Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

  • 26 549 4
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview


This page intentionally left blank

Patriotism Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Edited by IGOR PRIMORATZ The University of Melbourne, Australia and ALEKSANDAR PAVKOVIĆ Macquarie University, Australia

© Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković 2007 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Gower House Croft Road Aldershot Hampshire GU11 3HR England

Ashgate Publishing Company Suite 420 101 Cherry Street Burlington, VT 05401-4405 USA

Ashgate website: British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Patriotism : philosophical and political perspectives 1. Patriotism 2. Patriotism - Moral and ethical aspects I. Primoratz, Igor II. Pavković, Aleksandar 320.5'4 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Patriotism : philosophical and political perspectives / edited by Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN: 978-0-7546-7122-0 1. Patriotism--Philosophy. I. Primoratz, Igor. II. Pavković, Aleksandar. JC329.P366 2008 323.6'5--dc22 2007034129 ISBN: 978-0-7546-7122-0

Printed and bound in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall.

Contents List of Contributors Introduction Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković

vii 1





Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain Igor Primoratz



Patriotic Loyalty John Kleinig



Patriotism and Bad Faith: A Critique of Keller Keith Horton



How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters Simon Keller



Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue? Stephen Nathanson






On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism Jan-Werner Müller



Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate Thomas Mertens



Patriotism and Nationalism Ross Poole



Patriotism and the Obligations of History Janna Thompson



Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives





Patriotism: Problems at Home Cynthia Townley



Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance? Robyn Eckersley


For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism Robert Sparrow




Bibliography Index

Killing for One’s Country Aleksandar Pavković


235 239

List of Contributors ROBYN ECKERSLEY is Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of The Green State and Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach. KEITH HORTON is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Western Australia, Perth. He is the author of Should We Give to Aid Agencies? SIMON KELLER is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne. He is the author of The Limits of Loyalty. JOHN KLEINIG is Professor of Philosophy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and Professorial Fellow, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University, Canberra. He is the author of Punishment and Desert, Philosophical Issues in Education, Paternalism, Valuing Life, and The Ethics of Policing. THOMAS MERTENS is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Nijmegen, and Professor of Human Rights and Human Responsibilities at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Leiden. He has published on Kant and on contemporary legal and moral issues. JAN-WERNER MÜLLER is Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought, and Constitutional Patriotism. STEPHEN NATHANSON is Professor of Philosophy at the Northeastern University, Boston. He is the author of The Idea of Rationality, Economic Justice, An Eye for an Eye? The Immorality of Punishing by Death, Should We Consent to Be Governed? A Short Introduction to Political Philosophy, and Patriotism, Morality, and Peace. ALEKSANDAR PAVKOVIĆ is Associate Professor of Politics at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is the author of Slobodan Jovanović: An Unsentimental Approach to Politics, The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia: Nationalism and War in the Balkans, and Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession (with Peter Radan).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

ROSS POOLE is Adjunct Professor of Political Science, The New School for Social Research, New York, and Adjunct Professor in Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney. He is the author of Morality and Modernity and Nation and Identity. IGOR PRIMORATZ is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Principal Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne. He is the author of Banquos Geist: Hegels Theorie der Strafe, Justifying Legal Punishment, and Ethics and Sex. ROBERT SPARROW is Senior Lecturer in the School of Philosophy and Bioethics at Monash University, Melbourne, and an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne. He has published papers in journals such as the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Political Philosophy, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Journal of Applied Philosophy, Bioethics, Ethics and Information Technology, and Environmental Ethics. JANNA THOMPSON is Reader and Associate Professor of Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She is the author of Justice and World Order: A Philosophical Inquiry, Discourse and Knowledge: A Defence of a Collectivist Ethics, and Taking Responsibility for the Past: Reparation and Historical Justice. CYNTHIA TOWNLEY is Lecturer in Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney. She has published papers in journals such as Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly and Philosophy in the Contemporary World.

Introduction Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković

Patriotism has been a major source of themes and inspiration in literature, music, and art. It has received its due in social science research. As a topic in philosophy and political theory, however, it used to be rather neglected. That changed in the 1980s, and philosophers and political theorists have accorded patriotism considerable attention since. The change was due, in part, to the renaissance of communitarianism that came as a reaction to the widespread influence of liberal political theory, best represented by John Rawls’s Theory of Justice (1971). Alasdair MacIntyre’s 1984 lecture ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, forcefully arguing that it is, can be seen as marking the beginning of this sea change. The dramatic resurgence of nationalism in many parts of the world also posed a challenge to philosophy and political theory. As a result, philosophers have come to view patriotism as a test case in the conflict between the requirements of universal morality and particular, local or personal attachments. In political theory, the discussion of patriotism is primarily a strand in the continuing debate between liberals and communitarians. Some political theorists have argued that a distinctively political version of patriotism should provide the ethos of the stable and well-functioning polity. An influential tradition in philosophy, encompassing both Kantianism and some versions of utilitarianism, understands morality as essentially universal and impartial, and seems to rule out local, partial attachment. Its adherents argue that patriotism is a type of group egoism, a morally arbitrary partiality incompatible with the requirements of universal justice and common human solidarity. When we must choose between two persons, both in need of help, one of whom is a compatriot while the other is not, is it really our duty to help the former, rather than the latter, because in doing so we will be helping a compatriot? If that is true when the two are equally in need, is it still true if the stranger is more in need of help than the compatriot? Another criticism is that patriotism makes for indifference to and indeed hostility towards other countries, encourages militarism, and leads to international tension and conflict. The other main position in this debate considers patriotism a natural and morally appropriate expression of attachment to the land where we were born and raised, and of gratitude we owe it for the benefits of life on its soil, among its people and under its laws. It is also seen as an important, indeed central constituent of the individual’s identity. As communitarians such as McIntyre have argued, there is no morality as such; there are only moralities of particular communities. An individual can understand and adopt moral rules and values only in the particular version in which they are embodied in and endorsed by her community. She can become and


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

remain a moral agent only when shaped and nurtured as such by her community. Patriotism and morality cannot be distinguished and contrasted; patriotism is rather a paramount moral virtue, if not the bedrock of morals. Still other philosophers seek a middle ground. They distinguish between unrestrained patriotism, which is vulnerable to the criticism sketched above and must be rejected, and moderate patriotism, which is morally legitimate and indeed virtuous. The latter does not enjoin promoting one’s country’s interests by any means and in any circumstances, but rather acknowledges the constraints imposed by universal morality. It is not uncritical, but rather conditional on one’s country living up to certain standards and deserving one’s devotion. Accordingly, it is not exclusive, but rather compatible with a degree of concern for all human beings. While philosophers tend to debate patriotism primarily as a moral issue, political theorists are more interested in its capacity to provide the ethos of a well-ordered and stable state. Addressing this question, a number of authors have advocated a distinctively political type of patriotism: one that puts aside, or de-emphasizes, the prepolitical ties among compatriots such as common ancestry, language, or culture, and enjoins love of, and loyalty to, one’s polity, its laws and institutions, and the common liberty they make possible. Some of these authors have looked primarily at countries such as the United States or Switzerland, where a ‘covenanted patriotism’ appears to be the only type of love of country available to an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous population. Disastrous effects of nationalism, particularly in midtwentieth-century Europe, have led other theorists to propound ‘constitutional patriotism’ as an alternative, postnational basis of unity and stability of the liberal, democratic, and multicultural state. Still others have argued that patriotism was originally a political notion: that since ancient Rome, love of country was first and foremost love of the laws and institutions of one’s polity and the rights and liberties they made possible. It was only in the nineteenth century that patriotic discourse and passion were conscripted into the service of the nation-state and became submerged in those of nationalism. We should reject nationalism and revive the original ‘patriotism of liberty’. These, then, are the main positions in the debates about patriotism in philosophy and political theory in the last few decades.1 The present book takes stock of the discussion in both philosophy and political theory, seeks to pursue further the debate about the moral status and political significance of patriotism, and raises a range of further issues to do with patriotism that require sustained investigation. The moral credentials of patriotism Papers comprising Part I engage with the central philosophical question raised by patriotism: what is its moral standing? This is a highly contentious issue, and the spectrum of views is wide. At one end, the Machiavellians claim that paramount interests of the patria override moral considerations. At the other end, those who

1 For an anthology of writings published in the last quarter of the twentieth century, see Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002).



adopt a universalistic, cosmopolitan approach enjoin us to reject patriotism altogether. A variety of views occupy the ground between these extremes. In Chapter 1, Igor Primoratz takes a critical look at the main positions. He first seeks to demarcate patriotism from nationalism. The two are often confused, both in everyday parlance and in scholarly discussion, and that is not at all helpful. Primoratz then discusses the view that patriotism trumps morality; extreme patriotism, understood as the paramount moral virtue; moderate patriotism; patriotism as a morally indifferent preference; finally, a distinctively ethical type of patriotism. The view that patriotism is above morality must be rejected by anyone who takes morality seriously. Extreme patriotism, too, should be rejected, since we have no good reason to accord more moral weight to the interests of our country and compatriots than to considerations of impartial, universal justice. Moderate patriotism, on the other hand, properly acknowledges such considerations, and is therefore a morally legitimate stance. However, Primoratz argues that proponents of this position have failed to show that there is something to be said for it, morally speaking, and concludes that moderate patriotism lacks positive moral significance. It is neither morally mandatory, nor morally valuable if freely adopted; it is rather a morally indifferent preference, permissible as long as it is kept within proper moral bounds. To be sure, all this assumes the common understanding of patriotism as special concern for the political, economic, and cultural well-being of the patria. But that is not the only possible understanding of attachment to and special concern for one’s country and polity. One might not have such concern for the more mundane interests of one’s patria, while being deeply concerned with its moral well-being: concerned that its policies, laws, and institutions be just and humane. This, too, is patriotism, one of a distinctively ethical kind. Primoratz argues that, unlike the more familiar, worldly type of patriotism, which has no positive moral import, patriotism of this admittedly much less popular type can, under certain circumstances, be morally obligatory. John Kleinig, on the other hand, accords patriotism of the familiar, mundane sort considerable moral value (Chapter 2). He finds the common characterization of patriotism as love of one’s country potentially misleading, and prefers to approach the subject as an issue of loyalty. He starts with a general account of loyalty as a virtue. Loyalty is an associative virtue, a virtue of our relationships and associations. It is an executive, rather than substantive virtue: it helps us do what we ought, or want, to do. It is also a ‘default’ virtue: generally a virtue, although in particular cases we may have reason to deny it this standing. The same holds of loyalty to the patria. Since the patria is a political, rather than merely geographic entity, this loyalty has a pronounced political character, and is therefore particularly risky. Nevertheless, Kleinig argues, it is morally legitimate and indeed, given our current circumstances, generally morally obligatory to be loyal to one’s country. For our country is an association of great importance to our flourishing, our being what we aspire to be. This is not a necessary, universally valid truth, but is a truth that, by and large, applies to us, in our present, post-Enlightenment situation. Kleinig’s is a two-pronged claim: ‘that patriae provide the conditions of our flourishing [and] that for many of us, our individual patria is partially constitutive of our flourishing’ (p. 47). When a person finds out that the country whose ways she has adopted has become intrinsically valuable for her and is now part of who and what she is, she

Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives


also finds out that she has acquired patriotic loyalty and the obligations that come with it. Just what these obligations are, however, is not always easy to tell; that will depend on the merits and demerits of the country and polity, on the one hand, and on the character, plans and aspirations, and circumstances of the patriot, on the other. The duty of patriotism is an imperfect duty, leaving much leeway with regard to the ways of making good on it. It is also a duty that may be overridden by another moral consideration. Finally, the patria can forfeit its claim on the patriot’s allegiance, should it prove no longer capable of informing and sustaining the patriot’s identity. What Kleinig defends is clearly a moderate version of patriotism. When asked to explain why he thinks so highly of his country, just what is so great about it, a patriot may say: This is my country, my home; I need no further reason to love it, to work and, if need be, make sacrifices for its well-being. But a typical response will be to bring up the virtues and achievements of the country that make the patriot’s love of it and loyalty to it well deserved. These beliefs of the patriot about the patria suggest that the moral credentials of patriotism may need to be examined from the point of view of the ethics of belief. Are such beliefs warranted? Just how does the patriot come to adopt them, and to either hold on to them, or revise and perhaps even discard them, should the evidence call for that? Simon Keller has recently argued that a patriot characteristically adopts and adheres to favorable beliefs about the patria in a seriously flawed way best described as bad faith.2 Patriotism is bound up with beliefs in and endorsement of one’s country’s merits and achievements; this is why it is typically expressed as pride. If the patriot is to be proud of her country, she must take her favorable beliefs about it to be based on objectively valid standards of value and unbiased examination of evidence, rather than being but a projection of her attachment generated solely by the fact that the country is hers. She is thus motivated to think well of her country whether the evidence, interpreted objectively, warrants that or not. Of course, this applies only to the patriot’s beliefs about her country; she has no difficulty forming, revising, and discarding beliefs about other countries in an unbiased way, in accordance with evidence. Now, as long as she remains a patriot, she cannot admit this bias. This is bad faith. Bad faith is bad; if Keller’s argument is sound, so is patriotism. In Chapter 3, Keith Horton argues that Keller’s argument is not sound. Keller claims to have made out ‘a clear presumptive case against patriotism’s being a virtue and for its being a vice’;3 Horton points out that even if the connection between patriotism and bad faith were indeed as close as Keller claims, that would not be enough to establish such a strong conclusion. One would have to take into account a range of other considerations, to do with consequences of patriotism and bad faith and with intrinsic appropriateness of patriotic attachment, before venturing an overall – even if only prima facie – moral evaluation of patriotism. Moreover, the connections between bias, lack of credibility, and patriotism are not quite as straightforward and strong as Keller’s argument assumes. For instance, a belief may be based on such compelling evidence that the recognition that one is also biased in its favor need not vitiate it. Nor is the claim that a patriot cannot admit to bias with 2 3

Simon Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, Ethics, vol. 115 (2004/2005). Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, pp. 587–8.



regard to her beliefs about the patria convincing. Keller has, at the very least, greatly overstated his case against patriotism. In Chapter 4, Keller responds to Horton’s critique by way of restating his central claim and offering further arguments for it. He points out that our notion of patriotism is elusive, and is not fully captured when philosophers define patriotism in such terms as love of one’s country, identification with it, special concern for its well-being, or readiness to make sacrifices for its sake (the writings of Nathanson and Primoratz provide examples of this approach). Words such as ‘love’ or ‘identification’ are much too vague, and leave many important matters indeterminate. For a fuller and more satisfactory account of patriotism, we need to look into its moral psychology and its political uses. Attending to the psychology of patriotism shows that patriotism is not implicated in bias simpliciter, but in a particular type of bias that provides the patriot with a motive not to own up to it. The way in which patriotism is invoked in political debates displays this in a particularly clear way. Whoever proposes to present his political opinions as patriotic must show that they are in line with the country’s values and principles, its history and its aspirations. The account of these will be driven by the need to provide patriotic legitimacy to the political opinions at issue; yet it cannot be recognized as driven by those opinions, but must rather be thought independent, unbiased. In deceiving himself about his true motivation, Keller says, the patriot falls into bad faith. When he was writing Patriotism, Morality, and Peace (1993) – still the sole book-length philosophical study of patriotism – Stephen Nathanson was motivated both by theoretical interest and practical, moral, and political concerns.4 The same is true of his contribution to this volume (Chapter 5): he makes a number of philosophical points concerning patriotism in general and his preferred version, moderate patriotism, in particular, but also tries to encourage people with differing outlooks to find a common cause on some important current issues. He seeks to do the latter by showing that cosmopolitanism, too, comes in a moderate and an extreme version. Cosmopolitanism may be extreme with regard to its goals or its methods; in either case, it is morally unacceptable. So is extreme patriotism. That leaves the moderate versions of both views. Nathanson shows how, although different in their philosophical commitments, these two positions also converge over a range of moral and political issues, so that their adherents could jointly support various policies and institutions that promote international justice and common human solidarity. At a more theoretical level, Nathanson, like Horton, questions Keller’s argument that patriotism is bound up with bad faith and is, therefore, a vice, rather than a virtue. For one thing, the alternatives might not be attractive: if patriotism were to be replaced by unbridled egoism, or by extreme forms of other particular loyalties, that would make the world a worse, rather than a better place. He also takes issue with Primoratz’s view that moderate patriotism is morally permissible, but not a duty. Nathanson clarifies his position by distinguishing ‘a duty to be patriotic’ and ‘patriotic duties’. He rejects the former, while affirming the latter: if one is a patriot, then ‘there are duties that go with that commitment’, just as ‘there is no duty to 4 See Stephen Nathanson, Patriotism, Morality, and Peace (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

become a parent or a teacher, but having done so, one acquires duties that go with that role’ (p. 86). However, Nathanson does not clarify how one ‘becomes’ a patriot: unlike the cases of teacher or parent, there is no obvious, socially recognized way of becoming one. In consequence, the process of acquiring patriotic duties might be thought somewhat opaque. Patriotism, nationalism, and history Part I of this book is devoted to philosophical questions raised by patriotism, but several chapters touch upon its political aspects. John Kleinig notes the political nature of patriotic loyalty, which makes such loyalty particularly risky. Simon Keller finds that the tendency of patriots to indulge in bad faith is especially salient in the role patriotism plays in political debates. Nathanson’s contribution expressly seeks to facilitate collaboration on moral and political issues between adherents of different philosophical outlooks. The chapters making up Part II, on the other hand, approach patriotism as a topic in political theory. Much recent debate has focused on the question whether a well-functioning liberal and democratic polity can dispense with nationalist beliefs and attitudes as a means of motivating citizens’ commitment to the polity and to one another, and rely instead on patriotism or, rather, on its purely political variety called ‘constitutional patriotism’. A further, highly topical question is whether constitutional patriotism can provide the basis for common identification with and commitment to a transnational political entity such as the European Union. The essays comprising Part II provide a range of views on these topics. The idea of constitutional patriotism was first proposed by German political theorists. The term Verfassungspatriotismus was coined by Dolf Sternberger in 1979, on the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the German Federal Republic. Looking back on its brief history, Sternberger noted the development of new, free institutions, and a new, liberal and democratic political culture, and added that this development has also included ‘a new, a second patriotism, that is based on the constitution. The national feeling remains wounded; we do not live in the whole of Germany. But we do live within a complete constitution, in a complete constitutional state, and that is itself a kind of fatherland.’5 A kind of fatherland: Sternberger did not propose to discard the attachment to the nation, its soil, culture, and history. But he argued that for citizens of West Germany, the allegiance to the political community, its laws and institutions, and the rights and liberties they accord and safeguard, which he called constitutional patriotism, must come first. The term was then adopted by Jürgen Habermas, who has used it with a somewhat different motivation. He points out that German nationalism has been compromised – in his opinion, irreparably – during the Nazi period. Accordingly, the term takes on different import, with more far-reaching practical, political implications. In national politics, German prepolitical – national and cultural – identity needs to be overcome, 5 Dolf Sternberger, ‘Verfassungspatriotismus’, Schriften, vol. 10 (Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1990), p. 13. See also Sternberger, ‘Begriff des Vaterlands’, Schriften, vol. 4 (Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1980).



and to be supplanted by a new, postnational, purely political identity defined by the laws and institutions of a free and democratic state. This identity, expressed in and reinforced by constitutional patriotism, is the sole solid foundation for such a state under the present circumstances of ethnic and cultural heterogeneity, characteristic of virtually all west European countries. It is also a precondition of further European integration, and an antidote against the temptation of ‘chauvinism of affluence’ these countries are facing.6 The idea of constitutional patriotism bears the marks of its German origins. Does that make it parochial and unhelpful, indeed irrelevant, outside Germany, as some critics have claimed? Not necessarily, as Jan-Werner Müller attempts to show in Chapter 6. In addition to analyzing the views of Sternberger and Habermas, Müller traces the contributions of other German thinkers, such as philosopher Karl Jaspers, political theorist Karl Loewenstein, and legal scholar Rudolf Smend, to the development of the idea of constitutional patriotism as the most appropriate way of identification of West German citizens with their polity. Müller also argues that this idea is not hopelessly abstract, but is rather a coherent combination of a set of universal values and principles with a ‘supplement of particularity’. This ‘supplement’ will always come from a concrete, historical political community. Therefore, in his view, the ‘genealogical critique’ of constitutional patriotism as a stance that makes sense only within Germany’s borders fails to convince. So does the argument that it is much too abstract and lifeless, and therefore irrelevant to our actual political choices. To citizens of contemporary free and democratic polities, this type of patriotism presents a live and promising option, preferable to any type of nationalism. Does it also have something to offer to those who, in addition to being citizens of their nation-state, also belong to a transnational community, such as the European Union? In Chapter 7 Thomas Mertens tentatively offers a negative answer to this question. Mertens argues that the Dutch and French rejection, in 2005, of the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was motivated, in part, by a familiar type of patriotism and a fear of being submerged into an alien community. As this rejection shows how weak the identification with a wider European polity is, at least among the Dutch and French voters, the question arises whether constitutional patriotism, as Habermas conceives it, provides an object of patriotic identification at all and thus presents a live option to the citizens of Europe. Habermas proposes to replace the nation and nation-state as a focus of citizens’ loyalty with a political community based on a set of legal procedures and political values. The European Union is a community of just this kind. But if the European Union is to become a focus of patriotic loyalty of its citizens, Mertens argues, then, first, the common identity should be recognizable as European: ‘Europe is not everywhere, and European constitutional patriotism is not the same thing as cosmopolitanism’ (p. 125). Second, this identity must prove complementary to or at least compatible with the existing national identities. Yet it is debatable whether the values and 6 See Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity’, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, trans. W. Rehg (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

principles which Habermas considers distinctly European are sufficient to delimit a European identity. Moreover, some of the values from Habermas’ list, such as the rejection of Eurocentrism and the strong emphasis on the neutral, that is, nonreligious, role of the public sphere, are not compatible with the existing national identities in Europe. The latter are at present focused on the rejection of whatever is considered to be alien to particular European societies, be that militant Islam or hegemonic EU bureaucracy. As the Dutch and French rejection of the Draft Treaty clearly shows, the existing national identities in Europe are not fully compatible with a vision of an ethnically and religiously inclusive political community. To Mertens, that suggests that European constitutional patriotism is not, at present, a live option for many Europeans. In Ross Poole’s view this is only to be expected: as he explains in Chapter 8, in a modern constitutional state, there is an irresolvable tension between the demands that the particular (a particular culture and community) and the universal (universal principles and ideals) make on the loyalty of citizens. This is because a democratic constitution and its associated political practices cannot, on their own, win the attachment and loyalty of individual citizens. For this task, a constitutional and democratic state also needs to employ appropriate cultural resources. Constitutional patriotism, by itself, does not possess such resources. In order to survive as a democratic community, the state needs to motivate and to reward its citizens for their continuing engagement in democratic political life. Through culture – that is, through language, stories about a common land and its past, art forms, common rituals and customs, modes of dress and communication – the individual’s identity is created and linked with co-nationals and the common nation-state. In Poole’s view, it is through culture and identity that nationalism ties an individual citizen to her fellow citizens and the institutions of their state. It is this link, created by nationalist narratives, that motivates citizens to participate in the political and cultural life of their culture-defined communities. The maintenance of these links also rewards citizens for their participation and the attendant sacrifices they make for the sake of their community. So far, Poole claims, neither history nor theory has provided a workable alternative to nationalism. Therefore ‘[t]he modern state – and especially the liberal and democratic state – is and ought to be the nation-state. The republican patriot ought to be a nationalist’ (p. 145). Like Poole, Janna Thompson believes that citizens in a just state should be patriots; but her contribution (Chapter 9) has a different focus. She points out that a polity exists across many generations and argues that, therefore, there are certain intergenerational duties inherent in any defensible form of patriotism. Her argument is based on the recognition of a universal moral duty – the duty of appreciating and respecting the achievements of one’s forebears. In a just polity, the forebears of the present citizens have made sacrifices to establish and maintain this kind of polity and thus provide a good life for future generations. Their activity in maintaining this polity derives some of its meaning from the appreciation that their successors have for their endeavors. All this, Thompson argues, justifies their expectation that their successors should make an effort to appreciate their contribution. Indeed, patriots typically consider it their duty to appreciate and respect the contribution of their forebears to the creation and maintenance of the polity to which they are attached



and of which they are proud, and to continue to maintain the valuable practices and institutions handed down to them. In short, patriots view themselves as inheritors of and participants in an intergenerational project which generates moral duties in respect of the past as well as the future. On Thompson’s view, patriotism enjoins a duty to respect and promote the just and democratic institutions which one’s polity has inherited from one’s forebears, but does not necessarily involve love of one’s country or special affection for one’s compatriots. If one came to respect and promote such an inheritance of another polity, even though one was not its citizen, one would thereby become a patriot of that polity. This clearly differs both from the common understanding of patriotism and from the view endorsed by most contributors to this volume, according to which patriotism involves an emotional attachment to the patria. Thompson’s purely political account of patriotism is akin to Habermas’ conception of constitutional patriotism – an affiliation Thompson herself acknowledges. Further issues Essays comprising Parts I and II of this book engage with the fundamental questions patriotism poses for moral philosophy and political theory: what is the moral status of patriotism, and whether some form of patriotism – in particular, its emphatically political variety – can replace nationalism as the basis of citizens’ commitment to their polity. The papers assembled in Part III widen the scope of the discussion by addressing other more specific philosophical and political issues. In our thinking about patriotism, we tend to assume that it is but another type of group loyalty: wider than loyalty to family, friends, or neighbors, narrower than loyalty to race or concern for humanity. Accordingly, we tend to compare these loyalties and concerns, assuming uniformity within groups and symmetrical relations between groups. Against this background, advocates of patriotism often present it as a welcome expansion of narrower moral concern, in particular concern for family. (This is in line with the pronounced tendency of politicians promoting patriotism to speak of their patria as one large family.) In Chapter 10, Cynthia Townley takes a closer look at these assumptions and finds them deeply problematic and potentially misleading. Social groups tend to be diverse, rather than uniform; relations within some groups and between some groups are asymmetric, hierarchical, and morally questionable. Townley shows the relevance of these problems to discussions of patriotism by examining the analogy between patriotism and racism, and the ‘concentric circles’ model of expanding moral concern from family members to larger groups, including compatriots. She revisits the debate between Stephen Nathanson and Paul Gomberg about patriotism and racism,7 and argues that the analogy between these two types of group loyalty fails for two related reasons. Racism or racial loyalty as a set of beliefs and attitudes cannot be detached from asymmetric and hierarchical race relations, and therefore cannot be considered

7 See Paul Gomberg, ‘Patriotism Is Like Racism’ and Stephen Nathanson, ‘Is Patriotism Like Racism?’ in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

morally acceptable. Race, too, is a construct of race relations; the alleged object of racial loyalty, a particular race group, does not exist outside of the given pattern of race relations. Therefore, Townley concludes, there is no morally defensible racial loyalty – loyalty that is not implicated in asymmetric, hierarchical, and therefore deeply morally flawed race relations – and the debate about the morality of patriotic loyalty is not promoted, but rather hampered, by analogies with racial loyalty. On the ‘concentric circles’ account, moral concern for others starts from one’s own family and extends to other larger groups, such as neighborhood, local community, or country, and ultimately, some hope, to the whole of humanity. But families, Townley points out, often fall short of fairness or equal moral concern for all: relations within a family are obviously not equal and benefits and burdens within many families are not distributed fairly. In a modern Western family, the wife is often not as independent as male members of the family, and thus cannot live up to the ideal of an independent citizen. And in reality individuals within families often show little understanding and moral concern for others. If we take a sentimentalized model of family as the starting point in arguments defending patriotic loyalty, we are in danger of adopting an imaginary notion of the patria that bears little relation to the country and polity in which we live. A particularly glaring example of this gap between an uncritically assumed ideal and reality is provided by the homeless in our midst, who are disadvantaged in various ways and effectively barred from participation in political life. Their plight is to some extent a result of the democratically enacted regulations. In view of this, are the homeless really our fellow citizens and compatriots? If we are unable to extend equal moral concern to all the members of the group to which we allegedly owe patriotic loyalty, is this loyalty a morally defensible stance? In societies characterized by significant group inequalities, Townley suggests, defending patriotism is bound to be problematic. Indeed, ‘the challenges of thinking about patriotism and cosmopolitanism are intensified when we take seriously the magnitude and persistence of problems at home’ (p. 181). While Townley’s approach is philosophical, the next two chapters examine the political role of patriotism, with a view of aligning it, respectively, with environmentalism and anarchism. In contrast to Townley, whose primary concern is group loyalty, Robyn Eckersley explores a type of patriotism whose primary object of attachment is not a group but the environment of a nation-state (Chapter 11). She wants to find out whether environmental patriotism can assist in the green project of protecting the environment of the planet as a whole. Democratic engagement and social criticism are the way to expose environmental problems and mobilize public support for their solution. How does patriotism help in this engagement and criticism? Like Mertens and Poole and unlike Müller, Eckersley holds that purely political versions of patriotism (such as that advocated by Thompson) fail to generate the kind of attachment to a particular country and the solidarity needed in order to motivate citizens to work and make sacrifices for the common good. The type of democratic engagement favored by green political theorists presupposes not only a common cultural and linguistic background, but also a considerable degree of solidarity among those who engage in it. Therefore, democratic engagement favored by green theorists and activists requires patriotic attachment to a community



and its common goals. Not only is democracy good for the environmental cause – attachment to the environment may be good for democracy. Such attachment transcends ethnic and cultural boundaries; it is inclusive in a way that culturally defined attachments cannot be. As a result, Eckersley argues, environmentalism may provide an inclusive object of attachment missing in constitutional patriotism. And if each nation-state and its population protected its own environment, there would be less need for global environmental activism: environmental patriotism would be assisting in the realization of cosmopolitan ideals. However, environmental patriotism also has a potential for developing exclusivist practices and attitudes. The most notable of those are ‘not-in-my-backyard’ policies, which transfer environmental degradation from rich to poor states or communities. In spite of this, the inclusive attachment to and responsibility for national environment, in Eckersley’s view, may be the only effective way of getting the existing nationstates to fulfill their responsibility for protecting the environment. Whether it is in fact going to be effective ultimately depends on how successful an appeal to this kind of patriotism is in a particular context. In a state lacking independent and diverse media and with a low level of democratic engagement of citizens, the green movement, Eckersley concedes, may be better advised to question and subvert, rather than adopt, the discourse of patriotism. Anarchism has consistently subverted and rejected the discourse of patriotism. And yet, in Chapter 12 Robert Sparrow argues that anarchism, and in particular communist anarchism, is compatible with patriotism – provided patriotism is of a moderate, rather than extreme sort, and is not directed towards a state. Anarchists reject the state as an essentially coercive and oppressive institution. For an anarchist, the object of patriotic identification and attachment needs to be a political community or political order which is not a state. In this respect, Sparrow notes, anarchist patriotism is compatible with constitutional patriotism, insofar as the latter can be uncoupled from the state. Anarchist patriotism would also be compatible with environmental patriotism, whose object of attachment is a bioregion. The object of attachment in anarchist patriotism may also be a political community which is not geographically delimited within a region or a state. For anarchists, love of the state is a form of delusion which has sometimes led people to commit atrocities. Once the state is no longer an object of attachment, Sparrow argues, anarchists can accept as legitimate or even admirable love of the national and other communities that inhabit the state, provided that such a love does not lead us to identify our interest with that of the ruling class, implicate us in support of the state, or cause us to ignore the moral claims of others. In the anarchist, that is, classless and stateless society, moderate patriotism could flourish without encouraging state-inspired violence. Moreover, in the absence of the coercive powers of the state, anarchist communities would have to rely on a strong sense of public duty and solidarity among its members to achieve their collective goals. Thus a form of patriotic loyalty might be required if anarchist communities were to flourish. Finally, anarchism needs to address the question of justification of partial group preferences such as patriotic loyalty. Since anarchist communities are voluntary, they are likely to gather members with converging political and social orientations; as a result, their members can be justifiably proud of the valuable characteristics


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

or practices their group displays. As their pride in the object of their attachment can be easily justified, so can their patriotic loyalty to the group. On these grounds, Sparrow claims that anarchism offers the ideal conditions for both the flourishing and justification of moderate patriotism. In the non-ideal world of nation-states, however, patriotism is often used to justify the killing of those deemed enemies of the patria. In the final contribution to this book, Aleksandar Pavković explores one such case – that of killing soldiers of an army invading the territory of one’s country (Chapter 13). Does love of one’s country provide reasons which in such cases morally justify killing? Pavković rejects the view that killing in most or all cases of national defense is not morally justifiable, and constructs an example of collective defense in which the use of lethal force against invaders would be morally permissible. But in such cases the use of lethal force is permissible because it protects the lives, livelihood and freedom of the people settled on the land, and not because the defenders love the land and its people. The justification of killing is grounded in what Pavković terms universal humanism, rather than patriotism. He argues that in general, our attachment – however strong, and whatever its object – offers no moral reasons for killing those who are attempting to take that object away from us. This holds of one’s attachment to home and land no less than of one’s attachment to one’s car. And yet the love of one’s country has in the past motivated large numbers of people to fight, kill, and die for it. Indeed, fighting, dying, and killing for the patria is traditionally considered the supreme test of patriotism.8 Why, then, are some acts of killing motivated by patriotism often judged as morally praiseworthy? In Pavković’s view, killing soldiers who are occupying, by force, one’s country is often considered a praiseworthy attempt to remove the unjust occupation and restore the just political order in which patriots and not foreigners (or quislings) rule the country. Further, resisters who kill soldiers of the occupying forces display readiness to die for one’s country which, as a form of extreme altruism, appears noble and admirable. But, Pavković maintains, radical altruism of this kind may not be a moral virtue and the justice that a patriot killer is attempting to restore may not be moral justice. Patriotism, in his view, provides political, rather than moral reasons for killing. At least in some cases of military invasion, it is universal humanism and not patriotism that offers a moral justification for killing the invaders. Acknowledgments The papers collected in this volume (with the exception of Chapters 2, 4, 6, and 8) were generated by the workshop on patriotism organized by Igor Primoratz as part of the research program ‘Ethical Issues of Political Violence and State Sovereignty’, and held at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne, in August 2006. Papers presented at the workshop were subsequently 8 The close connection between patriotic loyalty and war, well attested by history and by the way patriotism is treated in literature and art, is a central theme in ethical critique of patriotism; see, for instance, John Somerville, ‘Patriotism and War’, Ethics, vol. 91 (1980/81).



revised for publication in the light of the detailed critical discussion each paper had received at the workshop. The editors wish to thank Ned Dobos, PhD student at CAPPE, for preparing the index.

This page intentionally left blank


This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 1

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain* Igor Primoratz

No-one (except, of course, an advocate of ‘realism’ in politics) would deny that patriotism is a proper subject of discussion in moral philosophy: a position or attitude that needs to be subjected to moral judgment. Beyond this point, moral philosophers tend to disagree. Some see patriotism as a virtue, or a moral requirement, or even as the moral requirement, the fount and bedrock of all morality. Others consider it a non-moral attachment in need of moral scrutiny. The latter differ among themselves about the upshot of such scrutiny. On one view, patriotism ought to be constrained, but not necessarily eradicated. Others reach a much harsher conclusion: from a moral point of view, the balance sheet of patriotism is clearly negative, and we should work for its demise. Given such a wide range of views on the morality of patriotism, it might be useful to provide a map of the terrain: a critical account of the main positions on the issue. That is one of the tasks of this chapter. The other is to present and argue for my own view. The two tasks are complementary: much of what I have to say in support of the view I hold emerges from the criticism of other views. 1. What is patriotism? Before addressing the question of its morality, I need to say something about what patriotism is and how it relates to nationalism. As this chapter focuses on patriotism as a subject in its own right – related to, yet distinct from, nationalism – the tendency to conflate the two must be overcome and a reasonably clear distinction made. Neither common usage nor the way the two terms are used in scholarly discourse are of much help. In both, the question of the relation between patriotism and nationalism is disposed much too quickly. This is sometimes done by reducing patriotism to a mere emotional underpinning of nationalism, which is understood as a political ideology or philosophical theory.1 Some scholars have succumbed to the popular tendency of presenting ‘our’ stance as patriotism, taken to mean a reasonable, natural, and wholesome loyalty to one’s country and compatriots, while * First published as Igor Primoratz, “Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain”, Journal of Moral Philosophy, vol. 5 (2008). Copyright © Sage Publications 2008. Reprinted by permission. 1 See Elie Kedourie, Nationalism, 4th edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993).

Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives


portraying ‘their’ attitude as nationalism, understood as irrational, invidious, and aggressive.2 Debates about nationalism itself have often proceeded at cross-purposes due to the ambiguity of the term (political or civic vs. ethnic or cultural nationalism) and to a wide range of competing definitions and conceptions of ‘nationalism’ and ‘nation’ advanced at different levels of discourse. There is, however, a way of distinguishing between patriotism and nationalism I find helpful, and will assume throughout this chapter. One of its virtues is that it is simple; another, that it begs no moral questions. First we need to put to one side the political sense of ‘nation’ that makes it identical with ‘country’, ‘state’, or ‘polity’, and the political or civic type of nationalism related to it. In this context, we need concern ourselves only with the other, ethnic or cultural sense of ‘nation’, and focus on ethnic or cultural nationalism. We can do so without attempting to spell out the relevant understanding of ‘nation’; it is enough to characterize it in terms of common ancestry, history, and a set of cultural traits. Both patriotism and nationalism involve love of, identification with, and special concern for a certain entity. In the case of patriotism, that entity is one’s patria, one’s country; in the case of nationalism, that entity is one’s natio, one’s nation (in the ethnic/cultural sense of the term). Thus patriotism and nationalism are understood as the same type of a set of beliefs and attitudes, and distinguished in terms of their objects, rather than the strength of those beliefs and attitudes, or in terms of theory vs. its emotional underpinnings. Patriotism, then, is love of one’s country, identification with it, and special concern for its well-being and that of compatriots. This calls for a few brief comments. First, this is only a definition. A full account of patriotism would include the patriot’s beliefs about the merits and achievements of the patria, his need to belong to a collectivity and be a part of a wider narrative, to be related to a past and a future that transcend the narrow confines of an individual’s life and its mundane concerns, as well as social and political conditions that affect the ebb and flow of patriotism, its political and cultural influence, and more. But for the purposes of this chapter, a mere definition – a statement of the necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the term – should suffice. Second, at least in modern usage, the patriot’s love of his country is not restricted to the land and those living in it, but also encompasses the state and its citizens. Patria is not merely a geographic, but also a political term. Third, there is, obviously, considerable overlap between country and nation, and therefore between patriotism and nationalism: much that applies to one will also apply to the other. But when a country and polity is not ethnically homogeneous, the two may part ways. 2. ‘The last refuge of the scoundrel’ ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.’ This is the best known quotation about patriotism, and one of the most popular political quotations of all time. Yet it is not helpful here. Our source for it is Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Having reported it, Boswell hastens to add that Johnson ‘did not mean a real and generous love of 2

See Michael Billig, Banal Nationalism (London: SAGE Publications, 1995), pp. 55–9.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self-interest.’3 Indeed, in a book entitled The History of English Patriotism we learn that ‘there has never been a man more intensely and narrowly patriotic than he, who said, half seriously, that all foreigners were fools, and who could hardly be brought to look upon a Scot as a man and a brother,’ and also that ‘on one occasion, without the least provocation, he burst out … “I am willing to love all mankind, except an American”.’4 We also have Johnson’s thoughts on genuine patriotism, spelled out in a pamphlet written on the eve of the elections of 1774, where we are told that ‘a Patriot is he whose public conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country’, and that ‘no man can deserve a seat in parliament who is not a PATRIOT.’5 The famous aphorism is about fake patriotism: not about patriotism, but about those who fake it in order to promote their own private or factional interests – that is, about political scoundrels. 3. ‘Our country, right or wrong’ There is a different type of scoundrel: one who is both a true patriot and a scoundrel. In the summer of 1860, Count Cavour, Prime Minister of Piedmont, who played a central role in the unification of Italy, was ostensibly negotiating with the government of the Kingdom of Naples with a view of forming an alliance, while at the same time arming volunteers to invade it and sending agents to stir up an uprising in Naples. Talking about that to friends, he said: ‘If we had done for ourselves the things which we are doing for Italy, we should be great rascals.’6 This remark could be taken in more than one way. I suggest it is best construed as showing Cavour as a disciple of Machiavelli, who had argued that, in view of human nature and the nature of politics, a prince had ‘to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge or not use it according to necessity’.7 A prince needs to learn how to break his promises, to dissemble and deceive, and to use force, sometimes in a cruel way and on a large scale, whenever that is required in order to maintain, strengthen, and extend his power. A prince is assumed to be concerned primarily, if not solely, with his own power and glory, rather than with the good of his subjects. Thus Machiavelli’s advice is not obviously relevant to the issue of patriotism and morality. We might make it relevant by reading it in the light of the concluding chapter of The Prince and its impassioned plea for a leader to rise 3 Boswell’s Life of Johnson, ed. G.B. Hill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1887), vol. 2, p. 348. 4 E. Wingfield-Stratford, The History of English Patriotism (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1913), vol. I, pp. 503, 567. 5 ‘The Patriot’, in J.P. Hardy (ed.), The Political Writings of Dr Johnson: A Selection (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968), p. 91. 6 G.M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi and the Making of Italy: June–November, 1860 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1928), p. 23. 7 N. Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. P. Bondanella, trans. P. Bondanella and M. Musa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 52.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

up, liberate Italy from foreign yoke, and turn it into a single, unified polity. But we need not go into that; for Machiavelli offers the same advice to politicians and common citizens of a republic: ‘When the safety of one’s country wholly depends on the decision to be taken, no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious.’8 Whatever the paramount political concern is – the power and glory of a prince, or the safety of a republic – if it requires setting aside moral considerations, including even those most weighty, that is what a true prince, and a true citizen, should do. If he succeeds in establishing and preserving a principality (as Cavour did, albeit not as a prince), or in safeguarding a republic, all this injustice, cruelty, and ignominy will be soon forgotten. ‘Our country, right or wrong.’9 Of course, ‘our country, right or wrong’ cannot be right, at least from the moral point of view. This saying encapsulates a type of patriotism that is quite widespread, but amounts to a rejection of morality, whenever the safeguarding of important interests of our country calls for acting as great rascals do. Therefore those who hold moral beliefs, adhere to moral rules, espouse moral values cannot but reject this type of extreme patriotism outright. For those who appreciate them, moral considerations are overriding: they trump non-moral considerations with which they come into conflict. To be sure, there are two types of cases where moral considerations might be thought not to override non-moral ones: when the price of doing the right thing is prohibitive, and in cases of ‘supreme emergency’, where acting in accordance with a moral rule will have literally disastrous consequences for a large number of people. But these are only apparent exceptions. Moral requirements have a built-in provision that compliance will not be bound up with paying a prohibitive price. And in cases of ‘supreme emergency’, the necessity of avoiding a disaster by going against a weighty moral rule is itself a moral consideration; what is to be avoided is not a disaster simpliciter, but a moral disaster. To reject the supremacy of morality, then, is to reject morality itself. 4. A central moral virtue The next variety of patriotism along this spectrum is that termed ‘true’ or ‘robust’ patriotism by its advocates, and ‘extreme’ by its critics. Its most important advocate among philosophers is Alasdair MacIntyre. In his lecture ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’ this kind of patriotism is contrasted with liberalism as a philosophy committed to certain universal values and principles. The two are presented as alternatives, each with its attractions and hazards, rather than as the correct and incorrect view of the self, community, and morality, respectively. Yet anyone familiar with MacIntyre’s book After Virtue will take this profession of neutrality with a pinch of salt, and will interpret the argument of the lecture as a defense of patriotism. 8 N. Machiavelli, The Discourses, ed. B. Crick, trans. L.J. Walker (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1998), p. 515. 9 The source of this widely popular saying is a toast given by Stephen Decatur, US naval officer (1779–1820), in Norfolk, Virginia, in April 1816: ‘Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!’

