This is my first blog hence most people do not know me. But those who know me know that I do not believe in countries, in fact I loathe the concept of countries. As I finalise shape of my thoughts on Nations, Nation-States and Countries, I thought it would be a good idea to write and express them. But, before moving ahead let me define each of these entities as many people will use them interchangeably without realising the difference between them.
Although used interchangeably for Nation-State and Country, a nation essentially is a group of people of shared background or history or ancestry or idea but essentially they do not form a political entity or governance nor it is necessary for them to live together as they could be spread throughout the world. To me, the core idea to a nation is ‘people’, no one assigns a nation to a person. People assign themselves to a nation. Lack of central authority means no one has any authority to throw anyone out of a nation nor has power to force someone to join a nation. It is very personal choice dependent affiliation (exceptions are there, like race, I can think and act like Anglo-Saxons but I will never be an Anglo-Saxon). So, I think some examples would be appropriate at this juncture I would say that there is a Parsi Nation (based on religion), a Kurdish Nation (based on race) or a Communist Nation (based on an idea of economy). I certainly believe in nations as they provide you a comfort group, a sense of belonging, a sense of calling someone your own. The idea of belonging to a nation has a lot to do with your identity and I will discuss this later.
When a nation, especially those who are united though race, religion, language, culture, traditions or history becomes a political entity controlling land with army to defend it, has its own law and governance they become nation state. Here the crucial thing is controlling the land that is perceived to belong to a nation. And, with land comes power and urge to dominate, example are of several linguistic and race dominated countries dotting the landscape of earth, Bangladesh (a linguist Nation-State), Albania (racial Nation-States). I must say that I have sympathy for Nation-States because I think that they have some legitimacy for their existence, they are uniting people by something natural and intrinsic in humans like language, religion, culture or traditions. Technically I approve of Nation-States, but Nation-States will remain an object of my rejection and rebuke because Nation-States almost always act like countries and not Nation-States. Practically, Nation-States are just as bad as countries if not worse. For example there are active succession movements in both Bangladesh and Albania and instead of acting as a Nation-State and letting the Non-Nations (ie minorities) go these Nation-States are holding on to them like Countries, holding on to their lands and populations and not allowing succession. The Nation-State is usually termed wrongly as Nation. Nationalism which derives it etymology from Nation arrives from this misnomer of calling Nation-State a Nation. Nationalism has nothing to do with Nation, but it has everything to do with the Nation-State.
They are usually defined as an area of land with its own government, army, law, structure of governance etc. Basically country is a ruthless idea where land, control and power are supreme and the idea of people united through a natural order of race, culture, language, heritage are not. Of course people form the back bone of the countries as well, but primary occupation of countries is exercising control over its people and increasing their power within their land borders if not expanding it. This control and power is irrespective whether people within those land borders want to remain in that country or not. China, Spain and India among several others are among those countries whose land borders will move as soon as a binding referendum for independence is announced, China will lose Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, Spain will lose Catalan and Basque and India will be completely Balkanised. I do not think any country in the world has any legitimacy to exist, and I think all of them should be broken up into Nation-State to provide them some legitimacy to exist. Most are also unnatural entities which will eventually split up forming natural borders of Nation-States as time weakens their Central Authority. The reason they are unnatural is because there is a very small connection between its populations, for example Pakistan and Bangladesh separated, although they were joined by religion, but they were divided by language and culture.
Then there are superstructures like European Union and I like the idea of such Unions because what it does is it tries to create super citizens and global citizens. The outlook of these people is very much global and humane and not restricted to their own intrinsic view of the single islands of Nation-States or Countries, many citizens of these are well travelled and have far more respect for other cultures and people than those who have grown in a single island Nation-State or Country. The idea is that those people who want to live together should be allowed to together and those who don’t want to live together must be allowed to leave along with their land and resources. I wish India was a Superstructure with independent or at least autonomous Nation-States.
The Reason Nation-States and Countries are same
Now, because Nation-States and Countries essentially act in the same way I am going to call them countries because the difference between them is legitimacy of existence, while Nation-States have some legitimacy for existence, Countries have none. And whatever legitimacy that the Nation-States had of existence they have lost it because they do not have a process for succession when a minority nation living amongst themselves want to leave, like Jumma people of Bangladesh who do not speak Bengali and Greek population of Albania.
Countries and Nation-States as ideas of Domination and Hate
Rabindranath Tagore holds unique title of being the only person in the world to pen National Anthems of two countries had said, “I am not against one country in particular, but against the general idea of all countries.” He defined a countries as “It is the aspect of a whole people as an organized power. This organization incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on becoming strong and efficient.” One of the countries he penned his national anthem was India, India went on to prove his definition is as accurate as it can be. When Indian constitution was written, members of parliament swore to ‘interest of India’. Hence, historically if someone wanted to support a secessionist movement he could argue that it is not in interest of India to have these people with us because they don’t want to be with us. But, this argument is dead now, in 1969, the Indian Parliament passed the 16th amendment which changes the pledge of Parliamentarians from ‘interest of India’ to ‘sovereignty and integrity of India’ closing the door to even discussing secessionism in Indian Parliament. If anyone wants to discuss secessionism they would be breaking their oaths and processes to shut them up will come into action. This amendment lived up to the definition given by Tagore, ‘This organization incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on becoming strong and efficient’. The basic idea is that those who don’t want to live together should be allowed to secede, and those who want to live together should be doing, there should be no forcing your will on another nation.
