Unqualified nationalism - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by James R, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    The following article appear in The Age, 24 January, 2010. It is by Mark Seymour, a musician and song writer who is very well known in Australia.

    It raises an issue that is not specific to Australia, however.

    Aussie. I love it, but leave me out of the flag-waving

    I'M DRIVING down EastLink. The transponder's beeping the cost every few minutes, but it's OK. I'm cashed up and it's a great bit of road. The sky is a perfect blue. There's a light wind and the website told me there's a straight swell hitting the peninsula coast. Great day, great surf. It doesn't get much better. Tonight, there'll be a barbecue on the deck overlooking the creek and a few cold ones.

    A silver Rodeo passes me on the right, then moves across in front. The tray is full of plumbing supplies, a ladder, plastic pipes. There's a sticker on the back window, ''Australia. Love it or leave it'', and an Aussie flag up in the corner.

    It gets to me straight away. But why? Well, the sticker is demanding I take an emotional position about my country and I'm not feeling like doing that at the moment, so I feel slightly annoyed.

    Bumper stickers are a conspicuous form of political self-identification. Everybody reads them. Stickers that say ''I shoot and I vote'' or ''Nurses: You can't live without them'' are intended to convey a clear message about the opinions held by the driver. Fair enough. That's their business. And it may or may not be mine. Stickers like that aren't asking me to take a position.

    But the ''Aussie. Love it or leave it'' is an entirely different animal. It demands I take a position for the simple reason that I, too, am an Australian. In other words, the sticker is saying: ''Do you love your country? If you don't, then what are you doing here?'' And it's not just me it's asking. It's everybody who holds Australian citizenship.

    For this reason I am forced to ask myself where I stand. Do I love my country? I'm fourth-generation, Irish background, brought up in the burbs. I love footy, surfing, barbecued steak, hard work and Victoria Bitter. I'm a stat; surely the sticker isn't aimed at me. After all, I know where I stand. I belong here.

    So then, who is it aimed at? Anyone who hates Australia? So why would you be here if you hate it? Maybe if you are a recent immigrant who can't find work, or you are totally skint and can't afford to leave, or an Indian taxi-driver.

    The problem with this sticker is in its use of the word ''love''. It's unconditional. It doesn't allow for the middle ground. I'm really thinking now. Love Australia warts and all, the sticker is telling me, or piss off. Well, my problem is that I can't honestly say that I do love it warts and all. In fact, Australia's got warts that I utterly despise, like the fact a whole lot of Indian students have been bashed in Melbourne over the past few weeks. That's not good. I can't say I'm proud of that. Or that despite the fact we enjoy one of the highest standards of living, our Aboriginal people are among the most disadvantaged on the planet; not good either. Or that our public health system is a shambles, or that the Murray-Darling Basin is dying. Hell, maybe I should leave, because I can't honestly say that I ''love'' Australia unconditionally. After all, the sticker's demanding I do that. Isn't it? Or can you love your country with strings attached?

    If only I could sit down with the plumber over a cold one and discuss it. You see, what the sticker does - as do the many forms of conspicuous nationalistic merchandise that are so popular now - is shut down negative thought about Australia, right at that moment when the wearer is passing you by, which increasingly can be anywhere at any time, as opposed to the appropriate occasions, like Australia Day. Meanwhile, it doesn't take a plumber or a rock musician to find fault with this country. You don't have to dig very deep, my friend.

    Statements like ''Aussie. Love it or leave it'' don't leave Australians like me with any wriggle room. I think that Australia's pretty good, but it's not that good.


    You can go on about how great Australia is to other Australians for just so long. And then it gets boring. We all know what a great place it is. It's the rest of the world we need to convince. Especially India, right now. Really, the world's a big place and Australia is only one nation.

    I'll be performing for the City of Penrith on Australia Day. Doubtless I'll look into a sea of faces, many of whom will be recent immigrants, and I'll say to them, as a proud Australian, how pleased I am they could come.​


    Is unqualified, unthinking nationalism a good thing, or should you love your country "with strings attached"?

