Friday, October 26, 2007

Wrath of Nationalism

Identity politics is one of the main driving forces of modern societies and individuals. Many make decisions that are bound to the ground, to such a thing as the “accident of birth,” as William Pfaff words it. It’s becoming more prominent and controlling. It’s hard to tell what we attach our sense of ethics to: something higher than our heads or to the geography of our birth, the land in which we felt the first slap? Pfaff’s book, The Wrath of Nations, is an interesting read, though his section on the political organization of classical Islam is weak and, unfortunately, political in itself. But he does say this:

“Nationalism, of course, is intrinsically absurd. Why should the accident—fortunate or unfortunate—of birth as an American, Albanian, Scot, or Fiji Islander impose loyalties that dominate an individual life and structure a society so as to place it in formal conflict with others? In the past there were local loyalties to place and clan or tribe, obligations to lord or landlord, dynastic or territorial wars, but primary loyalties were to religion, God or god-king, possibly to emperor, to a civilization as such. There was no nation. There was attachment to patria, land of one’s fathers, or patriotism, but speak of nationalism before modern times is anachronistic.”

3 Comments:

Anonymous irving said...

Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity.
„Patriotism“ is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by „patriotism“ I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one‘s own nation, which is the concern with the nation‘s spiritual as much as with its material welfare-never with its power over other nations.

Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one‘s country which is not part of one‘s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.:

- Erich Fromm

10/26/2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger Ibrahim said...

Amazing quote. Is the whole thing Fromm's or the last paragraph? Thanks.

10/27/2007 11:46 AM  
Anonymous irving said...

The whole thing is Fromm's quote :) And he had it dead on I think.

11/01/2007 4:42 PM  

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