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Can we abolish nationalism and live in a globalized society?

The holocaust is an integral part of education in Israel. And for years Israeli students are attending programs and are going to Poland to learn and go through an emotional process, which usually ends in an educational message. Some messages are Zionist, some talk about democracy and humanity; others grow nationalization in students and encourage them to join the army.

A lot of years have passed since the holocaust and it seems people are starting to forget around the world. The world turns more and more extreme and nationalism grows like a disease. I never truly understood why Palestinians and Jews cant live in the same land [and no, I do not discount this conflict like many people in the world do].

And I assume most of you here are global minded humanists, but don’t think racism and hatred is only among us silly Middle Eastrens, your cultures and you and I personally tend to generalize groups with out even noticing.
That’s thought led me to a kind of depression. All my family died in the holocaust for what? For the countries to continue hating one another?
I know this banal statement directly leads you to think im some kind of a weirdo not practical hippi, and believe me; im not.

But I would like you to the following question in a creative and original way [“this is human nature and we cant do nothing about it” is not an answer].

Can the world live with out extreme nationalization, with out borders, with out hatred between different groups? Can the world be fully globalized?

P.S this is my first Ted question :) hopes it will lead to an interesting debate.

  • Jan 2 2012: It is not geographical borders that are the problem, but the borders within ourselves. Mankind is one family with great ethnic and spiritual diversity, and we should rejoice in this fact.
    All civilisations must adhere to certain moral principals of cooperation to survive. Those that survive the longest are those that achieve the most wellbeing and security for its citizens. It is the conflicts from within and without that lead to war and national calapse. We are all interdependant on this solitary planet. As the resources of the planet dwindle, and nations confront each other for control, human existance itself will be called into question. .It is not a question of if; but when.
    Every large problem can be broken down to its component parts and origins. In Israel it's that two peoples claim the same land. Their are only three solutions: share the land, anihilate your opponent or live in conflict. Since the spiritual principle of justice for all men is second to national aspirations there can be no peace.
    Spiritual aspirations of peace and justice must take precedence over personal and national interests when they conflict, in order for the world's populations to enjoy equality and peace. In fact. to exist as a species, at all.
    The changes must come from a new sense of spiritual purity that recognises the aspirations of all peoples to a fair share of the planets' recourses whatever your race, religion, or national origin.
    If anyone can claim to have made the world, take it- it's yours.
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    Dec 24 2011: If, for example, all Danes are expected to have equal fondness for, and equal zeal in promoting, supporting, protecting and advancing the USA as they have for and in Denmark, then no. No way, no how. Mark Twain was right when he said, "There's a lot of human nature in people."
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    Dec 18 2011: I think it's not a matter of nationalism but a matter of cultural identity. One idea that bothers me is that to combat racism many people think each person must be viewed exactly the same, sometimes to the extreme of not noticing our differences. I think this way of thinking leads to a different form of racism. I do not believe we will see the end of racist extremist until smaller societies learn that differences are not a negative aspect but rather a strength. Viewing the world from different cultural perspectives can give us a better understanding of whole picture.

    There are a lot of 'melting pot' societies that push the idea of one 'American culture' (as an example) which leads to our micro cultures loosing much of their cultural heritage such as foods, language, musics, traditional beliefs and ancient knowledge. It is the fear of losing identities that manifest into racism. That being said, history and cultural background is important to ultimately understanding who we are and why we operate the way we do. As I see it, the question is, how do we keep our unique identities while respectfully working together? The more globalized the world becomes, the more we lose our historical backgrounds and become one global mono culture. Of course that adds another element which is, if we were a globalized society, what culture would dominate our perspective? In other words, who or what would be in charge of the rules and regulations in that society? How would we decide which cultural lens to look through when holding people and business to ethical standards?
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    Dec 16 2011: Hi Dean
    Your question about borders should include a question of sovereignty. This is on the minds of many who see governments signing free trade acts world-wide that open the door to a completely losing any sense of national sovereignty.
    Zbigniew Brzezinsk stated in his 1971 book "Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era",
    “The nation-state as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.” [In other words, he flushed down the drain the basic concepts of nation-state, national sovereignty and the role of the government in society, to champion a vision of a world governed by the banks and transnational corporations.] We see this today. This is about the Trilateral Commission which Brzezinsk co-founded with David Rockefeller. Except in a few situations borders which were defined after WW2 really have little consequence to the decisions of the elites vision of control. " ...without hatred between different groups?" You know as I do there are huge profits made, especially when the chaos, hatred turns to war.
    • Dec 16 2011: HI lucky :)

      I liked your answer a lot, yet i think capitalist globalization is doing a lot of harm to the world on this topic and not only good. The gaps between poor and rich globaly are growing and growing, hate towards other groups still exists, so yes, there are white, red, yellow and black bussines mans, which are "global citizens", the world holds no borders to them. But what about the regular people?

