NOW SERVING Psychedelic Culture

Let’s Burn the Flags of All Nations


Why the end of nationalism is good for you

Let’s burn the flags of all nations
No more nation-states
No more patriotism
Try it, you’ll like it

Welcome to the post-national future
Coming sooner than you think

Because we’ve had enough of endless statements
Like this one by India’s Environment Minister:
“National interest trumps all else.”
Or this one by the President of Turkey:
“No one should test the power of the state.”
But why not test the power of the state?
Why does an abstraction come
Before the needs and desires of real people?
What if there were no Israel, no China, no Indonesia?
No Iraq, no Iran, no United States?
Too radical for you?

Maybe you’d rather remain a glutton for punishment
Continue swallowing non-negotiable declarations such
as the following:”No government allows any organization to intervene in
its internal affairs.”
That’s a Thai government spokesman in 2010
During the mass demonstrations in Bangkok
Rejecting the Red Shirts’ appeal for peace talks

But nation-states are not the same as countries
The Mayan or Amazonian or Tibetan people
Will get along perfectly well
Without an artificial nation-state to define them
Because countries don’t wage war, governments do
War presents itself as necessary for self-preservation
When in fact it’s necessary for self-identification

As long as we identify with nation-states
We know ourselves by what we oppose
Not by who we are
And who are we?

We are one
No need for separation
The only way to say it
We’re all one
All humans on the planet
Same heart, same mind, same eyes

Or would you rather turn a blind eye
To developments such as the following:
A Botswana judge has ruled that Bushmen
Who return to their ancestral lands
In the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Are not allowed to drill wells for water
This decision condemns them to having to walk
Up to 380 kilometers to fetch water
In one of the driest places on earth
However, tourists to the reserve
Staying at Wilderness Safaris’ new lodge
Will enjoy the use of a swimming pool and bar
While Gem Diamonds’s planned mine in the reserve
Can use all the water it needs on condition
None is given to the Bushmen
Bushman spokesman Jumanda Gakelebone said,
“If we don’t have water
How are we expected to live?”

No human illegal
No more national borders generated out of fear
Out of a total failure of trust
Arbitrary fictions laid down on the landscape
In reality they don’t exist
And if you believe they should, tell me this
What of all those who came before
Swearing fealty to other flags at the cost of their lives?
Down through history conquerors, pillagers, colonizers
Who are we to claim this land–any land–is ours?
Go back far enough and we’re all illegal immigrants

But things are different now
It’s dawning on us why we’re here
We’re here to change our presence on this earth
Release the stranglehold of the nation-state
Find our way to true community
By trusting–can we do that?–ourselves and each other
Living democracy in real time rather than in a voting booth

No more nationalism
Cloud clover for demogogues and racists
America-firsters (or Russia-firsters, etc.)
What are they afraid of?
That they’ll melt into all us other humans?
But that’s exactly what’s happening, like it or not
Reality of the Internet, everyone alive today our IP
Floating in space
Just like the planet

No more nation-states benefiting those in power
Mimicking individual egos in combat Battling for vanishing resources, for territory,
Using the sentimental hook of tribal identification to maintain order
What’s called “The United States of America” a rank
“Russia,” “Myanmar,” “Nigeria,” and on and on
Hallucinations generated for profit and control
For suppression of the human spirit

But the human spirit knows no boundaries
No ID cards, no cradle-to-grave oversight
It’s time to step outside of the trance
Walk among the trees, listen to the birds
Do you think they belong to something called the
Do they fall in line behind “Old Glory?”

…And ain’t it strange, hundreds of old glories across
the globe
Each meant to be defended to the death
Tears streaming down the faces of deluded patriots
(The chips were installed at birth)
Who drop their flag only to pick up a weapon
And murder those unlucky enough to be holding a
different flag
Fiction, trance, rank hallucination

Yes, it’s against the law to burn the American flag
And how many other flags around the world
192 member states of the United Nations
From Afghanistan (when will we ever learn?)
To Zimbabwe (the less said the better)
Outmoded nationalism, we’re outgrowing it
No more electrified fences lit by floodlights of paranoia
No more making the nation-state safe for surveillance

