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August 12, 2005

At Least He's Honest: Lefty George Monbiot Admits Contradiction Between Left-Liberalism and Patriotism

He doesn't understand, according to the sub-hed, why he should love his own country (Britain) any more than any other country.

Which is, you know, the whole problem in a nutshell. I've said it ad nauseum, but left-liberals believe their attachment to their country is a thing of pure happenstance, and should not therefore engender any sort of love of country. Global progressives consider themselves global citizens, and their loyalties are not primarily national, but transnational and ideological, a loyalty and affection for a worldwide (anti-nationalist) progressive/socialist solidarity movement and not to any particular country.

Which is their right. But I grow weary of them claiming that I should not question their patriotism. Most are not so forthright to admit this, but they are not patriots, at least as patriotism is conventionally understood. If they are "patriots" at all, it is according to a novel definition of the term-- love not of country but of transnational socialist ideology, which they believe, indirectly, is love of country, because if we would all just do what the transnational socialists wanted it would be better for everyone.

And there's that ever-present bugaboo that patriotism leads to war:

The argument runs as follows: patriotic people don't turn on each other. If there are codes of citizenship and a belief in Britain's virtues, acts of domestic terrorism are unlikely to happen. As Jonathan Freedland writes, the United States, in which "loyalty is instilled constantly", has never "had a brush with home-grown Islamist terrorism".

This may be true (though there have been plenty of attacks by non-Muslim terrorists in the US). But while patriotism might make citizens less inclined to attack each other, it makes the state more inclined to attack other countries, for it knows it is likely to command the support of its people. If patriotism were not such a powerful force in the US, could Bush have invaded Iraq?

To argue that national allegiance reduces human suffering, you must assert that acts of domestic terrorism cause more grievous harm than all the territorial and colonial wars, ethnic cleansing and holocausts pursued in the name of the national interest. To believe this, you need to be not just a patriot but a chauvinist.

And he explicitly makes his anti-patriot case here:

And what, exactly, would a liberal patriotism look like? When confronted with a conflict between the interests of your country and those of another, patriotism, by definition, demands that you choose those of your own. Internationalism, by contrast, means choosing the option that delivers most good or least harm to people, regardless of where they live. It tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington, and that a policy which favours the interests of 100 British people at the expense of 101 Congolese is one we should not pursue. Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of the 100 British people. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How, for that matter, do you distinguish it from racism?

No offense, buddy, but one is supposed to favor one's kith and kin (whatever the hell "kith" is) over strangers. And, to a lesser extent, one favors one's countrymen over non-contrymen.

You can reject that idea, but I'm sorry, that's part of the social compact that, for example, Coast Guard sailors abide by when they risk their lives to save you. True, I suppose, they don't check the nationalities of the people they rescue at sea, but they sign up and train with the assumption that most of the people they save will be their fellow countrymen.

If you want to opt out of that social compact, please do so via a legally-binding contract, and make it clear that you do not expect your government-by-happenstance or any of its soldiers, police, or rescue workers to endanger their lives to save you, because you would not do the same for them.

That said, kudos to Monbiot for admitting what so many left-liberals prefer to lie about. They reject the entire notion of conventional patriotism as akin to racism and conducive to war. They consider themselves Global Citizens first and foremost, Patriots of the Progressive Cause.

Which, again, is fine. But stop telling me not to question your patriotism. You're not patriotic. Have the courage of your convictions and admit this and explain why your anti-patriotic stance is justifiable and preferable to actual patriotism rather than constantly lying about how super-duper-patriotic you really are.

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posted by Ace at 04:00 PM

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