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


In After Virtue, MacIntyre insists that human beings and their actions must be understood and judged from the point of view of the community they belong to, in terms of the identity and the roles this community provides them with. I am never able to seek for the good or exercise the virtues only qua individual. … It is not just that different individuals live in different social circumstances; it is also that we all approach our own circumstances as bearers of a particular social identity. I am someone’s son or daughter, someone else’s cousin or uncle; I am a citizen of this or that city, a member of this or that guild or profession; I belong to this clan, that tribe, this nation. Hence what is good for me has to be the good for one who inhibits these roles. As such, I inherit from the past of my family, my city, my tribe, my nation, a variety of debts, inheritances, rightful expectations and obligations. These constitute the given of my life, my moral starting point. This is in part what gives my life its own moral particularity.10

While this argument highlights the importance of community as such for the moral life and applies this claim to a range of communities to which an individual might belong, in the lecture on patriotism it is one particular community, one’s country and polity, that comes to the fore. On the liberal understanding of morality, where and from whom I learn the principles and precepts of morality is as irrelevant to their contents and to my commitment to them, as where and from whom I learn the principles and precepts of mathematics is irrelevant to their contents and my adherence to them. For MacIntyre, where and from whom I learn my morality is of decisive importance both for my commitment to it and to its very contents. There is no way of understanding and adopting morality as such; it always comes in a particular version, as the morality of this or that community, and the individual can come to understand moral rules and make them his own only ‘in and through the way of life of [his] community’.11 To be sure, moral rules are justified in terms of certain goods they express and safeguard, but these goods, too, are always given as part and parcel of the way of life of a particular community. The individual becomes a moral agent only when informed as such by his community. He also remains a moral agent, lives and flourishes as one, because he is sustained in his moral life by his community: To obey the rules of morality is characteristically and generally a hard task … I can only be a moral agent because we are moral agents … I need those around me to reinforce my moral strength and assist in remedying my moral weaknesses. It is in general only within a community that individuals become capable of morality [and] are sustained in their morality … Detached from my community, I will be apt to lose my hold upon all genuine standards of judgment.12

This might be termed the argument from moral education, growth, and sustenance. Its second step suggests a further argument, that of identity. If I can live and flourish 10 A. MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2nd edn (Notre Dame, IN: University Press of Notre Dame, 1984), p. 220. 11 A. MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, in I. Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002 [henceforth: Patriotism]), p. 48. 12 MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, pp. 49–50.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

as a moral agent only in my community, as its member, while playing the role this membership involves, that means that my very identity is inseparably bound up with that of my community, its history, traditions, institutions, and aspirations. Accordingly, if I do not understand the enacted narrative of my own individual life as embedded in the history of my country … I will not understand what I owe to others or what others owe to me, for what crimes of my nation I am bound to make reparation, for what benefits to my nation I am bound to feel gratitude. Understanding what is owed to and by me and understanding the history of the communities of which I am a part is … one and the same thing.13

If so, patriotism cannot be contrasted with morality. It is rather a central moral virtue, and indeed the core and bedrock of morality. It provides strong motivation for acting morally. The competing, liberal understanding of morality fails to provide such motivation when it is most needed, in cases where there can be no appeal to mutual interest. The object of patriotic loyalty is one’s country and polity; but this does not mean that a patriot will uncritically support any government that holds power in her country, or any form of government that might be in place there. On this point MacIntyre’s conception of patriotism differs from the type of extreme patriotism that has been widespread throughout history and seems to be quite popular today. The patriot’s allegiance, he says, is not to the status quo of power, but rather to ‘the nation conceived as a project’. One can oppose one’s country’s government, or the system of government, in the name of the true character, history, and aspirations of the patria. To that extent, this type of patriotism is critical and rational. But this must have a limit: for a patriot, at least some practices and projects of her country, some of its ‘large interests’, will be beyond questioning and critical scrutiny. To that extent, MacIntyre grants that patriotism, as he understands it, is ‘a fundamentally irrational attitude’.14 But he also contends that a more rational and therefore more constrained loyalty would fall short of true patriotism, and might be considered at best its ‘emasculated’ variety. This view of patriotism is exposed to an array of objections. Some challenge its philosophical foundations, MacIntyre’s communitarianism; others question the step from communitarianism to patriotism; still others seek to rebut his arguments from moral education, growth, and sustenance, and from identity. I will take a critical look at these two arguments in section 6. Here I want to focus on what I think is the central issue for an overall assessment of this type of patriotism. MacIntyre writes that ‘on occasion patriotism might require me to support and work for the success of some enterprise of my nation as crucial to its overall project … when the success of that enterprise would not be in the best interest of mankind.’15 One might argue that this is enough to discredit his defense of patriotism, but that would beg the question at issue. Still, MacIntyre’s admission raises the decisive question: can one embrace this 13 MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, p. 55. 14 MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, p. 52. 15 MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, p. 53.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


type of patriotism, without thereby renouncing such basic moral notions as universal justice and common human solidarity? This is one of the issues emphasized in Tolstoy’s classic critique of patriotism. Tolstoy argued that patriotism is utterly incompatible with these notions, that it is merely egoism writ large, an exclusive and ultimately aggressive concern for one’s own country, and a major cause of international misunderstanding, tension, and war.16 MacIntyre might retort that special concern for one’s country’s well-being – a defining trait of patriotism – is not the same as, and need not evolve into, an exclusive, let alone aggressive concern for it. This is true, and should count as a point in defense of patriotism – but not the type of patriotism advanced by MacIntyre. MacIntyre’s patriot may be promoting his country’s interests in a critical, and therefore non-exclusive way, over a range of issues. However, when it comes to those ‘large interests’ of his country that are beyond criticism and must be supported in an irrational way, his concern will inevitably become exclusive, and eventually aggressive too. At this point, Tolstoy’s critique of patriotism applies with full force. If we think of justice in universal, rather than parochial terms, if we acknowledge common human solidarity as a weighty moral consideration, and if we consider peace of paramount importance and will countenance war only if it is just, we must reject the kind of patriotism advocated in MacIntyre’s lecture. 5. ‘If right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right’ Tolstoy and MacIntyre are poles apart. One emphasizes the basic moral notions of universal, impartial justice and common human solidarity, and rejects all patriotism as incompatible with them and responsible for much enmity and strife among countries. The other rejects cosmopolitan impartialism as false to the way people become, remain, and flourish as moral beings, and incapable of providing motivation for acting morally; he then offers an extreme version of patriotism instead. Yet both present us with the same stark choice: we must adopt either a sweeping universalism that leaves no room for love of and loyalty to one’s country and polity, or a patriotism that sets aside fundamental moral considerations of justice and humanity whenever ‘large interests’ of the patria are at stake, and ultimately grounds all morality on local attachment. MacIntyre is aware that some might hope for a compromise, but denies that there is room for it: anything that falls short of his strong version of patriotism would no longer be patriotism, but merely an empty slogan that serves as a cover for an essentially universalist view. The nature and strength of patriotism is revealed most clearly in situations of conflict. In a conflict that concerns one’s country’s survival or other ‘large interests’, whether generated by scarcity of resources or by incompatible ways of life, true patriotism would require loyalty to the patria, including the willingness to kill and die for it, even though that meant going against the considerations enjoined by universal morality. ‘Restricted’ patriotism, on the other hand, would have those considerations override love of and loyalty to one’s

16 See L. Tolstoy, ‘On Patriotism’ and ‘Patriotism, or Peace?’, Writings on Civil Disobedience and Non-violence (Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1987).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

country. That might lead either to neutrality between one’s own country and the enemy, or to actually supporting the enemy, whose cause is found just, against one’s own country. In response to MacIntyre’s defense of a robust type of patriotism, some philosophers have nevertheless searched for a middle way. Thus Marcia Baron proposes a version of patriotism that is compatible with liberal morality.17 She argues that the conflict between impartiality and partiality is not as deep as MacIntyre makes out: morality allows for both types of considerations, but at different levels. At one level, one is often justified in taking into account one’s particular attachments and commitments, including those to one’s country and compatriots. At another level, one can and should reflect on such attachments and commitments from a universal, impartial point of view, and determine their proper scope and weight, allowing, for example, ‘that with respect to certain matters and within limits, it is good for an American to judge as an American, and to put American interests first.’18 In such cases, partiality is seen as legitimate and indeed valuable from a universal, impartial point of view. This is how we think of our preferences for, and moral obligations to, our family, friends, or local community: the partiality involved is appropriate, not only for us, but for anyone, provided, of course, that it is kept within certain limits. Stephen Nathanson, too, argues that impartiality required by universal morality allows for particular attachments and special obligations, including those to one’s country and compatriots. The Ten Commandments, for instance, are mostly impartial, but they also include ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ Nathanson spells out his version of patriotism, claiming that it is immune both to Tolstoy’s critique of patriotism and to MacIntyre’s strictures against anything that falls short of his own, extreme version of patriotism.19 Nathanson’s central claim is that patriotism involves a special concern for one’s country, but that this concern need not be unconstrained, nor exclusive and aggressive. Like other special attachments and commitments, those to one’s country can and should be constrained by moral rules that apply universally. This ‘moderate patriotism’ encourages people to promote the interests of their country and compatriots only in ways permitted by moral rules. For instance, while it may require the patriot to fight for his country, it will do so only if the war is, and remains, just. An extreme patriot will not flinch from fighting for his country whether its cause be just or not, and often in whatever way it takes to ensure its victory. Moderate patriotism is not exclusive. Its adherent shows special concern for her country and compatriots, but that does not prevent her from having a measure of concern for other countries and their inhabitants. Moreover, it allows for the possibility that the concern for human beings in general will sometimes override the concern for one’s country and compatriots. Extreme patriotism, by contrast, gives greater weight to the (large) interests of one’s country and compatriots than to those of other countries and their inhabitants whenever the two come into conflict. 17 M. Baron, ‘Patriotism and “Liberal” Morality’, in Patriotism. 18 Baron, ‘Patriotism and “Liberal” Morality’, p. 64. 19 S. Nathanson, ‘In Defense of “Moderate Patriotism”’, in Patriotism; Patriotism, Morality, and Peace (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993).

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


Finally, moderate patriotism is not uncritical and automatic. For its adherent, it is not enough that the country is her country. She also expects it to live up to certain moral and other standards and thereby deserve her support, devotion and special concern for its welfare. When it fails to do so, she will submit it to sustained moral criticism and seek to get it to mend its ways. This approach is captured in a saying about patriotism that adds a twist to the popular ‘Our country, right or wrong’: ‘My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right!’20 An extreme patriot of the more popular sort, on the other hand, loves his country uncritically, stands by it whatever it does, and tends to see any serious criticism of it as inappropriate, if not as outright treason. An extreme patriot of the more philosophical sort, invoked by MacIntyre, does the same, as long as his country’s ‘larger’ interests are at issue. Nathanson also rebuts MacIntyre’s attempt to collapse moderate patriotism into universalism. In some cases, it will indeed be right to refuse support to practices or policies of one’s own country, if they are unjust or inhumane. But a moderate patriot will not be neutral in each and every case of conflict of her country’s rights and interests and those of another. In particular, in a struggle concerning the very survival of her own and another community, in which no just accommodation is possible, universal morality will not require that she remain neutral. She will be justified in joining her own country’s efforts. The fact that she will do so with a sense of deep regret, rather than with a jingoistic attitude all too typical of extreme patriots, only shows the moral superiority of her position. Baron and Nathanson have succeeded in constructing a middle-of-the-road position that avoids both sweeping universalism that leaves no room for patriotic attachment and loyalty, and extreme patriotism that acknowledges no universal moral considerations. They have convincingly rebutted MacIntyre’s attempt to collapse moderate patriotism into cosmopolitanism, and shown that this type of patriotism is morally unobjectionable.21 6. A morally indifferent partiality To say that moderate patriotism is morally unobjectionable, however, is not to say that it is morally valuable or even required. Both Baron and Nathanson fail to distinguish between these three positions clearly and consistently enough.22 Yet 20 Carl Schurz, German-American politician (1829–1906), in a speech in the US Senate, February 29, 1872. 21 More recently, Kok-Chor Tan has been advancing the same position, presenting it as a version of cosmopolitanism (‘Patriotic Obligations’, The Monist, vol. 86 (2003); Justice without Borders: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Patriotism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); ‘The Demands of Justice and National Allegiances’, in G. Brock and H. Brighouse (eds), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)). Strangely, he nowhere makes any reference to the work of Baron or Nathanson. 22 Baron first appears to be arguing that moderate patriotism is good (‘Patriotism and “Liberal” Morality’, p. 64) or ‘deserves to be regarded as a virtue’ (p. 70), but later says


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

neither the second nor the third thesis follows from the first; if we are to accept either the claim that moderate patriotism is a duty, or the claim that it is morally valuable, its proponents need to provide further argument. One might expect such argument to be couched in communitarian terms. When discussing Alasdair MacIntyre’s defense of patriotism, I canvassed – but did not assess – two such arguments: from moral education, growth, and sustenance, and from identity. MacIntyre means these arguments to ground his own, extreme version of patriotism; but they could equally be marshaled in support of moderate patriotism. The first argument could be construed in two different ways. MacIntyre could be taken as saying that, as moral beings, we have no choice but to be patriots. Given the facts of moral education, moral development, moral life, if I were to discard my allegiance to my country, I would thereby be opting out of morality. For there is no morality as such, over and above the moralities of particular communities, nations, polities. And there is no morality for me but the morality of my community, my country. Alternatively, he might be taken as saying that, as a matter of fact, I can set myself free of allegiance to my community and its moral norms and values, but ought not to do so. On the first interpretation, the argument greatly exaggerates the repercussions of the fact that the individual owes his moral education and growth, his moral norms and values, his very capacity of moral deliberation and action, to his community. The individual sets out as a moral agent who identifies morally with the community, subscribes to its norms and shares its values. But he need not remain this way: he is not condemned to lifelong loyalty to the particular morality his community imparted in him. He can evolve in more than one direction. He can deploy the very capacity for moral judgment his community helped him develop to submit the norms and values of that community to critical scrutiny, and argue for all manner of change. I do not mean mere tinkering with the community’s morality, for MacIntyre’s position allows for that. I am talking about radical moral critique of one’s country, one’s polity, of the sort that challenges its basic beliefs and commitments. That, too, is a that the claim she is defending is more modest: patriotism is only ‘a plausible candidate for being a virtue’ (p. 75). As she explains, her aim ‘is not the lofty one of showing that properly understood, patriotism is a virtue, but only that there is, for someone who accepts the “morality of liberalism”, at least one conception of patriotism which it is plausible for her to hold to be a virtue’ (p. 85, n. 28). But we are not told just why one might hold that moderate patriotism is indeed a virtue; and what Baron’s arguments show is only that such patriotism is morally permissible. (Baron’s paper was originally published in 1989. In her 2001 postscript, she tones down her claims for patriotism even further; see pp. 81–2.) Nathanson, too, vacillates between different claims for moderate patriotism. Sometimes he seems to be defending such patriotism as but a morally permissible preference for one’s own country (Patriotism, Morality, and Peace, p. 169); sometimes he portrays it as a special duty, analogous to the duty one has to one’s family (pp. 42–4, 65–6, 71); at other times, he seems to be suggesting that moderate patriotism is a virtue (p. 113); at other times still, he presents it as a moral ideal (pp. 48, 199, 209). But, again, there is no explicit argument for any of the positive claims for moderate patriotism; what Nathanson’s arguments actually establish is only that this type of patriotism is morally allowed.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


possibility; indeed, all major change in moral belief and practice takes place in the wake of such challenge. On another reading of MacIntyre’s argument, he is saying that the option of morally parting ways with one’s community does obtain, but one should not take it. Why not? Perhaps the reason for sticking with the community and its morality is that if I do not, I am ‘apt to lose my hold upon all genuine standards of judgment’. But surely this hazard, too, is greatly exaggerated. Every case of radical and serious, that is, intellectually and morally respectable, critique of one’s community’s morality is evidence to the contrary: in every such case a community’s morality is judged, and found wanting, by applying some ‘genuine standards of judgment’. Or is the objection one of ingratitude? But if my community provided me with moral education, rather than indoctrination, it will have endowed me not only with certain moral norms and values by which to live and judge myself and others, but also with the wherewithal for engaging in moral thinking on my own. If so, surely I should make use of it and follow its logic wherever it might lead, rather than adhere complacently to the norms and values of my community. Indeed, that might be thought the most appropriate type of gratitude, rather than lack of it. The other communitarian argument for moderate patriotism as a duty is that of identity. It is already suggested by the preceding one: if an individual can live and flourish as a moral agent only as a member of a community, by playing the role involved in this membership, then her very identity is bound up with that of her community. The fact that she belongs to a community, a country, a polity, rather like the fact that she is a member of a family, has great importance for her sense of self, her very identity: it is a fact she will cite when telling us who and what she is. Her country is something she identifies with, and also something others identify her with. One’s relation to one’s country and compatriots is thus quite unlike one’s relation to other countries and their inhabitants. It is a special relation: one belongs to one’s country; on the other hand, this sense of belonging to one’s country is part of one’s very identity. This relation involves special concern of the sort one could not have for other countries and for human beings in general. Without such concern, what sense can the expression ‘my country’ have? This argument, too, fails; whatever plausibility it may have trades on the ambiguity of ‘identity’. The term can be intelligibly used either in a factual, morally neutral sense, or in a sense that involves certain moral obligations. An individual may reside continuously in a country since his birth, be registered as a citizen, and possess all the usual documents. He may speak the country’s language and fully participate in its social and cultural life. He may participate in its political life (perhaps only with a view to promoting the interests of his class or region). He may obey the country’s laws and authorities (perhaps without ever giving much thought to the reasons for doing so, or because he reckons that disobedience does not pay). When asked who he is, what he is, his reply may include a reference to the country he lives in, the polity whose citizen he is, as an important item without which the reply would be significantly incomplete. In view of all this, he may refer to the country as his country. Then again, he may also believe he has a moral duty to show special concern for the welfare of his country and compatriots. In replying to the question who and what


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

he is, he may mention this specifically moral belief, holding that otherwise the reply would remain significantly incomplete. These are two different (partial) accounts of identity; the latter may, but need not, accompany the former. If someone, in telling us who and what she is, mentions the former, but at the same time rejects the latter, the answer will not be inconsistent. It will not be reason enough to suspect that her identity is incomplete, or that her talk of ‘her country’ is an indication of misunderstanding or hypocrisy. In other words, not everyone who intelligibly and sincerely speaks of ‘her country’ is necessarily a patriot. A person who is not a patriot is not necessarily someone who fails to perform a moral duty – a failure to be explained in terms of her flawed identity. While the view that patriotism is morally mandatory is obviously at home in communitarian philosophy, it could also be supported by arguments that do not presuppose a communitarian view of self and community. There are at least three such arguments: from gratitude, from fairness, and from the common good. When asked to explain why they think they owe special concern to their country and compatriots, many patriots talk of gratitude they feel towards, and owe to, their country. So does Maurizio Viroli: ‘… We have a moral obligation toward our country because we are indebted to it. We owe our country our life, our education, our language, and, in the most fortunate cases, our liberty. If we want to be moral persons, we must return what we have received, at least in part, by serving the common good.’23 Viroli is exaggerating the benefits we have received from our country; any gratitude owed for being born or brought up is normally owed to parents, rather than patria. But there are some important benefits we have received from our country. Are we not bound to show gratitude for them, and is not the obvious way to do so to show special concern for the country and compatriots? I think not; for the standard arguments against the gratitude theory of political obligation apply with equal force to the argument from gratitude in the present context.24 We usually talk of gratitude in interpersonal relations. We also speak of gratitude to large and impersonal entities: one’s school, university, profession, even one’s country. But on closer inspection this often turns out to be an abbreviated way of referring to gratitude to certain specific persons who have acted within and on behalf of these large entities. That is so because the debt of gratitude is not incurred by any benefit received. If a benefit was conferred inadvertently, or advisedly but for the wrong reason – say, to improve the benefactor’s public image – gratitude will be misplaced. We owe a moral debt of gratitude (rather than a mere ‘Thank you!’ required by good manners) only to those who confer benefits on us deliberately and for the right reason: out of concern for our own good. And we cannot talk with confidence about the reasons a large and complex group or institution has for its actions. 23 M. Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 9. 24 See A.J. Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979), chapter 7.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


If we put these worries aside, we can consider our compatriots as a mere aggregate of individuals. Do we owe them a debt of gratitude for the benefits our life in their midst has conferred on us? Again, we must ask about the reason for their law-abiding behavior and social cooperation in general. Yet there is no single reason, common to all or even most of them. Some do their bit without giving much thought to the reasons for doing so; others believe that doing so is, in the long run, the most prudent policy; still others act out of altruistic motives. Only the last group – surely a tiny minority – would be a proper object of our gratitude. Moreover, gratitude is appropriate only for a benefit conferred freely, as a gift, and not for something that has been paid for. But most of the benefits one receives from one’s country or polity are of the latter sort: benefits paid for by law-abiding behavior in general, and through taxation in particular. The benefits the individual has received from her country might be thought to ground the duty of patriotism in a different way. One’s country is not merely a patch of land inhabited by strangers to whom one owes nothing beyond what one owes to any other human being. It is rather a common enterprise that produces and distributes all manner of benefits, many of them of great importance to the individual. These benefits are made possible by cooperation of those who live in the country, participate in the enterprise, owe and render allegiance to the polity. But for their cooperation, there would be none of these benefits to distribute and enjoy. The rules that provide the unity of purpose and the concert of action and determine the distribution of burdens and benefits enjoin, among other things, special concern for the welfare of compatriots which is not due to outsiders. Such concern is one of the basic prerequisites of the whole venture. But if so, then showing special concern for one’s compatriots is a matter of fair play: it is only fair that one should do one’s part, just as they do. To fail to reciprocate would be to take part in the distribution of something one did not help produce, to take advantage of one’s compatriots.25 Unfortunately, this account leaves out a small, but highly significant group: those who make virtually no contribution to the common enterprise, but not because they choose to be free riders, nor because they object to the way the enterprise is organized and operated or, more radically, to the very idea of the moral, rather than merely pragmatic, division of humanity into countries, nations, polities. I have in mind those who would do their part if they could, but cannot because of some serious, lasting, incurable handicap for which they bear no responsibility. Since they contribute nothing, there is nothing to reciprocate for. Fair play does not require that we show special concern for them.26 This implication becomes even more problematic when we recall that it is just those people who are most in need of such concern, and present a particularly telling test of one’s patriotism: concern for them would testify to the disinterested nature of the patriotic stance, and thus to its authenticity. A patriot accords considerable intrinsic value to the patria, and understands her concern for its 25 See R. Dagger, ‘Rights, Boundaries, and the Bonds of Community: A Qualified Defense of Moral Parochialism’, American Political Science Review 79 (1985). 26 See R.E. Goodin, ‘What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’, in Patriotism, pp. 150–52.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

welfare and that of her compatriots as highly significant in itself, rather than a matter of give and take. It might be argued that the rule enjoining special concern for our country and compatriots, just like other rules concerning special attachments, is justified by the good consequences of its adoption. Duties of this type mediate our fundamental, general duties and make possible their most effective discharge. They do so by establishing a division of moral labor, necessary because our capacity for doing good is limited by our circumstances. Each of us can normally be of greater assistance to those who are in some way close to us than to those who are not. The trouble with this defense of patriotism is that patriots themselves will be reluctant to embrace it, for two different, but related reasons. They will find it much too weak, and alien to what they feel patriotism is all about. The duty of patriotism, just like all other special duties when construed in rule-utilitarian terms, will prove too weak: it will give way to the duty of general beneficence whenever the two come into conflict and acting on the latter is going to have better consequences than acting on the former. For any patriot worth his salt, this will surely be much too often.27 Moreover, this defense of patriotism presents the duty of special concern for one’s country and compatriots as a pragmatic device for assigning to individuals some of their universal duties. Accordingly, it owes its moral force to the moral force of those universal duties. But if so, then, as one proponent of this understanding of patriotism concedes, ‘it turns out that “our fellow countrymen” are not so very special after all.’28 They merely happen to be the beneficiaries of the most effective way of putting into practice our concern for human beings in general. The special moral relationship between the patriot and the patria and compatriots – the relationship of love and identification – has been dissolved. If so, we have no reason to think of patriotism as a moral duty, at least until some novel, more convincing argument for that claim is produced. Does that mean that there is nothing to be said for patriotism from a moral point of view? Not necessarily. One might concede that special concern for one’s country and compatriots is not a duty, but go on to argue that it is morally valuable, if one as a matter of fact shows such concern. Patriotism might be thought a moral virtue. Some moral virtues might be considered obligatory. But that is not the case with all moral virtues: some are not mandatory, but it is good if we possess them. An example of the latter type is the sort of concern for those in extreme need shown by the late Mother Theresa, or for people in great danger and distress exhibited by members of humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. A person showing concern for others well beyond the degree of concern for others required of us all is thought to be a morally better person than the rest of us (other things equal). On the other hand, when we fail to follow the example set by such persons, that is no reason for moral condemnation. For what they are doing is beyond the call of duty. Patriotism is a special concern for the welfare of one’s country and compatriots, 27 This is an instance of a more general, structural problem in rule-utilitarianism. I discuss it in some detail in Justifying Legal Punishment, rev. edn (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1997), pp. 118–28. 28 R.E. Goodin, ‘What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’, p. 153.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


a concern beyond what we owe other people and communities; is it not, then, a supererogatory virtue? To ask this is to ask: Is a patriot a morally better person than a person who is not a patriot (other things equal)? Is the special concern for one’s country and compatriots that defines patriotism morally valuable? If it is, just why? If we ask the analogous question about the kind of concern for other human beings shown by Mother Theresa or by Doctors Without Borders, the answer would seem to be that such concern is morally valuable for the same reason that makes a more modest degree of concern for others a duty falling on each one of us. The same moral value, sympathy for and assistance to people in need of it, grounds a certain degree of concern for others as a general moral duty and explains why a significantly higher degree of such concern is a moral ideal. This explanation, however, does not apply in the case of patriotism. Patriotism is not but another extension of the duty of concern for others; it is a special concern for my country because it is my country, for my compatriots because they are my compatriots. Unlike Mother Theresa, who showed concern for every destitute, sick, dying person she could reach, and Doctors Without Borders, the concern of the patriot is by definition selective; and the selection is performed by the word ‘my’. But the word ‘my’ cannot, by itself, play the critical role in an argument showing that a certain line of action is morally valuable. If it had the magic required for the task, one might deploy the same type of argument to show that other kinds of partialism, such as tribalism, racism, or sexism, are morally valuable too. If my argument in this section is convincing, patriotism is neither a moral duty nor a supererogatory virtue. That means that, morally speaking, there is nothing to be said for it. We have all manner of preferences for places and people, tend to identify with many groups, large and small, to think of them as in some sense ours, and to show special concern for their members. But however important in other respects these preferences, identifications, and concerns might be, they lack positive moral significance. They are morally permissible as long as they are kept within certain bounds, but morally indifferent in themselves. So is patriotism. 7. ‘A lively sense of collective responsibility’ In Richard Aldington’s novel The Colonel’s Daughter, a character claims to be a patriot, and insists that patriotism and nationalism are entirely different attitudes. ‘Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks.’29 This is a throwback to a way of distinguishing patriotism and nationalism I rejected at the outset; but I would like to explore, briefly, the understanding of patriotism offered by Aldington’s hero. As discussed so far, both extreme and moderate patriotism aim at defending and promoting the worldly – political, economic, and cultural – interests of one’s country and compatriots. Thus they fit the characterization of nationalism in the quotation: 29 R. Aldington, The Colonel’s Daughter (London: Chatto and Windus, 1931), p. 53.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

they are after larger spurs and brighter beaks. The difference between them is the length to which these will be pursued: MacIntyre’s extreme patriot will ultimately go to any length, whereas a moderate patriot portrayed by Baron and Nathanson will acknowledge that universal justice and common human solidarity set limits to what may be done in this pursuit. Baron also calls for an expanded understanding of patriotism as a special concern for the flourishing of one’s own country, including its ‘moral flourishing’. The concern for the moral flourishing of one’s country, she suggests, should be seen as an additional manifestation of patriotism, and one that should make it even more acceptable to adherents of universal, liberal morality.30 Baron’s position is thus half-way between the usual, worldly type of patriotism, and what I propose to term its distinctively ethical type. The latter would put aside objectives such as the country’s political power, riches or cultural vibrancy – things that constitute the country’s well-being in a mundane, non-moral sense. It would be concerned instead with the country’s distinctively moral well-being, its moral identity and integrity. A patriot of this sort would not express her love for the patria by seeking to husband her country’s resources and preserve its natural beauty and its historical heritage, or make it rich, powerful, culturally preeminent, or influential on the world scene. Instead, she would want to see her country live up to moral requirements and promote moral values, both at home and internationally. She would work for a just and humane society at home, and seek to make sure that her country acts justly beyond its borders, and shows common human solidarity towards those in need, however distant and unfamiliar. In addition to these concerns for the moral integrity of her country at present, she would also be concerned for its past moral record and its implications for the present. She would support, and perhaps initiate, attempts at exploring the dark chapters of the country’s history, acknowledging the wrongs perpetrated in decades or centuries past, and responding to that past in appropriate ways, whether by offering apologies or making amends, and by making sure such wrongs are not perpetrated yet again. To be sure, a patriot of this, distinctively ethical type, would want to see justice done, rights respected, human solidarity at work at any time and in any place. But her patriotism would be given expression in her special concern that her country be guided by these moral principles and values, a concern more sustained and more deeply felt than her concern that these principles and values should be put into effect generally. She would feel that her own moral identity is inextricably interwoven with that of her country, that the moral record of the patria is hers too. Unlike a patriot of the more mundane type, she might not feel great pride in her country’s worldly merits and achievements. However, she would be proud of the country’s moral record, when it inspires pride. But her patriotism would be expressed, above all, in a critical approach to her country and compatriots. She would not deny, justify, excuse or belittle her country’s unjust or inhumane practices, laws or policies, whether at home or abroad, as a patriot of the more popular type is much too prone to do. On the contrary, she would feel entitled, and indeed called, to submit them to critical moral scrutiny, and to speak out and act so that they may be identified, acknowledged and dismantled. She would not shirk her part in collective 30 M. Baron, ‘Patriotism and “Liberal” Morality’, pp. 75–7.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


moral responsibility for wrongs present or past, but would rather willingly shoulder it. Thus her patriotism is accurately characterized as, essentially, ‘a lively sense of collective responsibility’. This characterization also suggest that, while we have no moral reason to adopt moderate patriotism of the more usual, mundane sort, we do have moral reason to show special concern for our own country’s moral well-being. Normally, when someone is wronged, someone else benefits from that wrong. When a society maintains an unjust or inhumane practice, or when a polity enacts and enforces an unjust or inhumane law, or lays down and implements such a policy, at least some, and sometimes many of its members reap benefits from it. Sometimes such a practice, legislation or policy affects people beyond the country’s borders; in such cases, the whole society or polity may benefit. In all these cases, the responsibility for the injustice or lack of basic human solidarity lies, in the first instance, with those who make the decisions and those who implement them. It also lies, in the second instance, with those who give support to such decisions and their implementation. But some responsibility in this connection also accrues to those who have no part in the making of the decisions or in their implementation, or even proffer their support, but accept, rather than merely receive, the benefits such a practice, law or policy generates.31 These are fairly straightforward types of collective moral responsibility. Such responsibility may also accrue to those who have no part in designing or putting into effect immoral practices, laws or policies, do not support them or benefit from them, but do benefit in various ways from being members of the society or citizens of the polity at issue. One may derive considerable psychological benefit merely from membership in and identification with a society or polity: from the sense of belonging, support and security such membership and identification afford. It seems to me that, if people accept, rather than merely receive, such benefits, while knowing about the immoral practices, laws or policies of their society or polity, or having no excuse for not knowing about them, that, too, generates collective moral responsibility. It may be thought unduly harsh to talk of collective responsibility in relation to some wrongdoing accruing to individuals who make no causal contribution to that wrongdoing and have no control over its course. But I am not suggesting that they are responsible in the same way and to the same degree as those who make the decisions, those who implement them, or those whose support makes the decisions and their implementation possible, and that they are as blameworthy as those others. I am only saying that, in accepting benefits from those wrongs, or from their association with the wrongdoers, they underwrite those wrongs. In doing so, they accrue a degree of moral responsibility and join the class of those properly blamed. Their share of responsibility relating to the wrongs at issue is lesser and the blame to be laid at their door is lesser too – but they still bear some moral responsibility and deserve some moral blame on that account. They cannot say in good faith, ‘Those wrongs have nothing to do with us! We are in no way implicated in them!’ 31 On the distinction between accepting and receiving benefits see A.J. Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, pp. 125–32.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Furthermore, it might be argued that, independently of any benefits, sheer solidarity with one’s society or polity is enough to relate the individual to its immoral acts or practices about which she knows, or has no excuse for not knowing, even though she is otherwise not implicated in those acts or practices. The kind of solidarity I have in mind involves a community of interest, a common lot, and bonds of sentiment, and is usually indicated by vicarious pride and shame. To be sure, here the term ‘responsibility’ might be thought too strong; if so, we can talk of moral taint instead. Although one is in no way causally connected to the wrongdoing of which one’s society or polity is guilty, nor even implicated in it through the acceptance of some benefits, one may still be considered morally tainted by one’s solidarity with those who are.32 Thus I have a moral reason to develop and exercise a special concern for the moral record, the moral identity and integrity of my country and compatriots. I ought to be concerned about immoral practices of my society, immoral laws and policies of my polity, since they tend to impose collective moral responsibility I, too, have to shoulder, or to taint the moral record of many members or citizens, including myself. I ought to be concerned that such practices, laws and policies be identified, acknowledged and done away with, and that their harmful effects be redressed. By doing so, I will also be concerned for an important aspect of my own moral identity and integrity.33 8. Summing up In this chapter, I approach patriotism as a topic in moral philosophy. Patriotism is first distinguished from nationalism in terms of the objects of these attitudes. The kind of patriotism that provides the last refuge to the scoundrel is put aside as not to the point. I then offer a typology of views on the moral standing of patriotism that includes (1) love of country as trumping moral considerations that stand in its way, (2) extreme patriotism, understood as the core moral virtue, (3) moderate patriotism, (4) patriotism as a morally indifferent preference, and (5) a distinctively ethical version of patriotism. I note that (1) is clearly morally unacceptable; concur with the 32 See J. Feinberg, ‘Collective Responsibility’, H. McGary, ‘Morality and Collective Responsibility’, and L. May, ‘Metaphysical Guilt and Moral Taint’, in L. May and S. Hoffman (eds), Collective Responsibility (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1991). 33 It might be objected that this is not an argument for a certain kind of patriotism, but rather for acknowledging one’s partaking in collective responsibility entailed by one’s acceptance of benefits bestowed by any group, and for showing special concern for the group’s moral well-being. One could indeed argue along the same lines in relation to many groups, large or small. This type of argument becomes an argument for ethical patriotism when (i) the group in question is a country (and polity), and (ii) it is my country in a sense that is not purely formal, but rather involves love for it and identification with it. I can have ‘a lively sense of collective responsibility’ in relation to many groups, but can be an ethical patriot only when the collective is my country. On the other hand, I can live in a country but not be of it. In such a case, I can still accrue the type of collective responsibility described here and become bound to show special concern for the country’s moral record. That, too, will be an ethical stance, but it would be odd to call it ethical patriotism.

Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain


critics of (2) that it, too, must be rejected; agree with the defenders of (3) that it is a distinctive and morally legitimate position, while also arguing that there is nothing to be said for it, morally speaking, and that it is therefore (4) a morally indifferent preference; finally, I present (5) as a different type of patriotism which, under some fairly common circumstances, may be a moral duty.34

34 In parts of this chapter I draw on my ‘Patriotism: A Deflationary View’, The Philosophical Forum, vol. 33 (2002), and ‘Patriotism: Mundane and Ethical’, Croatian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 4 (2004). An earlier version of the chapter was read at the workshop ‘Patriotism: Philosophical Perspectives’, held at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, August 21–22, 2006. Thanks to participants in the discussion and to two referees for the Journal of Moral Philosophy, where this paper was first published, for helpful comments.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 2

Patriotic Loyalty John Kleinig

My purpose in this chapter is to explore various dimensions of patriotic loyalty. I do this, first, by reviewing the claims that loyalty can legitimately make on us; secondly, by considering the relationships and associations to which loyalty is appropriately given; thirdly, by focusing on the particular case of patriotism and considering whether patriotic loyalty is justifiable; fourthly, by discussing what it demands; and, finally, by offering some suggestions about limits to (patriotic) loyalty. The gist of my position is that loyalty is an important virtue, that patriotic loyalty is legitimate – indeed, given our current human situation, generally obligatory – but that, like other obligations it can be overridden or extinguished. The general framework for such a position is what I endeavor to provide in this chapter. 1. The value of loyalty Loyalty, I want to argue, is an important associative virtue. As with other virtues, it is an excellence of character that is partially constitutive of what it is good for a person to be and, moreover, partially constitutive of human goodness. Like other virtues it is most likely also good for its possessor. In the case of loyalty, though, I will argue that it can be a costly benefit. Exercises of loyalty generally involve some degree of self-sacrifice. In speaking of loyalty as a virtue, I do not want to claim that, as a virtue, it is exclusively a moral excellence. It is an excellence of character but, like courage and perseverance, it can also be displayed in contexts that have no specifically moral reference or even implications. Loyalty to one’s football team or an airline company may be fine, but – in that context – probably not invested with significant moral worth. This raises in advance a question that is likely to be raised about patriotic loyalty, namely, whether, if it is a virtue, it is morally virtuous or only politically (or otherwise) so. How we answer this question will turn, I suggest, on the status we accord a country or patria. But loyalty, I have suggested, is not just a virtue; it is an associative virtue. That is, it is a virtue of our associations or affiliations. These may comprise relationships, memberships, institutional affiliations, or role associations. Strictly speaking, almost any affiliational grouping or relationship can become an object of our loyalty.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Loyalty may be given to sports teams, schools, and gangs, as well as to friends, families, employers, ethnic groups, or countries.1 Once we allow that almost any associative relationship may constitute an object of loyalty, we may also reasonably wonder whether loyalty is a virtue in every affiliational connection and, if not, whether any virtue it has is contingent solely on the affiliation. For example, assuming (as I do) that we can speak of a loyal Nazi, is such a person better or worse for being loyal? The argument might go either way.2 We might claim either that the loyalty aggravates the Nazi’s evil, manifesting the depth and perseverance of his commitment, or we might claim that his loyalty is a redeeming feature, because a disloyal Nazi would be doubly despicable. My own inclination is to say that a character disposition that I would call a default virtue may become a vice if it is associated with an inappropriate object. In this vein, I would also argue that the philanthropic generosity of those who bankroll terrorist groups or settlements on the West Bank constitutes a vice under those circumstances. But generosity is still a default virtue; its primary nature is to be a virtue. Every virtue is prone to pathological expressions.3 There are ‘women who love too much’ and those who would pursue justice ‘though the heavens fall’. Not all will be convinced by this account. The possibility represented by a loyal gang member or mafioso might be offered as something of a reductio ad absurdum of the view that loyalty is a (default) virtue. Does that possibility not show that loyalty is only a sentimental attachment to others with no intrinsic value? I believe we should be careful about drawing such a conclusion, for it reflects no less on other virtues. The honor that exists among thieves, the courage of enemy soldiers, and the generosity of misguided philanthropists may equally be used to cast aspersions on virtues we otherwise prize. The fact that loyalty can be displayed toward unworthy objects does not undermine its default status as a virtue any more than the fact that industriousness, conscientiousness, discipline, and sincerity can be attached to inappropriate objects shows them not to be virtues. Nevertheless, not all virtues are of the same kind. Loyalty, like sincerity and conscientiousness, is better seen as an executive than as a substantive virtue. Executive virtues, ‘virtues of the will’, are those that assist us in carrying out our projects or what we may have a duty to do. We need them, even though they can come to be associated with inappropriate objects. Not only that, even when they are associated with appropriate objects they can go astray. We can enter into bad relationships of a ‘legitimate’ kind (such as friendships and marriages), and our continued loyalty to a once-worthy object may come to be unjustified. Consider the conscientious accountant who is seduced into ‘creative’ bookkeeping. The virtue that infuses his 1 I am claiming, therefore, that the primary objects of loyalty are persons or personal and personalized collectivities. Secondarily, or, perhaps, derivatively, loyalty can also be given to principles, values, ideals, ideologies, brands, and programs. Although there is a debate about this in the literature, I shall prescind from it here. 2 It has, I believe, some parallels to the debate about whether immoral promises are obligatory. 3 We tend to be overly impressed by Aristotelian views about virtues as means between extremes – rashness as an excess of courage and cowardice as a deficit. But Nazis may be courageous as well as rash.

Patriotic Loyalty


professionalism is now directed to less worthy ends. Loyalties may also be perverted and, alas, often are. Although loyalty can be developed in relation to almost any associational object (brand loyalty represents an outer edge), we generally think of loyalty in connection with certain key relationships and associations. That is, it is more appropriate to think of loyalty in connection with one’s friends and family than in connection with one’s membership of a book club or automobile association. Or, to put it in terms that will be better suited to our later discussion, it is (generally) more important to have loyalty to friends and family than it is to have it to a book club or automobile association. One way of marking this differentiation is to say that some associations are of greater importance and of greater intrinsic value to us than others and that the development and maintenance of loyalty to them is therefore of greater importance. In this connection, some writers consider it important to distinguish chosen from unchosen loyalties, seeing an element of bad faith in the latter.4 The argument, at bottom, is that whereas chosen loyalties reflect deliberation, unchosen ones (of which patriotic loyalties are seen as paradigmatic) tend to be unreflectively self-defensive. However, I will suggest that the chosen/unchosen distinction is of practical rather than moral significance.5 We can grant that the conditions of our nurture tend to create in us a loyalty to the social institutions within which we are raised – loyalty to family and country, for example. And these are distinguished from the later loyalties arising out of choices we make – of partner, professional association, and so on. It is suggested that we enter into the latter with ‘open’ eyes. (Well, we sometimes do.) But of the former it is said that once we have them we do what we can to resist (or discount) negative judgments about the objects of our loyalty, thus manifesting bad faith. This, however, is a practical issue and not strictly a moral one. The deliberative processes prior to acquiring a loyalty tend (only) to be more searching than those engaged in subsequent to its acquisition. The chosen–unchosen dichotomy, moreover, is better represented by a continuum than as exclusive categories. We emigrate. Someone ‘grows’ on us or we ‘find ourselves’ in philosophy. Whether chosen or unchosen, loyalties will of course incline us to take the side of those in whom our loyalties are placed. But they do not require the distortion (‘discounting’) or self-deception of bad faith. Perhaps the principle of charity (which might lead us to view associations to which we are already loyal benignly) should be exemplified more widely than it is. But it is hardly a counsel for distortion. Trust is no vice, even if it is sometimes corrupted into gullibility or blind trust. And loyalty – even established loyalty – need

4 Not all who make the distinction see it as significant in this way. But for one who does, see Simon Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, Ethics 115 (April, 2005), pp. 563–92. See also Keith Horton’s critique of Keller and Keller’s response, Chapters 3 and 4 in this volume. 5 To some extent we see this in the different ways in which people characterize loyalties – some seeing familial loyalties as unchosen, others as chosen (contrast Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, and Igor Primoratz, ‘Patriotism: Morally Allowed, Required, or Valuable?’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

not be and almost certainly should not be unreflective. To the extent that loyalty is blind it is defective as loyalty. One might reasonably expect those whose loyalties are relatively unchosen to commit themselves to being ‘clear-eyed’ about them: ‘Yes, he is my father, but he’s also dishonest’; ‘Though I love it, my country has a lot to answer for.’6 To the extent, then, that we are not dealing with a corrupted version of loyalty, all loyalties should be accessible to revision or forfeiture. If an object is one to which I am loyal, I will be inclined to trust it. I will also be inclined to trust those I love. But that does not mean I have to be closed-minded about them. Revision of a loyalty may legitimately concern the demands that the particular object of loyalty places upon one. Does loyalty to my parents require that I lie for them? Does loyalty to my country require that I risk my life for it? In such cases, the issue may not be one of the legitimacy of the loyalty so much as the obligations appropriate to it. Our answers to such questions may be nuanced. We will want to know more about the circumstances. Does the question concerning parents relate to their religious affiliations (and vulnerability to persecution) and would they want me to conceal them? Or does it concern the abuse of my little sister and what do I owe her? Am I being asked to fight in the Pacific or in Iraq and should it make a decisive difference when it is my country that calls? Forfeiture of claims to loyalty may be appropriate when the object of loyalty shows itself to have acted in ways that undermine (what are taken to be) the legitimate presumptions of the relationship. Thus the womanizing husband, the sexually abusing father, and the traitorous citizen may sometimes be said to have forfeited any claim to mutual loyalty on the part of those they have betrayed. A significant aspect of the particular relationships and associations that garner our loyalty is that they have or have come to have intrinsic and not (merely, or even, perhaps, at all) extrinsic or instrumental importance for us, even though they are also likely to have instrumental value (and indeed it may have been that instrumental value that originally connected us). Those associations for which we come (or should come) to have loyalty are those with which we have come to (or should) identify ourselves – our families, our employment, our ethnic group, and our country (for the moment, not passing judgment on the appropriateness of these associational identifications).7 In the case of relationships such as friendships, the language of identification tends not to be appropriate (except for those who identify themselves as, say, FOBs – Friends of Bill), though we are colored by our association with them.8 That with which we identify ourselves usually becomes ours in an identity-constituting and responsibility conferring sense – that is, our association has been incorporated into our sense of who we are and we have come to assume some responsibility for what it 6 Whether one should say such things publicly may sometimes be a bit trickier. 7 Friends are not usually incorporated into our identities in the same way that other associations are – such as our being, say, Australian or Protestant. On the other hand, friendships constitute the only relationships in which loyalty is implicit in the relationship. Friends (end-friends, that is) may count on our loyalty by virtue of the friendship; our families and countries may (sometimes justifiably) expect it but cannot count on it. 8 We may feel proud of their success and ashamed by their failures.

Patriotic Loyalty


becomes. If we value an association merely instrumentally, we have no loyalty to it (though in certain cases it might be argued that we should develop loyalty to it, that is, we should come to value the connection for its own sake). As far as friendships are concerned, we sometimes draw a firm distinction between those who are real (or end-)friends and those who are only friends of convenience (or means-friends). Just as often, we might be unwilling to consider the latter as friends. Because of this identification, there is usually implicit in our loyalty a judgment that its objects are compatible with what we stand for. That is, embedded in those relationships to which our loyalty is owed are certain presumptions about the compatibility of values attributable to the objects of loyalty with those for which we stand.9 To the extent that we learn otherwise we have a reason for taking some action – either to try to bring about change in the object of our loyalty or to abandon it (on the grounds that it has forfeited its claims to our loyalty). We have what Albert Hirschman refers to as voice and exit options.10 Appropriate loyalty will generally encourage voice and delay exit until we have sufficient reason to think that necessary change is unlikely to be forthcoming, and that the associational object no longer expresses values we deemed essential to the relationship. Nevertheless, the loyalty we have to an affiliational object or person is not a loyalty to the particular values that are instantiated by them. The loyalty is to the objects of an association or relationship. Because we identify with the objects of our loyalty, critical – and often painful – decisions will need to be made should we discover significant dissonance between the values exemplified by the object of loyalty and our own – if, for example, I learn that my lover once murdered someone, that my country is engaging in something close to genocide, or that my university is sponsoring research into biological weaponry. We will be confronted with the possibility of severing our connection with something that has become part of us. The non-instrumental character that the objects of our loyalty (have come to) have for us reveals something about its general importance as a virtue. Loyalty is constituted by perseverance in an intrinsically valued relationship or association even (especially) when it is not advantageous. Loyalty is not a fair weather virtue: it puts us out or even at risk. It manifests itself in situations in which self-interest would probably dictate a different course of action. That is, it bespeaks persistence, self-sacrifice, constancy, and steadfastness when self-interest, self-seeking, personal advantage, ambition, personal projects, and various other egoistic inclinations or considerations would counsel otherwise. If there is no cost there is no occasion for the exercise of loyalty. 9 This is not to be confused – as is so often the case – with grounding our loyalty in the qualities that we presume to be implicit in the object of our loyalty. For in that case we might be tempted to argue that our loyalty is to the qualities. Rather, our loyalty is to the object of our association – the friend, organization, or whatever. It is the association with that object that we value – not just the object and not just the association. See what follows and compare also with the troubling case (in Section 2) of the woman who seems to be more loyal to marriage than to the man to whom she is married. 10 A.O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Of course self-interest may also prompt conduct that would be interpreted as loyal. If acting in ways that would be seen as lacking in loyalty would bring recriminations upon one, one may feign loyalty and act as if loyal in order to avoid them. But self-interested displays of loyalty manifest only its outer husk and not its inner commitment. The issue of motivation is critical to determinations of loyalty and disloyalty. Despite what is likely to be claimed by those who find their expectations of loyalty dashed, disloyalty is not constituted merely by forsaking an association or shifting loyalty to another. Choosing to stay in an association may express cowardice or misguided loyalty, whereas leaving it may involve an act of courage. Disloyalty is usually involved when self-serving reasons lead one to abandon what is usually considered to be a core or close affiliation. Thus Robert E. Lee was not counted disloyal for choosing to align himself with kith and kin in the South rather than the Union, for that choice, though misguided and tragic, was a morally intelligible one. Benedict Arnold, however, was seen as a traitor, for, even though he may have been poorly treated, his ultimate motivations were taken to be self-serving.11 The lack of hypocrisy involved in Lee’s decision highlights a further feature that distinguishes his situation from that of someone who is disloyal. One might reasonably argue that the physicist Klaus Fuchs, who passed atom secrets to the U.S.S.R. for ideological rather than narrowly self-serving reasons, betrayed Britain and the United States, not simply because he chose to give the U.S.S.R. his primary political loyalty, but because he hypocritically affirmed his continued loyalty to his adopted Britain (and, presumably, also betrayed commitments he had made to United States’ authorities). Finally, if, as Hirschman and other proponents of institutional entropy argue, organizations, relationships, and institutions will generally have – over time – an endemic tendency to decline, loyalty will assume an important place in our associational life.12 For it is often loyalty (rather than self-interest) that commits us to remain in an associational relationship to an object after we learn that it is no longer immediately advantageous to do so. As we have noted, however, remaining in such a relationship is not unbounded: the (recuperative) voice option that we might exercise to recall the object of our relationship to what it was presumed to be may properly be followed by exit in the event that it proves unresponsive. So far, then, I have argued that not only is loyalty an important associative virtue but also that by virtue of the importance of associational relationships to human flourishing it is an important human virtue. That is not to say that it cannot be misplaced or distorted or overemphasized. But the various pathologies to which loyalty is vulnerable should not lead us to diminish or eschew it.

11 This is one reason why strenuous attempts are usually made to show that whistleblowers have acted self-interestedly. If such attempts are successful, the charge of (self-serving) disloyalty can be sustained and the whistleblowers’ credibility is undermined. 12 Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, ch. 1.

