Post by Rick Johnson
Post by Oleg Smirnov
To be realistic, regardless of whether one likes it or
not, nationalism is an integral attribute of democracy.
Because the very basic implication behind the democratic
vote is that the people, despite various possible
disagreements and disputes among them, still form some
unity that's above the particular disagreements. If there
is no such a unity, then there's no need for democracy, -
everyone just will deal with their separate affairs
A lucid observation. One which can be studied in detail if
we juxtapose the Past 240 years of the "American
experiment" with the paltry 60+ years of the "European
"What force has held the American Union together for so
long?" Or more specifically: "Why is the EU falling apart
after only a few decades whilst the USA has managed to
endure for hundreds of years?" And the answer to that
question is suprisingly simple.
(1) A universal love and respect for democracy and
individual liberty (at least historically)
(2) A common language (at least historically)
(3) A common monetary system
To (1): Let's be honest here. Historically speaking, there
was no such thing in the US. Love and respect for
democracy and individual liberty only applied if you were a
white Christian (preferably Protestant) male land owner.
And of course they were all white. Most of the early
settlers were western Europeans. That was the demographic.
Suffrage may have been extended to all white men quite soon
after founding, but women and anyone without skin the
colour of the Pillsbury Doughboy had to wait until well
into the 20th century to enjoy the right to vote.
You're ignoring the fact that men made all the decisions in
those days. It was the _men_ who decided to up-sticks and
move across the atlantic, not the women. So these quibbles
seem irrelevant. And regardless of _who_ was making the
decision, or _what_ demographics constituted early america,
i don't see how anyone could disagree that the blindingly
obviously motivating force for migration to america was the
shared _ideals_. Namely: Freedom and liberty. It wasn't
because of a shared language. It wasn't because of some
perceived "diversity" (because there was little of that).
No. It was shared ideals.
As for individual liberty, those of Mexican descent in the
South-Western states and black Americans as much as Native
Americans have a radically different historical experience.
Of course. I am not blind to the injustices of american
history. Whether fair, tolerant, diverse -- or not --
history is history. And although we cannot change it, we can
learn from our mistakes. Which i believe the USA is in the
process of doing, and has been for the last couple of
centuries. Sometimes quick. Sometime slow. But nevertheless,
a slow and steady march towards equality.
Just to make sure: I do think the Constitution is a
marvellous document and there is much that is good and fine
and laudable about the United States (both current and
historical), but I also firmly believe that we should be
honest with ourselves when looking at our respective
countries. A failure to acknowledge our past with all its
warts as well as triumphs does us all a grave disservice.
As far as the EU is concerned, there is a clear and
recognised deficit in the democratic legitimacy of the EU.
Many people did not sign up for what it would become, or
indeed were not even asked. But on the other hand, the
very construction of the European Union which rests on the
voluntary surrender of some sovereign powers to a
supranational entity does ensure that rights are
scrupulously and jealously guarded. The European
parliament, flawed as it is, does provide for another level
of supervision of individual member governments. The
European Court of Human Justice offers individuals an
avenue of legal recourse above and beyond the national
courts which can be too limited and constrained to render
There's a bit of apologetics going on there :-), but your
points are no less valid. Of course, there is the flip side
of coin... for starters, large administrative structures
have a unique bird's eye view perspective of the system they
oversee -- which offers the chance to streamline bottle
necks not visible to the smaller jurisdictions-- but
typically these large admins fail to seize on these
opportunities -- mostly due to bitter politics -- and their
nose-bleed perspective also leads to them being out of touch
with the various local peoples. That's why i'm a firm
believer that only local governments know what is best for
local people/systems. Of course, small admins systems have
their own inherent flaws as well, due to their narrow focus
undermining the efficiency of the greater system. One
example of this was early road signage, which would vary
from one local jurisdiction to another. The standardization
of signage was actually one of the great victories of the
To (2): A common language is useful and indeed essential.
That said, such a common language need not be universal.
China has been a successful multi-cultural and multi-
lingual nation for a very long time now, but the official
Mandarin is still only the native tongue of a minority.
India is a successful democracy, and what unites them is
the common administrative language of English ...
