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What does it mean to be a member of a nation?

Narz

keeping it real
Joined
Jun 1, 2002
Messages
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What makes a person either part or not a part of a nation?

Is a homeless man who does not work or pay any taxes still as much of an American (assuming he lives in the US) and Mr. John Q. Public who happily pays the maximum amount of taxes he is required to and cuts no corners?

Sometimes I feel like I'm not a "true" American because I pay virtually no taxes. I have worked in my life largely off-the-books and have bought many of my belongings either from private owners or off the internet (tax free).

On the bus today there was an old lady arguing over a seat with a Hispanic man saying things like, "Go back to where you belong." and "I've paid my taxes for 35 years.". It seems to me that the unrecorded immigrants and countless non-Americans working for pennies overseas are one of the main reasons our lush Western lifestyle is even possible. It saddens me to hear (and see) the sterotype of Americans as self-centered and indifferent to the plight of others around the world and of the environment. As if our current lives would be possible without either.

I am grateful to live in the country I do (USA) but I would never fight and die for it and if some of the privladges and freedoms I have now started to be taken away I would leave with little regret.
 
Narz said:
What makes a person either part or not a part of a nation?
A passport.
Is a homeless man who does not work or pay any taxes still as much of an American (assuming he lives in the US) and Mr. John Q. Public who happily pays the maximum amount of taxes he is required to and cuts no corners?
Yes he is.
 
Hitro said:
A passport.

Yes he is.

I agree, but the first guy is still an idiot.
 
Narz said:
What makes a person either part or not a part of a nation?

Is a homeless man who does not work or pay any taxes still as much of an American (assuming he lives in the US) and Mr. John Q. Public who happily pays the maximum amount of taxes he is required to and cuts no corners?

It sounds like if you are not paying your membership dues, you are not a legitimate member of the organization. In this case, your dues are your taxes and community service and your organization is the US government. Why should someone else pay to put roads in front of your house? Pay for YOUR police and YOUR Fire Department? If a homeless guy IS doing things, he IS part of the organization. If you are NOT, then you are merely a person who is hiding in the back room sneaking cookies and cake away from the hard working people who ARE there.
 
It means nothing, i live in this country, pay what taxes i am obliged to pay and obey the law

Screw national loyalty
 
You could look at it the other way, along ethnic lines. Especially those peoples who have no state of their own, will think of themselves as the member of, say, the Kurdish nation (most prominent example).

If you're asking what does it mean to be a citizen, that's a more complex question, IMO. You can still be a citizen but not support it by donating years of your life in service...but then again, some people will have conflicting viewpoints.
 
searcheagle said:
It sounds like if you are not paying your membership dues, you are not a legitimate member of the organization. In this case, your dues are your taxes and community service and your organization is the US government. Why should someone else pay to put roads in front of your house? Pay for YOUR police and YOUR Fire Department? If a homeless guy IS doing things, he IS part of the organization. If you are NOT, then you are merely a person who is hiding in the back room sneaking cookies and cake away from the hard working people who ARE there.
Hey I get away with whatever I can and make no bones about it. I'm not hiding in any back room. I contribute when I feel it is appropriate but I certainly aviod mandatory taxation as much as possible. I'm certainly going to aviod funding the military machine if I can get away with it. Some of my money may go to good causes (library, public transport, police force, etc.) but most of it is wasted (war in Iraq, war on drugs, etc.).

If the roads get cracked and they have to legalize weed because they can't afford to keep all the potheads in jail, so be it.

I trust myself with the money more than Uncle Sam. ;)

My organization is not the US government. To paraphrase the popular phrase "I just live here".

I contribute in my own way. :)
 
What does it mean to be a member of a nation?

It means you live within that nations border and abide by its rules, and nothing else.
 
For me, since my etthic group is represented by 0.1% minority in my country of birth. Suppression of the majority, i guess.
 
What does it mean to be a member of a nation?

It means such a nation has a first-hand right to screw with you ;)

The state has no remorse to take things from you and no remorse to squander it. Why should you, for putting something extra on the side for yourself?
 
Narz said:
On the bus today there was an old lady arguing over a seat with a Hispanic man saying things like, "Go back to where you belong." and "I've paid my taxes for 35 years.". It seems to me that the unrecorded immigrants and countless non-Americans working for pennies overseas are one of the main reasons our lush Western lifestyle is even possible.
An excellent point and proof that the whole "I pay my taxes" is a very slim part of the story of citizenship :goodjob:.

Generally I feel this is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many variables. How about other contributions we make to our nations? Like:

- Cultural contributions: The Beat Poets paid very little in the way of taxes but they shaped US cultural identity (counter culture and then otherwise) in a massive way. People like Ginsberg and Kerouac were considered hobos, bums and druggies by most conservative US citizens, yet their contribution was significant.

- Inventions:
Related to but distinct from the above. Take John Logie Baird. His invention of the TV was not really taken up immediately in the UK. The BBC famously had cold toes over the whole idea of TV, fearing it to be a competitor to Radio. Yet Baird went over to the States and contributed greatly to their cultural, economic (advertising and consumerism) and scientific development. And he was Scottish! The same may be said for Nazi scientists who helped the US develop its Rocketry and Jet Plane technologies. Again, there people were not strictly classed as US citizens. Signs of globalisation in the form of a free flow of labour and knowledge - this puts a spanner in the works of identifying nationality and its meaning.

