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#1 ara baliozian

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Posted 06 August 2001 - 05:57 AM

ON NATIONALISM
OR THE WAGES OF PREJUDICE
***************************************
Political scientists have called nationalism "an infantile disease" and so it is. Nationalism may satisfy our vanity but it also makes of us prejudiced observers. One reason Hitler lost the war is that he drove his Jewish scientists, among them Einstein, into exile because he considered them inferior to his German scientists. As a result, the Jewish scientists established themselves in the United States where they were successful in developing the first atom bomb.

Prejudice and objective judgment are mutually exclusive concepts. When we say we are proud Armenians, we voice a prejudice and not an objective assessment. Scientists know something political leaders don’t: namely, the validity of a theory recognizes no national barriers. If we are going to learn from our history, we must approach our past with scientific objectivity. Then and only then we may be in a position to admit blunders and to learn from them. Otherwise we will be like the blind leading the blind, and to paraphrase still another biblical dictum, the wages of prejudice shall be death.

Nationalism is a dead end and its inevitable end is death – the death of the nation.

Business prostitutes the artist to the same degree that ideology prostitutes the historian. It follows that, a historian who enjoys the support of a political party or a regime with a clearly defined agenda has adopted charlatanism as his credo. And this applies to Turkish as well as Armenian historians.

#2 timucin

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Posted 08 August 2001 - 11:43 PM

I could not agree more, but it looks like you are not going all the way to the end. Being against nationalism, or certain expressions of it, as if it can be kept tamed for good, should in my opinion bring the issue of believing in nations. Nationalism may be the end of nations, but is it possible to prevent from reaching such end as long as the idea of nation is kept intact. What do you, in other words, propose, when you criticize the ideology of nationalism? As long as nothing is proposed, as long as the idea of nation is not dealt with, isn't it a kind of sure thing that this very idea will eventually end up in some form of nationalism? Perhaps, the idea and reality of difference needs to be given a different form? In order not to have our respective nationalisms destroy our respective nations, perhaps, we should destroy our own nations to come up with something better, something that will work better.

t.

#3 abenlian

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Posted 08 August 2001 - 03:53 PM

How about nations of individuals.

#4 ara baliozian

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 06:07 AM

cultural nationalism, yes.
political nationalism, NO!!!!!!!!
that way lies: we massacre them when we get the chance, they massacre us when they get the chance.
Example: the Middle East; the Balkans, the Caucasus....

#5 timucin

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 04:07 PM

I do not see much difference between cultural nationalism and political nationalism in the long run, especially when it is widely known that most nationalist movements, almost all of them, started first as cultural nationalisms. Political nationalism can be briefly defined as taking cultural nationalism to the platform of us versus them, but such nationalism, the political type, can never come into existence if the explanation and definition of the ‘us’ is not formulated in cultural terms with the sometimes not so explicit claim that there is an ‘us’ that is different and deserves more attention from other ‘us’es. Whereas the political nationalism is the application the cultural nationalism is certainly the theory of this application.

You are probably proposing controlled nationalism, and I am asking how this is going to work. How can you control the claim that we are different from others and need more attention therefore? We have been living with the concept of difference for a long time. We know that we are different from each other. But, the ideology of nationalism puts value on this difference by creating a hierarchal structure of differences, on the very top of which is usually the ‘us’, the special one. This vertical structuring eventually brings in its political counterpart. If we are different and somewhat worthier than the others, then why should we not rule the others? This kind of thinking exists today in almost all the modern nations, including the United States.

What is cultural nationalism anyway? Cultures, especially among those who live either with each other or next to each other, are very similar. With languages I can understand, but how can one come up with different cultures between those very similar ones? Get rid of the language and religion and I bet nobody will be able to tell the difference between Armenians and Turks by looking at their day to day cultural activities. So, what makes Turks so different from Armenians in their cultural traits that we can actually talk about two different nations in cultural terms?

When we start coming up with answers to this question we will actually be moving into the realm of the political nationalism, not cultural nationalism. Cultural nationalism is simply nothing, but another example of euphemism for political nationalism. Nationalism of any sort must go.

t.

#6 MJ

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 04:21 PM

quote:
Originally posted by timucin:
I do not see much difference between cultural nationalism and political nationalism in the long run, especially when it is widely known that most nationalist movements, almost all of them, started first as cultural nationalisms.
....

Cultural nationalism is simply nothing, but another example of euphemism for political nationalism. Nationalism of any sort must go.

t.



Absolutely agree with you, Pigeti.

#7 gamavor

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 05:22 PM

Well, I am sympathetic toward those who have no culture (instead, they have tons of political nationalism).
If cultural nationalism can lead someone to political nationalism, then something is deeply wrong with that culture or with those who represent this culture.

