“Yes to nationalism on Canada Day, no to jingoism”

Lawless 2010 G20 Toronto and king Stephen Harper - photo of Harper by Adrian Wyld

Lawless 2010 G20 Toronto and king Stephen Harper – photo of Harper by Adrian Wyld

*edit, January 31, 2015 – Well, I noticed that someone read this today. And so I re-read it. It was a mess. I could either delete the post or essentially, re-do it. It’s all but a new post. I must have thought it was disappeared, since I introduced my online response as being a disappeared online response. I just now checked. My online response wasn’t disappeared, unless I had two comments in and one was and I was thinking of that one. Regardless, I didn’t like this post at all. That is now gone. Only fragments remain.

Yes to nationalism on Canada Day, no to jingoism: Walkom | Toronto Star.

An excerpt from the above linked-to article, by Thomas Walkom, follows:

The Conservative government says it wants to promote Canadian patriotism. It has instead promoted jingoism. The two are different.

The conservative right has a legitimate gripe. It is trendy in this country — particularly on the liberal left — to pretend that Canada is not a real place on its own, that its only value is to welcome the diversity of others.

This has resulted in the devaluation of citizenship. Toronto city council thinks that any permanent resident, citizen or not, should be given the right to vote in municipal elections. Some national politicians — including New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair — hold dual citizenship (in Mulcair’s case, it is French) in order to pass more easily through European airports.

But citizenship involves more than the possession of convenient travel documents. It is, at base, a commitment to a place. In a world where there were no countries, such commitments might be superfluous. Twitter notwithstanding, we do not live in that world.

My online response to the above linked-to article follows:

I have zero use for Canada Day. I don’t worship the (godless, in fact) state(s) or it’s symbols. Tom Engelhardt had interesting things to say about nationalism, and more (http://bit.ly/1625ASk). **Americans are by nature “patriots.” If they love their country too well like (to take one example) former Vice President Dick Cheney, they are “super-patriots.” Both of these are good things. Foreigners cannot be patriots. If they exhibit an unseemingly love of country, they are “nationalists.” If that love goes beyond all bounds, they are “ultra-nationalists.” These are both bad things.** It applies to Canada. Heck, In this neoliberal era, when the people have been deprived of everything, including governments, it’s really important to ask: What is nationalism? Like the angel said: Peace on earth to all men of goodwill. That’s good enough for me. (He didn’t say peace on earth to ‘all’.) Wars are hell. Fighting is sometimes necessary. Will corporatocracy survive the class war?

Did someone just read as far as “Americans” and decide that my comment didn’t apply to Canada Day? It’s not just foreigners who the Right disparages as treasonous when they don’t simply go along with it’s decisions and policies. It’s anyone. Tom, Engelhardt that is, is talking about foreigners in the US, but, since the point that I’m sure he’s making would apply to people outside the US who object to imperialism, and negative nationalism, it’s not clear.

What I’m pretty sure Tom was getting at is that one can see, fairly easily, the hypocrisy of the Right in regard to many issues, including nationalism and patriotism. And that should cause us to reflect, to say the least. Noam Chomsky, who I began my self education in class politics with, through reading “Deterring Democracy,” explains the Right’s approach to population control and how it has official enemies and official friends. People are figuring out that, very clearly, the people, everywhere, are the enemy, not because the people are rising up against their governments constantly but because governments, having been captured by powerful special interests, conveniently view the people as the enemy and act accordingly. Those who object, for example, to bailing out banks, to free trade deals that deprive them of democracy so that scammy corporations can do what they want whether it harms people or not, to tax dollars spent on a military that’s busy invading and stealing countries whose resources special interests want and not for the betterment of the taxpayers footing the bill are ignored and abused and even called names.

Those are names that aren’t actually bad names, but the intention is clear. (People need to reflect on the fact that the Right never attacks democracy, verbally, although it – the Trilateralists – has gone so far as to say that there can be too much of it.) Being called a communist, just because you don’t agree with some neoliberal measure, doesn’t mean that communism is bad. Even if it isn’t a perfect system, How is it right that it is not a right you possess to ‘choose’ communism? But those who aren’t politicized and really don’t know history might think they’ve been swore at when those on the Right call them communists. They’ve been swore at, but in a manipulative (framing, which I explain in a later blog post titled “Warnings”) way. It’s not actually clever, because it draws attention to the hypocrisy and perversity of the Right – which it doesn’t care that we know, but only to an extent, for if the Right loses everyone’s support, including the bovine segment of society that is willing to bend over backwards to prove that they “ain’t no commie,” then it’s going to run into difficulties. Other than that, The abusers want us to know that they are abusing us. That gives them a kick. How else do you explain zombie McCain’s filthy, tasteless denouncement of protesters who objected to Henry Kissinger’s presence at a Senate hearing recently?, from a January 2015 standpoint that is. Sure the protesters ‘singing’ of their message was cringe-worthy. (Note to protesters: Are you helping with some of your methods?) But McCain should know that the only people who didn’t find his denouncement cringe-worthy are other zombies like him, who will be the type of people he hangs with. His little world is little – and temporary.

