Instead of National Identity

As Douglas Murray correctly says in his new book, once a national identity is weakened, all sorts of other identifications come to take its place. Smaller and smaller groups and groupsicles are formed. People are pitted against each other over trivial, manufactured differences, making it impossible for them to see that they can unite to stand up for their rights.

Everybody who isn’t rich is struggling because of the inflation. Everybody is being punished because our national government decided to steal from us and give to Pfizer, Walmart, and Netflix. But we are distracted from our shared dispossession by the narrative that pits the virtuous against the improvident student loan holders. As we bite each other’s heads off, those who rob us are laughing at our simplicity.

I’ve never held a dime of student loan debt and neither has my husband. But I know that if I indulge in the convenient pleasure of despising those who do, I’d be the stooge. The simpleton who stands there gaping while her pockets are being picked.

Cheap, smug self-righteousness – be it of the anti-racist or the anti-loan-forgiveness flavor – is the consolation prize we get for losing our economic and political status.


11 thoughts on “Instead of National Identity

      1. I’m not loyal to either of those paradigms. Mostly, I want passports, border controls, and a naturalization process imposed on immigrants from the West Coast and New York 😉

        Both sets of “nations” home in on some noticeable cultural differences, but fail to hit on whatever magical thing makes the entire style of driving change as soon as you cross the state line between Pensacola, FL, and Lillian, AL. The only thing that separates them is a small bay. Why are they so different?

        If we’ve learned anything at all the past several years, it’s that rural people all over the US have more in common with each other than with city-dwellers anywhere in the US. Perhaps we could bring back the city-state as a cultural and political unit? It could free up large swaths of small-town America from the tyranny of its states’ largest cities.


      2. I think if there’s a viable vision for a US National Identity, Langston Hughes tapped into it:

        “O, yes,
        I say it plain,
        America never was America to me,
        And yet I swear this oath—
        America will be!

        Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
        The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
        We, the people, must redeem
        The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
        The mountains and the endless plain—
        All, all the stretch of these great green states—
        And make America again!”


  1. I am not easily shocked but this was … surprising.

    Modern Pro-life stance in Russia:

    Protect me today
    And I will be able
    To protect you tomorrow

    #we don’t leave ours

    Reminded of Brodsky’s “Lines on the Winter Campaign, 1980”:

    “Glory to those who, their glances lowered,
    marched in the sixties to abortion tables,
    sparing the homeland its present stigma.”

    Слава тем, кто, не поднимая взора,
    шли в абортарий в шестидесятых,
    спасая отечество от позора!


    1. “#we don’t leave ours”

      Except for all the dead Russian soldiers thye’ve left because there was ‘no point’ in collecting them. Believing the Russian mainstream requires being able to disconnect perceptions from reality to a shocking degree.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw this photo the other day of a happily smiling woman and her 9 or 10-year-old son, grinning ear-to-ear. The son was holding €100. It’s the payout they got for the Dad, killed in the war. The woman happily reported that her older son has been conscripted, too.

        I mean, with any luck, they’ll get another €100. That’s €200 more than they had before the war, so what’s not to like?


        1. ” the payout they got for the Dad, killed”

          All of Russian society reminds me of the story ‘la beca’ by Unamuno that you talked about a few years ago.
          Has it ever been translated into English?
          Or, alternately a nightmare by Brecht (who often referenced cannibalism) brought to life…


  2. Now Russians are stopped for supporting Putin … in Moscow, not in NATO or USA:

    М.Е.Салтыков и это предвидел.
    “…Не требовалось совсем, ни под каким видом, ни в каких формах, ни даже в форме нелепости, ни даже в форме восхищения начальством. Восхищение начальством! что значит восхищение начальством? Это значит такое оным восхищение, которое в то же время допускает и возможность оным невосхищения. А отсюда до революции – один шаг!”
    Посмотрите, за что задержали человека сегодня в Москве. На другой стороне плаката написано “Политику Путина В.В. – одобряю”.



    1. ” stopped for supporting Putin”

      Galeev has already covered this idea a while ago. Putin doesn’t want principled support (someone acting on principles might turn on him on principle).
      He wants passive acceptance of whatever he says in the moment.
      Of course a country with that type of passive, zombie political culture cannot win a war….

      Liked by 1 person

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