Developing Sri Lanka; Sense of Nationalism
As much as the sense of 'self' is required for
a person to survive, a sense of nationalism is a pre requisite for a
nation's survival and its way forward. A man's personality is what the
outsiders will identify him with and similarly nations have their own
identities in the world community. Just as a man's image in the society
is the collectivity of his personal attributes, a nation's image in the
modern world community depends on that nation's collective strength in
economic, social and military matters.
Nationalism can also be compared to the brand or the reputation of a
company. The reputation of a company depends on the quality of goods or
services that company produce and that in turn decides the identity and
living standards of those who comprise the company, the shareholder, the
It is a symbiotic relationship. Hence, in whichever way we describe
nationalism, it is the collective identity of a mass of people bound
together by reason of language, culture or geography to ensure their
protection, well-being, and the way forward.
The Government of a country is also expected to perform collective
functions, in that it undertakes the functions in a country that the
individuals cannot perform on their own. Then, is nationalism the
Government or the State? State, no doubt is a part of a nation but the
scope of nationalism stretches beyond the functions of a mere State. For
instance, when I was lost in Japan looking for a particular bank, a
Japanese man went out of his way to be helpful and took me in his
vehicle to that bank that I was looking for, a few roads a way.
Now that act has nothing to do with the functions of the Japanese
State but has everything to do with the image of the Japanese nation.
Nationalism therefore is born out of a person's own patriotism towards
his own nationality because your nationality should be a source of pride
to you, whether you travel abroad, do business abroad or whatever
dealings you have with the outside world.
In practical terms, the rise of Japan as an economic giant in the
modern world was a corollary of the standards Japanese export goods were
able to build up in international markets. Then, in order to build up
those standards, every Japanese had to work selflessly with the firm
belief that 'sacrifices and dedications today will bring benefits to the
whole Japanese nation tomorrow'.
Similarly, even though Japan is the most tangible examples of 'from
devastation to development' in the post Second World War period, all the
nations that have progressed during the past few decades have used
nationalist patriotism among its people to achieve those heights. It is
the realization in every citizen of the country that his own development
is inextricably linked to the development of his country.
In ex-colonies like Sri Lanka, nationalist thinking has been on the
wane because for years we have been accustomed to be dependent on
ex-colonial masters for our economy, language and education. Hence the
'exploitation by mental submission' continued. The recent victory over
terrorism could be a turning point for Sri Lanka to re-group its
thinking and resources to charter a more nationalist course for the
benefit of the country and its citizens.
Nationalism should not be mistakenly believed as a concept that
restricts the achievements of a country to what is within it. Again as
in the case of Japan, you could borrow or even plagiarized more advanced
nations but what is important is that those have to be adopted to suit
your own national course.
However there is a school of thought that advocates that nationalism
is a 19th Century phenomena that developed after de-colonization. This
may be so with regard to countries like India and West Indies that were
born out of colonization and slave trade respectively, but a great many
of the world nations had been always conscious and have enjoyed
proprietorship of nationalism.
To believe that nationalism is a result of de-colonization would be
as mythical as believing that civilization is a result of colonization.
It may be that nationalism as a means of interacting with nations became
more common as a result of the world graduating from physical wars to
political and trade wars.
Another factor is that when the two world powers tried to dominate
the world through their 'globalization' and 'world proletariat' notions,
the nationalism of small states became an irritant and hence this
propaganda against such resistance.
Even today the advanced nations, inspite of the fact that they
brandish their nationality in about everything they do, look down upon
the nationalism of less powerful States. There is a deliberate move to
give a bad taste to nationalism as if it is a form of extremism
identified with despots such as Hitler and Mussolini.
It is a fact that Hitler's Nazism was 'national socialism' and
Fascism means nationalism in Italy, but yet they are just two instances
where nationalism was abused by pushing it in to an 'ultra' state.
Excessive use of anything, even science, could bring adverse
consequences. In order to denigrate nationalism some also use catch
phrases like, "nationalism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". But such
sayings describe the scoundrel and not nationalism.
Mahatma Gandhi said of Indian Nationalism, "Our nationalism is a
requirement to prevent us from being exploited and it is no peril to
other nations as we will exploit none." It is with such pronouncements
that Gandhi made India into a nation practically out of dust.
[ Adolf Hitler]
* Born : April 20,1889
* Died : April 30, 1945 (aged 56)
* Citizenship : Austrian (1889-1932)
* Nationality : Austrian citizen until 1925
German citizen after 1932
* Political party : German Workers' Party
(1920 - 1921), National Socialist German
* Occupation : Politician, soldier, artist,
[ Benito Mussolini]
* Born : July 29, 1883
* Died : April 28, 1945 (aged 61)
* Nationality : Italian
* Political party : Republican Fascist Party
* National Fascist Party : (1921-1943)
* Italian Socialist Party : (1901-1914)
* Profession : Politician, journalist