- 12 Mar 2013 08:54
In my previous post I spoke in the abstract: all people have reason to love their country (the only alternative, at the risk of sounding nationalist, is to leave it). Because of love of country feeds the will to fight to improve your country when it is degenerating or is in the wrong.
But I'll write in this post about the specific. In the case of France, we have a beautiful country at the heart of Europe with a precious legacy: rationalism and science, democracy and the rule of law, the very invention of the modern Nation-State, the balanced and good life. Of course we share many qualities with our neighbors and the West in general. Perhaps France's most specific political characteristic is an extremely passionate desire for both equality and liberty.
The more time passes the more I am convinced that France, though only a medium-sized country making up less than 1% of the global population, will again show the enduring validity of the democratic Nation-State, including in a globalized world. The old, dangerous dreams of hegemony in Europe are dead. Instead I hope France can have the ambition of maintaining balance in Europe and of showing the world that modernization, equality and democracy can be had simultaneously through the Nation-State in spite of the imagined constraints of globalization. That apatride elites, whether the imagined power of "markets," comprador classes or international bureaurats, do not, in fact, dictate the fate of sovereign Nations. I think this would be a very honorable world-historical role for 65 million Frenchmen!
I will also mention the United States of America (because I am French-American). America has its heritage and qualities: the epitome of classical liberalism, its power, its wealth, the "pop culture" and sexual revolutions, its admirable traditions of immigration and free speech, love of the Constitution, its natural resources, the gentle life of suburbia... But I am more disturbed by America. Life is too needlessly insecure and violent over there. The hucksterism - the fact, in America, every man is a (lying) salesman (I exaggerate) - I just find repellent. America, since the 1980s, has been simply decadent, a writhing mass of entitlement, overconsumption and senseless violence at home and abroad.
Of course I am generalizing. America too has a magnificent heritage and boundless potential. Its main ambition should be healing itself: to reclaim power from the oligarchy, to live in a more economically secure and peaceful country, to not live with the fantasy (e.g. rejection of reality) that America can go as if there were no limits (to growth, to houses, to cars..), a fantasy of limitless growth that has fed into the country's triple indebtedness (household, financial, public) and allows it to ignore its real socioeconomic problems. The Founding Fathers considered Montesquieu the reference on constitutional matters, and the Frenchman had said: "Democracy is also love of frugality." Benjamin Franklin said much the same thing. How far is America today, then, from its fundamental principles? The thought fills me with a kind of dull sadness.
Rei - This is a semantic argument - and it's not at all surprising that self-styled "fascists" or "nationalists" would dislike my pejorative definition of "nationalism." But the point remains: there is a difference between hating other countries and loving one's own country, the latter is a necessary sentiment in any democratic society.
A stubborn porcupine: heredity & nationhood. Meditate, brother!
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