If religion is a matter of individual choice, and religious symbols cannot be thrust on people, how can the same thing be done in the name of Nation-State! If I'm coerced to treat the symbols of a Nation-State as sacred, I reserve the right to question this state of affairs.
It's no treason, it's no sedition. It's not even disrespect towards a nation, or its symbols. It's a plain human urge; an urge to resist any compulsive entry into the realm of heart.
Deferential respect cannot be imposed, it's an act of volition, solely for one's heart to decide. In today's world when Nation-State has become an organised, sole supreme authority, akin to the religion of olden days, to decide on matters of legitimacy, has the time come to stand in defense of human freedom. Is it time for the collective human mind world-over, to think of new ideas and structures that can stop the Leviathan from trampling over the human freedom. Is it time to stand up against these newer forms of persecution. Do we require another Nietzsche to declare that the god, called nation-state, is dead.
Has yesterday's right turned into today's might. In a typical Hegelian dialectic, Nation-State can be placed as an anti-thesis to Imperial-Colonial order of global politics. At a time it became an instrument of freedom and unleashed the creative forces within different collectivities-of-people. But over a period of time this Nation-State construct turned into an instrument of anti-freedom, hence a search for another anti-thesis – an imperative of history as someone can put it. In the Introduction to Nations and Identities – Classic Readings, Vincet P. Pecora starts off the debate with that Augustine's famous response on the query about Time. Here is how the great mind explains, and refuses to explain, all at once. Augustine says: " If no one asks me.
I know; if I want to explain it to someone who does ask me, I don't know". This is where that thin line between knowing and not-knowing, between freedom and unfreedom lies. What a Religious Fundamentalist does is that he answers the question and insists that I also accept it as my answer to the question. Similar is the case with Nationalist Fundamentalists. They define a nation in concrete terms and insist that people be a part of that nationhood. Do it in the name of religion or nation, it's the fallacy of highest order. It will produce its own nemesis. With an avowed purpose of enhancing a nation, this behavior actually is an invitation to collapse. In the words of Pecora, "A nation state can assign itself a mission…., and pursue it, to the point of self destruction."
Are we coming closer to this point of self destruction. This is the question that is becoming increasingly relevant, and answers must be forthcoming. The only worry is, will those answers be produced in a calm atmosphere of global dialogue, or in an atmosphere of violent contestation.
If we care for human life and understand the historical urge of humans to resist all forms of coercion, then don't ask me to stand up, and don't ask me why you didn't stand up, when an anthem of a nation-state was played. Asking such question is the beginning of persecution, and human history is a history of fight against persecution.You praise God, you glorify a nation, you deify a personality, or you extol a tradition, you have no right to thrust it on anyone. Humans have resisted this persecution through different ideas, in different collective forms, and in the process created symbols of human freedom. As long as these symbols represent human freedom, they will invoke respect. The moment they morph into the symbols of unfreedom, humans will resist all attempts at deification of such symbols. Be it a constitution, flag, heroes, or anthems, or sacred texts; be it prayers, places of worship, or objects of worship. It will all turn into an anathema to human freedom.
Dr. Philipp Jakob Siebenpfeiffer's speech at Hambach festival, 1832, captures the human urge for justice and freedom. Eric Hobsbawm takes an excerpt from this speech and puts it as an epigraph to the chapter titled Nationalism, in his book The Age of Revolution. In the days when Germans were fighting to discover a long suppressed collective unity of theirs, Siebenpfeiffer gave voice to the mind of his times: " The day will come…..when sublime Germania will stand on the bronze pedestal of liberty and justice, bearing in one hand the torch of enlightenment, which shall throw the beam of civilisation into the remotest corner of the earth, and in the other the arbiter's balance. The people will beg her to settle their disputes; those very people who now show us that might is right, and kick us with the jackboot of scornful contempt." Here is another epigraph to another chapter of the same book, titled The French Revolution; "Soon the enlightened nations will put on trial those who have hitherto ruled over them. The kings shall flee into the deserts, into the company of the wild beasts whom they resemble; and Nature shall resume her rights."
Dividing humans in the name of nation-state, determining their relationship with the people of other nation-state, and putting curbs on their movement is not the way this world should continue to be. Nation-state is no sacred construct, it was crafted by humans. And time has come to dismantle it and have a new construct in its place. May be we can make a beginning by opening up the borders and relenting on this coercive imposition of national symbols, till a new idea appears on the horizon and Nature resumes her rights.