Mary Wakefield

Patriotism isn’t uncivilised - it’s what makes civilisation possible

You trust yourself first, your family, then your clan and then, slowly and hesitantly, something bigger

22 November 2014

9:00 AM

22 November 2014

9:00 AM

Is it racist to be patriotic? Is patriotism, by definition, small-minded and exclusive? When you strip away the onion layers of sentiment about history and hymns, Shakespeare and lawn clippings, does it have a hateful heart? I ask because, as I’ve written before, I feel patriotic, and until recently I’ve considered this to be a good thing.

I felt particularly patriotic at a service in Ravenstonedale, Cumbria, last week. I slid in late and guilty, amid snippy Sunday stares. After the sermon we trooped outside and in the suddenly sunlit graveyard the vicar whipped a trumpet from his cassock and began to play. A pair of starlings began their electric warble, the motes and midges were bright against the dark church wall. Men stood suited, four-square, and everybody tried not to tread on the grass. My heart lifted with affection for this country, it lifted and then it paused, punctured mid-rise with doubt.

The trouble was this: I’d been to dinner recently at the Athenaeum club with a distinguished doctor: clever, interesting, urbane. Over decaf in the morning room, he insisted that to be patriotic was brutish, retrograde. He was thinking of football supporters, he said with a shudder, but cut no slack even for soft patriots like me, or the crowds tearing up over the poppies by the Tower. Sentimentality about Queen and country turned his stomach, he said and though I coughed a bit, like a coward, I laid low. Dinner was on him, and besides he spoke nine languages.

Since our chat I’ve heard a similar story from all manner of sophisticated types, even and especially Tories. They wait a while, till Remembrance day has passed, then say: patriotism is dangerous, it bleeds into supremacism and starts world wars. Moreover, it’s an unsophisticated taste, like rum and coke, or pineapple with ham; one that should be excised from the civilised mind.


Well, I’ve given this notion some thought. I’ve tried to see it their way, but in the end, I disagree. To begin with, patriotism isn’t nationalism. Orwell was clear about the distinction. ‘Nationalism is inseparable from the desire for power,’ he wrote. ‘Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.’ More than that, I think that patriotism of a gentle and generous sort, far from being uncivilised, is what makes civilisation possible. Nationalism looks down on other nations and wants to overrun them. Patriotic fellow-feeling creates trust, without which taxation, government and the rule of law would be impossible.

Here, I can almost see Athenaeum man choke on his Bendicks bitter mint, and I know what he’d say when he recovered: fellow-feeling is all very well, but why should it stop at the border? How parochial. Why not a European love-in, or global trust? And I’d say (had I a week to prepare my answer) that this just isn’t how trust and reciprocity work.

We all began as sectarians: it’s in our selfish genes. We’ve been squabbling since our Rift Valley days, wasting time and lives locked in clan-on-clan vendettas. As Paul Collier says in his terrific book Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century: ‘Trust and co-operation do not arise naturally. They are not primordial attributes of the “Noble savage” that get undermined by civilisation… The evidence suggests precisely the opposite: trust and co-operation beyond the family are acquired as part of the functional attitudes that accumulate in a modern, prosperous society. One reason that poor societies are poor is that they lack these attitudes.’ So trust grows and develops over time, and it grows in concentric circles, from small to big. You trust yourself first, your family, then your clan and, only slowly and hesitantly in the right conditions, something bigger: your country. Once you’ve grown this fragile sense of nation, you trash it at your peril.

Good riddance nonetheless, anti-patriots might say: our country has changed so much that no one story could or should sum it up. All that guff about vicars excludes the feelings and experiences of Britain’s diverse and multicultural population. Well, quite right. I don’t require everyone to buy into lawns and labradors — it’s a nationalist not a patriot that has one authorised version of a country. My idea of Britain is a hotchpotch of my memories and learnt history. Every Briton will have different experience and a different idea of the country. But I can’t see why all our different stories shouldn’t amount to a shared sense of belonging, and a shared pride.