[ August 09, 2001: Message edited by: gamavor ]

#8 ara baliozian

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 06:19 AM

writers, philosophers, poets, artists and composers don't declare wars,
politicians do and their dupes are declared to be heroes!

#9 THOTH

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 08:13 AM

quote:
Originally posted by ara baliozian:
writers, philosophers, poets, artists and composers don't declare wars,
politicians do and their dupes are declared to be heroes!



Perhaps they don't - but you cannot deny that they have/can have influence (good or bad) - most politicians are not bright enough (IMO) to envision a philosophy on their own - but rely upon sound bite extracts from writers & philosophers & such to congeal their thinking and motivate the masses. Consider the influence of (the philosophes of) Gokalp on the Young Turks for instance...

#10 THOTH

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 08:26 AM

Timucin

It seems to me that the very existence of nations implys some level/degree of nationalism among its citizens - perhaps with distincions in degree - where some might be just patriotic versus others who are more "Uber Alles" in their views - politically and or culturally. Of course there also could be those with personal loyalty (to the King etc) or with some concept of internationalism...or individualistic like isolationism (sure i live here but leave me the f*ck alone/I don't care about anyone else sorts) but still - once the boundries of a nation have been established can we really exist without some degree of nationalistic bias?

And on the cultural side - I see differences in degree - and perhaps nationalism is not the correct term (not sure what is) - but again isn't it natural to associate with/route for/have pride in etc ones own culture (or ethnicity) - versus that of others? This does not mean we necessarily exclude or degrade others etc (though it can) - and here is one possible area of distinction I think (to perhaps warrent different terms for such...).

And Timucin - are you not - at least to some degree a Turkish (cultural?/political?/[though perhaps not] ethnic) nationalist - at least by some mild definition? Cannot one possess nationalistic pride (or whatever) but still be a person of the world - also moved by higher ideals & such - or do you necessarily see holding such values as exclusivistic?

#11 gamavor

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 08:52 AM

Very good point Thoth!

What the Turk above said is what the Turkish propaganda was singing for centuries. You see, we are not different so why don't you except our values and our culture. Cheap. Very cheap.
Those who are not tolerant toward other cultures, would like to see the world unified under "one" culture, realizing that this is the only way they can overcome their inferiority complex.
This standpoint is not original. The notion that cultural nationalism ( I’m very keen to know what the Turk means by “cultural nationalism” leads to political nationalism was an axiom in the Turkish politics, justifying the repression against ANY kind of minorities.

[ August 10, 2001: Message edited by: gamavor ]

#12 MJ

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 09:53 AM

I think regardless of Turkish Cultural-Political nationalism, and regardless of how the Turks interpret it, we still can recognise the dynamics of the Armenian Political Nationalism as resulted from the Cultural Nationalism.

#13 THOTH

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 09:55 AM

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:
Very good point Thoth!


Well, thank you Gamavor - though I am not sure I share all of your views - concerning Turks in general and Timucin in specific. I think that I will let Timucin speak for himself and his views - but I also think you will find that they are not what you might expect - and he might just have a greater appreciation for the minority issues (and other issues/history etc) in Turkey than you might think. And I do not think he is the boogeyman or anything...

Certainly, I would not argue with you concerning the level of hostiliy and callousness of CUP/Young Turks and the Kemalists toward minorities and non-Trukish cultural elements in Anatolia - but on the other hand I do think that after 700 or so years of cohabitation, intermingling, assimilation and diffusion of cultural elements there is quite a bit of commonality between our peoples. There are a great many examples of such - from food to traditional dances/music to family life and life/values in general. Additionaly you should not forget that the Turks of Anatolia/Turkey are a very mixed people ethnically and comprise a large percentage of Greek and even Armenian heritage - so that even in the blood they are much like us (more so then not). Thus I reject arguments that say Turks are naturally barbarians or such. Yes - they came from such (as once did we all) - ethnically and culturally - marauders of the steppes - conquorers of nations etc - yet the pattern of the Turks (wrldwide & in history) has been of assimilation and blending - and this has gone both ways.

Certainly the Ottoman political system and elites were an anachronism and became corrupt (and perhaps even evil in a sense - though I would hesitate to generalise to the population as a whole this way), and additionally, with the Empire in collapse and with the influx of refugees from such (who were bitter, hardened etc) they were not inclined to give the Armeninas and other minorities a fair shake - and we all know what happened from there - but - I caution you against your blanket bitterness/hatred/resentment etc (though I understand it) - people can and do change - and the Turks are much like us in more ways then they are different (familiarity breeds contempt perhaps - eh?). We cannot afford to close ourselves off to them if we wish to have any type of future in the region - and in general I think. Please consider these things. Sure - the Government of Turkey is certainly not to be trusted (or worse) - and many of the people are indeed brainwashed etc (in general and against us) - but this is not a general indictment of a race of people - in many ways they are us (to a great degree) and it behooves (them and) us to not get caught up in the blood hate - it is artificial and can only lead to more pain. To perpetuate such is just wrong (IMO) and bad for business (and everything else)...

