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The Failure of Modern Nationalism

Nationalism Politics

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#1
Alislaws

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So I was thinking about the Catalonian independence referendum, along with things like the Brexit vote, the movement pushing for Californian independence, the Scottish National Party etc. 

 

The fundamental problem that led to Brexit is that, in spite of being part of the EU for 30+ years many of the people of the UK didn't feel like they were part of the EU, or that they were befitting from that membership. 

 

So, due (in part) to absolutely no effort being put into making Britons feel connected to the EU, Britain is now Brexiting.

 

So why are people seeking these big changes in the status Quo, And why Scottish and Catalonian independence? Scotland has been part of the UK since they got into financial trouble in 1707. Catalonia, even longer. Why do they not feel like a part of their nations? And why is there such a big push for independence today?

 

I think the problem is that most Nationalism today is based on history, The UK is an especially good example of this. If someone says to me "Are you proud of your nation, if so, why?" I'm basically left going "Erm... well... we did some pretty great stuff in WW2?"  Some people might say the British empire (mostly people who don't know much about it), but that is even further back.

 

If all you have to draw on is history, where you draw that line is pretty arbitrary, are you a citizen of the UK because its has been a thing for 300 years? or are you Scottish, which has been a thing for over 1000 years? 

 

I think a big part of the problem is that today Governments, and countries exist basically to make everyone richer, they're focused on GDP and interest rates etc.

 

I know one person who has said to me, without any hint of irony, "i vote for whoever will make me better off, why would i do anything else?" and this is not a rare viewpoint.

 

So If all your government does is (hopefully) make you richer, and you live in a region that is wealthier than the average for the country (like Catalonia, or California, or London or Scotland (incl. north sea oil) ). Then you want to secede ASAP so you your new country can make you richer more effectively. 

 

Looking at the UK today, both in politics and as a whole its a bunch of people stabbing each-other in the back to try and get a bigger slice of the Pie. We're throwing out immigrants, we're leaving the EU, because every penny spent on them is less spent on us, We're giving up leading Europe, because being a nation that leads is more expensive than being irrelevant. 

 

If a country only exists to make it's people (mostly the ones in power) wealthier, then why be loyal to it? Why fight for it, or sacrifice for it, or put it's needs ahead of your own? If it doesn't stand for anything, you're going to make more money if you can figure out how to move to a tax haven instead. 

 

Governments and leaders need to lead. they need to energize their countries into doing something worthwhile, creating something, building a better future in some way, we should have a goal, or a national focus, something that gives purpose and meaning to the nation, so if someone says to you "are you proud of your country, and If so why?" You can answer with something that happened since you were born.

 

Trump's "Make america great again" slogan still implies that america is currently not great, and places US greatness firmly in the past (The cold war, or WW2 again? dunno when the USA was Great, and when it stopped being so), but at least its aspirational, it says "we're going to become an great nation again and do more amazing things" which is probably why it resonated with people more than the democrat campaign platform which was basically "rich get richer!, poor get poorer! Ignore that! Everyone focus on racism and sexism!"

 

If moderate leaders do not step up and start to really look forward, and lead, then more and more people are going to look backward for meaning and for purpose, and you'll get more far right nationalism and more bigotry racism and xenophobia, because at least when Britain was running around conquering and enslaving everyone who didn't look like us or sound like us we were aiming high, and we didn't feel like our country was basically pointless and easily interchangeable with any other country.


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#2
caltrek

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I think in this post-colonial world, your analysis can also go far in explaining problems in the Middle East and Africa.  Boundary maps for those regions were often  drawn by imperialist powers with little regards to geographical features or the existence of tribal cultures.  In such circumstances, minorities often arise that (sometimes rightfully) feel themselves to be exploited.

 

 

 

 

Trump's "Make america great again" slogan still implies that america is currently not great, and places US greatness firmly in the past (WW2 again!), but at least its aspirational, it says "we're going to become an great nation again and do more amazing things" which is probably why it resonated with people more than the democrat campaign platform which was basically "rich get richer!, poor get poorer! we won't help you with that! Everyone focus on racism and sexism

 

 

Actually, the Democratic platform was more based on the ideas of justice.  The problem was in the messaging.  So a con artist like Trump could "sell" his "Make America Great Again" at the expense of the Democrats.  "Focusing" on racism can be read as a call for equality under the law.  MAGA then becomes a code for "restoring white privilege and the old system of apartheid."  