    For people who live in countries other than Australia, is it the same there as it is here?
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  3. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I think any ideology, nationalism or ethnocentrism is fine, as long as you don't harm other people because they don't share it. I also think that at the point where your* nationalism is usurping someones elses basic rights**, its unethical.

    *third person singular, not directed at you

    ** right to live, for example
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  5. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I think the writer, and then you, James, have taken that silly little bumper sticker ''Australia. Love it or leave it" much, much too far. I can't imagine that anyone in their right mind would suggest "unqualified, unthinking" anything.

    It's a bumper sticker, for god's sake! What would you have a silly little bumper sticker say ....everything that Mark Seymour said about it? The bumper sticker would be larger than the truck!

    In other words, James, you and Mark Seymour have simply blown this thing completely out of the realm of reality. And in doing so and in posting about it in this way, I think you're turning it into just one more thing to further divide people. The sticker itself is divisive, you're only adding another dimension to that division.

    The word "love" is unconditional? When did that happen? And as a matter of fact, half of all of the couples who get married (and presumably love each other) get divorced shortly thereafter. Where did that "unconditional love" go? C'mon, love is a word we use - mostly to get what we want or to express a "feel good" for someone else. Love is an emotion that comes and goes ...it ain't unconditional.

    And once again, Mark Seymour read more into that silly little bumper sticker than was ever there or ever intended.

    Good God, it's a silly little bumper sticker. Must everything, even little stickers, be overly analyzed and turned into something else to help divide society even more?

    Baron Max
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  7. phlogistician Banned Banned

    Jingoism is the last bastion of the scoundrel.

    To love something, you have to admit, understand, and forgive it's flaws. Bumper stickers like the one described imply some sort of 'correctness' about a country, and people's attitude towards it, and give no room for free thought or diversity. Only Nazi fucks have no room for diversity or free thought, and oddly, the one great example of that kind of government were nationalists. That said I love the idea of such bumper stickers, it immediately indentifies right wing morons. Saves taking the time to talk to them and discovering how abhorrent they are.
  8. phlogistician Banned Banned

    If the idea conveyed had meant so little to the guy sporting the sticker, he sholks have left it in the shop, Max.

    But no, he wanted to be asociated with the idea of expelling free thinkers and stamping out diversity. And if you don't agree with me that's what that sticker conveys, I don't care, because you probably just aren't insightful enough to realise that 'one size' doesn't 'fit all'.
  9. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    I never knew patriotism existed in Australia. Or any sort of family values, for that matter.

    Unqualified, blind patriotism is a bad thing; if you love your country you need to do what is righteous and in its favor.
  10. codanblad a love of bridges Registered Senior Member

    you always make strange remarks about australia, is it a running joke, do iranians (you're from iran right) dislike australia, or have you come across too many dislikable australians?

    there's some quote from mod warfare 2, to the tune of "patriotism is the excuse people use when they abandon their principles". i share the author's sentiment, its demanding, excessive and unintelligent.

    i disagree with you baron, its part of and contributing to some of the negative aspects of australian culture, i'd rather more aussies think about it before embracing it the way they do.
  11. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    I see it as an excluded middle fallacy. The implication is that any criticism of your country implies that you don't love it, and should therefore leave. It shoulders aside the idea that you can both love (or be very fond of) the country of your birth, while still thinking that it's not perfect, and could use some constructive criticism.

    "That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."~Theodore Roosevelt

    In 2003 president and nation were synonymous in the eyes of Bush supporters, who wasted no time in branding those who questioned his policies as unpatriotic, and even treasonous. Of course, the majority of those same people now find questioning the president's policy initiatives to be the height of patriotism.
  12. Pinwheel Banned Banned

    Yeah funny that.
  13. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    I'm from Syria.

    And I make these remarks because I have yet to come across a single sensible Australian (conservative). I assume that they don't exist.

    I don't think that's fair; patriotism can be a good thing; it can be the thing that unites and directs the people.
  14. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Do you honestly, sincerely, believe that that tiny little bumper sticker means all that? ...LOL!

    Do you honestly, sincerely, believe that the people put those stickers on his bumper actually and honestly thinks that Australia (or wherever) is totally and completely without faults or flaws? ...LOL!