#14 gamavor

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 11:34 PM

Well Thoth,

I regret that you don't understand which one of your points I was referring to. You are not obliged in any way to agree with me and I hope you will grant the same freedom to me.
MJ is right when he says that Armenian Political Nationalism resulted of Armenian Cultural Nationalism. I would rather say the Idea for national independence.
When you speak about cultural similarities between Turks and Armenians I hope you think of yourself and not about all Armenians, just like when I'm referring to my disliking of the Turkish culture in general, I'm talking only about my self and not about all Armenians.

Have a nice ishly kebap, chorba and Kapal@ charsh@!

#15 ara baliozian

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 11:56 PM

about nationalism:
someone said here that intellectuals and philosophers shape ideas which influence politicians. Of course any idea or ideology or religion or system may be and has been perverted. Philosophers who promote war and massacre cannot be said to be philosophers but philomorons. Culture, real culture, is universal -- the same way that Shakespeare or the music of Mozart are. To say that culture may contribute to evil is a contradiction. It is ignorance and the opposite of culture that do that.

#16 MJ

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 12:09 PM

quote:
Originally posted by ara baliozian:
Culture, real culture, is universal -- the same way that Shakespeare or the music of Mozart are. To say that culture may contribute to evil is a contradiction. It is ignorance and the opposite of culture that do that.


You are right, Ara. However, Shakespearian or Mozartian cultures do not give rise to cultural nationalism, and are inconsistent with the drivers inherent in any form of nationalism.

Very little in our Armenian culture is purely Armenian, with the same token. Normally, anything which is worth being elevated to a level of the label "culture" is of all-human character and universal, much like the Armenian Miniatures, for example.

However, at least in my view, cultural nationalism means cultural exclusivity, which is hard for me to accept as a positive value, and its artifact has been and continuous being disaster in the Armenian national consciousness.

#17 THOTH

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 12:44 PM

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:
Well Thoth,

I regret that you don't understand which one of your points I was referring to.



Perhaps not - as we obviously see things quite differently. Perhaps I was not intending whaterver point you seemed to think I was making at all. Dono really...Though you seem to be saying the Turks are saying that we are so like them that we should be/consider ourselves to be Turks...no? And I cannot agree with this (attempt at Turkification) of course - because there certainly are differences - reasons why we are Armenian....etc. It is interesting though - the duality of self-image of Armenians from Turkey that I have seen (more in some than in others...)

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:

You are not obliged in any way to agree with me and I hope you will grant the same freedom to me.



I think I understand why you feel as you do. I would urge you to think beyond your feeling however. And certainly I don't think I have all the answers - hardly. Perhaps you are able to make a case that will cause me to change how I think...

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:

MJ is right when he says that Armenian Political Nationalism resulted of Armenian Cultural Nationalism. I would rather say the Idea for national independence.



Of course this seems to be a given IMO. Not sure if this was a good thing per se - as the results were not so good (and continue to poison to some degree - IMO). I question however that this "cultural nationalism" is in fact a recent phenomon - and I have argued the same with Turks (regarding their political nationalism emerging from cultural identity/nationalism) who claim they were "infected" after us....

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:

When you speak about cultural similarities between Turks and Armenians I hope you think of yourself and not about all Armenians,



No (while I know I can't speak FOR all Armenians...I may be able to speak ABOUT them...certainly tainted by my perception...not any universal truth...) however I also think that you are likely much more culturally similar to most Turks than I...LOL (I am fairly well American by most standards) - but I have had much exposure of course to representatives of each culture and do have some appreciation of each...and I find that I personally get along with and have a certain cultural empathy with both groups...much more so then with Swedes or such for example.

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:

just like when I'm referring to my disliking of the Turkish culture in general, I'm talking only about my self and not about all Armenians.



I can see that you might have certain personal aversions of (differing) aspects for whatever reason (and I can understand and even do perhaps agree with some aspects etc...on a much smaller scale than you aparently however)...as I might have issues with Chinese or French culture or some such...perhaps I dislike cream sauces or chopstickes etc or the way they might speak - their gesturing or some such - i may find irratating or unsettling...and yes there are certain differences between Turks & Armenians (culturally)...I have met few Armenians named Mehmet for instance...(and again - familiarity breeds contempt perhaps - where others/outsiders might not percieve any differences at all - we are more acutly aware when there are differences because of how well we know ourselves...)

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:

Have a nice ishly kebap, chorba and Kapal@ charsh@!



Richness can be found everywhere...and I too have a preference for ours...though not exclusively...

