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The idea that one can be a nationalist and fair and balanced to other nations and peoples is very much based on the outdated and unjust idea of "separate but equal'.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

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