Patriotic Loyalty


2. What is patriotism? It is frequently said that patriotism is ‘love of one’s country’. I am not altogether comfortable with that as a general account, even though patriots frequently do love their countries. Some part of my hesitation stems from the multiple ambiguities of ‘love’.13 Even more significant is the critical stance one may often have as part of one’s patriotism – for example, the bumper stickers that proclaim ‘It is patriotic to dissent’, or the critical role that may be played by a ‘loyal opposition’. Although love may also be critical/tough, the informal or popular focus on love as expressive of devotion and positive emotional support too easily allows for a misleading exploitation of patriotic identification when characterized as love of country. Moreover, the loyalty one sometimes shows to one’s country may amount to little more than a decision not to act in ways that would jeopardize its interests rather than a positive commitment to advance them (much as a woman may loyally stick with her no-good husband: she has more feeling for the institution of marriage than for the particular man she married). Even though it often is, loyalty need not be accompanied by a great deal of affection. Thus, without necessarily eliminating all reference to feeling or at least to a sense of identification and commitment, it seems to me to be less misleading to construe patriotism as a form of loyalty (toward country) than as love for country. Patriotic loyalty is therefore to be understood as the loyalty one has (or might have or should have) for country (as against the loyalty one has or might have or should have for other objects such as friends, family, or God). But how should we understand a country or patria in this connection? The answer starts simply enough but gets increasingly complicated. It is common to distinguish patriotism from nationalism by seeing the former as loyalty to a group conceived of in juridical and political terms and the latter as loyalty to a group conceived of primarily in ethnic and cultural terms. Ignoring for the moment the fuzziness of (and contestation involved in) terms such as ‘juridical’, ‘political’, ‘ethnic’, and ‘cultural’, this way of making the distinction would seem to allow for a patriotism that is nationalistic and a nationalism that is patriotic. And it also appears to allow for a patriotism without nationalism and a nationalism without patriotism, a boon to those who believe that nationalism is repugnant but consider patriotism to be a legitimate vehicle for liberal democracy. In any serious analysis, however, the distinctions are drawn too starkly. Each must be territorially sustained, and this conduces to some sort of partial convergence, even if not identification. Juridical and political institutions tend to take on and foster a cultural, if not ethnic cast (even American patriotism tends not to be just about borders and structures but also about a richer, somewhat amorphous cultural glue called ‘the American way of life’), and ‘national’ cultural and ethnic groups usually seek some form of juridical and political expression (Quebecois nationalism is not just about preserving Francophone identity and French culture but also about achieving some form of political self-determination). The tendencies in each direction are stronger in some cases than others. We should not, however, abandon an analytic distinction 13 See, for example, C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1960).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

between them, and in practice we may wish to argue for a society in which one form of group identity predominates. Presuming that at least one of them has traction for us,14 we may, for example, wish the mix to be more patriotic than nationalistic, or, often more problematically, given its exclusionary tendencies, more nationalistic. The complications are deepened by the fact that even when a country is conceived of primarily as a political and juridical entity, its members usually also think of it historically as a narrative or project in the making (or, sometimes, recovering) rather than as a fully realized structure or status quo to be preserved.15 As there tends to be for nationalism a set of values and aspirations that are realized only partly by the status quo and that may be set over against the status quo, so there is often for patriotism a sense of ‘becoming’. Thus we see founding, constitutional, or evolving values as being only partly realized in socio-political practices and seek through cultural, political, and legal processes to advance them more adequately. 3. Engendering patriotism It is generally in the interest of those committed to the well-being of a relationship, association, or organization to foster loyalty to it. In many (though certainly not all) cases there will be a reciprocity of interest and loyalties will be mutual. The loyalty will help to sustain the association of the parties involved through stormy periods, when it might be convenient for one or other of the parties to opt out. Loyalty is a preservative virtue. When associational or relational decline occurs, loyalty is also potentially recuperative, for those who possess it will express it by seeking to realize, restore, or retrieve the association or relationship so that it (re)manifests the values that sustain the loyalty it has engendered.16 As noted earlier, acceptance of some notion of associational entropy will make loyalty a significant value for almost any relationship or institution that aspires to some sort of ongoing commitment or longevity. Loyalty will ensure that those involved in continuing affiliation with such associations will, in the event of decline, work to ensure that they maintain or recover their valued character. This is an important plus side to loyalty. What is true of loyalty generally is also true of patriotic loyalty. Those concerned with running the affairs of a country will consider that loyalty to it is of considerable importance, given the various challenges to which it might be subject.17 As part of 14 We may find little attraction in either. See, for example, Jeremy Waldron, ‘Minority Cultures and the Cosmopolitan Alternative’, University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 25 (1992), pp. 751–93, and Primoratz’s unenthusiastic acknowledgment of patriotism of the usual, ‘worldly’ sort in Chapter 1 of this volume. 15 See Richard Rorty, Achieving our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998); Alasdair MacIntyre, Is Patriotism a Virtue? (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 1984) (reprinted in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism). 16 A theme that is well-articulated in Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. 17 This desire is not confined to a country’s rulership/leadership. It will be shared by all who have come to identify with the country.

Patriotic Loyalty


that expectation of challenge, a country’s governing powers will also be presumed to show some loyalty to its citizens. A standing army will represent one expression of that. In addition, citizens in distress overseas might expect their government to reach out with assistance if it is needed. But this picture has a darker side to it. Those with a self-aggrandizing or particular ideological interest in some relationship or association will also have an interest in fostering the loyalty of other parties to that relationship or association. For they realize that the benefits that they or some ‘cause’ can reap from such an arrangement will be achieved and sustained only if they are able to encourage and exploit the sacrificial loyalty of those who are parties to it. This exploitation need not be cynical. They may well be ‘true believers’. And the loyalty of associational members will not be the only virtue exploited. Generosity, kindness, and courage may also be exploited. But because loyalty is an associative virtue, its exploitation can be particularly dangerous, and it becomes critical that actual and contemplated objects of loyalty be carefully scrutinized. Exploitations of loyalty may occur in any associational context. But they are particularly prevalent where political leaderships have partisan agendas. Whether the political power in question is despotic or representative, those who have power normally wish to retain it and therefore have reason to encourage the loyalty of their followers/supporters. Such loyalty need not be reflective; indeed, an unquestioning allegiance may be encouraged, even enforced. Political loyalty is thus a very risky virtue, for we may be gulled into giving our loyalty to false gods or for continuing our loyalty to gods who have in fact betrayed us. It is because loyalty is focused on associations or collectivities that its political expressions can be particularly dangerous. Though tyranny may be engineered by individuals, it is implemented by collectivities, and political collectivities, if misguided in their loyalty, can wreak terrible havoc. 4. Is patriotism justified? Making a case for loyalty is not ipso facto a case for patriotic loyalty, even if those who oversee or participate in patriae have strong motivations to engender it. We need to determine whether the patria is an object toward which we may – and even should – direct our loyalty. That some – or even we – do is not sufficient reason for claiming it to be so. As we noted earlier, some relationships or associations may be inappropriate objects of loyalty – say, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Bloods or Crips, and ‘the Party’. Associations that are organized round morally unacceptable values and goals are not proper objects of loyalty. Loyalty to them would be unjustifiable. There are other associations that are innocuous and to which some people will be loyally attached, such as garden clubs, Sam’s Club, and the Sunset Coast Yacht Club. To such, loyalty will not – for the most part – be of any great moral moment.18 Although those who run such organizations might desire (for legitimate

18 I am willing to concede that for some people, though not for people generally, membership in these associations could figure as constituents in a good life.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

or illegitimate reasons) that members develop a sense of loyalty to the club, there is probably no compelling reason why one should or – usually – may not. Problems of institutional entropy aside, most people’s commitment to such clubs is likely to be largely utilitarian. The clubs give one easier access to certain benefits or things that are needed or enjoyable. A small core of loyalists may be enough to keep them going. But some associations have a much more central role in our lives. We count them as important because of what we consider to be their (more or less) clear and universal connection with human flourishing – usually friends and families, but perhaps a broader and more controversial range of associations, such as those connected with careers, ideological or religious commitments, and ethnic or cultural groups. Such affiliations may be considered important to our flourishing, not simply instrumentally (because such associations are able to assist us in various ways), but also intrinsically. Having friends and family are (usually) constituents of a good life – not the only ones, but important ones. And for many, a career, and ethnic or cultural group, life plan or religious association will provide critical meaning and structure. That is, in their various permutations they are seen as constituents of the good life for people as we are. We might seek to reinforce the last point with certain claims of an anthropologicomoral nature in which we argue that, along with our commitment to autonomy and individual responsibility, there is something fundamentally communal about the kind of human life that humans both need and aspire to. Relationships and associative connections are of critical significance not only to our sustenance as persons but also to our autonomous flourishing. Many important expressions as well as the requisites of that flourishing are communal or associative. Different forms of association are constituents in a good life as we conceive it to be for people such as ourselves. Whether it is team activities, fellowship, or large intrinsically worthwhile projects, our lives are communally embedded.19 Of course, these are not uncontroversial assertions. Religious associations may be considered outmoded or even mischievous; and some have considered family relationships to be dangerous perpetuators of dogma. A more sustained discussion would take us into the large and intractable debates surrounding individualism, communitarianism, and human nature. My more modest purpose here is simply to distinguish those associations that we might consider more optional from those that we would be more inclined to nurture as environments for human flourishing, or at least our flourishing. Our question, then, is: Is a patria the kind of association that we can reasonably posit as important to our being the beings we aspire to be? My answer, in brief, is a contingent ‘yes’. But let me first provide some caveats. At a certain level, of course, patriae are not essential to human flourishing. Many humans have flourished – not, perhaps, in our fashion, though in their own way – in tribal communities that it would be anachronistic to characterize as countries, states, or even polities. However we may have wanted to characterize their tribal and other loyalties, they were not recognizably patriotic. The state or patria, though not entirely modern, does not have 19 ‘Feral children’ represent a social pathology and, more than that, a human tragedy.

Patriotic Loyalty


the deepest of historical roots, and, moreover, does not appear to be as central to our sense of being as we may consider friends and family to be. Nevertheless, our – postEnlightenment – sense of being probably could not have been created or sustained by merely tribal life. What we count as our flourishing is not generally something we could have conceptualized or realized had our lives remained tribally based. What we require as the arena for our growth and satisfaction has demanded much greater social complexity, involving a fairly elaborate social infrastructure. The point is not simply that patriae provide the conditions for our flourishing but that for many of us, our individual patria is partially constitutive of our flourishing. We (the readers of this chapter) are expressions of the potentiality that particular social formations have enabled, and thus our conception of what it is that constitutes a good life and the social conditions for our achieving it, will be significantly influenced by the social environment within which we have been formed. At this point, at least two questions immediately arise. First, to what extent does our selfconception presume the existence and maintenance of the patria in which we find ourselves? And second, might we conceive our possibilities differently within a different socio-political environment (in which our patria no longer existed)? Since the two questions are connected, my response will bear on both. Liberal selves – the kind that we are considering here – are often adaptable. They are not usually wedded to a single way of living as the only or best way for humans or even as the only or best way for them. We can be born and raised in Australia and move to the United States or United Kingdom without too much trauma. For many so born and raised, Australia is not critical to our flourishing (or continued flourishing). We might, however, think that some liberal democratic patria is important to our way of being – the thought of relocating to or being taken over by a Fascist or Stalinist regime would be highly threatening to our sense of self.20 Some liberal selves might also develop cosmopolitan tendencies – even aspirations – finding themselves equally at home in Sydney, London, Paris, New York, and probably other places, and without any particular (or at least strong) patriotic ties. That is certainly a possibility. Not all, however, will thrive in such a multicultural environment. They will retain strong patriotic allegiances to their countries of origin because they have imbibed – and feel particularly at home in – distinctive aspects of their early culture (one thinks of Annette Baier, refusing to give up her New Zealand citizenship and later retiring to New Zealand21). Certain of its features resonate with their deepest sense of who they are. Yet other liberal selves may come to identify so strongly with the culture and ways of the country to which they have relocated that their loyalties shift. This is often – though certainly not always – the case with those who migrate to establish better lives for themselves and their children. However, the attraction that cosmopolitans feel for a world community is, I suspect, partly an attraction because they conceive of it in fairly liberal terms. 20 It is not uncommon for those who must relocate to problem regimes then to live in enclaves. 21 Annette Baier, ‘Some Virtues of Resident Alienage’, in Virtue, NOMOS XXXIV, ed. John W. Chapman and William Galston (New York: New York University Press, 1992), pp. 291–308.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Were the cosmopolitanism to have the form of a Trotskyite international communist regime or of an extended Muslim umma wahida (universal community), it would not be as attractive (for us, at least). For us, it is often our patria, and for some others, their patria, that constitutes the guardian of a way of life that sustains both the requisites and ‘vocabulary’ for flourishing. It may not constitute an exclusive venue for flourishing, but insofar as there are perceived to be ‘forces’ abroad that might and indeed want to change it radically, we may acquire considerable loyalty for it. Were circumstances to arise in which our liberal democratic way of life was radically challenged, our loyalty might well prompt us to defend our particular patriae with our lives. There need not be anything chauvinistic or jingoistic about such patriotic loyalty. The popular critique of loyalty generally (and of patriotism in particular) that claims that loyalty enjoins or requires a belief in the superiority of the object of one’s loyalty, and/or denigrates the objects of others’ loyalty (especially their country), is misguided. Chauvinisms, like many exploitations of loyalty, hijack loyalty for nefarious purposes.22 Just as there is no need to think that the family and friends to whom we are loyal are ipso facto superior to those of others, there is no need to build claims of superiority into patriotic loyalty. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that, given a very different socio-political environment, we might conceive of the possibilities for our flourishing differently. In a more expansive socio-political environment than I now inhabit, I might be able to conceive of possibilities for myself that do not currently cross my radar screen. As women and historically suppressed or marginalized minorities in liberal democracies know from their own and historical experience, it has required significant sociopolitical changes for many members of those groups to have even conceived of certain social roles and possibilities for themselves; for others, such changes have been essential to their ability to translate such broader conceptions into some sort of reality. A patria, in other words, though important enough for many of us, is not deeply necessary to human flourishing. Were the conditions of our socio-political environment different from what they are, many of us might move relatively easily from one patria to another or into some more cosmopolitan federation of communities. I am not postulating a completely malleable conception of human flourishing. We have the biological structure we have, along with its potentialities (albeit incompletely mapped).23 If enabled, I would anticipate that our self-conception as reasoning and responsible beings (characterizations that are, admittedly, contestable) is likely to translate itself into non-oppressive polities. Except when seen through the lens of certain ideologies (that trade truth for Truth, and against which we may not always be able to secure ourselves), there is likely to be a widespread desire 22 As a side note on a theory of the virtues, almost any – if not every – virtue if taken in isolation or absolutized will lead to some form of excess. As Portia memorably observed, even justice, that pre-eminent of virtues, needs to be tempered with mercy (and probably prudence). 23 I prescind from the issue of future genetic manipulation.

Patriotic Loyalty


for movement from polities that are closed to polities that are open. But that need not lead to a rejection or downgrading of patriotism. Patriotism is likely to be a reasonable expectation in an open society. Within such open societies, patriotism is more likely to be kept in check. And a plurality of free societies is more likely to keep each in check. But only more likely. Although there are rich cultural possibilities to membership in some patria, especially a pluralistic one, I suspect that the deeper roots of patriotic loyalty probably lie in the desire to secure from serious encroachment or destruction the elements of a way of life with which we have come to identify, and which are components of our own flourishing. And that is risk laden. For endangerment might initially be construed in largely cultural terms. We might fear and even resent the cultural changes brought about by immigration or foreign media. And even if we are not averse to cultural change – indeed, welcome it – we may wish for it to occur at a pace that does not leave us feeling culturally stranded.24 We do not want to find ourselves isolated from the social environment that has provided important elements of meaning for our lives.25 There are often historical as well as current dimensions to this status quo – considerable pain may be involved if one’s socio-political history is ‘swallowed up’ in the history of another. Also important, however, is the sorry and ongoing history of human predation. The lion, cosmopolitans need to recognize, is not yet ready to lie down with the lamb. In a world that will foreseeably remain deeply divided by inequality of opportunity, the patria is always ‘at risk’ of conquest (or secession), and to assure ourselves in the event of challenge we need the patriotic loyalty of citizens who are prepared to defend a way of life they value not only instrumentally but for its own sake. Even – perhaps especially – liberal states need armies (or military alliances) and a population willing to make sacrifices for their preservation. We may – and should – work to diminish some of those inequalities, but it is unlikely that we will eliminate them. Though patriotic loyalty may be an imperfect obligation, it is not dispensable. 5. Obligations and patriotic loyalty We acquire patriotic loyalty when we come to an understanding that the country whose ways we have adopted has become intrinsically valuable for us, part of our identity. If my observations in the previous section have been reasonably on target, patriotic loyalty is something that those of us in liberal democratic communities should contingently develop, just as we should develop friendships and loyalties to other associational groupings that figure as elements in our flourishing. The associations we develop with such groups or people will bring with them certain particularistic affiliational obligations. Not only may I not assault, rob, or kill, my 24 Joel Feinberg usefully addresses some of these issues in Harmless Wrongdoing (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), ch. 29. 25 This can happen on micro as well as macro levels – changing neighborhoods as well as changing societies.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

friend or fellow citizen, but I will acquire special obligations to aid that I do not have to others. Loyalty will heighten or intensify those obligations, though its focus will be those obligations as they manifest themselves in a particularistic form. The obligations that we have to friends and fellow citizens will not be identical. There is no universal cluster of obligations that go with affiliation, and maybe not even with a general category of affiliational object. Rather than attempting to enumerate the kinds of obligations applicable to particular associations, it might be better to express them generally, leaving it to circumstantial or situational considerations to determine how they are appropriately articulated and therefore what loyalty will require of us. Cast in the most general terms, though, loyalty obligates us to act in relation to the object of loyalty in ways that can be expected to maintain or further the interests of that object. In some cases it might be possible to state particularistic obligations in fairly explicit and general terms. So, for example, it would almost certainly violate obligations of patriotic loyalty were one to sell state secrets to a rival power. But does patriotic loyalty require me to answer my country’s call to serve in Iraq? About that there will be disagreement. (The powers that be may consider it a duty of citizenship, but if the war is seriously ill-conceived, we may dispute its being a loyal citizen’s duty.) There might also be disagreement about whether to answer the call to fight barbarian hordes were they to be massed militarily on our border, but in that case there would be much less disagreement. Perhaps only pacifists could argue for some exemption – though their loyalty (insofar as they have it) might need to be expressed in some non-combatant service.26 Some of the disagreements that are likely to arise at this point will be the result of disagreements about the identification of the ‘interests’ to be served – whether, for example, they are interests as I, the loyalist, perceive them to be or whether they are interests as perceived by the object of loyalty. I may not think it in my country’s interests to be fighting in Iraq, and so my patriotic efforts may be exercised by working for as speedy a withdrawal as is compatible with humanitarian considerations. But the ruling authorities may not see it that way. They may think the country’s best interests are served by ‘staying the course’. Who is right about determination of the relevant interests? Should we objectivize the issue by talking about ‘reasonable interests’? As important as this issue is, we cannot pursue it here. Perhaps, too, the obligations of loyalty will vary with characteristics of the particular associative instantiation. My obligations to one friend may differ from those to another. The intimacy is greater and the satisfactions flowing from the relationship are more significant in my life. Greater and different sacrifices may be appropriately called for. Thinking of patriotic loyalty, the obligations of loyalty that one country may legitimately anticipate may be stronger and more extensive than those reasonably expected by another country. A mismanaged and corrupt polity may have much less claim on me than one characterized by reasonable transparency and integrity. The obligations that I have to it may depend significantly on the nature of

26 Do Jehovah’s Witnesses owe a duty of loyalty to the state? Is it overridden by a ‘higher’ loyalty?

Patriotic Loyalty


the threat or challenge it faces.27 As this example illustrates, some legitimate objects of loyalty may be more worthy of loyalty than others. We may, therefore, not think it reasonable to make considerable sacrifices in the case of a person or association that is flawed in important respects. We may also differ in the extent to which we are capable of showing our loyalty. Two friends may be willing to give me financial assistance. In one case, however, it would be costly but not a great hardship, whereas in the other it would be potentially ruinous. Our obligations to our country may therefore differ with our capacities. Although the loyal fulfillment of our obligations is likely to require some sacrifice on our part, some sacrifices may, in the circumstances, be too demanding (and in such cases any assistance we provide might be supererogatory, even in relation to our loyalty). 6. The limits of patriotic loyalty Loyalty is sometimes advocated as though it is an absolute. Any deviation from what, in the circumstances, is seen as loyally required, is taken to be disloyalty and disloyalty is viewed as one of the more egregious vices. But the elevation of loyalty to an absolute risks self-defeat (given conflicting loyalties) and is almost certainly a perversion, the strategy of those who seek to exploit loyalty for their own aggrandizement (or, to put it slightly more charitably, for the cause of the One True Way).28 As is the case with any virtue, some moderation is required. Justice should be tempered with mercy and loyalty should not be blind to more universal obligations. Loyalty needs to be accompanied by discernment.29 Not only may the obligations sustained by loyalty be overridden, but they may also be forfeited. In Hirschman’s phrasing, we must determine when voice is appropriate and when exit is required. We should note, first, that loyalty does not require complaisance, even though those who exploit it – and who gather about them loyalist ‘yes-men’ – sometimes treat it as though it demands conformity to the wishes or ambition or vision of the object of loyalty. Not only is there room for a loyal opposition, it is important to the integrity of loyalty that it is able to express itself oppositionally. Real friends let one know when one has acted badly or foolishly or when one is about to. To be correctively opposed is part of the obligation to be responsive to or mindful of a friend’s interests. The ‘corrective’ qualification is important. Not anything may go. A loyal opponent is not just an opponent, but one who remains loyal. What that entails is 27 I distinguish obligations of loyalty from obligations of gratitude, and, indeed, ground them differently, though some writers have attempted to locate obligations of loyalty in obligations of gratitude. 28 Might we compare it with those who proclaim: Fiat justitia et ruant coeli – let justice be done though the heavens fall? Perhaps. Absolutes are few and far between. 29 For a particularly perspicacious and perspicuous exploration of the tension between the particularistic obligations of loyalty and more universal moral demands, see Samuel Scheffler, Boundaries and Allegiances (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

that the opposition stays within bounds that are compatible with the well-being or best interests or flourishing of the object of loyalty. Generally speaking a loyal opposition will not advocate rebellion or revolution for the latter would endanger the object of loyalty (and perhaps replace it with an alternative object of loyalty). Some mediaeval critics found themselves placed in a particularly difficult situation when confronted with a king who needed to be deposed. Given that the occupant of the throne was not determined by a plebiscite, they were forced into distinguishing between loyalty to the king and loyalty to the idea of kingship as a way of indicating that the ‘rebellion’ they favored was not intended to undermine or challenge the fundamental structures of the polity. It is the commitment to opposition within (what are judged to be) the prevailing structures that has led some radical critics of loyalty to see it as – at bottom – a conservative virtue.30 It is conservative, though in the best sense of that word: it involves a commitment to securing or preserving the interests of its object, an object that is valued for its own sake (whatever else it may be valued for). But the existence of a loyal opposition does not preclude the possibility that a more radical opposition should subsequently be mounted. Should the loyal opposition prove incapable of ‘reforming’ the object of loyalty, the exit option (or something stronger) might be taken. In such cases we would argue that the object of our loyalty was no longer worthy of it or had forfeited any claim to it. Only if we mistakenly or misguidedly think of loyalty as making an absolute claim on us will the charge of derogatory conservatism against a loyal opposition have any traction. To sum up the discussion, we have adverted to two possibilities. One concerns patriotic loyalty as a general political (and, generally, moral) virtue. The other concerns patriotic loyalty with respect to a particular state. Neither patriotic loyalty generally nor a particular patriotism is sacrosanct. Regarding the first: if we come to the view that patriae qua countries or states are more trouble than they are worth – and that viable alternative structures for framing social life exist – then patriotic loyalty may be something we should downplay if not dispense with. No doubt these are the directions in which anarchists and some cosmopolitans wish to move. But I have suggested that this move currently lacks the conditions that would make it viable. Regarding the second: if we come to the view that some particular state has degenerated to the point at which it no longer warrants our connection (the American colony prior to independence?), then we should abandon it for a better one. I have suggested that loyalty to a particular object is forfeited – that its claims for the protection and reinforcement of associative identity and commitment run out – when the object shows itself to be no longer capable of being a source of associational satisfaction or identity-giving significance. That is, the claims run out for the loyal associate. (Others, of course, may dispute this.) But whether or not loyalty is thought to be justifiably forfeited, the breaking point may differ for different people. Return 30 We find such sentiments expressed in the writings of Mark Twain and Graham Greene who tout ‘the virtue of disloyalty’ as a fitting response to what they see as loyalty’s reactionary character. See e.g., Philip Stratford (ed.), The Portable Graham Greene (New York: Viking, 1973), p. 609; Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Notebook, ed. Albert Bigelow Paine (New York: Harper, 1935).

Patriotic Loyalty


for a moment to the case of infidelity. For one woman, a husband’s infidelity may be a challenge to the future of the relationship but not automatically destructive of it. The relationship will be considered repairable. The issues of trust that are involved may be addressed and the relationship repaired. But for another, such infidelity may collapse the structure in which the relationship has been housed. Essential trust will have been smashed like Humpty Dumpty. Is there a right and a wrong in such cases? Does the first woman lack an appreciation of the ‘sanctity’ of marriage or intimacy? Does the second fail to appreciate our shared frailty and the possibilities for redemption and renewal? I am inclined to think that we should not acquiesce in the relativistic view that what is right for one is wrong for the other. At the same time, however, I do not think there is an easy answer. The two positions constitute the beginnings of a consideration of the nature of intimacy, what it reasonably demands of us, and how we should deal with transgressions of its expectations. Similar debates may be conducted over the limits of patriotic loyalty. We might all agree – more or less – that if our country somehow shows itself to be incapable of providing a structured context for important satisfactions, it has lost its claim to our loyalty. But we might differ quite markedly over when such a point is reached. For some Americans, the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War represented a moral transgression of such magnitude that it forfeited its claims to their loyalty. They abandoned their American citizenship for Canadian or some other citizenship or simply lived elsewhere. For others, the Vietnam War was the occasion for a loud and insistent voice – for registering a bitter protest against what was being done along with a determination to return the country to its founding ideals. The War was seen as an aberration, but not as an irremediable abdication.31 We do not need to leave the discussion there, though the true tests of and challenges to patriotic loyalty occur without the benefit of the hindsight that we currently possess. The lessons of hindsight are as much – if not more – a lesson for the future. They provide perspective on whether a country has irredeemably blotted its copybook or merely suffered a setback in its progress to a future that will better realize its narrative aspirations. I am cautious about the particulars. About the general value and obligatoriness of patriotic loyalty, however, I am less skeptical. Problematic though such loyalties are, I believe the burden of establishing a better and practical alternative lies on those who would advocate one. Though I am skeptical, I would not be averse to their discharging that burden.32

31 And of course for others it was a war in which the United States had every right to be involved. Those who protested or departed were seen as unpatriotic or worse. 32 I am very grateful for the critical comments that Tziporah Kasachkoff, Haim Marantz, Stephen Nathanson, and Igor Primoratz provided on an earlier draft.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 3

Patriotism and Bad Faith: A Critique of Keller Keith Horton

In a recent paper,1 Simon Keller argues that there is a very close connection between patriotism and bad faith. Patriots tend to react in a biased manner to certain kinds of evidence about their country, but they cannot admit to such bias. As a result, they have to deceive themselves about their own reasoning processes, thus falling into bad faith. And this connection between patriotism and bad faith, Keller claims, ‘yields a clear presumptive case against patriotism’s being a virtue and for its being a vice’ (587–8). This chapter is a critique of Keller’s argument. I begin by raising some doubts about the last claim, assuming for the purposes of argument that the links between patriotism and bad faith are as close as Keller claims. But I focus mainly on questioning that assumption. I argue, in particular, that it is not as hard for the patriot to admit to bias as Keller claims. If this is right, then even the patriot who has reasoned in a biased way, and is aware of that fact, need not be forced into bad faith, and it follows that the links between patriotism and bad faith are not as close as Keller claims. And if this is right, in turn, then Keller’s case against patriotism will at best be much weakened. I begin, though, with a thumbnail sketch of Keller’s account. 1. Keller’s account ‘To be a patriot’, Keller argues, ‘is to have serious loyalty to country, one that is not characterized by the phenomenology of choice; is essentially grounded in the country’s being yours, and involves reference to (what are taken to be) valuable defining qualities of the country’ (577). It is this last clause that, on Keller’s account, makes patriotism especially vulnerable to bad faith. Given that the patriot’s loyalty is based, in part, on beliefs that her country has certain specific valuable qualities, she will find evidence that it does not possess such qualities particularly threatening. And she will therefore tend to be motivated to react in a biased manner to evidence that conflicts with those beliefs.

1 ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, Ethics 115 (2005/2006). All page references I give are to this paper.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Must the patriot respond to such evidence in a biased way? Not quite. If the patriot’s country really does have the positive qualities she thinks it has, then biased reasoning may not be necessary (582). And in certain cases the motive to react in a biased way might be blocked or outweighed (584). Typically, though, the patriot will respond to such evidence in a motivationally biased way. But she will not be able to admit to such tendencies. As Keller puts it: The patriot is motivated to maintain her belief that her country has valuable features of a certain sort because she has a commitment that is grounded in that country’s being her own country. To admit to any such motivation would be to admit that the belief is not formed in response only to the evidence and, hence, to undermine the credibility of the belief and the integrity of the loyalty that depends upon it – and so the motivation cannot be admitted. (581)

Given that the patriot cannot admit to such tendencies, Keller argues, she must hide them from herself, deceiving herself about the true nature of her reasoning processes, and thus falling into bad faith. He writes: The patriot’s belief that her country has certain attractive features presents itself as having been formed through an unbiased set of opinions about the nature of her own country plus some neutrally endorsed criteria for what properties of countries count as valuable, but this is not really the full story. Driven by her loyalty to country, the patriot will hide from herself the true nature of the procedure through which she responds to evidence that bears upon the question of what her country is like. (581)

2. How strong a case? If the connections between patriotism and bad faith are as close as Keller says, would that be sufficient, as he claims, to ‘demonstrate the undesirability of patriotism’ (566), or to ground ‘a clear presumptive case against patriotism’s being a virtue and for its being a vice’ (587–8)? It may be helpful to begin by bringing out how strong such claims are. In part, this is because there are so many other considerations that seem relevant to determining the moral status of patriotism, considerations that Keller’s argument leaves aside. These include all the other consequences that patriotism can have, apart from bad faith (and its consequences). And they also include considerations concerning the intrinsic appropriateness (or lack thereof) of patriotic loyalties, whatever their consequences.2 It is bold indeed to claim that one can establish much about the moral status of patriotism without saying anything about these other considerations.3 At the very least, in order for Keller’s claims to be plausible at all, patriotic bad faith would have to be a very bad phenomenon indeed. 2 These issues are discussed in Chapters 1, 2 and 5 in this volume. 3 It is true that Keller claims that the case that patriotism is a vice is only a presumptive one. And a presumptive case may of course be overridden by other considerations. Nevertheless, in order to constitute even a presumptive case that patriotism is a vice (rather

Patriotism and Bad Faith: A Critique of Keller


Is patriotic bad faith that bad? When Keller addresses this question, he focuses mainly on certain consequences that patriotic bad faith may have – in particular, that it may lead to rosy beliefs about one’s country’s qualities, which may in turn influence morally important decisions (587–8, 592). But this seems a somewhat unpromising basis for a case that patriotism is a vice. One complication is that having such rosy beliefs seems likely to have positive consequences as well as negative ones. Such beliefs might enhance patriots’ wellbeing, for example, or inspire them to take action to try to ensure that their country lives up to their rosy view of it.4 It is also unclear how much harm having rosy beliefs about one’s country’s qualities tends to do. At the least, it seems likely that certain other characteristic kinds of patriotic beliefs – such as beliefs about one’s country’s rights or entitlements – tend to do more harm. And if this is right, rosy beliefs about one’s country’s qualities seem a surprising focus (via bad faith) for a case against patriotism. Keller does not discuss any of these issues, and so it seems to me that there is much work for him to do, if he is to support the claims that I cited at the beginning of this section. For now, though, suppose that all of these points could be answered. Would Keller’s argument go through then? Well, only if the connections between patriotism and bad faith were as close as he claims. Here too, though, Keller seems to me to be on rather shaky ground, and it is this that I want to focus on here. He is surely right that there will be a tendency for the patriot to reason in a biased way about her country’s qualities. The claim that she cannot admit to such bias, however, seems less clear. Indeed, it seems to be subject to pretty direct empirical disconfirmation, for surely one can point to many patriots who are in fact willing to admit to being biased when thinking about their own country’s qualities, at least on reflection. If Keller were right, though, they wouldn’t be able to do so. The claim that the patriot cannot admit to bias,5 then, seems at least questionable. And yet it is central to Keller’s argument. For it is supposed to be because the patriot than that patriotism has certain morally troubling aspects, say), the grounds must have a certain degree of weight vis-à-vis all the other factors relevant to the moral evaluation of patriotism. Moreover, as we have seen, Keller also claims (without qualification) that his argument is enough to ‘demonstrate the undesirability of patriotism’. 4 This second possibility is especially so given that, on Keller’s account, the relevant beliefs may concern properties that the patriot ‘takes to be central to the identity of the country, but that she thinks it to be losing or ignoring or showing insufficient respect’ (573). More broadly, one might also consider an analogy here with recent evidence from the psychological literature that the kinds of rosy beliefs which people typically have about their personal qualities often have significant positive effects. See e. g. Jonathan D. Brown and Keith A. Dutton, ‘Truth and Consequences: The Costs and Benefits of Accurate Self-Knowledge’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 21, no. 12 (December 1995). 5 ‘Admit to bias’ will be my shorthand for ‘admit that it is highly likely that her reasoning about her country’s qualities has been affected by bias’. ‘Highly likely’, rather than ‘certain’, because it will often be unclear to the patriot herself whether or not her reasoning has been affected by bias, and, if so, how much influence such bias has had. This follows from the fact that we tend to have limited access to our own reasoning processes, and in particular whether or not those processes have been affected by bias. On these issues, see e.g. Timothy D. Wilson and Nancy Brekke, ‘Mental Contamination and Mental Correction: Unwanted Influences on


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

cannot admit to bias that she is forced to hide the true nature of her reasoning from herself, thus falling into bad faith.6 If the patriot can admit to bias, then she need not be forced into bad faith, and Keller’s case against patriotism will at best be much weakened. Let us take a closer look, then, at Keller’s grounds for the claim that the patriot cannot admit to bias. 3. The question of admitting to bias As we saw in Section 2, Keller claims that admitting to bias would undermine the credibility of the patriot’s patriotic beliefs,7 and thereby the integrity of her patriotism.8 Let us begin with the first of these claims. Is it true that admitting to bias would undermine the credibility of her patriotic beliefs? One can see the problem. Admitting to bias highlights the possibility that she would hold a different belief if she reasoned without bias. Note, though, that this possibility will be pretty remote in some cases. If the evidence for the belief in question is overwhelming, for one thing, then the recognition that one may have reasoned about it in a biased way may not affect its credibility much, if at all. And the evidence for many common patriotic beliefs does look pretty overwhelming. It is more or less undeniable, I take it, that some countries have wonderfully rich cultural traditions, for example, or striking achievements in sport or science or other fields. There is little serious doubt that many countries have established democratic institutions, or fought off invaders, or won their independence, often against considerable obstacles, and with great courage and other virtues manifested by certain people. Perhaps all countries could be said to have produced some great individuals, and to have some kind of significant natural beauty. And so on. If this is right, then the acknowledgement of bias need not reduce the credibility of some patriotic beliefs at all.9 In other cases, it might reduce the credibility of the belief in question without undermining it altogether. If the evidence for a certain belief, though not overwhelming, is pretty strong, for example, then the admission Judgements and Evaluations’, Psychological Bulletin 116 (1994): 121, and the references given there. For an account of how motivational biases in particular may function without the agent having any awareness of them, see Alfred R. Mele, ‘Motivated Belief and Agency’, Philosophical Psychology 11 (1998). 6 As we saw in Section 2, Keller thinks that there will be some patriots who avoid bias, and thus have nothing to admit to. But he does not acknowledge any cases of patriots who admit to bias without that undermining their patriotism. 7 Let the agent’s ‘patriotic beliefs’ be specifically those of her beliefs about her country’s allegedly positive qualities that play a role in sustaining her patriotism. 8 Or, as Keller puts it in another passage, if she admits to bias, the patriot will be unable to ‘maintain the belief in its full-blooded form’ (580). 9 Keller himself considers the possibility of a patriot whose patriotic beliefs are all clearly true (586–7). He responds, no doubt correctly, that such cases are likely to be very rare. But it is of course consistent with this that many patriots may have some patriotic beliefs that are clearly true. And as we shall see, this weaker claim has important implications for the kinds of consequences that might result from the admission of bias.

Patriotism and Bad Faith: A Critique of Keller


of bias may lead only to a partial loss of credibility. The patriot would still be able to have some confidence in the belief in question, though not as much as she had before.10 The impact that the admission of bias has on the credibility of a belief will vary, then, depending on how strong the evidence for the proposition in question is. And a number of other variable factors will also affect how great an impact the admission of bias has, factors such as the kind and quality of thought the agent has already given to the proposition in question, and how strong the evidence for bias is in the particular case in question. If it is relatively clear to the patriot that she has reasoned in a biased way, for example, then the effect on the credibility of the belief is likely to be much greater than if she merely has a general suspicion.11 It is very far from being the case, then, that the admission of bias need undermine the credibility of a patriotic belief. In some cases, such an admission may have no such effect at all. In other cases, it might reduce that credibility without undermining it altogether. And it is far from clear that an agent’s patriotism would be undermined, or lose its integrity (in any relevant sense of that tricky notion), if she were not fully confident about all of her patriotic beliefs. That would follow only if patriotism can only function (with integrity) with utterly confident, full-blooded patriotic beliefs. That seems highly implausible, however, and Keller says nothing to support it.12 Why can’t a patriot function with patriotic beliefs in which she has a fair amount of confidence, but not absolute confidence? Don’t most patriots – or at least most ‘thinking’ patriots13 – have patriotic beliefs of this kind? Now consider a case in which the admission of bias really would undermine the credibility of a patriotic belief. Would this, at least, constitute a serious threat to the agent’s patriotism – one that she can ward off only by hiding from herself the knowledge that her reasoning is biased? Again, not necessarily. For one thing, 10 In effect, Keller’s other formulation – that if she admits to bias, the patriot will be unable to ‘maintain the belief in its full-blooded form’ (580) – acknowledges this point. For a belief that isn’t full-blooded may not be entirely without credibility. 11 Though it is, I think, legitimate to speak of a general tendency for patriots to be subject to bias, the extent to which particular patriots manifest this tendency will of course vary considerably and fairly systematically, depending both on features of the patriot as an individual (such as how conscientious a reasoner she is, and how aware of the risk of bias) and on features of her country and its culture (such as how accurate or inaccurate the standard stock of patriotic beliefs in that country is). 12 He does emphasize that patriotism is a serious loyalty, and that its being so might involve giving that loyalty ‘some force when making morally significant decisions’ (569– 70). This would imply that patriotic beliefs must all be fully full-blooded, though, only if patriotism could not have this kind of influence unless all of the patriot’s patriotic beliefs were fully full-blooded. But again that claim seems clearly false, and straightforwardly refuted by real-life cases of patriotism. 13 I do not deny that there may be forms of patriotism that really do require total, unquestioning faith in a certain set of propositions. I just see no reason (and do not think that Keller provides any reason) to think that patriotism must be or is always like this. And Keller himself writes, ‘I want to be clear that my argument is supposed to reveal something about a very broad class of loyalties to country, not just about the unthinking, jingoistic forms of patriotism that are so easy to belittle’ (584).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

she may have other patriotic beliefs which are obviously true, or at least relatively secure, and thus immune from this kind of threat. And these secure beliefs might be sufficient to sustain her patriotism on their own. Furthermore, the patriot may be able to replace a seriously compromised patriotic belief with another more realistic belief. Take a patriot who has always believed that her country has the richest cultural tradition in the world, for example. Taking seriously the likelihood of bias, and the merits of other countries, it may become obvious to her that she has little or no good evidence for this belief. It might still be clear, nonetheless, that her country has a very rich cultural tradition, whether or not it is the richest in the world. And so she might come to replace her original, rosy belief with this more realistic one.14 Of course, the patriot would no doubt prefer not to make such revisions. Doing so may be discomfiting and even distressing. If the new belief is more or less clearly true, though, and positive enough to provide a suitable focus for patriotic sentiment, then making such revisions is hardly likely to imperil her patriotism. Indeed, ratcheting down in this kind of way appears to be a very common part of mature patriotism. For many people form more or less wildly rosy views of their countries as they are growing up, and at least some revise those views over time, ratcheting down to more realistic beliefs, without losing their patriotism. Alternatively, and more ambitiously, the patriot may respond to any loss of confidence (whether partial or total) in a patriotic belief by making an effort to rethink the relevant issues in a way that compensates for or counteracts any tendency towards bias. And if she does so, then she may be able to have a high degree of confidence in whatever beliefs result from that process. Of course, the patriot may have to overcome considerable resistance to engage in such a process. The same motivations that led her to be biased in the first place are likely to lead her to resist attempts to counteract that bias now. To say that such motivations exist, however, is not to say that they are irresistible. And it is also important to recognize that the strength of such motivations is again likely to vary considerably from case to case. Such motivations are likely to be strongest if the patriot secretly suspects that all of her most central and cherished patriotic beliefs are a complete sham. If that is so, then she will also suspect that making a serious attempt to counteract bias would make acknowledgement of such bitter truths unavoidable. And this might really constitute a serious risk to her patriotism itself, given that (on Keller’s account, which I will not question here) patriotism requires patriotic beliefs of some kind. It might be that her country lacks sufficient positive qualities to give (unblinkered) patriotism a foothold. Or, more probably, it might be that her patriotism could not survive the transition to more realistic beliefs.15 Fearing this, 14 If the patriot had to believe that her country was the best country in the world, then this example may not be apt. But the claim in the antecedent seems implausible, and again Keller himself explicitly rejects it (572–3). 15 ‘More probably’, because on a relatively broad view of the range of qualities that can become objects of patriotic beliefs, all countries seems likely to have sufficient qualities of this kind to provide a basis for patriotic sentiment. And Keller himself seems to endorse such a broad view (see his lists of typical patriotic beliefs at 580 and 585).

Patriotism and Bad Faith: A Critique of Keller


this patriot might indeed have a strong tendency to respond in the kind of way Keller suggests, by suppressing her knowledge of the fact that her reasoning is biased. This is a rather extreme case, however, and in other cases the pressure to fall into bad faith will not be nearly so strong. If the patriot has some beliefs that are relatively secure, for example, and these beliefs are sufficient to sustain her patriotism, then she need not fear that attempting to counteract bias in relation to another patriotic belief will undermine her patriotism, even if that belief does turn out to be false. Similarly, if she suspects only that some of her beliefs are slightly exaggerated, then she will not fear that attempting to counteract bias will undermine her patriotism, as long as more realistic versions of those beliefs are still positive enough to support her patriotism.16 I do not mean to suggest that going through such a process of attempting to counteract the influence of bias would be either pleasant or easy.17 In many cases at least, though, it would not force the patriot to renounce her patriotism. And so she need not resort to self-deception in response. Given this, and the fact that making such a serious attempt to counteract the influence of bias is probably the most challenging response that the patriot can make to the admission of bias, Keller’s claim that the patriot cannot admit to bias looks all the more exaggerated. These are complex issues, and I have of course only scratched the surface of them here. What is particularly striking in Keller’s account, though, is that it contains no discussion of any of them. He does not acknowledge that the impact that the admission of bias has on the credibility of a belief will vary in the kinds of ways I sketched above, for example, and so does not consider the implications of such variability. He simply assumes without argument that the patriot needs a full set of fully full-blooded beliefs. And he does not even so much as consider the possibility that the patriot may ratchet down to more realistic beliefs, or rethink her patriotic beliefs in ways intended to counteract bias. Clearly, though, he needs to do so, if he is to support his claim that the patriot cannot admit to bias, and (assuming that she has something to admit to) is therefore forced into bad faith. 4. Review I conclude, therefore, that at the very least there is further work for Keller to do if he is to support his case against patriotism. Even if (to return to the issues briefly raised in Section 2) patriotic bad faith were such a bad thing that patriotism would be a vice if the connections between patriotism and bad faith were as close as Keller claims, 16 Note further that even if the patriot fears that going through such a process would threaten her patriotism, she need not respond by deceiving herself about whether her own reasoning is biased. She might respond instead simply by failing to make any serious attempt to counteract bias, even if she believes that, from an epistemic point of view at least, she should do so. Such a patriot would certainly be guilty of some kind of epistemic fault, but that fault need not involve self-deception. 17 This is obviously not the place to discuss what strategies the patriot may employ in such an attempt, but for some discussion of this kind of issue in a different context, see Keith Horton, ‘Aid and Bias’, Inquiry 47 (2004).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Keller’s argument would not go through, for those connections do not appear to be so close after all. Nothing I have said here should be taken to provide any grounds for complacency. On the plausible assumption that patriotic bad faith is at least a bad thing, there is a strong prima facie case that patriots should admit to bias, and take appropriate responses – which may include taking steps to counteract such bias.18 If so, that would be an important conclusion, and one that to my knowledge has not been much discussed. But it is not the conclusion Keller argues for. Indeed, as I have said, the possibility that the patriot might take such steps is not one that he even considers. Keller argues instead that the patriot cannot admit to bias, and (assuming that she has something to admit to) is therefore forced into bad faith. I hope that the considerations I have put forward are at least enough to put the burden of proof back onto him, if he wants to maintain this claim.19

18 Not necessarily a conclusive case, for one may argue (following up the suggestion I made in Section 2) that the positive effects of patriotic bad faith outweigh its negative effects, and therefore that all things considered it should be embraced, even if it is bad in itself. If any such argument succeeded, though, then of course that too would undermine Keller’s case against patriotism. 19 This paper was written for a workshop on patriotism held at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne in August 2006. I am grateful to those who attended the workshop for their comments, and in particular to Igor Primoratz for his encouragement and patience.

Chapter 4

How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters Simon Keller

1. Evaluating patriotism Is patriotism a good thing or a bad thing? It depends what you mean by ‘patriotism’. For some, patriotism entails unflinching support of your country’s policies; for others, the highest form of patriotism is dissent. For some, patriotism involves the belief that your own country is better than all others; for others, it is enough that you take your country to be minimally decent; for still others, patriotism just involves wanting your country to be as good as possible. For some, patriotism involves a willingness to kill and die for your country; for others, a willingness to cheer for your country’s soccer team is sufficient. For some, patriotism involves a commitment to a cooperative political project; for others, it is politically neutral. Before we can evaluate patriotism, we need to get clear on what we are evaluating. One way to do so, common in the recent literature, is to offer an inclusive definition of patriotism, while distinguishing sharply between varieties of patriotism. Stephen Nathanson says that a patriot has ‘special affection for [her] own country’, ‘a sense of personal identification with the country’, ‘special concern for the well-being of the country’ and ‘willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good’, and goes on to advocate ‘moderate patriotism’ over ‘extreme patriotism’.1 Igor Primoratz defines patriotism as ‘love of one’s country, identification with it, and special concern for its well-being and that of compatriots’, and then defends patriotism expressed as a ‘lively sense of collective responsibility’ while dismissing it in various other forms.2 Marcia Baron argues that some but not all forms of patriotism are consistent with liberal universalism, and hence ethically defensible.3 The virtue of this approach is that it looks straight to the important question of what attitudes we ought to have towards our countries, without getting bogged down in disputes about what counts as ‘true’ patriotism. Its drawback, in my opinion, is that in giving such generous definitions of patriotism, it overlooks some significant 1 Stephen Nathanson, Patriotism, Morality and Peace (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993), pp. 34–5. See also Nathanson’s ‘Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?’, Chapter 5 in this volume. 2 Igor Primoratz, ‘Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain’, Chapter 1 in this volume. 3 Marcia Baron, ‘Patriotism and “Liberal” Morality’, in D. Weissbord (ed.), Mind, Value and Culture: Essays in Honor of E. M. Adams (Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview, 1989), pp. 269–300. Reprinted with modifications in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002), pp. 59–86.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

aspects of patriotic thinking. It is possible to say something more determinate about the feelings, motivations, and beliefs by which patriotism is constituted. When we do, I have argued elsewhere, patriotism can be shown to involve a disposition to fall into bad faith – a certain unattractive form of self-deception – and this, I have argued, is a reason to think that patriotism is a vice.4 Here, I offer a different statement and defense of my claim about patriotism and bad faith, and I respond to some objections. The next section argues that the received definitions of patriotism are unsatisfactory, and pushes towards the characterization I favor. Section 3 looks at the distinctive character of patriotic political debate; I argue that the political dimensions of patriotism illustrate my claim about the link to bad faith, and I consider Nathanson’s politically oriented defense of moderate patriotism. Section 4 explores the kinds of bias and self-deception that patriotism (on my view) involves, and responds to some criticisms offered by Keith Horton.5 2. Identifying patriotism In Alasdair MacIntyre’s classic defense of communitarian patriotism, ‘the kind of patriotism professed by certain liberal moralists’ is dismissed as ‘emasculated’ – not worthy of the label ‘patriotism’ at all.6 Much recent work on patriotism argues that liberal or universalist morality is in fact consistent with a form of genuine, non-emasculated patriotism.7 The liberal response to MacIntyre depends partly on arguments that a liberal can be partial towards her own country, and partly on a relatively broad characterization of patriotism, which covers the kind of partiality towards country that the liberal can endorse. But is this characterization of patriotism correct? Nathanson, to repeat, defines patriotism as a complex of four attitudes: special affection for one’s country, a sense of personal identification with country, special concern for the well-being of the country, and willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good. Primoratz defines patriotism as ‘love of one’s country, identification with it, and special concern for its well-being and that of compatriots’. In what follows, I argue not that these definitions are false, necessarily – it may be possible to read them in ways that make them true – but that they in any case leave some important truths about the nature of patriotism unarticulated. Note for a start that the definitions employ terms that can be interpreted in many different ways. Consider the depiction of the patriot as identifying with her country, 4 Simon Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, Ethics 115 (2005), pp. 563–92; and Simon Keller, The Limits of Loyalty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 5 Keith Horton, ‘Patriotism and Bad Faith: A Critique of Keller’, Chapter 3 in this volume. 6 Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, The E. H. Lindley Lecture, University of Kansas, 1984. Reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, pp. 43–58. See p. 46 in the Primoratz collection. 7 Nathanson and Primoratz exemplify this approach. Baron’s approach is similar, though she happily (but mischievously) describes her preferred form of patriotism as ‘emasculated patriotism’.

