A Fresh Understanding of Patriotism
Patriotism often gets a bad rap and is frequently victim of the fallacy of association when only the most distasteful groups are used as examples of patriotism to undermine its true validity. In reality this is a distortion that needs correcting. As Daniel Hannan points out, we would more correctly understand patriotism as an affinity between the governing and the governed and something that is vital in effective and legitimate democracy. It is clear to most observers that the very patriotism that made individual member states historically successful is where the EU project is weak. No wonder patriotism is under so much attack; for the EU project to succeed national pride needs to die. Needless to say this very real lack of affinity between the governing and the governed within the EU undermines the EU’s democratic basis (there is no love for it you see) and makes it therefore tend towards force rather than freely given civic responsiveness.
Over to Daniel Hannan MEP for a straightforward explanation:
“Patriotism doesn’t mean you look down on other countries. On the contrary, it’s what makes us behave unselfishly. It’s what makes us recognise an obligation to our immediate neighbours.
…when you take the demos out of democracy you are left only with the kratos; with the power of a system that must compel by force of law what it dare not ask in the name of civic patriotism.
“…the national liberals, of the 1848 revolution…understood – those high minded progressive men – that the future of Europe would be best served if democracies collaborated one with another; living together as friendly neighbours rather than bickering as quarrelling tenants. They understood that democracy is not simply a periodic right to mark a cross on a ballot paper; that democracy also depends on an affinity between governing and governed; a sense of common identity, of allegiance, of nationhood. You need a demos, a unit with which we identify when we use the word ‘we’. We have that sense as Britons, as Germans, as Portuguese. We do not have it as Europeans and when you take the demos out of democracy you are left only with the kratos; with the power of a system that must compel by force of law what it dare not ask in the name of civic patriotism.”
(Daniel Hannan MEP, Germany No Longer Needs Europe: The Dream is Over, Intelligence Squared Debate, 27th May 2011)