If we don’t feel a quiet patriotism, fellow feeling for fellow Brits — if we find it tricky to trust each other — then society begins to crumble. If you need convincing, consider Nigeria. A friend of mine directed a documentary in Lagos recently and though he loved the country for its energy and resourcefulness, he came back wide-eyed at the lack of neighbourly love. The thing that summed it up, he said, were the signs, hand-painted in large letters on the outside walls of many houses. They read: ‘This house is not for sale.’ When he asked what on earth these signs could mean, his fixer told him: if you have a nice house, and you leave it for too long, even just for a few hours, someone will break in and sell it to another family. You will come back to find strangers in your front room, and your belongings on the street.

In contrast, for the unifying and pacifying effect that patriotism can have, look at Lebanon — not now perhaps, but just a few years ago. For over a decade, during its civil war, Lebanon was fractured into warring sects: Sunni, Shia, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Druze — all at each other’s throats. After the war ended, there sprung up in the country a sort of defiant patriotism, a shared love of country over sect. A decade ago, when I visited with friends, no one we met would confess which side they’d been on in the war. ‘It doesn’t matter, we’re all Lebanese now.’ Their patriotism made for generosity, in the same way it does in America: we cruised the country being offered lifts wherever we went, not to mention all the cakes and tea. ‘In our country, we help the strangers,’ people said. Athenaeum man, tucked away inside in his very exclusive club, thinks, as do many others these days, that patriotism is infra dig. But if he thinks it’s frightening, he should consider the alternative.

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Show comments
  • evad666

    Meanwhile here in the UK the illiberal left an it islamic foot soldiers moves onwards with its goal of Balkanization of the country aided and abetted by Brussels.

  • LastmaninEurope

    Plus ca change.

    However, Orwell further wrote;

    ‘Patriotism is a comelier thing than the shallow self-righteousness of the left-wing intelligentsia”.

    The left also despise the working class for failing to rise up and create a socialist utopia. While the right ignore them preferring to pander to shrill minority groups and the kow-towing to the latest destructive progressive wheeze.

    Fortunately there now is a party of substance that embraces both the working class and patriotism.

    • RadioJockhadistan

      Patriotism is not recognised virtue per se.
      Patriotism as an isolated value has not been explored by you, you have insulted us all and reduced its worth by comparing it to lefty thinking.

    • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

      Thank you for recognising the SNP.

  • Damaris Tighe

    Must disagree Mary, with you & with Orwell. Nationalism needn’t look down on other nations. It can celebrate different nationalities, their culture & traditions. One of the founding fathers of Italian nationalism, Mazzini, believed in the brotherhood of all nations. It was malignant N*z* nationalism (& its precursors) that morphed into imperialism, & imperialism isn’t nationalism at all because an empire will be multinational.

    Patriotism can also become malignant when it moves from a healthy attachment to one’s country as ‘home’ to the ya boo politics of footie fans.

    But you’re right: many modern nations fail because they’re artificial constructs of peoples & cultures resulting in lack of civil bonds & conflict. Remind you of anything?

    • TheBridge

      Nationalism is self constructed. You CAN have bonds with people with differing faiths, ethnicities, and history, the fact that you don’t seem to comprehend/ believe in this, perhaps suggest it’s more to do with your mind set. Let go of the view that you can only bond with your own ethnicity .

      • TheBridge

        … As I find it increasingly dangerous to think you can only work, and get along with people of your own ethnicity :/ it’s very closed minded

  • lobotomisedjournalist

    Your doctor friend sounds like a shallow, self-righteous prig, no matter how many languages he speaks. His wealth probably buys him all the solidarity and fellow feeling he needs. Orwell was spot on about patriotism, and he never made the simpleton’s fallacy of mistaking patriotism for sentimentality. My father hates the royal family, but is a true patriot.

