Is nationalism ever a force for good?

The lack of it can also be a problem.

JARED DIAMOND: What about nationalism for a country? Is it good or is it harmful? Well, that's like asking about self-confidence and ego strength for a person. If a person has confidence and ego strength, is that good or bad? You can have too much of it and it's harmful if you are so full of yourself that you ignore other people. If, on the other hand, you lack confidence and you depend upon other people for your own image, then you don't have the courage, you don't have the identity, you don't have the sentiment to deal with your own issues. With nationalism today, there are countries that seem to me that have a healthy nationalism. I regard Finland, a country that I love as having a healthy nationalism based on reality.

The Finns speak the Finnish language. Nobody else in the world speaks the Finnish language. It's a beautiful, but very difficult language. It's the root of Finnish national identity. The Finns have a national epic, the Kalevala, in the Finnish language. And every Finn can recite the Kalevala, Of Americans and English people can recite Shakespeare. So the Finns have a healthy national identity focused on their language, their culture, and also their history, and what they've been able to overcome. There are countries that have excessive national identity. There are for example, people who would regard Germany during the 1930s during the Hitler era, as having had excessive national identity. Today, it seems to me that Germany has a healthy national identity.

Germany's national identity is not based on going out and conquering the world and acquiring [INAUDIBLE],, but recognizing that there are wonderful things about Germany that distinguish Germany from other countries. German's long history with the German language, the language of Martin Luther, that unifies Germans Protestants and Catholics, the government support for the arts in Germany, the emphasis on the importance of the community in Germany as opposed to the rights of individuals. In the United States and Los Angeles, anybody can build a house with any architectural plan that you like. And so there's no attractiveness to neighborhoods. In Germany, there is attractiveness in the neighborhoods. So it seems to me that Germany has a healthy national identity today. It did not in the 1930s. Chile has a healthy national identity. After Chile recovered from the trauma of a military government in 1990.

When a democratic government came back, it would have been so obvious for the democratic government to try to take revenge on the military government's leaders who had tortured and killed so many Chileans. But the first speech by Chile's new democratic government in 1990 was that he wanted to build a Chile for all Chileans, a wonderful expression. That's real national identity. A Chile for all Chileans means a country where the tortured and their relatives can live together with the torturers. It sounds terrible, but that's the only way that Chile could get out of the horrors of their military government. But that depended upon Chileans having a sense of national identity that transcended the horrible things that had happened in Chile.

  • Nationalism isn't always a bad thing. When a country doesn't have self-confidence, and a collective sense of identity, that is also a problem.
  • The optimal situation, in the case of nationalism, is that a nation's citizens have a healthy amount of it. For instance, as Jared Diamond points out in this video, Finland seems to have a nationalism based in reality — and largely founded on their unique language. It imbues them with an innate pride but doesn't compel them to conquer the world.
  • Also, nationalism that is used to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, can help a nation transcend its darkest moments.


3 ways to find a meaningful job, or find purpose in the job you already have

Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.

Videos
  • Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
  • There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
  • "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Keep reading Show less

Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Keep reading Show less

UPS has been discreetly using self-driving trucks to deliver cargo

TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.


PAUL RATJE / Contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
  • UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
  • TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.
Keep reading Show less