National interrelationships from the viewpoint of biologist

The objective needs of life and economics force the modern world to deeper and deeper integration. Globalization is visible for everyone.  The people of different colors in different parts of the world are proclaiming the similar moral values, watching the same films, enjoying the same music hits, admiring the same heroes, crying by the same love stories and smiling the same animated cartoons.    In the shops they are buying the same goods. For international communication they are learning and using the same English language.  The human mobility has made real Babylon from some Western countries. Therefore, the objective needs of co-existence of different nations seems should sent the ethnic problems to the far past of the tribal conflicts of aborigines. In addition, the multiethnic states, to maintain their integrity, are trying to reduce their ethnic tensions by its national politics, education and integration.

Unfortunately, the reality is sometimes quite different. Up to date national and ethnical problems are discussed in each pub, each blog, each political talk, each newspaper and TV channel. Usually both the essence and conclusion of these discussions are usually consisting in the statement that “ours” should defend against the growing pressure of “they”. Origin of these “theirs” and the cause or motivation of conflicts with they may be quite different – from invasion of Mexicans, Arabs, Russians etc… up to resistance against the pressure from Washington, Moscow, Brussel etc…  But “our” always try to dominate over “they” independent of its position. A characteristic historical illustration. In the former Austrian-Hungarian empire the Hungarian people devotedly battled against Austrian dominance and introduction of German language in Hungary. As soon as they have get independency, to ensure power and unity of the state, they hungatrized the non- Hungarian majority of the country, which in turn induced separatism of this non-Hungarian population. Later in the countries established at the territory of broken Great Hungary  (Rumania, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia and other countries),  the Hungarian, as well as German, Bulgarian and other national minorities were banned, their ownership was confiscated, and even their villages were renamed.  Deportation of Jewish minority from these countries was finished by its holocaust.  Therefore, the suppressed nation, immediately after getting freedom, tended to suppress other minorities.  

There is no country without problems with its minorities or neighbouring nations. If the country would like to be stable, it must solve these problems. But their solution first requires the understanding of their origin. These problems are principally similar in each country independently of origin, mentality, age, education of its population and even on its economic and political system. Politics, according to their current interests, could only either suppress the national instincts of their countrymans or on the contrary to use they to promote tensions and even patriotic war between the nations. But none country was able to eliminate national problems completely yet. It indicates, that the primary causes of these problems are not economic, social, educational, moral or political, but they have deep, probably biological roots. The source of indestructible national instinct is difficult to explain rationally. Nevertheless, it is necessary to do because its existence and expression can jeopardize the interrelationships between people and even peace and existence of whole country and even humanity.

As a biologist, I should state, that we are more animals than we have learn in the school and church, whose have try to refuse or to suppress the expression of our animal instincts.  To decline their existence means to tell a lie to ourselves concerning origin of our behavior.  Each living being has two basic characteristics whose are well documented – (1) hierarchic organization of the social interrelationships and (2) favor and guarding of his genes in competition with other ones. I believe, these two features could explain still unexplained expression of the national instinct.

The human social and national hierarchy is the expression of general hierarchy of all living beings, which is a basis of Darwinian natural selection. This hierarchy enables recognition, dominance and surviving of the successful individuals, their groups, genotypes and way of life. Each individual (including us) subconsciously respects and try to mimic or to use other individuals, whose he finds successful and spit upon individuals whose he considers as not successful.  That’s why many Americans find amazing English accent or French language, but not African languages.  People emigrated to USA or Germany from the poorer countries learn English or German gladly and successful, but only few US or German people working in these countries try to speak domestic language.   Hierarchy of languages is especially good visible by contacts of three and more cultures. This hierarchy could be illustrated by languages used in Abkhazia, the former autonomic republic of Georgia, which in turn was a part of Soviet Union with Russian as an official language.  Each Abkhaz was able to communicate Abkhazian, Georgian and Russian.   Georgian ignored Abkhazian but learned and used Russian. Russians did not learn any domestic language.  Therefore, acceptation and respect to other culture and language depend on its hierarchical position in human imaginations, whether it is considered as more advanced (dominant) or less advanced (subordinated and therefore not useful) as the own culture.

Language is only one of the possible tools for communication, and the selection of particular tool does not influence too much its final usefulness.  Latin, German or Japanese language is not poorer than the English one. Languages of smaller nations are not poorer than the dominant languages. For example, language of Eskimos has more synonyms for indication of the snow color than any other language. But why language is so important for people or national self-determination and self-evaluation?