How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters


for example. I can identify with something, in one sense, by empathizing with it; this is the sense in which someone who has a warm heart and has been through a bad break-up might identify with Jennifer Aniston. Or, I can identify with something by taking myself to be identical with it, in certain respects; a fan can identify with the Red Sox by feeling embarrassment when the Red Sox play badly and pride when they play well, as though it is he who does what the Red Sox do.8 Or, I can identify as something, meaning that I categorize myself in a certain way; a person can identify as an Australian, or as an African-American. Or, I can identify with something by taking it to be partly constitutive of my identity, or of what is essential to being me; you identify with Australia, in this sense, if you think that you could not really be you, if you were not Australian. And as there are many different kinds of identification, there are many different kinds of love, concern and affection. Next, note that many loyalty concepts, as we might call them, involve quite specific ways of thinking and behaving. Think about the concept ‘family man’, for example. There is much more to being a family man than just loving your family, or caring for or identifying with it. I could do all those things while spending most of my time at work or on the golf course. To call someone a family man is to say something more informative about his temperament, his values, his motivations, and how he spends his time. The same goes for saying what it means to be a friend, or a loyal employee, or a fan. The relevant concepts call upon different kinds of love, and different kinds of concern and identification, and to articulate the concepts fully we need to say what these, in each case, are. There is no reason to assume that patriotism will be any different. With the goal of showing that patriotism is not different – that defining it in the broad terms of love, identification, concern and affection is not enough – consider Jennifer and Stanley. Jennifer is pleased to be an Australian. She loves Australia, and thinks that she is lucky to have been born in the greatest country in the world. When she thinks of Australia, she thinks of vast, beautiful expanses of desert, of mateship and informality, and of strong, healthy young men and women striding onto the world’s sporting fields to fly the flag and humble the mighty. She cares deeply about Australia’s fortunes, is motivated to look after fellow Australians in need, salutes the flag with reverence and sings the national anthem with gusto, and would have no hesitation in risking her life for Australia if it was ever under threat. Jennifer does not, however, see her relationship with Australia as an essential part of her identity. That, for her, is a different question. She grew up in the city, and while she has visited the vast expanses of the outback, she does not think that they helped forge her character. For all her love of mateship and informality, she will admit that she is rather uptight, herself. And she has never been any good at sport. Jennifer is devoted to her Australia, but if the goal is to explain what is essential to being Jennifer, she will direct us elsewhere. Furthermore, Jennifer has thought quite a bit about moral responsibility, and thinks that the idea of inherited responsibility is a piece of nonsense. She takes joy in her country’s sporting successes, but finds hilarious the suggestion that she 8 This is the sense of identification that Nathanson mentions. Patriotism, Morality and Peace, p. 35.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

should feel proud, or deserves congratulations, when some other Australians win a cricket test. She is strongly committed to making Australia as virtuous a nation as possible, and is very disappointed when it falls short of her standards, but she finds outrageous the suggestion that she should feel shame, or should be reprimanded, when some other Australians do something bad. She loves and values Australia, but never mistakes it for Jennifer. Jennifer, it seems to me, is a patriotic Australian, or at least could be, consistently with the information given so far. Yet it is not clear that she meets the definitions under discussion, because it is not clear that she feels a sense of identification with Australia, in anything beyond the shallow sense in which she categorizes herself as an Australian. She of course takes that categorization to be significant, but its significance is to do with what she loves and cares about, not her feelings of empathy, shame, or pride, or her understanding of her deeper identity. Over to Stanley. Stanley lives in Australia, and his favorite travel destination is Jamaica. Stanley loves Jamaica; he loves the music, the beaches, and the people. Stanley is prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of Jamaica and Jamaicans; he donates money to Jamaican charities and would do whatever he could to help Jamaica if the country was ever in trouble. Stanley, furthermore, empathizes with Jamaica; he thinks of himself as a relaxed but plucky fellow, a little downtrodden and too often ignored, and he thinks that Jamaica is a country just like that. He feels pleased when Jamaica gets some positive attention or has an international success, almost as though the attention or success were his own, and he feels a special twinge of annoyance and shame when Jamaica performs poorly. As described so far, Stanley is obviously not a Jamaican patriot. It may seem easy to explain why: Stanley is not Jamaican. But there is more to the story. Stanley is Jamaican, though he does not (yet) know it. He was born in Jamaica, became a citizen, and was brought to Australia as a child, though his parents never got around to telling him. Does that mean that Stanley is a Jamaican patriot after all? Obviously not. No such secret history could make the difference between someone’s being and not being patriotic. So, let Stanley’s history cease to be secret. Stanley discovers that he is Jamaican. He is surprised, but does not (yet) dwell on it. He now knows that he is Jamaican, and categorizes himself as a Jamaican when asked, but otherwise he goes on thinking of Jamaica just as he did before – as his favorite holiday spot, and a country for which he feels a certain affinity and affection. Now that Stanley knows that he is Jamaican, has he at last become a Jamaican patriot? No. How could he have suddenly turned into a Jamaican patriot, just by hearing some news in which he takes no interest? Now for the final episode in Stanley’s development. Stanley has a crisis of identity. In discussions with his therapist, he comes to believe that his early, forgotten years in Jamaica – his subconscious awareness of the class and racial tensions, his time in a country with a different culture and different customs – had a powerful effect upon him. He comes to believe not just that he is Jamaican, but that the Jamaican experience is written deep into his character, that it is only by understanding himself as a Jamaican that he can understand himself at all. But while he now thinks quite differently about himself, he does not think any differently about Jamaica. The love and empathy he feels for Jamaica are still the love and empathy of a tourist and distant

How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters


admirer. Stanley still fails to be a Jamaican patriot, even though he appears to meet all the conditions specified in the definitions offered by Primoratz and Nathanson. There is a kind of thinking – patriotic thinking – that is displayed by Jennifer but not by Stanley, and that is not captured by the definitions of patriotism on offer. Patriotism is not just a combination of affection, love, concern, and identification; and patriotism is not necessarily accompanied by identification with country in any familiar sense, except the minimal one in which the patriot categorizes herself as a native of her country. I do not want to offer a competing definition, partly because I cannot think of one and partly because I think that any such thing will probably fail. Defining patriotism is no easier than defining friendship or romantic love. We are better off treating these as topics for substantive moral psychology than as concepts to be neatly defined. Here, though, is a suggestion about what Jennifer has and Stanley lacks. Jennifer sees Australia as her wonderful Australia, and that is what grounds her commitment to the country. Stanley sees Jamaica as his, and he sees it as wonderful, but the two ways of regarding Jamaica are not, for him, entangled, and only the second of them has anything to do with his commitment to Jamaica. The patriot’s commitment to country depends upon her having some positive conception of country; she sees it as, in some nontrivial respect, a good country, worthy of her loyalty.9 And it is essentially the loyalty of someone who is of that country; it involves being loyal to Australia as an Australian, or being loyal to America as an American. Jennifer might not feel identification with Australia in any very profound sense, but her loyalty to Australia is essentially the loyalty of an Australian. Stanley might identify with Jamaica in all sorts of ways, but his loyalty to Jamaica is the loyalty of an outsider. Now, it may be that there is some additional sense of identification, or perhaps of love or affection or concern, that does capture the attitude to country that we see in Jennifer but not Stanley. If so, then the definitions could be saved. The interesting question for Nathanson would then be whether his moderate patriot has exactly the right kinds of identification, affection and concern, and for Primoratz whether distinctively patriotic love, concern, and identification are entailed by or compatible with a lively sense of collective responsibility. In any event, if the definitions are correct, the interesting work in characterizing patriotism will be done not in offering the definitions as they stand, but saying just what the terms in the definitions are supposed to mean – and that is no straightforward task. 3. The politics of patriotism Participants in political debate are often eager to present themselves as patriotic. This is true of many who defend their own countries’ policies, who may want to question 9 I have not argued here that patriotism requires a positive conception of country, but this seems to me to be something else that the operative definitions miss. (I could feel love and affection for something without approving of or endorsing it, and without having a positive conception of it.) Some considerations in favor of this suggestion come up in the next section, and I argue for it at length in ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, pp. 572–8.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

the patriotism of their opponents, and it is true of many who dissent from their own countries’ policies, who may wish to show that their dissent does not signal a lack of patriotism. When a political position is advanced against a background of professed patriotism, the discussion takes on a particular character. The distinction between the values that characterize the country, on the one hand, and the values that are the best, on the other, is collapsed. To see this, suppose that you declare yourself an American patriot, and are then told that your political opinions are out of step with American values. You cannot reply with a straight face that for you, as an American patriot, that does not matter. You cannot say, ‘I may be rejecting American values, but I don’t care.’ (Who could accept this as the response of a patriot?) All you can do is offer an alternative story about what it means to be American, or about the values that most fundamentally characterize America, that does not exclude the opinions you wish to defend. You must try to show that your political opinions cohere with an independent story about the values for which your country stands. There are various ways, consistent with patriotism, in which a set of political opinions and a vision of the country could come together. You could believe that your values correspond to the one true inventory of your country’s values; or you could believe, more modestly, that your views represent one central aspect of your country’s character and history, though there are others. Also, the task will be easier or harder depending on the views and country in question. You will have an easier time presenting yourself as a French patriot if you are arguing that France should keep French as its sole official language than if you are arguing that it should become a province of Germany. But however these things go, it will be a conceptually open question whether your political views in fact cohere with an accurate account of your country’s character, in the way that your patriotism requires. Sometimes, a political actor with claims to patriotism will concoct a story about his country that is self-consciously intended to make his political outlook seem homegrown, whether it really is or not. An Australian advocate of redistributive taxation might do his best to make Australia look like it has a deep tradition of egalitarian justice. An American advocate of peace might devise a story about America that places the value of peace at the country’s heart. This strategy can be politically effective and well intentioned, but it is dishonest. It pretends to set out to describe the country as it is, but in fact sets out to describe it in a way that suits a predetermined political agenda. Once the motives behind the strategy are exposed, it is difficult to see the person who pursues it as a patriot. Really, he is trying to make himself look like a patriot in order to secure a political advantage. If your claim to patriotism is not disingenuous, you must take your political opinions to match a characterization of your country that is accurate, not just convenient. You must then fight on two fronts; in trying to state and defend a sincerely held picture of your country, you must keep one eye on your statement and defense of your political commitments, making sure that they continue to sit comfortably together. Suppose again that you present yourself in political debate as an American patriot, and face the charge that your opinions are out of step with American values; and suppose that you respond by telling a competing story about what it means to be American. Then, suppose that your opponent says that you only subscribe to

How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters


that characterization of America because it happens to fit nicely with your political opinions. He suggests that you only see a correspondence between your values and your conception of your country because you are motivated to find one. This, too, is a charge that you must resist. A distinctively patriotic depiction of a country’s character, of the sort that is offered by patriots in political debate, is too earnest, too strident, and taken too seriously on its own terms, to coexist with the confession that it is influenced by wishful thinking. You cannot happily admit, as a self-professed American patriot, that you revise your conception of America with the goal of buttressing your political opinions, or that one reason why you take your values to be in line with American values is that you want America to be such that they could be. The patriot, in political debate, takes her political opinions, and her beliefs about the nature of her country, and the claim that there is the required kind of coherence between them, each to be independently defensible. Imagine a proponent of multiculturalism who presents his view as that of an Australian patriot. He will be eager to show that the values that underlie multiculturalism are firmly lodged within Australia’s distinctive history and values. Now imagine that he concedes that he sees Australia as he does partly as a result of his commitment to multiculturalism, and that an opponent of multiculturalism will naturally see Australia quite differently. He concedes that if he undertook a purely sociological investigation into Australia’s character, unaffected by his political commitment, he might well fail to conclude that Australia’s characteristic values are friendly to multiculturalism. In making this concession he compromises, or steps back from, his patriotism. What allows him to present his defense of multiculturalism as patriotic is his taking multiculturalism to flow from a conception of Australia as it is, independently of any particular political agenda, not just as it appears to an advocate of multiculturalism with patriotic aspirations. Patriotic political debate is characterized by a need to make the correct political opinions cohere with an accurate characterization of the country, and a need to deny that any such coherence is being sought for its own sake. When you bring your patriotic loyalty to political debate, you have a motive to see your country as one that meets a certain description, and hence to push yourself towards certain interpretations of the country and away from others. But you also have a motive to deny the influence of that first motive – to deny that your construal of your country is based on anything but an impartial consideration of the evidence. It is for this reason that you have a tendency to deceive yourself about your motivations, and hence to fall into bad faith. Patriotism, in my opinion, is not always political, so not every patriot must present her political views as essentially those of a patriot. (Your patriotism could be grounded in your appreciation for qualities of your country – its beauty, friendliness, or artistic greatness – that do not have anything to do with its political virtues.) Yet, I think that the character of patriotic political discussion reflects a general phenomenon of patriotic bad faith. Distinctively patriotic loyalty motivates the agent to maintain a certain characterization of her country, but also to deny that her characterization of her country is affected by such a motive. Leaving aside the claim about bad faith, the discussion of patriotic political discourse points towards some troubles for recent liberal defenses of patriotism.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

The attitudes to country that liberals or universalists typically endorse are relatively reflective forms of partiality, informed by and answerable to universal evaluative judgments. Nathanson, for example, advocates ‘moderate patriotism’, which involves ‘special affection for one’s country (but no belief in its superiority), a desire that one’s country flourish (but not that it dominate over others), a special concern for one’s country (but not an exclusive concern for it), support for moral constraints on the pursuit of national well-being, and conditional support of one’s country and its policies’.10 The moderate patriot favors her country, but does so by wanting it to flourish according to universal standards, and within the limits imposed by universal duties. One question to ask is whether Nathanson’s moderate patriotism, taken as a representative of liberal patriotism, really counts as a form of patriotism. The trouble is that the moderate patriot will not care whether her political opinions can be lodged within an accurate story about what her country is. While she applies her political values to her own country in a special way, part of what makes her a moderate patriot is that she does not see those values as necessarily having any grounding in her country’s distinctive character. But to the extent to which she really is indifferent to the charge of holding opinions that are out of step with her own country’s values – indifferent to the charge that her views are un-American, for example, or unAustralian – she is not someone whose claim to patriotism can be taken seriously. More important is the observation that in taking on a patriotic posture in political debate, we generate extra work. We commit ourselves to telling a story about what our country is, and making that story cohere with the views we are recommending. At best, this is a distraction. At worst, it hands the advantage to those whose political views are the least sophisticated and most parochial: those whose views can most easily be squared with a familiar and attractive national myth. Political actors who take more worldly and critical political perspectives are likely find it harder to embed their views within recognizable stories about their country’s true character, and hence, if it is to be a battle about patriotism, to be placed on the defensive. Nathanson stresses the practical political consequences of philosophical treatments of patriotism. People who advocate peaceful policies over militarism and aggressive assertions of national power, Nathanson says, are often derided as unpatriotic, and damaged politically as a result. There is therefore a practical imperative, he says, for such activists to rebut the charge of lacking patriotism, and hence for sympathetic philosophers to carve out a notion of patriotism that makes room for a large range of different kinds of partiality to country.11 Nathanson may be right about this, but such a view should also take into account the rhetorical concessions that accompany claims to patriotism, and the special difficulties that will be faced by advocates of the progressive, universalistic views with which he is concerned. Considering all the baggage that comes with patriotic posturing, such political actors may well be at their most effective when they refuse to get captured in the language of patriotism. The best strategy, perhaps, is to say, ‘I don’t care whether I’m patriotic; I care about being right.’ 10 Nathanson, Patriotism, Morality and Peace, p. 34. 11 Nathanson, Patriotism, Morality and Peace, pp. 17–20.

How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters


4. Patriotic motives and patriotic beliefs On my view, patriotism yields a motive to maintain certain beliefs about a country, and also a motive to deny the influence of that first motive in nourishing those beliefs; this underlies a disposition to fall into bad faith; and that gives a reason to think that patriotism is a vice. In his chapter in this volume, Keith Horton brings forward a number of objections to my claim. First, Horton questions the move from the assertion that patriotism involves a disposition to fall into bad faith to the conclusion that patriotism is probably a vice. Second, he gives reasons to doubt that patriotic bias need involve self-deception. A patriot, he suggests, could acknowledge that she is biased without necessarily undermining her patriotism, because her acknowledgment of bias is compatible with her retaining her patriotic beliefs, or replacing them with others that are equally patriotic – so she need not deceive herself about her bias in order to maintain her patriotism. On the first question, about whether a character trait’s involving a disposition to bad faith gives reason to think it a vice, I have nothing much to add. It seems clear that if a trait involves by its very nature an epistemic failing, then that is a pretty powerful strike against it. The patriotic disposition towards bad faith, I have argued in addition, will have negative consequences for the patriot’s reasoning about serious moral and political matters, and is likely to be viewed as problematic from Kantian and virtue ethical perspectives.12 Perhaps patriotism has all sorts of positive features as well, but there is at least something to be said against it. If we need to think like patriots, in order to meet certain other values, then that is a shame. The second objection is forceful, and requires me to be clearer about the kind of self-deception that I take patriotism to involve. Patriotism, I want to suggest, involves not just bias, but bias of a particular kind, and distinctively patriotic bias yields a clear motive for the patriot to avoid admitting that the bias exists, or at least to avoid admitting it in a way that would save him from self-deception. As one of his paradigmatic illustrations of bad faith, Sartre has us consider a woman who is out on a first date with a new man. She knows that she will eventually have to face the man’s sexual desire and decide what to do about it, but she wishes to delay the confrontation for as long as possible. She does not wish to interpret his actions as sexual advances, or hers as constituting acceptance or rejection. So, out of her fear of confronting the man’s desire directly, she seeks out alternative ways of understanding their interactions, while pretending to herself that she is simply seeing things as they really are. She is motivated to interpret the situation in a certain way, but also to deny that it is that very motive that supports her interpretation.13 The woman does not have an explicit project, or de dicto intention, of deceiving herself; her self-deception is not to be understood by analogy with self-improvement. Her self-deception rather consists in her having motives and beliefs that turn upon and suppress each other; her self-deception is more closely analogous to selfloathing. Self-loathing does not usually involve an explicit intention to loathe 12 See ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, pp. 587–8, and Section 3 of the present chapter. 13 Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel E. Barnes (London: Routledge, 1958), pp. 55–6.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

yourself, and you cannot cease to be self-loathing just by recognizing that you are self-loathing and wishing that you were not. In the same way, you can admit that you practice self-deception, and even wish that you did not, without thereby failing to self-deceive. Suppose that the woman in Sartre’s example also attends classes on existentialism, and has come to realize that she engages in bad faith when on first dates. There is nothing incoherent about this supposition. Her awareness of her self-deception, when she is thinking philosophically, need not make it the case that she is not really deceiving herself, when she is out with her suitor. She could even, conceivably, pay attention to her knowledge about her self-deception during her interactions with her suitor – having the detached thought, ‘Here I go, deceiving myself again’ – while at the same time genuinely deceiving herself. All that matters is that her reasoning about how to interpret the man’s actions is driven by a certain motive, but depends essentially on the pretence that no such motive is present. The woman can be aware of the motive at other times, or at levels of her psychology that do not affect the reasoning in question, without changing the fact that her reasoning involves self-deception. If patriotic thinking is like the thinking of the woman in Sartre’s example, then a patriot can admit that he is biased, and that his bias involves self-deception, while continuing to self-deceive. I have not been very clear about this in my earlier work. I say that the patriot cannot admit that his reasoning about his country is influenced by a desire to maintain certain beliefs, but what I mean (or ought to mean) is that his reasoning cannot be informed by an awareness of that motive. This does not rule out his having such awareness when in a philosophy classroom, or at a psychological level that is detached from his patriotic thinking. In deciding whether patriotism really does involve a disposition to fall into selfdeception, then, the important question is not whether a patriot can be aware of his own bias, but whether he can incorporate knowledge of his bias in his reasoning about his country’s qualities, while still maintaining a patriotic attitude. Horton, again, gives some reasons to think that he can. The patriot, Horton suggests, could realize that his beliefs about his country are biased and reevaluate them in light of that awareness, but still emerge with his patriotic beliefs, or some others that perform the same function, intact. Notice that the same could be said about the woman out on the first date. She need not deceive herself about the bias inherent in her reasoning, we might say, because she could admit that she is biased without necessarily undermining the beliefs to which her bias inclines her. Perhaps she will conclude, even on impartial reflection, that when her suitor says, ‘I find you so attractive!’, and when he takes her hand, he really is not, after all, making a sexual advance; or perhaps she will conclude that his conduct is sufficiently ambiguous for her to take it either way, and to delay making her decision. The obvious reason why the woman cannot acknowledge her bias, though, is that doing so might well force her to confront the man’s sexual desire directly, even if it is not guaranteed to do so, and that is a possibility that she is strongly motivated to avoid. She cannot allow herself to think impartially, because it is too important that her preferred interpretation of the situation remain unchallenged.

How Patriots Think, and Why It Matters


In the same way, patriotism, on the view I defend, not only involves certain beliefs about the qualities of your country, but also grounds a motive to maintain such beliefs, and hence to avoid situations in which they are thrown into question. The explanation, briefly, is that patriotic loyalty involves seeing your country as a good country, and involves a serious commitment that only makes sense if it is held towards a good country, but is not simply answerable to a judgment that it is a good country; the patriot is loyal to his country largely just because it is his country. The patriot’s loyalty to country moves him to accept a certain kind of picture of his country, but also to take that picture to be independently compelling. His patriotism hence moves him to avoid situations in which he may well be forced (though is not guaranteed to be forced) to accept that his conception of his country cannot withstand impartial scrutiny. It hence moves him to avoid admitting that his conception of his country is biased. That is why the patriot is disposed not just to be biased, but to deceive himself about it. 5. Conclusion Our ordinary notion of patriotism is elusive. It cannot be easily articulated with a quick definition, and is more determinate than are the broad notions of love of country and partiality to country. Patriotism is a quite specific kind of loyalty to country, involving a complex and distinctive way of thinking. This is not just linguistic pedantry. Patriotism, in all its distinctiveness, is ethically consequential; for one thing, as my arguments here suggest, it exerts a damaging influence upon political debate. My own view is that a deeper understanding of patriotism shows it to involve an important epistemic shortcoming, and that this should make us doubt that patriotism is something to be encouraged. Be that as it may, there is good reason to look more closely and critically at the sorts of motivations, feelings and beliefs by which patriotism is constituted. Patriotism is not just another form of partiality. It is a singular, powerful and perplexing psychological phenomenon.14

14 Thanks to Steve Nathanson and Igor Primoratz for helpful comments.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 5

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue? Stephen Nathanson

Although critics of patriotism have convincingly argued that extreme forms of patriotism should be rejected, their arguments do not show that every form of patriotism is morally unacceptable. In Patriotism, Morality and Peace, I defended a political attitude that I call moderate patriotism.1 My view is that moderate patriotism is not damaged by standard criticisms of patriotism and is worthy of support. In this chapter, I want to re-defend moderate patriotism. Since many critics of patriotism have cosmopolitanism sympathies, I raise the question ‘Is cosmopolitan anti-patriotism a virtue?’ to suggest that pressures for justification and defense do not fall on patriotism alone. If cosmopolitan anti-patriotism is to be a virtue, it must be the case, first, that patriotism is so bad that opposing it is virtuous and, second, that cosmopolitanism is so valuable that supporting it is a virtue. If only the first condition is met, then it may be that neither patriotism nor cosmopolitanism is a virtue. If only the second is met, then perhaps both patriotism and cosmopolitanism can be virtues. My aim here is to defend the second possibility. I will argue that there are different versions of both patriotism and cosmopolitanism, that some versions of each are morally unacceptable and that some versions of each can be a virtue. In addition, because these are opposing attitudes and because both can be virtues, neither is a duty. Finally, although they are opposed to one another, I will stress some ways in which moderate patriotism and cosmopolitanism converge and jointly support various desirable initiatives regarding international conflict and global justice.2 Patriotism as a political problem My own serious thinking about patriotism was motivated by practical political concerns. As an opponent of the 1980s Reagan buildup of nuclear weapons and intensification of the Cold War, I saw how patriotic rhetoric was used to undermine people who opposed militarism and reckless nuclear policies. But since I did not then see myself as a patriot, I could not deny the charges of anti-patriotism leveled 1 Patriotism, Morality, and Peace (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993). 2 I defend this convergence thesis in ‘Nationalism and the Limits of Global Humanism’, in R. McKim and J. McMahan (eds), The Morality of Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

against me and other critics. What I came to see was that an anti-patriotic stance was an impediment to peace-oriented citizens having an influence on American policy. Why, I wondered, should we who support policies to protect all nations – including the United States – from nuclear destruction accept the idea that we are unpatriotic? Couldn’t we be more effective if we spoke as patriotic citizens who were concerned about our country? Weren’t we in fact patriots, since we favored policies that would make our country – as well as others – safer? I began to see the conceptual and theoretical aspects of these issues by reading Leo Tolstoy’s essays denouncing patriotism and Alasdair MacIntyre’s defense of the virtue of patriotism.3 Tolstoy condemned patriotism from a moral universalist position while MacIntyre defended communitarian patriotism as superior to moral universalism. In thinking about Tolstoy, I saw both that it mattered how we define patriotism and that it was possible to distinguish between different types of patriotism. Tolstoy’s arguments successfully discredit the form of patriotism that I call extreme patriotism. It is characterized by a belief in the superiority of one’s country, a desire that one’s own country dominate others, an exclusive concern for one’s country, a rejection of any constraints on the pursuit of national well-being, and uncritical support for one’s government with respect to war. These features, however, are not essential to patriotism. The general concept of patriotism – love of one’s country – is broad enough to include moderate patriotism, which is characterized by special affection for one’s country (but no belief in its superiority), a desire that one’s country flourish (but not that it dominate over others), a special concern for one’s country (but not an exclusive concern for it), acknowledgment of moral constraints on the pursuit of national well-being, and conditional support of one’s country and its policies. 4 The distinction between types of patriotism solves the political problem by showing that patriotism is compatible with a critical, non-chauvinistic, peaceoriented political perspective. People can be patriotic and still oppose militarism and the quest for national dominance because patriotism essentially requires only special affection and concern for one’s country and a willingness to make sacrifices in its behalf. Special duties and/or universal morality Tolstoy’s anti-patriotism included another element. He argued that because universal morality required equal regard for all people, it ruled out a special concern for one’s own country. MacIntyre, in his defense of patriotism, makes the same point. In spite of their differences, both Tolstoy and MacIntyre agree that moral universalism and 3 Leo Tolstoy. ‘On Patriotism’ and ‘Patriotism, or Peace?’ in Tolstoy’s Writings on Civil Disobedience and Non-violence (New York: New American Library, 1968); Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’ (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1984); reprinted in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002). 4 For more on these contrasts and a general definition, see Patriotism, Morality, and Peace, ch. 3.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


patriotic particularism are incompatible with one another. For this reason, both of them believe that people must choose between patriotism and universal morality. On this point, I believe that both of them are mistaken. Both Tolstoy and MacIntyre fail to see that universal morality permits the special concern for one’s own country that characterizes moderate patriotism. Tolstoy’s argument against this compatibility is mistaken. His understanding of moral universalism rules out not only special concern for one’s own country but all forms of special concern, whether it be for one’s family, friends, or any other group to which one might belong. Anyone who recognizes moral commitments to particular individuals or groups must reject Tolstoy’s view; and once they see special relations and duties as morally permissible, then, at least in principle, patriotic concern for one’s own country can be morally permissible as well. MacIntyre makes the opposite mistake. His view is that people can only understand morality as the morality of their own community and that the idea of universal (non-communal) morality is impossible. But if there is no morality external to communities, it may be impossible for members of xenophobic communities to condemn even the most vile forms of behavior toward outsiders. Indeed, MacIntyre suggests that moral thought is confined to the use of community standards and that people lack the capacity to think about or understand morality in universalist terms. These particularist implications are as implausible as Tolstoy’s extreme universalism. To see that universal moral principles are compatible with special relationships, consider the rule ‘Honor your mother and father.’ This is a universal principle in the sense that it applies to everyone, but it is a special duty because it requires people to honor their own parents. There is no incompatibility between the special focus of this obligation and its universal applicability. The same point applies to patriotism. ‘Everyone ought to support their own country’ can be a universal principle even though it requires different people to support different countries. Likewise, special duties to one’s own country do not rule out general duties to people in other countries, such as a duty not to kill them in aggressive wars or a duty to assist them if they are in dire need. While we may disagree about the force of both special and general obligations, my key point here is that there is no logical incompatibility between moral universalism and the special ties involved in patriotism and other relationships. Moreover, special obligations are not the whole of morality. In addition to the special duties that we may have to our parents, children, and friends, we have general duties toward strangers as well. Special obligations are only a part of morality.5 Finding faults Patriotism continues to be the target of numerous objections, many of which are motivated by cosmopolitan sympathies. In some cases, however, critics seek to

5 On the compatibility of special and general duties, see Samuel Scheffler, Boundaries and Allegiances (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 118–22.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

discredit patriotism without taking a stand on issues about ethical universalism and particularism and without defending an alternative to it. A recent example is Simon Keller, who criticizes patriotism for requiring an undesirable form of self-deception. According to Keller, patriots typically have unjustified beliefs about the goodness of their country and resist any evidence that threatens these beliefs.6 Suppose Keller is right about patriotism and self-deception. His negative conclusion does not automatically follow. Even if patriotism is defective, it might still be better than the alternatives. Suppose, for example, that an extreme form of egoism were the only alternative to patriotism. A commitment to the single-minded pursuit of one’s own interests and a lack of any commitment to community interests might make it harder to obtain cooperation on important problems. Or suppose that patriotism were replaced with extreme forms of family, racial, or religious loyalty. We might have a worse world than the very troubled one we inhabit. Though patriotism can lead to conflict between countries, it can also help to sustain cooperation within them. Eliminating patriotism on the grounds of eliminating self-deception might create still worse evils. Keller is mistaken, too, in thinking that the bad faith deceptions he describes are limited to patriotism. All of our personal relationships color our perceptions of people and give us reasons for valuing those to whom we are positively related.7 Not only is love sometimes blind, but close relations are often helped when people focus on each other’s good qualities and downplay their defects. Cosmopolitans may be subject to self-deception as well. They may engage in wishful thinking about natural human goodness and the prospects for achieving global understanding, and they too may ignore counter-evidence to their optimistic beliefs. Even if Keller is right that patriotism involves unjustified beliefs, this may not differentiate it from other attitudes. But Keller is mistaken in claiming that patriotism inevitably involves a ‘bad faith’ belief in the valuable traits of one’s own country. No such belief is required. One can have special affection and special concern for a particular country without thinking it best or denying its flaws. When smitten with love, people may believe that those they love are superior to other mere mortals, but we can discard this belief without our affections being diminished. Similarly, a mature patriotism can relinquish beliefs about the country’s special virtues and remain intact. Patriotic people are often aware of gaps between their country’s ideals and its actual practices, and their patriotism, coupled with their knowledge of their country’s faults, can lead them to work to bring ideals and actual practices closer together. Keller’s apolitical approach suggests that the problem of patriotism is a purely theoretical problem and that if patriotism is flawed, we should reject it. But if patriotic attitudes play an important social and political role, then we need to consider whether its flaws are correctable, whether alternatives to it are better, and what might be the 6 Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, Ethics 115 (2005/2006). See also Chapters 3 and 4 in this volume. 7 This point is developed by Sarah Stroud in ‘Epistemic Partiality in Friendship’, Ethics 116 (2006/2007). Keller acknowledges elements of ‘bad faith’ in personal relations but takes no stand on whether they are discredited by this; see ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, pp. 590–91.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


results of doing away with it. If we could abolish patriotism, would we really be better off? Tolstoy thought that the end of patriotism would be the end of war, but he overlooks the multiple causes of war. Keller makes no attempt to describe what a world without patriotism would be like. Since the problem of patriotism is practical and not only theoretical, however, this issue cannot be ignored. A certain level of patriotism can encourage cooperation and shared sacrifice on behalf of socially useful practices and institutions. Cosmopolitan alternatives Many critics of patriotism do have a positive agenda. They support cosmopolitanism, the adoption of a global rather than a national perspective. But what does this global perspective involve? What does it urge people to do, think, or feel? Like all isms, cosmopolitanism can take many forms, some of which are morally unattractive. Considering the world as we now find it, we can see two competing tendencies, one toward greater globalization and one toward fragmentation and localism. Cosmopolitans might be expected to support the first of these and to oppose the second. But suppose that a certain group seeks to secede from a larger state because its members are persecuted and see no prospects for decent treatment by their current political order. They see separation as the only way to a decent life. In this case, a humane response would be to support this group’s efforts to attain independence and to end its persecution. A cosmopolitan, however, may oppose secession, seeing it as a step in the wrong direction, that is, a step away from globalizing and toward localizing. Yet, opposing this secession might result in the continued ill-treatment of the persecuted group. If the cosmopolitan perspective requires opposition to a change that would improve this group’s lot, that would reveal an inhumane side of cosmopolitanism, a willingness to sacrifice people’s well-being in the interests of promoting their global agenda. Of course, cosmopolitans could concede that in this instance, localization is superior to globalization because of its effects. That is a reasonable view, but it is a move away from one kind of cosmopolitanism since it supports local rather than cosmopolitan institutions. If the seceding group succeeds, it will try to strengthen its own group loyalty and will work to improve their own conditions rather than working for global justice. It may encourage patriotic attitudes as a means of overcoming economic, racial, or religious divisions among its members. If such efforts are necessary for success, will cosmopolitans condemn them? Consider some more general problems. What are the goals of cosmopolitans? Do they favor a world government? A federation of existing states? An enhanced version of our current system of separate nation-states that are bound together in various organizations? 8 8 On alternative conceptions of cosmopolitanism, see N. Dower and J. Williams (eds), Global Citizenship: A Critical Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002); G. Brock and H. Brighouse (eds), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), and Scheffler, ‘Conceptions of Cosmopolitanism’, in Boundaries and Allegiances, ch. 7.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

And what about means? What means do cosmopolitans support for achieving their goals? If countries refuse to join cosmopolitan institutions and practices, would it be legitimate to use force to get them to join? If global institutions are formed and some groups later want to secede, would force be legitimate to prevent secession? If members fail to recognize the human rights of women or religious and racial minorities, would force be legitimate to protect these rights? If force could never be used, either to create or protect cosmopolitan institutions or practices, then perhaps cosmopolitanism is a wish rather than a program.9 But if force is used too readily or in an unconstrained fashion, this would surely discredit cosmopolitanism in the same way that it discredits extreme patriotism. Just as there are different types of patriotism, so there are multiple types of cosmopolitanism, some of which would never be supported by many who call themselves cosmopolitans. Here are two particularly unattractive versions. One is aggressive universalism, a cosmopolitan strategy of destroying local cultures and institutions so as to create a single global culture and political system. Or consider hegemonic globalism, a version in which one country creates a unified world by subsuming all others within its jurisdiction. If anti-patriotic cosmopolitanism is to be a virtue, it won’t support these ideals. Cosmopolitans need to tell us what goals they support and what constraints they accept on the means for realizing their goals. I do not raise these points to discredit cosmopolitanism. Rather, I want to show that, as with patriotism, there can be diverse forms of cosmopolitanism, and whether cosmopolitanism is worthy of our support depends on what form is being proposed. A key requirement for progress in evaluating cosmopolitanism is that it be clearly articulated. Only then can we see whether it is superior to patriotism. Cosmopolitan institutions Reasonable cosmopolitans will no doubt see the path toward their goals as a gradual process, one that involves the creation of some global institutions that existing states will join or recognize. Consider the International Criminal Court as a model. It fits with cosmopolitan ideals because it presupposes that severe violations of human rights are defined as criminal behavior, and it seeks to enforce legal limits on the powers of national officials to act in ways that are criminal. The Court provides a mechanism for prosecuting violations so that these international laws can be enforced. This kind of institution would be supported by many cosmopolitans, ranging from moral cosmopolitans to supporters of both stronger and weaker types of cosmopolitan political institutions. It is important to see, however, that support for international bans on violating human rights and recognition of an international criminal court to enforce these prohibitions is compatible with moderate patriotism. While moderate patriots, according to my account, are especially concerned to promote their own country’s interests, they recognize and accept moral limits on the means by which the national

9 Peter Singer defends military intervention to enforce human rights in One World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002), ch. 4.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


interest is pursued. They agree that it would be wrong, for example, to enslave citizens of other countries or to launch aggressive wars in order to enhance their own nation’s power or wealth. If international law prohibits such acts and international courts can enforce these laws fairly, then these institutions will be supported by moderate patriots.10 Similarly, global institutions to combat extreme poverty and ill health are supported by many cosmopolitans and could equally be supported by moderate patriots as long as these institutions did not pursue extreme egalitarian goals or require a country to seriously worsen the conditions of its own citizens. What is true of these cases extends to others. There are many policy initiatives that cosmopolitans would favor that could also be supported by moderate patriots.11 If cosmopolitans seek to abolish states or prohibit giving priority to one’s own nation, then moderate patriots will oppose them. But many proposals promoted by cosmopolitans do not require either the abolition of states or the prohibition of national loyalties. In practice, cosmopolitans and moderate patriots could be allies even though they differ on the eventual outcome that is sought. Cosmopolitans might see certain reforms – like the International Criminal Courts – steps toward a genuine world community and world political system. Moderate patriots might see the process as having a stopping point beyond which they would oppose further globalization. Some moderate patriots might oppose further globalization in order to protect their nation’s ability to decide what happens in their territory. Other moderate patriots might want to protect their cultural traditions from change. Cosmopolitans might disagree with moderate patriots about these issues. But there would still be a lot of room for agreement and overlap, partly because stronger global political institutions might be in the mutual interests of all nations and partly because moderate patriots can be concerned about all people, even if they are not compatriots. It is an important point, then, that moderate patriotism and moderate cosmopolitanism both provide grounds for supporting many of the same initiatives.12 The moral structure of patriotic and cosmopolitan attitudes I have argued that there are different forms of both patriotism and cosmopolitanism, that we can distinguish moderate and extreme versions of each view, and that the moderate versions overlap in their support for similar humanitarian initiatives. Extreme versions of each, however, contain morally undesirable features. In the chart below, I try to bring out ways in which these different versions of each view differ from and overlap with one another. 10 Allen Buchanan defends constraints on the pursuit of the national interest in ‘In the National Interest’, in Brock and Brighouse (eds), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism. 11 On the compatibility of global justice and forms of national priority, see Kok-Chor Tan, ‘The Demands of Justice and National Allegiance’, in Brock and Brighouse (eds), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism. 12 Something like this convergence perspective is implicit in Janna Thompson, Justice and World Order (London: Routledge, 1992); see especially chs 4, 5, 8, and 9.

no moral constraints on the pursuit of national goals only to one’s own country; duties to other countries not recognized

constraints on pursuit of goals

duties recognized

exclusive concern for one’s own country

both cosmopolitan duties and some citizen duties to their own country

morally constrained pursuit of national goals both to one’s own country and to others by their citizens

no moral constraints on the pursuit of cosmopolitan goals only cosmopolitan duties; national duties not recognized

equal concern for all

equal concern for all but some special concern for own country is morally permissible morally constrained pursuit of cosmopolitan goals

extreme cosmopolitanism to all people

to all people

moderate cosmopolitanism to all people

to all people

some special duties to one’s own country; some positive duties to all people higher priority for one’s own country; genuine but lesser concern for others

only to one’s own country


negative duties (prohibitions of harm) positive duties (requirements of assistance)

moderate patriotism to all people

extreme patriotism only to one’s own country

82 Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

The chart compares versions of patriotism and cosmopolitanism by highlighting the scope of the negative and positive duties that they recognize, their strength of the priorities to particular groups, their recognition of constraints on the pursuit of political goals, and their attitudes about the legitimacy of ideals and loyalties other than their own.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


While this chart ignores many details, it can help to clarify a few important points.13 The first is that both extreme patriotism and extreme cosmopolitanism are vices. Extreme patriotism is a vice because of the exclusivity of its concern and its failure to recognize either negative or positive duties to non-compatriots. This means that extreme patriots would fail to assist others in dire need, even when they could easily do so without harming their own country. More importantly, it means that they will not avoid harming others as a means to promote their own nation. This is connected to the xenophobia and militarism that often characterize extreme patriotism. Extreme cosmopolitanism does recognize positive and negative duties to all, but it pursues cosmopolitan goals by any means necessary. So a rhetorical commitment to the rights of all can coexist with a brutal suppression of opponents and unconstrained coercive measures. Like extreme patriots, extreme cosmopolitans are willing to use cruel and callous means to achieve their goals. They limit their duties to those who support cosmopolitan goals. The second point is that moderate patriotism and moderate cosmopolitanism share several important features. Just as moderate patriots recognize constraints on the pursuit of national goals, so too moderate cosmopolitans recognize that groups of people value their communities and have a legitimate interest in preserving them. Even as moderate cosmopolitans pursue a more globalist vision, they will not ruthlessly destroy these communities or their shared forms of life. In accepting these constraints, they accept negative duties toward all others and will thus refrain from harming others as a means toward promoting their own good. This particular aspect of moderation fits nicely with federal models of global governance that would permit various forms of local and group autonomy to coexist within a cosmopolitan, globalist framework.14 For moderate patriots, acceptance of positive and negative duties to all people arises from their recognition that non-compatriots have rights and that these rights limit what patriots may do to advance their country’s interests. In addition, moderate patriots accept that there are positive duties to all people, even if they are less extensive than the positive duties owed to compatriots. The moderate patriot and the moderate cosmopolitan will not see eye to eye on every issue, but there are important ideas and initiatives on which they will not differ. A modest proposal Much of the current debate on these issues is a debate between patriotism and cosmopolitanism.15 Yet some defenders of both views agree on many things and 13 There are similarities between extreme patriotism and what Aleksandar Pavković calls ‘liberation humanism’ in ‘Towards Liberation: Terrorism from a Liberation Ideology Perspective’, in T. Coady and M. O’Keefe (eds), Terrorism and Justice (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002). 14 For moderate cosmopolitanism, see Brock and Brighouse, ‘Introduction’, in Brock and Brighouse (eds), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism, p. 7; and Charles Jones on ‘qualified sovereigntism’ in Global Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 230. 15 Much recent debate about cosmopolitanism responds to John Rawls’ non-cosmopolitan view in The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999). See, for


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

have a common enemy. That common enemy is extreme patriotism, with its links to xenophobia, militarism, and indifference to global poverty. Moreover, the same reasons that lead moderate patriots and moderate cosmopolitans to oppose extreme patriotism also lead them to oppose other extreme, exclusivist group loyalties, whether they are racial, religious, or ideological. This leads me to propose that defenders of moderate cosmopolitanism and moderate patriotism should join forces in attacking these hostile, destructive attitudes and should refrain from attacking one another. I am not proposing that either group give up its ideals or stop advocating them. Defenders of these two views play different roles in trying to alter the public political culture. Cosmopolitans rightly stress the need for a more global perspective and a concern for people of all nations. They portray a world in which national identity would play less of a role in people’s conception of themselves and in which differences in citizenship would figure less in determining what is one’s duty. They stress the common humanity of all people. In putting forward this global vision, they implicitly and explicitly criticize extreme patriotism and extreme nationalism for their narrowness and incompatibility with genuinely humanitarian values. This is an extremely valuable set of ideas. Defenders of moderate patriotism make an equally important contribution. While they do not question the legitimacy of special duties to one’s own country, they show that global concerns are compatible with patriotism and that patriots can support the recognition of a common humanity that transcends national borders. Moderate patriots show that parts of the cosmopolitan vision can be accepted within a patriotic perspective, and thus that embracing these views represents a reform or improvement of patriotism rather than a revolutionary paradigm shift that jettisons deeply held beliefs and attitudes entirely.16 The alliance I propose is made plausible when one sees that moderate patriots agree that negative duties that prohibit killing, injuring, and otherwise harming people are owed to all people, whatever their national group. This leads them to embrace constraints like those articulated by just war theory. The strongest expression of a moral concern for all people is perhaps shown in the principle of noncombatant immunity, since it rules out attacks on enemy noncombatants even if such attacks would be useful in promoting victory. The fact that this principle is given at least lip service by both leaders and ordinary citizens indicates that it is widely seen as compatible with patriotism.17 Second, moderate patriots affirm the existence of some positive duties that are owed to all. No one thinks that the duty to aid people in times of emergency – as, for example, after the 2005 tsunami – is incompatible with patriotism. Many people example, Singer, One World, pp. 176–80. 16 See, for example, Richard Miller, ‘Moral Closeness and World Community’ and David Miller, ‘National Responsibility and International Justice’, both in Deen Chatterjee (ed.), The Ethics of Assistance (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), as well as my Patriotism, Morality, and Peace, ch. 13. 17 On popular recognition of humanitarian constraints on warfare, see the International Committee of the Red Cross report People on War.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


have more difficulty in knowing how to deal with chronic problems, but if they want their country to do its fair share on the global level and take pride in their nation’s honor, they will want it to play a strong role in helping people in dire situations. It is interesting in this connection to note that while the United States contributes pathetically little to combat world poverty and disease, public opinion polls indicate that Americans favor a higher level of generosity. While the United States in 2000 gave one tenth of 1 per cent of its federal budget to foreign aid (much of which is military aid rather than humanitarian assistance), U.S. citizens believed that we actually gave 15 per cent and urged that it be cut back to 5 per cent, a level that is many times greater than the actual funding. Although the level of ignorance shown by these polls is distressing, the polls nonetheless indicate that special concern for one’s own country can coexist with a desire to contribute toward improvements in global well-being.18 Is there a duty to be patriotic? My proposed truce between moderate patriotism and moderate cosmopolitanism stresses both how these views overlap and how each can make a positive contribution to our political thinking and political culture. These points put me in a position to respond to Igor Primoratz’s view that although moderate patriotism may be morally permissible, being patriotic is neither a moral duty nor a moral virtue and has no positive moral value.19 Primoratz seems to think that the case for patriotism is weakened if patriotism is merely permissible but not a duty. Since I began my own reflections by thinking that being patriotic was morally wrong, the view that moderate patriotism is morally permissible does not strike me as a trivial conclusion. Tolstoy certainly thought that patriotism is forbidden by the heart of morality: its equal concern for all people. To see that the moral equality of all people is compatible with special duties toward particular individuals and groups is to see why patriotism is permissible rather than forbidden. Primoratz is correct, however, that actions and traits can be morally permissible and still lacking in positive moral value. (Tying one’s left shoe first and being lefthanded, for example, are morally permissible but lacking in moral value.) In my view, whether attitudes are morally valuable or not is shown by the actions they support. Just as extreme patriotism is a vice because it leads to war and indifference to others, so moderate patriotism is a virtue because it can lead people to do valuable things that they might not otherwise have done. A person might join the Peace Corps both out of a desire to help others and to express the ideal values of her country. A person might support tax policies that are not personally beneficial in order to help create ‘liberty and justice for all’ in his country. People might accept constraints on the promotion of their own religious or racial group because of a sense of shared membership with all the citizens of their country. If patriotism promotes these forms 18 These are cited in Peter Singer, One World, pp. 180–85. For more on global poverty, see Thomas Pogge (ed.), Global Justice (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003). 19 Igor Primoratz, ‘Patriotism: A Deflationary View’, The Philosophical Forum XXXIII (2002).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

of behavior, then it is a virtue. As a virtue, it should be encouraged, though only in its morally permissible forms. Nonetheless being patriotic is not a duty. This is so for several reasons. First, patriotism involves emotions and attitudes that are not strictly in our control. It is asking too much of people to demand affection or personal identification with their country. One can demand that everyone obey reasonable laws and do their fare share as members of a society. Demanding attitudes of love and special concern, however, is unreasonable, and therefore these are not duties. This is not an insignificant point. A person can be a good citizen without being a patriot. My guess is that many Americans are disillusioned by U.S. policies toward economic justice, war, diplomacy, the environment, and global poverty, and by the failure of the American people to replace these policies with more enlightened ones. These failures may extinguish affection for one’s country without destroying the commitment to work for change. For such people, their identity is connected with their country. They are ashamed of its misdeeds and are not patriots in the ‘love of country’ sense. Nonetheless, they share other traits with patriots and, unlike cosmopolitans, they do have a special concern about their own country. In not being patriots, such people are not failing in any duty. A second reason why patriotism is not a duty is that other competing traits and ideals are also valuable and can be virtues. Cosmopolitanism is one of these. The cosmopolitan who is motivated by global concerns to combat war and global poverty is a virtuous person. People who are dedicated to organizations like Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without Borders are often spurred by their cosmopolitan ideals to engage in valuable, humane acts. It would be wrong to accuse them of dereliction of duty if they are moved more by the pressing needs of non-compatriots than by the needs of members of their own society. This is especially true if their own society has sufficient resources to tend to its needs. Since one cannot embrace both patriotic and cosmopolitan ideals fully and since both can be valuable, then neither is strictly a duty, even in their permissible forms. And, in their extreme forms, neither is a duty because both are morally forbidden. One source of possible confusion regarding whether patriotism is a duty is that it is easy to confuse a duty to be patriotic with patriotic duties. I have argued that there is no duty to be a patriot, but if one is a patriot, then there are duties that go with that commitment. In the same way, there is no duty to become a parent or a teacher, but having done so, one acquires duties that go with that role. In the case of patriotic duties, many of them overlap with duties of being a good citizen, but one would expect a patriot to be prepared to do more than strictly legal duties. The exact duties of patriotism are a matter of debate, though anti-patriots have been correct in noting how central has been the idea of fighting for one’s country. Moderate patriots have tried to make this duty at least less central and have urged an expanded notion of what patriots might do to support their country. In any case, once we differentiate patriotic duties from the duty to be patriotic, we can get a clearer sense of how one can acknowledge patriotic duties without being committed to the view that fulfilling these duties is morally required of everyone.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


