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TODAY, ONLY A NATIONALIST UNDERSTANDS NATIONALITY PROBLEMS | 2001-08-18

A Southern nationalist is not a person who wants to create a Southern Nation. A Southern Nationalist is one who wants independence for the already existing Southern Nation. No one can create a nation.

I am now in Russia, and all I know about the place comes from books. I doubt I will know anything much about it when I leave. But the simple sentences above make it possible for me to understand a lot of what Russians say about Russia.

In Eastern Europe, "nationality problems" are common. But to official Western opinion, a "nationality problem" just means a dispute over territory. In today's parlance, a nation is just a politically united piece of territory, not a living entity made up of a particular people.

In the real world, very few of the serious nationality problems are disputes over a piece of ground.

To understand what the conflicts and attitudes in Russia are, you have to be able to empathize with what a Russian means when he uses that word. To him, there are many non-Russians in Russia, and relations between Russians and non-Russians in Russia is an important part of life.

But what they call non-Russians speak Russian, have Russian citizenship papers, and reside inside the political unit designated on the map as "Russia." To a Western "intellectual," they are all equally "Russian."

If anyone disagrees, they pull out the big gun. They point out that anyone who says a particular culture and racial group constitutes a nation is anaziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews. This protects them from having any idea of what is really going on.

To many Americans, the Soviet Union was synonomous with "Russia." Our self-styled "intellectuals" made fun of this confusion.

But the "intellectual" point of view is the one I just discussed, where "nation" just means a piece of ground. That is at least as provincial as the one they make fun of. What is more, the "intellectual" approach is far more hopeless because professors cannot imagine that THEY could be provincial.

These self-styled intellectuals are a perfect illustration of Oliver Hardy's point that, "Nobody is as dumb as a dumb man who thinks he's smart." And nobody is as hopeless as a bunch of inbred academic bureaucrats who think they represent True Intellectualism.