The last day of the campaign in Cleveland marks the end
of the highly contentious beginning, and the ramping up of a
dangerously, carelessly euphoric General Election season.
Today's close of the primaries also marks an odd symmetry
between the Don and the Hill, careering toward chauvinism
as they both are, never mind the chasm of differences between
Patriotism is one thing, healthy and necessary: love your home,
your native land, your people, your accomplishments,
defend THEM, YES, by all means. Chauvinism is when
patriotism descends into an aggressive "we are the best",
"we are the most important", "we are exceptional", "everyone
should emulate us", "we should decide", etc. Chauvinism over
the centuries has only had a limited efficacy and has proven to
be a major cause of empires' eventual end; witness The U.K.,
France and Russia, merely three recent examples from the West--
are we bucking for fourth??
A thumbnail listing of where they went wrong:
(1) In Great Britain, Rudyard Kipling exhorted, "...Take up
the White Man's burden..." meaning, whites were always superior
to the Indians, the Chinese, etc. whom they conquered. The U.K.
exacted a massive price for conferring the "joys" of Imperialism
and the West upon these older nations.
(2) France continued to exclaim as we do now how great
they were, how essential to Western culture, how civilized,
they are and were, even while they diligently deployed racism
of every stripe and well after being utterly humiliated by
the Nazis in WWII. The second language of planet Earth
is no longer French, (--or German or Russian) but American
English; if you wish to promote your culture, business acumen
and scientific discoveries world wide, you publish in English
as well as your native tongue, period.
(3) The U.S.S.R. is no more, hasn't really existed with
teeth since 1989. The great socialist/communist "dream"
was/is notoriously nightmarish, one which many Socialists/
Communists were/are quite willing to impose via fiat,
bloody and controlling, codified in at least one version
of their constitution, which began, "The Classes of Society".
Totalitarianism has plagued Russia for many centuries, the
Commies merely replaced the Czars. In the marketplace
of ideas, this one has failed; even if resurrected down
the road, it will fail again, as it is not emblematic of what
is true about most people.
The foregoing strict critique in no way diminishes my
admiration for the marvelous, world-class writers from
each of these nations, their scientific contributions, their
visual arts, or music. I AM, however, issuing a timely warning:
Chauvinism is the defense from decline, a shout from behind,
not a statement of strength. It is especially stupid in 2016, living
in a global village as we do. Respecting other countries' humanity
and accomplishments is the way forward toward world peace
and the prosperity which well might travel with it...
Heedless, headlong posturing and postulating is only a 60
second feel-good proposition, not leadership, not diplomacy,
not even "exceptionalism", which I hope I have shown here.
Let's stay very wary while avoiding the trap of unwise,
unvarnished folly, please.