What We Need Is REAL Patriotism!
Updated: Jul 25
Patriotism, to some, has become a bit of a dirty word. It has, whether rightly or wrongly, over the years come to be associated with the most vicious by-products of far-right thought, which unfortunately means that patriotism is now associated with racism, fascism, and other reactionary ideas and schools of thought. At New Albion, we think that patriotism is in fact a force for good when it is harnessed in an inclusive manner. Patriotism, when expressed correctly, should be a united front that invites everybody to stand behind the cultural values that underpin a selected nation. In a sense, it’s the idea of “community spirit” applied to the nation as a whole. When people talk about community spirit, they mean it in a way that suggests everybody in their community, regardless of their race, religion, or creed is encouraged to help play a part in defining the area they’re from, become an active and respected member of the community and make it a good place to live. When we talk about REAL Patriotism, or simply Patriotism, we mean it in the same way. We felt patriotic during the first lockdown, when COVID-19 was first taking hold in the UK. Why? Because we were all under threat, all had a certain degree of anxiety and fear about what was going to happen next, but we knew that we were in it together and that we weren’t facing this crisis alone. It’s the reason why some of us were out on our doorsteps clapping NHS workers; it’s the reason why banners and placards could be found around our streets and in our windows thanking key workers during those tumultuous times. We also felt patriotic during the Euros, when players from every corner of the country and from every background led England to the final and represented us in the most spectacular fashion. These and other similar scenarios are things that unite us, regardless of our skin colour, our social class, our gender, or our religion. This is the core essence of our “Place Not Race” mantra. Where we do draw a distinction is between Patriotism and Nationalism. Patriotism is more people-centric, meaning it focuses on unity and support with the people that make up the country that you live in without any sort of animosity for any other groups. Nationalism, however, is where pride in a nation or a group becomes hateful against those that fall outside of that nation or group. George Orwell was also keen to state this difference, stating that patriotism means “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life”, which lies in contrast with nationalism and nationalists themselves, as he further states that “the abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for [themselves] but for the nation or other unit in which [they] have chosen to sink [their] individuality”. This desire for more power and more prestige often manifests itself in racism and other forms of hatred because it is inherently competitive, which means that it immediately places you into an “Us Vs Them” way of thinking. It also leads many nationalists to be rather dismissive of any particular downfalls or shortcomings of the “unit” that they have sunk their individuality into, because their entire worldview depends on their nations or chosen unit’s supremacy. Did white nationalists express the same amount of dismay or disgust towards Brenton Tarrant’s terrorist attack as they did with the Manchester Bombings? If not, why not? Do white nationalists express the same sort of concern for the child sex abuse cases that have plagued some Christian Church’s for decades or even in their own movement for as they do with the Rotherham Grooming Scandal? We all know the answer to that. Orwell again states that “the nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by [their] own side, but [they] have a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them”. Stripped down nationalists have no values, ethics or morals that they’re striving to achieve and uphold. They simply have a group that they’ve chosen as their own and their every strain of thinking is henceforth selected to uphold the idea of supremacy for their chosen group. A patriot, by contrast, “wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves… A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well–and always wishing that it would do better” wrote Timothy Snyder. Patriotism unites, whereas nationalism divides. New Albion are patriotic and believe in REAL Patriotism. We’re not patriotic because we think the country, we’re born in is perfect and better than any other country in the world, nor do we believe that the people around us are perfect either. We’re patriotic because we have an appreciation for our immediate neighbours and extended neighbours of all backgrounds, and patriotism is an effective way to express this appreciation to those we live among and care for. Though there are elements of our country that we’re not particularly fond of i.e., extremists, overall, we believe that the good people of this country outweigh the bad and that these good people deserve to be celebrated and that the values that unite us deserve to be upheld. We will encourage people to celebrate national days important to our history, we will take pride in the elements of our history which have seen our people do good in this world, and we will continue to strive to make our country a better place for all to live who call it their home. But to do this effectively, we cannot be selective about who we have in mind when we say the word, we. We cannot arbitrarily exclude people who are collectively contributing to the development of our country, our culture and our future traditions. We’re proud of who we are, where we’ve come from, and the people we live among. But we’re equally as proud that Britain has people from every corner of the world–people from every race and creed–helping build Britain into something we can all celebrate, and all call our own. There is nothing more patriotic than being a respected member of the community that you live in, or standing up for the people around you who are living with any form of unjust hate. Patriotism, REAL Patriotism is about seeing the good in the world and appreciating it regardless of who it comes from. It’s about not only looking backwards with pride about some things (Not All), but looking forward with hope for the New England and Britain we want to create.
So, if you feel the same, stand up, unite and together as REAL patriots, work with us to create a nation we all can be proud of and a country that works for all of us. Author TJ