Monday, June 29, 2009

Neoconnery and nationalism

Larison discusses something that I have always found interesting: the underappreciated extent to which nationalism shapes democracy. I have always been curious as to why the neocons, who are nationalistic to such a severe extent that they literally (or near-literally) believe that America is such a special nation that God Himself gave us some sort of vague commission of global preeminence tend to find nationalism in other countries utterly distasteful. It's almost as though a married man was jealous of other men loving their wives, under the belief that all other wives weren't as good and therefore unworthy of being loved in any way similar to how he loves his wife. What would you say about such a person if you knew them in real life? My guess would be that the man actually undervalues his wife and is threatened by the honest affections of other people for their wives. I tend to believe that people generally operate orthagonally to their real intentions, though, so I'll readily admit that the neocons' arrogance might well be arrogance, and not arrogance-concealing-weakness. As I tend to believe that fear is one of the greatest motivating factors in life--much more so than narcissism, in my experience--the first interpretation strikes me as the likeliest.

But it seems almost silly to conclude that of course other countries are going to be irritated if we meddle in their affairs unbidden. It is, of course, different if we meddle in subjugated or satellite states. In these states, as Larison notes, they are already oppressed by someone meddling in their politics, so meddling to ensure their freedom is not going to offend them. This is why Iraqi Kurds are extremely pro-American, as they feel oppressed by the Iraqis, who they see as a different nationality. However, third-party subjugation and primary-party subjugation are entirely different problems. In the first one, nationalism can be deployed in our favor, while in the second it can only be a fatal obstacle in the long run.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.