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Scrutiny
  
The secret of the Unicorn!
No surprises; it’s nationalism and not globalization that has created great nations over the years
16/04/2009

Last month, the Obama Administration made it clear in no uncertain words that the companies which are recipients of money under the Troubled Asset Regulation Program (TARP) as part of the financial stimulus package will have to abide by the new restrictions imposed on outsourcing of work to destinations like India. For many in India, it was nothing but an obnoxious move on the part of a dogmatic Obamasque US administration seeking the easiest (but definitely counter-effective in the long run) way to fix the problems of the US economy rather than dealing with the real structural problems plaguing it. Intriguingly, however much one might criticise Barack, the reasons for which Obama has taken this path are the same that come into play when Indians or Chinese thump their chests when companies of their country’s origin go out and handsomely acquire a US or a Europe based company. The string that binds both Barack and us is fanatic economic nationalism, for our respective countries of course. Quite some time since the homo sapien race decided to exit forests and to materialize the concept of society, the concept of ‘he’, ‘his’ people and ‘his’ land have always been more important than ‘they’, ‘their’ people and ‘their’ land. Evidently, this philosophy hasn’t changed much till date. So, from the era of hostility between Sparta (present day Greece) and Troy, when Achilles decided to fight for his bête noire Agamemnon, the Spartan king, because Spartan ‘pride’ was at stake, to the era of the British, French, Dutch and Spanish empires, when they often fought prolonged and violent battles keeping imperial interests in mind, it was all the same nationalistic fervour in play.

In fact, the time-line between the beginning of the First World War and the end of the Second World War and furtheron after it, has been the most intriguing period in terms of the transformation of nation states into nationalistic states. While four established empires – namely Russian, Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian – were washed away by the tides of the First World War, this period also witnessed the emergence of the violent form of ethnic nationalism which almost destroyed the world with the rise of the German Nazis and their fanatic obsession with the obliteration/subjugation of Jews and in fact anyone who – according to them – was not a pure Aryan.
Incidentally, the way Hitler galvanized a disparate Germany, which was humiliatingly defeated in the First World War, into a reckoning force vindicated the fact of how potent a force the war-cry to resurrect the lost pride of fatherland (or motherland) could be. Nazis became a spent force for good after the defeat of Germany in World War II, but ethnic nationalism continued. Oddly, that the Jewish State succeeded to an extent against all ‘odds’ and emerged as a pioneer in high end technologies is also proof of how nationalism drives the fanatic passion to not only survive, but consolidate and fortify. Had it not been for the ethnic pride and the quest to wipe the humiliation of the past, Japan and Germany wouldn’t have had such incredible resurrections (both economic and political) in just a few decades’ time to become the second and third largest global economies respectively, their decimation in the Second World War notwithstanding.

The advent of Cold War also brought with it a new kind of concept wherein the countries started getting associated with the economic ideology they believed in. In a broader sense, it was ideological nationalism. The world was broadly divided into a capitalist West and a communist East. Countries, in spite of ethnic and cultural differences, were brought together under the umbrella of singular economic ideologies in an attempt to dilute the concept of nationalism. Though this seemed to work in the communist geographies – for example, the slogan to unite workers across the world became more and more prominent in socialist countries that united to present almost a singular (Che) Gueveraish face – a similar thinking did not work in the West, where waves of globalization were sweeping across – for example again, if European football matches were a purveyor of the fervent passion in one’s nationality, then the failure in setting up of the ‘unified’ EU only stamped it further, proving the volcanic resistance in the so called capitalist Europe to forgetting one’s ‘nationality’, be it Turkey’s non-inclusion in the EU or UK’s ad nauseum pound fetish.

By:- Pathikrit Payne
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