There are a lot of puzzling phenomena in this world. One of the more puzzling ones is nationalism: The idea that you can somehow acquire value by-proxy, without actually having to do anything actively. Passive superiority. Just because I happened to be born in this particular country I am intrinsically better than everyone who wasn’t. Seriously, how can anyone be arrogant enough to actually believe that? How pitiful are you? How mind bogglingly stupid? “I am proud to be [insert any of the hundreds of artificially constructed nation concepts here].” Why? What possible reason could you have to be proud over the fact that you happened to be born within a certain artificially constructed geographical area? Exactly how did you contribute to this random event? It’s stupid on so many levels. Not only because of the total randomness of the whole event, but also because of the simple reason that the concept of nations is a pure construction. They are not predetermined. They exist only because we have constructed them through our language and our actions. We have defined their borders and their meaning and it is an ongoing process. Constantly evolving with borders being redefined over and over again. And it’s a process not driven by a desire to better the world, but as a means to ensure the prosperity of one group at the expense of others. Us against them. It’s the tribe blown way out of proportion and taken far beyond the boundaries of the absurd. Taken to the level of idiocy. The claim to feel pride also implies some form of active agency, that there was some contribution on your part, on an active level. And within a tribe you could potentially argue that there could be a reason to be proud of being part of that particular tribe because you could actually have made an active contribution to what makes that particular tribe a good one. There is at least some room for justification of the statement. But exactly how are you supposed to be able to claim that you make an active, recognizable contribution to a nation being great? And that to such an extent that it would be justified for you to take credit for every aspect of what that nation as a whole does? Seriously, that is just enormously stupid. Provocatively stupid. You don’t get to be proud of things unless you actually make a tangible contribution. You don’t get to take credit for other peoples work. That not only defies common decency but it also defies logic. Feel happy, feel blessed, feel fortunate, feel any of those things, but to say you feel pride is just arrogant when it comes to nations.
There is nothing wrong with pride per se, pride can be a very healthy state of mind, but when the result is feelings of by-proxy supremacy it’s poisonous. You feel pride about what you do, not about what you are. Agency is key. You are not proud to be gay, you are proud about not hiding it. The actual being gay has very little to do with it. The same way that Americans who voted for Obama can say that they are proud of doing so, the pride stems from the action, from your active contribution. But saying that you are proud of having Obama as a president, that is just weird. You can be proud to have voted, but that’s it. But in the ideology of nationalism the pride is given by default. It’s enough to just be a member of the club, to ride on the accomplishments of others. There is no need to actually do anything. And that applies to racism, sexism and a whole range of other types of prejudice. Just because I happen to be born a certain gender of a certain skin color in a certain country that makes me better than those who happen not to be. I am sorry, but that is so outrageously stupid that I would just laugh at the idea that anyone could believe that, if only it wasn’t for the fact that there actually are people who believe just that. And to make matters worse, there’s not that few of them.
Nationalism is destructive because it teaches us that our value is tied to our group and that the people outside the group are less important. The people outside the group are dispensable. And there have been countless examples of when this thought has led to the actual attempt to erase the people outside the group. Man is a herd animal, but man also has the capacity of reason. Of critical thinking. Nationalism is actively undermining this. By feeding our minds with ideas of geographically determined supremacy. By forcing people to ask for permission about where they can live and where they can go. And by teaching us that the geographical location where we are born determine our value as human beings. Nationalism is stupid and furthermore, it’s dangerous.
I am not proud of my nationality, I can see that it has had a formative influence on me, but in no way does it induce a sense of pride in me. I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to be born in a part of the world where we have relatively large amount of freedom, but proud of it I am not. How can I take pride in chance?