  • Alison Lavinia Houston

    I feel rather disappointed you didn’t fight for the patriotic cause face to face but sneaked off here to write about it. It really shows you are as cowardly as your friend and that debate about something you supposedly care about is something you would rather avoid. As I keep saying we have to start fighting back.

  • What is patriotism? I doubt that it’s White Van Man hanging up the flag(s) of St George. He’s quite entitled to do this, of course. And Emily Thornberry was wrong to sneer as, it appears, she was doing. But UKIP patriotism is indeed nationalism. As is that of the SNP. And Nationalism kills. You don’t need to be any sort of historian to know that,

    The Triumph of the 21st Century (as compared with the 20th) has every chance of being pan-nationalism and unity. At least in Europe. Where the 20th Century had lots of “War War” the 21st will have lots of “Jaw Jaw” as we (at times) struggle to make European integration work. UKIP and their fellow travellers on the Tory Right want to withdraw from the European project. They are ignorant fools. As they wave their flags of St George they should reflect where such similiar national bravado got us in our parents and grandparents generations.

    You can be, as I am, happily English, proud to be British and privileged to be European. There is no paradox in this. If I had to fly a flag outside my house and could only choose one it would be the European flag. Because that is the flag which defines patriotism more widely and which is the future. That’s my patriotism. Because it doesn’t involve killing people.

    • Brimstone52

      What a pity the rest of the world doesn’t seem to share your views.

      • Oh I don’t thnk so. UKIP man is hardly “the rest of the world”.

        • djpiccalo

          What he is saying is that the rest of the world has their own immigration policy, the rest of the world governs itself is proud of their countries, patriotic and guess what? No one thinks all 190 countries outside the EU are dangerous nationalists for doing so. That’s all UKIP man wants, to be like the rest of the world.

          You are lucky the country has the democratic option in UKIP or you would probably be seeing the dangerous nationalism you talk about. People want their countries back all over Europe.

        • Brimstone52

          Nothing to do with UKIP members, male or female. It’s only the EU countries which have open borders and free movement of people.

          The rest of the world, i.e. the approx 170 countries outside the EU, control quite rigidly as a matter of principle, with varying degrees of success, who can enter their country.

          The first duty of any government is to protect the nation. By opening the borders and allowing anyone who wants to to come here, the government of the UK has failed in that duty.

    • Simon_in_London

      ” As they wave their flags of St George they should reflect where such
      similiar national bravado got us in our parents and grandparents
      generations.”

      Britain got into WW1 and WW2 for internationalist reasons, not nationalist ones. In WW1 Nationalism was used as a motivational & recruitment tool by the leaderships of the combatant nations, it was not the driver to war (except arguably Serbian nationalism in the initial assassination). Nazi Germany’s Lebensraum ideology that led to their invasion of Poland was a demonic form of nationalism, though – nationalism certainly can be a cause of war. But so can all sorts of other ideologies & motivations, such as imperialism and globalist utopianism, a major recent cause.

  • Otto von Bismarck

    The short answer: No

  • Xaider

    Someone tweeted this to me a few hours ago and is unsuprisingly a lefty Labour voter; ‘Patriotism is the Ugly, b*****d child of Nationalism…

    The left couldn’t be anymore clear in their hatred for the English flag, English / working class people and the country.

    The same goes for the rest of the UK.

    Labour and lefties are too concerned about pandering to the minorities and their wishes – it seems like 95% of the population has to conform to the wishes of the 5% because lefties say so.

    • Samson

      The left today gets lumped in with the metropolitan goofs in London (including the modern Labour party) and the noisy young goons who fill Twitter to the brim, but they don’t represent the ‘left’ as a whole, they’re just a sad symptom of modern leftism. My old man was a socialist from his teens onwards and spent many years in the army, as did most of my family and friends who were (almost) all on the left. I was a socialist for about ten years and flew the flag along with my folks at special occasions, as did most of the Labour-ish people of my town, and they still do. There are most certainly a lot of people on the left who do hate the flag, but you should keep in mind that our armed forces have not been populated solely by the right wing, not at any time in our history. Many people on the left love this country, and ergo its flag – and they are angry, along with the Right, at the morons who have hijacked the Left.