Justifying patriotism I want now to consider a final challenge to moderate patriotism. Although Primoratz concedes that patriotism can be morally permissible, he seems nonetheless to believe that patriotism is not justified. This leads him to challenge the patriot to justify his stance, asking ‘Why does the patriot have a special concern for her country?’20 The question itself, however, is ambiguous. As stated, it can ask either for a moral justification or for a causal, psychological explanation. Primoratz appears to be interested in both issues: How do patriotic attitudes form? And what justification can be given for having them? Here is a sketch of a simple causal account. Many people find themselves with positive attitudes toward their own country. They have these attitudes because they are comfortable with their country’s customs and traditions, have been taught positive accounts of its history and accomplishments, and are encouraged to identify with the country and to feel a sense of duty toward it. All societies (as well as many groups within a society) work to socialize their members so as to produce these attitudes. Although these efforts are not universally successful, they generally make it natural for people to have a special concern about their country and to explain why they have this concern both (a) by saying ‘it is mine’ and (b) by noting attributes of the country that they have been taught to value. Even if this causal account is correct, it does not justify patriotism. But what exactly is required for a justification of patriotism? On this question, Primoratz disapprovingly quotes David Miller, who believes that many ordinary beliefs are presumptively justified and remain justified as long as they are not shown to be flawed, that is, that they are innocent until proven guilty. Miller writes: [The patriot’s] beliefs cannot be deduced from some universally accepted premise, but that is no reason for rejecting them unless the arguments for doing so seem better founded than the beliefs themselves. In moral and political philosophy … we build upon existing sentiments and judgments, correcting them only when they are inconsistent or plainly flawed in some other way.21

Primoratz rejects this view, saying, ‘It seems to me … that showing that a moral belief has no rational foundation amounts to a strong argument for rejecting that belief.’ While Miller has a permissive view of justification, Primoratz has a more demanding criterion and rejects the idea of a presumption in favor of existing beliefs. He is somewhat unfair to reject Miller’s view as totally uncritical. After all, Miller holds that we should reject beliefs and attitudes ‘when they are inconsistent or plainly flawed in some other way.’ In fact, anti-patriots like Tolstoy try to meet Miller’s rejection criterion by claiming that patriotism is deeply flawed because it is incompatible with fundamental principles of morality.22 Likewise, my main 20 Primoratz, ‘Patriotism’, p. 444. 21 Miller, quoted in Primoratz, ‘Patriotism’, p. 447. 22 For other criticisms of this form, see Paul Gomberg, ‘Patriotism is Like Racism’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

justification strategy for moderate patriotism was to show that it is not vulnerable to the charges of its critics. If other criticisms reveal serious flaws, then the justifiability of patriotism would have to be reconsidered. The fact that patriotism often supports harmful, destructive policies shows that there are such reasons to reconsider it, and these reasons should provide an impetus for making sure that attitudes are altered to make sure that they are permissible. Once that has been done, then one might well be justified in holding them. Having said this, I nonetheless believe that it is possible to provide a justification of patriotism from a moral-theoretical perspective. Although Primoratz specifically criticizes a rule utilitarian justification for patriotism, I believe this approach has something to offer and can help to clarify the way in which such a theory can provide a justification, even if the reasoning that it employs does not play a causal role in creating patriotic attitudes.23 A rule utilitarian basis for patriotism? A rule utilitarian could reason as follows. Suppose that all people count equally and that our goal is to do as much good as possible for everyone. Achieving this goal faces numerous problems. One problem is that our knowledge of both people and places is patchy. We are better equipped to deal with what is close to home because we know it better. Moreover, even when different people are attempting to do good, they can get in each other’s way, so there are coordination problems as well as problems of knowledge.24 Finally, even if our knowledge were more extensive, our ability to implement ideas effectively is often quite limited. For these reasons, it is better to divide up the task of doing good and have different people focus on their parts rather than having each person attempt to do the whole job. This division of labor is perfectly compatible with recognizing that all people have equal worth. To use an analogy, while every student at my university has an equal claim to a good education, it is more efficient for me to focus most of my energy on the students in my own classes while other teachers tend to the educational needs of their students. Similar points can be made about parents and children and about citizens and their countries. Since the aim of this division of labor is to promote the overall well-being of all, the division of labor is only partial. I have to make sure that I don’t promote the good of my group by harming others, and I may have positive duties to assist others as well. While this argument can justify a division of labor between people in different countries, it may not justify the rules and practices currently in place. Indeed, when rules and practices that seemed legitimate from this perspective are shown to be defective – either because of changes in world conditions or in our understanding of them – then alterations to the system of rules may be required. 23 For the rule utilitarian ‘division of labor’ argument, Primoratz cites Robert Goodin, ‘What is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’ in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (originally published in Ethics 98 (1988/89)). 24 Russell Hardin stresses similar points in Morality Within the Limits of Reason (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


Primoratz criticizes this rule utilitarian approach but not because if fails to justify a reasonable system. Instead, he claims, first, that this justification is ‘too weak’ and, second, that the form of patriotism it supports is ‘alien to what [patriots] feel patriotism is all about’. In calling this justification ‘too weak’, Primoratz says that the patriotic duties justified by this system ‘will give way to the duty of general beneficence whenever … acting on the latter is going to have better consequences than acting on the former’.25 This objection, however, overlooks some of the reasons for the division of labor. Given the limits on our knowledge, we have to recognize that we may be mistaken about what others need and that other people may have different ideas about how to improve things. Finally, by looking to the general good and ignoring our own society, we may do harm by failing to carry out tasks that others are counting on us to do. Returning to my educational analogy, if I decide that I can do more good for another class of students, I may be mistaken, I will certainly cause conflicts with the other instructor, and I will fail my own students. I will also be presumptuously putting my own judgment ahead of those who devised and support the system. If this sounds like an artificial example, consider the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The Iraqis had a genuinely bad political system, one that seriously violated people’s rights. Some U.S. officials – unfortunately those with the most power and the least knowledge – believed that if they overthrew Saddam Hussein, they could easily improve the Iraqi system. These officials failed to understand either what made the system tick or what would be required to make it better. Although the ideal of national sovereignty has many flaws, unilateral decisions to use force to improve another society are extremely risky. I do not mean that such decisions are always wrong or that the value of sovereignty is an absolute bar to intervention. But the sovereignty rule and the division of labor that it reflects should not be discarded or overridden lightly. Primoratz is mistaken, I think, in suggesting that rule utilitarianism encourages violating rules whenever one thinks one could do better. Like many critics of rule utilitarianism, he underestimates the risks of engaging in unilateral violations of established rules.26 Utilitarian reason and patriotic passion Primoratz’s second criticism is that the kind of loyalty that rule utilitarianism justifies will not feel like the patriotism that warms people’s hearts. For rule utilitarians, he says, patriotism is a ‘mere pragmatic device’.27 As a result, it supports the wrong kind of community. Instead of supporting a national community that is joined by belief and emotion, it only justifies the kind of association that is ‘brought about by cold, rational calculation’.28 25 Primoratz, ‘Patriotism’, p. 450. 26 For illuminating discussions of the rule utilitarian perspective, see Richard Brandt, Morality, Utilitarianism, and Rights (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 27 Primoratz, ‘Patriotism’, p. 450. 28 Primoratz, ‘Patriotism’, p. 451.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

This criticism brings us back to the question ‘Why does the patriot have a special concern for her country?’ Primoratz’s criticism confuses the causal and the justification answers to this question. The rule utilitarian justification (or any other theoretical view) is not meant to create the feelings of patriotism and community. These feelings are created through social processes that encourage identification, affection, and appreciation for the special values of a society.29 Instead, the rule utilitarian theory is a means for rationally examining beliefs and attitudes that are in place and testing them to see if they are flawed. The function of the theory is to help us understand why the feelings of special loyalty and affection that we have for our country (or our family) are or are not permissible. It does this by explaining how we could affirm patriotic responsibilities even if we start with a universalist moral perspective. If patriotism cannot be affirmed and permitted from this perspective, then it would be wrong, and patriots should try to alter their attitudes. If it can, then we need feel no qualms about having patriotic feelings for our own country. Primoratz’s criticism of the rule utilitarian approach to these issues misidentifies the role of theory. Moreover, he distinguishes too strongly between the idea of a community as an intrinsic good and as an instrumental good. Often, when something has a great deal of instrumental value, we come to see it as approximating intrinsic value. Consider the ideal of the rule of law. Laws are certainly instruments, and they are (ideally) created to protect people from various kinds of abuse. Because the rule of law can be such a powerful device for enhancing human life, people can become devoted to it, even though it is instrumentally and not intrinsically valuable. Their commitment can be so great that they will not violate the rule of law even to produce a better result in a single case. They may even sacrifice their own well-being to preserve the rule of law. The same is true of the system of separate nations. Individual countries have their special histories and evoke the affections and loyalties of many of their members. But if support of them is justified, it is because they are part of a system that is consistent with a decent level of concern for all. If the system fails to meet that standard, it must be changed, but when we set out to change it – as cosmopolitans do – we need to be aware of the impediments to revolutionary change. We should first look for ways to reform and improve the current, defective system. The rule utilitarian commitment to the greater good is an impetus to this sort of reform. It should not be lightly rejected, especially by people with cosmopolitan sympathies.30 Conclusion In this chapter, I have sought to defend moderate patriotism, especially against cosmopolitan critics. I have argued that the evaluation of cosmopolitan anti-patriotism 29 On the distinction between justifying institutions and motivating support for them, see Ajume Wingo, Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic Societies (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 30 Charles Jones discusses utilitarianism and global justice in Global Justice: Defending Cosmopolitanism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), ch. 2.

Is Cosmopolitan Anti-Patriotism a Virtue?


requires both distinctions between different forms of patriotism and greater clarity about what cosmopolitanism is. I have tried to show that while cosmopolitanism and patriotism are different, they can provide overlapping support for many reasonable and humane changes in the world. For this reason, moderate cosmopolitans and moderate patriots should join forces against extreme types of narrow group loyalties rather than attacking one another. I have also argued that while both patriotism and cosmopolitanism can be virtues, there is no duty to embrace one rather than the other. Finally, I have tried to explain how patriotism can be justified by a theory like rule utilitarianism. This form of justification can show what is good about a nationbased system and can also provide a criterion for determining when, why, and how it needs to be reformed.

This page intentionally left blank


This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 6

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism* Jan-Werner Müller

Every collective identity, also a postnational one, is much more concrete than the ensemble of moral, legal and political principles around which it crystallizes.

‘Man’ is really ‘the German’. Marx, The German Ideology

British and American political theorists tend to dismiss the concept of constitutional patriotism for two main reasons. On the one hand, constitutional patriotism – understood as a post-national, universalist form of democratic political allegiance – is rejected on account of its abstract or, as an especially inappropriate metaphor goes, ‘bloodless’ quality. Given the universalist morality at the heart of constitutional patriotism, so the critics argue, there is no reason to identify with any particular polity. In other words, constitutional patriotism is said to be a kind of aspirational oxymoron, in which the universalist part – indicated by the concept of constitutionalism – will always drive out the idea of loyalty – indicated by the concept of patriotism. However, a second criticism – much more muted in writing, but often voiced in direct confrontation with the advocates of constitutional patriotism – holds almost exactly the opposite from the first. Here it is argued that constitutional patriotism, while appearing universalist, is in fact particular through and through. According to what one might call a genealogical critique, it is held that constitutional patriotism might have been appropriate in the context where it originated – namely West Germany, a ‘half-nation’ with a sense of deeply compromised nationality on account of the Nazi past. But, so the argument goes, other countries do not have a comparably difficult past, and therefore are better served by forms of liberal nationalism. A further argument holds that other countries either have no (written) constitutions, or that they simply do not venerate the constitution as a focal point of democratic loyalty in the way Germans (and Americans, for that matter) might do. Constitutional patriotism, in short, is a sort of particularism in universalist disguise – and one that might be foisted on Europe as a whole, if the advocates of a ‘European constitutional * First published as Jan-Werner Müller, ‘On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism’, Contemporary Political Theory, vol. 5 (2007), pp. 278–96. Reprinted with permission of Palgrave Macmillan.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

patriotism’ have their way. In a strange fashion, Thomas Mann’s nightmare – a German Europe, rather than a European Germany – might come true, after all. In this chapter I shall argue that what has above been called the genealogical critique of constitutional patriotism is indeed not without force. While of course neither constitutionalism nor patriotism were invented by Germans, constitutional patriotism, as a theory distinct from both liberal nationalism and republican patriotism, was elaborated most clearly in post-war West Germany – and for clearly discernible historical reasons. Moreover – and this has been less obvious even to the most informed students of constitutional patriotism – rather than being merely a universalist response to a nationalist past, constitutional patriotism always relied on ‘supplements of particularity’ to become effective as a form of political attachment.1 In the German context constitutional patriotism has always contained strong doses of ‘memory’ and ‘militancy’. Memory here refers primarily to the memory of the Holocaust and the Nazi past. Militancy, on the other hand, was shown towards the enemies of democracy, mostly through judicial means such as banning parties and restricting free speech. In other words, a militant democracy is explicitly not neutral about its own principles and values – and puts in place strong checks on those hostile to its principles. In short, political agency, as envisaged by the proponents of constitutional patriotism, has been conceived as animated by a set of universalist norms, but enriched and strengthened by particular experiences and concerns. These particular experiences and concerns have been concentrated in what one might call two negative contrasts, namely a contrast of present democracy with the evils of the past, and a contrast of present democracy with real or potential anti-democratic challenges. Whether such supplementary constitutional identity formation ex negativo is normatively desirable or not is a perfectly debatable question. What is not debatable is that, while the stress that was put on these supplements of particularity is historically contingent on the German context, there are in fact important normative connections between constitutional morality and memory and militancy respectively. Therefore the genealogical critique of constitutional patriotism does not by itself invalidate the concept. There might be good normative reasons, however, not to put too much stress on memory and militancy as aspects of constitutional patriotism, as both have an illiberal side, or can at least lead to a problematic juridification of politics. While I cannot fully elucidate these illiberal sides and the perils of juridification in the context of this chapter, I shall allude to several of them at the end of my reflections. The birth of constitutional patriotism out of the spirit of German guilt: from free communication to republican loyalty Perhaps some of the deepest roots of the idea of constitutional patriotism, as it later emerged in the thought of Jürgen Habermas, can be traced to the political interventions of the liberal philosopher Karl Jaspers in the immediate post-war

1 Patchen Markell, ‘Making Affect Safe for Democracy? On “Constitutional Patriotism”’, Political Theory, vol. 28 (2000).

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


period.2 In his famous The Question of German Guilt, Jaspers drew seminal distinctions between criminal, moral, political and metaphysical guilt. Definitions of criminal and moral guilt were relatively straightforward. Political guilt, in Jaspers’ conception, attached to all those living under cruel and unjust regimes. Metaphysical guilt, however, referred to a rupture in a deep level of solidarity that Jaspers assumed existed among all human beings. In the same context Jaspers also advocated a notion of ‘collective responsibility’.3 He opposed such a notion to the charge of ‘collective guilt’ which he (and many others) felt was being levelled against Germany. At the same time, he linked collective responsibility with the question of German unity. According to Jaspers, a democratic political identity and a German Gemeinsamkeit (togetherness), that is, proper social integration, could only be achieved if the Germans shouldered collective responsibility. For Jaspers, even a negative past could become a source of social cohesion. In fact, in the German case, he held, not facing up to the past would make social cohesion difficult, if not impossible. However, Jaspers’ account of the institutional expression of the imperative to assume responsibility remained ambiguous. Had the Germans once and for all squandered their nation-state? If so, would this allow for the emergence of what Jaspers called the ‘true German as world citizen’, even, in some sense, making the Germans take the place of the Jews as a ‘pariah’-nation? Or was the German nation to be a ‘pariah’ for a certain time only, potentially regaining its statehood after a period of political and moral ‘purification’?4 The first option was suggested by Jaspers’ remark in a letter to Hannah Arendt that ‘Germany is the first nation that, as a nation, has gone to ruin’, and by his admission that ‘now that Germany is destroyed, I feel at ease for the first time.’5 Jaspers linked a ‘working through the past’ explicitly with a new kind of cosmopolitanism – the project of continuously contested memory and the (perhaps incoherent) idea of ‘universal membership’ were to become inseparable. He repudiated his previous nationalism, which he had adopted from his teacher Max Weber, explicitly denying that a liberal political identity and a nation-state framework could go together for the Germans. He also insisted that, as much as moral guilt was a question for one’s individual conscience, the only way to deal with German guilt as a whole was through ‘free public communication’ and what he called the ‘solidarity of charitable struggle’ – instead of mutual moral condemnations.6 This claim, rooted in Jaspers’ philosophy of free communication between equals, was eventually taken up by numerous intellectuals, who established a link between remembrance and a

2 For the following see also Jan-Werner Müller, Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity (London: Yale University Press, 2000). 3 Karl Jaspers, Die Schuldfrage: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Frage (Zurich: Artemis, 1946), pp. 10–14. 4 Anson Rabinbach, In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals between Enlightenment and Apocalypse (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997), p. 138. 5 Hannah Arendt-Karl Jaspers Briefwechsel 1926–1969, ed. Lotte Köhler and Hans Saner (Munich: Piper, 1985), pp. 82, 93. 6 Jaspers, Die Schuldfrage, p. 17.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

democratic political culture – most importantly by Jaspers’ pupil Dolf Sternberger and, much later, by Habermas.7 It would not be unfair to say that ultimately Jaspers was an apolitical thinker. He could not find any lasting institutional, let alone affective expression for the connection between collective responsibility and democratic citizenship that he was advocating. However, he was not the only theorist in the aftermath of the War who was concerned with the interplay of political identity and political stability – and the institutional fortification of such a link.8 Political and legal thinkers in post-war West Germany were haunted by the failure of the Weimar Republic. Germany’s first Republic had been based on what many saw as the world’s most progressive constitution at the time. However, Weimar had also been a ‘democracy without democrats’, and, in the eyes of many observers, it had partly been rendered vulnerable by the most democratic clauses of the constitution – clauses and mechanisms which had eventually been abused by the enemies of democracy. Consequently, post-war thinkers were deeply anxious whether a properly liberal democratic constitution could survive in post-war West Germany at all, other than through the backing of the Allies. Not surprisingly, then, Carl Schmitt’s question – who guards the constitution against the enemies of democracy? – came to be central to many post-war legal debates. Candidates for such guardianship ranged from a strong president (who would have been Schmitt’s choice) to the state bureaucracy, and even the trade unions. Soon, however, the Constitutional Court emerged as the main contender for the role of defending democracy against its enemies. The crucial step in this direction was the so-called Lüth decision of 1958, in which the Court held that the ‘objective principles’ embodied in the Basic Rights permeated the entire legal order. With this decision, the Court bootstrapped itself into a position where judicial review of almost all legal and political decisions became permissible. The main jurisprudential justification for the approach of the Constitutional Court was the ‘integration theory’ of Rudolf Smend.9 Smend had been one of the most important opponents of legal positivism and of purely conceptual jurisprudence during the Weimar Republic. He had argued that lawyers should draw on a mixture of legal theory and sociology to understand political integration as a truly dynamic process. Smend famously distinguished personal, functional and objective (sachliche) factors of integration. The first related to personalities, whether that of a monarch or a strong parliamentary leader. The second involved institutions like parliament. The third, finally, referred to basic laws and liberties – understood not so much as defensively directed against the state than as embodying shared political values or principles. Smend further held that democratic integration was to be accomplished through plebiscites and, in particular, democratic symbols. Such symbols could

7 Kurt Salamun, Karl Jaspers (München: C.H. Beck, 1985), p. 105. 8 For the following see also Jan-Werner Müller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought (London: Yale University Press, 2003), part II. 9 Rudolf Smend, Staatsrechtliche Abhandlungen und andere Aufsätze (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1994).

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


include the flag and the national anthem, but also a state’s territory. Crucial, however, was a general trust and pride in the political system. During the 1920s Smend had entertained an ambivalent relationship with democracy. He had come to think that Mussolini’s fascism might be a more effective way of achieving democratic integration. After the War, however, he became one of the most important legal theorists to support the new democratic constitution. He also influenced a wide range of Social Democratic thinkers who sought to overcome what was often referred to as the ‘German view of the state’.10 This particular view was usually taken from the heights of the executive or state administration, and insisted on seeing a strict separation between state and society – with the often unspoken (and quasi-Hegelian) assumption that the state would envelop and organize society. From this legal and institutional perspective, Smend and his many followers turned towards a more sociological and cultural focus on the polity. For them, the Constitution was indeed squarely at the centre of the political order. More importantly, however, the Constitution embodied an order of values which derived from the political culture and traditions of a particular country. Decisions by the Constitutional Court were to be based on these values, which, at least according to Smend, could be put in a clear order. In turn the deliberations and decisions of the Constitutional Court itself would contribute to social integration. Rather than being alienated through ‘government by judges’, citizens would come to understand their political system better and identify with its institutions. Thus the Constitution assumed an extraordinary position in post-war German thinking about politics. While the Weimar constitution had been seen as a great intellectual and political achievement initially, and then de facto failed disastrously, it was more or less the other way around after 1945. Many legal theorists regarded the Constitution as a problematic construct in 1949 – a list of articles seemingly imposed from outside, deliberated over with hardly any publicity, and probably unable to withstand serious threats to democracy. Yet, as time went on, the Constitution proved its resilience; more importantly, it also proved its enormous relevance in ordering political life.11 In fact, the Constitutional Court eventually developed into the most respected public institution of West Germany, alongside the central bank. It was against this background that the political scientist Dolf Sternberger explicitly introduced the concept of constitutional patriotism on the occasion of the thirtieth birthday of the Federal Republic.12 Sternberger had been a close associate of Jaspers and became the doyen of democratic political theory in West Germany after the War. As early as 1959, Sternberger had thought about a ‘patriotic sentiment in the constitutional state’, and in the early 1960s had developed the notion of Staatsfreundschaft (friendship towards the state). He framed such friendship as a 10 Wilhelm Hennis, ‘Zum Problem der deutschen Staatsanschauung’, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, vol. 7 (1959). 11 Dieter Grimm, ‘Das Grundgesetz nach 50 Jahren’, in Die Verfassung und die Politik: Einsprüche in Störfällen (München: C.H. Beck, 2001), pp. 296–8. 12 Dolf Sternberger, ‘Verfassungspatriotismus’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23 May 1979.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

‘passionate rationality’ which would make citizens identify with the democratic state and, not least, defend it against its enemies.13 To give his conception of constitutional patriotism theoretical coherence, Sternberger drew on Aristotelianism, Hannah Arendt’s republicanism and an emphatic notion of civic conduct, or Bürgerlichkeit. To lend it historical credibility, he excavated a tradition of patriotism stretching back to Aristotle which, he claimed, had not been linked to the nation. Sternberger argued that at least until the end of the eighteenth century, all forms of patriotism had been ‘constitutional patriotism’ understood as the love of the laws and common liberties. In other words, constitutional patriotism was on some level to be a return to pre-national patriotism. However, as much as Sternberger was trying to transcend the nation-state, he was much less sceptical about the nation-state. While he was highly critical of Max Weber and his category of ‘legal domination’, or Herrschaft, his conception of constitutional patriotism was still substantially indebted to traditions of German étatisme. Sternberger, born in 1907, had been marked by the experience of Weimar’s failure. It was not surprising, then, that he focused primarily on loyalty to the state and, in a very broad fashion, to the rule of law, rather than on specific civil liberties or the social rights which a constitution might also guarantee. Constitutional patriotism was still a form of what German political theorists in an almost untranslatable phrase call Staatsbewußtsein – a ‘consciousness of belonging to the state’. Sternberger also explicitly called upon the ‘friends of the Constitution’ to defend the polity. He thereby linked constitutional patriotism to the concept of a wehrhafte or streitbare Demokratie – that is, a ‘militant democracy’ capable of defending itself against its internal and external enemies. For instance, when Heinrich Böll suggested ‘mercy’ for Ulrike Meinhof of the Baader-Meinhof gang in 1972, Sternberger shot back that ‘the democratic state is also a state … render unto the state what is the state’s, Böll!’14 Sternberger’s ‘friends of the Constitution’ were polemically opposed to the ‘enemies of the constitution’ – a highly contested concept used mostly in the 1970s for terrorists and those suspected of supporting them. This idea of ‘constitutional enmity’ justified the restriction of civil liberties, the choice of jobs in the civil service in particular, and, to this day, has left a legacy of illiberal legislation designed to deal with those suspected of opposing the Constitution. Constitutional patriotism, then, became closely associated with ‘militant democracy’ – a concept first defined by the German exile political scientist Karl Loewenstein in 1937.15 At that time, one European country after the other had been taken over by authoritarian movements using democratic means to disable democracy. Loewenstein argued that democracies were incapable of defending

13 Dolf Sternberger, Staatsfreundschaft [Schriften IV] (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1980), and Hans Lietzmann, ‘“Verfassunspatriotismus” und “Civil Society”: Eine Grundlage für Politik in Deutschland?’, in Rüdiger Voigt (ed.), Abschied vom Staat – Rückkehr zum Staat? (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1993), pp. 207–10. 14 Dolf Sternberger, ‘Böll, der Staat und die Gnade’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2 February 1972. 15 Karl Loewenstein, ‘Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights I’, American Political Science Review, vol. 31 (1937).

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


themselves against fascist movements if they continued to subscribe to ‘democratic fundamentalism’, ‘legalistic blindness’ and an ‘exaggerated formalism of the rule of law’.16 Part of the new challenge was that, according to Loewenstein, fascism had no proper intellectual content, relying on a kind of ‘emotionalism’ with which democracies could not compete. Consequently, democracies had to find political and legislative answers to anti-democratic forces – such as banning parties and militias. They should also restrict the rights to assembly and free speech, and, not least, the activities of those suspected of supporting fascist movements – who could be ‘guilty by association’.17 As Loewenstein put it, ‘fire should be fought with fire.’ And that fire could only be lit by a new, ‘disciplined’ or even ‘authoritarian’ democracy.18 This idea of a wehrhafte or streitbare Demokratie then became highly influential in the Federal Republic. It was used to justify the banning of the Nazi Socialist Reich Party and the Communist Party in the 1950s, and, later, the draconian measures against those guilty by (suspected) association with terrorists.19 The Court’s decisions and the rhetoric used by successive West German governments made it clear that democracy was to be as militant about the left as the right. In other words, militancy was framed as a form of ‘anti-totalitarianism’, directed as much against the Communist threat from the East as against any revivals of the brown menace from the past. The legal basis for bans and for restricting rights – for anti-democratic measures supposed to serve democracy – was the so-called ‘free democratic basic order’. The Constitutional Court had coined the phrase and elaborated in its judgements in the 1950s. This ‘order’ consisted of the very values which, according to the Court, were permeating the entire legal system. Thus emerged what has been called democratic ‘anti-extremism’, which, by definition, assumed the symmetry of potential threats from right and left.20 Critics charged from the beginning that this anti-extremism could easily be instrumentalized against legitimate left-wing opposition, while, at the same time, it did little to help deal with the Nazi past. If anything, its implicit equation of Soviet Communism (and its alleged foreign agents) and Nazism seemed to relativize the specific evil of Nazism. On a more philosophical plane, critics – most prominently Carl Schmitt and his pupils – claimed that any ‘order of values’ was essentially indeterminate.21 To the extent that values could be made determinate, they would require positing some opposite values. Thus, an adversarial structure would come to characterize the legal order as a whole. Since ultimately persons were the carriers of 16 Loewenstein, ‘Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights I’, p. 424. 17 Karl Loewenstein, ‘Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights II’, American Political Science Review, vol. 31 (1937), p. 647. 18 Loewenstein, ‘Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights II’, pp. 656–7. 19 Ulrich K. Preuss, ‘Political Order and Democracy: Carl Schmitt and His Influence’, in Chantal Mouffe (ed.), The Challenge of Carl Schmitt (London: Verso, 1999). 20 Peter Niesen, ‘Anti-Extremism, Negative Republicanism, Civic Society: Three Paradigms for Banning Political Parties’, in Shlomo Avineri and Zeev Sternhell (eds), Europe’s Century of Discontent: The Legacies of Fascism, Nazism and Communism (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2003). 21 Carl Schmitt, ‘Die Tyrannei der Werte’, in Säkularisation und Utopie. Ebracher Studien: Ernst Forsthoff zum 65. Geburtstag (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1967).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

values, such an adversarial structure would also translate into a strict friend–enemy thinking in actual politics among persons. And in any case, all explications and tradeoffs between values would ultimately remain subjective. Thus, the emphasis on values would juridify politics and make it more indeterminate at the same time. Against the background of such peculiar legal traditions, it should become clear that the primary purpose of what one might call Sternberger’s ‘protective constitutional patriotism’ was to ensure political stability and social cohesion. These in turn contributed to what Sternberger construed as the ultimate purpose of politics: the establishment and maintenance of peace. Protective patriotism of this sort entailed a low level of democratic tolerance, but also strong pedagogical elements.22 Its moral substance was a conception of civic Aristotelian friendship: citizens could make substantial claims on each other and, ultimately, the polity as a whole could demand loyalty from citizens. The affective ties of Sternberger’s constitutional patriotism were thus vertical, rather than horizontal – and, in particular, citizens would ‘care for’ concrete, particular institutions by identifying their interests with those of the institutions. Their attachment was ‘political’ in the sense that they expressed a continuous will to uphold particular political institutions – and feelings motivating this will were pride in having built these institutions and in possessing them now. Patriotism, then, was not a matter of uncomplicated belonging or a kind of ‘feeling at home’ that could be taken for granted. Rather, it was based on a political achievement and on an explicitly adversarial relationship with democracy’s enemies, real or presumed, in the past as much as in the present. In the end, loyalty was owed to political and legal institutions as embodiments of a particular constitutional tradition.23 Habermas’s constitutional patriotism: towards rational collective identities Jürgen Habermas first advanced his version of constitutional patriotism during the so-called ‘historians’ dispute’ of 1986.24 On a purely historiographical level, this acrimonious controversy revolved around the singularity of National Socialism and the Holocaust and, in particular, their comparability to Stalinism and the Gulag. On a political level, however, both the participants in the dispute and many observers felt that German collective identity was at stake. In particular, Habermas claimed that a number of conservative historians were attempting to ‘normalize’ German identity, and facilitating the return of a conventional form of national pride. This new national consciousness, in Habermas’ view, was to shore up the stability of the political system and, indirectly, that of the Western Alliance as a whole. Against 22 Günter C. Behrmann, ‘Verfassung, Volk und Vaterland: Zur historischen, pädagogischen und politisch-kulturellen Verortung des Verfassungspatriotismus’, in Günter C. Behrmann and Siegfried Schiele (eds), Verfassungspatriotismus als Ziel politischer Bildung? (Schwalbach: Taunus, 1993). 23 Attracta Ingram, ‘Constitutional Patriotism’, Philosophy and Social Criticism, vol. 22 (1996), p. 15. 24 See Charles S. Maier, The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988).

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


such a form of national pride, Habermas advocated constitutional patriotism as the only permissible form of political identification for West Germans. In accordance with Sternberger, Habermas portrayed constitutional patriotism as a conscious affirmation of political principles. However, he did not think that an unproblematic return to a pre-national (and premodern) patriotism centred on civic friendship was possible. Very broadly speaking, one might say that the disenchantment of the modern world and its complex division into different spheres of value would block such a return to an Aristotelian polity. Individual and collective identities are no longer formed by internalizing religious or, for that matter, nationalist imperatives. Put differently, an unproblematic reference to quasi-sacred objects – including the patria – is no longer available. Instead, in a disenchanted world, individuals develop what Habermas, following the psychological models of Lawrence Kohlberg, has called ‘post-conventional identities’. They learn to adopt as impartial a point of view as possible and to step back from their own desires and from the conventional social expectations with which society and its institutions confront them. Identity becomes ‘de-centred’, as individuals relativize what they want and what others expect from them in the light of moral concerns. As with the individual, so with society.25 The exercise of coercion over citizens can no longer be justified with reference to sacred or quasi-sacred sources. One way or another, actual popular sovereignty becomes the sole source of legitimacy. Religious legitimacy, or ‘political theology’, tends to be abandoned alongside traditionalism and other transcendent sources of authority. Democracy, in turn, requires rights and liberties, which by their very nature contain a universalist kernel. Their realization, however, requires a particular polity. De facto, they require the nation-state, the only political framework, in which democracy has appeared in the modern world. Yet, their universalist normative content always exceeds any necessarily particular realization in time. Thus emerges what Habermas has termed ‘post-traditional society’. This concept does not imply that religion, tradition and other forms of conventional morality are simply superseded. Rather, they are at least partially re-interpreted in the light of the universalist claims that have been realized as basic rights and constitutional norms more generally. Citizens are asked critically to reflect upon particular traditions and group identities in the name of shared universal principles. This also means that they have reflectively to endorse or reject the national traditions with which they find themselves confronted. Unconditional or even unreflective identification becomes replaced by dynamic and complex processes of identity formation – or, put differently, by open-ended political and legal learning processes. There is no unchanging object of identification – whether the nation or, for that matter, a historical constitution. In fact, the precise object is less important than the appropriately ‘post-conventional’ stance that subjects attachments and loyalties to critical reflection and, if necessary, revision.

25 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Können komplexe Gesellschaften eine vernünftige Identität ausbilden?’, in Zur Rekonstruktion des Historischen Materialismus (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1976).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

What unfolds at the level of the individual through social interaction needs a delicate web of communicative processes at the collective level. It is in a public sphere as porous as possible that collective identities are renegotiated and revised. Open-ended communication is thus a crucial precondition for what Habermas has termed the ‘rationalization of collective identities’. A sense of attachment, one might say, is formed then both to the general character of the society that emerges from collective learning processes – and to the very procedures and situated practices which make collective reflection and contestation possible as an ongoing project. According to Habermas, post-conventional, ‘reflexive’ identities were most likely to emerge where national traditions had been put decisively into question and where citizens felt acutely ambivalent about affirming historical continuities. A prime example was of course the Federal Republic, which, at least according to Habermas, had developed a form of patriotism focused not so much on historical identities, as on rights and democratic procedures. In short, West Germans were able to develop a more abstract patriotism, which pointed beyond itself to even more abstract, inclusive, and increasingly universalist forms of political belonging. Habermas thus added a much stronger universalist element to the original conception of constitutional patriotism. Yet he also sought to reduce the statist and some of the republican elements in Sternberger’s theory. The traditionally German idea of the state as a substantial, or even metaphysical entity above and beyond society, was to be replaced by the Rechtsstaat (the rule of law) on the one hand and the Sozialstaat (the welfare state) on the other. The former was to give force to universal norms and guarantee democratic procedures, whereas the latter was to provide a material foundation for citizens’ effective political participation. Most importantly, where Sternberger’s patriotism had centred on democratic institutions worth defending, Habermas focused on the public sphere as providing a space for public reasoning among citizens. In the public sphere citizens could recognize each other as free and equal, engage in democratic learning processes and subject each other’s claims to the very universal principles which they endorsed patriotically. Territory, organization and the monopoly of legitimate violence (including the violence against constitutional enemies), the traditional Weberian reference points for the state, were de-emphasized in favour of an open-ended process of communication. Such a process was formally underpinned by the rights guaranteed through the Rechtsstaat and materially by the welfare provided through the Sozialstaat. Citizenship consisted of effective access to this communication process among free and equal citizens, rather than passive, inherited nationality. Where Sternberger’s civic friendship had essentially centred on the state, Habermas envisaged civic solidarity as an outcome of unconstrained discourse leading to mutual civic recognition. As Ciaran Cronin has pointed out, in the early versions of this argument, ‘communicative processes’ were still located outside or underneath the political system.26 A society’s self-understanding was to be shaped by debates among politicians, intellectuals, journalists and academic specialists. A prime example 26 Ciaran Cronin, ‘Democracy and Collective Identity: In Defence of Constitutional Patriotism’, European Journal of Philosophy, vol. 11 (2003), p. 9.

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


for such a debate was the Historikerstreit itself. While obviously revolving around historiographical questions, the ultimate issue was ‘who do we want to be?’ and ‘how do we want to position ourselves to our past in light of this identity’? Identity, in short, had to be based on public interpretations in the light of universalist norms, rather than ascriptive, ‘pre-political’ criteria. However, this was not simply a matter of replacing national with ‘post-national’ identity. ‘Identity’ itself had to become de-centred and even, to some extent, ambivalent. At the same time, the process of identity-formation itself had to be rendered more open, dynamic and fluid. Sources, supplements and solidarity Even at the time of Habermas’s initial formulation of his conception of constitutional patriotism, numerous critics doubted whether this conception could yield attachment to a particular polity. In other words, given the central place of universalist norms in Habermas’ theory, the question had to be answered whether constitutional patriotism could ground a distinctive identity. After all, ‘something prior to constitutional principles determines who falls under their authority.’27 Alternatively, why should those supporting universalist moral norms not give their loyalty to polities which realize them in a fuller sense or a more coherent fashion? Constitutional patriotism, at first sight at least, seems to beg this question. Habermas himself presented one answer. He stressed that the particular – in fact unique – experience of National Socialism had to be the implicit reference point for German constitutional patriotism. Only after the ultimate evil of Nazism had Germany, at least its Western part, finally and fully embraced the Enlightenment and firmly anchored itself in the West. He affirmed that ‘our patriotism cannot hide the fact that in Germany democracy has taken root in the motives and the hearts of citizens, at least of the younger generation, after Auschwitz – and in a way only through the shock of this moral catastrophe.’28 And he added that ‘the overcoming of fascism forms the particular historical perspective from which a post-national identity centred around the universalist principles of the rule of law and democracy understands itself.’29 After all, ‘conventional morality’ in the sense of obeying law and order, following what might have appeared like ‘common sense’ or acting according to national traditions had all spectacularly failed in preventing the moral catastrophe of the Third Reich. There was, then, a certain dialectic to the fascist experience. It had been aufgehoben, that is, both transcended and negatively preserved, in a new post-fascist identity. Such an identity could be based only on traditions which had been reflected upon and passed the critical ‘filter’ of Auschwitz. As Habermas put it:

27 Pablo de Greiff, ‘Habermas on Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism’, Ratio Juris, vol. 15 (2002), p. 431. 28 Jürgen Habermas, Die nachholende Revolution (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1990), p. 152. 29 Habermas, Die nachholende Revolution, p. 152.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives Tradition means, after all, that we continue something as unproblematic, which others have started and demonstrated. We normally imagine that these ‘predecessors’, if they stood before us face to face, could not completely deceive us, that they could not play the role of a deus malignus. I for one think that this basis of trust has been destroyed by the gas chambers.30

Consequently, post-fascist identity in particular had to be post-traditional. This claim was not peculiar to Habermas: many post-war German intellectuals argued that a German identity had to be a ‘Holocaust identity’, since the ‘break in civilization’, which the Holocaust constituted, was the one defining feature of the nation after 1945. In the most radical form of this argument, the nation as such had been inextricably bound up with National Socialism, and, consequently, its moral substance had been fatally compromised. The idea of a ‘Holocaust identity’ was also polemically opposed to grounding the identity of the West Germans in the ‘economic miracle’ of the 1950s, or in anti-totalitarianism, which, as I mentioned above, primarily meant anti-communism in the 1950s and 1960s.31 However, where intellectuals like the writer Günter Grass had first and foremost defended the ‘Holocaust-identity’ of the post-war Germans as a cultural one, Habermas primarily affirmed the democratic, post-fascist political identity of the citizens of the Federal Republic. As with Jaspers, remembrance was linked to free public communication and, especially, the public contestation of the past. Rather than enshrining a particular view of the past with sacralized rituals, interpretations of the past had to be renegotiated in an open public sphere. The controversies surrounding, for instance, trials, the extension of statues of limitations, films and monuments could all contribute to a process of moral self-clarification, as long as claims about memories were subjected to a kind of shared public reason.32 This was true even if such shared public reason could itself not be isolated from controversy and disagreement. Here the hope was that controversial reflections on standards for treating the past would themselves contribute to finding a core political morality. Memory would thus unfold a motivational power and supplement the universalist norms at the heart of constitutional patriotism. It would furnish the basis for a democratic consciousness, as democratic identity became inextricably bound up with a German ‘Holocaust identity’, as well as an ongoing ‘coming-toterms-with-the-past’ in the Federal Republic.33 This identity was not so much a matter of achievement, as with Sternberger’s pride in the post-fascist democratic institutions of the Federal Republic (although Habermas also occasionally stressed these democratic institutions). Even less was it a matter of unproblematic belonging. Identity was not to be understood in static (or, for that matter, statist) terms – it was 30 Habermas, Die nachholende Revolution, p. 150. 31 Bernard Giesen, Intellectuals and the German Nation: Collective Identity in an Axial Age, trans. Nicholas Levis and Amos Weisz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 145–63. 32 Melissa Williams, Voice, Trust, and Memory: Marginalized Groups and the Failings of Liberal Representation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 177–8. 33 Jürgen Habermas, The New Conservatism: Cultural Criticism and the Historians’ Debate, ed. and trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989).

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


constituted precisely by a continuous civic self-interrogation and open argument about the past. In short, it was a process. Potentially, this process also had a more elaborate theoretical justification, as dealing with the past could be said to have an inherent connection with democracy. Memories, rather than being monolithic and serving as the instruments of nationalism, would always be conflicted, contested and competing in an open public sphere. But, after all, democracy itself is a form of contained conflict. Rather than aiming for some elusive thick social consensus in which one narrative of the past is enthroned, arguing about the past within liberal legality and on the basis of what has been called an ‘economy of moral disagreement’ could itself be a means of fostering social cohesion and solidarity. This would be precisely the solidarity of ‘charitable struggle’ Jaspers had already talked about in the late 1940s.34 More importantly perhaps, one might say that democracy itself is about reiterated moments of collective responsibility, in which the governed examine the record of the governors (and their promises for the future, needless to say). By definition, democracies committed to the notion of accountability cannot forget at least their immediate past, whereas under less accountable forms of government the past is often either mythologized or perhaps even eradicated. Accountability in turn presumes some kind of autonomy – after all, politicians will not be held accountable for what is beyond their control. In turn, assuming responsibility for the past – or even guilt – would strengthen, rather than damage autonomy. In that sense, one could speak of an at least loose conceptual connection between autonomy, accountability and memory – even though of course the sheer complexity of day-to-day political life would make this a very loose connection indeed. However, one might object that ultimately it is the judicial branch that has to deal with the past, rather than the legislature or government. Democracy, it could be said, is primarily about the assertion of collective agency over the future – not a reckoning with the past. Also, the judiciary is in a position to deal with individual cases that occurred in the past. Legislatures and governments can officially acknowledge the past, and of course pass laws dealing with restitution and reparation. But as far as the inner logic of institutions is concerned – their ‘spirit’, so to speak – the past appears to be a matter for the courts. Constitutional liberalism – and not democracy – is thus the answer to a past of mass atrocity. But if that is correct, then concentrating on memory will encourage both the juridification of politics and a focus on the individual, rather than democratic collectives and their actions. At the very least, however, one could say that ‘coming to terms with the past’ was a shared, and necessarily particular, activity for post-war Germans. In Germany there was, then, no question about the particular context of constitutional patriotism. Patriotism would call for the repudiation of a particular past in the name of universal moral values. It would also call for the institution of political procedures to deal with 34 See also Jonathan Allen, ‘Balancing Justice and Social Unity: Political Theory and the Idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, University of Toronto Law Journal, vol. 49 (1999), and Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, ‘The Moral Foundations of Truth Commissions’, in Robert I. Rotberg and Dennis Thompson (eds), Truth v. Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

moral arguments about the accountability of particular perpetrators and the claims of particular victims. Universal values were instantiated in a specific context shaped by a particular past and the common experience of instantiating universal values in an effort to overcome that past. Present-day Germans had to assume collective responsibility for the past, as ‘a kind of intersubjective liability’ or debt arising from the ‘historical complex of forms of life that have been passed on from generation to generation’, as Habermas put it.35 It was not ‘collective guilt’ that was passed on – it was, rather, the cultural contexts and ‘forms of life’ that might have facilitated crimes in the past. German law in fact does recognize cultural influence as a factor mitigating guilt. But neither Habermas nor German law see this as a kind of ‘collective guilt’ attaching directly to the descendants of the perpetrators. In Habermas’ words, our own life is linked to the life context in which Auschwitz was possible not by contingent circumstances but intrinsically. Our form of life is connected with that of our parents and grandparents through a web of familial, local, political, and intellectual traditions that is difficult to disentangle – that is, through a historical milieu that made us what and who we are today. None of us can escape this milieu, because our identities, both as individuals and as Germans, are indissolubly interwoven with it.36

This intersubjective and intergenerational liability provided an additional answer to the criticism that ‘the liberal state has no home, and generates no loyalty towards generations, which, being either dead or unborn, form no part of the contract.’37 Generations did not form part of a ‘contract’ – yet the suffering of the victims imposed a debt of ‘intersubjective liability’ on successive generations – binding them together (though of course often also sometimes alienating them from each other). Some peculiarities and consequences of ‘German constitutional patriotism’ The purpose of Habermas’ constitutional patriotism was not so much protection as ‘purification’ of the public sphere and political culture more widely as well as the promotion of universalist moral principles. It was in no sense culturally neutral, since patriotism also required a particular attitude towards national culture. On an affective level, it did not so much draw on a feeling of pride, and it did not simply ‘redirect’ existing emotions from one object, the pre-political nation, to the political constitution.38 Rather, it brought into play a much more complex set of emotions. This set contained guilt, shame and possibly pride, as far as the democratic achievements of the post-war period were concerned. Arguably it also included anger and indignation – with respect to the past, but also with regard to failures to live up to constitutional norms in the present. Constitutional patriotism produced 35 Habermas, The New Conservatism. 36 Habermas, The New Conservativism, p. 233. 37 Roger Scruton, ‘In Defence of the Nation’, in J.C.D. Clark (ed.), Ideas and Politics in Modern Britain (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 75. 38 Markell, ‘Making Affect Safe for Democracy?’; Cronin, ‘Democracy and Collective Identity’, p. 14.

