Is it Possible to Foster National Pride without Cheering Violence?

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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.


Maureen Foster Added Jun 10, 2018 - 9:36pm
This is a very confusing article with a lot of unrelated themes.  First and foremost, it doesn’t matter if one is from the left or right, it’s possible to foster national pride without cheering violence.  Whatever ever made you think that it wasn’t possible? 
I read in a lot of statement in this post about the Left and Right and none of them are supported by quotes or links.  The Left would argue that they’re every bit as patriotic as the right and the right would argue they’re every bit as interested in peace as the left.  However, in this article you seem to think otherwise and don’t provide a shred of support for your broad brush characterizations. 
Ryan Messano Added Jun 10, 2018 - 9:56pm
Welcome back, Maureen.
The left actually doesn’t have a solitary clue about history, and are woefully incapable of any office, even dogcatcher.
They are enabled by their five voting blocs.  I agree with Benjamin.
The five voting blocs are.
Single women vote 70% for Democrats. The majority of married women do too.  This is because women rarely like to rock the boat, as a Rule, and the liberal media and schools are indoctrinating easily impressionable women on a massive scale.  
The black community votes 90% Democrat. This stems from the dysfunction the 75% illiteracy rate and 75% illegitimacy rate cause.
18-29 age group votes Democrat 70%.  They are easy to sucker by the left wing media and schools.  They are also bigtime into porn and drugs, further disabling their reason.
42 million Americans are on welfare, and they overwhelmingly vote themselves other people’s stuff.
20 million Americans are employed by the gubmint, national, state, or local, and they overwhelmingly vote Democrat too, to protect their jobs and power.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:12pm
One must ask if DUHmerica is the greatest bestest powerfullest wonderfulest country in the whole big wide world ever ever ever why would one need to foster pride in it? One would expect it to be self evident.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:57pm
Whatever ever made you think that it wasn’t possible?
The fact that nations rely heavily on military symbols. I go through alternative emotions the state can use to foster unity.
The Left would argue that they’re every bit as patriotic as the right
I'm European. Left-wing politicians are often openly anti-patriotic. Look, for example, at this Merkel-video in which she removes a German flag with disgust (Merkel pretends to be a conservative, but that is another story). In America it is a lipservice to the reasonable people.
Gilbert: Is it different in Thailand? The national sport is a martial art (Thai boxing). They play traditional music to create a sense of belonging.
Flying Junior Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:46am
But is the pacifist left correct about their assertion that a nation-state as such must always encourage violence?
This discussion is very much outside of the purview and political norms of citizens of the U.S.A.  I would be interested in your thoughts as an outsider, but I'm not convinced that I can trust you as an impartial observer of politics on the Continent because of your obvious bias towards L' Aile Droite.
Stateside we are very much more concerned about the prevalence of non-state national or ideological entities within the worldwide conflict.
I am very much ashamed of the actions of my own nation state for the last fifteen years.  But before that I never thought of the U.S. as a force for world-wide conflict and violence.  Perhaps the Golden Age will never return.
What do you see happening in Italy, France, Germany and Spain?
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 4:08am
Benjamin: War is built into today's nation-states at the most fundamental level. The idea of "sovereignty," elaborated in the 16th century by a Frenchman called Jean Bodin, allows the "sovereign" to make laws to bind the people, to make war and peace, to levy taxes and much more. And the sovereign isn't responsible for the consequences of what it does (a.k.a. "the king can do no wrong.") So under the current system, the powerful will make wars as long as they think those wars are likely to benefit them.
If we are to have peace, we need to get rid of this outdated and failed system. But that doesn't mean we need a world government, which would before long turn into an authoritarian oligarchy. (Look at the EU, for example). Myself, I look for a much more de-centralized system, in which governments are smaller, non-politicized, and far less active than they are today.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jun 11, 2018 - 10:15am
FJ: Is the discussion really so outside the box for Americans? I know that quite a few people do think about the concept of a nation, what belongs to it, and how it can savely be enjoyed. But I must admit that the discussion is bigger in Europe. The background is that the large number of member states (nations) is supposed to be substituted with one big nation state, the EU. The EU is planned to raise taxes, have a military, have a police, an intelligence agency conglomerate etc but no directly elected officials. So the conflict that is the backdrop is that the elites have an interest to aggregate their powers in one big nation state (which they refuse to call it as such) while concerned citizens want to protect their old, smaller political unions. It just happens to be that all the people who support power aggregation call themselves left-wing and have their voices heard over TV and other media all the time. And because the elites are not honest enough to call the EU a nation, it is pushed upon the political right to define why their nation-states are good. The left claims that without the EU replacing the old nations war would break out because only the others are nations. This article looks into the claim that a nation must necessarily be violent. And I agree to some extend. I would, however, argue that a bigger nation, requires more jinguistic emotional glue than smaller entities.
