Yuval Noah Harari on 'The Bright Side of Nationalism', at the Central European University | Summary and Q&A

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May 19, 2019
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Yuval Noah Harari
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Yuval Noah Harari on 'The Bright Side of Nationalism', at the Central European University

TL;DR

Nationalism, when harnessed positively, plays a crucial role in uniting and protecting nations; however, extreme forms of nationalism can lead to war and division. Global cooperation, built upon the foundation of nationalism, is necessary to tackle common challenges such as climate change and technological disruption.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why does nationalism play a crucial role in human societies?

Nationalism allows strangers, who share a common culture and nation, to cooperate and build large-scale systems like healthcare, education, and security. It creates a sense of unity and loyalty among citizens.

Q: What differentiates nationalism from tribalism?

Nationalism goes beyond the boundaries of intimate communities (tribes) by compelling people to care about strangers and places they have never met or visited. It enables cooperation on a larger scale and the development of complex social systems.

Q: How can nationalism contribute to global harmony?

Nationalism, when coupled with global cooperation, can ensure the safety and prosperity of individual nations within a harmonious global framework. By prioritizing national interests, while recognizing the importance of global problem-solving, nations can work together to tackle common challenges.

Q: Can nationalism help address environmental issues?

Nationalism, if coupled with an understanding of the interdependence between nations and ecological systems, can foster care for the environment. By recognizing shared ecological challenges, nations can cooperate in preserving the planet and its resources.

Q: Is there a contradiction between nationalism and globalization?

Nationalism and globalization are not mutually exclusive. Nationalism, when combined with global cooperation, allows for the protection of national interests within a larger framework. It is through global collaboration that nations can address common issues like economic inequality and climate change.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Nationalism emerged relatively recently in human evolution, allowing people to care about strangers and places they have never met or visited.

  • The importance and fragility of nationalism lie in its ability to compel individuals to prioritize the needs of strangers and the nation over their own kin or friends.

  • Extreme nationalism can lead to war and division, as seen in the past, but nurturing nationalism can foster unity, cooperation, and global harmony.

  • Balancing national interests with global interests is vital in addressing challenges like nuclear war, climate change, and disruptive technologies.

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