6 thoughts on “Nationalism and wars

  1. Whether we fight wars with so-called conventional means, or with unconventional means, war unleashes a social dynamic of terrible power. To motivate soldiers to kill and be killed requires an enormous amount of ideological and psychological indoctrination. We may have an innate instinct for aggression, but we also have an innate instinct for self-preservation. Organized political violence is a scary disorder in the body politic, necessary sometimes in extreme circumstances, but costly in what it does to the soul of the polis and the psyche of soldiers. Modern warfare occurs on a scale that bears little resemblance to the violence of our primate and tribal forbearers.

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  2. I wonder if this book went into the roll that the advent of the media and then the Internet plays in stirring up the people’s support for going to war.

    In addition, in a democracy, it takes the support of the majority of a parliament or congress to declare war. Before the rise of democracy, one man/woman made that decision—-a king or queen/emperor or empress. Did nationalism have anything to do with that? Does a king need his people to support him to declare war especially when 90% of the people were illiterate and had little communication outside of the small village or farm area where they lived?

    And with the Internet, even in countries that are not democracies, the people play a more important roll in expressing opinions. Therefore gaining that support requires a sophisticated use of propaganda that uses rumors, exaggerations, and lies to stir up the public and manipulate them.

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    • Thanks for your comment!

      I have not read this book myself. According to the review, it says that nationalism is often overrated as a cause of wars. I would say: Yes, that is correct for *causes*. However, once elites have decided there will be war, then nationalism often becomes important to whip up support for the war.

      Yes, you are right about the role of propaganda.

      Politicians can manipulate the rule of “support of the majority of a parliament or congress to declare war”. Eg, by lying to parliament, as Tony Blair did in Britain on the Iraq war. And the Vietnam war was officially not a war, but a “conflict”, with no US “soldiers”, but only with US “military advisers” to the Saigon regime in South Vietnam.

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  3. Pingback: Yemeni journalist, jailed for drone report, freed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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