Monday, May 30, 2016
The Twisted Sisters
Today is Memorial Day south of the border in the States. Yet another holiday that celebrates nationalism and patriotism always leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Any form of boosterism I find inherently dangerous because it is so emotionally manipulative. So many of the conflicts, battles and wars fought over the last two hundred years developed because of nationalist impulses when one group of people imagined they share a common connection or cultural bond allowing them to create a homogenous culture. The growth of nation-states allowed those in control to lord it over others all in the name of nationalism and patriotism. These twisted twin sisters are invoked to silence those who disagree with nationalistic policies forcing a simplistic duality between "you are either with us or against us." All of this makes me distrust and fear celebrations of patriotism and nationalism.
Like a form of tribalism writ large nationalism features hidden policies that privilege certain groups and agendas while disenfranchising others. Nationalist cultures are inherently heteronormative always invoking a form of paternalism to secure its own survival. Nation-states are always invested in their own survival using the future of their children as a means to control the hear and now. Like a modern religious ideology the state asks its citizens for sacrifices for an imagined future and invokes the fate of its children when questioned or critiqued. In order to survive into the future the nation-state perpetuates itself not only politically, at the expense of competing ideologies, but also biologically through its children.
I wonder how historians will write about the growth of modern forms of ethic, religious and social identity in the late 20th and early 21st century. Is this the beginning of the decline of the nation-state? In a hundred years will people look back aghast at nationalistic and patriotic policies that are celebrated in holidays?