Wednesday, 9 February 2011


There's an interesting article on patriotism at

It begins with several definitions of Patriotism, all of which make it sound like a good and natural thing. For instance, "true patriotism is the impulse to defend one's land, country or way of life against unjust governmental oppression". It continues with numerous quotes from famous people such as Ben Jonson and Leo Tolstoy, all of which seem to paint patriotism one of the worst things imaginable. For instance there is Jonson's "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

If Patriotism is so good, how can so may famous people say it is so bad? How can the impulse to defend one's way of life against unjust oppression be the last refuge of a scoundrel?

The article hints at an answer, referring to a "pseudo-patriotism", and suggesting that all the famous critics of patriotism are actually against this pseudo-patriotism and not against true patriotism at all. But what is this "pseudo-patriotism? The article doesn't give it a name, but it does have one: jingoism. Jingoism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy". It equates love of one's own country with hatred of others. When "It is not enough that the others are other; we have to see them as a threat - at the very least to 'our way of life', perhaps to our jobs, even to our daughters", that is Jingoism.

Does patriotism have to devolve into jingoism? That has happened so often it may seem to be inevitable, but I like to be positive. I believe that it is possible to love the culture and way of life which shaped you, without having to hate or blame any other ways of life or cultures.

Change the World.

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