      And as you said, wars are bringing a lot of profit, but can we stop the racist violent mentality within the people?
  • Jan 2 2012: Ouch this ones a hard one to answer but here it goes. No this cant be done the struggle for power would not allow it humans are greedy yes we all are and this will lead to the folowing conflicts. Who will rule or bring order? on what basais will this be put on? The laws and flag ? economic problems and currency problems. Extreme choke to countries military and debt problems. Contraversy and bous power wars. Theres so manny more to list but im just layng the floor flat.
  • Dec 29 2011: Why would we want to? I am an avid lover of culture. Nationalism and regional tendencies of countries are interesting qualities to inquisitive minds. Furthermore, patriotism is a positive form of social control and to negate that would ruin the nostalgia of a nation's people.

    The world should, instead of ignoring the fact that differences exist among them, learn to embrace those differences because of their aesthetic nature. The world is a beautiful place for the person who does not walk through it finding unnecessary fault everywhere he goes.
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    Dec 24 2011: Good question, Dean.

    I believe nationalism is a form of collective ego. I define ego as focusing on self as more important than others. Nationalism limits our vision and understanding of people from different places and cultures. It seems clear that nationalism was among the root causes of the holocaust, as well as the conditions that led to the extreme nationalism that led to the holocaust. I am unable to cite any examples where nationalism has contributed to the overall health of humanity or our planet. Yet there are countless examples of where nationalism has been a destructive or obstructive force.

    I don’t believe we can abolish nationalism. It can become irrelevant as we recognize the futility of ego-centrist thinking, let go of fear and learn to open our hearts to fellow human beings and discover how interesting and fascinating we all are. This can happen when we stop electing and/or tolerating leaders whose egos shrink their vision and feed our fears.
  • Dec 21 2011: It is possible to globalize the world; however, many considerations exist. Some people may have to give up their freedoms while others gain them. Moreover, some people may have to give up certain customs and others may gain some wether they want them or not. Many areas of the world may benefit from equal resource sharing while others may have to sacrafice their current luxuries. However, along with the numerous aforementioned balancing act scenarios comes the question of power. It is in mans nature to seek power, witnessed time and time again throughout history. Every current country possesses a leader, so it would be no different for the world to want a leader. Who is to say if this leader has the best interest of the entire planet in mind. Who would oppose this leader if he or she controlled the world army? Who would right the wrongs, are at least provide alternatives? Nationalisim creates more individuality and provides alternatives to be creative in any culture one chooses. Sure Nationalisim contains drawbacks but it also possesses some positive factors. Do not blame terrible events on individual national interests but rather blame war and conflict on mans greed for power, resources, and the complete desire to dominate the entire planet.
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    Dec 21 2011: I actually think it's religion that is much more dangerous than nationalism... You literally call yourselves "the chosen people"... and wonder why you have a history of violence in your past... Maybe if you stopped saying you were better than everyone, people would stop killing you.. Religion is racist, not nationalism... Of course, that's easy for me to say as an American, we're a nation of the world, so our nationallist identity doesn't really revolve around a genetics, or cultural tradition.
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      Dec 22 2011: But nationalism is selfish, isn't it? It requires the wealth for a particular nation. Nationalism would 'choose' more wealth for one country than a compromised a little lower level of wealth for several countries.
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        Dec 22 2011: Not at all... I would suggest, that for most countries this tends to be true... but in the United States, I think it's fair to say that there are two types of nationalism, one healthy, and one unhealthy. I am incredibly proud to live in the most culturally and genetically diverse country in the world.

        I truly believe that the USA is the greatest country in the world, objectively... I don't even think there's a fair argument for anyone else... because we have everyone. We love everyone. Japanese and Chinese people get along here, that's something that used to be seen as almost physically impossible. We're happy to have everyone, and I don't think that leads me to want to distribute more wealth here.

        My nationalism actually leads me to an opposite perspective, one of helping the world, and restoring America to being a great benefactor, and contributor to the world economy. There is another nationalism expressed in America, George Bush style nationalism, which is incompetent, and evil, and does in fact want to re distribute all the wealth in the world to rich Americans... but I would suggest that that's a rare minority here, they just get on TV a lot.

