Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nationhood: The Gift and the Curse

If there's one subject that's not so controversial amongst most people, that meaning moderates, conservatives and even those who label themselves reactionaries such as myself, it's the defense of nationalism or at least patriotism. I've yet to meet anyone who can agree with me on this subject, primarily because nationalism is so ingrained in our minds, in our culture and now in our histories. However; I must admit something, dear reader.. This reactionary is against the concept of the nation, not out of a love for the "world at large", but out of pure individualism and love for western history.

There's too many examples of western history being bastardized; corrupted for the sake of nationalism. Many perfect examples exist, perhaps some of the most famous being the various conflicts grouped into one monolithic war (though this is incorrect, it was rather a series of conflicts throughout multiple points of the middle ages), the Hundred Years Wars between "England" and "France", a history of stunning bravery by both sides, patriots fighting for their nations glory or freedom, and finally a heroine who delivers on all accounts, and saves her nation from some sort of amusing tyrannical grasp.

The reality is vastly different. The hundred years wars is often actually grouped into a category of wars labeled as dynastic wars, that obviously meaning a war between two (or more) families, for the control of a throne or anything else really. Thus, the hundred years war is really about the Valois in France fighting to keep their throne from the Plantagenet's in England. There were many French nobles who sided with the Plantagenet's, both out of realpolitik and a genuine support for their claim.

Conversely, some continental "English" nobility would often find themselves supporting a Valois cause. Both of these sides wouldn't have been traitors, but rather men fighting for either way they believed in or to better their own position.

The latter is likely seen as a disgusting position to hold; why should one care more about themselves than the country (or Kingdom) at large? Why not just set aside your personal wants for the good of the majority? The issue with this train of thought is that it's a collectivist one in nature.

Many of our more moderate conservative friends are big on patriotism. We should sacrifice ourselves and our family for the nation, but again, I must firmly state, this is the very collectivism they argue against with Socialism and Communism. I owe no more to a random family in Massachusetts than they owe to my family in Texas, and all too often they'd find themselves perhaps despising me and my views, or me them.

This is the issue with nationalism, the nation: we're all individuals, a nation can't possibly sum up millions of people in such a broad context, and to say otherwise is ignorance, as much as I hate throwing that word around. You can't arbitrarily label all Frenchman as cowardly, feminine, smelly people anymore than you could sum up all British people as ugly with terrible teeth and holding a sort of worship for their Queen, though in the authors view a greater admiration for their monarchy would be quite appreciated.

Ah, but I fall into the traps of "broad" thinking right there.. How can I possibly say for sure what the average British person thinks of their Queen? I can't, I can only go by personal experience or studies conducted by people I don't even know, all of which is subject.

In defense of the nation, the concept isn't one that's inherently bad. It seeks to bring people together due to a common culture and language, or even sometimes political beliefs. However; it's almost always a rather "petty" sort of ordeal, where the citizens of the said nation begin massive amounts of in-fighting, with multiple parties claiming to represent the common good of each individual, or these days most disturbingly, the collective good.

The reality often is however these people merely represent themselves and those they would ally with behind the scenes, and possibly some of their key voters. Anyone else, as far as this system is concerned, is unimportant.

This isn't fair at all. Everyone should be given a chance to be happy. People should be able to escape the trappings of this monolithic ant-mimicking society that we call "nations", referring to them and our lifestyles today as if it's the only way.

Again, as I usually do, I must point middle ages as an example of how decentralized societies can get on just as well as we do today under the collective nation. The struggles these men and women faced during those times were mostly relating to sketchy medical knowledge (in comparison to today I must note, the weren't ignorant simpleton savages) and the poor conditions of cities, though most people didn't live in cities in the middle ages like we do today.

What mattered most to these people therefore was normally the family and the individual self; concepts that are "encouraged" in modern society, but we must be reminded of the nations importance before all else. I feel as if I'm saying alot without truly saying anything at this point, so I'll pose a question to myself, assuming perhaps the reader is asking it: "What sort of society do you propose then? An absolute return to the middle ages?"

Well, yes and no. While I enjoy the idea of caste based societies, though not based on wealth and trade (I've covered this) but instead something that truly will make us immortal: our families. When we produce children, we do more than spread our genetics. We leave apart of ourselves on this planet, something to give back to not just your family at large hopefully, but rather your community (something I actually do stress even if I don't stress the nation).

Therefore; my ideal society is one based on the middle ages, but I'd like to see everyone having a special surname, a special coat of arms, large, decorated beautiful family tree's, pride and family motto upon households, all of these things. I'd like to see the *family* become the central unit of society.

This would be a highly hereditary society of course, monarchist and aristocratic in nature, but again I would have nothing but disdain for a "bastard feudalism" aristocracy, though I realise this is likely to develop.

Enough with my pessimism though, I will end this post with a quote from one of my personal hero's, a genius of his time certainly that sums up my beliefs in a nutshell. From Wikipedia:

"My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy."

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