal in all temples about the state of Israel. If anti-Antisemitism were to start up here in the United States (it could happen) at least we would have a place to go. During the holocaust, there wasn't a State of Israel to flee to Just some land owned by a large group of Israelis. It took a UN charter to build the nation of Israel.

        I don't mean this personally Levi, but you almost speak with the demeanor of a state department official. How do you come by these notions about other countries, if you don't mind me asking?
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          Sep 5 2012: To my knowledge state department officials are not on the payroll of a nation state to question the very ideals of nationalism. It seems rather contradictory, most accept and endorse nation-states blindly if not to consul themselves their work is meaningful and somewhat ethical then to justify a career.

          My views are my own, I have born them from extensive travels that begun when I was 2 and haven't ended since. I have volunteered and lived on every continent at least 10 times, I believe a global view motivates very often global service. I was raised amongst foreign dignitaries so perhaps I've picked up something.
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        Sep 5 2012: So you've overheard conversations. Been privy to information, etc?
        Do you still have this network available to you through foreign friends you've made in your lifetime, etc?
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          Sep 5 2012: Yes, I've had my days in the sun. More often than not I was able to participate in the decision making process. It seems I have a pension for attracting the wealthiest of Asian families, that politicians seem to appreciate.

          Yes I have a lot of international friends, however not to oversell my utility everyone has limits and most people when called upon to engage will only do so if there is already a sizeable population. It is a contradiction that I find quite irritating. I am young, I do not have a network to match a US senator, which is required to initiate meaningful change it seems.
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    Sep 4 2012: When Koesller wrote his seminal book "The Ghost in the Machine" in 1967, he coined the term "Holon" to describe something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. This is probably the most integral philosophy we have today (as continued by Ken WIlber in his AQAL framework and others) where the more we expand our consciousness out of of the subset or meta group we belong to the more we see them as holons or sets within sets. It takes conscious effort to remove yourself from your tribe, your neighborhood, your favorite sports team, you city, your country, your ethnicity, your religion until finally you get to your world and then even further to the Omega Point of a universal consciousness. This can only occur in a society which encourages contemplation and philosophy and even meditation. Perhaps we need to encourage more people to be contemplative (as Sam Harris suggests) and then we will see beyond our little and belittling tags and definitions. For me personally I have always found myself a Citizen of a City (London, New York, New Delhi) and then the World - countries are so 20th century.

    PS There are now 206 sovereign states in the world and many more vying for statehood. I guess we will become like the US where every city is incorporated by itself and is a semi-autonomous being....
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      Sep 4 2012: I hope we don't move towards city identities, that'd be a throwback to Ancient Greece, where there was lots and lots of war, conflict, and brutal 'salt the earth' attitudes between neighbouring cities. I believe a global identity is most fitting for the 21st century, and besides most big cities are the same nowadays anywhere.

      London, New York, Beijing, Tokyo, etc they're the closest you can get to being the same. They're home to a spreading generation of globally minded citizens, with very similar big city lifestyles, hopefully who don't identify with their city, but rather a cosmopolitan existence. Especially since most big cities make decisions that reach far beyond their borders, especially New York and London's financial sectors (they could use some globally minded ethics).
  • Sep 3 2012: Agreed. It is time to trash nationalism.

    Now lets convince others, starting with the media. At one time the Olympics were about the best individual athletes. It was about individual excellence. Now it is a showcase for nationalism, and the media love this aspect of the games because it gets the viewers involved in the competition and increases ratings. The media do not care about the other effects. When the media cover violence at soccer games, it does not seem to occur to them that they are encouraging the nationalism that leads to this violence.

    Caring about the people who are closer to you is part of human nature, and it has its positive side. Nationalism as used by the media, and especially as used by politicians, is much more harmful than good.

    In the USA our politicians are trying to make a big debate on the issue that the USA is a special country. This is an excellent example of politicians going after what I call the stupid vote. This false issue does real harm, and the politicians are fully aware of this harm. Of course the media love this issue too.
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      Sep 3 2012: Barry, I have been pondering something related to this question. Do you know any American who believes what another American says just because he is an American? Or anyone who thinks a person is more credible on an issue (unrelated to, say, local geography) because he is an American?

