Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Patriotism is not enough ( 2 )

Regular readers of this blog will have realised that I take a very dim view of tribalism and nationalism.

I mention both tribe and nation because those of us in the western, more or less Christian lands see our world and ourselves in terms of national identity.

We do not understand or appreciate other more eastern lands where loyalty to clan or tribe comes far ahead of loyalty to nation.

Westerners are in fact clannish and tribal
. We identify with our clan (nuclear family, extended family, circle of immediate friends etc); and with our tribe (people who share our religious, political or vocational lives), but these clans and tribes are fluid, and are mostly subverted to our national loyalties.

In other (say Muslim or Hindu) cultures, the loyalty to clan and tribe trumps all others.

A healthy sense of clannish, tribal or national identity is important insofar as it provides social glue by which we are moulded into peoples. A sense of shared history, traditions and values is vital if we are to live in free communities.

(Doubtless, one of the legitimate gripes of British folks regarding immigrants is that, by and large, they do not seem to have bought into a sense of “Britishness”.)

(But of course, at a time when all the old British institutions – Empire, Monarchy, Church, Government, Law enforcement, Class distinctions and the like are no longer trusted, even native born British people are losing their own sense of “Britishness”. The songs which I posted yesterday now ring hollow!)

So much for a healthy sense of clan, tribe or nation.

My “beef” is with that spirit which says “My clan/tribe/ nation – right or wrong”.

The global village is far too small for that spirit. We are one human race living on one small and stressed planet. We shall not survive without a commitment to international cooperation and understanding.

And the “My clan/tribe/ nation – right or wrong” spirit, leads clans, tribes and nations to develop a deep fear of “the other”, and a mistaken trust in “security”.

I do believe that the United States Governments since World War II have bowed down to this false God of national security, with dire results (Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq to name but a few cases in point). It also breaks my heart to see the British and Israeli governments take similar tacks.

This issue is as old as the bible. The Psalmist, referring to national security as the night watchmen writes the following.

11 Day and night the watchmen make their rounds
upon her walls, *
but trouble and misery are in the midst of her.

12 There is corruption at her heart; *
her streets are never free of oppression and deceit.

All of our vaunted “National Security” is not worth a bucket of spit so long as trouble. misery, corruption and deceit are at the hearts of our clans, tribes or nations.

J. Michael Povey

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