Nationalism: Have We Outgrown It?

The Olympic Games Logo - symbol of international competition

If you look at the history of nationalism down through the centuries, it is clear that this feeling of national pride has contributed some positive things to nations and to the world at large. Pride in our shared national culture and heritage is fostered by nationalism and that, in turn, builds feelings of collective identity and unity. One such example is the excitement and joy shared with our countrymen as our Olympic athletes achieve distinction in that world forum. That pride can result in greater financial support for the necessary training programs to bring our best athletes to this international competition. These accomplishments reinforce our feelings of national pride and unity.

And yet, these same nationalistic impulses tend to divide humanity into camps of hostility or uneasy alliance. It is nationalistic sensibilities that give birth to economic protectionism, and that results in building trade barriers that do not serve humanity’s best interests. Tariff walls are promoted by some leaders as the best way to protect and preserve the local economy and to save local jobs. I’m not an economist, but my observations from history tend to support the opposite. Trade barriers did not protect anyone from the devastation of the Great Depression, nor did they bring about an end to that suffering.

Nationalism causes us to regard people of other nationalities with a jaundiced eye. We want the world to see that we are the best! That desire fosters suspicion and distrust, so we start building walls. Let’s bring in tougher immigration laws and protect jobs at home! These foreigners will water down and eventually destroy our culture. We must protect who and what we are! This kind of thinking is ludicrous, but it is fueled by nationalism. On February 22nd, I wrote a My Inspiration post Do You Want To Ban Syrian Refugees? where I discussed this issue in greater detail.  Nations like Canada were created and built by immigrants. It is Canada’s diversity that makes it one of the most attractive countries in which to live. How can a nation get caught up in a frenzy of flag-waving and deny its history?

At the moment, one of the scariest threats we face is the environmental damage brought on by the irresponsible and reckless management of our natural resources. Is the world acting in concert to address this issue before we are faced with unthinkable catastrophes? No. National governments pay lip service to international agreements and then opt out. Some state leaders deny the legitimacy of the problem. Global Warming is a myth! Nationalism is not serving the needs of humanity or our planet.

Feelings of national pride coupled with the suspicion of other nations are what creates the perfect atmosphere for warfare. Our history is absolutely riddled with horrific wars that cost obscene amounts of money and human suffering. And yet, nothing changes. We continue to form and participate in uneasy military alliances that often give members a false sense of security which can lead to careless behaviour on the world stage. While the members of NATO stand shoulder-to-shoulder against Islamic fanatics, they also point fingers at each other and claim, “Hey, you aren’t contributing your fair share!” 

Globalism has been made possible by incredible advances in transportation and communication technologies. In many tangible ways, humanity has become the dwellers of a global village. Communication around the world is almost instantaneous, and that allows us to respond quickly and generously to natural and man-made disasters around the world. Nothing is stronger than an idea whose day has come, and the modern information highway is the vehicle of the next great ideas that will bring benefits to people worldwide.

Increased international communication involving individuals, the expansion of free-trade zones, and the loosening of immigration quotas, will allow for unprecedented cultural sharing,  and a greater understanding of and appreciation for different cultures. That leads to increased tolerance among the throngs of humanity.

What is the most significant barrier to the achievement of world peace? It is our inability to shift our focus from the truly insignificant things that differentiate one nation from another, like race, skin tone, religious observances, and beliefs, among others. The truth is that humans have far more in common, but choose not to recognize these things. Our bodies work the same way – we all bleed red. Our psychological and biological needs are the same, and most importantly, we all share the same human nature and the need for spirituality. Nationalism renders these things unimportant.

My answer to the title question is an unequivocal YES! Nationalism no longer serves the real needs of the world’s people, nor does it hold the answers to what ails this planet. In my next post, I’ll suggest a practical blueprint for establishing the supremacy of globalism.

In the meantime… let’s talk!

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

19 thoughts on “Nationalism: Have We Outgrown It?”