#18 timucin

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 01:03 PM

Mixing with certain groups, routing for them, having pride in belonging to such a group are natural for humans. We do not have to learn this; we will naturally go and associate with others. Yet, we do need to learn the ways, definitions and approaches to this whole group thing. Nobody is born a nationalist or a culturalist. Leave the kids alone and they will associate with kids from other cultural and ethnic backgrounds until their mummies and daddies come and separate them, if they believe the whole thing was not appropriate for their kids.

There are, however, regional cultural differences. For example, Eastern Turkey is very much different in many cultural ways from where I come from. Although supposedly we are part of the same Turkish culture, I see major differences culturally. These are simply regional cultural differences as it is the case, for example, between southern and northern European countries, or Far Easterners and, I don’t know, Mediterranean. Can we do the same thing with the nations, if we take out the language, religion and historical narratives? No, unless they have been isolated from each other intentionally and there are considerable distances between them.

I may go route for a Turkish soccer team. This does not mean I am a nationalist. I get similar feelings, when in the middle of nowhere I find a Greek restaurant; I feel at home. Am I a Greek nationalist? No. I am simply looking for what I am familiar with and getting happy when I find it.

On the other hand, let us think about this pride business. When do we feel pride in something? I guess when we are made to feel like shit for so long that when we find something that we can associate with either because we speak the same language or supposedly share the same culture/ethnicity, we feel pride in this person or achievement. Is pride a normal human characteristic? I don’t know. I know from my kid that there is the ‘me, me’ thing or ‘let me do it’ thing. I have still not observed the ‘we, we’ thing yet, although she started associating herself with her own kind physically, but in terms of group loyalties. I still do not observe in her being proud of something else that she has not done it herself but she is somehow related, although she tends to get proud of her own achievements. The only difference she is aware of now is the color thing. I know a few months ago she put people in different categories based on different skin colors: she called them white and brown, not black. But, she has not created an exclusivistic approach based on color. Her friends do still come from both colors. She is almost five; so this pride thing in her group or culture thing is still not there. I suppose we learn it later on. This pride thing, the special version of it, the kind that is not about yourself directly, is somehow related to excluding others, not sharing a particular achievement/value/thing with others and eventually coming up with the implication that whatever it is you feel proud about is something that is about your culture and it cannot happen with others. I think this pride thing eventually encourages exclusivistic group attitudes.

It is sometimes very difficult to figure out who is being nationalistic and who is not. For example, I may discuss the Armenian Genocide and I am sure many will call me a Turkish nationalist. Yet, I may not be acting as a Turkish nationalist, but being perceived as such by those who I would call Armenian nationalists. Can nationalists get outside of their framework? Not really. In their world, there are only nations. If you are not from his nation then you belong to another nation – simple as that. They cannot even read past histories where there were clearly no national feelings without imposing their own world on what they are reading. Most Turkish nationalists would have lost their heads immediately, if they were living in those beloved past Turkish states of theirs and talking about Turkishness.

Becoming a non-nationalist is a different a way of living and approaching things. It needs to be learned as being a nationalist does; it does not come naturally, although I believe it would if our education systems were not based on exclusivistic/nationalistic approaches. So, it eventually comes down to choosing between the two. Of course, one will never be so non-nationalistic in the beginning; nothing wrong with this either. I believe I have chosen the right path and have done away mostly with nationalistic attitudes, but I will of course be a Turk to those who are eager to explain everyone in nationalistic terms. I am not perfect of course, but when one looks at my posts one will see a clear difference between my style and others. By the way, you are classifying me as a Turk, not me. But, based on what are you classifying me as a Turk other than the language I speak.

People come to you and ask where you are from. What are you supposed to do? I usually pause for a few seconds, thinking how I should answer this question, and then usually end up saying ‘I am from Turkey’. For a while I was saying I was culturally Turkish, but I gave up on that. People want to know where you are from, because they think in nationalistic terms, and so far I have not been able to come up with an answer of the non-nationalistic sort.

t.

#19 gamavor

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 01:18 PM

Thoth,

Don't be so angry with me. I haven't said that you are a Turk.

#20 timucin

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 01:21 PM

Culture is diaologic in character; that is, it takes at least two to have culture, to communicate. At the very base of human cultures is our ability to communicate with each other. We do communicate about evil and violence. And, both of these have been part of human cultures up until today. You may have a very diffrent definition of culture Ara, but culture encompasses everything we socially create. Turn on the TV and catch a few shows, you will see violence and evil. Catch up with a grandma and listen to some folkloric story, you will see violence and evil. Check past mythologies or those Greek marvels of the ancient age, the friezes on the temples, you will see violence and evil. We talk about these things and they are part of our human culture.

So far there have been spotted two animals in the animal world who kill their own kind for group gains, for reasons other than being hungry: chimpanzees and humans. We kill others of our own kind and combine such acts with cultural motives either to ease the process or justify it.

t.




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