It is possible, but highly improbable to speak on distilling the Russian revolution of 1917 without invoking the words “Animal Farm”. Even more so it is, by my reckoning, utterly impossible to discuss dystopian futures or totalitarianism without mentioning the number “1984” or the overused term “Orwellian”. Despite this, I find, as many have, that Orwell’s genius was not in his novels but in his essays & journalistic pieces. I have recently mulled over the question ‘What was his most important work?. I first came to the conclusion that this question was preposterous but at the time at writing this, my answer would currently be ‘Notes on Nationalism’.
It may be my admiration for terse work; ironic when you see how I babble on. For example, the greatest novel ever written is ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. This isn’t an opinion mind you, it is verifiable fact. He surely did write more intelligent & introspective works; he clearly put forth brilliant ideas that changed Victorian Britain, but nothing that I find to be as close to perfection as the story of Mr Scrooge.
For me, Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ is the most eye opening whilst being easily digestible of his writings. He takes on the notion that nationalism isn’t just an irrational clinging to one’s own nation but an irrational clinging to any belief that leads to a willful ignorance of facts. Maybe he should have used a different term to stop conflation or confusion; his point still stands.
Football fans are nationalistic in their love of a club, in truth, there is no more reason to support a team than there is to support a political party or religion. With party politics, the vast majority delude themselves to believe:
A) That they know propaganda exists but it doesn’t affect them, in fact it only affects the opposite side. How cute?
B) That they have genuinely thought through all of their beliefs & can substantiate them, when in fact they have been handed down to them, forced upon them & made comfortable to them through group-think.
Most people support the football team of their father, follow the political party of their area & believe in the religion of both – their parents & place of birth. This is nationalism. This is irrationality. I have shaken off the political party that people of my area are peer pressured into; thankfully I have pushed away the religion forced upon me at birth – sadly, I cannot say I have been emancipated by the football club my father supports. Especially when admitting the pain it puts me through on a seasonal basis. The only saving grace I have is that I am as far from “Nationalistic” with my team as possible. Of course they aren’t the greatest team in the world – but in the height of my blasé fanaticism I must admit I do get stressed watching the team like no other & cannot remove what seems falsely like an innate love of the team. None of us are perfect.
Under the branches of confirmation bias we can study the real term effects of “nationalism”. This is why I included above the statement “willful ignorance”. We choose to share & like sources online that agree with us; we find it easy to ignore, block or report sources that we vehemently disagree with. Leading not only to a bias, but one that is not the fault of politicians or leaders but directly of the people themselves. You have a responsibility to make sure every one of your strong held beliefs are balanced on a genuine effort to study both sides of the argument. In trying to attack my own prejudices I have en devoured to spend time studying people of the “far right” which in most cases I have now noticed means “centre” or “right”. I won’t name names as it would be poisonous. What I can say is that I have now seen a direct correlation between what the left claims a person believes & fiction. Just as simply as I see the same correlation between what the right says about the left & what the left actually believes.
If only they each took the time to study their “enemies”?
As a side note:
The term “Nazi” has fallen back into leftist circles, in a serious way for the first time in decades. It is utterly misused as expected. From what can be discerned online, a national socialist can be anyone from someone who mentions immigration in a negative light to a capitalist that doesn’t tweet favorably about a black led movie. This to me, someone who understands what the word “Nazi” means – thank you British schooling system – is as far from Nazism as it is from any political ideology. It is a basic failing to understand the definition of the words. Again, willfully. I feel this usage of the word is only back with vigor due to the vicious & evil nature of the term. It looks like an attempt to equal the swear of the N Word towards the black community. Using language as a weapon can in some ways be admirable, after all what am I doing? But falsely using terms to stop free speech is a worrying event – especially when it looks like there is no consequence for a false label.
We need to quickly address “nationalism”; irrational-ism, confirmation bias & refusal of reasoned debate on ALL issues, If we are to overcome the problems of fake news & manipulation within the online world. It’s now harder than ever to question our beliefs. That is why it is imperative that way do it. If we allow our beliefs to be strengthened by nationalistic bias, whilst finally noticing, yet not attacking the impact of social media – then we are doomed to allow a tyranny that can easily utilize the media to manipulate us all. The same way Newspapers, Radio & TV propaganda shaped the 19th & 20th century, we have fallen into allowing the same with social media. Question is, how long shall we allow it?
What views do you hold that can’t be swayed and why? What would your opposite say of the view? What is their argument? Study it, learn it backwards – falsify it to the point of certainty, only then can you be justified in your belief.
The left, centre & right are all failing on this issue at a similar rate. For example:
When a terrorist attack occurs, the far left masturbates furiously to the notion that this will be the outlier, where the perpetrator will be that of a Christian, or even better, a white male; the far right masturbates furiously at the belief that this will again be a Muslim perpetrator or even better a Muslim immigrant. The centre are furious that both have come to a conclusion before any real evidence in their opinion is confirmed. In the end we are all just coming furiously to a conclusion that satisfies our prejudice.