Conventional Patriotism is Dead… and that’s a great thing

Or maybe not yet, but its days are numbered.

I opened The Guardian app a couple of days ago and clicked on an article that addressed Boris Johnson’s “recent criticism of young voters who feel an allegiance to Europe.” Boris Johnson, for those of you who don’t know, is a British politician. One that apparently thinks that allegiance to your home country and your continent are mutually exclusive – what hogwash.

Reading the article made my blood boil – and although this post may seem out of place on my plastic-free, low-waste lifestyle blog (they’re not actually as far removed as you may think and I’ll touch on that later), but for lack of a better forum I want to share my views on this whole “patriotism” business here.  You may agree or you may vehemently disagree, either way I hope this makes you think about the matter a little further than if you hadn’t found yourself reading this. 

I was born in Australia, my passport is Australian and it states my nationality as Australian. When I am overseas and get asked the question, “where are you from?”, my answer? Surprise surprise – Australian.

But I would never describe myself as patriotic – does that make me un-Australian?

Australia is a great nation, and I feel eternally blessed to have been born there. But it was pure chance that I popped out in Darlinghurst, Sydney, Australia instead of, say, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Obviously, we have no choice in where we are born, just as we have no choice as to the family we are born into or the social or economical level of that family. So why then do I need to swear an unyielding and (this is my big bug bear) an unquestioning alliance to that said country?

The Collins Dictionary uses phrases such as “love for your country and loyalty towards it”, and “love and loyal or zealous support of one’s country” to define patriotism. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “love for or devotion to one’s country”. Loyalty, zealous, devotion – to me these words conjure up the idea of blind obedience and I think that’s dangerous.

Let’s look at where so called patriotism has directed the world in the past year. The first to come to mind are Brexit in the UK and President Donald Trump in the USA with his, well for lack of a better word, dumb campaign slogan of “Let’s Make America Great Again” (Do you think Trump and his advocates know that America refers to two entire continents and over a dozen countries, not just the USA?). Even in countries generally renowned for being progressive, a conservative party with hardline immigration policies and a pro-oil slogan of “Trust us, we will bring up every drop” just got re-elected (That’s Norway, by the way).

Governments worldwide are using the patriotism argument to implement policies based on fear – and I’m calling bullshit.

The most urgent issues facing the globe today are just that – global. And as such we need to be addressing them together, unified and all the stronger and more effective for it. No one nation can resolve climate change,  the refugee crisis, overpopulation or the plastic pollution problem (and yes, I rank this issue on par with the others mentioned. Skeptical about that? Read more here). More pertinently, no one nation will even try to solve these problems because each government will shirk the responsibility with the claim that it wasn’t just them who caused it – and that’s fair enough. They are global problems that require an international solution – now.

Today’s world is an international one and we can no longer afford to limit ourselves to country-based priorities. Whilst there is obviously a need for local and national-based policies, and it’s important to support the nation we live in to be the best it can be; a global outlook is the way towards a brighter future.

Conventional patriotism is obsolete. But an allegiance to Planet Earth and being loyal, devoted citizens of the world is absolutely vital.

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2 thoughts on “Conventional Patriotism is Dead… and that’s a great thing”

  • You said it. I really appreciated this thoughtful and engaging post about a topic that can be quite divisive. As someone from one of those countries that glorifies patriotism and demonizes those that don’t cleave to an undying loyalty to their flawed and fallible nation of origin, I see the dangers of this issue first-hand on a daily basis. You’re absolutely right – there is no denying the interdependence and inter-connectedness between all the countries of the world at this point, and we need to deal with the issues you mentioned, and more, as global citizens to really create the change that’s needed. I’m pretty new to your blog, but I want to let you know that I’m quite enjoying it.

    • Hi Sally! Thank you so much for your kind words. It means so much to me to hear from a reader. And yes, I agree with everything you have said too – including that there are so many issues beyond the few I’ve noted that need to be addressed by a united humanity. Here’s hoping a brighter future lays ahead of us!


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