Neil: I  haven't read Bodin, but isn't that merely descriptive, this sovereignty definition? For me sovereignty is just the placeholder for "the supposed powerful". In the UK it is kind of a farce because the Queen is called the sovereign, but I think you are the exception. In republics the sovereign is supposedly the people. I think the actual point and this is what the article is about (it discusses only a part of it) is that collectivism is scolded for good reasons. However, as an individualist myself I have begun to question myself and the easy answer, the Ayn Rand answer, to simply ignore that a certain amount of collectivism is necessary. I think the biggest problem with collectivism is mob thinking. And I noted above that often fear is used to bind people together. Because I think this is a big topic with many facets, I just zoomed in on the "without the EU we will kill each other" claim or the question if nations come with violence as such. I concede that they do and suggest that we go about it pragmatically using symbolism, arts and sports to represent it to reap the spiritual benefits of violence while avoiding its obvious downsides.
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:38pm
Benjamin: I'm not an expert on Ayn Rand's thinking, but I know a few. As far as I'm aware, she never gave a decent answer to the question: How should we organize ourselves to best effect for all? She was strong on epistemology (how we know what we know), and generally OK on ethics (though I don't like the way she puts her idea of "rational selfishness.") But politics? Not so much.
In my view, Plato and Aristotle got politics wrong (and ethics even more so). And we're still suffering the fall-out. I'm doing what little I can to rectify the problem.
...Now cue Doug Plumb, who will quote Kant at me :-)
Tamara Wilhite Added Jun 11, 2018 - 5:46pm
Yes. Even liberals cheerlead other nations' national pride, whether Jamaica or Switzerland.
Ward Tipton Added Jun 12, 2018 - 12:02am
You completely lost me at Pacifist Leftists ... Antifa? Berkeley Campus Riots? Black Lives Matter? Black Liberation Theology? The American Black theological perversion of Islam? (Okay ... yeah, but you should be able to see the meaning behind the statement too) 
In the sixties, the hippies stood unarmed against guys with guns to protect free speech. Those millennials of today who grew up with little more than those same hippies in power, are actively moving to have free speech made illegal, reimplementing segregation in the name of diversity, and overall ... seemingly working to implement an Orwellian Dystopia under the guise of equality and justice? 
Nationalism should never exclude different cultures and cultural diversity can and should be celebrated. However, when you are moving in to a different nation, you should be fully prepared to completely immerse yourself into their cultural ethos and become part of their society before you go trying to rebuild the country you came from within their borders. In much of the world that is an offense which will quickly land you in jail with very little if any judicial recourse. 
Flying Junior Added Jun 12, 2018 - 3:09am
Thank you for the honest and thoughtful response, Benjamin,  The demon Trump is hard at work destroying any greatness that the U.S. achieved in the 20th century.
The U.S. will always be half of a continent.  Europe is a continent.  I can only guess that the conventional wisdom was that Europe had banded together to make yourselves stronger.  The EU is not a rival to the U.S., but a cherished friend.  E Pluribus Unum.  that's not just for us Yanks.  We love you guys.  I love Germany and Germans.
Remember the monster has only held office these seventeen months.
We will resume our former place in the international community.
Countries.  Nations.  Geographical States,
Yes.  I still consider this a reasonable way forward to organization of our Earth.
War has already proven to be obsolete.  It makes little difference that the hegemonistic powers of the U.S. decry the end of nation-states.  When the illegitimate warring factions that would make warfare against the European, Israeli and American friends claim the status of nationhood,  All that we need to do is vanquish them.
Flying Junior Added Jun 12, 2018 - 3:10am
I feel terrible that the RW forces in Great Britain have forced a vote to exit the EU.  My heart is on the pavement being run over by a truck.
Dino Manalis Added Jun 12, 2018 - 9:01am
 Violence isn't necessary, all we need are parades; national flags with anthems; and respect for our Founding Fathers and other statesmen and women.
Mustafa Kemal Added Jun 12, 2018 - 4:47pm
Isnt pride one of the seven deadly sins?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jun 12, 2018 - 5:08pm
Neil: I feel that Aristotles and Plato are overrated. They were also only uncovered again during the scholastic period and I don't know how much their influence really is on thinks that have turned out nicely. I abhor the notion that some "middle between the extremes" was always preferable as Aristotles claimed. But I'm not well-read in philosophy, so maybe I get them wrong.
Tamara: Yes, that is an astute observation. Strange.
Ward: By and large the left followers are pacifist. The elites and some weirdo college activists not so much.
FJ: Your comment is a bit difficult to read for a foreigner. But I agree with:
Countries.  Nations.  Geographical States,
Yes.  I still consider this a reasonable way forward to organization of our Earth.

Dino: Yes, symbols should replace actual violence.
Kemal: How would I care?
Alton Wroten Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:52am
FJ, present day Europe is a pathetic, weak, and crumbling waste of real estate. We don't have to care in the least what Europe's population thinks of us, as they're totally irrelevant. Europe however, exists as it does today because of our sacrifices and our money. Don't like our global preeminence? Then do it better and displace us if you can.

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