In a period of Brexit, Trump visits and- most importantly- Three Lions making it to number one I’ve felt inspired to ask David Mountain all about why we should get rid of patriotism.
To hear more from David join him at the New Town Theatre on the 8th August for his show ‘The Problem With Patriotism’.
What fashion trend would you get rid of?
Anything that involves people messing around with their eyebrows.
What song would you get rid of forever?
Sweet Caroline. Just awful.
What one TV show would you get rid of?
Any show that starts with ‘The Great British…’, whether it’s baking or sewing or allotment tending. Not only are they mind-numbingly boring, but they pander to a cosy, kitschy sense of patriotism that encourages us to forget many of the problems with national pride.
Why? Is it not just a bit of fun?
Far from it – patriotism is deadly serious. And I use ‘deadly’ advisedly: patriotism is used around the world to justify and even celebrate war. Away from the battlefield, national pride is used to build support for reckless and poorly-planned gambles – Brexit and Trump come to mind – that would otherwise fail to gain traction. When the president of the United States tells us it’s unpatriotic not to applaud him, I don’t find myself laughing.
Why should we get rid of patriotism more generally?
Because it is an illogical, dangerous and unnecessary belief. In the twenty-first century humanity faces some very big problems: climate change, nuclear war, overpopulation and a whole host of other cheery concerns. We are not going to be able to tackle them if we continue to believe that our various nationalities are more important than our common humanity. Patriotism entrenches divisions, and we no longer have the time to pander to such parochialism.
What should replace patriotism?
Absolutely nothing! Nothing, that is, beyond a basic grasp of logic and compassion. One of the crucial things about patriotism is that there’s nothing worthwhile it can achieve that can’t also be achieved without it. People like to say that in a world without patriotism we would stop caring, stop paying taxes or stop obeying the law. But do we pay taxes because we love our country, or because tax evasion is illegal? You can live a decent, engaged and productive life without once feeling proud of your country