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The idea that one can be a nationalist and fair and balanced to other nations and peoples is very much based on the outdated and unjust idea of "separate but equal'.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 27 2012: Well nationalism as many things may be good as long as it does not turns radical. for me nationalism is to be proud of your nation, the accomplishments of your nation as group, and your contribution as a citizen to make a better country. And any foreigner or "non-common" individual that comes to a nation and helps to push the wagon should be welcome. History gives us many examples of individuals that as foreigners in other countries have worked hard for that country and even made a change for good.
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      Sep 30 2012: Intellectuals from all over the world went to Russia and helped build St. Petersburg and modernize Russian art, culture, science and architecture in mass crowds on originally generous salaries - most of whom ended up in Siberian prisons. Germany expelled and imprisoned Jewish intellectuals, artists, and workers. Thailand's modern economy is reliant on millions of stateless refugees working basically for free. America uses millions of nameless 'illegal' migrant workers to fuel its agriculture and undesirable wage labour.

      So if you ignore those who contribute but don't get included, nationalism does seem rather balanced. The problem is being proud of your nation isn't the end of the story on nationalism, its the beginning to every dark chapter, if you half-finish the narrative its sounds good. There is no such thing as un "radical' nationalism, as its predicated on others not having same citizenship rights.

      Nationalism devalues human life, nobody can argue in reality the life of a Somali or Sudanese citizen gets the same treatment or rights of an American or Canadian. Peoples lives are only as good as their country is powerful, and with nationalism that will never change. African, South American, and most Asian citizens simply do not get treated the same, or even close to fair, no amount of patriotism will solve that.

      The vast majority of the planet must accept their inferiority to others, or believe and work to create a new global system that gives their life equal value.

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