      • Cymrugel

        Agreed.

        Decent Tories re also conflated with the metro right and the likes of Boris Johnston.

        Basically London and the attitudes of its ruling elite are far too dominant.

  • laurence

    Ah, decaf ‘coffee’. Explains everything.

  • Simon_in_London

    Good point about Lebanon. I haven’t heard much from there since the 2006 Israeli invasion – I wonder if Hezbollah fighting for Assad’s secular government, and thus indirectly for the survival of Syria’s Christians, may have actually helped Shia/Christian reconciliation in Lebanon. I’m not sure what Lebanese Sunni think of it, but like many Syrian Sunni they seem fairly secular in general, not good Islamic State recruitment material.

  • Simon_in_London

    I agree about Patriotism. I’m not sure that Nationalism necessarily leads to invading Poland – the SNP are Nationalists and they’ve mostly avoided ethnic hatred (so far). Patriotism means ‘love of country’, which may be largely geographic, so I wonder if this article’s discussion of fellow-feeling is really more about Nationalism. I know it’s a dirty word in England, but that seems to be what is actually being discussed.

    • mdj

      ‘ they’ve mostly avoided ethnic hatred (so far)’
      Having a single, large, ready-made receptacle for it a few miles south has damped down the need for more outre targets.

  • Simon Fay

    “But I can’t see why all our different stories shouldn’t amount to a shared sense of belonging, and a shared pride.”

    Your terribly grand chum the doctor would seem to be a glaring contradiction of this fine hope. And that’s before you get to the alleged women who dress up as Gothic tents, feminists traumatised by loud shirts, students etc.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Several months back, some joker pulls up in a Range Rover (cheap as chips at auction) with England flags flapping front and rear. Getting out he utters those immortal words: “Did you see the match last night?” What *ucking match! In retrospect, I realise that escaping from a football dominated culture is one of the reasons I came to Japan.
    So grasp the obvious: Patriotism, the last refuge of the football hooligan. Britisher pals, you really need to make the connection between football and patriotism. Specifically, football team support and the local or national level is essentially junior league patriotism. That”s why it’s so tolerated make that encouraged by Authority. Essentially to head off that “England sucks” feeling that so many Brits feel, albeit at a passive level.
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • Says the Japanese paranoid schizophrenic calling himself British on the Internet just for the fun of it (also known as trolling)!

    • Samson

      The relationship with football has been largely pacified in recent years, the cops flood into every station where fans will be passing through. Certainly the tribalism of football is linked to patriotism, but the world cup these days is a more celebratory thing, rather than an excuse to batter people to a pulp.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “So what football team do you support?”
        Isn’t that one of those first-date questions?
        Preferred response: “I have no interest in football.”

        • The commentator above is obviously some Japanese (or otherwise foreign) idiot who had read a little too much of the Guardian, wrongly thinking that the Guardian were in any way accurately reflective of British (especially English) life! Never mind, he is obviously not only foreign but also a bit of an Internet Troll (a wind-up merchant)!

    • vieuxceps2

      If you keep calling me “Britisher” I shall report you to the Race Relations Board for offensive terminology.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Hey, I’m really scared.

    • ChuckieStane

      Jack,

      The Japanese seem to be able to unite behind their football team as to most countries around the world. French, Dutch, Italians, Portugese etc of every social background unite behind their team. Only in England, it seems do a proportion of society sneer at those supporting the national side.

      Football isn’t the issue.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Face it, football fans have shamed Britain at home and abroad for literally decades. Getting drunk in the centre of a European city, stripping off their shirts, committing criminal damage, throwing chairs and tables around, fighting among themselves and with locals, screaming *uck the Pope, rushing into local shops en masse and robbing the till… It’s undeniable.
        Now would that be patriotism or nationalism?
        Jack, the Japan Alps Brit.

