TED Conversations

Levi LCL

Director-General , The Universal Party


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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The idea that one can be a nationalist and fair and balanced to other nations and peoples is very much based on the outdated and unjust idea of "separate but equal'.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 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).

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