"Nationalism: seeing the future as the past" (Prof. Samuel Moyn)  
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The past as the future

I think it was Friedrich Nietzsche who said that man would rather have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose. ["Normal"] people seem unable to create anything, so they must find their purpose ready made or face the void. The past to the rescue!

People who cannot imagine anything worth living to create can often enough look into the past and find ancesrtry to die remembering. This can either be heroes whose glory they decide needs to be carried forward by the living (example here), or victims of injustice whom they decide need justice. That none of these people are alive any longer and so likely are beyond being affected by the doings of the living, or yes then what they migh want, is not noticed. The dead live in these people's impoverished imaginations as their future. Herewith some liness from a hymn we sang in Chapen in St. Paul's Illiberal Day Carcel for pubsecent male virgins except-for-omerta-sanitary-services-for-jocks; in all fairness, the hymn does advocate this for the cause of brotherly love not sectarian aggrandizement:

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
And blest would be their children's fate,
If they, like them should die for thee:
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!

Disclaimer: It is easy for me (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) to not be seduced by ancestor worship becasue I never felt any of my ancestors, including my parents, were worthy of worship or of much of anything else honorific. My parents reared me not raised me; they wasted my life. And the one blood relative who did something I have found worthy of respect I only found out about whrn I was 50 years old, and I respect what he did not for familial but for world-historical reasons. I would feel the same if he wa no more related biologically to me than a Martian (See here). Had my mother persisted in not dying when she did, she would likel have made my less-than-life even worse. My father's father had tried to blackmail him to get part of his paycheck. But I should not be too hard on them: they were products of a defective country: The United States of America (dba: "The American Dream").

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