        • ChuckieStane

          Jack,
          It is a question of identity and cohesion as a nation. Historically speaking we are still getting over the period of Empire. Britain was a global power, an industrial and technological powerhouse and militarily undoubtedly had its finest hour in the defeat of Nazism.
          Shorn of much of our influence and with sovereignty diluted by Europe and global corporatism, the decades you speak of have seen the UK struggling to come to terms with our new place in the world. Football hooliganism (although now largely a thing of the past) is perhaps a symptom.

          Scotland, which gained much from empire then lost so much in the subsequent decline, has been finding a new identity and trying to move on. For the elites of SE England, globalisation and European integration have provided wealth and opportunity, benefitting from London’s role on Europe’s front door to the rest of the world. National identity is low in their priorities.

          It is England’s working and middle classes that want to have pride in their own nation. Such a desire is natural and should be encouraged, yet there is an element of English society that cringes at Englishness. (We Scots have our famous Cringe too).

          In the past 24 hours numerous commentators have written about English identity yet so often the drift from using “England” to “Britain” and back again. Arguing over patriotism vs nationalism misses the point when the nation itself isn’t clearly defined.

          Perhaps the EU has diluted national identity too much. Most Scots were once happy to be part of the UK, now many would be happy to be independent but within Europe, but not all three.

          England needs to decide on where there future lies then unite around whatever that future identity is.

          • Robbing the till…you don’t need the wall of rebuttal, because you know perfectly well that he is trolling!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “The Heysel disaster of 29 May, 1985, led to the deaths of 39 fans and a five-year blanket ban on English clubs in European football.
            More than 60,000 supporters of Liverpool and Juventus had having spent the day drinking before the European Cup final. Thirty-nine Italian and Belgian fans died and hundreds were injured.”

            Nice bit of patriotism there, Britisher pals.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit (open to offers)

          • Still haven’t explained where your “robbing the till” part come from, I see; what proof do you have! You can’t of course!

            What do you mean by “open to offers”?! Are you some kind of a prostitute?!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Not just robbed the till, but some British fans (criminals) actually made a profit on the trip. While others stole fashion garments not available in UK at that time. Face it, Britain’s a nation of criminals and barbarians.

          • Making it up as you go along…you have lived in Japan since the year 1992, so how would you know?!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            YOUTUBE: Literally spoilt for choice
            -English Hooligans Untold Story
            -UK Football Hooligans | Full Documentary
            -Football Hooligans – Germany v England – 2001
            -UK 70/80`s Football Hooligan Riots
            -England Football Hooligans – Euro 2000 Riot
            -Football’s Top Boys
            -English football Hooligans Attack Police 2014
            -Football Hooligans Crazy Fight 2012
            -Football Hooligans Crazy Fight 2012
            -English documentary Hooligans Untold Story BBC Panorama Documentary (Full moovie)
            -Football Hooligans 30 Melbourne take on 150 West Sydney December 2013
            -Football Hooligans England in Charleroi 2000
            -Ukranian and British hooligans fight
            -england hooligans in france 98 world cup
            -England vs Scotland hooligans fighting in London
            -Ireland v England Riots 1995 (HQ)

            A nation of barbarians. Hate it and leave it
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit. Since 1972

          • If it is from YouTube, then it must be true—even if it was the BBC—what an idiot!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Excuses are like assholes: Everybody got one.

          • vieuxceps2

            “Assholes”? Only arseholes like you use the spelling of other nations.Or perhaps you are American? Would explain a lot.

          • What he had forgotten to tell us: He is a Japanese, and in Japan, the Japanese use American spellings.