        I also should apologize for the harshness of my comment in regards to Judaism, I'm almost surprised it wasn't deleted. I often have very conflicting views of our support for Israel, because I see the creation of Israel, and the displacement of millions of Pallestinians, as the Muslim Holocaust... I basically think we proved that we learned absolutely nothing from Hitler after WW2... but I have to accept that that is a slim minority opinion... and it may just be wrong headed.
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          Dec 22 2011: 'Not at all', but you use as an argument only a part of Americans. Just a country. And not whole of it. If the USA is super duper the greatest country to your mind, it necessarily reflects the rest of the world?
          Maybe 'healthy' nationalism is less of nationalism, and 'unhealthy' nationalism is simply nationalism?
          But does nationalism not take a particular country in the centre and make people see everything around from that perspective? And it's not like looking at a globe to the whole world seeing everything in the same scale, but looking from the 'inside' to the 'outside'?..
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        Dec 22 2011: Too true... I just like to defend American nationalism, which in many ways, could actually be called American Internationalism. You see the George Bush types on TV all the time, but you rarely see the people who are really proud of the one truly great thing about America, it's diversity, and it's lack of a genetic or cultural nationalism. We're way more common, then the "good ol boys".

        In many ways the nationalism I describe is a global unification... but I would like to suggest that the French have a healthy nationalism about their "perpetually revolutionairy democracy", and their national healthcare system. The Germans are justifiably proud of their engineers. As long as it doesn't become that blind, "we're better than anyone else" nationalism, I think it's healthy.

        I think if the world was truly to unite, and end nationalism, it would be in the way Major League Baseball is united... Everyone would still root for the home team, and have national pride, we just wouldn't need to kill people over it.

        Also, I didn't suggest nationalism was good, simply that religiously institutional racism is worse, and in the modern world it is much more directly at the root of our problems, then the conflicts between Mexico and Canada... Or Germany and France even, despite their history.
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          Dec 23 2011: Well, nationalism from its roots required much more wars, deaths, tortures throughout the history than religions, although nationalism+religious intolerance was a double overlapped power which has existed, too. But probably I agree that now religion is more dangerous.
          But your mentioned 'national' pride is basically such a ... silly phenomenon...
          A quote for the topic:
          'History is the most dangerous product which the chemistry of the mind has concocted. Its properties are well known. It produces dreams and drunkenness. It fills people with false memories, exaggerates their reactions, exacerbates old grievances, torments them in their repose, and encourages either a delirium of grandeur or a delusion of persecution. It makes whole nations bitter, arrogant, insufferable and vainglorious.' - the most interesting thing that it's Paul Valéry's, the French, quote; I'm not so sure if France is a very good example of healthy nationalism, but never mind.
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        Dec 23 2011: I don't think France has healthy Nationalism entirely... just, when they are merely proud of an accomplishment, that is healthy. If they like the healthcare system, it's healthy to have pride in it. Jefferson said "every generation needs a revolution", the French are closer to living up to that than anyone else, and if that has made their people happy, they should be proud of it. I'll admit those may be two bad examples, but, my point is simply that it's fine to be proud of the good things you've done, it's not okay to be proud of the evil you've done.

        I'm proud of American diversity, I'm not proud of The Patriot Act, or either of our current war efforts. I actually entirely disagree that the roots of nationalism have every caused as much war death or torture as religion, however. Only one type of nationalism was ever close to the dogmatic doctorine of religion in my opinion, and that was the Nazi's... I would also argue a big part of their problem was religious as well.

        I actually think it's incredibly rare for two nationallities to fight... I think communism fights capitalism, and the religions fight each other, nationalism is merely a consequence. The difference between religion and nationalism, in my mind, is that nationalism is about pride, religion is about exclusion, and the devaluing of human life. To be proud of America, is not to hate Mexicans... To be Islamic, is to accept reading a book that literally says "kill the infidel". To be Christian, is to accept reading a book that literally says, "there is no path to heaven but through me". To be Jewish, is to beilieve you are the chosen race of people, and that all others are inferior... Nationalism doesn't inherently attack non believers, or people in other countries, religions, always have.
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          Dec 23 2011: Yeah, probably I confused nationalism with invasive wars for gold, fertile lands, strategically beneficial territories through the old ages.

          'That it's fine to be proud of the good things you've done' - ab-so-lu-te-ly fine! But what about the things, you haven't done? I'm veeery proud of some Lithuanian scientists who have been working on lasers. Now, Lithuanian lasers are highly appreciated and evaluated around the globe, and are used in various ranges like medicine, industry, science researches. But I have no pride, for instance, for any nobel prize winners (there are no Lithuanians among them). I'm really very happy that such people exist and do their works, but I do not feel any pride.
          Am I one of those scientists working on lasers? No, I'm not.
          So, that's quite silly. I understand, it's hard to refuse some feelings like national pride, but let's just think about it and be more conscious about stupidities which greatly influence us.
          But yes that pride is not dangerous.
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        Dec 23 2011: That's totally fair too... It's one thing to have pride in American diversity, it's another thing to take credit for it, or pretend it makes me a special person... That would be pretty stupid. I'm proud that I participate, and that I have a very diverse an interesting group of friends... but you're right, it would be dumb to be proud of myself, for just America being diverse. I'm not though, I'm proud of America, for being diverse, not proud of myself for America being diverse, and that's a big distinction.

