Questioning nationalist language and "self"-determination

Michael,

  Thanks for your thoughtful comments. More responses follow...

Starchild, reading your post I thought, on the face of it, the question
seemed like a simple answer was forthcoming but while contemplating a
response,
like peeling an onion, I found the response much deeper and
interesting and
worthy of introspection. I also learned a new word "hegemony." Thank
you for that.

I believe rights are God given and government is there to protect
them, not
create or deal them out. I think we agree here.

  Yes, although I would say innate rather than "God given." If one holds
that rights are granted to humans by some divine power, then this deity
by implication has the right to revoke those rights -- that it would be
OK for an angry deity to slaughter large numbers of people as the Old
Testament describes the Biblical god doing. I don't think wanton
slaughter of humans is acceptable no matter who the killer is.

The question of nationalism seems to be the problem you see in the use
of "
we" and "us" as you cite a real fear of national governments and the
pain they
have caused. My gut response is to defend nationalism because for
years one
worlders and socialist's have been trying to give it a bad name.

  I understand this emotion. I've sometimes taken a position based on
some ideological opponents taking an opposite position, only to find on
further reflection that the "enemy of my enemy" wasn't necessarily a
good bedfellow.

Unfortunately,
the very word, “nationalism,” evokes negative connotations —
associated, as it
can be, with flag-waving, goose-stepping rallies at Nuremberg.
However, the
wholly American concept of nationalism — or “Americanism,” to employ a
more
appropriate term — is a unifying rather than a divisive force.
“Americanism”
gently reminds us that, despite differences in race, religious
background, and
ethnic origin, we are all one and the same under the law. We are bound
by the
motto “E pluribus unum” (“From the many, one”).

  "Americanism," as you call it, can only be a unifying force *within*
the group identified as "Americans." Afrocentrism is similarly unifying
to blacks, feminism to women, and so on. On a humanity-wide scale,
Americanism (and other nationalisms) are clearly divisive. For every
favored and idealogically upgraded "American," there is an excluded and
downgraded "foreigner" or "alien."
Nationalism also substitutes the law (of government) for our shared
humanity as the force uniting us.

George Orwell wrote a great essay on nationalism back in the 40's. In
it, he
warned of that nationalism should not be confused with patriotism. He
argued
that nationalism goes hand in hand with the desire for power and
prestige where
patriotism is a devotion to a particular place or way of life with no
desire
to force it upon others. So maybe, American-Patriatism would be a
better thing
for me to argue? American-Patriatism should be comfortable with
creative
chaos, understanding that freedom and liberty sometimes are messy.
Regardless,
"we" are Americans and should cradle and hold dear the things we
believe are
right with this great land and work to change the things we think are
wrong. Like
some in this group, hating "our" government, seeing black helicopters
everywhere and finding nothing but fault is not conducive to change or
recruitment, it
only attracts the loonies.

  I agree that there is a valuable distinction to be made between
"nationalism" and "patriotism," and I'm willing to accept the
definition of "patriotism" in an American context as "appreciation of
the good (i.e. libertarian) values associated with the United States."

  However I would submit to you that we would still be wise not to take
refuge in patriotism. Most (all?) of the things you refer to that "we
believe are right with this great land" are qualities whose common
denominator is not America, but a libertarian spirit. Qualities like a
love of freedom, entrepreneurship, optimism, faith in scientific
knowledge and human progress, self-reliance, etc. These values are
found distributed throughout the world. It is inarguable that many
people who happen to live outside the United States possess these
qualities in greater abundance than many people who happen to live
within the United States.

  Our goal ought to be rallying people around these values, not rallying
people around the flag of a particular country which is also associated
with many negative values. By using universal terms such as
"libertarian" to define these qualities, rather than nationalist and
thus exclusionary terms like "American," we can better spread the
philosophy of freedom around the world to as many people as possible.

Yours in liberty,
              <<< Starchild >>>

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