            The man is a Japanese schizophrenic who calls himself a “Japan Alps Brit”, yet says the most outrageous things about HIS Country! What a schizophrenic idiot!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Spectator, the fact that you not just permit but facilitate lies, fabrications, distortions, knowingly publishing scandalous libels, makes me wonder how much of the rest of this publication is made up of exaggeration, distortion and untruths. Spectator = BS? Because by providing “George” a forum you are in effect acting as accessory after the fact to the crime of libel. You know as well as I do that I’m British and not Japanese, and that the aforementioned internet correspondent (current user name, George Smiley) is publishing libellous nonsense. I can only speculate as to his motive, but insanity has to be top of the list.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • Translation: I am a schizophrenic Japanese troll who like to troll British news sites to kill the time when I am refusing to take my anti-psychotics.

        • According to the insightful knowledge of someone who returned in Japan and lives there since the year 1992…pack in it, mate! Trolls like you don’t even know the concept of “Home Nations”!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            It takes real genius to be this consistently wrong. Reverse everything Jock says and you’re not too far from reality.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            rightrightright you really need to change your user name to wrongwrongwrong.

          • Or, once again, you were trolling and you got found out!

    • But you live in Japan, remember?!

  • I trust myself and my friends and… that’s it. Anyone who trusts a state is wilfully blind. States needs be seen pragmatically, not emotionally. A state is at best a necessary evil, and more often than not, just evil.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      or even evil necessity.

  • Samson

    I am patriotic (if a sad and despairing patriot), and do occasionally fly the flag, admittedly quite rarely – but the flag did have some very seriously negative connotations for a time, simply because in my corner of the world, that red cross on a white flag was hijacked by people who saw themselves as modern day barbarians. Even in those days I still put the flag out when an occasion rolled around, but I also got caught in multiple brawls, on trains, in pubs, on the street, in a hospital, on a bus, and you can only lose so many teeth before you start to wonder at the nationalist urge. I had an eye stamped out of my skull by someone who started out draped in a flag that represents the country I was born in, and love for all its faults. For me patriotism seems better with a pragmatic attitude attached to it: we’re great, but not perfect, we’ve things to be proud of but have some duty to be critical. If it’s used as an excuse for coasting along in egotism it can be very grisly, and dangerous.

  • Hegelman

    “My idea of Britain is a hotchpotch of my memories and learnt history.
    Every Briton will have different experience and a different idea of the
    country. But I can’t see why all our different stories shouldn’t amount
    to a shared sense of belonging, and a shared pride.”

    We are quietly proud in just that way.

    We don’t need your officious lecture. It’s teaching a granny to suck eggs.

    • vieuxceps2

      On the contrary,Hegelman,we English do need lectures on being proud to be English. After all, we have been lectured to for decades on the worthlessness, not to say danger , of being English and much of the signs and symbolism of our nation have been mercilessly trashed in the press and in schools by Lord Lefty and his pals.We need to regain a quiet awareness of our history and our plae in the world,both in the past and in the present.
      It will help when we have regained the Parliament which we lost in 1707 and become independent once again.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Your reply to the last question in my post has been deleted. I could only get my last paragraph through if I left out my direct comment about mc. Your reply seems to have been deleted for the same reason. It appears one can no longer directly comment on the subject in a thread about patriotism.

        • vieuxceps2

          Thank you for your info.I agree that artificially constructed nations of varying ethnicities and faiths are foredoomed to fail.That is why we today have but little hope of winning through to become a nation in the future.
          I find it disagreeably odd that the expression of such views meets with censorship,in both our cases.Perhaps those reponsible would care to explain their reasons?

          • Damaris Tighe

            I simply commented in my last para about the hyprocrisy of those who preach ‘community cohesion’ & ‘difference’ but don’t apply it to the British. I wonder if this post will get through.

