The Evil of Nations
By Basil E. Gala, Ph.D.
Patriotism, love of country or nation, has been with us for some centuries. I was born and raised in Greece until I came to America at age twenty and have been in America for sixty three years now, visiting Greece summers. I love Greece deeply, the land, hills, rivers, mountains, and seas. I love the Greeks who speak my mother tongue, my people, their lively ways and smiles, and I love Greek figs, olives, feta cheese, lamb, goat, and grass-fed beef. I stay at the house I built on Andros in the Aegean sea, from colorful native stone, where I rise up with the sun. I also love America. My loyalties would be challenged if Greece declared war on America, like “The Mouse that Roared.” Great nations such as Spain, France, England, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, and India have been like pillars of humanity’s growth and culture. Even small nations, such as Greece, Austria, and Israel, have made important contributions. But we have also seen horrific conflicts and destruction from national interests since nations began in the sixteenth century. Now, for the survival of humanity and the planet, we must abolish nationhood, putting behind us the hatred and evil of old nations.
Nations are divided by mountains (Pyrenees, Alps, Urals), seas (Mediterranean, Channel, Atlantic, Pacific), rivers (Rhine, Danube), or deserts like the Sahara and Gobi. Yet, armies cross these natural barriers to fight wars from the times of Hannibal of Carthage, or Napoleon of France, to pillage, destroy, and butcher other humans. Julius Caesar went to Gaul (France) through the Alps to conquer, killing a million Gauls and bringing to Italy a million slaves.
Nations began as settlements on river banks where the soil and water could grow crops easily. Egypt was the gift of the Nile and Babylon, the gift of Tigris and Euphrates. These settlements were at first small tribal affairs which grew into cities and city states. The river was for drinking, irrigation, sanitation, travel to forested interior or out to sea. Dominant cities built kingdoms by expanding into neighboring territories. Armies needed grain to march on their stomachs. Rome on Tiber, Athens on Kifissos, Paris on Seine, Moscow on Volga, London on Thames. People hung together in communities for protection–building walls, working together, mating, celebrating. Men would fight, and still fight, to protect their borders and families from hostile neighbors, or expand their borders at the expense of others. Men would die, and still die, for love of country. Enough! This has to stop.
Still, communities need borders—natural or fenced, walled, mined. A border is the skin of a viable community. Even cells or bacteria have membranes, necessary for the work that goes on in the interior. Can you manage without you skin, the largest organ in your body?
With the growth of cities came culture: writing, commerce, technologies, arts, and government. Culture does not grow much in rural areas. The wealth of the city, excess grains, supported artisans, poets, soldiers, kings, and priests dispensing ethics.
The ideal community for culture is the city state, one dominant city surrounded by smaller towns and the countryside to feed the people. Power in America and elsewhere should revert back to the city state, such as the county. Higher authority, the state or national, should handle only those functions which cannot be exercised at a lower level of government, such as control of inter county or inter nation commerce and aggression.
In the past, empires rose up to regulate nations and establish the peace, such as Pax Romana or Pax Americana. Empires also accumulated wealth in their center which promoted corruption and degradation. Eventually rough barbarians broke down the gates to seize the wealth and power.
Trading brings nations together as it brought people together in early settlements on river banks. Wealth flows to those nations who produce and trade well as demonstrated by Imperial Britain, Arabia, Holland, even the Viking raider and trader tribes who settled Northern England and France, as well as Russia, where Vikings established at Kiev the modern Russian state.
Every nation, just like a person, has a unique character, traits, and destiny based on its gene pool and its meme pool. Greek culture, Jewish culture and others persist after thousand of years. Such cultures should be preserved as we do with valuable antiques. But the warfare has to stop or we are going to end as a species. The world community must hang together for security and for survival, as communities did in the beginning of civilization ten thousand years ago.
We’re these days in a cycle of rising nationalism–God help us because many nations now own nuclear and other weapons of total destruction. Trump and other nationalists abroad appeal to the mainstream population of their country who want border security and fervently desire to preserve the integrity of their national character. Such trends are fine as long as they don’t lead to aggression and violence inside or outside the nation.
We should turn to the United Nations and empower it sufficiently to control aggressive behavior towards other nations or the planetary habitat of humanity.