I’ve always thought the concept of patriotism and especially nationalism to be a very weird and most likely stupid and illogical idea. It just makes no sense to me that people from any individual country can believe on whatever level that they are in the best country in the world or that they are in some way superior to everyone else merely by the virtue born into a country that they themselves had no part in its history or past achievements. Even if these achievements are huge and there are undoubtedly some countries that have achieved more than others, it has absolutely nothing to do with those alive today.
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. – Albert Einstein
Living near London, the very idea of being proud of our country is almost laughable, borderline rude and even racist. A sense of nationalism or any sort of superiority is quite unheard of. There is no way in the world anyone here would ever say our leaders are glorious, we’re generally indifferent or embarrassed by our history and we would never ever sing our national anthem or salute our flag. In fact the 1 in 100,000 people who have a British flag flying around there are widely thought to be racist, that doesn’t count for all the Indian, Pakistan, Russian or European flags I see on a daily basis but I do indeed think flying a flag from the country of your birth or heritage in another country is even more weird than flying the local flag.
I’ve always liked the idea of a World Government. Maybe it’s because I’m such a Star Trek fan but it really does seem the only logical choice in the long-term. Think of all the resources that are wasted in petty competition between countries and all the bad things that happen in the world because people think their country, political or religious belief is better than someone else’s.
There are really two basic things stopping substantial progress towards a World Government. The first is that rich countries and even more importantly, rich people, would have to voluntarily (or be forced) to sign away their advantages whether obtained naturally, through hard work or by force to those more deserving of them. They’d also have to be prepared to be governed in part by people from vastly different cultures and ways of life.
The second reason is just as fundamental in its own way in that the poorest countries would have to start acting responsibly and accept direct rule in part from people with different cultures and viewpoints. No-one from the richer parts of the planet are going to give up power or re-allocate wealth to people like ISIS. And so, the world quietly or not so quietly meanders towards the inevitable world government whenever that may be. The world has to come closer together in wealth, stability, tolerance, education and many other things before we can really start putting our house in order.
Of course as with so many things in the modern world, nations and governments are now being superseded by citizens, the ordinary people in large parts of the planet. With improved education, the internet and television allowing improved communications and an ever increasing level of political sophistication or at least cynicism, ordinary people no long routinely classify their identity of primarily being tied in with their country or nationality. Other reasons for these changes is that so many problems facing everyone today are large planetary ones that can only be entirely confronted on a global scale. Issues such as global warming and climate change, poverty and mass migration of refugees, abuse of power by multinational corporations can not be tackled effectively by any one person or country.
When I first looked at this in the 1990’s, only around 1% of people saw themselves as a Global Citizen with loyalties and allegiances outside their own group of people. For the first time, a recent survey by Globescan suggested that 49% of people consider themselves citizens of the world. Or at least those in the 14 countries surveyed. Once this number increases towards 100%, then the formal structures of government and commerce will have to change.
It has been a long movement to reach this point. One of the early adopters of the Global Citizen mantra was that of the Ancient Greek, who in 412 BC as stated ‘I am a citizen of the world (kosmopolitês)’ from which modern cities like London and New York take the word Cosmopolitan. I always liked the work of Thomas Paine, the English-American political philosopher who maintained “my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
19th Century Iran took it one step further with the founding declarations of the monotheistic Baha’i faith which state “The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Interestingly, throughout the graphs below, Spain consistingly ranks highly as being a country where the people see themselves primarily as Global Citizens than of their own country.
Sadly but perhaps predictably at least in the case of Russia, both Germany and Russia fare terribly on their views on not only Global Citizenship but on immigration and refugees too which in a way is the opposite of being a Global Citizen.
65% of Spanish strongly approve of accepting refugees fleeing countries though perhaps tellingly, it is not a country of choice as an end destination for refugees. However neither is Russia and yet only 4% of people there would strongly approve of welcoming refugees.
Interestingly some countries that are targets for refugees, still are very open to receiving more. Canada sees 78% of its population as approving receiving refugees. 71% of those in the U.K. agree and 73% of Australians despite their famously strict immigration laws.
It’s interesting that Chile in the chart above and below both strongly welcomes refugees but simultaneously defines itself through its nationalism. The African countries and Russia all very strongly have a national identity whilst most surveyed Western and Asian countries have a less defining role of National identity.
Another interesting point below is that China fares relatively well for not being constrained by National citizenship and yet only 13% of its people would be happy to receive refugees from Syria.
Not entirely predictably but sad nonetheless is that 43% of Pakistanis define their identity through their religion with only 2% seeing themselves as people of the world. India and the USA also see significant numbers of people who primarily identify themselves through religion.
How do you see yourself? I actually don’t know anyone who I think defines themselves through their religion or race. It’s a mixture of feeling British, English, Global and not really at all European at least not politically speaking. When it comes to things like culture then definitely more European than African or even American but when it comes to things such as business and economics, not really and ethics, perhaps more on the American side than European and maybe that is what British is all about. What we would say as picking the best of both worlds whilst perhaps having the absolute best of neither but then not the worst of either too.
For lots of things to do way of life and faith, I’ve got much more in common with many Asian countries at least in the traditional sense and not the money first hyper-capitalism becoming so prevalent in China or Japan and so all in all it is a complicated existence. When it comes down to it, though I feel allegiance to several different identities, I also feel very little to all of them as well. Contradictory though it sounds. I’d rather identify and indeed sympathise with a goat herder in Kazakstan or a homeless person in the slums of Rio than a selfish, rich banker in London or New York.
Whilst I’ve never found Spanish people to be global citizens, at least on the outside, it seems clear that more people are following their lead and that can only be a good thing so long as the positive differences between cultures can be retained. It would be very awful if the one-world government settled on hard-core capitalism as the way of life. The equivalent of all the European countries singly badly in English in the Eurovision song contest rather than embracing their own language and culture and sadly that happens all too often as well.
At the end of the day, being a global citizen makes sense and it’s a step towards the Star Trek style paradise which is surely better than all the other alternatives.