And the key concept here is the establishment of an
"administrative language". Sure, let the people learn and
speak however many languages please them, but for sanities
sake man #_%, do official business in _one_ language. And
there is no reason why the official language cannot change
or evolve over time. For instance, if only a minority of the
populace are speaking the official language, then something
may be wrong. But changing official languages is not to be
taken lightly, as such action could erase history, and be
expensive. Of course, I believe as the high-tech,
instantaneous natural-language-translation-utilities evolve
in the future, the sub-optimal nature of multi-lingual
communication (epitomized in the old adage: "lost in
translation") will disappear, and we can go back to speaking
as many diverse languages and regional dialects as we
To (3): That is the kicker. Historically, there has never
been a successful monetary union without a political union.
This is a widely known truth, on all sides of the political
I see a unified monetary system as both a pro and a con. On
one hand, a unified system is more practical and efficient,
but OTOH, it is ripe for corruption. Large concentrations of
money attract the worse kinds of people, and that's why i
fear a one-world government. Because, when all the world's
economic power flows to a single entity, such an entity will
become the most wasteful, corrupt and depraved in all of
It is why Eurosceptics fight the EU, and why Europhiles
keep pushing for ever closer union. You cannot have one
without the other, and right now there is no way a true
political union is going to happen. National governments
are not going to legislate themselves into provincial
irrelevance, even if their electorates would allow it
(which they won't).
I dunno, our leftpondian congress critters are pretty damn
irrelevant these days. Yet still, they leverage the power to
mandate their own salaries, healthcare and vacation time.
Man! Now that's the kinda irrelevantly i'd like to have!
But the Euro forces them to move closer and closer to
political union through the back door, because there simply
are no procedures and pathways towards unwinding the
currency. A failure of the Euro would be a catastrophic
shambles, utterly unthinkable. It would make the Global
Financial Crisis look like a children's tea party. So all
they can do is to try and paper over the problems while
delegating ever more power and inching towards that which
they do not want.... caught by their own rhetoric and
"Papering over problems", "delegating ever more power", "and
inching towards that which they do not want" -- sounds like
we yanks are not the only folks in a pickle!
Post by Rick Johnson
Throughout the history of the USA, people from various
ethnic backgrounds have sailed across entire oceans,
leaving all their worldly possessions behind, and arriving
with literally nothing but the clothes on their back, just
for a chance to partake in the shared ideals of freedom
and democracy (however valid they may or may not be). And
it is this universal sentiment (at least historically),
that has binded americans together in common cause. And
the universal language and monetary system are just icing
on that cake.
See above. What matters is a unified monetary system. The
US could well have survived with multiple languages (Canada
does so quite handily, as does Switzerland), as long as
there is only one administrative language.
Agreed. I'm all for diversity of language (warning: caveat
ahead!) so long as each and every citizen can communicate
fluently in the official admin language.
Do also note the other fundamental difference between the
US and the EU: that for the most part, immigrants were
self-selecting, made a conscious individual choice to
abandon their old homes and old ways and adopt the new
world of the US. This is absolutely not the case with the
EU. So in personal outlook, in the social and cultural and
political views, and in the shared experience, the US is in
fact far more homogenous than the EU.
Agreed. And we yanks have one other historical advantage
over you Euros: a clean slate! Which unfortunately is a
result of genocide. But again, history is history, and we
cannot do anything about that now.
Post by Rick Johnson
Contrast that reality with the age old Balkanization of the
European continent, and it's absolutely amazing the EU has
managed to remain cohesive for even a few decades. But
unfortunately for europe, the writing is on the wall, and i
believe the union will soon tear itself apart.
I['m] not so sure. If and when the Euro fails, the fallout
will be dramatic and massive.
Agreed. But i cannot ignore the passionate nationalism that
is sweeping across the member states. Poland just had a
large rally; Catalonians are marching in the streets with
the intent to fracture Spain; Greece is one welfare check
away from insolvency; Estonia has strong nationalist
tendencies -- **BUT MOST WORRISOME OF ALL** -- the effects
of Brexit are yet to be seen. The EU is suffering some
major tectonic shifts. Now, whether all this social strife
is a matter of growing pangs or something more self-
destructive, is yet to be seen.
But the 28 member states have too much invested, derive too
much benefit from their association to let the Union itself
fail. Even now, the EU is a functioning internal market of
510 million people using ten different currencies. SO I
could see the Euro being retrenched and redefined as a
basket of currencies, like the ECU, and used for
intergovernmental dealings and Brussels budgetary use.
I think if the EU can survive the UK's departure, then
possibly it can survive. But there is also a danger of the
domino effect. If a smaller member state were leaving, no
big deal, however, according to Google: "The UK is the
fourth largest contributor to the EU -- 11.34 billion euros
($12.24 billion) after Germany, Fance, and Italy". So no
doubt brexit will be a devastating blow to the EU economy.
