Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nationalism – Boon or Bane? Part 3

Bharath responded to my statement “small changes at the grass root level” as an oxymoron. At the look of it, it sure is. Anantha hit the nail on the head by calling it “The Butterfly Effect”. For those of you not aware of this phenomena, I shall explain it at the end of this discussion.
The concept of borders seemed very nebulous at this stage. There had to be an answer or a pattern around which borders or boundaries were made because they were such an intrinsic part of our lives. Not before long a pattern seemed to discern. I talked about what I meant by nationalism being personal and then moved onto the issue of borders.

Nationalism is most definitely a personal thing. Nationalism is a concept which invokes emotion. There could be nothing more personal than emotions. It would be foolish to assume that every person with strong nationalistic values would feel the same as every fellow nationalist. I absolutely agree with you that nationalism is about national identity. But that does not mean everybody needs to feel the same about it. Why does it seem so “absurd to your brain”? Different views about a general belief do not necessarily create disparate opinions. Why, take the case of Anantha and me. I assume we are both nationalistic but and we have somewhat different points of view and may not agree with everything the other says, but we still believe in the concept of unity and a national identity.

Now coming to the point of borders* which seems to be troubling you and is quite understandable. It is not without reason that there are borders and boundaries. How you set these borders could be a point of contention. Allow me to explain in some detail.
Without boundaries I assume we have no countries? For a planet with billions of human beings there has to be some kind of system in place. If not, anarchy would prevail and it would be impossible to survive. Boundaries or borders are a natural phenomenon and are HIGHLY essential for survival. You have seen animals like lions and dogs marking their territory, haven’t you? Do they have some ulterior motive behind it? Why do they get agitated when they have an intruder in their marked space? It is all about survival. Each family of lion hunts in its own area and they are happy just to survive. 

It sure is a little more complicated in our case. We have divided the world into 5 different continents. No issue here as geography has helped us out. Now comes the part of the countries. Why do we need countries? Why can’t we survive with 5 continents? As you have rightfully pointed out, the diversity of the human race is so high that it would just not be possible. Different people have different needs. So countries were formed with “similar” people. By similar I am referring to the gene structure, the way they look, the culture, language and various such factors. It can be observed from the archives of the past that these “similar” people existed naturally around each other, borders or no borders. It would be naive to assume that every person in a country is similar. But a majority is. 

I once met a Japanese tourist who was on an all India tour. That gentleman was so fascinated by India and its diversity that he said “every place I go to is a different country in itself”. It sure is. Every state in our country is qualified to be a country by itself. Why can’t India be just one state? The same reason I stated before. It’s diversity. Almost every state has its own language, culture, food, etc. Quite naturally the people with these similar lifestyles happened to be in and around the same area. The reason for this is that the geography and terrain you live is a major factor influencing your culture. A boundary ensures that no community in particular can assert its dominance over the other and harmony is maintained. I could go on about how each district is different from the other but I think I have made my point.
What if a country takes over a new land is the question that arose. Let’s assume India takes over a new land from an existing country (in reality it is quite atrocious because we are usually the givers). The only possible places could be around the Indian subcontinent which has a strong cultural similarity with India. In the past the British, French, etc tried to misuse the concept of borders by conquering lands in different regions around the world. There was a natural rejection by the people all over in Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Isn’t it strange? Different people, so much diversity and they still wanted the same thing. It is a natural animal instinct. It is proof that such a system cannot survive.

"The moment u speak against or sound suspicious of nationalism, u r judged before u r heard". 
1) The quote doesn’t quite literally mean the concept of nationalism. When you question a decision, an act or anything else in the name of nationalism, you could say you have been judged before you could are heard.

2) But either way, as Anantha pointed out, you were heard and were judged accordingly. It could have been your usage of words and you may not have really meant it. But that is what came across and pretty strongly too.

@Anantha--- The butterfly effect!!! WOW!!! I hadn’t thought of it as that. Brilliant!! 
@Bharath--- there you go...not an oxymoron now, is it?

Coming over to the concept of "The Butterfly Effect". Wikipedia defines it as 

"The butterfly effect is a metaphor that encapsulates the concept of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory; namely that small differences in the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system."

If this is a little confusing to comprehend an example would make things easier.

"For example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position. "

What this means is that the final outcome of any event is dependent on certain certain initial conditions which is responsible for the succeeding turn of events. The few changes at the grass root level, one at a time, would be responsible for a radical shift in the future.