Space for Nationalism

Michael Burleigh says in Third Reich that the leadership of the Weimar Republic messed up royally when it refused to cultivate the feelings of nationalist attachment to the republic. They didn’t create a big, touching ceremony for the signing of the constitution. They avoided all pomp and circumstance. Refused to create commemorative medals for the survivors of the Great War.

This was a gigantic mistake because the Great War had only been possible because nationalist sentiment had been manufactured and people felt it strongly. Weimar’s incapacity to channel these feelings somewhere productive created an opportunity for horrible people to channel them into a horrible direction.

Obviously, this was far from being the only factor in the rise of Nazism but we all know about the other factors while this one is something I never considered before.

Shedding the Burden of Shyness

When I find myself at social gatherings with strangers, at first I always feel like the person I used to be. Shy, uncomfortable, clumsy, scared that everybody will notice how weird and alone I am. And even worse, that I’ll start saying something and people will ignore me and talk over me, which – if you’ve experienced it and know what I mean – feels crushing.

And then I remember that I’m now a completely different person. I can talk to anybody, and laugh, and change the topic of the general conversation to something that interests me, and feel like part of the group.

It’s the same with initiating phone calls and emails with strangers that used to be the bane of my existence. I’m now department chair, so I have to do this kind of thing many times a day. The first feeling is the usual, “I can’t do it! I don’t know how!” And then there’s a flood of relief because yes, I can. I don’t have to be afraid of this any more.

If you haven’t experienced this anxiety and shame of being a weirdo, of being socially awkward, of always trying to conceal how strange you are, you won’t understand what it feels like to shed that burden. It’s an incredible rush. I’m almost happy to have been a social freak because the contrast with my current reality is so strong.

I’m still extremely introverted. This is my nature and, I don’t want to change it. But introversion and social awkwardness aren’t the same thing. You can keep the former and ditch the latter. Nobody is doomed to this suffering.

Gut Cure

Maybe this is TMI but it might help people, so I want to share. My post-COVID gut issues have been cured decisively within a day by means of Russian-style pickled cabbage. Nothing else – probiotics, kombucha, kefir – had any impact.

Here’s how you make it at home. Put two heads of cabbage in the refrigerator for a few hours (or in the freezer for 30 minutes). Shred the cabbage, add some shredded carrots. You can also add some cranberries or yellow apples but it’s unnecessary.

Put 1 tablespoon of coarse salt per each kilo of cabbage in a saucer. Start transferring the shredded cabbage into a pot in small portions, adding salt, and kneading the cabbage with your hands until it starts releasing juice. Do that until you transfer all of the cabbage, carrots, and cranberries into the pot. You can add some bay leaf and black peppercorns but it’s not a must. The only things you can’t do without are cabbages and salt. Everything else is optional.

Now you need to apply significant pressure to the cabbage and leave it in a warm place (not a fridge!). It will need a couple of days to ferment. A couple of times a day, remove the weight and poke the cabbage with a wooden spoon or a stick.

After it ferments, keep it in the fridge. Easy, cheap, and very healthy. We eat it as garnish, put it in salads and soups.