Post by Rick Johnson
Indeed. Nationalism is vital component for survival in our
violent universe, and it only becomes dangerous when it is
transformed into a state religion. For instance, singing a
national anthem at special events or showing respect for
your nation's flag and military is a healthy form of
nationalism, OTOH, goose stepping around in jack boots,
parading tanks and thermonuclear weapons in the public
square, participating in state sponsored terrorism, and
generally scaring little old ladies and minorites, is not.
Hmmm ... To us rightpondians, the American habits of flying
the Stars'n'Stripes at every opportunity, of singing the
national anthem even at Little League games and of making
school children swear allegiance to the flag has always
been seen with some scepticism and amusement. It always
seemed just a little over the top. But that is really a
cultural difference, and if you are happy with it, where's
I agree that us yanks place far too much emphasis on
patriotism. I suppose our fear is that we won't have enough
unity to face an enemy if we don't force every small child
to perform patriotic rituals. Hmm, i could go either way on
the subject. Personally, my participation in the PoA ended
somewhere in my middle school years, and by my high school
years, i noticed only a small handful of die hards would
bother reciting the pledge. I believe nationalism can be
dangerous. But i also believe we must show a united front to
our enemies, lest they be emboldened. It's a fine line to
walk, really. And tyrants like Rocket Man must never be
under the impression that he will receive sympathy from any
american should he launch those missiles. He will receive
_something_, but it won't be sympathy.
Nationalism in general, however, is a different kettle of
tea. If we had to settle on one over-riding reason for the
existence and spread of the EU, it is our experience of
nationalism. We remember our young men marching off into
the meat grinder of World War One singing the national
anthem. We remember what happens when unscrupulous
politicians invoke nationalism and lead us into carnage.
The very balkanisation of Europe that you speak of above is
a result of nationalism. We know that "our country, right
or wrong" is a recipe for bloody disaster. This is our
experience, and we have the history to prove it. And we
are not really keen to see it happening again ...
And you are wise to feel this way. As i mentioned before,
nationalism is very, *VERY*, dangerous. And we observed just
how dangerous is can be during WW2! When not only was it
utilized to kill perceived foreign enemies, it was also
utilized as a justification for fratricide and ethnic
cleansing. That nightmare was the prime example of what
happens when nationalism is converted into a state religion.
Like any tool -- and nationalism is very much a tool, a
"social tool" to be specific -- it can be utilized to unite
a common people in a common cause against a foreign
aggressor, *OR*, it can be utilized to unite a common people
in the common cause of commiting the most egregious acts in
all of human history.
Along the same lines, we can place a gun in the possession
of a person of good moral character and we can rest assured
that the gun will only be used in justifiable self defense.
OTOH, if we give the same gun to any of: Adam Landza, Devin
Kelly, John Allen Mohammed, Lee Boyd Malvo, Shawn Lester,
Kyle Aaron Huff, Nidal Malik Hasan, Wade Page, Chris Dorner,
Glenn Miller Jr., Dylann Roof, Muhammed Youssef Abdulazeez,
Robert Dear, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, Omar Mateen
-- or any number of loons who killed innocents for reasons
ranging from religious/political ideology, to racism, to
revenge, or due to mental derangement, etc.. -- then very
bad things are about to happen.
So, to draw a conclusion here...
It is not so much about _which_ tool is used to achieve an
end. What is more important is _how_ and by _whom_ it is
used. On the bright side, consider that the allies used
nationalism to great effect in order to achieve victory in
two world wars. So nationalism is not our enemy. Whereas,
people with ill-intent can be.
Post by Rick Johnson
For a citizen to reject participation in patriotic
spectacle is harmless, OTOH, for a citizen to purposfully
nationalism) is quite another. Such acts are, in fact, a
subversion of democracy itself.
Not of a _sovereign_.
Nor of a _state_.
But of _democracy_ itself.
Tell that to the folk who do not bother to turn up for
elections, or who make serious efforts to avoid jury
Guilty as charged! O:-)
Truth be told, i would _really_ like to participate in our
democracy. However, being that our elections are a total
*EFFING* shame and our justice system is a sick joke, i just
cannot hold my nose long enough to participate in the "big
stink". Besides, i can assure you, no judge wants me on a
jury. Heck, I'd probably be held in contempt on the first
day. And for reasons of ensuring my personal liberty, i have
committed my life to avoiding couthouses for any and all