Nationalism of Cerebral Tissue — diagnosis, treatment and prevention
Published on Mar 27, 2010 09:30 by
There exists a widespread belief in the existence of certain mythical creatures — nations endowed with reason, will, conscience and, as a consequence, a responsibility for their actions that are composed of humans the same way humans and other organisms are composed of cells. When a person regards oneself and others as constituent parts of such creatures, s/he is obsessed with nationalism. Such persons are easily compelled to voluntary action against their own interests in the interest of someone else; it is sufficient to convince them that the interests of that other person are, in fact, the interests of their nation.
Nationalism is not as harmless as it might first appear:
Firstly, it contributes to unjustified emergence and escalation of conflicts, often completely fortuitously. When John injures Paul, it might appear to Peter, who is obsessed with nationalism, that it is John's nation injuring Paul's nation (to which he himself belongs) and that is a good reason to enter into conflict with Jane (representing John's nation). Even though Jane has done nothing wrong to Peter. Conflicts on national grounds between Peter and Jane are especially absurd and senseless, when both John and Paul have died long ago and the details of their conflict are lost in the fog of time and buried under a thick layer of folklore and deliberate falsification. In a nationalist's head, an entire system of personal relations emerges between these national super-creatures. Those who do not fit into this system, they deem traitors.
Secondly, nationalism often blunts the sense of personal responsibility for one's own fate. Nationalists are prone to seeing their problems in the false context of their nation's problems and, therefore, not to seek their solutions in the realm of personal actions but rather keep convincing themselves and their environment of the necessity of doing something on the national level. Often, they exert far more effort on this than what would have been required for solving the problem in the first place, within their own sphere of competence.
The industrial society has created the conditions in which the will of a small group of people can be imposed upon large masses using nationalism. After the first successful attempts at acquiring political power on the wave of nationalist sentiment, industrial methods of spreading and cultivating the nationalist disease have achieved widespread use and development. With the use of mass-media, it has become possible to create national identities (in fact — delusional fantasies) within a very short time; practically in one generation.
Since in the basis of nationalism lie some very ancient and deeply rooted human (and even animal) instincts, resistance requires conscious effort, for on the instinctive level humans are ill equipped and quite vulnerable in the face of nationalism. To free one's mind from the emotional basis of nationalism, it is necessary to follow a few simple rules:
First and foremost, special consideration must be given to the use of the personal pronoun "we". Its use should be restricted exclusively to circumstances, when the speaker is actually a member of the group to which it is applied. If the person did not take part in a football match, in a war, in the government, in the signing of a treaty, etc. then any participating group can only be denoted by "them". The same applies to the pronoun "you": if the person whom we are addressing has not been involved in the discussed event, "you" is not applicable. In such cases, "them" is the proper pronoun to use as well.