Thursday, June 17, 2010

Government and Nationalism

In response to a question from a friend about government and nationalism, I came up with this and thought I would post it here. Hope you find it useful.

I haven't given a lot of thought to nationalism but I will venture the idea that nationalism supplements government because it is a means, maybe even the means, of tying the people to the government - which is, by itself, hard to become and stay attached to. After all, government is essentially a bureaucratic phenomenon as I see it and it is not easy for human beings, that is, beings who have retained their humanity, to feel attached to a bureaucracy. [At Assumption College, the bureaucrats deal with this by talking about AC as a "family," which is of course pure, unadulterated bullshit!] So, in order to create an attachment, the government peddles nationalism to make the people think that they are devoted not to some calculating, rational institutional arrangement but to, say, a "homeland," as if a bureaucratic arrangement could ever be or provide a "home." By doing this, the government can then speak of "loyalty" as one of or even the characteristic that is expected of people, which transforms them from "citizens" into "patriots" or at least tries to. But the emphasis on "loyalty" to a "homeland" is foreign even to the pledge of allegiance in which we pledge our loyalty not to "the homeland" but to the flag and to "the republic for which it stands." So, if that republic ceases to exist, then our loyalty is no longer required and can no longer be demanded. And note too that we do not pledge our allegiance to a "nation" but to a form of government which is taken to be a form of self-government and, hence, not simply or essentially bureaucratic. Maybe this helps, maybe it doesn't. I think it makes some sense though.

And another dimension that just occurred to me: What is the connection between nationalism and racism? That is, does nationalism blend into racism at some point or a kind of racism? This is "our homeland" and therefore we who live here and deserve to live here - not the illegals of course - are special or unique, a "race" apart from other "races." Just thinking out loud, as it were.

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