Neocortex is not the place to behold your nation

#Nationalism, #Nation, #IndianLiberal, #IndianIntellectual

With 15th August around the corner, and China issue looming on the horizon, air is thick with scent of nationalism. While my brain is gripped by fervor of old fashioned desh-bhakti, I came across a post of a leading flag-bearer of Indian liberals that has forced me to think.

He opined that “The BJP is terrified of the China border issue. They know we can't win a military conflict.” And carried on “The BJP wants to talk about peace, dialogue, and compromise!? Let that statement sink in. They must be frightened out of their minds.”
I could actually quote him verbatim because I had to re-read a number of time in absolute disbelief; as, for my myopic world-view, the possibility of war was between my nation and a potential enemy. I couldn’t understand why my nation can’t win a war against any enemy aggressor or what did it have to do with a political party.  
While I tried understanding his post, I became aware of an immense question, i.e. what is a nation?
For the gentleman mentioned above, nation appears to be just a convenience that he relates to only if the ruling party matches with his thinking or it is reduced to what he hopes to be, a scared political party getting invaded.
On the other hand, I am hopeful that nation is also something that many of us can’t imagine losing to any invader, however badly the odds are stacked, because she is our motherland that we will die defending regardless of which political party is governing it.
As there are two versions of a nation, I am tempted to look where they reside in respective brains. There is no doubt that the gentleman with objective notion of nation beholds it in his more evolved neo-cortex that allows him to link it with ideas like "can’t-win" or "BJP"; while some of us under-evolved brains hold our nation in our old brain, where it can only be linked with raw emotions that are beyond neocortical reasoning.
Nation is actually a concept and hence both new and old brain can behold it; but, we need to understand the difference between the neocortical nation and the old-brain nation.
Old brain can hold simple concepts by linking them with emotions based on their survival importance. As survival of self is linked directly with survival of nation, the concept enjoys great priority and thus has access to highest rewards circuits in the brain. Old brain nation is linked with intense love that is capable of not only make us cry when national anthem is played, but also drive us to ultimate sacrifice without rational evaluation of the outcome.
When it comes to neocortex, a nation is a concept held by a common theme and hence it can be that of Lady Gaga fans or a billion strong people bound by a culture. Neocortical nation’s connect is based on suitable world-view. So, it is possible to belong to it if it is convenient and become dispassionately objective about it if it is not matching with one’s world-view. It is an intellectual relationship of choice that old brain is incapable of.

There is no doubt that old brain concepts are found to be regressive by people living in cozy comforts of modern times. But, unfortunate reality is, humanity has still not reached a point where cultural conflicts or warring nations are a matter of past.
Rationalization is a great strength of new brain that we must cherish, but when it comes to nation, you are born to it and there is no choice but to love it with the passion that only the non-intellectual animal old brain is capable of.

India needs all the love she can get. Give it all you got.
Jay Hind.


I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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