    I'd love to hear your comments about all the other gazillion bumper stickers that are seen all over the place. It would be a riot of laughs and idiotic comments fit for publication in humor magazines!

    Baron Max
  15. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Do you honestly, sincerely, believe that a lousy little bumper sticker could cause all the "damage" to the idyllic wonders of Aussieland?

    C'mon, man, if you think a lousy little bumper sticker could do all that, you must be absolutely horrified of real dangers to Aussieland ....like fires, cane toads, erosion of the Great Barrier Reef, pollution,.... :D

    Amazing .....one little bumper sticker has cause this divide among us. Just think, if we were all together, and each of us had weapons,..... ..LOL!

    Baron Max
  16. phlogistician Banned Banned

    It's simple Max, the guy either didn't think about what it meant, and is an idiot, or did, and is an asshole.
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is a place of scholarship, so feel free to take a scholarly tone and use the indefinite pronoun one to avoid misunderstandings: "At the point where one's nationalism is usurping..." The British are much fonder of that construction than we are; it's considered a little snobbish over here, except in academic discourse. Indian English is much closer to British English than to American English, so I'm surprised you folks don't also say "one" in that situation; it's pretty useful.

    Yes. The source of that bumper sticker is undoubtedly the "America: Love It or Leave It" stickers that sprang up in the 1960s regarding the "Generation Gap." There was considerable animosity between the older conservatives, who as a demographic supported religion, racial discrimination, the war in Vietnam, premarital chastity, clean shaves, brassieres, sobriety (except alcohol) and other traditions; and the younger liberals, who as a demographic were iconoclasts who wanted to overthrow all of those things.

    The message on the bumper sticker was implied: Love it THE WAY IT IS or leave it.

    Perhaps this will be put in perspective if I quote the stickers our side had on the bumpers of our Volkswagens: "America: Fix It or Fuck It."
    It's somewhat easier to promulgate such an attitude in wartime. They did exactly the same thing during the Vietnam War: People who were outspoken in their criticism of the President and his policies were branded traitors. A few of them took the bait and ran with it. Jane Fonda traveled to North Vietnam in 1972 and posed for photos with their pilots. That was the outrageous high point of that acrimonious debate and it will never be forgotten. If you want to quickly determine which side someone born before, say, 1955 was on in those days, just mention the name Jane Fonda and notice his reaction.;)
  18. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Is that a policy suggestion?

    Indeed. Better to offend the illiterate by seeming snobby than by expecting them to have a clue. Oh, wait ....

    Well, yeah. Perhaps we should institute a policy specifically demanding the form you prescribe. It would certainly clear up certain confusion that can lead to much unpleasantness.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Hey, Sam was so worried about it that she actually footnoted her post. It would have been much easier to type "one," and then she wouldn't have had to worry that the reader would have gotten so angry at the "you" that he would not have stuck around to follow the asterisk.;)
  21. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I just don't get how y'all can take a lousy bumper sticker so literally??? You say it was "implied", yet YOU are the one to make that judgement, NOT the man who put it on his bumper. Big difference. And yet YOU are judging him for what YOU think he intended. Wow!

    I wonder, guys, should I begin to take all of the bumper stickers I see as literally as y'all are taking this one? Like, if I see a sticker "I love my Cocker Spaniels", should I call the cops and turn him in for dog abuse??

    And, oh, my goodness, what if I see a gray, wrinkled up old fart driving a car with a sticker that says, "I love my Granddaughter" ...definitely child sexual abuse and he should be turned in to the cops immediately ...unless I get a good clean shot of my own, right? :D

    Baron Max
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No Max. I suppose you're a few years too young to have been involved in that battle, but there was plenty of dialog on the subject and they made it clear that they wanted us to stop trying to change America and just love it the way it was. They didn't really want us to leave, but their generation was big on punishment and it's the only threat they could think of.
    Only if you've talked to enough of the people who have them to be satisfied that you have interpreted the message the way they want you to, as we did with the "Love It or Leave It" stickers. There were lots of animated parking lot and family dinner conversations so there was no chance of misunderstanding.
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Stop trolling in my thread. You're not wanted here.

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