      As an example, do you think an American is more likely to believe an American scientist about something than a Swedish scientist or a Russian scientist?

      I don't know how this works in other countries, but I think in the US there is a tradition of skepticism, regardless of a speaker's place of origin.
      • Sep 4 2012: Hi Fritzie,

        I agree that in the US we have a tradition of skepticism. Also in the US we have many jingoes (they think of themselves as patriots) and exophobes. For many of us (perhaps most) the place of origin may not matter. But there are many Americans who think/feel that 'American' makes a big difference.

        I think this is why the 'issue' of Obama's birth place was brought out again and again. It was not a serious attempt to disqualify Obama from the presidency; it was just a way of associating him with unAmerican.

        My guess is that you do not associate with jingos and exophobes.
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          Sep 4 2012: No, I don't. You are right.
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          Sep 4 2012: The real national truth is as soon as you leave the borders of the state of Georgia, people stop talking the same language and start to sound a bit foreign. Georgia is the land of old America. We are becoming a nation unto ourselves.

          Of course I'm kidding but the idea of nationalism in America, sometimes breaks down into a sense of statehood.

          Yes, there is some bias associated with our thoughts and relations with other countries. You can call it skepticism but many might call it outright distrust.

          We are taught from the time we enter school that the United States is the most powerful and wonderful county on the earth. We are schooled to believe that no other country can or has reached the heights that our nation has achieved.

          And, what is more amazing, we students of this brainwashing don't see any other nation snatching the, "we are the best nation on earth", gold medal from our hands. Yes there is some skepticism and we are taught to be this way.
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          Sep 4 2012: To John, true and good points.

          Lots of nations think they're the best in the world, and that they've invented most of everything. I can't tell you how many times a Bangladeshi or Indian villager has tried to convince me Coke is a local product and I should try it, or that they invented tv, internet, radio, and the first cars. People just assume everything around them is to their nations credit, although almost everything is foreign. Like in China a country of many accomplishments, did they invent electricity, cement, cars, internet, television, radio etc. What would china look like without them, likely it would have no modern infrastructure, because by large it was borrowed. Which is great, their country which has more credible claims than most still would not function without foreign ideas and inventions (and vice versa), which goes to show the irrationality of nationalism - the foundations of every country are imported.

          A hilarious exercise especially in Southeast Asia is to show locals a world map, invariably everyone points to Russia, especially in Thailand, because they're taught to believe and many fall for it that Thailand is the biggest, baddest, and best country in the world (despite being poor). When you point to Thailand, they are flabbergasted and their idea of their country, being a relative spec on the map blows their minds.
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          Sep 4 2012: Livi said: "
          Lots of nations think they're the best in the world, and that they've invented most of everything. "

          You know Levi, I like to think I've traveled a bit and I have yet to see this notion in the conversations of other peoples.

          Most appear to know just where their country lies in the grand scheme of things international. While some villagers may be confused about technology and such things, the average modern citizen is fully aware of how the great international triangle of order is stepped.

          What I Hear constantly is why aren't the Americans coming to save us, to help us, to kill the bad guy. I never hear where are the Canadians, the UK, the French, etc.

          I spent some time in Thailand during the Vietnam war and never established the same feeling you have. Did you give their prisons a visit while you were there? Talk about primitive. Their Justice system is non-existent and you should still, not drink the water.

          I'm becoming a bit confused about where you stand on the very question you ask.

          Can you be more specific and less broad about what it is you are asking? It would help me to get back on topic.
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          Sep 7 2012: Are you saying I'm nationalist? I was just strolling through some of the old questions and hadn't noticed this one.

          I believe Thailand has changed since the days of the Vietnam war, I taught geography to over 500 Thai kids in 6 schools. I believe this is a relatively good sample, many fought on the subject for days with each other and the class. But it was a passing comment not a deeply held belief.

          American exceptionalism is not unique, if when you travel your not asking them the right questions its very likely you wont run into it, just as most Americans don't pull out - we're the best country in the world line to foreigners they don't know. I work with local politicians, believe me nationalism is very very common. Maybe not against the Caucasian foreigners as much as one another.

          Obviously a lot of people especially youth are moving out of these older mindsets, but they're still there.