Joachim asks a good question in the comments -
I’d be interested in an expanded version of your thoughts on nationalism. My perspective is quite different – global problems require global solutions – but then you’re from the “USA! USA!” while my continent has been devastated by two world wars (more recently, consider e.g. the troubles in Yugoslavia.)
I think nationalism is like a catalyst or accelerator - it makes a place go more in the direction it's currently going. During a renaissance, nationalism makes more people excited to try new things, explore, invent, and expand. During a recovery period, nationalism encourages solidarity, a helping hand, and backing each other up instead of just feeling defeated.
It cuts both ways - in a beaten down, embarrassed nation that's paying reparations to the other side, nationalism really makes that anger and hostility get explosive - that's what Hitler whipped up. On the other hand, nationalism among the allies helped them carry on strongly, survive, and triumph. Keep calm and carry on...
Nationalism in North Korea translates to more loyalty to the insane regime, whereas nationalism in South Korea means hard work, modernization, and a high quality of life.
Anti-nationalistic countries tend to meltdown and self destruct, like England backing down during the Suez Crisis. Birthrates fall, the economy grows slower or contracts, and the country falls into disrepair and ruin.
A nationalistic pride really spurs whatever the current sentiment is forwards and makes more of it. During a golden age, it makes the nation's culture really flourish and expand rapidly, having the art, craft, technology, and spirit of the nation grow rapidly. Nationalism + hatred is an incredibly bad thing, but that's not the fault of nationalism: It's the fault of hatred. Hatred is also bad in anti-nationalistic places, though it tends to display itself in those places more as self-loathing and passive aggression and inward-directed destruction.
An interesting question is what's better in a fundamentally flawed place - nationalism or no nationalism? I don't think there's a great answer to that... if you had some power in one of those places, you'd want to fix the fundamental flaws first and foremost.
Then, in a nation that's really flourishing, cultivating a spirit of pride and celebration in the nation's achievements tend to accelerate progress.
Nationalism is an interesting word. One that I think has largely overstayed its welcome as a useful term of art. As one of political discussion, it may still have much use before it goes stale, but not as a directly measurable quantity.
From my perspective, the better term to use is tribalism. This is because you can speak of very, very large tribes that tend to have a high degree of internal cohesion. Think of the Japanese or the Palestinians. On the other hand, you can reliably speak of very small tribes in a coherent way. Thus, in terms of describing the divisions of power within a culture or within a set of cultures that happen to inhabit a historically recognized piece of dirt tribes lets you speak accurately within implicitly valuing one tribe against another as nationalism does.
(I'll admit that there is a substantive argument there at the end but I think I've made it clear enough implicitly. Let me know if you think otherwise and I'll be happy to articulate it explicitly.)
Another thing speaking in terms of Tribes and tribalism is that it gives the researcher and the activist a means to directly measure racism/racialism in a way that does not directly impinge on the color of someones skin. Just a thought.
It's an extremely proud, nationalistic country. There's strong traditionally masculine elements here.
That means a culture that can be kind of xenophobic, violent, and aggressive.
Despite that, I actually like it. I like traditionally masculine, proud, nationalistic countries. I know that isn't fashionable to say in this day and age, but after having been around a lot of the world, I just feel really bad for the citizens of countries that are totally pacified and unproud. The men move through life in a sort of drudgery and haze, and the women don't seem to enjoy those state of affairs either.
That said, pride/nationalism/hyper-masculine mixed with transitioning out of poverty can lead to bad places. It's not so much nationalism that is bad, as much as it's a catalyst for whatever else is happening in the society. In a country in a renaissance or golden age, with an emphasis on expansion, science, commerce, innovation, hard work, and building wealth, nationalism and pride becomes a force for progress. In a country that's on the down and out, nationalism amplifies that to bad result.
Mongolia is interesting. Their national holiday, Naadam, is a festival in July featuring wrestling, horseback riding, and archery.
The other day, I was out with my friends, the four of us were sipping the best possible filter coffee in the South Indian city of Chennai (Madras). The un-Indianness of the city, and the state, never ceased to amaze me and as a staunch nationalist my three friends had to listen to brazen idea after idea of how we could mend it.
As any (North) Indian would testify, making Hindi compulsory is the first solution. Granted that is done and by some miracle a generation later all of Tamil Nadu speaks Hindi, would the nation be any stronger, better off by adding 80 million people to the Hindi-speaking world?
My problem was never the un-Indianness of the southern states or the North Eastern ones, it was the un-Indianness of all of India. What do we, as a nation, believe in? What do we believe is our place in the world? Can we, as a people, pull together and achieve it? But rather more pertinent would be to wonder whether we belong to each other, to the same "nation"? The North to the South and the East to the West. The Hindus to the Muslims and the Buddhists to the Sikhs. The Telugus to the Rajasthani and the Kashmiris to Biharis. Let's leave the more pertinent questions for later, including my statement of the un-Indianness of Chennai. These are deep questions indeed, and hopefully in the course of these posts, I will touch upon them.
By the time the coffee sipping came around, I was pretty deep into my study of ethnicity. My brazen idea that day was to give any child born anywhere in the world, to an Indian parent/s or even a single Indian grandparent an Indian passport - ethnic nationalism. I knew the shortfalls of what I had just uttered. Being Indian is a very hard thing to define. A thousand different languages, the birthplace of four religions and a land inhabited by immigrant upon immigrant were all mitigating factors, let alone the right to self-determinism. Somewhere in the argument I also said India is the land of Hindus, and you can imagine the umbrage of the two Catholics in the group. They said they are just as Indian and they are absolutely right. Generation upon generation has grown up being taught that each of one us, irrespective of caste or religion, is Indian. Nothing Orwellian here folks. All Indians are just as equal.
I will let today's post deal with just one facet of strengthening the national identity - statecraft, India gave it to the world after all. (for the uninitiated, Chanakya pre-dates Machiavelli by more than 1500 years and it is hard to believe Machiavelli didn't read Arthashastra before writing his Arthashastra). That one organ of the nation which remains sacrosanct - untouched by political parties, essentially a propaganda machine. As silly as it sounds, it is the best starting point. To instill pride among a people, we need to be told of our victories, of our greatness; very often. The victories at WTO, where the nation won concessions to well, continue giving concessions to the poor, the Indian aid to build the Afghan Parliament premises, the Indian involvement in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh must all be trumpeted. No nation is foolish enough to not act in national interest, but if ever there was one which looks to "just help" and take stock of the situation later, it is India. This must be known to Indians and the world. The treatment of Indian Muslims is perhaps as good as it gets anywhere in the world, including the Islamic world. There are separate Haj terminals at the major airports to facilitate their pilgrimage to Mecca. And we have built them without ever facilitating travel to Amarnath, Kedarnath, Puri or the Kumbh Mela (all Hindu places of pilgrimage/congregations). For the 1 billion plus Hindus, there are no special arrangements to visit any of these places, and yet they are more than happy to accommodate the pilgrimage to Mecca. I don't know of another country which does this. This is not to raise questions about equality, but to re-enforce the truth of our equality. Equality which we give each other, the day we were born, yet we seem to forget it because it is so commonplace. Granted, that is the best form of equality - the unconscious form, but in a nation being put through major sectarian violence at least once every decade, these messages need to be enforced.