Orwell's Notes on Nationalism and... Metafilter October 7, 2002 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm re-reading Orwell's Notes on Nationalism and I couldn't help thinking of Metafilter- more inside
posted by Summer to MetaFilter-Related at 9:26 AM (18 comments total)

I'm sure lots of people here have read it, but it struck me that, although it was written in 1945 you could replace a few key words and it would exactly describe the sort of discourse you get on Metafilter (and lots of other places). This bit in particular struck me:

Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.

I'm posting this here because the entire essay made me stop and think -- about my own conduct as well as others' -- and I was wondering if it would make anyone else feel the same.
posted by Summer at 9:29 AM on October 7, 2002

Gosh Summer, thanks!

No, I don't feel that way.. I certainly hope I'm not like that, and I haven't noticed a disproportionate effect along those lines at metafilter. To some degree it exists, I'm sure, as it does in every circle.
posted by Hildago at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2002

it's true that there's a lot of useless argument on metafilter (if i can so conjecture the connection made here). so it goes online. it's one of the few places on this earth where argument could be considered a hobby.
posted by moz at 9:42 AM on October 7, 2002

Things aren't as bad as in Orwell's time - I don't think there are any defenders of Stalin or Mussolini or their modern equivalents on Metafilter, and the internet makes it difficult to ignore painful facts - but the habit of mind is the same. Everything is seen in terms of prestige for one group or another. Identification with a group will lead you to illogical conclusions, will direct your opinions and will make you both defensive and aggressive and abusive. Why do you think I/P threads get so many comments?

Everyone who participates in debate of any kind should read NoN at least once a year IMO.
posted by Summer at 10:02 AM on October 7, 2002

I'm completely fair even when arguing with hardcore Dittoheads.

Denial = river?

Does arguing in the two party system (and between stereotypical liberal/conservative) usually get us anywhere?

(Plastic is better for hamsters, while this is better for humans.)
posted by Shane at 10:37 AM on October 7, 2002

i think it would be very easy for a "nationalist" to read that article and think it applied to everyone but themselves.

perhaps it's better to ask "how does this apply to me?" rather than "does this apply to me?"
posted by andrew cooke at 11:10 AM on October 7, 2002

Plastic for hamsters?

posted by matteo at 1:03 PM on October 7, 2002

Plastic for hamsters?
Heh! And plastic for plastic hamsters.
posted by Shane at 1:49 PM on October 7, 2002

Please note that the above link to Stupid.com is "... not just a toy. It is a metaphor... It seems we spend all our days hopelessly trying to make progress, only to find ourselves right back where we started. Sigh." ; )
posted by Shane at 1:57 PM on October 7, 2002

What's your point Smart Dalek? Anything to do with the topic of this thread?
posted by Summer at 3:06 PM on October 7, 2002

my unit is getting the best of your unit.
posted by quonsar at 3:35 PM on October 7, 2002

Summer I have no qualms discussing my opinion with another nationalist, Meta-Filter-member. Yet a stranger, not a member here would have to go find his own state of mind to argue.

Thanks now I'm left to ponder this quote:
among English intellectuals, it(nationalism) is a distorted reflection of the frightful battles actually happening in the external world, and that its worst follies have been made possible by the breakdown of patriotism and religious belief.

I have a faith but no religion, I love my country, but I do love other countries' people & cultures.

Tolerance for others, is this what your implying here Summer?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:59 PM on October 7, 2002

Shane, I actually bought that toy for my cat-loving 9-year-old....I don't think she saw it as a metaphor.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:13 PM on October 7, 2002

Summer, the Burgess quote was analogous to MeFi/MeTa, much like your Orwell reference. The allusions toward "devilish technology of oppression", "contest between man and state...defeat...humiliating and total" should've been dead giveaways.

"Gibbering humanoid?" Oh, that's right, I'm a dalek.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:26 PM on October 7, 2002

MetaFilter: Devilish technology of oppression.
posted by Danelope at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2002

Tolerance for others, is this what your implying here Summer?

No, just a bit of self-awareness and intellectual honesty. It would be nice if people (as Andrew Cooke says, everyone's guilty) would just sometimes step back from themselves, see their bias and admit that their arguments are distorted. Both for mefi's sake and our own.
posted by Summer at 2:58 AM on October 8, 2002

Summer I almost added to my comment, if I can remember correctly Tolerance is like the saying about, love, you must love yourself first to love others. So if your not tolerant to yourself well how could others tolerate you too. Well something like that but you got me;)
I like your post it was deep. \!!!/hang loose
posted by thomcatspike at 2:25 PM on October 9, 2002

« Older Newsfilter!   |   UI issue in MeFi search Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments