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The idea that one can be a nationalist and fair and balanced to other nations and peoples is very much based on the outdated and unjust idea of "separate but equal'.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 5 2012: Sir: you have compared nationalism to racism and sexism... to answer your question, it is you who have stated that nationalism is akin to these negative, disgusting attitudes. It sounds like you may wish to reconsider and re-word your original statements/questions.

    Forgive me, but I find your argument a very weak and defenseless one. I am really trying to determine how to make sense of your stance, but I can't.

    I look forward to more conversations and disagreements with you!
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      Sep 6 2012: True, nationalism has been likened to these rather un-likeable traits. Why, because it is rather the same.

      People from impoverished countries rarely ask this question, few African or Middle Eastern citizens who have applied to a foreign visa has ever felt like they're on the same equal playing field.

      Humour me for an exercise in nationalism, how would you feel being placed in Western Pakistan and publicly declared as American and accused of rape, do you feel you'd receive fair and equal treatment? Would nationality not play a large role in their treatment, of course. It does not take a stretch of the imagination for one to realize having a different nationality would radically change their lives.

      Most people aren't from rich western nations. So would Sudanese refugees fleeing from conflict be afforded the same treatment as a British aid worker who is also black and of African origin? The answer is clear, why because they are of a different nationality, and that's all it takes to treat them differently.

      For the 10 million people who have no country and no human rights, doomed to do the lowest of labour to survive and feed their kids it is a daily truth. Rejected because they disagree with the national image and nothing more. Forced to work on garbage and live inside it for generations. Perhaps if you had been born into another circumstance as most are, you might experience the crippling, limited nature of nationalism and not the more pleasant side.

      The prejudice of nationalism is very real, very alive, and very brutal, and its something we're born into - and most never get to choose. I don't feel its right to discriminate against someone for something they cannot control, most would agree today.

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