On Language Preservation, Culture and Blind Nationalism
A blog commenternamed PHguy prompted me to react on the following
issues: language preservation, culture, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, individualism and blind nationalism. You may view the commenter’s lengthy blog feedback here.
Here’s my somewhat lengthy reply:
Thank you for your generous compliment. I am glad if some, or a few, of my blog posts somehow made a dent in your belief system or understanding of things.
You asked me to comment on this:
“I am currently a strong supporter of linguistic and cultural preservation which many existing sovereignties are suppressing at some point with varying degrees of enforcement with the Philippines being one of the best examples. As a staunch Objectivist, what is your take on this issue?”
First off, I actually don’t buy the idea that language, or cultural language, should be enforced by institutions for its maintenance or preservation. My understanding of language is that it’s merely a product of man’s use and acquisition of knowledge, of culture, and of civilization. Of course, every locality, cultural group, nation, or civilization has its own distinct language. That’s given. But as human civilization progressed- as it gradually evolved with/over time- man achieved a new level of greatness or success.
A few thousands of years ago there were tens of thousands, if not millions, of diverse social/cultural groups, tribes, territories, kingdoms, etc. possessed with their own languages or dialects. This global ‘linguistic diversification’ was actually due to the state of primitiveness or lack of technology, which was a reality in the past. But as a number of societies and civilizations gradually progressed in terms of discovering knowledge and concepts, of creating new inventions, and of preserving valuable cultures and traditions, language also evolved and men were able to discover new cultures, languages and knowledge. History has it that many weak, non-competitive languages and cultures that failed to withstand the test of time PERISHED. This is what happened to the Sumerian empire and their language and culture.
After the fall of Greece Rome took the world stage with its own language and culture. But Rome embraced most of Greek cultures instead of rejecting them. The Romans knew and understood that the Greek culture was worth-preserving. They were not close-minded and ethnocentric. This somehow shows that the Romans implicitly believed that culture and language are “universal”; that there can’t be specific language or culture that should be or ought to be adopted by a specific society or tribe or social group.
The fall of Rome led to a new form of civilization in Europe. There were scientific discoveries; there were those who propagated what the Vatican City called “heretic knowledge”. Latin was the dominant language of the period. As the early scientists or knowledge-discoverers unearthed new knowledge, again, language and culture evolved. This development can be loosely compared to what we now call “improvement patents”. Men improved on the new discoveries and knowledge or inventions created and/or discovered by their predecessors. Those early knowledge or discoveries served as the BASE of new or later discoveries or innovations. This principle also applies to linguistics.
Then there was the New World. The fall of Britain and other European empires gave way to a “new world order” of Americanism. Yes, the Americans created a “new world order” founded on the principle of individualism or individual freedom.
First, there was the intellectual revolution that paved the way for the discovery of new concepts and application of the already discovered concepts (from the Greeks). Many historians and philosophers believed that America was founded on the philosophy of Aristotle, who first laid down the founding principles of individualism through his great, timeless philosophical works. Aristotle’s theory of universals defied that of his mentor Plato. While Plato advocated a communistic politics or principles, Aristotle believed in a society that respects or preserves individuality or individual rights.
John Locke, Thomas Paine, and the America’s founding fathers worked, or even improved, on the philosophy of Aristotle. The founding fathers concretized Aristotle’s political vision by founding the United States of America.
Second, there was the scientific revolution. There cannot be scientific progress without intellectual progress. This was the age of Newton, Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin and many other scientists of the age of enlightenment. The establishment of a society that respects individual rights (including property rights) provided a strong political and social support to the early scientific movement. For example, the political institution of Intellectual Property Rights encouraged– and protected– new scientific discoveries and inventions. My theory is that scientists from different parts of the world migrated to the United States because it was the only free country that respected property rights and IP rights. It was the only country that time that guaranteed man’s right to the fruits of his products and to his pursuit of happiness. The rest of Europe was excessively socialistic or statist. Great scientists are extremely individualistic; most of them are extremely selfish. Even Tesla, who described himself as a “humanitarian”, sued Marconi for stealing his radio patents. He was selfish for protecting his patent rights.
Third, there was the industrial revolution that paved the way for the actual, practical application of scientific knowledge discovered during the scientific revolution. Observe that industrial progress took place in countries that protected property and IP rights: USA and Britain.
