Professor Jie-Hyun Lim, Director of Research Institute of Comparative History and Culture (RICH) at Hanyang University in South Korea thinks that nationalism is “an act of treason.” He also says it limits the capacity of imagination which is really why it is treason.
The only real purpose of nationalism is to gain power, argues the Professor. Mussolini, Hitler, Fransisco Franco of Spain and all other dictators used nationalism in order to consolidate their political power. All of them divided the country into an in-group and an out-group. Mussolini used culture to divide people while Hitler relied on race. For Franco, the out-group consisted of those who did not speak Spanish language, the non-Catholics and the communists. The in-group was characterised by the members’ loyalty to the nation coupled with a marked hostility towards other nations as well as the out-group irrespective of their nationality. The in-group was used by the leader to consolidate his own power. Isn’t this happening in India now?
Nationalism is treason because it cannot solve any real problem. It puts the nation on the back foot by diverting attention from practical solutions to abstract loyalty to the nation and its symbols. For example, when the people of India struggle to extract their own money from the ATMs or their banks, they are told to suffer the agony comparing themselves with the soldiers fighting on the borders. Nationalism becomes an excuse, a lame one, instead of finding solutions to the problem at hand. This is a betrayal of the country if you look at it from the progress or development angle. You want your countrymen to have better services. Instead of addressing the problems related to the lack of services, the government machinery sells you nationalism. Is it pro-nation? Not at all. On the contrary, it is anti-national in the sense that it is against the interests of the nation. Yet, ironically, the one who is demanding what is in the interests of the nation gets portrayed and punished as anti-national!
Nationalism breeds narrow-mindedness. It makes us think that our country, its culture or religion or language or whatever, is the best and others are detestable. It makes us hate others without valid reasons. It shrinks our vision and imagination. It narrows down truths and the avenues to truths.
We live in a world where cooperation has become more necessary than ever. If the hole in the ozone layer above India is a result of what America is doing with its craze for the most sophisticated technology, it becomes the duty of America to cooperate with India to solve the problem. Neither country can afford to rest conceitedly on its spirit of nationalism.
Our love for our country need not limit our love for others. More importantly, it is silly to imagine that our culture or language or whatever is the best. It is even more stupid to hate others on account of their culture and other contingent features.
Nationalism is on the rise in India these days. A lot of people get branded as anti-national. The simple truth is that these people who are branded as anti-national are far better human beings than the nationalists. The simple truth is that nationalism does not serve any useful purpose in a country which is not dominated by any external force. The simple truth is that India today does not need nationalism; it needs solutions to the manifold problems it faces.
|Sadhvi Deva Thakur, one of our ideal Nationalists|