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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Thursday, 27 October 2016
I read an article on patriotism yesterday which made me reflect on my own views. The article (not well thought through or written) referred to an OED definition of patriotism as "marked by devotion to the well-being or interests of one's country". The word devotion gives me pause for thought. Surely not implying "my country is always right", or "my country right or wrong" - and yet don't these ideas reflect the views of many in the population at large? Just look at the mindless flag-waving and anthem singing which breaks out at every opportunity. The author of the seminal article seemed to be suggesting that patriotism is good because it makes people feel better. So does alcohol!
So what does patriotism mean? It strikes me that one can feel patriotic (as a Briton) without believing that the existing system of parliamentary democracy has much to commend it; and one can feel patriotic at the same time as believing that a monarchy is an anachronism which should be disbanded; and whilst considering that the system of honours and titles is an embarrassment; and whilst being unable to see any justification for Britain to remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council; and whilst wishing that the British people would embrace their European heritage instead of turning their backs.
In fact it strikes me that there are so many different ways in which one can feel patriotic that there is little point in the term at all. How about we all just get on with making the best of our lives in the nation state we happen to be living in without feeling that we are in any way superior to those living elsewhere.