Over the years I have found that I don’t believe in nationalism all that much, if at all. I seldom look at things that way, of what ‘nation’ I belong to. By ‘nation’ I mean a people and area limited by political and geographic boundaries. I have always looked at myself as being part of a ‘people’ or a ‘culture’, namely western European and its derivatives. More specifically, I’m ‘northwest Germanic’, as I always say, meaning I’m descended physically and culturally from the Germanic people from northwestern Europe.
To show you how I tend to view things I’ll tell you how I used to always get into a dispute with a guy I know because I used to always refer to the US as a part of Europe. He’d always say, “this isn’t Europe, this is the US”. I’d reply, “that’s true, politically and geographically, but this is a European culture and everything we do, even the government, is derived from Europe. In effect, this is an extension of Europe, therefore it is a part of Europe. All you’re speaking of is political boundaries. As a culture we are a part of Europe. Everything we have originates from there. We are really European culturally as much as any Austrian or Dutchman.”
When the Winter Olympics was here in Salt Lake in the 2002 I saw the awards ceremony. They’d put a flag on a pole representing the person who competed. The highest was gold, the second was silver, and the lowest was bronze. I saw that and said, “just for that I would not want to be in the Olympics. I am not a flag. I am not a nationalistic object to be associated with the political emblem. I am much more than that. I am part of a culture that transcends any political boundaries. I am not a flag!”
Nationalism is just political borders. Culture, as I’ve tried to emphasize, does not stay within political borders but goes beyond them. A people of one culture can very easily be within multiple countries. It seems to me that, particularly as a result of the cold war, we have spent too much time emphasizing ones country, nationalism, and political borders. These are only made for convenience sake. It’s like an artificial restriction to me.
I think nationalism becomes an arrogance too easily. It usually becomes a pattern of thinking that your country is ‘better’ than everyone elses. No better example of this than the US. I’ve sat and listened to these people, for decades, talk how great they are and how everyone else in the world is a bunch of backward idiots. To me it got to the point of nausea. The Americans aren’t that friggin’ great.
They always speak of religious wars and how bad they are but, it seems to me, that nationalism and the wars for nationalism, have been the most deadliest of wars. In fact, if you look at the religious wars in Europe in the 1500-1600’s you’ll see that they quickly turned into wars of nationalism and that this is why they got so bad. I think there is a myth about religious wars: people think they are worse than they are. It’s when they become nationalistic that wars and conflicts seem to get bad.
Since I am not a nationalist I jokingly call myself an ‘Inter-Nationalist’. This means I do not look at people as being a part of this or that nation. I tend to look at people as just people . . . just different. And they are different in many different ways: physically, culturally, religious-wise, artistic, etc. Being an ‘Inter-Nationalist’ I found I have a respect for all people. None are better than the other. Each has their strength and weakness. I’ve grown to appreciate different peoples and cultures. I have become a defender of other people, I’ve found. I’ve been in heated arguments with people defending peoples of other cultures. If an American, say, says some country is backwards, for example, then that is like an insult to me. They might as well insult me. This is because I take an ‘Inter-Nationalist’ point of view. I respect other people, not just my own nation.