Invoking patriotism


Over the entire course of the evolution of humanity, patriotism has been the tantalisingly sensitive concept which has held together the very fabrics of co-existence. At the same time, even its slightest manipulation for the parsimonious politics has created the greatest of unrests in the world order, making the phenomenon detrimental at both cause and effect ends; something which the world realized in 1914 and again in 1939. But certain lessons are never learnt.

Today, as the world bears witness to the gradual shift from the conventional to an era of neo-realist politics sugarcoated in the theories of post truth and alternative facts, it is intentionally made to overlook a global conspiracy of implied xenophobia. The election victories are shaped on hate speeches on any line which demarcates a set of majority from a minority, or at least appeases the former.

A section of people in India and Pakistan believe that a war will solve all their problems. Donald Trump’s America believes that creating a wall at the Mexican Border will end all their misery. Many British believe that Brexit will once again make them the rulers of the world, and a section of Australia and many other European nations believe that the immigrants are better left to perish due to cold and starvation. Remarkably, according to their local leaders, they all are the true patriots.

Howard Zinn in ‘The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy’ writes that, “If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one’s country, one’s fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.”

It had never been as important as today to rise above this politics of segregation, and identify oneself beyond the selfish lines of race, religion and nationality, because at the end of the day, as Zinn writes, it all boomerangs.

With inputs from: The Zinn Reader – Writings on Disobedience and Democracy, Howard Zinn, Seven Stories Press, 1997

Nikhil Kumar

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