When I was 4 years old I still remember standing in the warm summer sun trying to make sense of the world I was starting to know. The Vietnam war was going on and my uncles were overseas fighting the enemy. I didn’t know where overseas was or even what an enemy was beyond the fact they must be bad people if my uncles are fighting with them.
I was told God loved us because we were good people. I imagined God in the vein He was described to me, a great bearded giant that lived on a cloud. I didn’t know anyone with a beard so my image was Abraham Lincoln’s silhouette on a penny. I reasoned if God loved us He must not like the bad people. I didn’t know what a war was, just that my uncles were stopping bad people from doing bad things. I remember trying to make sense of the war images on the news my father watched. Grownups said my uncles were protecting me. I loved my uncles.
I didn’t know America outside of the people in my neighborhood and family, but I knew God loved America, that’s where I lived, and that’s what I was told. At this young age I was able to conclude however obtusely that America was special to God and our enemies were the enemies of God.
You see at 4 years old I was a perfect ultra-nationalist.
What happens if this world view that is limited by the life experience of a 4 year old is carried for a lifetime? What I have described above very simply is the basis of Nationalist/ Nazi ideology. It isn’t an image of WWII Nazis. It is the image that WWII Nazi’s had of themselves and many carried throughout their lifetimes, just change the location and only a small tweak to the details. This is the basis of a national chauvinism in the mind of a child.
The image nationalist ideologists around the world present to their people and what their children are raised in is exactly this. It can be right wing, left wing, or neither in policy. It is centers on the simplicity of thought even a 4 year old can muster.
“…rather than acknowledging that nationalism is fundamentally emotional. In truth, you can’t really make ‘the case’ for nationalism; you can only inculcate it, teach it to children, cultivate it at public events.”– Anne Applebaum former Washington Post editorial board, Nationalist Ukrainian Historian,(Wife of Poland’s Foreign Minister, Radislaw Sikorski: possibly Polands next president and an ultra-nationalist)
Nationalism incorporates the symbolism of Patriotism but starts with the concept that the country is perfect. It relies on myth and rejects reality. It demands total acceptance of what you are told by community or national leaders. To be a part of the community“the myth” is accepted without question or critical thought.
According to American anthropologist Clifford Geertz in Ideology as a Cultural System “It is a loss of orientation that most directly gives rise to ideological activity, an inability, for lack of usable models, to comprehend the universe of civic rights and responsibilities in which one finds oneself located.”
Nationalism and Patriotism are entirely different things. Patriotism is a love of country and the desire to make it better, just, moral in its dealings. It seeks to elevate the standing of the country and people within the world community. It does not demand its exceptionalism. It doesn’t denigrate other countries.
Like the adage “you are only as good as your last game” patriotism demands critical thinking to constantly try to improve the nation’s standing and the people’s condition from its leaders. In a working democracy it means decisions of leaders, both local and national are constantly scrutinized on the basis of the country’s accepted principles.
While it may be fine for a child to totally trust everything they are told it has a crippling effect on adults. Imagine a world where 40 year old’s look for the Easter bunny or tooth fairy. When every experience must be filtered through the ideology first, what is good, bad, or moral rides on a sliding scale that can change with the next thing you are told.
The Real World Transformation in America
America has had a very long and amorous courtship with ultra-Nationalism. Lets be blunt and call it what it is- Nazism. In the 1930’s “the Business Plot” was a Nazi coup attempt during FDR‘s presidency. Coming out of the Depression made the situation ripe for the attempt. In the late 1960’s, once again America was able to skirt around this most despicable of ideologies, but at great cost to us.
Nazism isn’t a hard right phenomenon. The politicians in charge that wanted to depose Roosevelt were trying to set up a Nationalist/ Nazi government in the USA. If successful it would have been ideologically aligned with Adolf Hitler going into WWII. The political leadership were Democrats.
In the 1950’s & 60’s as a political force this ideology was able to impose litmus tests for national office. If you didn’t agree with their foreign policy, you were not electable. If you didn’t agree with their base for domestic policy you fared no better. The political leaders were mostly Republican.
Today in our post 9/11 world coming through “the great recession” America is yet again both primed and vulnerable. The political leaders are Republican and Democrats.
In surveys done in 2014 the same 53% of the population that supports torture also supports police killing unarmed, non threatening civilians.
This same 53% supports every war and marginalizes segments of American society like blacks and Muslims. They support Guantanamo even as those proven innocent are tortured there.
Another 14-15% of the population can be counted additionally on an issue by issue or party line support.
More than 65% of Americans are now fine with droning Americans overseas that are suspected and not tried, convicted, or proven to be terrorists. Its no wonder 60% of Americans don’t trust the very same government.
It is a fact that every major foreign policy move has its domestic equivalent at home. The cold war radically moved the country to the right and changed the fabric of the people. The post 9/11 wars brought us Edward Snowden’s “peeping gov,” the humiliation of “groping at airports,” the constant insistence to see what your neighbor was up to.
It developed a culture where it is godly to bomb Muslim cultures and kill their children or change their government and replace it with ultra-nationalists instead. Look at the history of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ABN connections.
Across the political platforms of Al Qaeda, IGIL, and across what we call Islamic terrorist groups we find the Islamist form of ultra-nationalism unleashed. According to John Reilly at a conference given of esoteric fascism “I don’t want to dwell on Islamicist ideology; I don’t know that much about it. Still, we should note that recent Islamicist terrorists quote Evola with facility.
Julius Evola was a 1930’s Fascist thinker and philosopher. His writings outlined the political side of ultra-nationalist ideology but more importantly added the “emotional charge” by developing nationalism into a mystical aspect of religions. This makes the host religion not only compatible to fascism or ultra-nationalism but transforms the political aspect into holy thought. It provides the basis of followers with no regard for themselves.
They live and die for the state(statism) regardless of the host religion. Killing the enemy is a sacrament and an enemy is always needed. Its no wonder the Greek Catholic OUNb-ABN-UCCA helped develop Al Qaeda in Afghanistan through UNA-UNSO, a militant subgroup present in Ukraine today. They follow the same mystical thought and political slant unquestionably.
The Muslims across the world were never a problem. Muslims are a just people.
Has America grown so stunted that the next strong leader that stands up (Republican or Democrat) doesn’t need to promise to do anything domestically to improve the country? Like Iraq, can the next president count on getting approval from the 53%+ with another Shock and Awe bombing campaign victory? It doesn’t fix anything, but damn a little victory makes you feel good.
When succeeding generations are brought up inside nationalist sectarian lines( Republican and Democrat [neo-con, neo-liberal]), religious(Christian Evangelical radicalism), or the unabated corporatist predator- the room for critical thought diminishes. Inside this no one of the above listed groups can comprehend that they live in a democratic society or that they have successfully stripped Constitutional and legal protections from themselves as well as everyone else.
Add all this up and it equals Washington’s support for Ukraine’s government that is committing crimes against humanity on American money, with American equipment, and American training. Congress is voting almost unanimously to fund and send heavy weapons into the conflict without ever looking at the real facts on the ground in Donbass.
America and its government is starting to show all the political and cultural savvy of a 4 year old, only there aren’t many grownups in the room to make things right.