Here Jeremy Corbyn marks our ‘patriotic day’ entirely appropriately, in my view as a historian. (Ignore the BTL comments.)
Something that’s often forgotten about British (or English) ‘patriotism’ is that it was originally a radical concept. ‘Patriots’ in the eighteenth century were those who championed the British people against their foreign-imposed (Norman, Hanoverian) aristocracy. Hence Dr Johnson’s famous dismissal of patriotism as ‘the last refuge of the scoundrel’. He wasn’t referring to the Daily Mail or UKIP kind. Then, towards the end of the nineteenth century, patriotism was appropriated by the Right, and in particular the imperialists, who have held on to it ever since. Perhaps we radical Brits should seize it back.
US patriotism is infused with the same feeling. Which is why we British oughtn’t to be as shocked as we often are by all those stars and stripes in American gardens.
(See how useful History can be?!)
And PS: Isn’t it interesting that multi-ethnic England should have a Turk (I think) as a patron saint. And probably a fictitious one at that.
“US patriotism is infused with the same feeling. Which is why we British oughtn’t to be as shocked as we often are by all those stars and stripes in American gardens.”
It is hard not to equate symbol-infested American displays of patriotism – flags on poles, oaths of allegiance at school – with the right and plain bad taste; as you concede, patriotism and its rituals have been appropriated by the so-called conservatives. Trump’s campaign slogan of course is Make America Great Again.
How can the left reappropriate patriotism? The left has in many countries, at least since the 1960s, tried to turn back the tide of unwelcome forms of Americanisation in favour of the local equivalent. In addition, patriotism is demonstrated by demands that transnational corporations and the rich, who hide their wealth in off-shore shelf companies, should pay their fair share of taxes.
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