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membership claim or ethnic exclusion

Reader comment on item: Why I Stand with Geert Wilders
in response to reader comment: The darkest page of Dutch history happened during WW2; the flag became a negative symbol.

Submitted by anonymous (United States), Feb 16, 2010 at 16:51

The negative view of nationalism assumes that national identity is inherently based on ascribed ethnic membership, and is therefore essentialist and exclusive. The strong Dutch opposition to nationalism covertly, and probably unwittingly, reinforced this ethnic-exclusive ideology of nation as ethnic nation. The fact that the Netherlands and Dutch identities are strongly characterized by migrations and global cultural and ethnic intermingling and mixing raises the question of nationalism as a claim for membership. People who are denied Dutchness for one reason or another may wish to assert their Dutchness by participating in nationalist culture, displaying national symbols, and so forth. Of course, the problem with both forms of nationalism is fascism, a primary concern considering the consequences of WWII era fascism. Collective identities have the potential to be used to perform fascist-type solidarity and authority-submission roles. The problem is that banning national symbols can hardly prevent fascism, although the idea may be (have been) to limit it to sub-national scales, for better or worse. I think there is hope for nationalism in a global context of liberal democracy, but it most certainly involves ideologies of nationalism as liberation from fascism and other forms of collectivism that reduce individual freedom and self-determination in favor of group-rights and collective self-determination. Of course there is an inherent tension in utilizing collective ideologies like nationalism to procure individual freedom, but no more so than the creation of protestant denominations/churches to promote individual interpretation of scripture. If nothing else, one thing is certain: neither the ideologies of nationalism and collectivism, or those of liberal individualism are going to disappear.


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