  • Roy

    It’s taking a long time for the patriots to speak out and tell the world they stand for England and the English when the flood tide is swamping them in their beds!! Is it that at last it may happen that a patriotic speaking party may at last gain seats in the countries forum? Or have I got this wrong, are the new brood of patriots not what they seem to be? Do they really know the depths their leaders have led them? Do they know it is a long slippery slope they have to climb out of? Do they know how silent they have been and so given the enemies of truth, decency, and insidious propaganda, such a head start?

  • Robertus Maximus

    Dear Mary, lovely article but just one word of advice – dump the doctor! We’ve all done it, going along with something we vehemently disagree with, just to be polite. All you end up with is feeling a total s**t. Be an adult, either speak up or ditch the berk and find a proper friend.

  • H Jackson

    It is no longer in the interest of elites to be patriotic. It does not serve their interests because it reminds people lower down the economic pecking order that they may have a collective allegiance and are not just atomised individuals in a marketplace, which could trump liberal economic ideas. This is why UKIP is on the rise. People want to feel part of something greater than themselves, but the elite no longer support this idea. Sneering at patriotism is the new way of keeping people in their place.

  • Cymrugel

    I think you are kidding yourself about Lebanon,.
    The Christians are being squeezed out and will be gone within a generation.

  • MichtyMe

    The Labour Party doesn’t do flags, not even the Red anymore. If it’s uncomfortable with St George, it hates St Andrew’s. I quite like flags, ubiquitously, displayed like in the Scandinavian countries but tastefully, with poles, not hung oot the windae like bed linen.

    • The Labour Party are full of foreigners and ethnic minorities with English birth certificates, such as one (unnamed) idiot somewhere on the board (although he is obviously a little too mentally ill even for the SWP)!

  • Ambientereal

    I believe if the world where different, patriotism could be forgotten, but the way things are going on right now, we must be patriotic and protect our land our population and our culture. There are still in XXI century cultures aiming to destroy other cultures, human beings that despise others in order to get more power and more money, although they have already enough even for their grand – grandchildren. Without the cohesion brought by patriotism, no country could withstand the threat posed and it will disintegrate.

  • JKV

    What a wonderful article. This really resonated with me. Thanks Mary.

  • tolpuddle1

    Britain was always a political alliance more than a country.

    The Scots have had the sense not to destroy their country in a literal, physical sense. But not that much of England still exists.

  • BigCheddar

    What a beautiful piece Mary, Thank you. You describe the virtues of patriotism with a charm and grace the belies the stereotype of a Strood House with a white van in the front drive and draped in flags of St George, (and good for him by the way).

    “… trust and co-operation beyond the family are acquired as part of the functional attitudes that accumulate in a modern, prosperous society…” This is so true. And it’s our prosperity that allows emotional intelligence to thrive – that ability to see the world through the eyes of others and to put ourselves second for the greater good.

    It’s our prosperity that allows the liberal intellectual left to mount their superior soap box and lecture us all with their disdainful sneering. If it wasn’t for patriotism they’d have no platform from which to look down on us.

  • Alan Dray

    Anyone who thinks patriotism is a bad thing does not understand it. Patriotism is personal and has nothing whatsoever to do with nationalism. It is also not a bar to pan europeanism or even globalism. Think only of Atlee’s Labour Party. They were an unashamedly socialist group. They believed in a super national movement yet were also fervently patriotic. For some patriotism involves the monarchy for others it involves more social or historical connotations. To take two further examples. Tony Benn was a patriotic man who wanted Britain to return to the values of the Commonwealth. Enoch Powell was also patriotic and wanted Britain to be ruled by Victorian values. Neither agreed with the other on almost anything. When people try to understand something instead of dismissing things they don’t understand wemay grow up as a country.

  • Johnwillettssocialist

    There is no such thing as society, only individuals and families

  • Johnwillettssocialist

    Without society, there can be no patriotism

  • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

    I am a Scots patriot, but the English do not seem to like the idea. So where does that leave them ?

  • Barbouze

    The flags were up for the World Cup(waste of time there)

    I can’t find anything to be patriotic about these days. And I’m not optimistic about the future either.

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