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


solidarity rather indirectly through the common contestation of the past, as well as the common goal of promoting universal norms – yet perhaps its most explicit form of solidarity (and caring) was reserved for the victims, rather than present fellow citizens. Moreover, constitutional patriotism, in its initial formulations, was never intended as an especially inclusive form of membership. There was an almost automatic assumption that these specific demands were directed at German citizens – the ‘we’ of constitutional patriots appeared not to be in question. At least initially, then, constitutional patriotism as a form of political attachment was decidedly not a solution to the multicultural predicament. When the emphasis on militancy, as in Sternberger’s account, and the stress on memory, as in Habermas’ theory, merged, the result could be measures like the 1985 law against the ‘Auschwitz lie’. Based on the theory of criminal libel, the law made denial of the Holocaust into an insult punishable by up to one year in prison.39 The relevant insult here was not just seen as being directed against the immediate victims (and possibly their descendants) – it was also an offence to the ‘civic community of inquirers’. As many advocates of free speech pointed out, the supposedly liberal loyalty of constitutional patriotism seemed to have produced a decidedly illiberal result. Yet, the defenders of the law would have argued that for any democratic deliberation, or, to use Jaspers’ term, ‘free communication’, about the past to take place at all, some of what Michael Ignatieff has called ‘impermissible lies’ had to be eliminated.40 Claiming that the Holocaust was a product of the Zionist imagination was a way not just of denying the dignity of the victims – but also of denying the dignity of one’s democratic interlocutors. In the absence of agreement on basic historical facts, not even a proper ‘economy of moral disagreement’ about what the past meant, could be constructed.41 Consequently, denial would make it simply impossible for any legitimacy to emerge from democratic contestation. The law, then, was to fulfil a triple function. It was publicly to preserve historical truth, achieve a form of democratic exclusion and ensure social integration among democrats committed to working through a difficult past. Yet, it remained an open question whether it had to be the task of the government to concern itself with the beliefs its citizens held about historical events – even if one conceded that these beliefs were held for reasons and that sometimes these reasons should be seen as morally unacceptable. This still left the question whether the ‘elimination of impermissible lies’ should not be left to civil society in an open process of contestation. This process might include the shaming or marginalization of those clinging to denial. The juridification of ‘working through the past’ remained a distinctive feature of German political culture – even though making arguments about the past

39 Eric Stein, ‘History against Free Speech: The New German Law against the “Auschwitz” – and Other – “Lies”’, Michigan Law Review, vol. 85 (1986); Lawrence Douglas, ‘The Memory of Judgment: The Law, the Holocaust, and Denial’, History and Memory, vol. 7 (1996). 40 Michael Ignatieff, The Warrior’s Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience (London: Chatto and Windus, 1998), p. 174. 41 Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

into a matter of legality appeared to be in direct conflict with the civic ideal of ‘charitable struggle’. Conclusion This chapter has highlighted the historical circumstances and conceptual contexts in which the idea of constitutional patriotism was conceived. In itself, it is of course no surprise that constitutional patriotism has particular origins – after all, ‘the universal has no voice, no authentic representative of its own.’ As Marti Koskenniemi has put it recently, the universal ‘can only appear through something particular; only a particular can make the universal known’.42 More interesting is the fact that that constitutional patriotism has relied on, so to speak, particular ‘supplements of particularity’ – or, put differently, a constellation of subsidiary concepts which have allowed the universalist morality at the centre of constitutional patriotism to be embedded within (necessarily) particular political cultures. Sternberger’s ‘protective patriotism’ became linked with the idea of militant democracy, whereas Habermas’ ‘purifying patriotism’ – oriented towards the public sphere, rather than the state – understood itself as relying on particular public memories. However, while the association of constitutional patriotism with militancy and memory respectively was due to the peculiar situation of post-war West Germany, there are, I have suggested, also important conceptual links between the morality of constitutional patriotism, militancy and memory. Constitutional patriotism is likely to set clearer boundaries to anti-democratic forces than, for instance, liberal nationalism, and it is far less likely to be compatible with uncritical histories of heroic national pasts than other forms of political belonging. Do the stress on memory and militancy mitigate the appeal and applicability of constitutional patriotism beyond Germany itself? It seems to me that the most plausible answer is ‘no’, although I can only sketch here some preliminary arguments in favour of this conclusion. First, it is not theoretically necessary to build ‘political identity’ primarily through these contrasts with negatives. Constitutional patriotism – like liberal nationalism or any other form of political allegiance – will imply differences and oppositions. But a responsible fashioning of political identity might well put positive goals first, all other things being equal (which of course they never are in politics). Second, even where memory and militancy are stressed, the illiberal tendencies described above can be kept in check by some of the values at the heart of the morality of constitutional patriotism itself. The ideals at the heart of constitutional patriotism would not allow a relentless and unconstrained persecution of ‘enemies of democracy’. Whether in practice they would always do so is of course a legitimate question. But it’s a question that is not peculiar to constitutional patriotism as an ideal, and it is one to which the defenders of constitutional patriotism, it seems to me, have a better, theoretical answer than, let’s say, defenders of liberal nationalism.

42 Martti Koskenniemi, ‘International Law in Europe: Between Renewal and Tradition’, European Journal of International Law, vol. 16 (2005), p. 115.

On the Origins of Constitutional Patriotism


To conclude, then: constitutional patriotism is not an example of the kind of pristine and politically impractical universalism that caricatures have made it out to be – but neither is it reducible to its genesis in a particular nation with a problematic past. ‘Empty universalism’ is not enough of an objection by liberal nationalists, and genealogy cannot automatically count as critique.43

43 Thanks to two anonymous reviewers for Contemporary Political Theory for very valuable comments. In the first two sections of this chapter I draw selectively on Müller, Another Country and Müller, A Dangerous Mind.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 7

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate Thomas Mertens

1. Introduction It goes without saying that the results on the referenda on the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe held in France and the Netherlands in 2005 were politically significant. Although it cannot be argued that the no-votes in these countries brought the process of the European constitutional integration to a complete standstill – in the meantime 18 European countries have ratified the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe1 and have formed a group of ‘Friends of the Constitution’ – it still seems unlikely that the Draft Treaty will come into force in its present form. The reasons why these referenda led to the no-votes were quite similar. In both referenda, so it seems, domestic rather than European political issues played an important role; in both countries, there was a clear lack of confidence in the ruling political elites; in both countries national feelings played a role of significance. The fact that the rejection of ‘Europe’ was partly motivated by sentiments of national self-affirmation and of straightforward patriotism makes these no-votes also significant from a theoretical perspective. What does it mean for our understanding of nationalism and patriotism2 when a very successful project like the European Union is not able to generate its own ‘affectionate’ support? What can the European project still be about, what can its ‘telos’ be when patriotism still plays such an important role in its member states? Obviously, the question as to how to conceive the relation between the European unity and its constituent parts, the member states, was not raised here for the first time. The referenda put back on the agenda, prominently, the dilemma which the European project has characterized from its beginning: should it be conceived as a pragmatic and artificial construct, primarily aimed at enabling a common market, or should be seen as aiming at a genuine political unity in its own right? Would ‘Europe’ indeed be able to generate important sentiments of belonging and identity? Or would such sentiments only exist on the level of political unities tied together as 1 See: . In the present essay the treaty will be referred to as ‘the Draft Treaty’. 2 For my purposes, the distinction between nationalism and patriotism, important as it is, plays a minor role. See I. Primoratz, ‘Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain’, Chapter 1 in this volume, Section 1.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

they are by means of language, common history and by what is now called ‘love of country’? Must Europe be understood only as a continent, as an artefact, but never as ‘country’? Can it ever be the object of ‘special concern’ from its supposed ‘citizens’? Will Europeans ever become each other’s fellow countrymen?3 In this chapter, I will make clear that the issue of whether ‘European patriotism’ exists has been on the agenda for a long time and that it is connected to the issue of ‘constitution’. The referenda did indeed suggest that patriotism only exists on the level of the constituent member states, but the discussion on the role of patriotism within Europe’s and the European context is much older. In the following, I will sketch the origins of that discussion, and suggest that it will be difficult to revitalize European ‘constitutional’ patriotism. Before doing so, I will briefly pay attention to the discussion on national and European identity during the months leading up to the referendum, especially in the Netherlands.4 This will give some ‘flesh’ to the rather abstract discussion that will follow. In particular, it testifies that ‘rational’ and ‘pragmatic’ reasons, important as they may seem, are often not decisive at all when challenged by concerns about the loss of national identity and self-determination. For many Dutch, ‘love of country’ meant what it says: love for this country and not for Europe. 2. Going Dutch The Dutch referendum brought to the fore a very general discomfort with the idea of a European constitution. Although such a dissatisfaction was – and probably still is – felt more generally in Europe, it was particularly dominant in the Netherlands. Although the situation in France was comparable in some respect, in others it was not. France had always played a dominant role in the shaping and the process of the European integration so that ‘Europe’ itself was often perceived by the French and by others as a French project and thus not as an alien entity.5 In small countries like the Netherlands however – albeit a foundational state – the ongoing process of expansion and deepening was met with a growing fear of being pushed aside by the larger member states and of losing influence and control. In the case of the Netherlands, this general fear coincided with a much broader sense of discomfort. In retrospect, it was not amazing that the Dutch rejected the Draft Treaty by such a large majority of 63 per cent of the vote. The tendency to isolationism and inwardness manifested itself for the first time, and then to the astonishment of many, in the so-called Pim Fortuyn revolt of early 2002. This populist revolt failed because of the assassination of its protagonist a few days prior to the general elections, but the sentiments that had brought this revolt did not disappear. Many, very many, within 3 See R.E. Goodin, ‘What is so Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’, Ethics, vol. 98 (1988), pp. 663–86. 4 During recent years, the Netherlands became an interesting country also with regard to questions such as immigration and multiculturalism. For an excellent introduction, see: I. Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (London: Atlantic, 2006). 5 L. Siedentop, Democracy in Europe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000), pp. 113–16, 136–9.

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


Dutch society profoundly mistrusted the political elite which remained in power. This so-called ‘democratic deficit’ was reinforced by the general sentiment – on which Fortuyn successfully capitalized – that past efforts to integrate immigrant ethnic minorities into Dutch society had failed. The idea that ethnic minorities had the right to integrate into Dutch society while at the same time ‘upholding their own cultural identity’ was widely criticized as having led to segregation and to what was then labelled the ‘multicultural drama’.6 Both democratic deficit and multicultural drama led to a suspicious attitude towards outsiders in general, whether in the person of a criminal, of an asylum seeker and an immigrant or in the person of any state bureaucrat. The reaffirmation of Dutch national identity led to a societal climate which favoured and still favours tougher punishments (the number of life sentences have grown significantly since the mid-1990s), rigid immigration rules (even with regard to high-profile politicians such as Hirsi Ali) and hostility towards The Hague and even more so towards Brussels. The Old Dutch consensus of liberality and tolerance seemed to have been replaced by a new consensus of self-conceit and enclosure.7 Other elements of a much older origin added to this critical attitude. The fact that important political decisions in the Netherlands have always been the result of a complicated and hidden process of negotiation between the leadership of the important segments of society – pillars, as they are called – has always met with some suspicion. Dutch constitutionalism adds to this elitism and to the criticism thereof. The Dutch system is strongly in favour of parliamentary and other indirect forms of representation, while strongly discouraging forms of direct democracy such as a referendum. The constitution gives a central place to the lawgiver with little room for review by the judiciary. The Netherlands is one of the few countries which does not allow for constitutional review. The Dutch High Court is ‘merely’ a court of second appeal in cases which are of importance for the interpretation of the law, but it does not sit as a constitutional court. In short, the Dutch constitution conceives of a parliamentary legislator as the supreme state power to which the administration and the judiciary are subordinated. The separation of powers consists of a system of subordination, not one of checks and balances. Therefore, special legislation had to be adopted in order to make the referendum on the Draft Treaty possible. The possibility that it would be rejected was hardly seriously considered. The referendum was seen as an excellent opportunity to bring ‘Europe’ closer to ‘the people’, who were expected to follow both the government and the large majority in parliament in supporting the Draft Treaty and thus the project of a European constitution. The lawgiver and many commentators and specialists alike argued that there were no rational or pragmatic grounds for rejecting the Draft Treaty, as it was merely an improvement in comparison to the existing body 6 P. Scheffer, ‘Het multiculturele drama’, NRC Handelsblad, 29 January 2000 (this is the leading intellectual newspaper in the country). See . 7 Of course, the Dutch society is not unique in this regard. It rather seems to make more visible what happens elsewhere as well. See T. Garton Ash, ‘Islam in Europe’, New York Review of Books, 5 October 2006.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

of European law. Prior to the constitutional treaty, the law of the European Union consisted of a series of Treaties (Rome, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice) which made an understanding of the intricacies of European law a matter for experts only. The Draft Treaty would solve this undesirable situation by systematically reorganizing the prevailing provisions. It also seemed evident that the European institutions, designed originally for a group of six nations, were in need of revision after the accession of so many new member states. Strengthening the European presidency by ending the half-year rotation scheme and appointing a European foreign minister seemed to reflect the need for a better coordination of Europe’s growing role in the world. Speaking with one voice would also require a new method of determining what that voice said. Obviously, determining what the democratic majority rule would look like in a complex and heterogeneous political body such as the EU is not easy, but the Draft Treaty’s proposal on how to count majorities seemed more fair and reasonable than the rules adopted earlier at Nice. The Draft Treaty would also strengthen the role of the European parliament. Despite what many people believe, that role has not been so bad. It has always been the object of critical discussions, but in comparison the European parliament did and does not do so badly.8 For the reasons mentioned, the Draft Treaty was a complex and partially still opaque text, but this should not necessarily count against it. Europe was not beginning from scratch, but had to build on what was already there: constitutionalism without a constitution, as Weiler nicely put it.9 Some argued that a European constitution should be short, and then made the comparison with the US Constitution as an example of a short and transparent text. But one should bear in mind that in the struggle over its adoption, after the Philadelphia convention, the opponents of the US (then draft) Constitution depicted it in dark colours, as an opaque text resulting from an intricate process of sinister negotiations and shallow compromises. The fame of the so-called Federalist Papers is partly due to the fact that its authors, Hamilton, Madison and Jay, were able to present it as a coherent and attractive set of governmental rules. Finally, it is worth remembering that this US Constitution grew out of discomfort with ‘taxation without representation’, whereas, according to the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, Europe would have been given ‘representation without taxation’. Notwithstanding these rational and pragmatic advantages, the Draft Treaty was met with hostility. A large majority of the Dutch population saw it as a major threat to the Dutch nation or to its identity. One of the most effective political flyers depicted a map of Europe from which the Netherlands had been erased. Its powerful message 8 In several European states, the institution of parliament is not particularly strong. In order to find an example, one does not need to go far south. In the Netherlands it would be unimaginable that the Dutch parliament would reject a candidate for a ministerial position when the supporting political parties had reached a governmental agreement after several months of negotiations behind closed doors. Yet, this is what happened to the Italian candidate for the European commission in 2005, Buttiglione. His candidacy was rejected by the European parliament. See European Constitutional Law Review, vol. 1 (2005), issue 2. 9 See J.H.H. Weiler, The Constitution of Europe: ‘Do the New Clothes Have an Emperor?’ and Other Essays on European Integration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 8.

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


was: ‘The Netherlands must remain.’ The country’s mood was one of affirming ‘we, the Dutch’, and one of rejecting ‘we, Europeans’. There is no such thing as ‘Europe’, the message was.10 The opponents of the Draft Treaty consisted of a mixed bag of old-fashioned socialists portraying Europe as a neo-liberal project, the heirs of Fortuyn’s movement depicting Europe as just another far-away bureaucracy and, finally, the conservative Calvinists defending the Dutch nation as a Christian nation and rejecting a Europe which refused to include in its preamble any reference to the Christian heritage.11 They agreed that ratifying the Draft Treaty would mean surrendering Dutch sovereignty to Brussels and giving up the Dutch collective right to self-determination. The no-vote was seen by many as an act of patriotism. 3. National democracy The Dutch case is interesting as it summarizes the growing scepticism towards European integration and constitutionalization and the revival of nationalism and patriotism. However, this shift of sentiment has a longer history, starting with the Maastricht Treaty at the latest. Since then, an anaemic stance towards Europe has become a common disease; arguably, the whole process of drafting the European constitution was started – with the Laken declaration12 – in order to provide a cure to this serious disease. In order therefore to understand what went wrong with European constitutional patriotism around at the referenda, it is useful to look back at the Maastricht discussion of the early 1990s. Here, the role of the Netherlands was rather insignificant. Complaints that ‘Maastricht’ threatened Dutch sovereignty, especially in relation to giving up the national currency, were voiced, but the decision to ratify the Maastricht treaty was smoothly taken by parliament and no constitutional path existed to challenge that decision before a court. Arguments that this treaty meant an infringement of the right to national democratic self-determination were more strongly presented elsewhere. These reproaches are serious, as the modern era knows of hardly any political concept that has a higher normative status than ‘democracy’, and in particular ‘national democracy’. Since the French and the American revolutions, the ‘nation’ is seen as the natural ‘habitat’ of democracy. Article 3 of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen reads: ‘The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body or individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.’ The constitutional document that emerged from the turmoil of the American Revolution and its aftermath starts with ‘We, the people’. Historically, these revolutions were legitimized by reference to a French 10 See A. Nijeboer, ‘The Dutch Referendum’, European Constitutional Law Review, vol. 1 (2005), pp. 393–405. According to Flash Eurobarometer, 172 (June 2005), 32 per cent of the no-voters were concerned about the loss of sovereignty and many others about the high financial costs. 11 An interesting plea in favor of including a reference to Christianity into the preamble of the Draft Constitution came from J.H.H. Weiler, Een Christelijk Europa, transl. and introd. L. Besselink, Th. Mertens (Deventer: Kluwer, 2004). 12 See: .


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

‘nation’ and to an American ‘people’ and its will to self-determination. Historically, however the subjects of these revolutions did not yet exist at the time. A diversity of nations and ethnicities lived on France’s territory so that the revolutionary French state predated the nation from which it sought its legitimacy, and which it subsequently brought about by a process consisting of a transformation of peasants into Frenchmen, as Eugen Weber put it.13 Along similar lines, the American ‘people’ started a republican governmental experiment which excluded women, African Americans and Native Americans. As these states predated the historical reality of the nations on which they were based, they make plausible a more general point: constitutions indeed often function as an important means to integrate heterogeneous populations, rather than to give expression to the political will to self-determination of an already existing nation.14 Despite these historical complexities, the idea of democracy as the expression of national self-determination became one of the most influential political ideas. Today, it seems self-evident that the legitimacy of any state must derive from its nation. Every state in the present world has a ‘national’ constitution and a ‘national’ assembly. Where state and nation do not coincide, we find ‘national’ movements claiming the nation’s right to self-determination. On the civilized level, these claims are met through processes of devolution as in Scotland. On the rougher level, these claims lead to wars of secession like in Sri Lanka. ‘Democracy’ is not just a principle stating that everyone’s vote counts equally and that the majority decides. Democracy is a political principle on the basis of which decisions are taken on who belongs to the ‘polis’ and who does not. Democracy thus refers to ‘demos’, ‘nation’ or ‘patria’. No democracy without nationalism, no democracy without patriotism. Carl Schmitt therefore went as far as to say that the fundamental principle of democracy is not individual liberty, but the equality of the members of a more of less homogeneous people, who claim their right to determine themselves and to exclude ‘others’, not necessarily by what we would now consider democratic procedures. According to him, democracy means being governed by equals and not by foreigners.15 It should not have come as a surprise then that ‘the Maastricht treaty encountered severe opposition. In France and Denmark, this treaty was fiercely contested during the referenda that were held. In France, only a tiny majority voted in favour; Denmark only ratified it after a rerun of the referendum. Obviously, there was a lot at stake. From an internal European institutional perspective, the Maastricht treaty might have been seen as an inevitable step in the process of economic integration toward a common market; from the external perspective of most citizens of European countries things were entirely different. Until then, the European project was clearly perceived as an intergovernmental project as was proclaimed in the 1957 Treaty of Rome, and the countries and their governments were clearly seen as the ‘masters’ 13 E. Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870–1914 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1976). 14 N. Walker, ‘Big “C” or small “c”’, European Law Journal, vol. 12 (2006), pp. 12–14. 15 C. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. E. Kennedy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985 (first published in 1923)), p. 9; C. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1928), pp. 223–8.

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


of the project. But gradually this picture changed: the Rome treaty brought about powerful institutions, such as the European Council of Ministers, the European Commission and, of course, the European Court of Justice. This Court proved immensely important, in its role of guaranteeing a uniform interpretation of the European rules and in driving the entire project forward.16 Gradually the European construct lost its intergovernmental character and became an independent legal order. At least, it was characterized as such by the European Court in its famous Van Gend & Loos decision of 1963. Here, the Court stated that the European Treaties had brought about a new and autonomous legal order, which is superior, albeit solely in the limited areas of Community competence, to the legal orders of the participating states. By what subsequently became known as ‘supremacy’ and ‘direct effect’, the law of the European Community became part of the domestic law of the European member states without their explicit consent by means of a new European Treaty. The Court had argued that the member states had implicitly agreed to this. The apparent lack of democratic legitimacy did not become a serious problem so long as the European Community held fast to the intergovernmental character in the process of lawmaking, that is, as long as legal regulations were the result of a consensus of the participating states and unwanted regulations could be vetoed. Who would object to a legal system and a Court ascertaining that states comply with what they had all explicitly agreed to? Democratic legitimacy was assured, so to speak, on the input level. At least on that level, the European states remained the masters of the Community and, via them, the nations of Europe. 4. The Maastricht Treaty and its aftermath The Treaty establishing the European Union (the Maastricht treaty) was clearly a response to the changes in the political scene after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The reunification of Germany and the enlargement of the Union were challenges that the Maastricht treaty aimed to address. The establishing of a monetary union in particular was seen as an important means of deepening the process of integration. By doing so, Maastricht brought to the surface the implicit tension between national sovereignty and the European integration. At this very moment Europe lost, so to speak, the tacit acceptance of Europe’s peoples, which it had always taken for granted, and the project became in need of its own legitimacy, its own European constitutional patriotism. Without a reasonable claim to legitimacy, the noble dream of European integration could end up, many thought, in the nightmare of a European state. As a reflection of the possible European legitimacy crisis, discussions started on the finality of the European project, on the different levels of integration, and on the ‘use and abuse’ of a possible European constitution.17 Behind these discussions,

16 Here I follow J.H.H. Weiler, The Constitution of Europe, pp. 10–101. 17 An important focal point of this debate was the public speech given by Germany’s foreign minister, J. Fischer, ‘From Confederacy to Federation: Thoughts on the Finality of European Integration’ (held in Berlin on 12 May 2000). See .


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

a broader discussion developed on whether and how the concept of democracy could be disentangled from that of the nation, that is, on constitutional patriotism. The roots of constitutional patriotism could be traced back to the Weimar era, interestingly a time of crisis as well. According to some, Ernst Cassirer’s efforts to convince the German public that the universalistic principles of the Weimar constitution were reconcilable with the German political tradition were a plea for such a patriotic attitude.18 The concept itself emerged in the early years of the Bonn republic, when the political scientist Dolf Sternberger argued that the newly constituted German state did not exclude feelings of attachment and friendship on the basis of which it then could defend itself against its enemies.19 Constitutional patriotism thus led to what was called ‘democracy capable of defending itself’ (streitbare Demokratie), on the basis of which ‘friends of the constitution’ would be able to prevent the destruction of democracy by democratic means as had happened to Weimar. Yet, it was only in the late 1980s that this concept became well-known in the writings of Jürgen Habermas, who integrated it into a broader philosophical perspective. Here, as with Cassirer’s effort, the overall aim was to reconcile sentiments of attachment, generally connected with the nation or with the country, with the universalistic principles of the constitution. The conceptual basis of constitutional patriotism in Habermas is not difficult to understand. He holds that the connection between democracy and the nation-state is historical, rather than intrinsic. The nation is often understood as a community of people of common descent, as a pre-political unity with a certain ‘ontological density’. It predates its individual members and can as such be compared to a family, to which one equally belongs by nature and not by means of a voluntary act. And historically it is also true, according to Habermas, that the ideas of democracy, selfdetermination and popular sovereignty were grafted onto such a nation as its ‘natural’ claim to self-determination. There is, however, no conceptual reason why self-rule and democracy should be connected intrinsically to the nation, especially as we have now entered, according to Habermas, the post-national constellation, in which the claims of nations to self-rule have been proved vain. If we now want to rescue the idea of self-rule and democracy, we must disentangle the concept of democracy from its historic birthplace, that is the romantic notion of ‘nation’, and connect it to larger political unities which can make a plausible claim to autonomy. There are two reasons why such disentanglement is possible. The first has already been mentioned: the nation may present itself as a natural community of historic descent longing for a state which gives shape to its claim to self-determination; in reality, however, the nation is the artificial construct brought about by a deliberate process of cultural and political integration, often based on assimilation, violence and exclusion. Love of country is thus not a matter of nature but of social engineering. The second, more important, reason resides in the concept of democracy itself, which means solely that the sovereign power in a political community rests with the people. 18 See Ernst Cassirer, Die Idee der republikanischen Verfassung, Rede zur Verfassungsfeier am 11 August 1928 (Hamburg: De Gruyter & Co., 1929). 19 J.-W. Müller, ‘A “Thick” Constitutional Patriotism for the EU? On Morality, Memory and Militancy’, at .

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


From a historical point of view, the concept of ‘popular sovereignty’ was a way to challenge ‘royal sovereignty’, and ‘popular sovereignty’ became a reality within the boundaries of the pre-existing ‘royal’ state, which was subsequently transformed into a nation-state. The state predates the nation. Conceptually, however, democracy still means self-legislation, self-rule, and that concept is alien to the sociological and historical contingencies of any nation. Democracy is a claim to autonomy and that claim cannot be fulfilled by the particularities and the boundaries, both physical and mental, of the nation, but only by political unities powerful enough to establish their own laws. In a true democracy, citizenship means being a member of a selfgoverning body and its citizens acquire their identity not from the contingencies of a nation, but from their democratic right of legal participation.20 Habermas holds that the initial connection between democracy and the nation-state functioned only as a catalyst, and modern democracy can and should emancipate itself from the obsolete historical constellation of the nation-state. The concepts of ‘demos’ and ‘ethnos’ are now to be disentangled. In a true democracy, the general will derives its validity from the universality of its democratic procedures and not from a historical homogeneity of a nation. Popular sovereignty refers then to a procedure only. That is what Habermas calls ‘popular sovereignty as procedure’ (Volkssouveränität als Verfahren). Patriotism in a true democracy does not mean loyalty to a specific national community, but to the democratic procedures of the constitution. This is constitutional patriotism.21 In the post-Maastricht era, the battle over the proper understanding of the European project and over the sources from which it could derive its legitimacy – whether or not independently of its constituent nation-states – is the major testcase of the viability of such constitutional patriotism; it was a battle fought primarily during some important law cases and their aftermaths. The most well-known case is, of course, the one before the German Constitutional Court, known as the Brunner case.22 Here, a number of citizens objected to the German ratification of the Maastricht treaty, primarily because it would run counter to the provision on democracy in the German Basis Law (‘all state authority is derived from the people’).23 Although the 20 Habermas stresses the liberty of the ancients, so called by Constant, in opposition to the liberty of the moderns. See B. Constant, ‘The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns’, Political Writings, trans. and ed. B. Fontana (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). 21 The most important text in this regard is J. Habermas, ‘Staatsbürgerschaft und nationale Identität’, in Faktizität und Geltung (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1992), pp. 632–60. 22 Previously there was a similar Danish case. In this case, the High Court declared that the ratification of the Maastricht treaty by Denmark would not bring an end to Denmark as an independent state and that the European Court could not extend its competences at will. 23 To be more precise: the Maastricht treaty would run counter to Art. 79.3 (‘Eine Änderung dieses Grundgesetzes, durch welche die Gliederung des Bundes in Länder, die grundsätzliche Mitwirkung der Länder bei der Gesetzgebung oder die in den Artikeln 1 und 20 niedergelegten Grundsätze berührt werden, ist unzuläßsig’) in connection with Art. 20.1 (‘Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland ist ein demokratischer und sozialer Bundesstaat’), Art. 20.2 (‘Alle Staatsgewalt geht vom Volke aus. Sie wird vom Volke in Wahlen und Abstimmungen und durch besondere Organe der Gesetzgebung, der vollziehenden Gewalt und


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Constitutional Court rejected this objection and saw no constitutional objections to Germany’s ratification of that treaty, it also strongly made clear its view on how to understand the European project, namely as a confederation of European states, that is an ‘ordinary’ body of international law and not as a European state in waiting.24 The Union’s competences, according to the Court, should be understood solely as derivative. The prime source of legitimacy for Europe would reside in the consent of the European states as expressed by their ratification. The Court almost explicitly prohibited the Union from extending its competences by means of the socalled doctrine of implied powers without the explicit consent of the participating states by means of additional treaties. The states thus must remain the ‘masters’ of Europe. Underlying this judgment, the Court referred to a certain understanding of democracy. Without referring to an ethnic understanding of democracy, according to which it requires a homogeneous population, the Court nonetheless rejected a purely formal understanding of democracy. It pointed at certain ‘substantial’ and pre-judicial preconditions of democracy, such as a free public debate between a diversity of social forces and interest groups within a society. The formation of a democratic will would, according to the Court, highly depend on the existence of such a debate. Since there is no such thing as a European ‘demos’, the formation of the ‘European’ we must be formed on the basis of the will of its member states.25 This decision triggered a vigorous debate, anticipating to a large extent the debate on the Draft Treaty that would follow more than ten years later. The supporters basically agreed with the Court that a democratic deficit existed at the European level and that this had to do with the lack of a European public space, the lack of a common language and tradition, and the lack of a European identity.26 Some even went as far as denying that the ‘citizens’ of the Union would ever be able to develop an affectionate relationship with the Union. Thus, patriotism can only exist at the level of the constituent states, as, on that level, sufficient substantial elements exist on the basis of which citizens can identify with and belong to their state.27 A ‘European constitutional patriotism’ based on certain formal commonalities between der Rechtsprechung ausgeübt’) and Art. 38.1 (‘Die Abgeordneten des Deutschen Bundestages werden in allgemeiner, unmittelbarer, freier, gleicher und geheimer Wahl gewählt. Sie sind Vertreter des ganzen Volkes, an Aufträge und Weisungen nicht gebunden und nur ihrem Gewissen unterworfen’). 24 BVerfGE (Decisions of the German Constitutional Court) 89, 155: ‘Der Vertrag begründet einen europäischen Staatenverbund, … nicht eine Zugehörigkeit zu einem europäischen Staat.’ 25 My understanding of the Court’s decision is indebted to: J.H.H. Weiler, ‘Demos, Telos, Ethos and the Maastricht Decision’, in P. Gowan and P. Anderson (eds), The Question of Europe (London and New York: Verso, 1997), pp. 265–94. 26 See e.g. D. Grimm, ‘Does Europe Need a Constitution?’, in Gowan and Anderson (eds), The Question of Europe, pp. 239–58. 27 This position comes very close to Alasdair MacIntyre’s defense of patriotism, according to which loyalty is always owed to a particular community of natural descent, one’s country and polity, because of its role in constituting one’s identity. On this, see Chapter 1 in this volume.

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


the European states, such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law, would simply be too thin, too shallow and too superficial to enable the kind of empathy and loyalty needed for a flourishing European polity. The introduction – by the Maastricht treaty – of a European citizenship was not a solution to the problem but simply a misconception of what citizenship entails; ‘citizenship’ is not simply a bundle of political and civil rights, but the expression of a bond of mutual trust between the ‘nationals’ of a certain polity. Only on the basis of such trust can minorities have the confidence that democratic majorities will not abuse their powerful position and that the interests of minorities will be taken into account. Within the European setting such trust simply does not exist and therefore neither the concept of citizen nor that of a constitution applies; instead, a constitution is the ‘juridico-political’ expression of the unity and identity of a particular nation: no constitution without the existence of a ‘demos’. And even if the formation of a European ‘state’ is not precluded beforehand, it will take a considerable amount of time and state formation in which peoples from a diversity of backgrounds and histories may gradually grow towards each other and develop a common identity. Lacking such a common ‘European we’, the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe is conceptually hybrid; either there exists a federal European state without sovereign nation-states and the concept of constitution is applicable or a confederate Europe with the nation-states as its masters exists and the only way forward is a treaty. Critics of the decision of the Court argued that it adopted too conservative an understanding of ‘democracy’, as if democracy could only flourish within the embodiment of the nation-state. By adopting a rather nationalist understanding of democracy, and thereby invoking the idea of the homogeneity of a ‘people’,28 it gave too little credit to Rousseau’s understanding of democracy as ‘self-rule’. Had it sufficiently taken into account the artificial nature of any nation, the risks involved in a ‘naturalizing’ understanding of the nation,29 and the changing circumstances of (economic) globalization, the Court would not have looked backwards, or also have cast doubts on a future in which nationalism might be overcome and self-rule again have real meaning. If indeed there is no conceptual connection between democracy as self-rule and the nation, why would democracy not be possible within a ‘postnational’ constellation such as the European Union, and why could patriotism not be linked to such a supranational body? It may indeed be a statement of fact that a European people does not exist, nor is there such thing as a European ‘country’, but it is equally true that the French people did not exist before the French nation-state. If democracy does not presuppose a pre-given ‘demos’, a European democracy depends on whether it is politically willed or not. If willed, the European constitution30 might 28 Instead of explicitly referring to Schmitt, however, the Court referred to Herman Heller’s famous article ‘Politische Demokratie und Soziale Homogenität’. An English version of this text can be found in A.J. Jacobson and B. Schlink (eds), Weimar: A Jurisprudence of Crisis (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000), pp. 256–79. 29 According to the Schumann declaration, an authoritative text in Europe’s genesis, the European Communities were established as an antidote to nationalism and to the horrors of the Second World War. See . 30 See J. Habermas, ‘Why Europe needs a Constitution’, New Left Review, vol. 11 (2001).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

well introduce a process in which a European identity and belonging develop, so that European citizens despite their different nationalities might feel tied together by what Europeans have in common. The need to develop such attachments was widely felt in Europe after the Second World War, after a period in which both the ideas of a homogeneous people and of a purist race led to exclusion and violence on an unprecedented scale. This period made clear that the ‘nation’ is not only a place of belonging and identity and that ‘love of country’ might also lead to the worst forms of intolerance. If Europe wants to overcome its darker legacies,31 it needs to adhere to and to focus on European constitutional patriotism. 5. The crisis of European ideals and its possible future Reviewing the discussion on the reception of the Maastricht treaty is instructive but does not dig deep enough. According to J.H.H. Weiler,32 the bleak reception of the Maastricht treaty was not so much the result of a lack of European patriotism but of the loss of Europe’s constituent ideals. The nations of early European integration were brought and held together by the constituent ideals of peace, prosperity and what he calls the ‘supranational’. In the immediate aftermath of the war, peace was an ideal because it required a considerable amount of altruism to overstep the deep cleavages and mutual hatred between the European nations. Nowadays, however, peace has lost its appealing character as it is either taken for granted or interpreted as ‘peace in our times’. The second ideal of the European project, namely that of prosperity, has lost its appealing character too. In the immediate aftermath of the war, prosperity meant a cooperative effort to reconstruct society almost from scratch, but prosperity is now seen as a given that needs to be defended by protectionist measures. The third, ‘supranational’, ideal formed the core ideal, namely that of the acknowledgment of the devastating effects to which an almost exclusionary focus on the ‘national’ had led during the then very recent past. In order to counter the intolerances and the dangers of the ‘national’, the ‘supranational’ was supposed to capture the vision of a ‘community’ of the European nations. A binding principle of this ‘community’ would be ‘constitutional tolerance’, that is, the will of the European nations to share certain areas of their sovereignty and to loosen the ties between the nation and the national identity on the one hand and the state or the political sphere on the other. ‘Europe’ would then be the place in which strangers were no longer necessarily each other’s enemies, but in which they would share important parts of their economic and political lives. As a true community of strangers, ‘Europe’ was to become an important antidote to defining national identity as the overriding element of anyone’s identity. Within a multi-dimensional and post-sovereign European ‘community’, the importance of the link between nationality and identity could be 31 See C. Joerges and N. Ghaleigh (eds), Darker Legacies of Law in Europe: The Shadow of National Socialism and Fascism over Europe and its Legal Traditions (Oxford: Hart, 2003); Th. Mertens, ‘Review of Joerges and Ghaleigh’, Ratio Juris, vol. 18 (2005), pp. 285–9. 32 J.H.H. Weiler, ‘Fin-de-siècle Europe: do the new clothes have an emperor?’, The Constitution of Europe, pp. 238–63.

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


reduced. The emphasis on unity and homogeneity would gradually make place for diversity and heterogeneity. Europe was thus envisioned as a place not so much of constitutional patriotism but of constitutional tolerance. The trouble with the Maastricht treaty, according to Weiler, is that it fits poorly with this ‘community’ ideal. It intends to establish a European ‘Union’, decorated with all the political paraphernalia of the state, ranging from the substantial, such as common currency, common citizenship, common foreign policy and defence, to the symbolic, such as a flag and anthem. According to Weiler, the chilly reaction to this treaty was therefore understandable. If this observation about the Maastricht treaty is appropriate, then the hostile reaction to the Draft Treaty is even more understandable, as this is even more understandably seen as a step towards a European state. From a variety of backgrounds, people ask the obvious question of whether agreeing to this treaty would create a European state which would in the long run replace the European nation-states. They are obviously worried about how this would affect their identity. This gives the much debated European ‘democratic deficit’ a specific urgency. Even if it can be argued that ‘Europe’ had beautiful constitutional clothes long before the drafting of this ‘constitution’ – in the form of treaties, institutions and doctrines – the urgent question is now ‘which emperor is wearing these clothes?’ If it is supposed to be the European demos, the majorities in France and the Netherlands shout: ‘But the emperor is naked!’ The question whether the European ‘nations’ still need to be identified as the exclusive emperors who wear these constitutional clothes or whether Europe itself has become a ‘subject’ to which these clothes can be attributed, is decisive for the future of Europe’s project. If there is such a European ‘emperor’, it should be wise enough to respect the relative autonomy of his national ‘imperial’ counterparts and sufficiently attractive so as to attract the admiration and the loyalty of its citizens even if they originate in and continue to belong to different nations. Only in this manner, European constitutional patriotism does not have to compete with national patriotism, but can rather be its complement. Whether such an emperor can be constructed and thus whether European constitutional patriotism is possible depends, I think, on the fulfilment of two conditions. First, the elements that are supposed to constitute a European identity must have sufficient substance to be recognizable as European; second, they must be able to exist alongside the elements that constitute national identities. In a word, they must be sufficiently universal to transcend the particularities of the European member states but particular enough to delineate what Europe is about. Europe is not everywhere,33 and European constitutional patriotism is not the same thing as cosmopolitanism.34 The first condition refers to the European ‘emperor’ himself. To a certain extent, this emperor does not need to be invented now or constructed in the future. ‘He’ has always been there. From the early beginnings of the European integration, in the 33 See Th. Mertens, ‘Hegel and the End of Europe’, Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, vol. 89 (2003), pp. 38–52. 34 This is the direction of Habermas’ recent writings in which he has argued for governance on three levels: global, regional and national. See e.g. J. Habermas, Der gespaltene Westen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2004), pp. 133–7.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Schumann declaration as well as in the Treaty of Rome, to the preamble of the recent Draft Treaty, references have been made to elements of a common identity whose importance would transcend the national values and yet bind them together. If we hold that such references are mere rhetorical window-dressing, then Europe’s future seems bleak. This would amount to a denial of the existence of any substantial values beyond the level of the (European) nation-state, with the possible exception of the existence of truly global values.35 This is the case when patriotism is understood as the loyal attachment to the substantial values of a particular nation only. In his recent writings, Habermas defends the claim that the reference to common European values makes sense. This view forms part of a larger answer to the reproach that his original understanding of ‘constitutional patriotism’ amounted to a form of universalism which did not allow for national or regional attachments.36 He now admits that the ‘community of strangers’ politically united by their loyalty to constitutional principles should indeed not be understood in such a thin and formal way, that constitutional patriotism would only be possible within a world state based on principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. As an answer both to the problems connected with unrestricted nationalism and to the post-national constellation, constitutional patriotism aims at the creation of political regimes on a continental scale. The European Union is the prime example of such a regime and a test case for a substantially enriched form of constitutional patriotism. Therefore, the fate of the European project is of the utmost importance from the perspective of constitutional patriotism as he understands it.37 Habermas has made a serious effort to specify what values underlie the European project. These are supposed to fill the gap between universal values such as commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law and the values for which people are committed to ‘their country’. The question of whether Europe is able to gain the affectionate support of its ‘citizens’ depends to a large extent on whether such an understanding of European values and of its identity are convincing and attractive enough to generate support. For Habermas, the important question is the following: ‘are there historical experiences, traditions, and achievements that can help European citizens create the consciousness of a political fate that has commonly been endured and that commonly will have to be developed?’38 An answer to this question is not easy. It cannot consist in the mentioned universal values; nor can it 35 The latter is the case when patriotism is supposed to exclude cosmopolitanism, as MacIntyre does. In his contribution to this volume Nathanson shows convincingly, I think, that this is not the case. 36 I formulated this objection in Th. Mertens, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Citizenship: Kant against Habermas’, European Journal of Philosophy, vol. 4 (1996), pp. 328–47. 37 Habermas participated in the public debate on the future of Europe. Before the French referendum, he wrote together with some others an op-ed in Le Monde in which he urged the French to vote in favor of the constitution. . 38 J. Habermas, ‘Der 15. Februar oder: was die Europäer verbindet’, in J. Habermas, Der gespaltene Westen, p. 46. This text was drafted together with a number of leading intellectuals, one of them being J. Derrida, as a reaction to the build-up of the second Iraq War. See .

Constitutional Patriotism and the European Constitutional Debate


consist in references to Christianity, capitalism, natural sciences and technology, Roman law or Code Napoléon either, since these elements have spread all over the globe. The answer must be more specific and yet point at values that can tie the nationstates of Europe together in their construction of an integrated Europe. According to Habermas, the following elements then are typical of European identity: the ability to bridge and to stabilize social contradictions by means of institutions; the strong emphasis on the secular or neutral character of the public sphere and on the separation of politics and religion; the relatively large confidence in the steering capacity of the state and the relatively sceptical attitude vis-à-vis the market and (the ambivalences of) scientific progress; the preference for social, distributive justice rather than for libertarian views of justice; the rather high sensitivity for injuries to personal and bodily integrity and the accompanying low level of tolerance concerning violence, both of which result in a general rejection of capital punishment; the aspiration for a multilateral international order regulated by law; the rejection of Eurocentrism.39 It is debatable whether these elements are the defining elements of the identity of Europe. But even if they were, this ‘definition’ of Europe alone would not be enough. In order for these elements to generate the feelings of affection and loyalty needed for a (revival of) European constitutional patriotism, the second condition must be satisfied too. This condition might turn out to be an even more difficult hurdle to overcome, as it points at what some call the inherent logic of the political. Both Weiler and Habermas acknowledge that even if sentiments of loyalty towards the European project can be developed, they will not replace strong commitments to the nation. European constitutional patriotism will not be able to do away with feelings of loyalty and ‘ordinary’ patriotism. Therefore, constitutional patriotism and ‘ordinary’ patriotism have to be compatible and not mutually exclusive. The second condition presupposes that it is possible to leave the logic of exclusion behind and to adopt a logic of inclusion.40 At first this condition might seem an easy one to fulfil. Do people not have multiple identities? Are states not inhabited by people from a variety of backgrounds? Why then would a common European juridico-political culture exclude the existence and the recognition of national political and legal traditions? Why would the nation-state, itself not consisting of just one identity, be the alpha and omega of a viable and flourishing political unity? Why could Europe not be a community of European ‘citizens’ from a diversity of national backgrounds? Why would the ‘European we’ not leave room for pride in national traditions, as the Preamble of the Draft Treaty formulates? Why would the ‘people’ of Europe not be able to remember the histories of what unrestricted national pride has brought them and then acknowledge the importance of constitutional tolerance and European constitutional patriotism? Unfortunately, the way in which the referenda in France and the Netherlands reflect a larger sceptic sentiment vis-à-vis Europe suggests that it is not at all easy to replace the logic of exclusion by the logic of inclusion. Large parts of Europe’s population do not perceive the process of European unification as a process of economic, cultural and constitutional tolerance, but as a process of establishing 39 J. Habermas, ‘Der 15. Februar oder: was die Europäer verbindet’, pp. 48–51. 40 U. Beck, The Cosmopolitan Vision (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006), p. 172.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

a European bureaucratic hegemon. In terms of Weiler’s ideals, this means that the peace brought about by the European project is taken for granted. Few still acknowledge the relation between the Draft Treaty and the heritage of the great European wars of the twentieth century.41 Prosperity is no longer associated with open borders and open minds, but rather with closure and protectionism. Europe’s ideal of the ‘supranational’ is no longer attractive either, as it is seen as just another form of the more general attitude of tolerance. At present, tolerance is not held in high esteem, as in the view of many it has led on the domestic level to failures of the so-called multicultural society. Why would an attitude which so clearly failed on the domestic level succeed on the European level? If the idea of a decent, multicultural society has resulted in segregation and discrimination, why would the idealism of a decent, constitutional tolerant Europe lead to better results? It is disconcerting to realize that the constituent ideals of the European project have lost their appeal, at least for many Europeans. It is doubtful whether the elements mentioned by Habermas will be strong enough to replace the founding European ideals and to revitalize European constitutional patriotism.42 Can one really love one’s continent because of ‘the secular character’ of its states, or because of its ‘high sensitivity for physical integrity’? Will such elements bind Europeans together around the idea of a multicultural and supranational European community? Many will deny that it is possible to replace the logic of exclusion by the logic of inclusion. The realm of the political is, after all, based on the distinction between friend and foe. If the current sentiment within present European societies is one of fear of the outside world – the world of Brussels, globalization and terrorists – the peoples of Europe will be tempted to withdraw into the illusion of a ‘homogeneous patriotic we’ and to reject the ideals and the values of a ‘heterogeneous European tolerant we’. The day after the Dutch referendum, the Italian newspaper L’Unità captured this sentiment well by referring in its editorial to ‘egoismo e paura’ (egoism and fear). It will require both imagination and courage to overcome these forces in favour of a renewed European constitutional patriotism.

41 The preamble of the Draft Treaty, however, still refers to Europe being ‘reunited after bitter experiences’. 42 Habermas’ fear is that Europe without a constitution will be nothing more than a zone of free trade; see J. Habermas, ‘Europa ist uns über die Köpfe hinweggerollt’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 6 June 2005; J. Habermas, ‘Ein avantgardistischer Spürsinn für Relevanzen’ (Bruno Kreisky Preisrede), 9 March 2006, at .