But here’s some magic for you
Burn any of those 192 flags and before you’re arrested
You’ll see one of the wonders of the natural world
The ashes will form a spiral opening out to the stars
Cotton and rayon and nylon and polyester
Released at last from their symbols
Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself

No more patriots marching under
One or flag or another, heads held high
Legitimizing a myth of separation
The myth that we humans who started
As a single band in the prehistoric night
Now can only act from our differences
Beating our chests, teary-eyed
In a futile attempt to retrieve
Long-lost trust and solidarity
Rationalizing mayhem and extermination
Forgetting who profits from separation
The corporate, political, and military leaders
Of fictional entities founded in our name

Let’s burn the flags of all nations
Either join together or the human experiment dissolves
In a flaming brew of war and environmental disaster
The curse of nationalism
Everyone stuck in their own cultural narrative
A cage rather than a playground

It’s time to open gates, tear down fences, shred
Roam wherever we like
Along rivers and mountains without end
Because we ourselves are those rivers and mountains
Our lock-tight identities due for game-changing
Here and now time to exhale
We’re all one

No human illegal
Mexicans, Guatemalans, whoever else is out there
Let them come, let them swarm over Gringostan’s
What are we afraid of, that they’ll find out what we’re
really like?
Afraid they’ll compromise the American way of life?
But what is the American way of life?
Everything for sale
Every last one of us prostitutes, hustling something
Methamphetamine trailers lighting up the high plains
Strip malls from sea to shining sea
All for another slice of virtual pizza
While the other nation-states are busy copying us

But these campesinos
Why are they stampeding across our borders?
If their local, village-based mode of survival
Were still functioning after corporate capital’s
After the bait-and-switch called Free Trade
After the drug violence fueled by our cocaine habit
Do you really believe they’d leave families and ancestral
For a life of drudgery in the icy heart of the North?

Can you imagine what those who’ve risked their lives
To cross the border are thinking
As they clean our toilets and mow the lawns
Outside our cheesy McMansions
While we sprawl in the family room
Sucking up doses of radiation from our plasma screens?
Hey, that’s not me, man: I’m not watching TV. I’m
fixated on my new iPad. I’m pecking away at my
Blackberry, dude. I’m cheering myself hoarse for the
home team while the world burns…

What if, on the contrary, these campesinos secretly envy
What if they want their deracinated children
To grow into big-time consumers just like us?
What if they can’t wait until their children
Turn into dark-skinned versions of our tight white
Dios Mio…

And democracy, our claim to fame
Time for a reality check
We don’t live in a democracy
Voting means getting lost in make-believe
As soon as more than ten thousand people are involved
Approximate size of the polis in ancient Greece
Where citizens encountered one another face to face
Knew their strengths and foibles
Knew the skeletons in their closets
Their families and ancestors

Whereas in modern mega-states
Do we know who represents us?
Fantasies concocted by spin doctors and handlers
If you doubt it (and have enough pull)
Approach the leader of any nation-state
It doesn’t matter what their politics are
The only question is
How deep into trance is this person?
Wave your hand in front of the face
Watch the eyes light up
When you say you’ll vote for it
Watch the eyes go cold
When you say you won’t

Only local democracy is real
When allowed to function, that is
Living democracy of community movements
Farmers in Africa planting trees on barren land
Cooperative ventures worldwide

While left and right, socialist and capitalist
Two sides of the same grabby coin
Solidifying the delusion that we get somewhere
Only at the expense of others
And–haven’t you noticed?–the game is never won
Over the centuries always a sense
Of impending emergency, of corruption and betrayal
The open field of existence
Tricked into gigantic hoardings of mine and yours

The question is
Do we have what it takes to clear the deck
And work out a new way of life
The planet is calling to us in a voice louder than politics
Sweeter than vested interests
Can you hear her?
She’s asking for change
That’s the only reason astronauts were allowed up in
To see a global intelligence unfolding
A vast gathering of ecologies
One flowing into the next
Rivers and mountains without end
To see that we’re all one
Humans and plants, animals and spirits, sky and ocean

No more nation-states
No more patriotism
Try it, you’ll like it


Image: Flag of Flags by garryknight, courtesy of Creative Commons License. 

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