Sunday, 5 August 2012

Why I don't like patriotism

This is the longest I've ever gone without posting. Holy hell have I been uninspired lately.

I don't have any issue with patriots (much.) I think that it's a very good thing to love your country, helps to unify people and get them to work as one, helps especially in the military, where strong dedication is needed at all times. I don't hold favour with the people who go around and tell anyone who'll listen that their country is a piece of shit, the Queen/PM/President/Dictator is an asshole, and anyone who believes otherwise is a moron. In that respect I don't consider myself an anti-patriot.

But the reason I don't like it is because it's so manipulative.

The whole point of patriotism is as I said: to unify. To bring people together under one banner in support of the same thing, as denizens of the same nation. And so in going about this, they (the unifiers) seed every speech with words like "nation" and "glory" and "pride" in an elaborate rhetoric that makes no secret of the fact that it's trying to rile you up in a flurry of nationalistic zeal.

Maybe I'm a little shortsighted about this, though I'm well aware that the unifiers aren't the only ones trying to manipulate you. Every single business - whose ultimate aim is to make a profit - works to manipulate you into buying their wares or services, and they do it in clever, brilliant ways, which is why advertising and PR etc. are such big business.

But the point is that they are subtle about it. The unifiers and patriots are almost never subtle, and the manipulative intent is very clear. I don't like being manipulated because I know that I can be easily, and that proves a weakness. It's not just patriotism - anything impassioned that doesn't bother to hide the fact that it's trying to recruit me bugs the hell out of me. This week I was helping out at the church for a youth club for young people, and had to sit through "1000 questions", where a black Christian woman sang and preached and rapped the word of Jesus, and the rhetoric was so thick it was stifling. I hated it because it was nothing informative, it was preaching. I don't like being preached at, I like being given good reasons to adopt a certain view.

That's why I'm not a patriot. Give me good reasons to support England as a country, don't try to invoke some kind of nationalistic pride in me as some poor substitute that amounts to "You should be proud of your country... because!" I don't buy it.

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