Chapter 8

Patriotism and Nationalism Ross Poole

I In ordinary speech, the terms ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’ (and their cognates) are often used interchangeably. Both are taken to imply a commitment to one’s country, a special concern with its well-being (and perhaps that of one’s fellow members), and a readiness to make sacrifices on its behalf, especially in times of crisis. If there is an apparent difference, it lies in the evaluative tone of the two terms. ‘Patriotism’ is more likely to be used in a positive sense, whilst ‘nationalism’ to be used negatively; we are inclined to think of ourselves as patriots and to reserve the term ‘nationalist’ for those on the other side. This may be little more than a prejudice towards the first person (‘We are patriots; you are nationalists’), though I will suggest later that this prejudice should not be dismissed too quickly. However, there is also a suggestion that patriots are more likely to be measured and reasonable in their commitments, to be responsible in their behavior, to respect the commitments of fellow patriots in other countries, and to look for a rational resolution of their occasional differences, while nationalists tend to be extreme, absolute, and uncritical in their commitments, too ready to claim superiority for their country over others, and to be bellicose in their behavior. I do not want to build much on the differences between the ways in which the two words are used today. What is more significant is the fact that the terms have a place in two quite distinct traditions of political thought. The concept of patriotism has a key role in the republican tradition, and this can be traced back at least to the era of the Roman Republic, and perhaps even earlier to the city-states of Greece. In the early modern world, this tradition was revived in Renaissance Italy, most notably by Machiavelli, and was a significant presence in the political life of Western Europe and North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At the heart of this tradition was the idea of the politically active citizen, who was involved in public affairs, was prepared to play a role in administration, was aware of the threats which tyranny and corruption posed to the republic and ready to oppose them, and prepared to put his1 life on the line in military service in the defense of the republic against external and internal enemies. That is, the object of patriotic commitment was the 1 Classical theorists reserved citizenship for men so the male pronoun is appropriate here and sometimes elsewhere. For contrast, I will use ‘she’, ‘her‘, etc. when referring to conceptions of citizenship which are, in principle, gender neutral.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

patria, and this was conceived as a political entity, that is, the community organized as a republic.2 Patriotism was the virtue appropriate to this conception of political life. Nationalism is part of a much more recent and rather different political program. The nationalist’s commitment is to the nation, that is (broadly speaking), to a certain form of community; it is to the state only insofar as it represents the nation, that is, to the nation-state. In one sense, the nation consists of the people; nationalism is a populist, even democratic, political doctrine. But the people are not simply the aggregate of those who happen to live in a particular area; they are those for whom that area is, by tradition and heritage, a homeland. Every nation has a special site of its belonging, a land which is the ground (literally) of its identity. The most visible forms of nationalism are the insurgent variety, where a community struggles for national liberation, that is, for an appropriate form of political recognition. However, much more familiar, though often unnoticed, are the everyday forms of nationalism: the rituals and practices, the symbols and the rhetoric of public life, the school text books, the currency, and all the artifacts which implicate the idea of the nation. Typically, one acquires a national identity by birth; indeed, some nations conceive of this as not a matter of where one is born, but to whom. National identity is determined by parents (and their parents, and so on), a matter of ‘blood’, and thus a form of belonging which was not available to outsiders. These ‘ethnic’ nationalisms are all too familiar, and represent a temptation for all nationalisms. However, most nations conceive their identity in less exclusive terms, and – more or less grudgingly – allow that immigrants too may adopt the nation as their own.3 Even the states of Central and Western Europe are learning, albeit painfully, to accept new members. While all nations expect that the latecomers, and perhaps more importantly their children, will acquire a sense of belonging to the nation, there is a considerable diversity in how demanding this expectation is. In fact, the extent to which most immigrant communities adopt their new nation as their own is quite remarkable. Though the vast majority of contemporary Americans are descended from the immigrants who arrived during or after the second half of the nineteenth century, they have little difficulty in identifying the makers of the Constitution as the founding fathers, the civil war as their war, and so on. For most members of the modern nation, descent and inheritance is a matter of history and culture, not of birth and ancestry. And while the nation expects some degree of assimilation by new members, it usually allows considerable internal diversity. 2 ‘Patria’ is often translated as ‘homeland’. If this is roughly correct, then the distinction between classical patriotism and nationalism is not quite as clear cut as I am here assuming. One might have expected Maurizio Viroli, who is concerned to defend a republican conception of patriotism and to attack nationalism, to clarify this point. But he does not even address it. The blurring of the two notions is contained in the title of his book, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995). For an incisive discussion, see Mary G. Dietz, ‘Patriotism’, in Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell L. Hanson (eds), Political Innovation and Conceptual Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002), especially pp. 202–3 (page references to the reprinted version). 3 See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 2nd edn (London and New York: Verso, 1991), p. 145.

Patriotism and Nationalism


The most plausible accounts of nationalism conceive it as a relatively modern phenomenon, emerging in Western Europe along with the modern territorial state and a capitalist market economy.4 That its genealogy is quite distinct from that of patriotism suggests that there is a conceptual distinction worth preserving between the two concepts, and from now on I will use the terms in the senses defined by the two traditions. It is not surprising, however, that the distinction has become a blurred one. When nationalism began to emerge in explicit doctrinal form towards the end of the eighteenth century, it adopted the language of republicanism. This is most apparent in the writings of Rousseau, who – with characteristic ambiguity – may equally be considered as one of the last great republican thinkers or one the first theorists of nationalism.5 This ambiguity remained when Rousseau’s language entered public discourse in the early period of the French Revolution. But it was more or less decisively resolved in the years that followed. Revolutionary and Napoleonic military successes were conceived as serving French national aggrandizement, and these were met by resistance – by Spaniards, Germans, Poles, and Russians – carried out in the name of the nation. The concept of a nation as a form of community which demands political recognition entered political discourse.6 The republican tradition was marginalized, and nationalism – along with its symbiotic opposite, liberalism – came to dominate discussions of citizenship, state legitimacy, and selfdetermination. In this context, patriotism came to be associated, not with commitment to and participation in a particular form of political life, but with furtherance of the particular goals of the nation. For many, including Maurizio Viroli, Mary Dietz, and John H. Schaar, the conflation of patriotism with nationalism was both a conceptual mistake and a political catastrophe.7 As we shall see, Jürgen Habermas takes a more nuanced 4 I provide a schematic account of the emergence of nationalism in Nation and Identity (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), ch. 1, especially pp. 24–31. See note 6 below for more on the dating of nationalism. 5 The nationalist Rousseau is not as well known as the republican. See, however, The Constitutional Project for Corsica and Considerations on the Government of Poland. Both of these are in Rousseau, Political Writings, trans. and ed. J.M. Watkins (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1953). 6 To say that the concept entered political discourse at this time does not mean that it had not been a presence in political life a good deal earlier. Indeed, it was. For nationalism in eighteenth-century Britain, see Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1992). For accounts of the early emergence of nationalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, see Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1992), and Anthony W. Marx, Exclusionary Origins of Nationalism (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). The misconception that the French revolutionary period witnessed the birth of nationalism plays a significant role in Habermas’s misunderstanding of nationalism. 7 See Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country ; Mary G. Dietz, ‘Patriotism’; and John H. Schaar, ‘The Case for Covenanted Patriotism’, reprinted from his Legitimacy in the Modern State (Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1981), in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism. Schaar describes nationalism as ‘patriotism’s bloody brother’. Dietz cites this passage with evident approval, and also John Dunn’s depiction of nationalism as ‘the starkest political shame of the twentieth century’, from Dunn, Western Political Theory in the Face of the


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

position; however, he does argue that nationalism was the product of historical contingencies which we are now in a position to move beyond. 8 Viroli, Dietz, Schaar, and Habermas at least some of the time, argue that it is necessary to reaffirm a concept and a practice of patriotism which is severed from its association with nationalism. I am skeptical about this project.9 The fact that republicanism was displaced by nationalism and liberalism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was not just a historical accident or political mistake. It happened because the republican program was inappropriate for the modern world. Though nationalism is implicated in some of the worst disasters of the past few centuries, it is also a presence in the most liberal, democratic, and peaceful countries. I will suggest that nationalism embodies an essential insight: that in the condition of modernity, culture is and ought to be an essential ingredient in politics. If there is to be a viable form of republicanism, it must take this into account, and construct or appropriate the cultural resources necessary to sustain its program. In other words, the republican patriot will be a nationalist. II For the classical republican, the citizen is someone who is engaged in the common life of the state, ready to carry out administrative duties, and prepared to put his life on the line in military service.10 These are not isolated burdens, but are aspects of a rich and satisfying form of life, which includes a wide range of social, religious, and Future (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 55. This is not the place to discuss the various misunderstandings of nationalism which lie behind these dismissals. One is the emphasis on the destructive forms of nationalism all too visible in places like the former Yugoslavia, and neglect of the everyday nationalism present in every advanced country; see Michael Billig, Banal Nationalism (London: Sage Publications, 1995). There is also an associated tendency to overestimate the cultural homogeneity of nationalism, and to ignore the diversity present in almost all forms of national identity; on this, see Ross Poole, ‘The Nation-State and Aboriginal Self-Determination’, in Michel Seymour (ed.), The Fate of the Nation-State (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2004), especially pp. 94–7. Sometimes, as with Viroli, there is a tendency to concentrate on the worst excesses of nationalism, and appropriate all the good aspects to a sanitized but ill-defined conception of patriotism. 8 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe’, Praxis International, vol. 12 (1992), pp. 1–19; reprinted in various places, including in Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), Appendix II. Page references will be to the latter. 9 For a powerful statement of a similar skepticism, see Margaret Canovan, ‘Patriotism Is Not Enough’, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 30 (2000), pp. 413–32; reprinted in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism; page references to the later version. For an earlier statement of my views, see Poole, Nation and Identity, ch. 3. 10 I do not pretend to be describing the actual life of the citizen in classical Athens, republican Rome or Renaissance Florence, but rather the idealized model which can be extracted from republican writings. My point will be that the model made sense as an ideal

Patriotism and Nationalism


cultural activities. Ideally, citizenship was a near full time activity; it was certainly expected to engage the best energies of the citizen. This meant that other social functions were carried out elsewhere. The citizen’s involvement in productive work, for example, was ideally that of head of household, property holder, perhaps slave owner; the work itself was carried on by others – wives, tenant farmers, slaves. This means that the way of life of the citizen could not be universalized; it was available to some only on condition that it was not available to all. The city-state was relatively small, indeed tiny compared with most modern states. The citizen was much closer to the exercise of power, and might even be directly involved in that exercise. Indeed, his contribution might actually make a difference to how that power was exercised. Free-riding on the commitments of others was not a plausible option, and was likely to be noticed and subject to censure or worse. Even without democratic institutions, participation in political activity could be conceived as a form of freedom in a quite fundamental sense: citizens were engaged in creating the conditions of their existence. Citizenship was a form of self-rule.11 None of these conditions obtain in the modern world. The field of politics is not the city but the territorial state. The vast majority of the inhabitants of a given territory enjoy the privileges and occasional burdens of citizenship. It is true that citizenship in the more wealthy countries remains a privileged and sought after way of life; however, this is only the case for those outside the borders and for the minority of residents – refugees, illegal immigrants, guest workers – who are excluded. The work of politics and administration is subject to the social division of labor; it is carried out by professionals. While there are still responsibilities associated with citizenship – voting, jury service, perhaps even national service in times of crisis – these obligations are marginal to the main business of life. And just as well: work is a necessity and, together with private life, occupies most of an individual’s time. In these circumstances, the obligations of citizenship are an intrusion and a burden, not an ingredient in a privileged and fulfilling existence. And for many, the obligations of citizenship are pointless. For most of the activities associated with citizenship, one’s own contribution is one amongst millions of others; the effect of this contribution on the eventual outcome is vanishingly small. If one is concerned to organize one’s behavior in terms of bringing about desired ends – which is after all the dominant form of reason in other avenues of life – it is not likely that one will devote much energy to political activity. For most citizens, most of the time, the business of life takes place elsewhere. It is not surprising, therefore, that the traditional republican emphasis on citizen activity has not played a major role in nineteenth- and twentieth-century political thought. The republican emphasis on the

under certain highly restricted social conditions; outside those conditions – for example in the contemporary world – it makes little sense. 11 In this and the following paragraph I draw on the canonical argument by Benjamin Constant; see ‘The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns’, Political Writings (edited by Bianca Maria Fontana) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). See also Michael Walzer, ‘Citizenship’ in Ball et al. (eds), Political Innovation and Conceptual Change.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

responsibilities of the citizen has been replaced by the liberal concern with the rights of the person. However, as contemporary liberal theorists have increasingly recognized, one cannot simply ignore the question of citizen responsibilities.12 The rights celebrated by liberals presuppose certain social and political conditions. Some of these are institutional. There must be an appropriate framework of law and law enforcement through which rights are defined and protected, disputes adjudicated, and so on. However, a legal framework of right will decay unless there are political institutions and procedures through which the laws and their administration can be criticized and changed. For a stable liberal order, there must be some form of constitutional democracy in place. While there are examples of non-democratic regimes providing at least some of the rights emphasized by liberals (perhaps Hong Kong prior to its return to China), these are few and far between. It is likely that in the long term liberalism presupposes democracy. However, the mere existence of appropriate institutions is not on its own sufficient to sustain the regime of rights. These must also be confirmed in the behavior and attitudes of those subject to them. Citizens – some of them much of the time, and perhaps most of them some of the time – must be aware of the importance of the rights, make use of them in their own lives, and be prepared to defend their own rights and those of others against infringements. In other words, liberal and democratic institutions need a liberal and democratic culture. There are two important conditions here. The first involves some measure of activity. Those subject to the institutions – enough of them, enough of the time – must make use of the opportunities they provide to participate in public affairs, criticize or support political, legal and administrative decisions, take the time to understand and participate in political debates, and so on. The need for some measure of activity on the part of citizens has been increasingly recognized by political philosophers, and is an aspect of the voluminous civil society literature. However, it remains problematic. Why should an individual participate in political activities when she knows that her contribution to the outcome is minimal? Why not simply free-ride on the contributions of others? Presumably, citizens will be most likely to involve themselves in the political arena when their own interests and values are under threat; they will organize on behalf of those interests and values. These activities are important: they will contribute to the critical evaluation of laws and administrative decisions, and thus to the public life which is the necessary underpinning of democratic institutions. But these contributions raise the issue of commitment in an especially troubling form. Citizens must pursue the goals they think important, but do so in ways which do not threaten, and even sustain, democratic institutions and forms of social life. In participating in public debate, they must 12 See Walzer, ‘Citizenship’; Charles Taylor, ‘Cross-Purposes: The LiberalCommunitarian Debate’ in Nancy Rosenblum (ed.), Liberalism and the Moral Life (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989); Stephen Macedo, Liberal Virtues: Citizenship, Virtue and Community in Liberal Constitutionalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990); and William Galston, Liberal Purposes: Goods, Virtues and Duties in the Liberal State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Patriotism and Nationalism


recognize that the interests and values they represent may not win out. They must accept the legitimacy of democratic processes and of the results they deliver, even when they believe the results to be wrong, and not just contrary to their interests. They will recognize that their own participation helps legitimize decisions which they profoundly disagree with. This is not quite a paradox;13 it does, however, create a tension which is both constitutive of the practice of democracy and a potential threat to it. Democracy relies on a certain schizophrenia in public life: it asks that one be committed both to one’s own goals and values and also to the goals and values determined by a legitimate democratic process, even when – as is inevitable – they conflict. While political schizophrenia is not as disabling as its psychological counterpart, it can all too easily produce similar results. Citizens may simply deny the conflict, and pursue their own concerns without regard to others. Or (which does not exclude ‘and’) they may withdraw from public life altogether, and if this malaise is widespread, the system will erode from within. Though the most striking illustrations of this malaise are societies constructed on the Soviet model, it is also a problem for liberal-democratic societies. Associated, both as cause and effect, with the withdrawal from political activity is a sense of impotence and cynicism. But as the tradition of active citizenship diminishes or disappears, so too do the prospects of a liberal democracy. Just what level of activity and commitment is required of citizens depends very much on one’s expectation of the state. Neo-liberals, for example, envisage a diminished role for the state. On this conception, a minimum of activity and commitment is required; the citizen is (more or less) the taxpayer, whose major responsibility is to rein in the wasteful expenditure of the state. Social democratic policies, on the other hand, require a much stronger practice of citizenship. Government strategies need to be criticized and informed, and citizens must accept a higher degree of state expenditure and interference. So the problem of finding the resources to sustain a practice of citizenship is a greater problem for social democrats than neo-liberals. Indeed, for neo-liberals a decline in the citizenship activities encouraged by social democrats may be welcomed as a sign of healthy individualism. However, the decline cannot go too far: even the most austere neoliberal state needs some support in the attitudes and activities of those subject to it. In other words, liberal persons – or enough of them, enough of the time – must take on the responsibilities of citizenship: they must be both active and committed members of the body politic. That is to say, liberalism requires not merely persons whose rights are protected, but virtuous citizens. That is, it needs a practice of patriotism. But how is this to be provided in the conditions of modern political life? III Patriotism is often criticized because it seems to conflict with the demands of a universalistic morality, that is, one which recognizes the equal status of all human 13 As argued years ago by Richard Wollheim; see his ‘A Paradox in the Theory of Democracy’, in Peter Laslett and W.G. Runciman, Philosophy, Politics and Society, Second Series (Oxford: Blackwell, 1962).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

beings, because it requires that its citizens give preference to their own political community and to their own fellow citizens over other, equally deserving, communities and people. In its simplest form, this criticism is much too sweeping. Every association to which we belong, and almost every human relationship into which we enter, requires that we give preference to fellow members and to those with whom we have a relationship over others.14 It would be a crazy morality that did not recognize that we have a greater commitment to our friends, to our children, and even to our colleagues, than we have to people we do not know, the children of others, and those who work in other universities and departments. Of course, the nature and extent of the commitment depends on the kind of relationship and association: we owe much more to our children than we owe to our colleagues. We need not, and should not, accept these commitments uncritically. There is room, indeed a need for critical discussion of the kinds of grouping which are necessary or desirable, of the kinds of special responsibilities they require, and of the relationship between these special responsibilities and the responsibilities we have to people as such, independently of any special relationship with them. But it is implausible to argue that a universalistic morality requires the repudiation of all the special responsibilities we have to those who stand in particular relationships to us. Patriotism involves a relationship between the citizen, the state, and fellow citizens. If we assume that some form of the state is necessary, and that the state, like every other human association, requires that its members have special commitments, both to it and to fellow members, then we have arrived at a justification of some minimal conception of patriotism. However patriotism need not be, and in the eyes of most of its philosophical defenders should not be, a relationship of uncritical commitment. There remain very important questions concerning the specific form of the state that is required, what powers it needs and the desirable limits of this power, the kind and extent of responsibilities of the citizen, as well as questions about the politics and activities of the specific state of which one is a citizen. The patriot admired by philosophers is someone who recognizes her special responsibilities as a citizen, but conceives of these to include the responsibility to take a critical stance towards the particular state to which she belongs. But what is the basis for the critical stance? What values does the critical patriot bring to bear on her state and its practices? There is no doubt that universal values must play a role. But how great a role? For some defenders of patriotism, the commitments of the patriot to her state are justified just to the extent, and only to the extent, that the state embodies the universal. In other words, the existence of the state as an institution, together with the particularistic commitments it requires, is justified because it serves or instantiates certain overriding values. For the classical republican, the overriding value was freedom; the contemporary liberal patriots may well emphasize democracy, justice, and rights. But whichever values are chosen, they 14 See Samuel Scheffler’s important series of papers on ‘associative duties’ in Boundaries and Allegiances: Problems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), chs 2–4. For an influential earlier discussion, see Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), pp. 195–216.

Patriotism and Nationalism


are universal ones. They are in principle available to all states, and it is only to the extent that their particular state realizes these values that it deserves the allegiance of its citizens.15 For these defenders of patriotism, this provides the key difference with nationalism. Nationalists, they argue, are committed to the values embedded in their specific way of life. The values to which they are committed are no more available to strangers than is the beauty of the nation’s poetry available to non-native speakers, its landscape art available to those whose land is other, or its rituals to those who do not inherit its traditions. Nationalist values do not derive from universal principles, but from a special form of belonging. I have drawn the distinction between republican universalism and nationalist particularism somewhat schematically to bring out as starkly as possible the issues which are relevant to my discussion here.16 The patriot is affirming a position that is familiar in philosophy: that the only values worthy of the name are those which are universal in scope, and that particular commitments are only legitimate if they are derivable from the universal. From this universalistic perspective, a standpoint which affirms the irreducible value of the particular seems to involve mysticism or, at best, irrationality. It is this charge that I want to resist. I do not want to deny the critical importance of universal values. However, I wish to suggest that their role is not so much to justify our particularistic commitments, as to place them in a larger moral context, to place limits on them, on occasion to override them, and sometimes to provide reasons why they should be rejected altogether. It is undoubtedly true, as the universalistic patriot argues, that nationalism involves an irreducible commitment to particularity (to my country and not to yours) and that this commitment does on occasion conflict with the demands of universalistic moral principles. However, this kind of commitment is not unique to nationalism: it is also an aspect of the partiality one shows to friends, to family, and even to one’s local football team. When it is properly understood, I will suggest, the commitment to particularity is a necessary complement to universality, and not an irrational or mystical repudiation of it. That there is a tension between the two demands is not something which might be overcome, but is an inevitable component of the moral life. Let me begin the defense by noting a problem with the patriot’s position as I have so far described it. Let us imagine a citizen of the United States, Amanda, who is committed to the ideals of democracy and justice. She is aware that her country is not perfect in this regard, and though she is aware that many countries are a good deal worse, she spends much of her spare time attempting by debate and example to improve the performance of the United Sates in respect to these values. Now if the commitment to this freedom and this justice was the source of her patriotism, it is 15 This is the essence of the ‘natural duties’ approach to the problem of political obligation advanced by John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972), pp. 114–17, 333–7, and by Jeremy Waldron, ‘Special Ties and Natural Duties’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 22 (1993), pp. 3–30. 16 Seminal discussions of universalism and particularism in relation to nationalism and patriotism are Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, E.H. Lindley Lecture, University of Kansas, 1984; reprinted in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism; Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), ch. 5; and David Miller. On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), especially ch. 3.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

hard to see why she would not have a greater commitment to New Zealand or Sweden insofar as these countries do a rather better job of realizing these values than does the United States. But this is to misunderstand the nature of patriotism, or at least, of the patriotism that is motivating my heroine. Amanda has a genuine commitment to the values of democracy and justice, and not just in the United States. Indeed, she has spent time in Africa as a volunteer to further these values in other places. But she has a special concern that her country live up to these ideals, and she devotes greater energies to this end. It is this special concern which grounds the relationship between patriotic citizens and their state, and it is this which is not explained by the universal principle. The relationship which concerns me here, that is, the critical relationship which the good citizen has to her state, is related to but not that of political obligation. The concept of political obligation is primarily concerned with obedience, and indeed, obedience which might legitimately be enforced by law. Further, it is limited to those states which satisfy certain minimal standards of justice. States such as apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany did not have a legitimate claim on the obedience of their citizens. But the responsibilities of citizenship differ from those of political obligation in both these respects. They go beyond those which might be enforced, and do not cease when states cease to be even approximately just. The good citizen has a responsibility, not just to obey the law, but to engage in activities which are not just matters of obedience. She has the responsibility to take a critical attitude to the law: where there is a good law, to sustain it in her behavior, perhaps by example, encouragement, and the like, and where there is a bad law, to enter into discussions with others about it, lobby for its repeal, and so on. If the law is seriously unjust, the responsibilities of the citizen may extend to disobedience. These responsibilities continue to exist even – or, on some accounts, especially – when the state ceases to satisfy the minimal criteria of justice. In these cases, those who resist the government, organize for its overthrow even when in exile, rather than transfer their commitments to a country more deserving of their loyalty, do so because, despite its crimes, the country remains theirs. In a similar, if slightly less heroic spirit, Amanda devotes considerable energies to the reform of the American system, because is it her country. But what is the moral force of ‘her’ here? Why does she have a special responsibility to her country? In all likelihood,17 this commitment arises simply because the United States is the country in which she was born, and it provided the cultural materials which enter into her conception of who she is. She is all too aware of the contingency of all this, and knows that if her parents had chosen to live elsewhere, it would have been another culture and another nation which attracted her allegiance. But as it is, it is the United States which is her country, and this is where her commitments lie. This does not mean that this is how things have to be. She may choose to emigrate for reasons of convenience or principle. But the very difficulty of that choice gives some indication of the hold that original identity has on her.

17 I put aside the possibility that my patriot is an immigrant who might be supposed to have chosen the commitment.

Patriotism and Nationalism


This point may be put in another way. The slogan ‘My country, right or wrong’ is often derided by liberals and republicans.18 Their derision is justified if the slogan means, as perhaps it usually does mean, that commitment to one’s country’s policies or interests (or those of its governing party) should override all other political and moral principles. But if we change the emphasis slightly, a different meaning emerges. It is ‘My country, right or wrong’. That is to say, whether it is right or wrong, my country remains my country, and what it does, or what is done in its name, is on my moral agenda. If it is right, I can be proud of it; but if it is wrong, I have a responsibility to do something about it. In this sense, the slogan captures something important and, for the patriot, correct. In its ambiguity, the slogan encapsulates both the tension and the complementarity between the (presumably universal) values embodied in ‘right or wrong’ and the particular commitments of the possessive pronoun ‘my’. One of the implications of this view is that membership of an institution or group which is repudiated on universalistic grounds may still carry specific responsibilities. As Yael Tamir argues, since ‘associative obligations … grow from relatedness and identity, they are independent of the normative nature of the association.’ Even members of the Mafia have ‘an obligation to attend to each other’s needs, to protect each other, to support the families of those killed ‘in action’, and the like.’ She recognizes, of course, that these responsibilities may be overridden by other considerations, including those of a universalistic kind.19 While I think Tamir is right on this, we need to be careful in the way we specify the responsibilities that go with membership. There are specific responsibilities that go with membership of the Mafia: to kill informers, commit perjury to protect fellow members, and the like. We need not suppose that these responsibilities survive the discovery that the Mafia is a morally unworthy organization. The responsibilities which do survive may well include responsibilities towards one’s fellow members, though perhaps not the ones defined by the Mafia. However, what also survives is a sense of moral implication: the member, perhaps now an ex-member, will feel a special responsibility to persuade other members to leave, work for change, perhaps to expose the group to others, and so on. To take examples closer to the theme of this chapter, it is easy to imagine that a citizen might come to reject, not just the particular policies of her state, but its very existence. For instance, a citizen of Israel might come to reject the Zionist project because she comes to believe that it cannot be carried out without major injustices to the Palestinian people. Such a person might well, and often would, continue to feel special responsibilities associated with her citizenship – to persuade fellow citizens, to speak on behalf of the Palestinians, and the like. Or, to take another example, someone who rejects the idea of the nation as morally repugnant, may still feel responsibilities associated with her particular national identity. As we shall see in the following section, this position is not too distant from that taken by Jürgen Habermas. 18 This slogan is discussed by Igor Primoratz, ‘Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain’, Chapter 1 in this volume. Primoratz gives the source of the slogan as a toast by a US naval office, Stephen Decatur, April, 1816: ‘Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!’ Primoratz does not note the ambiguity of the slogan. 19 Tamir, Liberal Nationalism, p. 101.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

IV A striking illustration of the moral force of the pronoun ‘my’ is provided, almost against his will, by Jürgen Habermas in his controversy with the German conservative historians over the Third Reich, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and their place in German history.20 One aspect of this debate is of particular relevance here. One of Habermas’s opponents, Ernst Nolte, had argued that it was important, and also timely, to re-examine the place of the Holocaust in twentieth century history. Nolte suggests that many modern political movements had threatened the extermination of their opponents, and that this threat had been put into practice prior to the Holocaust on at least two occasions, with the Turkish massacre of Armenians in 1915 and Stalin’s war against (real or imagined) political opponents in the 1930s. To understand the Holocaust, it was at least necessary to place it in this context. Indeed, Nolte suggested, there was also reason to think that it was not just an exacerbation of traditional anti-Semitism, but ‘was above all a reaction born out of the anxiety of the annihilating occurrences of the Russian Revolution.’ He concludes that ‘the so-called annihilation of the Jews during the Third Reich was a reaction or a distorted copy and not a first act or an original.’21 Habermas argued strongly that this ‘relativization’ of the Holocaust was not an exercise in detached historical methodology, but was an attempt to reduce its moral significance, and more especially its significance for Germans. He argued that Nolte’s interpretation of the Holocaust as one of a number of twentieth-century horrors, and the (in fact implausible) suggestion that it was a response to the horrors of the Russian Revolution and of Stalinism, was part of a project to restore the continuity of present-day Germany with the pre-Nazi past. Insofar as Nolte was making a contribution to a debate about German identity, the question of comparison takes on a different meaning. Neither the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians nor the Stalinist purges were episodes in German history. Germans had a special responsibility to come to terms with the Holocaust, not because it was the only or even the worst of the various cases of mass murder in the twentieth century, but because it was an episode from their past. Habermas writes: Our own life is linked to the life context in which Auschwitz was possible not by contingent circumstances, but intrinsically. Our form of life is connected with that of our parents and grandparents through a web of familial, local, political, and intellectual traditions that is difficult to disentangle – that is, through a historical milieu which made us what we are. None of us can escape this milieu, because our identities, both as individuals and as Germans, are indissolubly interwoven with it.22

20 For Habermas’s major contributions to the debate, see The New Conservatism: Cultural Criticism and the Historians’ Debate (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989), ch. 9. For an account of the various contributions and the intellectual and political context of the controversy, see Charles S. Maier, The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1988). 21 E. Nolte, ‘Between Myth and Revisionism’, in H.W. Koch (ed.), Aspects of the Third Reich (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985), p. 36. 22 Habermas, The New Conservatism, p. 233.

Patriotism and Nationalism


This a very interesting passage. Though Habermas is often critical of claims made on behalf of the nation, and especially claims on behalf of the German nation, it is apparent that it is German national identity, the ‘web of familial, local, political, and intellectual traditions’, which was the conduit though which the past forms the moral agenda of contemporary Germans. This responsibility is not conveyed by an institutional continuity; this was shattered by the defeat in the Second World War. Nor is it determined by universal principles of political right; these do not capture the specificity of the German involvement. The responsibility is transmitted though the ‘historical milieu which has made us what we are’, which is ‘interwoven’ with ‘our identities, both as individuals and as Germans’. A certain ‘network of traditions’ has become an aspect of our sense of ourselves, and it carries with it responsibilities which are ours, even if the actions which are the source of the responsibilities were carried out by others, perhaps before we were born. We cannot deny these responsibilities without denying something of ourselves. It may seem strange to present Habermas as a proponent of national identity. Habermas is, after all, well known as an advocate of ‘constitutional patriotism’, that is, of the principle that a citizen’s political commitments, and more especially the commitment of German citizens, should be to a state which embodies certain universal principles – the rule of law, individual rights, democracy, and so on. However, the appeal to the normative role of national tradition in the controversy with Nolte is not an isolated inconsistency. There is a consistent ambivalence in Habermas’s advocacy of constitutional patriotism, which is often overlooked – even by Habermas himself.23 The dominant position in his work is what I will call ‘strong republicanism’. Habermas argues that over the past two hundred years the nation has played a crucial role in providing the social integration needed for the development of the liberal democratic state. This dependency has, however, had considerable costs. Nationalism appealed to a ‘pre-political’ community, and this always had the potential to override the commitment to constitutional democracy. The idea of the nation-state was now challenged by the cultural diversity which is increasingly characteristic of modern societies and by the forces of economic globalization. We are moving into a ‘post-national’ era, and this means that we are both able and indeed compelled to move beyond the nation as a legitimizing principle of state rule. Now is the time, as he puts it, that ‘republicanism must learn to stand on its own feet’.24 That is to say, republicanism can and should no longer depend on national 23 The following discussion incorporates much that I have learned from Patchen Markell, ‘Making Affect Safe for Democracy? On “Constitutional Patriotism”’, Political Theory, vol. 28 (2000), pp. 38–63. However, I am slightly more tentative in attributing the view that I (but not Markell) call ‘moderate republicanism’ to Habermas. See also Ciaran Cronin, ‘Democracy and Collective Identity’, European Journal of Philosophy, vol. 11 (2003), pp. 1–28. 24 Habermas, The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998), ch. 4: ‘The European Nation-State: On The Past and Future of Sovereignty and Citizenship’, p. 117. An earlier and influential statement of Habermas’s strong view is ‘Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe’, Praxis International, vol. 12 (1992), pp. 1–19. This has been reprinted in many places, and also as Appendix II of Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

identity; the commitment to the abstract principles of constitutional rule must form the motivational ground of the citizen’s commitment to the state. Habermas does not suppose that this commitment will arise just through the normative power of these principles. He argues that modern political life should provide each citizen with an education which will enable each citizen to discover, as it were for herself, the force of the principles. Habermas conjoins the theory of deliberative democracy with ideals from the classical republican tradition. Whereas nationalism conceives political life as grounded in a pre-political form of belonging, the republican conceives of it as formed and discovered through the political activity of the citizen. For Habermas, this formative and self-formative activity is participation in democratic deliberation. Citizens will take part in these processes, express and argue for their specific points of view, but in so doing, will come to recognize the legitimacy of the alternative points of view and the rationality of the overall process. They will be committed to its outcome, though in a reflective self-aware way. The process of forming the democratic will is at the same time the process of forming the individual’s will. A democratic republican politics will be self-sufficient, and will not rely on the cultural underpinnings provided by the nation. There is much that is attractive in this model. But Habermas, like other theorists of deliberative democracy, does little to resolve the enormous problems of providing an institutional realization of it in the conditions of modern social life. One problem is of particular relevance to our present concerns. If, as Habermas argues, the conditions for national identity are eroded by cultural diversity and globalization, so too are the conditions for the kind of public political life which his model envisages. There is a much more intimate relationship between democracy, even the radical democracy which Habermas advocates, and the nation-state than Habermas’s historical sketch allows. Democratic debate must take place in a national language (or a small number of them, in highly unusual circumstances); it will take as its starting point existing national institutions and practices; political arguments make constant appeal to a nation’s traditions and its history; decisions are authorized through rituals steeped in national history and tradition; and so on. The political public sphere is the national public sphere. It engages individuals to the extent that it calls into play stories, traditions, and symbols, though which they have formed a sense of their own identities. Participation in the democratic process of will formation is not itself a matter of will. For most, it is a matter of birth, tradition, and upbringing. Most of us can no more exempt ourselves from our unchosen heritage than Habermas and his German contemporaries could exempt themselves from the heritage of the Holocaust. There are, however, glimpses of another position in Habermas’s work. On this account, which I will call ‘moderate republicanism’, the process of democratic will formation does not replace the national culture, but transforms it in a democratic and inclusive direction. It is in this more moderate mood that Habermas writes: The political culture of a country crystallizes around its constitution. Each national culture develops a distinctive interpretation of those constitutional principles that are equally embodied in other republican constitutions in the light of its own national history. 25

25 Habermas, ‘The European Nation-State’, p. 118.

Patriotism and Nationalism


In other words, each nation (or ‘national culture’) will make use of ‘its own national history’ in interpreting the principles of constitutional democracy. That the interpretation is ‘distinctive’ means that it is not simply an instantiation of an ideal democratic model. The universal principles which constitute the ideal are compatible with a range of different institutional embodiments. The choice between federalism and centralism, between the number of tiers of government, between unicameral and bicameral systems, between proportional representation and territorial based electorates, and many other questions, is not just a matter of the fine tuning of democratic theory, but has to do with more local matters, that is, of a country’s history, traditions, forms of cultural diversity, and the like. On this account, the particularity of national cultures is not superseded, but continues to play a role, not merely alongside, but implicated in the way in which universal principles are interpreted. And just as well. Habermas is aware of the crucial role played by national identity in providing for ‘an idea that was vivid enough to shape people’s convictions and appealed more strongly to their hearts and minds than the dry ideas of popular sovereignty and human rights’26 in the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. But there is little evidence that the ideas of popular sovereignty and human rights have become less dry in the intervening two hundred years. If the constitutional and democratic state, founded as it is on principles of universal right, is to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of its citizens, then it must employ appropriate cultural resources. The strong republican Habermas is of course reluctant to go too far along the nationalist road. He is well aware, perhaps too aware, of the potential dangers of nationalism: its marginalization or exclusion of cultural minorities; its association with wars of aggression; the fact that it may be mobilized to override constitutional and democratic forms; and so on. While these worries are real enough, they can easily be overstated. Habermas underestimates the cultural diversity allowed for in most national identities (think of the different ways of being English, let alone American!), and pays too little attention to the ways in which national cultures have been transformed (including the various transformations of German national identity in the twentieth century). He assumes that nations are essentially aggressive, despite the fact that aggressive nationalisms have been the historical exception, not the norm. When he is expressing his worries about the ‘pre-political’ nature of nationalisms, Habermas simply assumes that ethnic, ‘blood and soil’ nationalism is the dominant form. Given German history, this assumption may be natural enough. But it overlooks the ‘banal nationalisms’ of everyday life in all modern societies. From the perspective of countries like the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, there is good reason to suppose that ‘ethnic’ nationalism is a deformation of nationalism, not its exemplary form. Underlying Habermas’s concerns is a deeper issue. If the moderate republican is right, then political commitment is never going to be just a matter of universal principle; there will always be an element of particularity. This suggests that there is an inevitable tension in the political life of the modern state, and there is no guarantee as to how this tension will be worked out. But I suspect that it is better to recognize 26 Habermas, ‘The European Nation-State’, p. 113.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

the inevitability of this tension, rather than to construct sanitized but unrealizable models of a polity in which the tension has been eliminated. In this recognition, I suspect, the moderate Habermas is a better guide to the potential faultlines in the modern polity than the strong republican.27 Habermas is also convinced that the main currents of the modern world are antithetical to the nation-state. This is not just a matter of coming to terms with the global scope of economic life, but also the cultural diversification taking place within the boundaries of existing states. Many of the problems facing the world can only be addressed by political agencies of a transnational kind. We are, he argues, moving into a ‘post-national world’, and political theory should take cognizance of this. There is no doubt that there are strong tendencies of the kind Habermas identifies.28 But there is little agreement on the time scale, and there is some reason to suspect that these tendencies are taking a lot longer to work themselves out than Habermas envisaged in the early 1990s. There has been a development of (more or less) effective transnational agencies, some with considerable authority and influence. However, national cultures continue to show a degree of resilience, and the nation-state remains the main actor on the political stage. Further, and perhaps most importantly, it is only at this level that there has been any even approximate realization of the political principles of constitutional democracy. For this reason, the constitutional patriot should continue to take nationalism seriously. V Citizenship responsibilities fall in the area between the legally enforceable and the freely chosen. A healthy liberal polity requires the existence of a widespread propensity to perform these responsibilities, so that citizens – enough of them, enough of the time – carry them out. Citizens must have the appropriate virtues. The Aristotelian background of the term ‘virtue’ reminds us that these propensities must be connected, systematically though defeasibly, with some notion of the good life, both for the citizen and the polity to which she belongs. For Aristotle, the practice of the virtues is both constitutive of and conducive to the well-being of the individual and of the state (though he recognized that things could go badly wrong). If modern citizens are to practice the virtues necessary to sustain political life, these must be related, not merely as means to a distant public benefit, but as components in their individual well-being. To put the point crudely: the individual must get something out of acting as a citizen. Unless these responsibilities are associated with certain rewards, the virtues will not be exercised and the liberal democratic state will decay. But how can these rewards be provided in the modern world? The nationalist answer emphasizes the role of culture and identity. It is through culture – language, stories about land and history, art forms, modes of dress and communication, common rituals, customs, and so on – that individuals form a sense of themselves as belonging to a nation, and it is this identity which provides the link

27 See Markell, ‘Making Affect Safe for Democracy’, especially pp. 50–53. 28 I discuss this issue in Nation and Identity, ch. 5.

Patriotism and Nationalism


between the individual and the state. In other words, our conception of ourselves connects us to the nation and also to our fellow members. This provides us with the capacity to identify with a larger and more satisfying narrative than that provided by our private affairs. It provides a sense of oneself as belonging to an historical community, such that one’s own well-being is bound up with that of the community. It provides a glimpse – indeed, an experience – of the powers and triumphs, glories and tragedies which are part of the nation’s histories and achievements. It even allows, for a moment, the transcendence of one’s finitude.29 It is because one’s national identity provides for pleasures, meanings, and a sense of fulfillment lacking in other avenues of life, that it is capable of forming the will of the individual in the direction of the responsibilities of citizenship. It is a necessary condition of the operations of the modern state that it bring to bear sufficient cultural resources to ensure the commitment and sustain the activity of its citizens.30 Though nationalisms have often enough been anti-liberal and antidemocratic, the nationalist insight applies especially strongly to liberal democracies. These require a more complex form of commitment than authoritarian governments. Nor can they rely on overt coercion to the same extent. Though a range of other factors have played a part, national identity has been the crucial condition for the legitimacy of the modern state. It is through the nation that the state has gathered together the cultural resources necessary to attract the commitment of its citizens. The formation of a national identity contributes to the fellow feeling, concern, and trust between citizens which are necessary in any state, but more especially in a state concerned with some measure of social justice.31 So far, neither history nor theory has presented a workable alternative. The modern state – and especially the liberal and democratic state – is and ought to be the nation-state. The republican patriot ought to be a nationalist.32

29 Cf. Anderson, Imagined Communities, pp. 9–11. 30 This claim is not intended to hold for every form of power. Economic power, for example, whether it is exercised by an individual or a corporate body, or by the impersonal forces of the market, does not need the commitment and support of those subject to it. All it requires is that they have wants and needs which can be serviced or exploited. Nor do military rulers or invading armies need much to support their power: force and the fear it inspires are sufficient, at least for a while. 31 This feature has been emphasized by David Miller; see On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), especially ch. 3. 32 My thanks to Igor Primoratz for comments on an earlier draft.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 9

Patriotism and the Obligations of History Janna Thompson

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. Patriots commonly believe that they have duties to the dead of their nation and responsibilities in respect to past generations. ‘Because our forebears have toiled and spilt their blood to build and defend the nation, we who are born into it inherit an obligation to continue their work’, says Miller.1 The poem, Flanders Fields, by John McCrae appeals to this sense of obligation. According to the patriot, each generation is supposed to honour the sacrifices of their forebears and continue their struggle, and each generation imposes similar obligations on their descendents, and so on into the future so long as the nation exists. The belief of patriots that they have obligations to the dead or the past raises issues both moral and conceptual. The moral difficulties are obvious. According to the poem, the living owe it to the dead to continue slaughtering people in a war which many now believe to be of doubtful legitimacy. Miller’s critics worry that a duty to continue the projects of forebears might include an obligation to continue an immoral project – like slavery or imperialism.2 Miller replies that we are entitled to choose which of the projects of our forebears to continue – an answer which raises the question of how patriots should make a choice. But even if patriots can avoid immoral conceptions of their obligation, a tension remains between a sense of duty that includes obligations to the past and the liberal point of view. Liberalism, it seems, has no reason for recognizing duties in respect to the projects of forebears. If our forebears produced something that we find valuable, then liberals would hold that we should maintain it and pass it on to our descendants. Descendents in turn are entitled to judge its value according to their circumstances and needs. Duties to forebears make no appearance in this account of the relation between the generations. In fact, the very idea that we have a duty to maintain a tradition or practice is more likely to be found among conservatives – the historical opponents 1 David Miller, On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1995), p. 23. 2 See, for example, Michael Freeman, ‘Nation-State and the Cosmopolis: A Response to David Miller’, Journal of Applied Philosophy 11 (1994), p. 84.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

of liberalism. To the extent that obligations to the past are central to patriotism, there is reason to wonder whether liberalism and patriotism are really compatible – at least in this respect. The conceptual issue is whether having duties in respect to a nation’s past is essential to patriotism: whether their existence is implied by values that define what a patriot is. The definition of patriotism offered by Primoratz in this book: ‘love of one’s country, identification with it, and special concern for its well-being and that of compatriots’, does not directly imply the existence of duties in respect to the past.3 A nation is an intergenerational community and love of country undoubtedly involves pride in its past. But it is not obvious that this pride entails the existence of any duties. McMahan says that citizens have duties of gratitude for the benefits that they have received from their forebears.4 Gratitude, it seems reasonable to assume, is an emotion intrinsic to patriotism. But it is not clear how it translates into duties to the dead or the past. Nevertheless, the belief that duties in respect to the past exist is so common among patriots that we would hesitate to call a person a patriot who did not acknowledge them. In this chapter, I will investigate the basis for the belief that these duties exist. I will offer a way of understanding them and determining what they are. The reasons why these duties exist will turn out to be reasons for insisting (as does McMahan) that all, or most, citizens have such duties – whether they regard themselves as patriots or not. In particular, liberals should accept them. I will also argue that according to a reasonable conception of what patriotism is – one that sharply distinguishes itself from nationalism – liberals who are citizens of a reasonably just, democratic polity ought to be patriots. Duties of gratitude Communitarians stress that duties arise from the identification of members with a community. In their eyes, such obligations do not have, and do not need, a justification. Patriotism is a form of communal identification and thus it might be claimed that duties to, or in respect to, the dead arise from this identification, and do not require justification. This is indeed what Miller and many others seem to believe. But this position is unacceptable for reasons already discussed. The duties that some patriots regard as arising from their identification are morally questionable, and in any case, it is by no means clear how duties in respect to the past are involved in, or arise from, a patriotic identification. There is an additional reason for thinking that a patriot’s beliefs about his or her duties cannot be accepted without critical examination. An account of patriotism that distinguishes it from nationalism must be wary of endorsing, or taking over, nationalist conceptions of duty. Nationalists commonly fall back on the metaphor of 3 Igor Primoratz, ‘Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain’, Chapter 1 in this volume, p. 18. 4 Jeff McMahan, ‘The Limits of National Partiality’, in Robert McKim and Jeff McMahan (eds), The Morality of Nationalism (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 130.

Patriotism and the Obligations of History


the family as the basis for their conception of obligation. Nationalists are predisposed to believe that they have duties to ancestors as progenitors of their nation. But this way of thinking is not available to patriots who want to distinguish their identity from a nationalist identity. This is not merely because few (if any) polities are nations – at least in a way that fits the family metaphor – but also because the basis for patriotic identity is supposed to be political, not ancestral. A distinction between patriotism and nationalism raises the question of whether the duties patriots believe that they have to forebears are based on nationalist elements which have become mixed up with their patriotism. What, then, can give a patriot a legitimate reason for thinking that he or she has duties to forebears? That these duties are indeed duties of gratitude is a plausible hypothesis. Many accounts of why a citizen has duties to honour predecessors, or to carry on projects, appeal openly or tacitly to reasons for being grateful for their struggles and sacrifices. Consider, for example, the moral argument implicit in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. He begins with a reference to those who founded the political project, for the sake of which (in his view) the Civil War was being fought and then talks of the threat that Southern secession posed to this project. There is an implicit moral criticism in the Address of those who turned their back on the project of their political predecessors. There is a suggestion that their rebellion constituted a betrayal of the ideals and deeds of the country’s founders. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Those who fought at Gettysburg were engaged in a struggle to rescue the institutions and political relationships that were central to the survival of this project, and their sacrifice, according to Lincoln, ought to motivate present and future generations to devote themselves ‘to that cause for which [the dead] gave the last full measure of devotion’, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Gratitude for the sacrifices of the dead is presented as a moral reason for carrying on the political project for which they died. Lincoln clearly believes that a united polity based on a commitment to freedom and rule by the people is something citizens should value for its own sake. But he also thinks that their duty to continue the project of maintaining this polity is not merely something they owe to contemporaries and future generations. It is also a duty they owe to the dead – including those more distant predecessors who founded the nation. The duty that Lincoln is defining is a duty to continue the project of sustaining, protecting and improving a particular political society defined not as a relationship of blood (despite the metaphorical use of ‘fathers’) but as a community of citizens dedicated to certain political ideals and to the maintenance of the institutions and


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

relationships that realize these ideals. This is a duty that American patriots are bound to accept. But Lincoln believes he is defining a duty of all citizens, and that those who rebelled failed to recognize their obligations. This is a controversial claim. Those who supported secession had their own conception of patriotism and duty. But let us put the claim aside for now, and concentrate on the plausibility of gratitude for sacrifices of past generations as a basis for patriotic obligations to the dead. There are (at least) three reasons for doubting whether such obligations exist. The first is that our forebears, in making the efforts that they did, were simply doing their duty, and that, patriots or not, we have no duties of gratitude to people who merely do what they ought. The second is that we cannot owe duties of any kind to people who are dead and thus beyond gratification. The third objection appeals to the aforementioned liberal critique of duties to the past: if the continuation of a political project is a morally worthy aim, then promoting the wellbeing of present and future generations is a sufficient reason for accepting the duty of continuation and there is no reason to appeal to duties to the dead. Where promotion of present and future wellbeing is not a sufficient reason (the liberal would add), continuing the project cannot be a duty. Let us look at each of these criticisms of duties to the past in turn. The first criticism can be easily answered. Common sense suggests that we can have a debt of gratitude to a person who had a duty to provide us with a benefit – at least when doing the duty required considerable effort. Nancy Jecker takes this commonsense view when she says that parents, though they have a duty to raise their children, are nevertheless owed a debt of gratitude when they performed acts that required great effort or sacrifice, performed them in a praiseworthy manner, or when their efforts produced special benefits.5 Patriots can say the same about their political predecessors. The idea that patriots, and perhaps non-patriots as well, have duties of gratitude to their political predecessors is reinforced by observations about the nature of political societies. The political project of realizing political values or building, maintaining, reforming, protecting institutions and social relationships is clearly a historical project which requires cooperation between the generations. Since conditions, needs and moral perceptions change in the course of time, since political ideals are never fully realized, these political projects are always under construction and they can easily fail. Lincoln believed that the project of constructing a society ‘conceived in liberty’ was in serious danger of failing. The people of some generations may have to make great sacrifices in order to maintain their political relationships, defend or reform them. Gratitude seems appropriate, at least from those who identify with the political project. Indeed if we think of maintaining a polity as an intergenerational project, then duties to past generations could be regarded as duties of justice: as a matter of giving them their due for the contribution they have made. Liberal political philosophers, it is true, do not generally entertain the idea that we can owe duties of any kind to past generations. But this neglect may have less 5 Nancy S. Jecker, ‘Are Filial Duties Unfounded?’, American Philosophical Quarterly 26 (1989), p. 75. Jeffrey Blustein supports a similar idea in ‘On the Duties of Parents and Children’, Southern Journal of Philosophy 15 (1977), p. 440.

