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4th of July thoughts
3 years ago
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Patriotism vs. Nationalism


 People  think nationalism and patriotism are the same thing. They’re not; the differences are profound. George Orwell got it right in 1945 in his essay:   “Notes on Nationalism.”

Orwell defined patriotism as “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people.”

He goes on to say, nationalism is the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or an idea, and “ placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”

For Orwell, the evils of nationalism were not unique to nations, but shared by a panoply of “isms” common among the elites of his day: “Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, anti-Semitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism.” Today we could drop the communists and Trotskyites, perhaps, while adding Islamism and neo-conservatism. The same tendencies would apply, especially “indifference to reality.”In nationalism, thoughts “always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. … Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception.” And this self-deception leads to disastrous miscalculations based on wishful thinking rather than facts.

“All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when committed by ‘our’ side.… The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

One inevitable result, wrote Orwell, is vast and dangerous miscalculation based on the assumption that nationalism makes not only right but might-and invincibility: “Political and military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.” When Orwell derides “a silly and vulgar glorification of the actual process of war,”'

It’s this aspect of nationalism that peacemakers in the Middle East find so utterly confounding. The Israelis and the Palestinians, Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds and Shiites, Iranians and Americans have developed nationalist narratives that have almost nothing in common except a general chronology. “In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown,” Orwell wrote, in a spooky foreshadowing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s nationalist musings . “A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind.”

Note:  Excerpts above are from Christopher Dickey:   http://www.newsweek.com/2006/07/04/american-dream-american-nightmare.html





3 years ago

Interesting article, Jim.

 

“All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when committed by ‘our’ side.… The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

 

I've noticed and marveled in disbelief those very traits in a few people who post in political forums here... very disheartening and exasperating because they exist on a grand scale in America, and they vote.

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