Nationalism and politics of nations
A dialogue between Irinas the dead leaves and Emmanuelles the tortoises The Irinas think that life is wait and mystery but they are ready to seize the opportunities of the moment while remaining nostalgic for the past. They fear evil which knows how to take on deceptive appearances. The Emmanuelles are reasoners who prefer to trust logic rather than feelings.
Emmanuelles: dear Irinas, have you noticed that once again, Peter and Davina have been duped by their fascination with human habits? They think they know them but they are not able to put them into perspective.
Irinas: it this about the story of cats and dogs in Taiwan?
Emmanuelles: yes, that’s the one. Protecting these pets is not humanitarian work, it is being aware of trends and replacing local customs with more contemporary values to ultimately cement the unity of the nation.
Irinas: you mean the rulers promulgated this law because it was fashionable and was serving their purposes?
Emmanuelles: that’s obvious. Cats and dogs having become pets, they already had a special status. To formalize it is to bet that history will prove them right and it allows them to earn some praise at little cost. They appear progressive, they project inside and outside the country an air of modernism which can only make the population prouder after a while.
Irinas: while differentiating themselves from neighboring countries which suddenly seem retrograde.
Emmanuelles: exactly, that ‘s a nice political move. Moreover, it may be that in reaction, some neighboring countries will go in the opposite direction to assert their specificity and strengthen national cohesion through an attachment to traditional values.
Irinas: in Taiwan, however, it is also good for cats and dogs since their status is improving.
Emmanuelles: they are certainly anecdotal in this case because if they were already pets, it does not change anything for them and if they were intended for consumption, I don’t think that they will escape their fate.
Irinas: well, that suit the merchants of dog and cat products, for sure.
Emmanuelles: you are right, economics and politics go well together.
Irinas: as soon as technologies brings improvements, they are put forward to promote new behaviors. Here, it wouldn’t surprise me that the distribution circuits are better organized than in the past and that food surpluses favor the production of animal feed.
Emmanuelles: which must then be sold, you are right. The goal of a state is to create a rewarding image to strengthen nationalism and therefore social cohesion. In this case, it was a fairly easy way which also satisfies the imperatives of consumption and therefore the general economy. One has just to replace an old habit that was starting to be criticized by another which allows people to identify with a trend considered as dominant. And on top of that, the country gets richer.
Irinas: the problem is, breeders are certainly not satisfied with the situation and the majority of the people, used to it, will have to believe the country is progressing. Disrupting customs is a risky bet. They will have to do educational work to quickly homogenize the values of the people, starting with new programs in schools.
Emmanuelles: you can be sure that an awareness campaign took place well in advance of this decision. Peter and Davina do not see that each culture has its own way forward and they judge everything by their own ideas. They confuse the freedom of the species that they would like to be universal and liberties taken with these species for political reasons, like what happened in Taiwan.
Irinas: nice formula because no one is freer than before in this case and to imagine that dogs and cats will be more protected if they are pets is to be deluded concerning human nature. It is in these cases that we are happy not to be evaluated by human categories. For my part, I don’t feel free or imprisoned, protected or in danger, I do what I have to do according to what defines me.
Emmanuelles: that said, you can be sure that humans wouldn’t want our lives!
How is a nation built?
For Emmanuelle, its leaders must exploit the opportunities that allow nationalism to develop around common and shared values in order to increase the pride of the people. Each country has its own way of doing things which differentiates it from the others and reinforces its identity.
For Irinas, technical and economic development are put forward to facilitate ways of seeing in accordance with the new imperatives of consumption that these changes implies. It is therefore necessary that education intervenes to make people forget backward ideas and promote new ideas that will unite them.
What is the purpose of a state?
In politics, should humanistic considerations prevail over considerations of economics?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Nations and nationalism where Gellner shows how a state strengthens nationalism in order to exist.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Emmanuelles and Irinas? Their favorite books are in the domain library.