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The idea that one can be a nationalist and fair and balanced to other nations and peoples is very much based on the outdated and unjust idea of "separate but equal'.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


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • 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.
    • thumb
      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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.