From pages 79 & 80 of Noam Chomsky’s powerful “Deterring Democracy,” the following:

…The term “Communist” is used in US discourse in a technical sense, referring to labor leaders, peasant organizers, priests organizing self-help groups, and others with the wrong priorities.

The right priorities are outlined in the highest-level Top Secret planning documents. The major threat to US interests is posed by “nationalistic regimes” that are responsive to popular pressures for “immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses” and diversification of the economies. This tendency conflicts not only with the need to “protect our resources,” but also with our concern to encourage “a climate conducive to private investment” and “in the case of foreign capital to repatriate a reasonable return.” The Kennedy Administration identified the roots of US interests in Latin America as in part military (the Panama Canal, strategic raw materials, and so on), but perhaps still more “the economic root whose central fiber is the $9 billion of private U.S. investment in the area” and extensive trade relations. The need “to protect and promote American investment and trade” is threatened by nationalism – that is, efforts to follow an independent course. The preference is for agroexport models serving the interests of US-based corporations (agribusiness, pesticide and fertilizer producers, and so on) and in later years, a range of such useful services as cheap labor for assembly plants.

The threat of nationalism is recognized in the public record as well. Thus, after the successful CIA-backed coup that overthrew the parliamentary regime of the conservative nationalist Mossadegh in Iran, restoring the Shah and leaving US oil companies with 40 percent of the formerly British concession, the New York Times commented editorially that all of this was “good news indeed”; however costly “to all concerned” (primarily Iranians), “the affair may yet be proved worthwhile if lessons are learned from it.” The primary lesson is then spelled out, mincing no words:

Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism. It is perhaps too much to hope that Iran’s experience will prevent the rise of Mossadeghs in other countries, but that experience may at least strengthen the hands of more reasonable and more far-seeing leaders,

who will have a clear-eyed understanding of our overriding priorities.

I couldn’t help thinking of my previous post. Hamid Karzai, whose brutal warlord buddies, with his blessing, lust for Malalai Joya’s blood, certainly possesses a clear-eyed understanding of American priorities.

Lest anyone thinks this can’t get complicated, Chomsky also writes, in “Deterring Democracy,” the following:

“Though the sophistication of traditional theology is lacking, the similarity of themes and style is striking. It reveals the extent to which worship of the state has become a secular religion of which the intellectuals serve as priesthood. The more primitive sectors of Western culture go further, fostering forms of idolatry in which such sacred symbols as the flag become an object of forced veneration, and the state is called upon to punish any insult to them and to compel children to pledge their devotion daily, while God and State are almost indissolubly linked in public ceremony and discourse, as in James Reston’s musings on our devotion to the will of the Creator. It is perhaps not surprising that such crude fanaticism rises to such an extreme in the United States, as an antidote to the unique freedom from state coercion that has been achieved by popular struggle.” – page 19

Precisely because Americans enjoy special freedom, which did ‘not’ come without a price, they are also under heavy attack by a powerful Right whose members believe in inequality. They play, enthusiastically, knowingly and willingly, the game of ‘riches for the strongest’, in which there must always be losers. So, Do Americans have freedom? Many don’t. Those who do are in danger. In a sense, then, they do not.

We live in a world in which ruling classes are mostly comprised of individuals who believe, conveniently, in inequality. They are macho. They are not too bothered by the anger and fear that they cause with their business-inspired policies. That means glory to them. When you play the game of ‘riches for the strongest’, you survive by taking the means of survival from others, who notice of course. And that gives elites and their tools and allies a thrill. And they like a fight, believing, rightly, that they are far more powerful than the people, despite their relatively smaller numbers. They have, after all, captured governments and the police and army and security orgs that go with governments, which is no small thing. But their biggest weapon is their gift of mysterious lawlessness, their willingness to break all rules in order to win. That leaves the people in a bind. We could pick up the same weapons of darkness, but we’d have to enter onto the same wide and spacious, or rules-free, road that elites et al walk on. The problem with that is that that road leads to destruction. Perhaps it’s best to keep in mind that there’s destruction that is permanent and destruction that isn’t. As Jesus Christ said, He who loses his soul will gain it and he who saves his soul will lose it.

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