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Time to Change Names

Attempts to unify mankind have happened more than once. Any world religion of one type or another preaches this goal, appealing for a turn away from the shallow, the caste and the ethnic for the sake of equality under God, accepting into their ranks everybody and everyone and calling people to peace. All the world's religions per se of themselves are profoundly humane, and certainly therefore, possess the consciousness of billions of people.

Nonetheless, along with all the other faiths, they give rise to profound antagonisms, which lead to wars and discord in various ends of the globe. Why? Why do the appeals remain appeals, and for the sake of a god's name have been and are murders committed?

Dozens of scholars rightly have noted that there is no principle difference between the Koran and the Bible, besides the name and ritual differences that have arisen because any people, adopting or developing a religion, absorb and translate it to their language, adapting it for their own set way of life and frequently call the saints by their own names. But in particular, politicians objectively need these differences and new names for the sake of the unification of the ethnos in a certain political structure. And they are the very reason of the discord.

The latest fact. After the break up of the USSR, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in a loud scandal broke away and became independent, in fact giving rise to a new direction within the framework of Orthodoxy. In time it fully may acquire unique features and names, dividing a common people.

From the past it is known that the birth and development of Protestantism were caused by political reasons, and for nothing other, when direct dependence on the Pope of Rome became unacceptable for the elite of a number of Northern European countries.

That is, ethnic ideology or religion take possession of the popular consciousness when society needs it and not the other way around. It is an objective, well-founded and, in principle, progressive process, when language and cultural or religious characteristics of the population of some kind of region, achieving a defined critical point in the accumulation of originality, call for a political structure which defends their existence.

It was that way until recently. The development of currency flows and means of communication already have led to the formation of a common supranational space. Quickly, in the lifetime of one generation, the basic ways of life and people's activity are being standardized in all the developed countries, serving as a distinct feature of modern development. A businessman from Japan dresses the same as a businessman from Germany, riding in the same car, working on the same computer. This is in fact a common ethnos, where the ethnic features clearly move into the realm of show-business. The existence of ethnic political structures only interferes with people doing business.

Money and communications already have made the world one, beyond of our wishes and aspirations. Our consciousness, as it has more than once, simply lags far behind the ensuing reality. For the first time in history, it has become more advantageous to live together, has become more advantageous to live without borders, and has become more advantageous to live peacefully. For the first time the need has appeared for the ideology of unity, not declared, but real.

If one tries to evaluate modern society from the point of view of this ideology that is arising, then an extremely sad picture will come to light. The epochs, lived through in the nations, have shaped a way of life when the majority doesn't conceive of itself without the name of a people. We all need to be someone - Americans or Russians, Jews or Arabs, Moslems or Christians. One can mention another couple hundred names. And this is called roots, this is called an identification.

The idea of nation and the names constitute an ideological basis of national or religious states. And one must turn away from this, one must overcome this. Simply because the time has passed and no other variants are foreseen. Simply because it is not possible or it is very difficult to accomplish any global functions or to solve any global problems, having inscribed a national, local name on a flag - it gives rise to pointed conflicts.

The US, defending the business interests of the Western world, bears the global and not in the least simple function of guardian of world order, but at the same time enters into the most pointed conflict with its own local, American name, and causes with the local property of this name pointed dissatisfaction, not only in the third world, but also among its Western partners. The impossibility of the resolution of global problems by national means has become especially obvious in the 21st century.

For example, the inequality of the distribution of natural resources on the planet, especially of energy, gives rise to powerful structural tensions within the systems that try to resolve the problem locally. The feudally religious regimes of the Saudis, Kuwait and others are supported by the West for the resolution of the energy problem, and this gives rise to numerous negative phenomena, since in its natural state, and without support from the outside, such systems are genetically nonviable. The phenomenon of Bin-Laden is one such result.

