Patriotism

The concept of patriotism (atleast from what I remember of my school education) is presented as a self-evident virtue requiring no justification. It is presented as a virtue by merely describing it with positive (and often hyperbolic) adjectives and by associating it with the concept of sacrifice (which is also presented in the same way). In contrast, concepts like honesty, hard work, optimism, determination, punctuality etc are presented as virtues by demonstrating the results of practising them. The obvious purpose behind such a presentation is to condition peoples’ minds to consider these concepts as virtues merely by association with actual virtues and without ever needing to provide a single reason. The question is

Is patriotism actually a virtue and if so why is it presented this way?

Patriotism is love for or devotion to one’s country. A country is a geographical region with a single ruler or government. Except for periods of political turmoil, the people of a country usually share the same culture. Love for one’s country is love for its culture or its political institutions. Patriotism is a contextual virtue, not a fundamental one. It is a virtue if one’s culture or political institutions are valuable.

India’s political institutions are clearly not worthy of love. What about its culture? The first thing that comes to mind (and overwhelmingly so) when one thinks of Indian culture is the religiosity of its people – an unthinking, unquestioning attitude of blind obedience to tradition. This can be seen in the way religious rituals are a part of everyday life in general and all special occasions in particular like festivals, the inaugration of a home or an office or a business, the birth of a child, marriage, death, anniversaries of death. This is worthy of ridicule, not love.

Patriotism is not a virtue in the Indian context. It is merely a convenient concept that is employed by the power-hungry as a cover for their actions. Just like the concept of sacrifice, it is used to draw attention away from the results and legitimacy of actions and focus it on their allegedly noble motivations.

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