Now, how is this related to language? The dominant language is actually defined, or dictated to, by the dominant culture and society. That’s the reality on earth. The lingua franca on planet earth is English because America dominates intellectual, scientific and industrial progress. English is the language of the Western Civilization. The English language is universally applied or used in every field or sector: the Internet, Aviation, academic, engineering, architecture, business, media, etc. So, America earned it. Let’s give it to them.
America won the “LINGUISTIC COMPETITION”. English is widely used not because laws or political decrees say so; it’s because it’s now becoming part of human survival. Nations are now forced to adopt or encourage the proliferation of English to gain global competitiveness. Schools and industries encourage the use of English because it is the lingua franca in the corporate world.
Language evolves with scientific and industrial developments. The society that dominates scientific and industry development has the power to enforce its own language. We need to adapt to global linguistic trends or perish. He who dominates science and technology dominates the world.
Here’s a related blog: https://fvdb.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/is-filipino-language-our-identity-to-hell-with-it/
and this Capitalism Rocks!
“If by argument of objectivism and inalienable rights of all human beings we say that nationalism is nothing but an abstract thought of altruistic delusion, should seeing individual identity (or human identity as a whole) based on an ethnic, cultural or linguistic paradigm be considered as moot as political nationalism or any ethnocultural-laden political movement? (e.g. Autonomy or secession for linguistic and cultural preservation / intactness).”
Nationalism should mean conscious, non-blind, intellectual understanding of one’s national identity. Blind nationalism is not just bad; it is evil. It is based on emotionalism and/or primitivism. One political theorist once said that “nationalism is a European invention”. The problem with that statement is that it was based on a GLOBALIST perspective. That man wanted to destroy the concept of nationalism to support his ‘globalist’ or expansionist theory and agenda. That man, a Muslim Arab, lamented the fall and quartering of the defunct Ottoman empire. He envisioned a single, powerful Islamic Caliphate not divided by any cultural or political barrier. Perhaps that man wanted a single-world Islamic dictatorship.
But conscious nationalism should mean you consciously admire the qualities and attributes of your nation because of its rational, practical, pro-man founding principles. Nationalism should not mean ethnocentrism or close-mindedness. Like the Romans, societies need to embrace the rational, practical principles or thoughts discovered by other societies if they’re to survive and to serve their members’ self-interest and welfare. That’s a rational thing to do.
Nationalism does not mean you need to adopt protectionist policies that would bar the entry or flow of foreign goods, services, talents, and ideas. This is a form of evil nationalism that can and will never support the interests of the people in the long run. In politics, close-minded, ethnocentric nationalism is actually SUICIDAL. One needs to ask: WILL IT SUPPORT OR SERVE MY INTERESTS IN THE LONG RUN?
Preference or choice is inherently part of man’s free will. We choose friends. We join organizations or groups that share our views or beliefs. Many people join or change religion. Why can’t we have our own nation? Many people migrate to other countries due to different reasons. According to recent surveys, many Chinese millionaires want to migrate to USA and Canada. Perhaps these wealthy Chinese admire the national qualities of Canada and USA. We ONLY LIVE ONCE. Our freedom of choice must be unabridged. If one wants to preserve and promote his national culture and language, then GO FOR IT. Promote it. But one does not have the right to force other people to agree with him or to help promote his views. That’s what individual freedom is all about.
I stated in a previous blog:
“But what is culture in the first place? Some clueless people say it’s part of our national identity, humanity, or personal attributes. This suggests that wherever we are and whatever our beliefs and convictions in life, we are forever attached, by law or social mandate, to our social culture. There’s no escape, they say. Once a Filipino, always a Filipino. Thus, you must blindly or consciously accept your national culture. Your personal convictions and beliefs no longer matter. They are immaterial. Your genes, your glands, your organs, your entire person and life are, whether you like it or not, part of our national culture, of social norms and traditions, and of the state. Why don’t these government-funded intellectual elites simply admit: “You are a property of the State.””
Here’s my view of LANGUAGE: Language as Tool of Destruction
You said: “Our political cohesiveness is only held by vague and hypocrite arguments of colonial heritage.”
I somehow discussed that issue here:
Philippine’s “Prophet of Disaster”: Salvador Araneta
As to CULTURE and TRADITIONS:
My socio-political views: