Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Mob Celebration on Bin Laden's Death: Tribalism not Patriotism.

The jubilation in the USA that greeted Bin Laden's killing was vulgar and unseemly. But certain journalists have tried to use it to discern some systemic malaise connected to the idea of being loyal to a nation. Gary Younge makes some good points and states today, (Osama bin Laden's death: The US patriot reflex, The Guardian 3 May 2011 ),
The national unity that Barack Obama has sought to harness following the announcement is indeed eerily familiar. Albeit in joy rather than sorrow, it's the same kind of unity that followed 9/11. It is also the same kind of unity that rallies around flags, dismisses dissent and disdains reflection.
But he writes,
The patriotic impulse in American society is intense and pervasive. The kind of national fervour reserved elsewhere for occasional events like royal weddings, World Cup victories or major tragedies is a dormant reflex waiting for a trigger.
The mob reaction in reaction to Bin Laden's assassination is more akin to "tribalism" or nationalism which is different to patriotism which has often led to an impassioned and sceptical questioning of power, not only of government but of those whom Orwell called "transferred nationalism".

The fact that the neoconservatives used terms such as "Patriot Act" to impose measures that curtailed civil liberties in the USA should not detract from the fact that the word "patriotism", as in "patriot missile" is an Orwellian misappropriation of the word. In the same way that Soviet communist regimes were termed "people's republics".

Younge conflates nationalism with patriotism due to the adherence to the ideology of anti-colonial discourse that derives from the 1960s Leninist radicals and those such as Franz Fanon. Nationalism is only good if it is yoked to victim nations or to hyper identities such as militant Islamism.

It is quite possible to be simultaneously against US global policy, even "neo-imperialism", without being scathing about the ordinary ties and loyalty to a country and being against those who write drivel about "the Iraqi resistance" or support Islamo-Bolshevik movements such as Respect.

Such movements fall under the rubric of what Orwell called "transferred nationalism" and are conditioned by the same power hunger, fanaticism and hatreds that are fomented by bad governments that those who care for their own countries seek to bring an end to. Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. To conflate them is disingenuous.

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