The nation is a love story. At least this is how governments would like to have it because love for the nation is necessary to rule. To that end, governments have several ‘romantic’ devices to persuade. All governments use a range of national narratives imbued with emotional vigour and tantalising myths. At the time of writing, right-wing politicians are winning elections with the help of highly populist, almost hysterical themes such as ‘making America great again’, the winning campaign slogan of Donald Trump in the United States. These are the siren songs of (psycho-)nationalism. They are engineered to be persuasive enough to assail and conquer the cognition of the populace. Whether in Asia, Africa, America or Europe, one is continuously enticed to believe in the beauty of the nation. For example, in Britain the word ‘Britannia’ started as the Roman designation of the British Isles before it metamorphosed into a heroine of the seas in Elizabethan England and the emblem of the naval prowess of the British Empire two centuries later. Today, the idea and symbolism of Britannia has lost some of its meaning. Embattled as a national icon, much in the same way as the idea of Britain itself, the ideational stamina of Britannia has been affected by the historic vote to exit the European Union in June 2016 in the name of national sovereignty, which has led Welsh and Scottish nationalists to question the idea of the United Kingdom once again because they adhere to their own romanticised national myths. The point is that in the familial language of (psycho-)nationalism, in the United States, Britain and elsewhere, the nation is routinely represented almost like an irresistible muse, a siren song with distinctly emotional undertones. ‘God bless America’ – the target of such phrases is our state of mind and emotional habitat. My term ‘psycho-nationalism’ derives from such psychological dynamics. Government, the media, social networking sites, even popular culture in the form of soap operas and music have emerged as the primary carriers of the symbols of this emotive discourse. The target of these subtle forms of political manipulation is our mind and our emotions.
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