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‘People Are Not Born Nationalists:’ Who Benefits From the Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh

Nations are not born nationalists; the seeds of nationalism are planted by the system: through nonsensical and trite school poems, through imperious, punitive army xenophobia, whereby my whole life I've associated patriotism with the smell in the barracks.

“Turks must now be rejoicing!” the commander of our unit – a sick and corrupt man – would shout in a terrifying tone to the troop standing on the parade ground in the morning when announcing the suicide or murder of yet another soldier. Either that or he’d rain down obscene curses on the deceased, or call down an “offending” soldier, kick him and curse him, shouting “Turk! Take this Turk to the brig!” 

[Nationalism is spread through] gutless and banal national egotism and chauvinism in the media that creeps up on our conscience and subconscious daily, and outside of which the reality of the rest of the world, no matter what happens there, is irrelevant and can have nothing to do with our national reality. [Mass media] feeds the people daily with what seems to have become usual and essential hatred, xenophobia and militarism in both an obvious and concealed manner. As a result, national vanity and animosity squeeze out from the people’s heads their ability to think critically or simply remain human.

Who and why set this monstrous propaganda machine in motion? Who is interested in keeping the hatred and enmity, the flames of the war afire?

The answer is obvious for those who’ve managed to rid themselves of all educational propagandistic garbage: hatred and war is always instigated and dictated by national, supranational political and business elites and serves their own personal interests. 

Money and power, and nothing else. Money (safe storage of profits, new sources of profits, including those from the military industry or the military budget, multiplication of profits) and power (safe retention of power, reproduction of power, strengthening of power).  The pyramid is topped by the international hegemony – the US establishment, with its huge military-industrial complex, with the structures that operate under its dictatorship, the NATO, the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, and so on. The elites of the EU, China, Russia and other similar countries follow closely behind, and at the bottom of the pyramid are the elites of third world countries.

How does this work?

The legitimation of social inequality, the exploitation and oppression of the people by capitalism begets fair national counteraction, protest actions and revolutionary outbreaks. In order to weaken and curb such manifestations, the elites, which are petrified by the thought of possible democracy, constantly inject the poison, the drug of nationalism and xenophobia into the public. But from time to time, when the dose is not enough to dull the nation’s consciousness, elites resume wars, provoking the people’s lowest, animal instincts and burying sanity and basic humanity in nationalistic hysteria. 

(“Good news!” writes the spokesperson for the national elite, “we’ve taken down another tank!” And thousands of people rejoice in hysterical ecstasy of a murderous action.)

“What else is there to do? They’re shooting at us, occupying territories; shouldn’t we defend ourselves?”

Of course we should, but the challenge is to end the war, to rule out its flare-up, i.e., to eliminate all causes of war and hostility.  In order to do this, the wave of hatred and resentment should be directed not against the equally zombified by their political elites neighboring nation and ordinary soldiers (as planned by the elites and higher circles of the two countries), but against the single target worthy of such resentment – the national and supranational elites, the sole interested party in both the insane meat grinder that is the war and the social injustice. 
Yes, we should defend ourselves, but we should also work with tenfold zeal to target the sole responsible, the ruling elite, to constantly raise the issue and talk about it. Instead of calling for vengeance against ordinary soldiers, we must direct this anger against the real instigators of the war – the generals, the presidents, and the world elites manipulating their actions. 

If we fail to realize this, if we only engage in self-defense, we’ll remain the humble performer of the script that’s been drawn up for us at the top. Instead of making militaristic calls for revenge, we should think about the possible fraternization of Armenian and Azeri soldiers on the battlefield.