Thinking about national identity

The ultimate mental power is that of ownership. Ownership allows for the suppression of anarchy, as it allows us to have trust in the control of our assets, and bring stability into societal life. Indeed, ownership is the highest political power, as it is our right to own our voice in a vote, which we use to collectively build the legal system, that secures our right to own everything else that we own, individually and collectively. By realizing that we are at the liberty of choosing whether or not to vote, we can see that ownership is always a choice of utilizing potential power, or not.

Collectively, citizens hold the ownership of their nationalities and maintain that ownership through working to defend their nation’s independence. Owning your nationality is the simple concept of being proud of your roots, and working to keep them alive. Everyone is from somewhere, so there is really nothing too special about taking ownership of your own nationality. All it requires is a realization of what, at whatever level, makes you want to own it.

What makes you want to vote? This is a path of thought for giving you a rationale for defending your nation’s sovereignty.

If you consider, for a moment, that ownership is a choice (as opposed to forgoing ownership, and not utilizing potential power), then you will see the apparent link between ownership and recognizing importance. If you choose to own something, then you will, at some level, be recognizing the importance of being able to hold whatever asset is in question. You will have had rationale for utilizing power. The perceived magnitude of the importance of the ownership is completely relative to the situation; owning a chocolate bar is important because you like chocolate, owning an apartment is important because you want to have maximum trust in your housing arrangement.

So, jumping back to nationality, if you find enough “national identity assets” that make you want to take ownership of your nationality (as opposed to not wanting to, forgoing the need to commit to the defence of sovereignty), then you will be recognizing the importance of being able to own your nationality. In practice, you will understand your rationale for wanting to maintain the independent status of your nation for, without independence, there would be no true national identity to own. Your rationale is, effectively, a personal valuation for national independence. You are putting weight behind your national sovereignty, in the form of reasons to defend it.

Of course, you are in full control of the subjective analysis process that is your own reasoning. Thus, to respect the personal control others have, as well, over their own reasoning, matters of national identity should be applied into conversation with maximal caution from above. While it is important, as messengers of and to the people, for politicians to set national brand standards, mostly through their own example of conduct and general habitus, then it is equally important for them to refrain from national brand dictation – the act of telling a population who they are and, worse, telling them who they should be.

The fact that everyone has a nationality should make it apparent that, when it comes to being from somewhere, everyone is on equal ground. Whether or not national identity has deeper meaning or is simply the basis of identification documents for transacting in life, is a matter of consideration that belongs to the citizen.

Everyone has their own thing for why they are proud (or not) of their roots, and everyone is at liberty to choose whether or not they want to take ownership of their nationality (or not). Commiting to national defence is a big choice that should not be imposed – it should be marketed. The best politicians can do is market “potential national identity assets” that might guide a citizen without a national cause to find one, and commit to national defence, but even that marketing should never be forced down someone’s throat – at least in any country calling itself ‘free’.

All activity in the thought space of national brand and identity, all considerations of the meaning of nationality, should be conducted with the utmost skill in diplomacy, respecting the sovereignty of other nationalities and all the individuals around the world making their own choices about whether or not to take ownership (or not) of their national brand.

My personal opinion is that national brands, as self-perceived through nationality, should be striven to be had in a broad ownership of citizens (as opposed to a narrow group), building a collective national identity from the bottom on up. A healthy diversity of positive opinions (those having taken ownership) on a national brand should make the national brand more resilient to external shocks, such as belligerent nations projecting national supremacy over others. If people are cognizant of “what their thing/s of importance is/are” (and respect others’ things) then the national defence mentality will not be easily corruptible by forces seeking to impose other mentalities.

A broad base of national brand ownership is where the construction of a believable national defence begins. A cadre of political leaders with the skills in diplomacy required to refrain from projecting national supremacy over citizens or other nations is beyond important. I think these are topics of consideration that our generation will be dealing with a lot, starting right now.