  1. This is such a difficult topic to comment upon, primarily of course because of the complexities and often polarizing points of view that we each as human beings are entitled to feel and express.
    We each can hold flexible and expansive viewpoints as wide and varied in scope as the topic of ‘Nationalism’ itself.
    I will only express briefly my own and often disagreed with take on Nationalism.
    Australia is first and foremost identified as a colony of Great Britain. We have Queen Elizabeth the Second as our figurehead, we fly the British flag together with our own Southern Cross on every government building, and after many many years we now also fly the ‘Koori’ flag, that proudly represents the Australian Indigenous Peoples.
    Those same people that refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day, and, sadly, due to our abysmal treatment of that entire race of peoples for so long the tag of “invasion day” is one we have repeatedly earned.
    We are a sports addicted country and can be found at any sporting event cheering wildly for our chosen teams in their spheres of excellence. On a personal note, I follow no sport, I cheer for no team, and the only time I watch anything sport related is once every four years, and then only if I remember that our ‘Gladiators’ are competing against all comers in the spectacle of the latest version of the ‘Coliseum’ now called the Olympic Games.
    Those that win are remembered for a time.
    Those that don’t rank in the top three of the gladiatorial trials are remembered only by stand-up comedians who poke cruel (Loser) humor at them, until they become nothing more than a comment of “You know whatshisname? The swimming guy, whatever happened to him?”
    Suffice it say that despite all the good intentions in the world, Bob Dylan’s “Times that are a changing” haven’t changed, or indeed if they have, it has been a change so infinitesimally small, and slow growing, as to be negligible. A case of ‘too much-too little-too late’.
    Our oceans are dying. The wonderful Great Barrier Reef once a thriving and world renowned place of such beauty and diversity, is dying … as are the numerous species of life that counted upon that reef as a source of nourishment. We are losing some species completely, and others at a rate that even the most ardent conservationists have admitted will lose their battle to survive.
    Our ‘inconvenient truth’ is alive and thriving under the often-misunderstood tagline of “Global Warming”
    I fear that history will judge us harshly. Deservedly so. We appear, sadly to have learned nothing. Simplistic? Yes. but I believe I have roughly expressed my point of view.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to express your thoughts in this forum today, Soooz. In many ways, the history of our two nations run parallel to each other. We both treated our indigenous people shabbily. The Bible tells us that humanity was given the responsibility to care for this planet and all life upon it. Our stewardship has been exploitation for the most part and governments worldwide are either unable or unwilling or both to implement the necessary remedies. I think that feelings of nationalism prevent us from acting responsibly on the global stage. I agree we will be judged harshly by future generations – wherever they may end up living. Thanks again, Soooz!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a difficult topic, John. I’m one of the many who has lost confidence in our elected officials – either party. I am confident, however, that as a collective we are moving forward – in spite of all that we see or hear. People, like me, now recognize corruption or hate or manipulation while before we naively accepted or blamed. This is a step forward.

    We are at the precipice of change, not one created by our governments, but one that our collective spirits have summoned. I don’t think it will be easy for a while, and my response may seem simplistic, but I feel compelled to act lovingly, constructively in any way that I can…to draw out the good and the hopeful – during this time of great duress.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you are correct in your assessment, Gwen because the paradigm needs to change if meaningful change is to come about. The movement you’re describing has been taking place for decades and it is very slow. The damage to the planet is progressing too quickly. Regardless of whether anyone has the correct solution or not, it is significant that these issues be aired openly. Thanks for sharing your point of view!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You raise a number of points that are almost outside the control of the individual. Our governments have been woefully inadequate in dealing with the issues that will probably spell disaster in the future. I think the idea of counting on government to help is a legacy idea whose time has passed. The answer is more involvement by the individual which unfortunately is difficult to achieve. Your post is in the right direction. How to motivate the individual is a more difficult question to which there is no easy answer. Those who hate change will go along with whatever the government says is right. I think complacency is the real danger.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There’s a lot of wisdom in your analysis, John. As you say, there are no easy answers to this, but I fear that humanity is running out of time and we need a paradigm shift. As I put forward a suggestion in my next post, it will be offered in the knowledge and understanding that there are no easy answers. But there are no easy answers in our personal lives either. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree, there is more that unites us than separates us as humans. As the hymn says “and the creed, and the colour and the name wont matter”. It is, however possible to have pride in one’s nation’s achievements without hating people of differing skin tones or those from countries other than our own. There are, in the UK many black and asian people who regard themselves (rightly) as British and take a pride in residing here. Acceptance of common values (tolerance, freedom and the rule of law) make people British not the tone of their skin. I feel very English and believe that my country has much to be proud of (including Shakespeare and being one of the first nations to abolish slavery in 1807 (although it took longer to prohibit it within the empire). I look forward to reading your follow-up posts on the subject. Kevin

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Kevin! As a Canadian-born grandson of Italian immigrants, I am, like you, proud of my country and the principles and values it represents to the world. I’m also proud of the British heritage that we honour with our adoption of Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Canada. All of that national pride is good and wholesome and I would never propose that it be tossed away. I do believe the scientists and they are telling us that this planet is an environmental ticking time bomb. Global terrorism, local wars and civil wars keep world tensions high and perpetuate awful suffering among millions of people every day while I sit, well-fed and safe in my first world home. It doesn’t have to be this way.

      Liked by 2 people

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