Saturday, February 02, 2008

Patriotism, bad

[Riri is displeased, a completely unacceptable situation. I have not performed. Therefore, I make a (doubtlessly inadequate) attempt to do so.]

Evidently, the government has proposed lessons in patriotism. The Institute of Education has responded, with a report drawn up by teachers in London's secondary schools.

A lesson in patriotism does sound like an extremely silly idea, like a lesson in love. Classic 'centralised' thinking. There is social disintegration; bon!, let's have lessons telling people they need to integrate. But, of course, it doesn't work like that.

Not that these teachers think that patriotism is a good thing, in any case. As the writer points out, it's their reasons for rejecting these lessons that are significant (and entirely predicatable).

Are countries really appropriate objects of love? Since all national histories are at best morally ambiguous, it's an open question whether citizens should love their countries.
There is much to say about this old nugget. Notice that it's a moral question. As if the primary function of a country was to be good. It isn't. The primary function of any group is to survive, and then to do its best for its members. Whether that's how things should be is another question. However, it's not a matter of choice - that's how things are.

Notice also that it is a decision, the result of rational reflection. I will give loyalty, or love, to this group called my country insofar as it measures up to my idea of what is good. Which, of course, it doesn't, won't and can't. Because, more than likely, the idea of what is good is premised on the non-existence of countries, nationalisms, classes, etc and probably on some notion of complete equality of means and ends, as well.

But can such 'decisions' be made rationally? Does that not ignore all that you have been given from the moment of your conception up until the moment when you 'decide'? (Or is all that nothing more than your rights, what was owed you for being born?) Do you also decide at a certain point on the worthiness of your parents? Do they merit your love and loyalty? Are they good enough?

Now the revolutionary mind has never had problems with all this stuff - it, like the rest of tradition and the accumulation of historical experience, would be swept away by the Brave New World to come and loyalty would then be given to 'humanity', who would look nothing like the bloke next door. He is the product of the unworthy history that should only be taught as a warning. Unfortunately, the Brave New World to come isn't coming, but no matter, let's just keep on as before, denigrating what has been achieved to glorify instead ... what exactly?


Riri said...

The UK's way of fixing everything with training courses is hilarious. I remember when I used to attend personal development courses, there was a huge range of them on offer at University, free as well, but they don't really teach you anything concrete, they just attempt to tell you how you should be thinking about why and how you think that what you are thinking is not absolutely identical to what others may or may not be thinking.

Lovely intention there, but utterly useless in practical terms.

I was reading the other day that politicians legislate in order to demonstrate that they are doing something, even if there is no need for something to be done.

Hazar Nesimi said...

Patriotism good for internal consumption, taken externally it can become a vehicle for territorial expansion.

One should love their country or creed or family no matter what. Russian always say that Russia has been uncaring if not evil mother to her children but they are begottemn