Davie  Webb

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Modern Day Patriotism: as dominant as ever or an outdated idea?

23rd April, St Georges day.

As it is my country's national day, where we are urged to celebrate, come together and remember who we are and how we came to be, I would like to debate whether or not modern day patriotism is a spent force or whether it is as dominant as ever. Not just in the UK, globally.

Firstly I will explain my personal feelings on the topic. I would say i am extremely patriotic. I am proud to be English. Our history is rivaled by no other nation, in our once global dominance, in critical thinkers and innovative ideas. With kick-starting the industrial age, we laid the foundations for modern world today. The English language is still the international language of trade and travel. Our heroes on the battlefield have tirelessly fought for our freedom and prosperity. Great Englishmen such as Churchill, Admiral Nelson and James Cook have no global rival in terms of passion, pride and accomplishments. There will always be an England.

that being said, I am not sure the rest of my country feels as passionate as me on the subject.

> Has immigration diluted national identity?
> Has patriotism been a victim of todays interconnected global network?

> is patriotism an everlasting entity?
> Does the general populous just need something fresh to feel proud about, like winning a great sporting event?

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    Apr 24 2011: Hi Davie, whenever patriotism is a blind for seeing others as less human or less worthy- I believe it is negative. As long as patriotism is the celebration of all that is right and that should be preserved in a nation I think it is an arcane and yet feel good thing to do. Let's face it - the world did not come with the lines of a map scraped into the face of the planet- they are arbitrary and very human inventions designed to keep some people in and others out. I am pleased for you that you are a proud Englishman but I do not see England's history with as much admiration as you do.
    I am a proud Canadian mostly because I feel that we are really trying to be a nation where people really matter. One of the weird Canadian traits is that we take out our mistakes and examine them every once in a while and even place ads on TV about them so we do not repeat the same mistakes.
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        Apr 24 2011: HaHa! I love your spunky spirit! I cannot tell by clicking on your picture if your are English but I surmise that you are! Isn't it quite natural for someone who is espousing patriotism to have less admiration for any other nation?
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          May 1 2011: Hi Richard what about Darwin? Agree with great names you mentioned already :)
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        Apr 25 2011: Does the Cremation of Sam McGee count? Which of the 14 Aboriginal languages would you prefer?
        : )
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        Apr 25 2011: I cannot believe that you looked that up! Good on ya, mate!
        Poor old Sam McGee hated being cold so much that he made his friend promise to cremate his remains and he came back to life in the midst of the flames with the joy of being warm again. It passes for high culture here!
        Canada has 14 different Aboriginal nations to choose from, 2 national languages and a variety of other languages from around the world that are routinely spoken here. Mandarin may be the most prominent in the future.
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        Apr 25 2011: Where do I find it? Where did you study French?
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        Apr 25 2011: Hello Birdia! I hope you find this response because I could not reply directly to you. Yes, I am very excited and I hope to spend at least a year in China. I have my house for sale right now and as soon as I tie up some loose ends I will apply to several places to teach. I think it will be the adventure of my life and it has been perculating in my heart since I was a child and my aunt and I tried to dig a hole through the earth!
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        May 2 2011: Hi Birdia!I am still in flux but my current thinking is that I may go to Northern China. I know it is ambitious and probably not very likely but I want to learn Mandarin and I think I will have the best chance of doing so in an area where they speak standard Mandarin in daily useage. As I am from Canada and used to the cold- it will not be a huge adjustment.If things go well, I would love to stay for sometime and teach in various areas of the country to get a real sense of its grandeur and scope.
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          May 2 2011: "I want to learn Mandarin"

          good luck with that :) do you know anything about the language? especially the tones?
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        May 2 2011: Hey Mr. Smartypants!
        I know enough to say a couple of words including the most important- where is the library?

        I do not really believe that I will become fluent but I still think that it is a worthy goal to try to communicate with 1.3 billion people. Through language we get a window into thinking processes. I also need a good challenge in life and this is certainly it.

        Want to learn with me??
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      Apr 23 2011: "History is a pack of lies about things that never happened told by people who were never there" George Santayana.
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          Apr 26 2011: "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
          George Orwell.

          I'm not saying forget the past or suggesting that it never happened. I'm saying, you need to be fully aware of who's version of events you subscribe to.

          Here's more food for thought:

          "Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred, and always stronger than internationalism."
          George Orwell - implications for the so-called 'global community'?

          Ignoring the negative can turn patriotism into nationalism. That is why you need to accept the negative as well as the positive parts of history.
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        Apr 23 2011: History text books are a pack of lies told by the victor, not actual history lol.
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          Apr 27 2011: Patriotism is married with propaganda which is why I included the quote regarding History is a Pack of lies. Historians have always been biased - often on purpose but also without being aware of their bias. There's probably a word for it.

          @ Birdia - I can't comment on the Holocaust because I wasn't there.

          @ Richard - by your own argument, your history is not the same as your country's history. All you are arguing is that there should be a ceiling as to the size of the group you can identify with.

          Being fully aware that history is only ever a version of events does not mean focusing only on the negative or ignoring positive past events.
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          Apr 27 2011: i agree with scott, which leads to a seconed point, the average person know very little history.
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          Apr 28 2011: @ Richard. I can empathise but can't see the point in commenting. The holocaust is a very delicate example because it profoundly affected millions of people but is an excellent example of how, in fact, history repeats itself - genocide has not stopped, unfortunately. Perhaps it's time to turn from the past events and face those going on right now. Whoops, I commented.

          I wish that George Santayana quote was mine. It isn't suggesting that all of history is made up, it is pointing out the fact that most "historians" were never present at the events they are reporting on. They are using the words of other historians, some of whom were not present either.

          Current political climate influences our view of historical "facts" too. To use an example from the original discussion point - once it was normal and 'right' for an empire to expand and colonise. That approach is no longer acceptable. Was the original act 'wrong' or just wrong according to present day attitudes?

          Attaching ourselves to larger or smaller groups, and differentiating between us and them, or me and you, is one way of formulating our identity but I think it's an outdated approach.

          "An ambulance can only go so fast,
          It's easy to get buried in the past,
          When you try to make a good thing last."
          Neil Young - Ambulance Blues.
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          Apr 28 2011: @ Richard. I think you interpret that quote differently from me is all. I read it as saying that all points of view are subjective therefore history is only ever someone's version of events, no matter how accurate or immediate their experience. It does not imply the events never happened.

          I'm not reluctant to acknowledge past events at all. What I am saying is that my commenting is rather pointless considering that I have had very little experience with those events.

          That is not saying that I won't form an opinion either, but I will be very careful not to accept any one version of history as the entire truth of events, simply because the versions I draw on will strongly influence my view of history. And obviously, some events are more open to interpretation than others.

          To bring it back to the original topic, my interpretation of patriotism is different from a lot of other commentators. I view it as a tradition left over from a more violent past and I don't see the point of it anymore.

          I claim all of world history as my own because I am the legacy of all that have come before me. As are we all.

          If I'm going to be proud of something, it will be all of humanity. It's the biggest football team of all.

          @ Birdia. Golden Rule? - I thought it was saying please and thank-you. Enlighten me please..
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          Apr 28 2011: Got it. Yeah, I subscribe to that. It's the main philosophy that drives my band. Have a good time but don't begrudge others (what you may view as) their vices.
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    Apr 28 2011: It's good to be aware of one's roots and proud of ones heritage. But while looking in to history have to be careful as history mostly talks about winners and written by winners. So lots of lies are there as mentioned in number of posts here.

    Definitely England has lot of glory to be proud of but how would you like to rate it's colonial agression of past with your modern thinking?

    With immigration issue I have no authority to comment about how it impacted your national identity. But the fact is migration of species is a natural process.When human species didn't come up with the idea of building countries or nation , they used to migrate from one place to another for different reasons like food , shelter etc.
    Let's come to the other point regarding immigrant issue , why the first world is accepting migrants? It's for their own benefit , with a near negative population growth to keep the economy moving forward they need workforce, and also they need people to take care of the growing geriatric population. While rich Middle East countries taking migrants just for comfort and then treat them inhumanly.

    With diminshing boundaries due better connectivity & high rate of exchanges of ideas, human civilization will evolve in to new kind of "patriotism. Lets go back on time when there was no nation or country what was the face of patriotism ? Some form CLANISM was the face of patriotism right then . So current or immediate past kind of patriotism is never an ever lasting idea .

    Definitely winning some sports event make people be excited with in and beyond national boundary in this era of connectivity. Say my country is in the bottom of FIFA ranking but during World Cup our people become supporters (many are die hard) of Argentina , Brazil , Italy etc. You can even see flags of those countries at their roof tops. In this year World Cup Cricket once my country was out, first people were shocked but after a while they rallied behind India,Sri Lanka or Australia! How is that ?
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        Apr 29 2011: Good day Rechard :)
        I understand and agree to great extent what you are saying about the issue of immigrants.

        Myself tried to understand their issue as well, because lot of Bangladeshis are immigrant in the first world and some of them are my relatives and friends. I felt they are worst sufferer of identity crisis (our society at large is yet to be ready to accept someone as just another human being , rather we tag people with colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion and what not !)

        Let me elaborate it a bit , how it goes as per my observation and feelings.

        I failed to understand their issue while I tried it sitting in my own country & discussing with them when they are back to their country of origin on vacation. Because they fake. Once they are in their country of birth , they fake to be more English, Australian or US citizen than that of orginal. It starts from their attire, language to everything & try to project they are doing great in those countries and compared Bangladesh those coutries are heaven on earth.

        Once I went in those countries for professional reason , I found the other picture. They can't or unable to mix with mainstream due different socio cultural and legal reason. So they create their own cocoon based on nationality , religion or ethnicity which creates a conflict with what you see as an imposition of own values. They actually become stronger Bangali or Islamist than thier real self.

        Most of Bangladeshis migrates due to the natural reason of migration. But some other do, just as "Grass is always greener on the other side of the river". Both groups has their own issues. The 2nd group who are educated and was having a decent life style , high social status in own country , when ends up doing "Odd Job" (in terms of social norm) they feel discriminated and recentment goes up.
        This is the issue in short with 1st generation immigrants to their 2nd country , the 2nd generation has got even tougher challenge as it starts with their parents 1st.
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        Apr 29 2011: Hi Bridia , great to hear some other perspective from you about Bangladeshis. I am just giving my observation. The antagonism you faced would be at much higher level I guess for Bangladeshis living in Hong Kong.

        I feel though you are nice to be befriended with some Bangladeshis , they are not opening up as to them you are "Chinese".

        Yes Bridia other than Bangladesh during last 4 years, I lived in 2 different countries (Singapore & Saudi Arabia) but not as immigrant but as an international assignee of my company & now living in the 3rd country (Sri Lanka). I have lot intersting experinces , with which sometimes think to start writing a book :)

        May be I am not having complete feeling of immigrant as I am just a longterm visitor or on other words resident to those countries, so not really an immigrant per se . But I tried to get the feelings of real immigrants through observation and becoming close to them and asking question.

        My over all feeling about immigrants is they are something like "Transplanted Organ" in human body so face lot of resistance & rejection as an transplanted organ face from the immune system though it is done after lot of cross matching (so the immigrants do to try mix with main stream by heart) , so need immuno-suppressants. But don't know what kind socio-cultural immuno-suppressant will work better !
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        Apr 29 2011: Thanks & Wow Jafia & Bridia for your encouragement. At least I have two readers now , just need to find out a publisher. Honestly due to your thought I defintiely will start wrting shortly , though not sure about my literary talent :)

        Great to hear Bridia that you are interested about my culture and country. You know what I found due to the crap political leadership of my country and also negativity lover global media , Bangladesh has got a very poor image to outside world though Bangla Literature not only have a Noble winner but also have rich heritage and good amount of wealth in art and literature. In recent past another Bangladeshi Dr. Yunus won the noble peach prize. Despite all other positivity , most Bangladeshis feel inferior when they are outside so don't open up or stand up.

        As I told about my interesting experiences in foreign country and culture let me give an example how we are treated and accept they way we are treated. During my time in Saudi , despite of having muslim (actually it's arabic) name I was treated in a very interestingly and aggressively shitty way , because I am a Bangla (as they call). I saw all other Bangladeshi treated either similar or even worse way but they are accepting silently. I revolted and fall in trouble but didn't give up.

        Seeing my misery & struggle one of my team member once suggested me to have an Canadian passport to get an humane treatment in that holy land of muslims. I just told I am the last person to do that because of some ignorant people are treating me in an unacceptable way. It's my proud what I am , it's thier fault they don't know how to treat human being as human. Yes with my luck I might get a heavenly passport but what about the misery of whole lot Bangladeshis?

        Am I too arrogant or stubborn with my that notion ?
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        Apr 29 2011: Wow Bridia you know our Noble winner for literature already :) . Interesting thing is that great fellow is the writer of National anthem of both Bangladesh & India !!!

        Great to hear you defend Bangladeshis for a very lovely reason. Thanks a lot.
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        Apr 29 2011: Thanks Richard my bother.
        Yes they try to get into the mainstream but can't get through that's why I used the analogy of "Transplanted Organ" that get resistance from body itself though it was transplanted after going through tidious process of cross matching.

        Tagore not only a poet but also a philosopher, noble, short story, drama, song writer. You name any branch of literature he almost everywhere had done something unique. Tagore experts of Bangladesh & India say, what he wrote in one life, is difficult for people to go through and understand it whole in one life. May be a bit over stated , but to some extent that's it.