Other points worth considering IMO:

- A nation's identity changes over time: Take Gandhi. Now what it meant to be Indian when he was around was quite different to what it means now. His citizenship was characterised by a rejection of British commerce, politics and culture. Now Indians covet these qualities as an asset in their integration into the global scenario. Same may be said for Germany or the States or the UK.

- The Elite who mismanage:
What about a corrupt dictator who steals from the coffers of the national treasury? Can they be considered a member of that nation? Yet they are the head of the nation are they not? This also applies to people like Jeffery Archer in the UK. A Member of the Chamber of Lords yet a thieving corrupt little runt to boot. How does his citizenship measure up?

Plenty more but the main point is - it's too sticky to boil it down to whether someone pays taxes or not.
 
Minimum requirement : Acknowledgment and respect for the values and beliefs of the country, good knowledge of the language, willingness to integrate into the society.
Preferred requirement : Assimilation.
 
searcheagle said:
It sounds like if you are not paying your membership dues, you are not a legitimate member of the organization. In this case, your dues are your taxes and community service and your organization is the US government. Why should someone else pay to put roads in front of your house? Pay for YOUR police and YOUR Fire Department? If a homeless guy IS doing things, he IS part of the organization. If you are NOT, then you are merely a person who is hiding in the back room sneaking cookies and cake away from the hard working people who ARE there.

The focus is always on homeless people but there are extremely rich people who do not pay taxes too and don't do any kind of "hard work" (like who live off an inheritance, certain tax-free investments, etc.) ... yet no one talks about them :rolleyes:
 
Hitro said:
A passport.

Yes he is.
The homeless guy is unlikely to have a passport, nor is he likely able to afford one, and he may have great difficulty proving his identity or permanent address to the issuing agency.

How then, is the passport relevant?
 
Quite a complex question overall.

First of all you seem to be blurring the concepts of nation and state which are two different concepts, the one the imagined community of individuals and the second the social appartus that determines (not simply of course, for it is of course a part of society) the power structure within a territorial unit. (<= defintions here is succinct and not all encompassing, needs books worth of clarifications)

Your question seems to be more, what does it mean to a member of a state? To that I think there is very little more than saying: you are a member of a state, not if you've paid you're taxes or obeyed its rules or any such other stuff, but rather if its organs recognise you as a member and thus it has a socially accepted right, to punish or reward you according to its laws.
 
cierdan said:
The focus is always on homeless people but there are extremely rich people who do not pay taxes too and don't do any kind of "hard work" (like who live off an inheritance, certain tax-free investments, etc.) ... yet no one talks about them :rolleyes:
The extremely wealthy will transfer private funds overseas, spend much of their time abroad, speculate on currency trends or make overseas investments, pay lower foreign taxes... but they generally keep their original accent! ;)
 
My answer:

Being a member of a nation means being a member of a cohesive unitary (though not necessarily monolithic) group of people that have a common shared identity -- an identity that can be shaped by any or all of the following things: race/lineage, religion, philosophy, ideals, purpose, calling, history, culture, language or any other aspect of human existence.

An example would be the "children of Israel" which in Judaism is the nation of all Jews, wherever they may be living through out the world -- all Jews are considered members of this one nation. Another example would be the United States which consists of those who have share an identity formed by a shared history of the American colonies and revolutionary war and the colonies' European roots and heritage as well as shared ideals articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the federal constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as shared purpose articulated in concepts like Manifest Destiny and the Monroe doctrine and the Bush doctrine of spreading freedom around the world and a shared national language of English and common heroes such as George Washington and Robert E Lee (who was not punished or anything after the war and was a leading advocate of reconciliation after the war... so he is truly a pan-American hero). Americans can be of all races. Americans also have a shared Judaeo-Christian heritage.
 
Many CFC posters appear to empathise with those who advocate formally establishing the Nation of Islam.
 
I think you're definition of a nation there Ciedran has a lot going for it however i think it possibly obscures the crucial fact that a nation isn't actually the things you list:
race/lineage, religion, philosophy, ideals, purpose, calling, history, culture, language or any other aspect of human existence

Rather these are the things that are held by believers in a paticular nation to give it its 'cohesive unitary'. In actuality of course these things do not a nation make, rather a nation is made, at its most simplest, by lots of people believing they have (insert thigns from that list here) and crucially, that this makes them a nation.

Nation's essentially exsist because people believe in them, they are a type of imagined community.
 
eateroftoast said:
I think you're definition of a nation there Ciedran has a lot going for it

Thank you :)

however i think it possibly obscures the crucial fact that a nation isn't actually the things you list:

Rather these are the things that are held by believers in a paticular nation to give it its 'cohesive unitary'. In actuality of course these things do not a nation make, rather a nation is made, at its most simplest, by lots of people believing they have (insert thigns from that list here) and crucially, that this makes them a nation.

Nation's essentially exsist because people believe in them, they are a type of imagined community.

Hmm interesting. I would agree with what you say except that I think in some cases nations are real, objective entities and so what they believe to be a nation is as a matter of fact a nation.
 
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