[Avoiding] The Perils of Nationalism

Some who have an understanding of world and European history are wary of Hawaiian sovereignty because it does not seem to acknowledge the perils of nationalism. And make no mistake – it is perilous. But it may not have to be. As with religion, many invoke nationalism as the cause of wars, arbitrary detention and genocide, and rightly so. Even nonviolent national liberation movements like that in India have used right-wing economic policies that did not match their liberated political narratives.

Ours must be a mindful nationalism, and perhaps the word nationalism should be jettisoned altogether. Despite the numerous violations of Hawaiian nationality, a fundamentalist response that justifies violence (even symbolic violence) must be avoided. This avoidance will not, as some may claim, weaken the movement – it will strengthen it through the support of those who have seen the pitfalls of nationalistic fervor. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a good (but not perfect) model for a nonviolent approach.

The Commission allowed catharsis, through reenactment of Apartheid atrocities, but not revenge. It is not a perfect model, because it did not address the underlying economic disparities upon which Apartheid was based – black South Africans remain among the poor, and economic segregation replaced racial segregation.

East Timor is another example of a successful deoccupation. With a lot of help from the UN over a decade, the new country Timor Leste was able to achieve peace and stability (and even some prosperity) emerging from a violent Indonesian invasion and quarter-century occupation. Life is not perfect – they have a major spousal abuse problem and itʻs questionable whether a free press exists there, but relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste are fairly good, and Timorese are more angry at collaborators than at Indonesia itself.

It is this line of thinking that attracted me to Kaleo Patterson and Haʻaheo Guanson’s reconciliation approach. Ultimately, after all deoccupation and decolonization (if thatʻs the right term) are done, we all have to live together.

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One response to “[Avoiding] The Perils of Nationalism

  1. onibaba1

    Decolonization is the right term. East Timor gained its indepedence via the Decolonization Committee at the UN, which by definition means that it went through the decolonization process to become self-determining, as did 55 or so, of the original 72 territories listed on the 1946 UN list of non-self governing territories, listed for decolonization that are now UN member states. http://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20000705.gacol3031.doc.html

    The only countries that were deoccupied were the Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which technically, as part of the USSR, were “Constituent Republics”. And that happened after the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union, arguably motivated by the US and EU.

    These Baltic states are also now NATO members with nuclear warheads pointing at Russia– which would be like Russian nuclear weapons in Canada and Mexico facing the US.

    So, speaking to the perils of nationalism, the militarization of the Baltic States endangers these buffer states should the US further escalate militarizing the regions as they just have with the hawkish and provoking House.Res.758 – “Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.”


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