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News Are patriotism and nationality still relevant in today's world?

  1. Jul 24, 2010 #1
    As gender and racial discrimination become less prevalent today as compared to the past, and as globalisation brings people together both physically and in terms of communication, how significant are nationalities today?

    And with environmental issues becoming more and more urgent an issue, should we all embrace internationalism instead?

    Are patriotism and nationality still relevant in today's world?
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  3. Jul 24, 2010 #2
    People most often seem to participate in their community out of a sense of pride for that community. It is much easier to identify as a citizen of a country than of the world. Patriotism and nationalism would seem to be tools for keeping citizens involved and to stave off apathy.
  4. Jul 24, 2010 #3
    Nationalism is a critical ingredient for maintaining centralized economic control over trade in a long-globalized world economy. Without national separatism, individuals could simply migrate to more prosperous regions, which would make it very difficult to exploit those people in favor of others. Just compare this to the effect of having lower-price real-estate concentrated in areas viewed as "black" while higher-priced properties are concentrated in "white" areas. If the two types of areas were integrated to the point of no longer being racially distinguishable, then how would people be able to ensure their level of wealth according to their "race?"

    Similarly, if nation-states with widely-distributed social welfare would integrate with other nation-states where social welfare is inadequate by their standards, how would these governments be able to maintain the same standard of living for those holding citizenship? The only way this would be possible is if the highest standard of living guaranteed by any government was achievable for every individual globally, but how could that be the case when a significant privilege of living in a post-industrial welfare state is the fact that hard industrial labor is done elsewhere?

    Wealthy, post-industrial welfare states are already in a sort of permanent war against migration due to the exceptional quality of life available there and the high level of global productivity required to sustain it. If these governments would commit to reaching standards of living that would be sustainably attainable for everyone globally, it would be possible to end nationalism and war. However, as long as there is culture that promotes unsustainable levels of materialism that are necessarily limited to a global elite, nationalism and war will continue to be mechanisms for policing structural exploitation of some people in favor of others.
  5. Jul 24, 2010 #4
    No way would I ever be a part of a 'international government' - and neither would most Americans. Nationalism and patriotism are probably more relevant today as some try to, incorrectly, push for a global government. I'm not sure about your claim for environmental issues being 'more' of a concern 'these days'. What are you basing this on?
  6. Jul 24, 2010 #5
    Wouldn't it be better if people could move to were the opportunities are as opposed to what we have now were corporations can exploit the Disparity in our circumstances?
  7. Jul 24, 2010 #6


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    I find that there is a trend recently to place more importance on one's heritage and culture. I'm a mutt, so I don't have a cultural identity, but I know a lot of people that tend to identify with one parent's background over another.

    We would like to think that racism is something that we are growing out of. I thought that, but I'm finding that, unfortunately, it's not as accepted as I thought. I was watching a show that examined the disturbing upsurge in the white Aryan movement.

    I don't see a "global government" happening. We can't even achieve unity within a nation.
  8. Jul 24, 2010 #7
    I have friends who are very 'proud' of their Irish ancestry even though they are only a small part Irish. They feel that they 'identify' as Irish. I talked with two of them about it the other day and only one of the two has actually even been to Ireland and he only stayed for a week. I expressed that I was rather at a loss to see how they felt such a connection to a culture that they are not a part of and have only read about. They said that they could not understand how I did not feel a connection to any culture.

    Funny thing is that I enjoy Irish music more than they do and understand more of the allusions in the lyrics. I told one of them that this was his song. That he didn't get it at first made me laugh.
  9. Jul 24, 2010 #8
    I'm afraid that "global governance" already takes place; only national divisions are exploited to "divide and conquer." Consider the historical conflict between confederationism and unity embodied in the conflict over slavery. Antebellum proponents of slavery utilized popular sovereignty at the state level to expand slavery to new states. Lincoln, on the other hand, supposedly opposed slavery at the national level and therefore utilized federal power to fight it. Without a federal government, the states would have had no means except interstate collaboration to address national-level issues. Still, that would not have prevented proponents of slavery from expanding the institution on a state-by-state basis, which translates into a form of interstate (or perhaps "trans-state") governance, doesn't it?

    I know it's a confusing idea, but my point is that global governance doesn't have to be institutionalized to take place, and I wonder if there is any basis to claim that it's not already taking place in the form of global discourses and networks of various forms of power. I don't see how it would ever be possible to completely separate, isolate, and insulate people and economic activities according to national territorialism. At the very least, how would governments form coalitions with other governments to prevent others from coordinating their power to undermine isolationist movements? Does anyone think that a nation in isolation can defend its right to isolation? It's kind of a self-defeating aspect of nationalism in a long-globalized world, isn't it?
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  10. Jul 24, 2010 #9
    You can have "internationalism" without a global government. I'll give you an example. I personally believe the life of a foreigner has the same worth as the life of an American. I even go a step further. This is something my mind wandered to when considering the rules of engagement in Afghanistan.

    The life of an Afghan citizen has the same exact value as a United States soldier. I would rather see 1,000 US soldiers die than 1,001 innocent Afghanis. Of course, I'd rather see neither.

