Nationalism is a psychological abberation, driven by insecurity. This is the message of this excellent article by Steve Taylor in Psychology Today, which I recommend reading. Nations are artificial constructs, which lead to pathological effects such as wars. The basic psychology of human beings is co-operative with their fellow human beings. The problems we now face, such as the covid19, climate breakdown, species extinction transcend national boundaries. The only future for humanity is one of global co-operation.
The impulse behind Brexit, of ‘making the UK great again’, and the similar impulse behind the Trump presidency, have been going in precisely the wrong direction, driven by the insecurity of their former working populations who have been driven to feel insecure by the economic system. The US appears to have a ‘get out of jail’ card in a Joe Biden presidency, but only if he addresses that failed economic system. The UK has got itself into a more permanent mess with Brexit, but can emerge if the co-operation engendered by a fair ‘deal’ is brought to fruition. A ‘no deal’ will be a psychological disaster for not just UK, but the whole of Europe. The insecurity generated can only lead to more problems.
Of course, nations will still need to exist in some form to organise human affairs, but only within the context of the larger groupings of which they are a part. History tells us that these are largely geographically based – China, India, various European empires, USA… or more global such as the Spanish, British and French colonial expansions. And the context of the United Nations or equivalent organisation is vital.
The charismatic and the populist leader are most suspect in this whole context. I suspect they automatically come to prominence as the collective sense of insecurity rises.
As Steve says,
Nationalism is a psychological aberration, and we owe it to our ancestors, and to our descendants — and to the other species, and to the Earth itself — to move beyond it.
The book of the above title was on Waterstones’ blockbuster non-fiction table, so I thought I’d give it a go. ‘Ten maps that tell you all about global politics’ seemed a good subtitle. The author is Tim Marshall.
The book actually does do what it says, shows how geography is the major factor in much of global politics, and explains how this works in different areas of the world.
It was interesting to read about the main geographical features and conflicts in each area of the world, although I did get the impression that a lot of today’s political problems are caused not by geography but by the arbitrary lines drawn on maps by dominant Europeans in that brief period of colonial expansion of the 19th century and subsequent decolonisation – such as the borders of Iraq, Syria, lack of Kurdish state, India/Pakistan,…
The relevance of the north European plain for both Western Europe and Russia is quite striking – how easy it is to attack on a wide plain rather than through mountains, as indeed Napoleon and Hitler did at their peril, as supply lines became over-stretched. The importance of a non-aligned Ukraine to Russia is also clearly explained, as is the impeccable logic that led to the recent Russian taking of the Crimea.
And if you want insight into the likely problems in the China Sea and the Arctic Ocean over coming decades, this book gives a fair idea.
I guess the question for humanity is whether we are going to continue to be prisoners of geography, and fight the same battles over and over again, or whether we are going to move beyond that to de-emphasise the national ego in favour of the collective well being that will come increasingly under threat with the changes caused by global warming and pollution. At the end of the day, all these geographies are interconnected, as are all their populations. We are really one humanity living in one world.
I wrote this post a while ago, but didn’t publish it because it seemed too negative. But then again it is facing the truth, they are coming thick and fast…
Disasters are in the nature of things. Life is evolution and change. Galaxies collide, solar systems merge, orbiting objects crash into each other, storms and subterranean events cause cataclysmic events on planets. So however stable things might seem, it is inevitable that disasters will occur.
So is it any surprise that disasters are also caused by human beings. However, we do seem to be particularly good at creating the conditions for them, e.g. we:
invest in new sources of fossil fuels that we know are not sustainable, thereby exacerbating the global warming we know is happening – and continue to prevaricate on taking effective action to minimise and mitigate its effects.
degrade our soil and food with chemical-based farming, when biological and organic methods are the only sustainable way.
base our economic system solely on growth, regardless of the quality of that growth and its ecological non-sustainability.
propagate increasing inequalities that history tells us are not sustainable and result in conflict, yet refuse to contemplate alleviatory measures, such as taxes on financial transactions, wealth and land.
elect those who base their campaigns around separation and collective illusions, such as making countries ‘great again’, standing above others.
fill our seas with plastic, to the extent that our food coming from the oceans includes increasing residues of it.
cut down forests to create more land to feed animals for food or grow more oil, thereby removing the planet’s lungs (analogy).
globalise everything such that (with climate change) diversity of species is drastically reduced.
invest in escalation of arms including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that no sane person would wish to see ever used.
The entrenched status quo appears to be manipulated by the main beneficiaries (the rich and powerful) such that any rapid change of direction is not possible.Read More »
“Some of us are trying very hard to make things better, but an attack like this reminds us once again that we are inside someone’s game.”
These were comments made by local Afghans reacting to the ‘mother of all bombs’ recently dropped by the US, as reported by Yes Magazine.
The suffering Afghans are well and truly stuck within the games played by their politicians, the Taliban, the Americans and other players. Indeed, we are all in some way ‘inside someone’s game’, usually among the rich and the powerful.
Brexit provides a good example – a game invented and fomented by those with a particular perspective on power and who should wield it, played against the European institutions that tend to act as a brake on their power, all cloaked in a populist, nationalistic and xenophobic framework.
As these games pan out, the important thing is that we actually attend to what is really happening and what is required in the situation, and do not get carried away by the mass mind encouraged by the game. If you’ve ever felt the intense crowd feeling at a football match, you will know how easy it is to be swept away by the emotions of the game.