Monday, February 28, 2005

The danger of nationalism

If there were a coin with a head of socialism embedded on one side, the insidious countenance of nationalism would surely be on the other. Together these make the prospects of growth and liberty a mean handicap. Each is a violation of the liberty we are granted as individuals, but nationalism is an underestimated foe of humanity.

Although religious intolerance appears to stand high and mighty as the single most threat to the liberty of our world's most challenged people, even the most obvious cinder box - the Middle East - is being inflamed more by the outmoded sway of nationalism. Yes, the same nationalism that brings the Lebanese people to the streets, that ignites the Palestinians, and perhaps inspires the Syrians to regime change - all are falling into a trap that hardly resolves the real problem that plagues these people.

Indeed, for all the energy that goes toward state building in Palestine - the "two-state" vision - it is hardly an economically viable one. Better that the peoples of the Middle East look to establish values of liberty and economic self-interest in a system of political and economic union. What sense the nation, if the economy that lives under its shackles cannot thrive? Yes, religious intolerance divides these people, but nationalism will eventually kill their dreams. Indeed, Iraq would best set the proper economic and political tone for the region by embracing federalism. Is there sense in making divisions where they need not be?

Europe stands as the best example of a modern effort to diminish the tone of nationalism - the European Union frail, but concerted toward economic and political union. There, we hope, the future is full of prospect. But the Middle East? What if by some miracle there is peace? Surely, the economic interests of the region are best served by abandoning division and working toward a customs union and perhaps a Pan-Arab state - one based on liberty and democracy and inclusive of Israel. Surely, that must be the vision? Unfortunately, the currency of these times still rings of nationalism, in all its small-minded forms.

So too, in Canada. Canadian nationalism continues to hold our people back. Canadians continue to hold on to a history that is flawed. And it costs us dearly. The opportunity costs of not addressing the failing of our nation state charade will become increasingly clear to Canadians - both in a domestic sense, and a foreign policy framework. We will be handicapped economically as surely as our international stature will continue to collapse. The current fiasco over missile defense and the embarrassing failure of Canadian tsunami relief execution are just the most visible recent tarnishes. The more we look like ineffectual hypocrites and free-loaders, the more the world, not just the U.S., will see us for what we are. In some cases, we will simply lose the international respect we once commanded, in other cases we will open ourselves up for abuse.

Better we start to dismantle the rhetoric of the nationalist. Better that they and their socialist mouthpieces begin to answer to the failings of this country.

3 comments:

the furleys said...

I notice that no one comments on your site, maybe thats because there are fewer right wing neo-conservatives living in Canada than you think. Nationalism, as you so wrongly claim, is NOT the downfall of our country, but is in fact the reason we have had a voice in the last ten years (and that voice being mostly against American policies). For the first time in our nation's history we have decided to gain an identity, something that has eluded us for 120 years. For too long we have been the American's whipping boy, "the little brother" so to speak. We have always bowed down to American pressure, but only because we have feared the "security" of our nation would be in jeopardy because of our lack of military (yet another issue). But what we have finally realized is that OUR country is not being targeted by terorists, in fact Canada is not even on the so-called TOP TEN list of targeted countries mentioned by terrorist groups. However, if we join the USA in their "coalition of the willing (coerced is more like it)", we will find ourselves in the crosshairs of many a radical fundamentalist terrorist group.

We are, despite the political correctness of multiculturalism, gaining a CANADIAN IDENTITY. The USA is roughly 100 years older and gained their identity through a melting pot ideology, that roughly translates to "like it or leave!!". We have decided to gain identity through respecting the many cultures that have helped created this nation and we are now in the throes of third and fourth generation "Canadians" helping shape Canada.

Canada needs a sense of Nationalism, but not the traditional Nationalism that puts NATION ahead of HUMANITY (We'll leave that up to the USA!!) We need nationalism that allows us to think for ourselves; that gives us sovereignty over choices that concern us and not our neighbours to the south (or further South for that matter - Mexico).