    This kind of thinking is rejecting patriotism and nationalism without embracing a "global government."
  11. Jul 24, 2010 #10
    People like that strike me as fakes. Most white people in America have several different European countries they can claim as their ancestry. They just pick the one they like the best and then magically that's what they become? If I'm 1% Irish, I'm allowed to call myself Irish, even though I've never been to Ireland? That makes no sense.
    I'm a white American who has never been to Europe; that makes me 100% American. I have ancestors from Europe, but how does that affect me? They lived there, not me. I also have ancestors from Africa. We all do. Are we all Africans?
    Assuming they were all good people? Yeah, I'd agree with that. People are people.
  12. Jul 24, 2010 #11
    It seems natural to me that people compartmentalize. Instinctually we are first concerned with our own person, then family, then local community. Allegiances to communities beyond the local starts to become rather abstract and impersonal. It is not hard for the average person to decide that the activities of the more abstract community in far off places is ok or good when they do not perceive the effect on them personally. Their more local allegiances make it easier as well to place a higher value on the lives of those who belong to their own community.

    I think it takes a special sort of mentality to see all people as equal, unfortunately.
  13. Jul 25, 2010 #12


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    IMO, it's a bit skewed to say you'd rather see 1,000 innocent US soldiers that are risking their lives than 1,001 innocent Afghanis. You have placed a value on the worth of one set of people over another.
  14. Jul 25, 2010 #13


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    It's easy to make these broad statements (every life has exactly equal value) without having to actually put your money where your mouth is. It's not the birth of a movement, it's just meaningless, and is as likely to mean that you care as little about American lives as you do Afghan lives than that you have some special compassion for Afghanis that people who would pick the 1000 Americans don't have
  15. Jul 25, 2010 #14


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    I wonder if you really can have 1 nationality... I always felt people embraced their nationality or whatever level their social group is so that there is always "other people" that people can kinda.... blame all their problems on. I mean, if everyone on Earth felt like 1 group.... that'd be pretty lame.
  16. Jul 25, 2010 #15
    Everyone dies :wink:

    But considering the hypothetical case you presented; would 1000 soldiers (not necessarily Americans) death or 1001 Afghanis bring more stability in the region? When you lose soldiers, insurgents gain advantage and able to cause more harm than in the case where you would still have 1000 soldiers.
  17. Jul 25, 2010 #16

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    I must admit, while I can connect the second and third parts of the sentence, I can't see what gender discrimination (racial discrimination makes somewhat more sense, but still not much) has to do with nationalism. Prithee, couldst thou please enlighten me on this part of the sentence?

    EDIT: Also, in a sense, they are, because nations do tend to stick to their currency. I think things would be much better off if we had a global currency, but I doubt that idea would EVER fly in the developed nations of the world.
  18. Jul 25, 2010 #17
    My apologies, I thought you were pushing for a global government.

    The problem here is that it all sounds good on paper, it means nothing in reality. How do you define 'worth'? This is all subjective rhetoric. I think your example is a poor one, as US soldiers lives are worth far more than an Afghanis in terms of their ability to bring about change, or contribute to the economy (Afghanis don't have much money). But, ultimately, this has nothing to do with patriotism or nationalism. Those would deal more specifically to a globalized government, which I aluded to earlier.
  19. Jul 25, 2010 #18
    So sorry to have lumped everything together with no apparent links with each other.

    What I'm trying to say is that many forms of prejudice and discrimination (although by no means, removed) have eased, over the recent decades. So there is a trend that people are disregarding whatever category/organisations/societies/race other people belong to. Therefore, whichever nation someone legally belongs to is losing its meaning.
    And as there are so much movements in labour (workers from Philippines, China, Bangladesh moving to Singapore etc.), talents (Chinese and Indian graduates going to US) and in financial aspects (hot money-basically the disregard of nationality for more interests, trans-national corporations), i find that nationality is beginning to lose its purpose.

    I meant internationalism in a more ideological and behavioural way. Well, apparently the failure of the Copenhagen talk says a lot about our current status toward this ideology.

    And more prevalent famine, water shortage, drought etc. and desertification, air/land/water pollution etc. etc.?

    I thought it has been widely accepted that there's an urgent environmental issue at hand...pardon my ignorance if I'm wrong
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2010
  20. Jul 25, 2010 #19
    Is there a reason he shouldn't feel that way? I don't see how making that statement says he cares little about their lives. He said he wouldn't want to see anyone die, which he shouldn't even have had to say; it's a given.
    People do put more value on American lives, just because they're also American. That's not a good reason. Some people probably consider 9/11 to be the worst disaster in history, forgetting about the hundreds of thousands of Asians who died in a tsunami or the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who died just this year from an earthquake.
    Assuming all things stay the same afterward and you didn't know any of the Americans or anything like that, if you would rather see 1,001 Afghans die than 1,000 Americans, to me, that must mean you put more value on American lives. That's fine, you can feel however you want, but I don't see the problem of pointing that out.
  21. Jul 25, 2010 #20
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