Another example is business as such. The obvious globalization of worldwide production all the more powerfully enters into conflict with the national character of political activity, when business in the lawless space of an international muddle acquires the forms of earlier, wild capitalism with all the well known consequences for society and the environment. But the attempts of some public movements to stop the globalization of money flows are useless: no one has the least chance of successfully resisting the laws of economic development.

The other thing is to attempt to create controlling agencies and to introduce rules, laws and responsibility in the void of international space. For this, mutual rules are needed, how to build a unified mankind. A culture of cooperation is needed, and an ideology, which still doesn't exist.

All of the humanities of modern civilization are banged up by the idea of nation, and the history of any country is written from the dictation of national interests, of the different in different epochs. In particular therefore, history steadily is rewritten for satisfying the momentary needs of the ruling elite. It has to be checked and corrected and built anew. After all, that which today already is being argued by the newly traditional authors speaks of the fact that the magnitude of historical forgeries is reaching unbelievable proportions. It is turning out that whole "ancient" civilizations never even existed but were thought up for the needs of a political moment and frozen as canons and starting points for further piling up of the lie.

All existing state and supranational institutions are through national. Nationalism as an ideology achieves its apogee in the United Nations, which, it would seem, is called upon to resolve global questions, but it has turned out to be absolutely helpless, in possession of an idea of nation where the sovereignty of a country is raised to the rank of the utmost value. Not in its existing form to resolve today's problems with internationalism. The only way to start a movement toward true unity is to proclaim its priority over the national and to develop rules, such as overcoming the isolation of people along national or religious features.

At the foundation of the idea of nation stands the entire modern political world. Its replacement is a most complex problem, standing before mankind independent of the wishes and aspirations of any of us. The development of a scientific supranationalism, so we shall call this concept, is a vital problem that requires resolution as early as today.

We have to start the movement toward unification from the elucidation of our new identification, from the research of the history of mankind, from the development of new moral values, when the questions "what's your nationality?" and "what do you believe?" are as irrelevant and offensive as the answers to them. Too much violence is connected with them, and this has lasted too many years. For example, we should stop using the names of modern nations in historic research.

Let's take examples from today's practice. They call the people who live in Berlin today by the Word "German," and the people who lived during the time of Bismarck, and also in the time of the Hapsburgs and even a thousand years ago. Why? You see, it is politically, psychologically and considering the past century also genetically an absolutely different people. That very language has changed so much over the millennium that, if they were to meet, they fully wouldn't understand each other.

And when the historian calls those encased in the armor of the medieval knights Germans, the Dutchman can be rightly outraged: you see, these are his ancestors, too! Or the Norwegians, if used with modern terminology.

It is not possible, while describing the Norman Conquest of England, to define it as French, but you see they do it quite often. Besides that, modern France has no relationship to this conquest. There have been no Normans for a very long time.

Another example. In the study of language and literature often the problem of the origin of one word or another develops in the discussion about the sense of a loan word. And an argument, let's confess, is started, is this word Spanish or French. The argument is senseless, because "French" or "Spanish" exists only today, and when the argued word originated, the fact was, it is impossible in any way to call it French or Spanish. That is the sense of a loan word is not two-dimensional, not on the surface is it Spain or France, but Spain and France plus our common past.

There is a multitude of such examples. The use of the political names of nations in history confuses, politicizes and makes difficult knowledge of the past. The efforts of many scholars are needed in order to gain an understanding of them, to define the criteria of the correct evaluation of the historical processes, of the correct names that one may and need utilize.

Even the "newly traditional" authors, who criticize today's history, often are unable to refrain and use national methods for the evolution of chronologies and the understanding of discoveries that are taking place. A new understanding and internal reconstruction will not come at once and easily. We must do it together.

The time is coming to examine critically the many "established" notions, and, whether we want it or not, to set out our identification anew, critically examining, it would seem, the unshakable ancient values and approaches. We can't escape the need to complete a fundamental reappraisal of the sacred heritage of the past. The need to change the names.

Vlad Melamed 2002, Toronto