5 Reasons Patriotism is Wrong

1. It’s thinking your country is superior to every other, which is both deluded and proud.
2. It inhibits critical reflection on what is good and bad about your culture.
3. It’s selfishly putting what is good for me and my country above what is good for humanity.

4. For Christians it forgets that our citizenship is in the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
5. It means that Aldi can make money selling cheap and tacky Australian flag merchandise and people drive around with those cringeworthy plastic Australian flags on their cars that they got free with their carton of beer.

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15 Responses to 5 Reasons Patriotism is Wrong

  1. Ali says:

    I just read a very interesting blurb on patriotism, surprisingly in the first chapter of The Four Loves by CS Lewis. I won't even try to summarise it because I feel like I need to read it again myself, but it did make me rethink the whole concept.

  2. Laetitia :-) says:

    I'll agree with point 5 but the others seem to be about nationalism, not patriotism (according to the definitions I learnt in high school history).

  3. Hi guys,thanks for your comments. Ali – I'd be interested to know at least if CS Lewis is generally positive or generally negative. Guess I could read the book for myself.Laetitia – Well you could be right. I didn't check the definitions before I wrote the post (rant). But I still think there is a very fine line between Patriotism and Nationalism. To say I'm 'Proud to be Australian' (and what does that really mean) surely has the flip side that I'd be less proud if I was a Kiwi or a Bengali. And it's a very short step from there to a 'we're better than you attitude'I'm all for being an honest and committed citizen, not because I'm 'proud' of my country but because I (should) want to serve my neighbour.

  4. Wendy – I think that last comment kind of touches on your post as well.

  5. Kutz says:

    "To say I'm 'Proud to be Australian' (and what does that really mean) surely has the flip side that I'd be less proud if I was a Kiwi or a Bengali."Hey Andrew, :)I was a bit dubious about the message of your post as a whole, and the comment above has helped me to work out why.I can see why it would be quite legitimate to be proud to be Australian, and yet not necessarily imply that you'd be less proud were you from another country. The 'pride', as it were, comes from identification with the idiosyncrasies of your identity and the affinity that has with the idiosyncrasies of your country. Why would a stockman not be proud of being Australian and his affinity with the sunburnt plains? A farmer proud of his affinity with the land?What you're saying comes across to me as denial somewhat of the value of our createdness. Is it perhaps coloured somewhat? Do you not feel yourself to have a great affinity with Australia and its culture?I just wonder if patriotism is really stupid or you're just not patriotic.Of course, in all of this, I grant that the sinful human heart my well slide from 'patriotism' to 'nationalism' (as defined by laetitia's high school history textbook) quite easily, but that's like saying that money is stupid because those who have it get greedy.

  6. Kutz says:

    I guess what I'm saying is that one can be proud of being a part of one country, and yet at the same time respect that fact that (and perhaps even encourage and think it necessary) others are also proud of theirs.

  7. I'm not against people appreciating or enjoying the idiosyncracies of their culture. But I think patriotism is more than that. Patriotism is what our prime minister said in his speech yesterday 'we are not the lucky country, we're the smart hardworking country that can be proud of our great acheivements' (second half of the quote isn't word for word, but I'm confident It's not a caricature). I'm sorry. We are the lucky country. We have definitely been blessed with more natural resources than anyone else. But I'm not sure we really have that many more great acheivements than anyone else. And even if we did, I'm questioning the need to feel proud of those acheivements over acheivements by people from other countries. As Christians I would have thought we'd be wanting to be thankful, and to be working out how we can use our blessings for the sake of the gospel and the world – not how we can come up with more great Australian acheivements.

  8. Ali says:

    Andrew, he's not against a 'love of one's country' in it's proper place and loved rightly. But he is negative about two aspects of patriotism – the first (which is actually his third point on the subject) being that of a belief that our own nation is superior to all others, and the second being the attitude that if our nation is superior then we have either the duties or rights of a superior nation towards the others (but he's positive about the duties and negative about the "rights" eg I think it's only right that the US assists Haiti, but it wouldn't be right if we thought we could make slaves out of them as a result). But it's all a bit more complicated than that – read pages 28-37 in the book with the green photographic cover, if you have it.

  9. Kutz says:

    I think, Andrew, that we simply disagree on what patriotism is. I don't think that you caricatured what the Prime Minister said, but I wonder if you've caricatured what patriotism is?

  10. Kutz says:

    Oh, and if by 'patriotism' you only mean that of the bogans flying flags and having 'like it or leave' stickers on the back of their cars, then I think I'd agree. I just don't agree with the actual title of your post.

  11. Wendy says:

    Andrew is also an ATCK – an adult Third Culture Kid – one who spent time in his growing up years outside Australia. That automatically gives him a different perspective to those who spent all their growing up years in Australia.

  12. Dave says:

    To take a tangent from Kutz's comments, I think it's patriotism (and acceptable) to be proud of your country and the good things that it has, or has achieved (on that note, I think there's a fair bit of evidence that Australia punches above its weight in terms of inventions and discoveries which have benefited the whole world, and I think that is something we can be proud of, as well as thankful to God for) without necessarily thinking any less of other nationalities or people groups.I think where it tips over into unacceptable territory is when we start belittling others (think State of Origin on a larger scale) and thinking that there is an inherent superiority to our group over all others. I think that's well and truly down the nationalism path, which brings to mind examples like Herrenvolk and quislings in WW2. Or the bogans in Cronulla.I don't think there's any problem with patriotism, but I think there are lots of problems with nationalism. Not least of which is that it denies the fact that we're all sinners and all dependent on Christ.

  13. Thanks for all your comments people. Obviously there is a sense in which I was being provocative in my post, and it is possible to define patriotism in a way that makes it acceptable. I do however think normal every day patriotism does move into areas that are problematic for Christians. It's the default human position to love and appreciate the people from your own tribe. The command to love your neighbour, especially as interpreted by Jesus in the parable of the good samaritan I think pushes us to go beyond that.Also in the Old Testament the idea of 'nation' is normally a negative one. There's a sense that once nations get self conscious about being a nation they tend to set themselves up against God. So I guess to sum up I think Patriotism is the default human position. I think the gospel pushes us to view the world in a different way – although a way that will still be serious about loving and serving those around us.

  14. Joanna says:

    I would agree with Dave's final point that whether one calls it nationalism or patriotism, a heightened sense of pride in one's country tends to get in the way of good theology, which applies to nations as well as people. Nations, after all, are just one of the more recent structures that human minds have imagined for the organisation of community life.In Australia, for example, the wealth and prosperity of this nation comes from natural resources and land that were stolen. Our 'founding fathers' made it very clear that their understanding of Australia was based on a vision of racial exclusion and the defence of 'whiteness'. (Have a good read of Alfred Deakin!) Horrors like the massacres of Tasmanian Indigenous people, the stolen generation, the White Australia policy, were all natural consequences. This may not be surprising, given the doctrine of total depravity. But I think it means a general attitude of repentance and humility and desire to sacrificially make reparations may be more appropriate than pride, with our nation as well as with ourselves as individuals.

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