The majority of the modern, even multinational, multicultural, states are formed at the basis of one dominating language. The minorities should either fight an autonomy and independency or lose their language. Despite visible benefits of integration, a number of states was disintegrated on smaller states with their own languages. Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Mongolian, Spanish, Portugal, French, British and Soviet empires, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and other multinational states provided more stability and wealth for all their inhabitants under the governance the dominant culture, than the forthcoming smaller, weaker and poorer states. But despite their benefits, these empires belong to history now.   Trend to disintegration and national independency we can watch not only in Africa, where the formation of nations and national states has not been completed yet, but also in stable Europe.

Human history is full of bloody wars between the nations although the writer F.M. Dostojevsky claimed, that any, even very right and noble idea is not of worth of even one teardrop of the child. Why so much bloodshed for national idea? Is national culture and language is really worth of so much toll of life and material losses? What is the sense of these victims?

I believe, the people don’t fight for language and national customs per se. The role of national language and culture is much more important than the instrument of communication. They are the external indicators and symbols of common origin and genetic relatedness of particular group of individuals.

It is a time now to turn to the next biological rule – necessity to protect and to defend the own genes in competition with foreign genes. People, like other living beings, aware or not aware are following dictate of the own genes to protect and to defend they.  The normal women would do everything to save the own child. She would like to scarify less for child of far relatives and even less – for not related child. Did you think why?  Each large multinational city has visible or invisible Harlem, Brighton beach, Chinatowns etc. whose are characterized my immigration and concentration of one particular nation or race and gradual emigration of other inhabitants.   Did you think why?

To my opinion, the answer is simple – what previously was named as “call of blood” and today – genetic relationships.  We are not able to watch genes, but we can recognize “ours” according to their language, looks, behavior and national traditions. In addition to language and culture, sometimes parents, politics and mass media help to distinguish “ours” and “foreigners”. Anyways, natura has encoded us first to take care to our own family, then to families of relatives, then to your nation and country, thereafter – to rest of humankind and sometimes only thereafter – to other unknown living beings, ecosystems and whole Earth. This hierarchy of values is forced by self-protection of our genes and their preference over the “foreigners”. Furthermore, genes try to expand themselves and to use the available natural resources as much as possible. Furthermore, they try to prevent the use of these resources by the concurrent “foreign” genes.

On the other hand, not all “foreign” genes could be concurrent: some successful genes and individual could be useful. In this case our genes would not fight against such successful “foreigners”, as it was mentioned in part concerning hierarchy. Sometimes it is more helpful to use “foreigner”, to learn from him the secrets of his success and to take from him everything, what could be useful for “ours”. Sometimes living under governance of more developed and successful can bring visible benefits – no need to develop himself, to manage his life, to take responsibility. If something would go worse, you may complain not to yourself, but to the leader. And when it would not be required more, you may ban him and to confiscate his ownership. Genetic competition.   

National spirit and his positive and negative consequences – love to family, patriotism, nationalism and xenophobia are difficult, but necessary to control.  I believe, the two biological laws, hierarchic organization of the social interrelationships and favor, guarding and protection of his genes in competition with other ones, can help to understand the source of national instinct.  These conclusions could not be always pleasant for the reader and for myself.  Nevertheless, the nature does not require our understanding and agreement with anything what it makes by means of us. For it is all the same, whether its efforts correspond our moral, social and geopolitical imaginations, interests and conventions.  For it is important to maintain reliable and efficient the permanent cycle of life.  This process requires expansion and competition of genes. That´s why he provided us with numerous instincts including the national one.

What can we do with this instinct, which is not rational and sometimes makes so much problems and crimes? Nothing at all. As with any other instinct. One should understand and accept it as each natural low. To take it into account, if it makes good for family and motherland and not jeopardize other genes, people and nations.  Any try to be objective, not xenophobic, tolerant and empathetic to everybody.  Everything is returning to us, both good and bad thoughts and actions.  But what about historical rightness?  A number of Slavonic workers have do their best to build Empire State Building, but nobody remembering they now, and all the glory belongs to its architect, Anglo-American William Frederick Lamb. Let´s be satisfied, that without cooperation between Slavs and Anglo-Americans this building would not stay, and now a whole world knows it.

By:
Prof. Dr. Alexander VSirotkin PhD., DrSc

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