By Harley Austin | United States
Throughout history, nationalism, defined as loyalty and devotion to one’s nation, has been governments’ clever tool for manufacturing the consent of the populace. Whether it be wars, taxes, imperialism, spying, or censorship, government tyranny can always rely on blind nationalism to get away with trampling on individual rights.
“By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” -George Orwell
Nationalist Worship of Government
One thing many people fail to understand is that there’s a massive difference between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is the love of one’s country, mainly the culture, land, and people of it. However, nationalism is the love, usually in the form of fanaticism, of one’s nation, which means the government ruling over it. While patriots treat their country with respect and usually think for themselves instead of blindly following propaganda, nationalists worship the government, usually a tyrannical one, that actively ruins their country. This is because nationalists think that a government is the country, or at least the manifestation of it, and that all who oppose its edicts oppose the country.
Patriots are also usually willing to fight back against a tyrannical government that threatens their rights. However, nationalists are easily hypnotized by all propaganda, politics, and lies of their government. They’re then easily manipulated into giving up their rights, privacy, guns, and money to the government, blindly thinking that they’re being “patriotic citizens”. The government, especially in America, is fully aware of this power it wields over its idiotic worshippers, which is why it tries to heavily portray itself as the country itself instead of the tyranny it really is.
“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them” -George Orwell
Nationalists then proceed to worship the government and its symbols through endless praise, flag worship, and the belief that it’s some all-powerful being that brings freedom and prosperity (all while it actively destroys both of those). Then, with a hand on their hearts and eyes on the flag, they’ll gladly give up their children for pointless imperialistic wars, their money for the thieving tyrants’ paychecks, their guns for the “safety of the nation”, and their privacy for “combating terrorism”. It’s no surprise why popularized nationalism has always resulted in tyranny: from the feudal nations of medieval Europe to modern America. Nationalism is essentially a blank check for the government to obtain as much power as it desires.
On top of all this, nationalists will also blindly worship the federal employees that enforce the tyranny. With the massive distortion of reality known as nationalism, the government’s imperialist mercenaries become “patriots fighting for our freedom”, its thugs and enforcers become “people just doing their jobs and keeping us safe”, and its oversized military (which was never meant to exist) & militarized police become symbols of “national pride and strength”.
As Voltaire once said:
“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”
The extremely collectivist nature of nationalism should be no surprise. The grand emphasis on national identity and putting a national interest first is just another coat of paint on the same tyrannical tool of government: collectivism. This becomes very apparent when you begin to look at how nationalism is justified.
To start, the importance of individual sovereignty and rights are trampled upon in favor of “national interest” or “in service to the nation”. This serves as another case of collectivism’s forced individual sacrifice in the name of the “collective good” or “greater good”, both of which being euphemisms for expanding statism. To the nationalist herd, the edicts of government are what’s “good for the nation” and any dissenters are enemies of the nation. This is why nationalists tend to support draconian punishments for actions and ideas they’re against: because everything is treason to them.
And, since collectivism is founded upon lies and the distortion of reality, nationalism requires its own logical fallacies to keep it afloat. The favorite fallacy of nationalists is Ergo decedo, meaning “therefore leave” (a response nationalists are quite fond of), and is commonly known as the Traitorous Critic Fallacy. With this, instead of attempting to justify the tyrannies and imperialism they support, nationalists will instead say that the opposer “hates the country”, “supports the enemy”, or is “unpatriotic”. This is very common in America, in which opponents to the never-ending War on Terror are endlessly labeled as “Anti-American”, which is heavily ironic.
The False Dichotomy
In the last decade, nationalism has found a new method of popularizing itself among the current generation. Instead of the massive propaganda of the 20th century and post-9/11 period, nationalism instead was adopted as a means of supposedly battling “globalism”. This has created the false dichotomy of nationalism vs. globalism, which is ironic because of the heavily statist of both. And as with most false dichotomies, this also results in the expansion of statism either way.
Globalism is probably a familiar term for most people. However, nationalists have completely redefined the term to embody everything they despise. Globalism generally means the making of foreign and economic policies on a global scale, which usually just means interconnected trade through agreements and organizations like the European Union. While these have numerous flaws of their own, nationalists add a whole new meaning to globalism in order to fabricate their own enemy.
While nationalists are in favor of closed border, protectionism, and their made-up concept of “defending the nation”, the supposed globalists, who are usually some form of wealthy elite plus whatever conspiracies nationalists decide to include, support open borders, mass migration, and the destruction of nations. However, this pathetic conflict does nothing but expand government power. While these nationalists pretend to fight the “globalist elite” and their “deep state”, the government gets a free pass to expand its power through increased border restrictions, increased military spending, and increased foreign intervention.
What’s worse is that the nationalists actually believe that they’re individualists who believe in freedom. They somehow think that their extremely collectivist views in nations and the unimportance of individual rights is protecting the individual, while the globalists are trying to tyrannize. But in trying to fight the made-up tyrannizers, they inevitably support the real tyranny pulling their strings: the government. Not to mention that the idea of making America the world police and supporting countless unnecessary wars is more globalist than any “open” border.
The Solution: Individualism
If nationalism and globalism isn’t a dichotomy than that implies that there must be another option, which there is. The solution is simple: individualism. Instead of needlessly sacrificing individual rights in the name of “the nation” or “the world”, the true solution is not trampling on our rights as individuals. We must stop giving in to the statist propaganda of collective identities and start living and thinking for ourselves. Only then will we put an end to the statism, ignorance, and tyranny of nationalism.
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