Nationalism is understandably alluring.
As humans, our natural instinct is to be tribal. We are a social animal. As a social animal we instinctively seek out what holds us together as a tribe.
Imagine this situation. You live in a tribe where crops are good, but not quite as they were. Some people are not happy, others content enough. There is a tribal power struggle.. Perhaps the previous elder has died, but there are multiple potential leaders. You want to be the tribal leader.
You want power.
A – You could just go out and kill all of the rivals. This would be a great show of strength, but is potentially divisive as some families within the tribe may become enemies and weaken your position.
B – Perhaps then, the idea is to demonstrate how you are an animal of reason. Banking on other tribe members being able to understand the long game you reorganise crop growing in the hope that you can demonstrate how the tribe can be successful with thought and planning. Some of the tribe struggle to understand this long view and are becoming frustrated.
C- Another path may be to explain to the tribe that crops are in fact failing badly, more than they really are. More than this, it is a neighbouring tribes fault. You tell the tribe that the others have no crop problems because they have taken advantage. Many tribal members begin the believe that there is a crop shortage. You promise to pull all of the tribe together to fight.
Which of these would better pull the tribe together as one?
Both B and C are positions taken up by politicians. It does not matter that this is a tribe from any point in time, its political. Both liberals and conservatives have opted for C, either in trade deals or war.
History shows that identifying the other works very well in pulling a tribe together. Tribe B quickly becomes overpowered because C has rejected reason. History also shows the outcomes.
Whatever the emblems of the tribe, be it a flag, tattoo or whatever, it’s all the same.
In the political world….. C is for cheap (and easy).