Connexions Quotations

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Nationalism and Self Determination

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
- George Orwell

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
- Howard Zinn

The fallacy of national ‘self-determination’ The hidden meaning, the real essence, of the slogan ‘the right to self-determination’, is the belief that it is neither possible or desirable for two or more ethnic or language groups to live together in one country. I cannot imagine a more pessimistic and less socialist point of view.
- Ulli Diemer

In the real world it is rarely possible to draw political boundaries that correspond with nationality. Nearly every nation-state and aspiring nation-state contains its own national minorities with conflicting nationalist claims on the same territory.
These national groups are usually intermingled and intermarried, sharing the same physical territory, the same cities and towns, the same streets, the same bedrooms...
As a result ‘self-determination’ for the majority frequently amounts to denying minorities their ‘right to self-determination’.
- Ulli Diemer

Nationalism is an infantile disease, it is the measles of mankind.
- Albert Einstein

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
- George Orwell

The nationality question... cannot be settled by the use of some vague cliché, even such a fine-sounding formula as “the right of all nations to self-determination”. For such a formula expresses either absolutely nothing, so that it is an empty, noncommittal phrase, or else it expresses the unconditional duty of socialists to support all national aspirations, in which case it is simply false.
- Rosa Luxemburg

There will be no annexation of ourselves or our territory to an independent Quebec without our consent. There is an obvious and undeniable logic here: If Quebec has the right to leave Canada, then certainly the Cree people have the right to keep our territory in Canada, if that is our choice. We cannot simply be traded from country to country, as though we are livestock in a field... Consider this: Cree Territory is contiguous with the Northwest Territories, Ontario, and Labrador. It was added to Quebec only very late, only in 1912, and Quebec only began to administer the territory in 1963. In fact, in 1993 the Government of Quebec held a celebration called Thirty Years in the North.
- Matthew Coon-Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec

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To learn more about Nationalism and Self-Determination, explore the Connexions Subject Index Nationalism page and the Self-Determination page.