I would rather be labelled (incorrectly) as "ineffective hypocrites and freeloaders" than as empire driven fascists" determined to take over the world.
Furthermoer, your comment that the Arab world become the "Pan Arab World inclusive of Israel"... "where the currency is common" reeks of an EMPIRICAL RENAISSANCE. Nationalism is what allowed countries like Poland, Belgium (1829), Greece (1830), Serbia, and many others gain sovereignty and independence. What you speak of is antiquated (IE. Austrian Empire, Ottoman Empire, etc.)

I do agree, however, that religious motives are an improper impetus for war. But, I would rather a country (or people) fight for what it believes in, than for Capitalism and the almighty dollar. Even Adam Smith is rolling in his grave. His concept of Capitalism was never meant to come at the expense of thousands of lives. The US "intervention" in WWI, Korean War , Vietnam War, Gulf War and even WWII were driven by imperialism and more specifically world oil domination. And Iraq is no different. I cannot believe how many people think this war is about retaliation and fighting for freedom and security. The US wanted a reason to go into Iraq and they got it. Which country is next? Colombia, where some of the richest oil fields lay? What will be their excuse this time? "We must fight the drug lords! and free our people of the evildoers". Bet on it!

As long as Canada is not involved Ill watch from my armchair as the USA alienates yet another country on its way to EMPIRE

sea2sea said...

That these comments would reveal such fear and distrust is not surprising. I can only ask: what is it that you want for yourself? Your children? Is it peace? Is it prosperity? Is it freedom? These ideals do not come easily. My fear is that many Canadians have lost touch with this responsibility. Prosperity comes only with a commitment to liberty and economic freedom. And peace will come only when all of our neighbours on this expansive globe enjoy these same freedoms. That the United States of America offers the best model of liberty and properity is without question. Resentment of its position in the world is rooted in base motives. You are either for liberty or you are not.

As for a Canadian identity, I would prefer to see our identifty as more inclusive of our place in the Americas. As someone from Saskatchewan, I don't find Toronto, for example, particularly familiar to my cultural upbringing any more than many American cities. In fact, the multicultural setting of Toronto is obliquely foreign. I would suggest that identities are local or regional in nature and that regions of Canada are more aptly culturally aligned with their American neighbours. In fact, the history of Canada is nothing more than economic and cultural imperialism of Central Canada.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Saskatchewan has been left out in the cold by the Eastern Bloc (Ont, Que, Ottawa)I still do not want Canada to have the "American model" (as you putit) of "liberty and economic freedom". It is the American model of this (esp Econ freedom) that has created not only a culture of fear in the United States but that in turn has caused a serious change in "societal beliefs" and this is what differs us from the US and I am happy about this.

The American model is, in part, a cause of violence in America. The "win at all costs", dog eat dog, "every man for himself", "survival of the fittest" capitalist mentality of the US is directly or indirectly the cause of fierce competition, to the point of "killing to win". And this is the same foreign policy that the US has as well. Imperialism and World control through military power. We dont live in the 1800s anymore.

Richard Nixon once said:
Short of changing human nature,the only way to achieve a practical, livable peace in a world of competing nations is to take the profit out of war?

Eisenhower reflected this in 1941:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed; those who are cold and are not clothed ?


I am not a Nixon or Eisenhower fan BUT when two US presidents from the past claim these things, matched with the current worlds refusal (finally) to back the US in their Imperialistic policies, it sends a clear message to the US. NO MORE WAR!

If guns (militarily) or otherwise make people safe, then the US should be the safest place on earth. Far from it!

Why id Britain the only major industrialized country that is supporting the coalition of the willing. Why did the Ukraine make a move to pull out all their troops from Iraq now??

The world is tired of war and it is especially is tired of the US getting involved in every area of the world and militarily to boot.

Why does the US ONLY get involved in world "freedom" and "liberty" issues when it benefits them?

Why dont they go into the SUDAN or RWANDA or other 3rd world nations to help those people? You know why?? NO OIL NO PROFIT at "the proverbial end of the tunnel"


Canada will be no worse for the wear if we dont join this tri-national economic union. Mexico should follow suit. ALthough they may be more desperate.