By William Markiewicz

One fellow, a product of some superficial punk/flowerchild heritage, tried to convince me that all battles are provoked by chauvinistic nationalisms. Words like 'chauvinism', 'nationalism', are used interchangeably by most people because they don't know the definition of those terms. It's like confounding rape with love or 'the kiss of death' with the act of friendship. This very primitive confusion of opposites is caused by their apparent similarity so that the immediate impression replaces reasoning. Very few people think deeply about topics that do not personally concern them. They have their opinions which they don't really care to examine. That's how dangerous theories are born.

The words 'imperialism', 'chauvinism', describe the aggressive drive to conquer. 'Nationalism', 'patriotism', on the other hand, are drives directed inward, as quiet pride in oneself and one's kin, whether family, region or nation. Nationalism and patriotism are contemplative feelings of continuity. While imperialism and chauvinism have brought more destruction than contribution to civilisations, without nationalism and patriotism the arts and letters wouldn't exist. Let's take, for example, any of the great creators. We see from their work that they were very much rooted in their present and past and that national history and tradition were a main source of their inspiration. Even the modernist innovators needed tradition to know what they were breaking away from. Nobody is a blank page. National ideals don't have to appeal to everybody, they may seem exalted and naive, and perhaps they are; but they are powerful fuel for inspiration, and, as such, they deserve respect and protection. Of course any overdose may be dangerous, even vitamins. Therefore our intuition and knowledge should keep us from sliding too far, meaning from nationalism and patriotism into chauvinism.

Back to the index of the Vagabond
© Copyright 1999 E-mail to: William Markiewicz
Brought to you with the help of: PD