        With his money from Noble prize he established a unique kind of University named "Santi Niketon" (Home of peace) though that is in Kolkata which belongs to India. Fallacy is politics could divide the same language and culture in to two but that could not divide Tagore
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        Apr 30 2011: Yes Richard it was one until 15th August 1948. Calcutta is Kolkata in British pronunciation. The division of Bengal happened (more broadly as a whole India) due to so called "Divide & Rule" diplomacy of the then British colonial rulers & power greedy corrupt politicians of the then undivided India. Once it was said , "what Bengal thinks today , rest of India thinks tomorrow"

        Like Rabindranath still lot of people of Bangladesh & West Bengal State of India has family , friends, relatives & properties on the other part. Tagore is studied , read , sung, played, heard by Bangalis accross the border.
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        May 1 2011: WoW Bridia !!! You made me amazed again

        "In the realm of great poetry , borders do not have much meaning I think :)" greatly put forwarded

        Yes real Poets are International, no boundary can stop them to be so. I had similar discussion with Richard Dawson about Omar Khayyam in other posts here in TED, thats the proof

        As I read Rabindranath in Bangla , I am trying to transalate two lines of one of his poetry now with my poor english and zero poetic talent (it's just an effort of translating the inner thoughts)

        Alas !! no place left there, small boat mine
        Filled with golden reaps only to shine
  • Apr 27 2011: Patriotism is good but ultra patriotism is bad. Whenever a person say "my father is the best", I ponder a second or so thinking about the correctness of the line. Does heshe mean that hisher father is best among all the fathers. If so, then that person basically is claiming to have known all the fathers. Or it may be that the person is simply showing hisher respect or love for hisher father without claiming the superlativeness of hisher father. The same thing also applies to the country I would say. I am indeed very proud of my heritage and I guess most of the people are too. If I do incline for second definition of "best", it is good patriotism but first definition of "best" belittles others. No doubt, Britain is cool and so are other countries around the globe. The best for you and me was determined when we crashlanded from our mother womb. ;)
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    Apr 25 2011: I'm an American. Super-patriotism thrives in conservative circles in the US. The simple-minded version of patriotism expressed in international policy is that we should only do "what is the national interest." This has led to an embarrassing situation re the popular uprisings in the Middle East: We have supported despots like Mubarack because they cooperated with out goals. US national interests in the Middle East have boiled down to two things: 1) OIL!! and 2) keeping Israel afloat. The liberties of citizens in Middle Eastern have been low priority interests (except when used as excuse to invade Iraq). We talked a lot about more freedom and democracy there, but we weren't about to upset the apple cart over civil liberties. Now we're caught between the democratic impulses of the people and the cozy deals with have with Middle Eastern dictators who control oil. So the tunnel vision of doing "what's in the national interest" by American administrations for decades has come 'round to bite us in the ass. We didn't see beyond short term American goals.

    National orientation can be a form of blindness. The problems we face are resource shortages of all kinds, climate change, governance of global financial institutions, possible disease epidemics, immigration, and poor wages and working conditions for billions that undercut the standard of living in "developed" countries. They're all global issues. A bunch of patriotic politicians serving only the narrow interests of their nation don't solve these problems; they just negotiate to a standstill.

    There's nothing wrong with historical or regional identity. I'm a native Californian but I don't advocate going to war with Arizona over water. There's a bigger system in which to solve problems. Same with the world. Nationalistic zeal should be a thing of the past. Any young person who doesn't take a predominantly global perspective is going to be dysfunctional in the 21st century
    • Apr 25 2011: David: I don't disagree with much of what you say but, as a non-American, I have to admit I have always held a secret admiration for the over-the-top way you guys do patriotism. Stirring renditions of the Star Spangled Banner while massed crowds hold their hands over their hearts, Old Glory fluttering in the wind, huge multi-million-dollar fireworks displays, stealth fighters thundering overhead... it's hard not to feel the emotional connection. Here in Canada we just hum along in two languages to our uninspiring anthem and then apologize for any emotion we may have inadvertently displayed.
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        Apr 28 2011: Good point, Jafia. I'm a patriot. I love America and many of its achievements. Last election the "tea partiers" claimed they were the real patriots and those who did not agree with them were somehow un-American. That's been going on all my life. From the John Birch Society on we liberals were declared un-American. I think todays liberals are really true to American values and trying to hold on to them.

        It's nationalism that makes people blind to what others are achieving in the world. In the 21st century that is going to be really dysfunctional.
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    Apr 23 2011: It comes down to degrees. Do you claim all the negative aspects of your nation's history too? That's a big weight to carry.

    I claim all the world's history as my own. Millions of years have led to my being here. That's pretty impressive, don't you think?

    Patriotism is a need to be a part of something bigger, though I don't know why..
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    Apr 23 2011: oh its still around. why? i have no idea.
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    Sky F

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    Apr 23 2011: I think it's headed in that direction, but not quite outdated yet.
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      Apr 23 2011: arrr yes, the some of the finest writers the world has ever seen. Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens!

      not so impressed by the world cup comment.. ha!