'It is said, 'Happy the nation that has no history,' but when a Hitler or Stalin bestrides the world woe to that people who do not feel the blood of mighty ancestors throbbing in their veins.' Eric Hoffer Well it happened again, in a discussion a friend remarked about how much contempt she had for […]
'It is said, 'Happy the nation that has no history,' but when a Hitler or Stalin bestrides the world woe to that people who do not feel the blood of mighty ancestors throbbing in their veins.'
Well it happened again, in a discussion a friend remarked about how much contempt she had for nationalism.
This is the kind of thing that makes me uncomfortable, because it's not an opinion held just by people I despise, but by some people I like very much. I just think they're wrong. And because it's sometimes hard to explain why I think they're wrong.
Nationalism has been described as something that teaches you to feel pride in accomplishments that aren't yours and to hate strangers. It is often linked with patriotism and other unsophisticated emotions.
Well yes, sometimes it does. We've seen enough examples of it in the past century to give us pause.
It's often derided as all about meaningless lines on a map.
But throughout the world those lines on the map mark where, often after much bloodshed over many weary years, different peoples reached some kind of agreement. On this side our language, customs, traditions, and laws, on the other side yours.
'See!' say the globalist sophisticates. 'It's entirely an accident of birth which ones you prefer.'
Perhaps, but so what?
What if I like the language, customs, traditions, and laws I grew up with, for whatever reason?
After all I myself live in a country which is almost unique in that anyone who prefers them can come here and become American.
And who says that because I prefer familiar traditions I can't appreciate other countries?
I lived in Poland for years, and my heart thrills to hear the Polish national anthem.
'Jescie Polska nie zginela, kiedy my zyjemy!'
'Poland is not dead yet, while yet we live!' was written in a time when their nation was wiped off the map. For more than a century Poland lived only in their hearts.
Then after a brief independence they were again occupied, first by the Nazis then by the communists. When I went to live in Poland I came to share their joy at their newly won independence, and as well their fear that they could lose their nation again.
And through that experience I came to appreciate as I never had before the feelings of Francis Scott Key, citizen of a nation no older than he was, while 'the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.'
Puerile sentimentality, say the proud sophisticates.
Maybe. But in a contest between the globalist sophisticates and sentimental nationalists, who do you think would win?
We don't have to guess. After the first World War, France designed their educational curriculum to reflect a globalist anti-nationalist philosophy in the belief it would prevent war, while the
Germans taught their children to thirst for revenge.
And when war came France, which had fought with dogged determination to stop the advance on Paris in the first World War, was completely overrun in less time than it took the Third Reich to take Warsaw alone.
But that's a little grim. What I said instead was this.
The globalists are right. We share a common humanity and a common human nature. But within that common human nature, there are a lot of different ways to be human.
Nations are the experimental laboratories of the human race, wherein we try out lots of different solutions to the age-old problems of how to live together and how to fulfill the marvelous potential of our humanity.
A collection of Steve Browne's essays and newspaper columns, 'The View from Flyover Country: A Rural Columnist Looks at Life in the 21st Century' is available on Amazon Kindle.