The problem with Countries is that they are basically ideas of hate, hatred for neighbours, hatred for strangers, hatred for anyone who disagrees with you inside your own country and a special hatred for those who want to secede from your country. Most countries actively promote Nationalism which is one of the vilest ideas ever, the idea of Nationalism has dragged humanity through several wars and unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty. Most of them, at one level or another are anti-human. The really nasty ones that make nuclear bombs and make or use personal land mines, when victims of both of these are almost always civilians, while children make the largest victim group of land mines.
This is tricky to answer. This is a case of several identities that is being continuously changing, because belonging to a nation is so intermingled with the identity of a person. Hence I think it has to go down to how people identify themselves, and once they do that, they can assign themselves nations. In spite of the problem with identity and nation what I am certain about is that I reject being belonging to a Nation-State or a Country, primarily because I belong to many. For all practical purposes, I have to remain a citizen or a national, but that is out of compulsion not choice. So let us review my identities because those will guide me to nations I belong to:
1. Humans: I am first and foremost a human. Humans are far more valuable to me than anything else. To me giving money to an animal charity while humans are suffering is a crime. If I came to know that killing every Canidae will save humans from a deadly virus, I will kill all Canidae irrespective of whether the Canidae is suffering from the virus or not. I will feel bad about it, but it won’t change my decision, because human life is the most important thing. Human life in inviolable except that human has committed an extremely serious crime which allows to be punishable by death.
2. My Religious Identity: Undoubtedly I belong to Islam. As a Muslim the most basic principles of my life are governed by Islam, the most basic values and mannerisms are influenced by Islam, I am definitely a member of nation of Muslims. This however raises an important question to answer. Because, Islam is not just a religion, it also demands rules and laws of its own to follow, hence in short Islam wants to become a Nation-State. My argument is, the last time Islam was a Nation-State was during the time of Hazrat Umar, infact it died when Hazrat Umar was stabbed and Muslims have not behaved like Nation-State since then. We have slaughtered each other, discriminated against each other, looted each other, forced each other things to do that are forbidden in Islam and what not. The fact that Bangladesh went away from Pakistan in less than 20 years and United Arab Republic could not stay together for even 3 years shows how weak as a Nation we are. We must keep the idea of have one Islamic Nation on the back burner till Mahdi or Christ comes back, because any idea to implement that could lead up to the slaughter as seen in Bangladesh.
3. My Cultural and Linguistic Nation: Doab (of Ganga-Yamuna) and Urdu. Most people from this region are the ones I think I would be most comfortable with and would spend most of my time with as they understand me, my language, have many similar habits and value system. In Urdu speakers I include people who speak Hindustani and Non Sanskritised version of Hindi as well, basically anyone in the world who speaks Urdu or Hindustani or Non Sanskritised version of Hindi as their first language (Non Sanskritised version of Hindi is the Hindi in which Bachchan and Neeraj wrote, not Indian Government Spokesperson who speak Hindi that I can’t understand). These people belongs to my nation irrespective of whether they live in Hapur, Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Karachi or London. This is one of the biggest reason why I reject countries, because if I am stuck at airport for night with someone from Karachi and someone from Mizoram, who do you think I would most likely end up talking to, obviously to Urdu speaking person from Karachi. Mizos are as strange to me as Peruvians, like Peruvians I have never met a Mizo in my life, although they belong to the same country I come from, India.
4. My genetic identity: Being born in a family of Pathans. I am a Pathan, hence all Pathans are my brothers irrespective of whether they live in Kabul, Peshawar or Khurja.
5. My identity of Political and Social Identity: I am a Londoner, I like the way so many different people from so many different places from around the world live here. And I really like the idea that overwhelming majority of Londoners are not racist narrow minded bigots, but large hearted compassionate individuals, I am more socially like a Londoner than any other area I know of. Next undoubtedly I am a European of EU, because a lot of my ideas are influenced by the ideas of European Union, and I am a fan of Guy Verhofstadt. I love the way that European Union works, like a controlled democracy where populist majority cannot exercise its will without restraint. I think of direct democracy as stupidest idea ever, Brexit happened because 51% of idiots thought Britain would be better off outside Europe. Resulting in British Government making that a law, tomorrow if majority vote on 2+2=5, would we have to agree to that? Hence, democracy needs to be controlled and have some other supervision. I love EU because it promotes tolerance and wants people to be exposed to other people, languages and culture. And, it is completely opposed to Nationalism. I am definitely a European from the perspective of how I view the world and how I think it several processes should be run in the world.
6. Being Indian: The identity I conceal: Being an Indian is an identity I conceal. Because, the Indian I am is not the country of India whose capital is New Delhi, but a culture and tradition called India that spreads from Baluchistan to Assam, from Gilgit to Maldives. I don’t use India as my identity because people associate it with a country, and I don’t want that tag on me. I don’t believe in countries like India, Pakistan, Russia, China etc., just like I don’t believe in Nation-States like Ireland, Thailand, Poland, Deutschland, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikistan or Turkmenistan.
Finally: My Idea of India
The India I want to belong to is an India that is cultural and historical concept. I believe that all SAARC nations should come together to form a super structure like EU. This would be my India. Although my India would be something like RSS’s Akhand Bharat in land mass but that is where similarities between my India and RSS’s Akhnad Bharat end. My India would not force anyone to stay in its Union when they don’t want to stay in. The power should be decentralised from Centre and sent to States like in EU. In other words I want this Union to be similar to European Union. And it is very important that many things are changed for example I want both Punjabs and Bengals to be united, because they are one people with same linguistic and cultural background. I also want the states within states to be able to form their own identity, like demand for Vidharba, Gorkhaland or Chittagong Hills. There should be a mechanism to facilitate that. If some states want to form a sort of Union for closer collaboration and work like one nation they should be able to do it, for example Southern States of India forming a Dravidstan.