Tag Archives: nationalism

Jorge Luis Borges

El más urgente de los problemas de nuestra época (ya denunciado con profética lucidez por el casi olvidado Spencer) es la gradual intromisión del Estado en los actos del individuo; en la lucha con ese mal, cuyos nombres son comunismo y nazismo, el individualismo argentino, acaso inútil o perjudicial hasta ahora, encontrará justificación y deberes.

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Nuestro pobre individualismo’, in Otras inquisiciones, Buenos Aires, 1952

C. D. Broad

This gigantic tome (it is of about the same size as a volume of the Encyclopædia Britannica in the ordinary edition) contains Boseovich’s chief work in Latin with an English translation on the opposite pages. The text is that of the Venetian edition of 1703, the translation has been made by Mr. J. M. Child. Dr. Branislav Petronievie of the University of Belgrade provides a short life of Boscovich and Mr. Child writes an introduction in which he states and explains the main outlines of Boscovich’s theory of nature.

The expenses of publication have been partly met by the government of the new kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. So far as I am aware, this is the only instance on record in which one of the succession states of the late Austrian empire has done anything which can be counted to its credit. It is a little pathetic that patriotic Jugo-Slavs should have had to take Boscovich as their leading representative in Science, for it is admitted that he left his native land as a boy and only returned to it once for a few months. He is said to have been acquainted with the Serbo-Croatian tongue, but he had the good sense to write nothing whatever in it. M. Petronievie makes the best of a bad job by saying that, ‘although Boscovich had studied in Italy and passed the greater part of his life there, he had never penetrated to the spirit of the language’. We may, perhaps, conclude that the Serbo-Croatian genius has not blossomed very freely in science when such a very indirect representative has had to be chosen for the purpose of patriotic ‘boosting’.

Setting these nationalist absurdities aside, we may say that Boscovich was undoubtedly a great man, and that it was well worth while to produce an edition of his works for the use of English readers. It seems a pity that the volume should be so extremely unhandy; it is better adapted to form part of a bomb-proof shelter than of a library. But the binding and printing are excellent. So far as I (who can make no claim to be an accurate Latin scholar) can judge, the translation is quite satisfactory. Mr. Child’s introduction is both interesting and helpful; and I am afraid that many readers will be tempted to read it and leave Boscovich’s own exposition to take care of itself.

C. D. Broad, Review of R. J. Boscovich, Theoria philosophiae naturalis, Mind, vol. 32, no. 127 (July, 1923), p. 374

Jeff McMahan

It is arguable […] that a further effect of our partiality for members of our own species is a tendency to decreased sensitivity to the lives and well-being of those sentient beings that are not members of our species.

One can discern an analogous phenomenon in the case of nationalism. It frequently happens that the sense of solidarity among the members of a nation motivates them to do for one another all that—and perhaps even more than—they are required to do by impartial considerations. But the powerful sense of collective identity within a nation is often achieved by contrasting an idealized conception of the national character with caricatures of other nations, whose members are regarded as less important or worthy or, in many cases, are dehumanized and despised as inferior or even odious. When nationalist solidarity is maintained. in this way—as it has been in recent years in such places as Yugoslavia and its former provinces—the result is often brutality and atrocity on an enormous scale. Thus, while nationalist sentiment may have beneficial effects within the nation, these are greatly outweighed from an impartial point of view by the dreadful effects that it has on relations between nations.

I believe that our treatment of the severely retarded and our treatment of animals follow a similar pattern. While our sense of kinship with the severely retarded moves us to treat them with great solicitude, our perception of animals as radically “other” numbs our sensitivity to them, allowing us to abuse them in various ways with an untroubled conscience. We are not, of course, aggressively hostile to them the way nationalists often are to the members of rival nations; we are simply indifferent. But indifference to their lives and well-being is sufficient, when conjoined with motives of self-interest, for the flourishing of various practices that involve both killing and the infliction of suffering on a truly massive scale and that go virtually unchallenged in all contemporary human societies: factory farming, slaughtering animals for food or to take their furs, using them for the testing of cosmetic products, killing them for sport, and so on. When one compares the relatively small number of severely retarded human beings who benefit from our solicitude with the vast number of animals who suffer at our hands, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the good effects of our species-based partiality are greatly outweighed by the bad.

Jeff McMahan, The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life, Oxford, 2002, p. 221

Fernando Iglesias

Los desastrosos resultados obtenidos por un país gobernado durante ocho décadas por dos grupos políticos fuertemente nacionalistas deberían hacer sospechosa la idea primitiva de que, cuanto más nacionalista es un país, más prometedor es su futuro.

Fernando Iglesias, La cuestión Malvinas: crítica del nacionalismo argentino, Buenos Aires, 2012, p. 21