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27 January 2008

Why I am an internationalist

In his numinous and magical novel Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut introduced the idea of "granfalloons". These are random groupings of people who think, erroneously, that they have some shared destiny as a group, and for whom this delusion is a source of suffering and misguided action. Examples, famously, are given, thus:

Other examples of granfalloons are the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Association of Oddfellows - and any nation, anytime, anywhere.

I think of this statement, which has become a sort of mantra to me over the nearly 40 years since I read Cat's Cradle, literally every time I pass through an airport, see a reference to immigration or international trade, and about the half the time I am watching, listening to or reading the news. Especially when I read about things like this.

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