I have been meaning to post something on patriotism for a while. I briefly explored it’s potential meaning and it’s relevance (if any) in my last blog where I reviewed a documentary regarding immigration, called Escape to Doncatraz:
On a more critical note, the documentary posits an interesting question regarding “what is British, and what does it mean to be British?”. For me, there is no straight forward answer, and the actual question per se raises interesting political concerns and issues. The question’s timing is interesting given the documentary was created at a time when Gordon Brown began a campaign of highlighting the ‘best of British’. For me, the documentary settles for advocating a reclamation of the British flag and what it means to be British – after all, it rightly points out the irony of the BNP utilising a flag that was used during the Second World War as symbolism of the defeat of the very fascism the BNP posses. However, in a world of increasingly interconnectedness, and in one where everyone regardless of their background should be treat as humans – has patriotism, country flags and national boundaries got a progressive place any more? Would localised, diverse identities with universal respect for basic rights be more appropriate? Rather than the constant battle for ‘supremacy’ amongst countries and their respective backgrounds?
Reading Emma Goldman’s What is Patriotism? has really clarified my concerns with patriotism as a concept, ideology and attempted practice. It breads division, competition and feeds nastily into the capitalist/neoliberal framing of the global system. This is something I mean to explore, but for now, I wanted to share part of Goldman’s essay on patriotism:
Indeed, conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.