Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nationalism vs. Cosmopolitanism

Charles Simic, with pointed observations on Serbian nationalism in the late 1980s, that are more than relevant to today's pro-torture GOP:

Of course, I was naive. I didn't realize the immense prestige that inhumanity and brutality have among nationalists. I also didn't grasp to what degree they are impervious to reason. To point out the inevitable consequences of their actions didn't make the slightest impression on them, since they refused to believe in cause and effect.

The infuriating aspect of every nationalism is that it doesn't understand that it is a mirror image of some other nationalism, and that most of its pronouncements have been heard in other places and at other times. Smug in their own ethnocentricity, indifferent to the cultural, religious, and political concerns of their neighbors, all they [need is] a leader to lead them into disaster.

.Along the same lines of reasoning, there's a helpfully reductionist article in the current World Policy Journal that argues that the red-state/blue-state divide is actually a nationalist/cosmopolitanist divide, and in fact is a division that cleaves the heart of every modern polity.

1 comment:

zachawry said...

This is indeed a fundamental difference between types of people in the world. I can imagine how one could hold various political beliefs opposite mine by changing base assumptions, but I cannot imagine how one would think their town / state / country / football team is the best simply by virtue of the fact that's where you were born.

And yet, this is one of the core human behaviors that seems to be exhibited everywhere. Just don't get it.