 

Hillary was also a poor contrast gainer to Bernie Sanders, who quite obviously did not support "rich get richer, poor get poorer."  


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
Alislaws

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I think in this post-colonial world, your analysis can also go far in explaining problems in the Middle East and Africa.  Boundary maps for those regions were often  drawn by imperialist powers with little regards to geographical features or the existence of tribal cultures.  In such circumstances, minorities often arise that (sometimes rightfully) feel themselves to be exploited.

God! The way they just seem to have drawn nations onto the map with rulers and a crayon is incredibly irritating. Could they not have really looked into the different groups and cultures in these places and given them all their own nation? Why not make kurdistan a thing in the first place?

 

also "The Jews have been persecuted terribly by the Nazis, lets put them all in their own nation hundreds of miles from the nearest friendly state, surrounded by super hostile near theocracies of another religion they historically don't get along with.Sure, the Arabs in the specified area have already tried to overthrow British rule before to try and stop the Jewish immigration, but they've learned their lesson, there's no way decades of conflict will come from this"

 

 

Actually, the Democratic platform was more based on the ideas of justice.  The problem was in the messaging.  So a con artist like Trump could "sell" his "Make America Great Again" at the expense of the Democrats.  "Focusing" on racism can be read as a call for equality under the law.  MAGA then becomes a code for "restoring white privilege and the old system of apartheid."  

 
Hillary was also a poor contrast gainer to Bernie Sanders, who quite obviously did not support "rich get richer, poor get poorer."  

 

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of trump, but the feeling i got from Hilary (who i would have voted for, while wishing it was Sanders) was basically a "more of the same vibe" and while racism/sexism are real and serious issues its tough to talk about it without a very negative slant "we're doing this wrong, we're not treating these people right, we're all being terrible people" all true, but not an energizing message.

 

This was especially helped by Trump, who kept saying awful things, and then the newspapers would go crazy telling everyone how terrible he was (and give him $billions in press coverage in the process) again, its all true. But its not an energizing message and it quickly led to a feeling of "what are they getting at him for this week" from people who were sympathetic to him, and gave the anti-trump campaign a very negative slant. The TRUMP IS A TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING message was so large and so loud that any more uplifiting or hopeful messaging was drowned out to a large extent. Although i had a very distant view of events from over here. 

 

Sanders would probably have come through with an energizing campaign about about everyone pulling together, striding forward into a glorious new future where America truly lives up to its goals of being the leader of the free world, championing the people over corporate interests and supporting equality and democracy around the world. (or so i would like to believe)



#4
caltrek

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I have almost finished re-reading The Semisovereign People by E.E. Schattschneier.  Although the first edition of the book was published in 1960, the theory presented has in my mind been verified by events of the last 57 years or so.

 

That theory has something important to say about "Everyone focus on racism and sexism."  

 

Schattshneider writes:

 

 

It is easier to bring a new voter into the system than it is to induce an old partisan to change sides.

 

 

Essentially, Sanders call for a revolution can be seen as a bet that such a call would energize so many people to vote who are otherwise dis-interested in the political process that a coalition could be formed with existing voters to overcome the conservatives. Trump was playing the same game.  

 

While Sanders called for more justice, Trump capitalized on the backlash against the reduction of white privilege.  Trump wants an America where the color of your skin does determine your place in the economic hierarchy. This was somewhat disguised by complaints about "too much political correctness."  

 

That is an extremely thin disguise, yet even liberals in this forum have bought into the notion that there was an excess of "political correctness."  I would suggest that such liberals need to disabuse themselves of that notion.  Think how much violence is being done to the English language here.  It is like saying that there is "too much justice lately".  

 

The answer is not to move backwards in order to accommodate white backlash.  The answer is to move forward toward a system where people truly are judged by the content of their character.  Of course, that frightens those who suspect that there character might be found wanting.  Much better to keep blacks, immigrants, Latinos, LGBT+, and women in their place.  While we are at it, better to rely on the fossil fuel industry for our energy needs rather than renewable sources.  

 

Global warming?

 

Obviously a myth cooked up by the Chinese.  

 

...and on and on it goes.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5
Alislaws

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I certainly don't think voting for trump was the right choice, or that political correctness has "gone to far" (or "gone mad" as the daily mail often tells us) and I think going back to far right nationalism is a terrible idea!

 

But I also think that ultimately the establishment democrats represent rich people with a conscience and the establishment republicans represent rich people without and the primary goal of both is to make money for their chief supporters, and if that's their vision for the USA then its not a difficult one to beat.


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