How To Create National Identity

(The state),”applies itself to loading everybody’s brain with prejudices, and everybody’s heart with sentiments favorable to the spirit of disorder, war, and hatred; so that, when a doctrine of order, peace, and comity presents itself, it is in vain that it has clearness and truth on its side; it cannot gain admittance.”

Frederic Bastiat

It is in the State’s interest, especially when trying to manage a unwieldy and geographically unnatural Republic, to develop in its citizenry a shared animosity towards a common enemy. This is especially true, when, as in America, all the other natural common ground is systematically tilled under. When the common ground of a shared faith, family ties, and local custom are tilled under then the common denominator that serves to hold a people together is their shared animosity towards the State conjured bogey man. During most of my lifetime the State conjured bogey man was the Soviet Union. I say it was State conjured because it was America’s policies that propped up the Soviet Union. All the US ever had to do was cease subsidizing the Russian communists in order to see them whither and die. Today the State conjured bogey man is a third world country like Iran.

It would be interesting if Americans could find enough in common to go on together as a people if they did not have a common enemy to rally against. The State, understanding this, has an interest to create enemies in order to create a shared national identity and purpose. This artificial creation of enemies also serves the State’s ends, because when successful, it is the State that the citizenry must look to in order to protect them from their shared enemy.

Once the State has convinced the citizenry that somebody out there is the enemy then it is nigh unto impossible to dispel that impression. This becomes especially so once Americans start sending their sons and fathers overseas to fight. To take up the argument that some State conjured bogey man is not really a threat to US national interests is to automatically call into question the wisdom and bravery of their soldiers and typically earns all kinds of lack of patriotic ardor opprobrium.

Let me say this as clearly as possible. The greatest threat to America is not the Muslims. The greatest threat to America is not the illegal immigrants. The greatest threat to America is not the Democratic party. The greatest threat to America is not the neo-cons. The greatest threat to America is a centralized government whose chief interests are to increase its size, perpetuate its existence, and create enemies against whom it will spill the blood of the citizenry in order to provide the glue the keeps otherwise disparate people glued together.