There are a couple of reasons why the left hates the nation-state. One is that their elites try to aggregate their powers. The other is that a core duty of a nation is its defence against outsiders. As I have discussed in an earlier post, there is a split between the thinking of the leftist leaders and followers. The pacifist left, the followers, is a tool of the abusive leaders.
But is the pacifist left right about their assertion that a nation-state as such must always encourage violence? Technically nations can be good neighbours in the same fashion as individuals can. In reality, though, the relationship is more like the one between siblings. There has always been some fighting in the past. There is always some lingering rivalry.
The left seems to grasp that group identity and the protection of one’s own comes with the collectivist obligation to engage in violent group activity. It is our very nature as a primate species. Instead of seeking ways that this commitment does not rise above the sphere of the potential, the left seeks to destroy human nature as such. An attempt that in itself is prone to cause mass murder.
Psychologically and biologically, a nation is an extension of your tribe, which in turn is an extension of your family. The way we form these units of mutual protection and nurturing is by appealing to emotions that are known in the realm of family life: sexual love between adults, protection against outsiders, and care for the weak/children.
All these urges are strong: the sexual drive, the thrill of overwhelming an opponent and the love-struck awe in face of a cute child. All of these were historically tried to bind the collective together – with varying success. During the height of Athen’s power respectable men were illustrated with erected penises. Symbols of the military or sport events electrified the public and forged men together. Images of babies with wings were used for cherubim illustrations to attach believers to the Catholic Church.
As a matter of fact some of these strategies work better than others. While the love to a nation might be similarly expressed as a love for a woman, these sentiments are only verbally expressed and most often because the affection was already built by other means. I suspect that it is a cultural mistake that we don’t portray entities of the nation as a loving couple. Married gods were once protectors of many tribes and cities. But to kindle intense emotions the depictions would have to be more graphic than Christianity can permit.
The option to make things look cute and child-like would compromise our security. No mortal enemy would take us seriously. The main driver that binds people emotionally to the state is our appreciation of violence, usually watered down to games and symbols.
But is that really all? Aren’t there other strong emotions that could be used to form a nation? I’m afraid there is. One of them is fear. This fear can come natural as in the case of the tiny, ever threatened country of Israel. But some rulers also use fear to subdue their subordinates. It is this fear that makes most people shudder when they think about collectivism. What happens with those who are shunned?
One way to avoid fear in the general public and to use violence as a source of patriotism is playing public games. All games are a simulation of war. The emotional involvement of an onlooker depends on the obviousness of the reference as games range from chess to martial arts.
Tries to get up after a fall when his opponent mounts on him
Sometimes art can be used to remind people of the link between a sport and the violence it represents. The sculpture above is a copy of an original Greek artwork from the third century BC. It shows the very popular game of pankration which was a stable in ancient Greece’ innumerable sport contests to honor their cities, their culture and gods. The rules were enforced by a referee with a whip and forbade attacks against the eyes and bites. It was left to the athletes to end the fights when they reckoned their opponents incapacitated or accepted a submission, which was signalled by lifting an arm. The statue shows how one of the fighters has fallen to the ground. His nemesis mounts on him. He tries to surrender by lifting his arm. The athlete on top is in a swing to slam the back of the head with his lower arm (to protect the fist). He grabs the raising arm [note below] with his free side and pulls it down again. The confident athlete indulges the fight so much that he does not want to see it end just yet.
For the ancient onlooker the artwork is a symbol for many things: Greece culture and religion as the setting was decidedly framing the games that way, courage and virility, and above all freedom. Only the Greek would arrange a setting where a strict set of rules would allow to break the rules of normal life. The games were in the sphere of the gods. Unlike the barbarian gladiator fights of the Imperial Romans, the Greek games were a civilized affair and unlike the gladiator fights, they were fought between free men. The ancient onlooker of the statue would also notice that no financial pressures drove the two athletes into the fight. Both athletes come from a wealthy household. Their very muscular frame could only be built up by the time of fifteen years or younger, when their homes provided the necessary nutrition and the means to exercise. The beardless heads were added later, but the overall look of the bodies, the wrinkleless hands etc. reflect a very young age.
Our modern morals require that we tone games down. I assume that soccer bolsters military recruitment less than ice hockey, rugby or silat. As with many questions, only the United States offers hard data to answer them. A study of Facebook-likes shows the popularity of American Football by region and it maps perfectly the areas where military recruitment is most successful.
In a recent post, I wrote that Westerners don’t even see much violent imagery in movies. Being bored of and annoyed by Hollywood, I did not know of the shows “The Vikings” and “Spartacus – Blood and Sand.” As far as I can tell they look like junk and spread violence Dadaism instead of connecting the emotions to morals or the love of one’s country.
Violence and sex evoke such strong feelings that even hints do serve well. Hot-looking individuals for the first and military symbols for the latter can create a patriotic sentiment. Both symbols must be associated with actual acts. Ancient military garb won’t do the same trick as modern uniforms. Still, it does not take fresh wars. They don’t even help if the culture is unable to celebrate them. As long as we cannot even admit that the Iraq war did more good than bad, we could not profit from new conflicts anyway.
One reason for the lack of pride in the West is our habit of shaming the losers of wars forever. This is very extreme in the US where the civil war losers are condemned until today. The mixture of virtue and vice that was present on both sides is brushed aside for a simple verdict that makes it either all about slavery or all about Northern aggression. During the war former class and room mates of the West Point Academy fought and killed each other. How can the US honor West Point and its alumni if she excludes a sizable portion of its students from her national pride? The answer is that those who do take pride in the nation, can take pride of West Point’s divided past. There is a rebellious redemption that runs beneath the media contempt for the South.
A similar picture can be found in Europe. The French still sing the Marseillaise as their anthem, priding themselves for slaughtering Austrians, Germans and others while Napoleon stormed towards the East. In return German army Bundeswehr uses the above pictured “iron cross” imagery to pride its past as a killer of the French in a campaign to throw them out again. So far these symbols can stay because the left has not woken up to them yet. The iron cross has the potential of being displayed in artwork that celebrates the war against France and to honor our modern army alike. It can spread the energy of the aged violence to other national symbols.
I believe the pacifist left is right and violence is essential for group cohesian. In addition to the strong emotions, circumstantial affection can also be created by lauding the good of the nation, its language, culture, cuisine, nature and freedom. As Sigmund Freud said, we cannot defend ourselves against praise. So praise the West into submission.
note: The theory given at wikipedia for their position is a bit odd, but I want to share it with you so you don’t think, I wouldn’t have read on it properly. It claims that the arm is not pulled down, but lifted. This does not make sense for various reasons. The supposed move is called “Guillotine”. The arm is lifted before rolling with the entire body and the opponent in this direction. You end up with the arm on your chest or above your face and your opponent lies next to you. Then the arm must be secured behind your back (tricky), to free your arms. Because you locked the arm and shoulder your opponent cannot turn around with his other arm and you have your upper body with both hands free to go for your opponents neck and throttle him until he gives up. Oh, please! Not only does it fail to address the fist, it is also illogical to secure the wrist with the left hand. You cannot even roll over this way drawing the opponent with you. If he wanted to do that he would have used the right arm to grab the wrist. The position can only be explained as a signal that the submission is not accepted yet.