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Nation & State, Art & Culture; How confusion serves a purpose

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Written by   432
8 months ago
Topics: Nation, State, Statism, Art, Culture, ...

I. Nation & State

From a purist point of view, the abuse of the words state and nation are disturbing. Then there is the concept of nation-state to further confuse. Before we try to clarify the concepts, let me sow some further confusion by saying that United Nations is a false label, the organisation consists of united (territorial) states, and the country called United States is not a nation, it is a state, although a state of higher dignity than the states it is built of.

We have two distinctly different concepts.

A state is a community based on a common set of created rules. It can be a territorial state, based on a specific set of laws whose validity is limited by territory, or it can be a personal state, which is not territorial but based personal adherence to a set of rules and on a closed membership in any definition of the word. An example of a personal state is the Catholic Church, but technically many associations could be classed as personal states. Perhaps even certain companies. But a state always has a defined power structure, it is always based on authority, and it is intellectually and artificially created.

The political state, which we usually refer to today when we loosely use the concept of state, is ultimately a territorial state, even if there are some limited points on which some territorial states act as personal states, as when a state forbids its citizens to do something wherever it is done. (This, in my opinion, is a violation of the powers of a territorial state, whose authority must totally end at its borders.)

A nation is originally based on bloodline. Roughly we can say that related families formed a tribe, and related tribes formed a nation. This concept is based on ethnicity. Later, by extension, it has been based on culture or language – but it has nothing inherently to do with territory. A nation is not created, it has developed organically, by spontaneous forces.

A nation can stretch over several territorial states, or a territorial state can contain more than one nation. The concepts are distinctly different.

A territorial state coinciding with a nation, where the population belongs to only one nationality, is called a nation-state. This an originally European idea which has caused much trouble when various leaders have tried to force Europe into an artificial division into nation-states. An extreme example is Hitler's dream of one people, one Führer, a nation-state for all Germans. This ghost, to desire nation-states, is still alive in different parts of the world.

It has also been an attempt, unfortunately quite successful, for the political territorial state to seize control of matters of nation. Also compare with Russia's claims to protect “Russians” in former non-Russian parts of the previous Soviet Union. This is an attempt of the Russian state to take control over the Russian nation, including its members outside of the borders of the Russian state. Or, deliberately to confuse matters of state and nation, and use it as an excuse for interfering in the business of other states.

Pure nation-states are a matter of imagination though. The closest we can come to that is possibly Japan, but there it has developed by Japan's own preconditions, not least geographically. In Europe, the dreams about nation-states never came to be fully realised and today the preconditions for it are quickly eroding by a high level of migration. But the political state has already usurped matters of nation by taking authority over what ought to be tradition and customs, over culture, language, religion, and education. A development that has, unfortunately, spread in the world through the European colonialism. The state is trying to shape the nation from above.

Nations can also coincide with personal states, as they frequently did during some phases of history. One example is the Germanic migration states that existed within the Roman Empire. They had their own jurisdiction but where based on people, not territory. And Roman citizenship was a membership in a personal state. The majority of the population in the Roman empire were not Roman citizens and some Roman citizens lived outside the Roman empire. Indeed, the Roman citizenry was part of an elite who tried to control the world as they knew it. This concept was inherited from the Greeks, who applied it on a small scale in their city-states. That's why the members are called citizens, which is based on the same word-stem as city. (Interestingly, we don't find this extreme focus on one central city in Alexander's Macedonian empire, which was never viewed as an extension of a city-state. It was an empire built on entirely different concepts.)

Nationality is membership of a nation, not a state. Membership of a state is today commonly called citizenship. A passport is a document of citizenship, membership of a territorial state, not of nationality.

A possible objection to our criticism of how these words are used today, is that one must allow language to develop and change, words do change their meaning over time. But in this case there is no need for that. Nothing is gained by this change of meaning. We would gain clarity by keeping these concepts apart, and we would better understand the world we live in. Erroneously used words can be used to confuse deliberately. By fusing the concept of nation with the concept of state, the authoritarian political state hopes to erase the nation in its true sense, swallow it and make it subject to its own authority, much in the same way as it has already done with religion. For the political state this is important, since so much of the identity of the individual is based on nationality. By usurping the nation, the state gains more total power and legitimacy in the eyes of the population.

Within the Anglo-Saxon world, we find an analogous conflict between two forms of law: statutory law and common law.

Common law is a codification of customary jurisdiction, as it has developed spontaneously in a community. Historically, tribes and nations have developed customary law to handle conflicts in the community, that is law based on culture and tradition, and the principles are mostly sound. Statutory law, however, which is increasingly replacing customary law, is set by the political state, and it has precedence. In a sense this reflects the conflict between nation and state. It also, in another sense, reflects the difference between law as justice and law as will, as I will define in a subsequent article. Or perhaps we should call it the difference between justice and politics?

II. Art & Culture

Art and culture are another pair of words which are confused in some language areas of the world. Deliberately or not, there is a way in which the political state can benefit from that confusion.

The word culture stems from Latin cultura, which means cultivation. This is originally referring to agriculture, to grow something. Already Roman orator Cicero spoke of cultura anima, the cultivation of the soul, and in a modern anthropological sense culture refers to the way in which a people lives, except the parts that are biologically inherited. Art, in my opinion, comprises certain forms of creative expression of a culture, which means that art is a part of the much larger concept culture.

Many statist politicians today subscribe to something they call a “multicultural society”. That is, a multicultural society within a state. At the same time they suppress all forms of (from the state) independent culture, except art. They think that if they allow diverse creative crafts and folk dances, that will be seen as multi-culture while it is only multi-art. However it sounds better to be an advocate of multi-culture. (Statism is the view that all power ultimately belongs to the state, and that it should control and regulate everything.)

No state wants to allow genuine multi-culture within its borders, that would dissolve the state. It hardly allows any culture at all. Multi-culture still exists, as a remnant of a world where the state was not all-mighty, but it is actively suppressed.

Multi-culture would mean that each different group of people is able to live in an entirely distinct way, with different traditions and customs, religion and customary laws, social organisation, etc. Indeed, multi-culture would equal multi-nation. As we have seen, the state is increasingly trying to eliminate the nation entirely, usurp the word and erroneously apply it to itself.

(This article is based on material previously published in Meriondho Leo.)

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Written by   432
8 months ago
Topics: Nation, State, Statism, Art, Culture, ...
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User's avatar Ozi
8 months ago

Very interesting and informative. Thank you for teaching me something today!

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8 months ago

Regarding 'Nation':
"A nation is originally based on bloodline. Roughly we can say that related families formed a tribe, and related tribes formed a nation. This concept is based on ethnicity. "
The Latin root of the word nation scopes the word in terms of birth.
Modern conflicts exist between "nationality by ethnicity" and "nationality by place of birth".

  • Regarding "Personal State ":
    There must exist an alternative moniker for this concept.
    Religions seem to own this in history but currently there already exist many non-religious States.
    Antifa, Facebook, Google, Masons, ??????, and others I hesitate to name here are such.
    They can and do, either directly or indirectly, exert their own monopoly of violence.
    [?????? is deadly serious - users have been 'erased' (IRL) for 'cultural' censorship.]

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8 months ago

The Masons, yes why not. Antifa, perhaps, I am not sufficiently familiar with them to have a certain opinion there. Facebook and Google are a little bit too loose in the contours, but of course that boils down to definitions.

Suggestions are welcome for an alternative moniker.

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8 months ago