‘In Nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind.
Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events.
Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in every newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or for failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied.
What a Nationalist wants is to feel that his unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. Some Nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connexion with the physical world.
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feelings of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. The Liberal News Chronicle published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians.’
George Orwell Notes on Nationalism, Penguin Collected Essays, Pages 410-431 (Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 3 As I Please, 1943-1945.)
This quote best explains the confusions I struggle with in my mind on the contradictions that exists within the whole concept of the ‘war on terror’. This are the questions I usually ask; what is the difference between Saddam and Mugabe? Why is Darfur not ‘saved’ like Kuwait? What is democratic about Musharraf’s Pakistan? What has changed about Ghadaffi? Are we fighting ‘war on terror’ or ‘war for the West’s economic dominance’? I was appalled by 9/11, I still do, but I don’t (and may never) understand the rationale behind what is going on now.