05 December 2013

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Patriotism

Dear friends,

I did not get the impression that this Sunday's topic, patriotism, was
intentionally proposed to coincide with the Spanish constitution day
holiday weekend. But patriotism is back in fashion it seems.

Only this week the editor of an internationally respected newspaper was
asked by a member of parliament whether he loved his country. And this
week was the first week of operation of a law in an European country
that would make the burning of the national flag a crime more serious
than starting a property bubble and the downfall of capitalism as we
know it!

So is patriotism still relevant today and what is patriotism today, anyway?

In the meantime Ruel has sent us a link to his essay and I have prepared
a few paragraphs on the subject:
Hi Lawrence,
Here is the link to the essay I wrote for Sunday´s PhiloMadrid.

Hasta Domingo.
Thank you.

Patriotism - Lawrence

We can argue that patriotism is a feeling of affection and support to
one's nation that we muster when our country is threatened by foreign
forces. Its twin concept, nationalism, is usually employed by one
faction within a nation, usually those in power, to identify enemies
against the state from within the nation. Nationalism is usually
employed in civil wars, revolutions, putsch or some such internal

Thus, I would argue that patriotism is a more respectable concept simply
because it is directed against foreigners; or to be more proper like and
politically correct, against those outside from our national tribe.

Of course, patriotism is a basic biological instinct to identify and
protect one's tribe. It makes sense to rally with one's kin to defend
one's group when threatened by other tribes. We are programmed to defend
ourselves and our kin. Other 'tools' we have for such self defence
include, language, customs, rituals, accents. And on a more biological
level, race, physical build, skin colour, and maybe hair colour and
style. And finally hidden beyond our perceptions we find genetic makeup.

We can all accept that biological systems are amoral in a biological
setting and an instinct to defend one's kin is basically that, an
instinct; lions defend their pride, primates defend their troop and bees
their hive. Bees do not have to confirm their patriotism to the hive,
although any deviation from their function an individual bee would soon
be ousted from the hive or worse. Thus, patriotism in the state of
nature is an instinct. The question is what is the status of patriotism
in a state of human kind?

However, patriotism amongst human beings is a different matter. Most
modern countries include large sections of the population that are not
indigenous to the country they live in. Migration also happens to be a
natural phenomenon for example to find new resources and as a
consequence to enrich the genetic makeup of tribes. Thus the idea to
appeal to patriotism to defend against foreigners ought not sit very
well when at the same time most countries allow foreigners to settle in
the country.

Patriotism, as a concept in modern society has to compete with vested
interests such as international trade and business, international
treaties, alliances, and more complex issues include religious beliefs
and exchange of knowledge, such as scientific and technological
knowledge. Thus to enquire of someone's patriotism one has to qualify
this by asking who's country, what patriotism; condone past injustices
or even present injustices, the country that sell its national assets to
corporations from other countries? Or parrot patriotism: my country
right or wrong just because the government of the day says so? And all
this before we enter such big issues as do we support our country's
football or cricket teams? Presumably, someone who does not give a cat's
whiskers for football or cricket ought to be in serious trouble!

Today only those peoples who are totally oppressed do not have access to
other people or at least information about other people. Anyone who has
had a Coke, Pepsi or Heineken beer has been baptised into the community
of international civilization. Today there are very few isolated tribes,
if any, mainly thanks to loggers or gold diggers, that survive in
isolation that makes patriotism a relevant issue. Thus, I would argue
that the function of patriotism today, apart from the world cup so that
all teams are guaranteed a certain number of supporters, serves more as
an alarm system than a personal indicator of one's loyalty to one's
country. If one is asked by one's country to affirm one's patriotism
this is a sure sign that something serious is wrong with one's country.

Today many people in a country are probably second generation kin of
immigrants; work for an international company, buy many things made
abroad, and our security depends on entrenched international alliances.
Today it would be more apt to ask, who is the patriot: the one who burns
the national flag because they've just been made unemployed or the
minister who sells off the nation's assets that were paid for by taxes?

Best Lawrence

See you Sunday,

tel: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at O'Donnell's
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Patriotism

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