        Also, the more I thought about it, you could probably call what America did to the Indians pure nationalism, and that was horrible. Maybe nationalism and religion are about equally destructive... The only thing that's really tragic about that, is that their both inherently designed to make people better people. I don't think people choose religions, specifically to hate others, I think they choose their religion for the opposite reason, they want to learn to treat people better. I think the same is true of the founding of a nation, and a development of national pride, it should be inherently good. It should lead us to the moon... To often it doesn't.
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          Dec 24 2011: If, for example, Lithuania was diverse in the way the USA is now, would you be proud of it? =] No, you were not! The pride is a strange feeling... You need to be a part of that, what is good, to feel it, it's necessarily needed to have taken part for cause that good.
          It's still logically silly to me, but 'totally fair' and almost unavoidable.

          I think in many cases throughout the world, religion is not chosen, religion is hereditary. For example, many people are baptized at a very early age, they are used to one or another religion, it's a norm and they do not think what it's so good or wrong with it, is there any hate in it or no. Religious continuity is dependent on blinding wonderful children.
          While religions seem to be 'designed', it may seem nationalism is more naturally emerged with some or much encouragement from 'above', to make men fight harder some time ago, for instance.
          Alright, maybe we should end this endless talk, I don't know. For me it's clear two things: you love American diverse and I love Lithuanian scientists =] Let's call it love.
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    Dec 20 2011: The real question is, do you feel comfortable placing control of the entire planet in one government. It goes without saying that a one world government would have to be established in order to protect the peace, enforce laws, maintain this world without nations, etc. Can one government be given that much power?
  • Dec 19 2011: Well, did you know that Ghadffi was the richest man on earth? stealing so many money from the state. Did you know that he took advantage of students in his Bonga Bonga parties, gays and women had no rights in his regime, and dont forget his terrorist attacks... He wasnt as humanist as you described him.
    But I do agree with your message, sometimes, many times, the west is hyppocret using the "humanitarian" mask to actually work by their interest. And I also think the Lybian people have an even darker future...
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    Dec 19 2011: Hi Dean
    [quote]can we stop the racist violent mentality within the people?[/quote]
    Have a look at what Libyans have recently lost. There are YouTube videos on this. The country was prosperous and it has been said Ghadffi was color blind, meaning people from all the colors that you mention had access to employment in Libya. Amazingly this was under a dictatorship! I'm not saying racism was erased but when the whole population has free healthcare, higher education, a 50,000 gift when married to own a home, etc.,etc., you could say the kind of racism you're referring to didn't exist. But that is all gone now thanks to the "humanitarian intervention" of drones and CIA backed extremist rebels. Borders it seems are presently only things marked on a piece of paper and Sovereignty means just as much. From what I read about settlements within Israel, borders also constantly seem to move.
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    Dec 17 2011: I agree with you wholeheartedly. It's great to love your country, but why does it stop on the border. True Humans are free of biases, religious beliefs and insecurities. All of us will move on from this world. Let's leave a world of love and respect behind. I propagate Humanism as the only religion.
    • Dec 17 2011: Well said! You can love your country and explore and be intrested in other cultures as well.
  • Dec 17 2011: I believe that the world could live without EXTREME nationalism and hatred, and would be much better, however if you are thinking that countries should practically be done away with, and land is just land I disagree.
    • Dec 17 2011: Well, maybe when we are united be our nationaly we are programed to hate others? When I think about it, people always unite to groups of people when they have some kind of common enemy. Can be Dictatorship, capitalism, or another country. But that was always the case.

      Do you think we can unite with out a common enemy?
      • Dec 17 2011: Do I think that we could yes, do I think that we practically can without an enemy, probably not. People can unite without an enemy to fight, most are just too stubborn or close-minded to care unless there is something to fight.
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    Dec 16 2011: Right, where there was typically a middle-class in the 50's-70's this is virtually gone in most countries. To the question of hate groups/extremists, it's well documented these groups are used by the same governments that now claim 'intervention" as a humanitarian reason for creating chaos and murder in a sovereign country. The latest meetings on Climate, which is obviously without borders reveals much about who controls and or has an agenda to follow for self interests.