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.