Phil Mirzoev's blog

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is nationalism really worth anything real?

What is the nature of nationalism? What's objective and what is subjective part of it?
Very deep, old, and so far under-resolved question continuing to occupy the minds of intellectuals and scientific world. There is a heck of a lot of books and theories made on this theme.

In my humble opinion, It's a sort of religion, psychological phenomenon, the end result of which is a mass identity replacement. Many people do have a 'damaged identity' and the morbid anxieties related thereto. But when those people unify themselves under the flag of some similarities (even if those similarities are completely ephemeral) they feel some kind of relief of the pain, created by the identity vacuum. It like a club of people who were born on Monday and who pride themselves on this fact, ascribing to Monday some 'special' even mystical (religious) qualities.
The anger and potential war (in broad sense: war of words, war of trade, military war in extreme cases) with those belonging to 'other world' is one more way to vent the identity deficit anxiety. As with all self-fulfilling forecasts, the state of war with 'bad others' allegedly threatening their special national belonging, is, in the eyes of nationalists, one more evidence that they are really 'special and different', and, hence, do have a fairly firm identity. All of this doesn't mean, that the degree and activity of nationalism cannot be controlled or 'activated'. There are more and less acute forms, and even 'sleeping nationalism'
Historically, nationalism began really strong and really felt only from the end of 18th - beginning of 19th century. Then the Governments got the real power over their nation-states and learned how to exploit and even create this identity-crisis. Nationalism became a weapon of mass destruction, a perfect masterpiece of demagogy - super-duper socio-psychological medication, allowing Governments to hold power and to gain those ends, which before they could have gained only with the help of the direct force against their own peoples.
So nationalism in the shape we know it now was to a large degree an invention, a lever developed, improved and 'polished' by the political power after the nation states were created and the means of controlled mass communication and broadcasting were developed. So now we more often than not deal with an artificially induced 'boosted' nationalism (in overdrive mode), 'genetically modified nationalism'.
But the fundamental causes of it lie in the identity crisis and the venting of the relevant anxieties and psychological pain.
Do I believe in the reality of such a notion as a cultural nations? Emphatically NOW - in my judgment not only is it a myth but also a very dangerous one. I don't believe in nationality of culture or in 'national cultures', but, on balance, I do belief in cultured nations! Political nations which are for some or other reasons are less or more culturally advanced and capable of further progress - reasons having nothing at all to do with nationality as such. I also believe in cultural barriers the true causes of which having nothing to do with nationality too, as well as in the universal possibility of overcoming those barriers and making initially immiscible and critically antagonistic cultures compatible and able to be parts of one common and larger culture (diverse but not self-contradictory in itself, with a common universal ethical and aesthetic foundation)

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