Patriotism and the Obligations of History


to do with the nature of liberalism than with their concentration on what Rawls describes as ‘ideal theory’. In a world where the meaning of justice is clear and no one does anything unjust, relationships between the generations can be presented as cooperation for mutual advantage.6 Every generation does its fair share and every generation gets its fair share. There is no reason in this scheme to suppose that present generations owe a debt to past generations. But once we descend from ideal theory and take a look at polities as they actually are: namely, the result of generations of trial and error, political successes and failures, attempts to make up for mistakes, sacrifice, struggle, controversy, challenge and change, then it becomes harder to deny the existence of duties in respect to the past – at least for people who identify with their polity. Duties to the dead and lifetime transcending interests But past generations are dead, the critic is likely to reply. They cannot be gratified or disappointed by our deeds or compensated for the sacrifices that they made. To think that this is possible is superstitious (as is the appeal to unquiet graves in McCrae’s poem). One way of meeting this objection is to challenge the view that the dead cannot be harmed or benefited. In Harm to Others Feinberg makes a case for duties to the dead by adopting a position also advanced by Pitcher.7 They agree that interests cannot belong to ‘post-mortem persons’ who are nothing but decaying corpses or heaps of ashes. But if the dead are thought of as ‘ante-mortem persons’ – as the people they were during some stage of their life – then it makes sense, according to Feinberg and Pitcher, that they have interests and can be harmed. If, for example, Bill promises his dying father to bury him beside his wife, but instead sells his body to a medical faculty, he harms his father as an ante-mortem person. Similarly, if those now dead sacrificed themselves for the sake of maintaining a good for their successors, then the failure of their successors to appreciate and maintain this good would harm them (though whether this failure is wrong depends on additional considerations). This attempt to make sense of duties to the dead has encountered considerable scepticism.8 If it is agreed that backward causation is implausible and that harming interests that the dead once had is not the same as harming the dead, then it is difficult to understand what ante-mortem harm consists of. However, we can put the problem of making sense of the idea that we can harm or benefit the dead to one side. I will argue that we can understand how people can have duties in respect to (if not to) the 6 John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: University of Columbia Press, 1996), pp. 273–4. 7 Joel Feinberg, Harm to Others, Volume 1 of The Moral Limits of the Law (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), ch. 2; George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984), p. 183. 8 For example, see Ernest Partridge, ‘Posthumous Interests and Posthumous Respect’, Ethics 91 (1981), pp. 243–64; Joan Callahan, ‘On Harming the Dead’, Ethics 97 (1987); and William Grey, ‘Epicurus and the Harm of Death’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1999).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

dead by properly appreciating the nature and importance of the lifetime-transcending interests of the living. Lifetime-transcending interests are interests of individuals or members of groups concerning states of affairs that will, or could, occur in the future beyond their lifetime. People care about the future wellbeing of their children or grandchildren or about the survival and prosperity of their communities, the continuation of their projects and the realization of their values. Or they pursue a project that is by its nature lifetime-transcending: for example, the liberation of their country or the realization of a more just society. Or they pursue activities the meaningfulness of which is predicated on the persistence of a tradition or practice. Even if an artist does not care whether her works survive, her ability to find meaning in her artistic activities is likely to depend on the continuation of an artistic tradition, or at least the cultural activities of making and valuing works of art. I will put forward three theses about lifetime-transcending interests which I cannot adequately defend here, but which I think are plausible. The first is that everyone, or almost everyone, either has lifetime-transcending interests or has interests that depend on the persistence into the future of traditions, institutions or values. The many kinds of lifetime-transcending interests that are possible and the fact that many interests and projects are predicated on the continuation of a tradition, a way of valuing or a social practice, makes this plausible. The second thesis is that for many people lifetime-transcending interests play an important role in giving their lives meaning. Many philosophers have asserted that this is so. Healthy, well functioning people have a need to transcend themselves, ‘that is, to identify themselves as a part of larger, ongoing, and enduring processes, projects, institutions, and ideals’, claims Partridge.9 ‘To seek a meaningful life,’ says Nozick, ‘is to seek to transcend the limits of one’s individual life.’10 Lomasky claims that a commitment to long-term projects that persist over time and project into the future is an important component of a person’s identity.11 Essential to a human agent, according to Taylor, is the capacity to be a strong evaluator: to evaluate the worth of one’s projects or one’s life, and this requires that he or she subscribes to a higher order of good such as justice, God, aesthetic beauty or knowledge, that makes him part of something larger than his own life.12 The third thesis is more controversial: that because of the nature and importance of their lifetime-transcending interests individuals are sometimes justified in making demands of their successors. Consider the widely held view that it is wrong to destroy the reputations of those who are dead by telling malicious untruths about their lives. To condemn this as wrong we do not need to suppose that the dead can be harmed by malicious lies. It is sufficient to appreciate why the living care about their posthumous reputation. They may care because of the harm that slander could 9 Ernest Partridge, ‘Why Care About the Future?’, in E. Partridge (ed.), Responsibilities to Future Generations (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1980), pp. 218–19. 10 Robert Nozick, The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations (New York and London: Simon and Schuster, 1989), pp. 166–7. 11 Loren Lomasky, Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 32. 12 Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 62ff.

Patriotism and the Obligations of History


do to their objectives, projects, ideals, and the people they love. Or they may care because they want their efforts, accomplishments and objectives to be properly appreciated after their death by those whose opinion they respect, and by the members of groups and institutions to which they made contributions. In either case, their lifetime-transcending interest in their reputation makes it legitimate for them to demand of their survivors that their posthumous reputation be protected. For if a person thought that her posthumous reputation would be vulnerable to those who would have no compunction against telling malicious lies for their own gratification or profit, she could not with confidence pursue lifetime-transcending projects and causes, or believe that what she did would make a contribution or have a chance of being appreciated. She could not be confident that her attempts to provide benefits for her children and community would not be subverted by the suffering that they would later be caused. Her ability to achieve important objectives and to give her life meaning would be seriously undermined. These considerations give us reason to support a practice that requires survivors to protect the posthumous reputations of the dead. The motivation is not merely our own self interest but an appreciation of how protection of posthumous reputation contributes to the ability of individuals to live meaningful lives and to protect people and things that they care about. And given that we have good reasons, moral and pragmatic, for accepting the practice, we are also obliged to accept a duty to protect the reputations of those whom we survive. Whether we regard ourselves as obliged to fulfil a demand made by our predecessors depends on whether there are reasons for accepting a practice of making and fulfilling a demand of this kind. We are not obliged to fulfil demands that we regard as immoral. Nevertheless, an appeal to lifetime-transcending interests is likely to justify all or most of the duties that people commonly believe that they owe to the dead: for example, to keep promises made to them when they were alive, to honour bequests, and so forth. Moreover, these are duties that liberals can, and should, accept. The arguments for their existence appeal to the interests of individuals and what underwrites their ability to live a meaningful life. However, the crucial issue is whether members of a community can have an obligation to carry on the projects of those they regard as their predecessors. Appreciating the contributions of the dead Our political predecessors made great sacrifices to provide us with what they regarded as important goods. Undoubtedly they thought that we ought to appreciate them, maintain them and pass them on to succeeding generations. But at this point we arrive at the standard liberal objection to the idea that their sacrifices and demands can give us obligations. We are surely entitled to make up our own minds about which goods are worthy of being maintained. So if we do decide to maintain an inheritance provided by our predecessors this must be because we find it desirable and not because of anything that our predecessors did or could have demanded. First of all, it should be noted that the existence of a sufficient reason for an action does not mean that other reasons for doing it do not exist. Everything that a parent does for a child might be explained by her love. But she also has a duty to


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

care for it. Lincoln assumed that the desirability of a free democratic society was a good enough reason to maintain it, but this does not exclude the possibility that the sacrifices of the dead also give citizens a reason to carry it on. The fact that there can be more than one motivation for bringing about a desirable end might be regarded as fortunate. If one fails another might achieve the result. And there is no doubt that recollection of the sacrifices of their forebears motivates patriots. This observation is not likely to overcome liberal resistance to the very idea that the freedom of present citizens can be limited by duties in respect to the projects of the dead. Nevertheless, I think that there is a justification for some duties in respect to contributions of predecessors that even liberals ought to accept. If you and your fellow citizens make great sacrifices to maintain the polity and to ensure that your successors can inherit institutions that you regard as good, then it seems reasonable that you can make some demands of these future citizens. You cannot reasonably demand, at least from a liberal point of view, that your successors continue your projects. But you can demand that they make an effort to appreciate your achievements and intentions. Indeed, it is reasonable to make this demand. If you and your fellows have made great sacrifices for the sake of future citizens or if providing a good for the future members of your society is important to your life, or if the meaning of your activities depends on the willingness of successors to appreciate what you have done, then it is justified for you to demand that your successors make an effort of appreciation. This means that you have reason to accept a practice that requires that you and your fellow citizens appreciate the achievements and intentions of your political predecessors. Appreciation requires, at the very least, that you truthfully represent their intentions. This is so even if you now think that their project was morally undesirable. You should at least give them credit for their good intentions and more worthy achievements and not present them as villains (unless of course there is good reason to think that they deserve condemnation). One of the political projects of the founders of the Australian Commonwealth was to maintain a white Australia. Most of us no longer regard this project as morally worthy. But nevertheless it seems reasonable that we should recognize the good intentions of these founders – namely to achieve a prosperous, harmonious polity – even though we disagree with the means that they adopted, that we appreciate how their decisions were affected by their time and place, and that we should remember and honour them for the real and lasting contributions that they made to the polity. Citizens may have different ideas about what their forebears accomplished and which of their achievements ought to be honoured. Black Americans are likely to interpret the history of their country differently from white Americans and have a somewhat different idea about who ought to be honoured. However, a common patriotism is compatible with some disagreements about heroes and history (although probably not with radical or complete disagreement). Indeed, the predisposition of different groups in a country to remember and honour different forebears could be regarded as a good thing in so far as it makes it more likely that the demand of predecessors to have their contributions appreciated will be fulfilled. If appreciating the contributions and intentions of predecessors means only that we should remember and honour these contributions and not misrepresent their

Patriotism and the Obligations of History


intentions, then our duties to the past do not seem to amount to much. So interpreted, they do not require that we carry on the projects of our forebears and thus they fall short of the duties that many patriots think that they have. Patriots may often be mistaken about their obligations, but nevertheless a stronger interpretation of the duty to appreciate seems defensible. Lincoln believed that the secessionists were wrongly turning their back on a worthy political project and thus betraying their predecessors as well as their successors. Can the duty of appreciation be interpreted in a way that supports Lincoln’s view? The problem in this case is that our judgment about the morality of Southern secession is bound to be coloured by the issue of slavery. The political project of the Confederacy, the perpetuation of conditions in which slavery could flourish, was not what most of us would judge to be morally worthy, and many people are inclined to condemn it simply for that reason. Let us consider a case where such obvious moral objections cannot be made. Suppose that the people of a polity, composed of two groups with different customs and ways of life, have for many generations struggled and made sacrifices in order to build the institutions of their polity. People of both communities have worked together on equal terms with the conviction that it was possible and desirable to construct a society in which both cultures could flourish and where citizens could work together to construct and maintain a just society. The people of this society have faced war and difficult times together; they have defended their country against foreign invaders; they have participated in forming and reforming their political institutions. They have built for the future. Some have made great sacrifices for the sake of their country. But now one of these groups wants to secede and form an independent polity. Its members believe that they can better protect their way of life if they have a state of their own. They are tired of the compromises they have to make to accommodate the other group. Are they wrong to abandon the project they have inherited? Should they, at least, give moral weight to the fact that for generations their predecessors have been partners in a common endeavour and have made sacrifices for the sake of maintaining the polity for themselves and future generation? Philosophers who have written on secession do not generally regard the labours and sacrifices of past generations as a morally significant consideration. Buchanan, when he details the reasons that could tell against secession, focuses on concerns relating to rights of property and sovereignty, distributive justice, and the prospects of present and future people.13 Nevertheless, I believe that the duty of appreciation requires us to give the contributions and intentions of predecessors a moral weight and in the imagined case their weight is likely to prove decisive. Appreciating the contributions and sacrifices of predecessors means not only that we should remember and honour them. It should also require that we appreciate their reasons for making their contributions and should give these reasons appropriate consideration in our decision-making. We should treat these reasons as a contribution to our deliberations. There is an additional consideration. Our predecessors meant 13 Allen Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce from Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec (Boulder, CO and San Francisco, CA: Westview Press, 1991), ch. 3.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

to provide an inheritance not only to us but also to more distant successors, and this means that the onus of proof falls on us. We need to provide weighty reasons for making a unilateral decision to abandon it. In this case the secessionists do not appear to have good enough reasons. They are not being discriminated against; they are not prevented from practising their culture; they have an equal share of political power. They have no reason to regard the project of their predecessors as unworthy or impractical. In their case the duty of appreciation speaks strongly against secession, though it does not preclude political reforms that would make it easier for their group to maintain its culture. If this interpretation of the duty of appreciation is right, then the fact that our predecessors made great efforts or sacrifices to provide successors with a political inheritance is a moral reason for maintaining it. If we think that their project is unworthy or if it requires too great a sacrifice to maintain, given other things that we regard as important, then our reasons for not continuing the project are strong enough to prevail. But if these reasons do not exist or are less strong, then the duty of appreciation is likely to be decisive. If we judge the inheritance to be of great worth, then this is a sufficient reason for maintaining it. But the existence of a duty of appreciation explains why we can also think that the efforts and intentions of our forebears give us a further reason. Patriotism and liberalism Patriots regard themselves as being contributors to an intergenerational project of maintaining their polity and its valued institutions and practices. They have a lifetime-transcending interest in the future of their political society and have good reason to demand of their successors that their contributions to this project, and their reasons for thinking the project important, be appreciated by their successors. Thus they have good reason to subscribe to a practice that gives them duties of appreciation in respect to their predecessors. Having duties in respect to the past is intrinsic to patriotism. But the arguments that I have presented in defence of these duties can, and should be, accepted by liberals, and so the fact that patriots have duties in respect to the past is no obstacle to a liberal being a patriot. However, I will conclude by arguing for a stronger thesis: that liberals who are members of a reasonably just, democratic society, and who are treated justly by that society, ought to be patriots. Liberals have reason to value and strive to perpetuate liberal democratic institutions. However, there are two objections to the idea that they ought to be patriots of their liberal democracy. The first is that liberalism does not require allegiance to a particular polity. Indeed some people think that such allegiances are contrary to liberal values. The second is that patriotism requires something more than participation in a project to maintain a polity that realizes liberal values. The view that liberalism does not require allegiance to a particular polity has been described as ‘philosophical anarchism’. A.J. Simmons, its advocate, agrees that we have a duty to support just institutions but argues that this duty gives us no reason

Patriotism and the Obligations of History


to think that we have special obligations to our own polity or its citizens.14 We could just as well fulfil our duty as a liberal, presumably, by supporting just institutions in other polities. But even if we agree with Simmons that liberalism by itself can’t require any particular allegiance, it may nevertheless be the case that liberals, in the world that they inhabit, generally have a duty to support, maintain and defend their liberal polity. For one thing it is usually the case that citizens of a polity are in the best position to promote and protect its just institutions. They can vote; they are in a good position to engage in political discourse; they are less likely to suffer bad consequences if they protest against unjust practices. They have an education and cultural background that is likely to make them more effective defenders of the political institutions in the country they live in than they could be in respect to institutions elsewhere. Moreover, it is a fact about the division of labour in world society that the citizens of a state have the primary responsibility for the existence and persistence of institutions in their borders. Outsiders are not going to take this responsibility unless for some reason they think that it is in their interests (and their intervention may not be a good thing for institutions of justice). Moreover, citizens are likely to have lifetime-transcending interests which depend for their fulfilment on the perpetuation of the institutions of justice of their society. For example, if they care about the future wellbeing of their descendants and expect that at least some of them will continue living in the country, then they will also want their institutions to remain reasonably just. So those who think that just institutions ought to be defended and maintained will in most cases come to the conclusion that the best thing that they can do is to participate in the project of protecting and promoting the just institutions of their polity. This does not preclude doing something that will help to make institutions in other countries more just. Often the two projects are closely related. The institutions of a polity ought to be just to outsiders. Nevertheless, as participants in cooperative relationships for the purpose of maintaining a just polity liberal individuals are justified in favouring their fellow citizens, though how special duties to compatriots are related to more general duties of liberals is a matter for debate. Suppose that because of your job or connections you can do much more for the cause of justice by participating in the project of bringing about just institutions in some other country than you could by participating in political projects in your home country. Choosing to commit oneself to the struggle of others is not ruled out. How you can best fulfil the duty to promote just institutions is a pragmatic matter. However, if you do commit yourself to the political projects of some other country, then it is arguable that you have become a patriot of that country. The meaning of patriotism Some people believe that polities, at least as they presently exist, are terminally diseased or inherently unjust: that the project of constructing a just state is doomed

14 A. John Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

to failure and that those who are committed to this project ought to adopt the project of bringing about a political order that is radically different from the one that now exists. They may believe, for example, that the only just world order would be a cosmopolitan world order in which separate states no longer exist; or that the only just world order is one that has no states. These objections do not amount to a rejection of my main thesis: that those who support just institutions (whether thought of as liberals or not) have a duty to be patriots. The polities in question could be anarchist communes, socialist states or a regional or world federation. The question posed by anarchists, socialists and cosmopolitans is whether we have a duty to be patriots in the more-or-less just polities which now exist. Whether existing polities are capable of becoming more just, whether a different kind of polity would be more just, whether a world order without states could be politically viable or just, are empirical issues. My own view is that for some time to come states are likely to remain the most significant political entities in world society, and the ones that individuals have the best chance of influencing; that they can become more just, though limits may be put on this process by global economic and political forces. But it is possible, indeed reasonable, to be a patriot and at the same time work with others on a project of bringing about a different, more just political order. For a liberal, socialist or anarchist, political projects are of primary importance and the political entity in which the project is carried out is of secondary importance, but since political projects always involve the creation of a political entity, it is necessary for those who want to realize their political ideals to be or become patriots. However, if a liberal’s primary commitment is to liberal principles and ideals this might seem to be a reason for denying that she is really a patriot. In presenting an account of why people who live in more or less just states have a duty to be patriots, I have presented an account of patriotism which many people are likely to find counterintuitive or unappealing. Patriotism, according to Primoratz, necessarily involves love of one’s country, and his definition seems to be the one that most people accept. Patriotism in my view means accepting and fulfilling a duty to promote and protect just institutions and relationships in a polity – generally the polity in which one is a citizen. Love of country or special affection for fellow citizens are not essential attributes of such a patriot. And so this idea of patriotism is likely to be criticized for being too cold-blooded or simply too distant from how people normally understand patriotism. The view I am advocating is not, however, unprecedented. Habermas recommends what he calls constitutional patriotism: a patriotism that centres on participation in a political culture as the common denominator in political societies where citizens do not share the same ethnic or cultural origins and sometimes not even the same language.15 For similar reasons it could be argued that my conception of patriotism ought to be preferred by those, like Primoratz, who want to make a distinction between patriotism and nationalism. If patriotism is love of country, then 15 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe’, in Ronald Beiner (ed.), Theorizing Citizenship (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995).

Patriotism and the Obligations of History


what exactly is the object of love? Is it supposed to be a quality that is possessed by the country or its people that is independent of their participation in political relationships and institutions? But this conception seems mistaken not just for the reasons Habermas presents but because it seems to insinuate nationalist ideas into a conception of patriotism. If a person loves his country just because it is his country, then his patriotism seems mindless. In fact, most people are prepared to give reasons for why they love their country. So it seems that love of country, if it is to have a defence, must have as its rationale the goodness of a polity’s institutions, relationships, political projects or political culture. But in this case it is not clear why commitment to the support and defence of these institutions, relationships or projects cannot be regarded as patriotism, whether or not it is accompanied by an emotion identifiable as love. Commitment, whatever form it takes, is a demonstration of devotion. Moreover, a commitment to the project of constructing and maintaining just institutions and relationships will often result in love or affection – if not for the institutions themselves (which may be very imperfect) then for fellow citizens who share this commitment and who participate in the common project. Conclusion This chapter makes three closely related claims. Patriots are those who commit themselves to participating with others in the project of building or maintaining the political institutions and relationships of a polity. Such projects are intergenerational. They require cooperation between generations and bring with them duties in respect to past deeds and contributions, as well as duties to contemporaries and successors. My position bears a superficial resemblance to the conservative position of Edmund Burke, who regarded political society as a partnership between generations and believed that present generations ought to maintain the political forms that they inherited from the past. However, I have argued for a conception of duties in respect to the past which liberals can and ought to accept. Liberals who are members of reasonably just polities ought to be patriots and ought to accept the intergenerational duties which are intrinsic to any defensible form of patriotism.

This page intentionally left blank


This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 10

Patriotism: Problems at Home Cynthia Townley

Introduction Patriotism is quite often compared to affiliations such as family preferences and other group-based loyalties, such as race loyalty. But such comparisons are neither as straightforward nor as benign as might first appear. They are not straightforward because, for one thing, as Elaine Scarry has argued, comparisons of individual or group experience depend (tacitly or explicitly) on capacities for imagination, which are extremely difficult and complex. ‘The problem with discussions of ‘the other’ is that they characteristically emphasize generous imaginings, and thus allow the fate of another person to be contingent on the generosity and wisdom of the imaginer.’1 Scarry is cautious about relying on this generosity and wisdom, and makes this point in her defence of constitutional design responses to problems of group justice, rather than ‘spontaneous actions of individuals’ (p. 99). Her insight suggests a more general point about how hard it is to think about groups, which is important because thinking about group loyalty and patriotism entails thinking about differences within and differentiations between groups. Imagining other people is intrinsically difficult, but the difficulties of comparing groups are compounded because these can cut close to issues of identity and unearned privilege or undeserved disadvantage. It can be hard to recognize the gaps or limits of one’s imagination and the generosity or wisdom of its application. Iris Young has argued for the need to listen to others rather than projecting an understanding or presumed symmetrical perspective in order to promote moral understanding.2 ‘It is neither possible nor morally desirable for persons engaged in moral interaction to adopt one another’s standpoint.’3 Doing so can result in the replacement of the other’s actual perspective with an imagined or projected one, or assimilating others to oneself in a way that hides or underplays difference. Comparisons can distract from certain features of groups or contexts by replacing the focus of attention. Comparisons of sexism and racism illustrate this effect: ‘When a speaker compared sexism and racism, the significance of race was marginalized and obscured, and

1 Elaine Scarry, ‘The Difficulty of Imagining Other People’, in Joshua Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1996), p. 106. 2 I.M. Young, ‘Asymmetrical Reciprocity: On Moral Respect, Wonder, and Enlarged Thought’, Constellations, vol. 3 (1997). 3 Young, ‘Asymmetrical Reciprocity’, p. 340.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

the different role that race plays in the lives of people of color and of whites was overlooked.’4 Notoriously within feminist theory, thinking about difference has been challenging – feminists have both presented and been confronted by challenges when attempting to think about groups.5 An instance of the former is feminist discussion of families (or assumptions about families);6 an instance of the latter is how the presumed universality of the category ‘woman’ has been challenged.7 The complicated character of categories of family, race and gender are not always taken up in discussions of patriotism and citizenship,8 where comparisons may tacitly present a fictitious unity within groups such as women, racial groups and even families.9 These considerations complicate comparisons between national or country-based groups (or group affiliation and loyalty) and other social groups. In this chapter, I explore some of the troublesome aspects of comparisons between groups and how they arise in discussions of patriotism that use analogy and a ‘concentric circles’ model for expanding or comparing moral concern. (By ‘concentric circles’ model I mean to include versions of the view expressed by Benjamin Barber that ‘our attachments start parochially and only then grow outward.’10) I will argue that race-based loyalty is a problematic analogue for patriotic loyalty whether it is viewed positively or negatively. Comparing racism and patriotism leads Paul Gomberg11 to find patriotism morally suspect, and leads Stephen Nathanson12 to identify a morally acceptable form of race loyalty analogous to moderate patriotism. Starting with their discussion, I will show, not that there is a right or wrong lesson to be drawn from the comparison, but that relying on such a comparison is fraught. Second, I will look at concentric circles and use some discussions of intersections 4 T. Grillo and S. Wildman, ‘Obscuring the Importance of Race: the Implication of Making Comparisons between Racism and Sexism (or Other-isms)’, Duke Law Journal, vol. 40 (1991), p. 399. The context is a common response to discussion of race and racism, along the lines of ‘I know what you are talking about, it’s just like when women experience this or that form of sexist treatment.’ Effectively, this changes the subject. 5 I use resources from feminist theory because it is an extremely rich source of thinking about group relations, justice and difference. No doubt there are other ways to explore questions of abstractness and detachment from concrete diverse conditions. I hope here to motivate the need to think about group differences when working out patriotism. While the discussion does not present solutions and recipes for how to do this, perhaps this is not such a bad thing. The problems are not amenable to a once and for all tidying up. 6 For example, Susan Moller Okin, Justice Gender and the Family (New York: Basic Books, 1989). 7 For example, Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (London: Routledge, 1990). 8 For example, Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988). 9 Igor Primoratz is an exception; he notes the diversity of relationships and hence obligations within families: spousal relations are freely chosen, parenthood is chosen, a child’s obligation of gratitude to parents emerges, siblings have moral obligations of friendship (I. Primoratz, ‘Patriotism: Morally Allowed, Required or Valuable?’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002), pp. 194–5). 10 B. Barber, ‘Constitutional Faith’, in Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country, p. 34. 11 P. Gomberg, ‘Patriotism Is Like Racism’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism. 12 S. Nathanson, ‘Is Patriotism Like Racism?’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


of citizenship and family to show that here, too, comparisons of groups can leave out important differences. Both analogies and concentric circles tend to leave out intersections between groups and to presume uniformity within groups. The patriotism-racism analogy Patriotism-racism comparisons Analogies are used to illuminate aspects of the things or concepts compared.13 Often, one thing is more familiar or displays a feature more clearly, and can be used to show up a similar aspect in the other. Analogies can also work reciprocally: through the comparison, both sides come to be understood in new, perhaps deeper ways. This pattern is evident in Paul Gomberg and Stephen Nathanson’s exchange about whether patriotism is impermissible because it is like racism. The apparent likeness between patriotism and racism is based on a similar chauvinistic character: patriotism and racism are alike in that a (racial, ethnic or national) group takes that identity to licence preferential treatment for members of that group. Gomberg and Nathanson accept that patriotism and racism are alike in significant ways, then ask what lesson should be learned from the analogy. They differ about whether moderate patriotism (and moderate racial loyalty) can be a permissible form of preferential treatment. Throughout the literature of patriotism, analogies and comparisons are used to show the permissibility or impermissibility of patriotic loyalty in some form or other. It is prima facie plausible that some kinds of partiality or preferential treatment, such as favouring members of one’s own family (especially one’s children), are permissible. There are good reasons to think such partialities are compatible with universal morality. Marcia Baron states: ‘My justification [it’s my daughter] would indicate that the partiality involved (doing something for my child because she’s my child; or putting my child before other children) is fine for anyone: the action taken is something that I think is okay for anyone to take.’14 John Cottingham makes a similar point about family preference: ‘the partialist’s principle of action is, of course, universalizable in the sense that he may be perfectly prepared to prescribe that any parent in a similar situation ought to favour his own child.’15 Common sense, utilitarian or universalist claims can all be invoked to support some degree of such familiar preference. It is also safe to accept that some preferential treatments are not morally justified. Legitimate preferences might be taken to excess or used in an improper context (nepotism) or preferences might be intrinsically dubious, such as awarding better marks to red-haired students. Some instances or classes of partiality are justified, and/or compatible with universal morality, while others are not justified, while the status of other forms, such as patriotism, or some form of patriotic loyalty, is less clear – hence the uses of analogy or comparison. Is patriotism like a (prima facie) 13 Grillo and Wildman, ‘Obscuring the Importance of Race’. 14 M. Baron, ‘Patriotism and “Liberal Morality”’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, p. 71. 15 J. Cottingham, ‘Partiality, Favouritism and Morality’, The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 36 (1983), p. 359.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

permissible family preference or special responsibility, or like a (prima facie) suspect or arbitrary preference such as racism? Gomberg and Nathanson seem to agree that comparing patriotism and racism is legitimate; they disagree about what the comparison shows. Nathanson distinguishes in both cases an acceptable moderate form and an extreme unacceptable form: he contrasts moderate racial loyalty which may be permissible with racism which is not. ‘Racism necessarily involves a belief in the superiority and inferiority of various groups’, but a moderate racial loyalty can be ‘just a sense of positive connection with one’s own group’ without a ‘negative attitude toward members of other races’ (115). I return to this contrast below. Gomberg suggests that a utilitarian consideration of the effects of patriotism and racism shows that racist preferences are harmful in that they entrench patterns of privilege and disadvantage. Likewise he suspects that patriotism will not produce the best results for all concerned. A principle-based argument would seek to show that patriotism enables the expression of concern for others by distributing moral labour.16 Gomberg is pessimistic about the success of the non-utilitarian arguments, seeing patriotism like racism as an obstacle to the practice of universal moral ideals. Nathanson responds that there are reasons to think that patriotism in a moderate form is a morally permissible partiality, as is a moderate racial loyalty. What is unacceptable about racism is that it involves ‘not just a positive attitude toward one’s own race but a negative attitude toward other races’.17 He suggests that, contrary to the assumption that all racial preference is inherently wrong, there might be morally acceptable forms of racial loyalty – minimally these forms would respect others’ rights rather than ignore, infringe or violate those rights. Thus he distinguishes racism from moderate racial loyalty, the latter exemplified by Martin Luther King’s championing of the rights of American blacks. A closer look at racial identification and loyalty I will argue that when we look more closely at race, it is less clear that an informative comparison can be made between racial and patriotic loyalties. Nathanson argues that King was motivated in part by ‘special affection for, concern for, and identification with black people’18 as well as by universal moral ideals (like a concern for justice), and an attribution of complex motives seems right. According to Nathanson, absent an attitude of superiority or desire to dominate others, such a special affection is a morally permissible motivation in both the cases of race-based or country-based loyalty. Nathanson goes on to say that ‘if racial identification had nothing to do with his activities, then prior to his engaging in acts to improve the status of blacks, King would have had to judge which of the various groups in the world was most 16 Or, as Robert Goodin explains, there can be special responsibilities that facilitate the discharge of general duties. R. Goodin, ‘What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism. 17 Nathanson, ‘Is Patriotism Like Racism?’, p. 115. 18 Nathanson, ‘Is Patriotism Like Racism?’, p. 116.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


oppressed and which he was in the best position to support’ (116). In other words, King would have had to rely on a totally impartial assessment. While Nathanson rightly acknowledges that King’s motivation would have been complex, and likely included identification, I think there is more to say about how such motivation might arise. The move from either a ‘one’s own group’ identification or a purely impartial judgement of which group in the world was most oppressed and which one is best placed to help does not exhaust the possible motivations. To see this, consider how one might become an active anti-racist or civil rights campaigner. One may be attuned to oppression and injustice in part because one is a member of this or that subordinated group, and hence exposed to oppressive practices by suffering from them directly, by hearing stories about such injustices and by noting the effects on those around one who suffer group-based oppression and injustice. Membership of the group might sensitize me to injustices based on that group membership: such injustices are salient to me precisely because these are injustices that do or might affect me.19 But in very similar ways, a person might develop similar concerns about oppressive practices without being directly vulnerable to the specific form of oppression. Suppose I am related by marriage or family membership, or aligned by friendship, or connected by profession to a group vulnerable to racism.20 I might have an interest in opposing oppression to which I am not individually and personally vulnerable, and I might develop a sensitivity to and understanding of these oppressive matters through indirect connections to the group, and not through membership in it. I might not identify with a racial group, and not be a member of it, but develop a commitment to oppose the injustices to which members of that group are vulnerable. Is opposition to injustice explained by the recognition of injustice through salience and special attunement, or through group membership and loyalty which is just one, and even if the most important, not the only, source of that special attunement?21 I think it is not identification per se that does the work; rather, vulnerability to oppression and proximity to and trusting relations with vulnerable others are most important. Racism, like sexism, and like opposition to racism or sexism, is not just about a loyalty preference toward one’s own group. One may be a sexist woman

19 Karen Jones discusses this kind of sensitization with respect to the capacity to identify sexism. K. Jones, ‘Second-hand Moral Knowledge’, The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 96 (1999). 20 The professional connection could take various forms: it could be collegial, such as a concern for racism within my profession, or my work (in education, welfare, or healthcare) could expose me to the effects of injustice on people’s lives. 21 Compare standpoint epistemology: the idea that one’s membership of a group might yield some epistemic privilege, certain things might be more obvious or salient. But membership of the group is not sufficient because the agent has to cultivate her critical perspective, and membership might not be necessary either – some non-members might also have particular insights. (Marx was not a member of the proletariat.) There is nevertheless good reason to suppose that those within the group have extra chances to observe and understand aspects of their own experience.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

or a feminist man, one might accept dogmas of white supremacism by adaptive preferences, while not being a beneficiary of white privilege.22 Hence, I think King’s is one version of a motivated concern that might be directly or indirectly derived, but need not be based on personal vulnerability to the form of oppression in question, and hence not on group membership and identification. Rather, it might be that an individual’s life experience fits her to take on a particular cause, for example, its salience within her family, neighbourhood or community, and racial group membership is one of various ways this can occur. Having a particularly rich understanding of the matters in question, being well placed to hear and appreciate the views of others are reasons that might, but don’t have to, involve membership of a group.23 Proximity, trust and access are likewise important features. This does not show that Nathanson fails to defend a moderate and morally acceptable patriotism. The discussion exposes an account of group identification and its relationship to resistance to oppression that is perhaps a bit too quick. There is a further problem with the racism analogy and defence of moderate racial loyalty that it enables: it is difficult to articulate a permissible basis for moderate racial loyalty when the asymmetry of race relations is made clear. Problems with moderate racial loyalty Nathanson distinguishes racism from moderate racial loyalty in that racism involves the hierarchical claim of one race being superior to another. Thus racism differs from moderate loyalty in being not just an extension of loyalty or preference beyond its acceptable limits (an immoderate loyalty), but in additional attitudes to others, and these attitudes (of superiority) lead to the morally problematic domination and subordination patterns familiar in contemporary racisms. But it is not so clear that a moderate racial loyalty can be detached from racial hierarchy in this way. Nathanson’s moderate position explicitly avoids becoming a defence of white partiality: he argues that one might defend racial partiality from the side of ‘advocates of equality for African Americans’ without being required to defend ‘moderate’ white loyalists (117). If one group already has an unfair share of advantages (or perhaps even a fair share in a distribution in which others lack a fair share), then partiality or special efforts to favour the group that is doing fine would at best be redundant, and would likely be wrong if this meant neglecting the more pressing needs of others: ‘In general, special preferences need to be constrained when the preferred groups are especially privileged and other groups are oppressed or in dire 22 This can include (mal)adaptive preferences – the black person who tells others they need to ‘know their place’, the woman who displays and recommends to other women an attitude of compliance and deference towards men. It may also include disadvantaged white folk who have minimal tangible benefit from the hierarchical class ordering of society, but don’t challenge it because the interlocking patterns of privilege include the race pattern where they are on the ‘winning’ side. 23 Compare environmental activism, refugee rights advocates, campaigners against the death penalty. In these cases, group identification might play a vanishingly small role for many activists. An Australian who does not leave Australia cannot become a death-row inmate, but could be an active campaigner against the death penalty.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


need’ (117). What this means in Marilyn Friedman’s more general terms is that ‘the moral value of partiality depends partly on the moral value of the relationships it helps to sustain.’24 In the case of racial preference or moderate racial loyalty, more needs to be said about these relationships. It is tempting to think of racism as ‘what racists do or believe’, and I think this is the main view of racism at work in the Gomberg–Nathanson discussion. The language of moral permissibility suggests it is particular agents with certain configurations of beliefs and attitudes and conduct that constitute racism.25 On another view, racism is more than individual attitudes, it is a pattern of social relations that sets up a hierarchy of privilege. This is in part acknowledged by Nathanson and Gomberg, but I think without taking on its full implications. As noted by Nathanson, any group preference is less easily justified when it aligns with privilege than when it seeks to redress disadvantage or injustice. And it is precisely the existence of racial injustice that provides the argument for racial partiality in the example of Martin Luther King, not its being his own race. There is no neutral, abstract or universal defence of racial preference. The moral status of an agent’s beliefs or loyal attitudes can’t be understood independently of the social patterns they help to undermine or to sustain. The racial ordering of a society like Australia or the United States is not merely a matter of conscious beliefs and attitudes of the agents, but involves tacit complicity with the background conditions that shape people’s lives differently, making life easier for some than others. Race relations have a systemic or institutional character that is asymmetric. While attitudes (for example, a special affection for or identification with my own race) and beliefs (for example, a belief that my race deserves special concern from me) appear as though they might be held by anyone toward their own race, relations of dominance and subordination are not reversible or interchangeable like that.26 Racism can be understood as if it were symmetric only if we focus on individual attitudes and beliefs, not social structures that entrench differences within and between groups. The notion of ‘white privilege’ shows this. A white person might not be racist in the sense of having beliefs with racist content, or attitudes of superiority, but might still benefit from racial privilege, and for reasons of self-interest, ignorance or apathy fail to contest or even to notice that privilege.27 Peggy McIntosh lists 50 24 M. Friedman, ‘The Practice of Partiality’, Ethics, vol. 101 (1991/92), p. 819. 25 Compare Cottingham’s examples of preferential treatment: encountering two homeless people and choosing to give money to one on the basis of their ethnic background (‘Partiality, Favouritism and Morality’). 26 David McCabe points out that ‘the legitimacy of partiality derives not from the intrinsic significance of racial similarity but from a commonality of shared oppression within a system that used racial classification as a means of oppression’ (D. McCabe, ‘Patriotic Gore, Again’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, p. 136). 27 Marilyn Frye explains that ‘the experience of oppressed people is that the living of one’s life is confined and shaped by forces and barriers which are not accidental or occasional and hence avoidable, but are systematically related to each other in such a way as to catch one between and among them and restrict or penalize motion in any direction’ (M. Frye, Politics of Reality (Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1983), p. 4).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

features of daily life in which she identifies differences in the experience of white and non-white people, which privilege whiteness in a way that can’t be reversed.28 These include: 3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live. 4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me. 5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. 6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented. 7. When I am told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization,’ I am shown that people of my color made it what it is. 8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race. Part of the privilege of being a member of the socially dominant race is that one’s own race is almost always invisible – this is part of white privilege. So a person might deny being racist (genuinely) but still be disinclined to address systemic disadvantage because of not seeing (perhaps conveniently) that she is a beneficiary of unfair privilege.29 Thinking about whiteness as privilege suggests two things. First, the privilege of one group necessitates that another group lacks that privilege. Second, it suggests that there is no positive value to ‘whiteness’. It is entirely explained as a source of privilege that orders and sustains a social hierarchy, making poor, low-class status whites complicit because there are others to whom they can feel superior, thus securing their acceptance of domination/subordination conditions of class, while directly oppressing non-whites.30 On this account it is not a contingent matter that white loyalism is morally impermissible in a way that non-white loyalism might not be because the problem of racism can be re-labelled the problem of white supremacy. Preferential treatment, as in affirmative action programmes for groups disadvantaged or excluded on the basis of race, gender, ability/disability, sexuality and the like is legitimate only because of a background of social injustice. Likewise preference or special concern for her own race is justified for a moral agent only if the group in question is non-dominant, which in Australia and the United States means non-white. If it is a purely contingent matter that white preference is unjustifiable, then in principle it might be possible to defend a moderate racial loyalty for all groups. Both the moral value of race-identification and the possibility of its being generalizable will, in part, depend on the account of race that is in play.

28 Peggy McIntosh ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’, (accessed 17 July 2006). 29 A similar case can be made for male privilege. 30 Noel Ignatieff, ‘The Point is Not to Interpret Whiteness but to Abolish It’, (accessed 13 July 2006).

Patriotism: Problems at Home


There are several candidate accounts of race, some of which make problematic conceptions of morally acceptable race preference outside of opposition to oppression. These accounts would deny that there can be a morally neutral or acceptable account of race. Race is an artefactual category. It might be understood as some kind of common culture and heritage, but those grouped together under a race label don’t necessarily share any such common culture and heritage.31 Nor is race a biological category; efforts to give a naturalistic account of race have not succeeded.32 Race is often identified with colour, but a ‘black’ person can be fairer skinned than a ‘white’ person. Race categories often refer to ancestry (or presumed ancestry) but any amount of non-white heritage can disqualify a person from whiteness (the ‘onedrop’ rule). One does not have the option of taking one’s race from any or even most of one’s ancestors. There are clusters of physical characteristics – hair texture, patterns of hair growth, facial features and the like – but race-based treatment does not stick closely to these patterns. And there are debates about the number of races: a web query ‘how many races’ yielded an anthropologist’s list of answers taken over 100 years, varying from three to 34.33 Race, then, is a social or conventional category (or set of such categories), but nonetheless real. Race might mean being marked in a particular way by some state regulation (formal, legal segregation), or in myriad informal ways (segregation in housing, stereotyping and so on). Race might mean systems of privilege that have emerged from sorting the world into owned and unowned in days of European colonial interventions. Race might mean a system for securing advantages to some while denying them to others.34 If race is based on this kind of social order and has no other source or purpose, then it is not so easy to detach superiority/inferiority from race. That race exists at all derives from and continues to depend on a social structure of privilege for one group. In the absence of a racist hierarchy, there is no basis for racial loyalty – the groups designated by race don’t persist. There might be loyalties based on affiliation of culture, history, religion and the like, but these are not coextensive with any racial category. It is not racial differences that generate racism, but racism that generates races. What would racial partiality be in the absence of racial injustice – would there be a configuration of ‘races’ that is more or less like the present configuration, would there be a recognizable set of ‘races’ at all? If moderate racial loyalty were possible, there would need to be races without racism. Comparisons of race loyalty and patriotism depend on a way of thinking about race detached from its particular manifestations – racisms. An abstract defence of ‘moderate racial loyalties’ explained without reference to contemporary racial hierarchies requires an account of how race

31 See David Wilkins, ‘Introduction’, in K.A. Appiah and A. Gutmann (eds), Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 21–3. 32 Appiah, ‘Analysis: Against Races’, in Appiah and Gutmann (eds), Color Conscious. 33 (accessed 16 July 2006). 34 (accessed 14 July 2006).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

can make sense in some morally neutral terms, but it seems to me that such terms are not available.35 The discussion further suggests that while there may be (I think there are) morally valuable racially conscious policies and practices, and even racial loyalties, their value rests in their being supportive of social justice, and not in a generic value or even permissibility attaching to racial preferences per se. A moderate racial preference abstracted from racialized patterns of privilege and oppression is an odd conception because it is precisely these patterns of privilege and oppression that constitute races. This is evidenced by how racial identity is determined in terms of contamination and purity, rather than quantity and proportion. Thus, for example, many Australian indigenous people have both white and black ancestry, but count as non-white. The dominant (white) race exercises control over who is included in order to perpetuate a racial hierarchy.36 Racial orders sustained by racial loyalty are not morally benign because they are not intelligible or sustainable outside a racist context. The argument for a morally acceptable form of racial loyalty depends on the possibility of there being a nonhierarchical account of race – race without superiority or supremacy. The races we encounter in Australian society and American society are not amenable to such an account. The category ‘white’ sorts those who share nothing other than positioning in roles defined by and supportive of white supremacy – they are inseparable from an organization of racial hierarchy. There is no basis for racial distinctions that can ground acceptable race-based loyalties. The work is done by categories of oppression and privilege. Problems with racism and sexism There is more to be said about the use of racism as an analogy. The above discussion addresses the issue of symmetry and reversibility of social group relations. I now turn to the issue of unity within groups. A sexism-racism analogy has been much discussed in feminist theory. It emerged that differences within groups are obscured by thinking about racism without reference to gender, or sexism without reference to race. Comparisons of sexism and racism seemed to assume that there is a group of people oppressed by sexism whose experience could be compared to and contrasted with the experience of those oppressed by racism.37 This assumes that there is a 35 This is actually too quick. While we need to theorize patterns of oppression and inequality we need certain concepts, and the need for the concepts to understand history is not obliterated if the oppression in question has passed. Thus, it might be that we need certain concepts not because of contemporaneous identities but because of theoretical demands. 36 The status of some groups like the Irish has shifted significantly over time. ‘Similar to the Jews, the Irish were a racialized group internal to Europe until the twentieth century.’ L.M. Alcoff, Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 191. 37 For example, Richard Wasserstrom discusses being female as opposed to being black (‘Racism and Sexism’, Philosophy and Social Issues: Five Studies (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1980)).

Patriotism: Problems at Home


uniformity or commonality to each group – sexism oppresses all women in much the same way. ‘An additive analysis treats the oppression of a black woman in a sexist and racist society as if it were a further burden than her oppression in a sexist but non-racist society, when, in fact, it is a different burden.’38 Antiracism as black nationalism often had a strongly masculine character: ‘The black nationalist movement utilised images of black masculinity as the epitome of freedom. Slavery and racism had destroyed black manhood, they argued, and overcoming racism meant achieving manhood.’39 Each of these renders invisible the experience of black women.40 Comparisons of racism and sexism also encourage attempts to say which kind of oppression is the more ‘fundamental’, some theorists claiming that patriarchy is the basis or model for racist oppression, others the converse. The implicit approach of some feminists seemed to theorize the oppression of women (universal or generic women) and then modify the theory for particular kinds of women. Actually, it (inadvertently) set up white women as the group whose experiences were typical for all women, making white women normal, and everyone else ‘other’. However, precisely because white women are otherwise socially privileged by race (and because the theorists tended to be middle class as well as white, and so advantaged socio-economically as well), their encounter with sexism has distinct features, and is not prototypical. Part of their racial and class privilege was not to see this. So, for example, white women (especially non-working-class white women) far more than black women have been regarded as frail, have been excluded from work, having excessive/burdensome responsibility for childcare in contrast to having one’s children removed (the fate of the so-called stolen generations of Australia’s indigenous peoples), have found the family a site of oppression rather than a sanctuary from it, or have found their family life valorized rather than having their families criticized and destroyed.41 White US feminists have been criticized directly for taking their own middleclass position to represent all women, when as bell hooks, for example, points out, a concern with the limitations of domestic restriction is less important to many women than fair working conditions. It takes a level of social privilege to encounter the plight of a bored housewife. This is not to deny that gendered distribution of domestic responsibilities can be unjust and can contribute to women’s disadvantage, but to emphasize that this circumstance, at any time in history and in any country, has been typical of only a subclass of women, and that subclass was economically and 38 E. Spelman, ‘The Erasure of Black Women’, in G.L. Bowie, R. Solomon and M. Michaels (eds), Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy, 5th edn (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2003), p. 517. 39 W. Breines, ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It? White Women, Black Women, and Feminism in the Movement Years’, Signs, vol. 27 (2002), p. 1120. 40 See G.T. Hull, P. Bell Scott, and B. Smith (eds), All the Women Are White, All the Blacks are Men, But some of Us Brave: Black Women’s Studies (New York: Feminist Press, 1982). 41 bell hooks, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1984); E. Spelman, ‘Gender and Race: the Ampersand Problem in Feminist Thought’, Inessential Woman (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1988).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

socially advantaged relative to the average. One can ascribe pernicious ignorance to those who took it to be a near-universal plight by overlooking its racial and classed dimensions – an attitude termed ‘white solipsism’ by Elizabeth Spelman, following Adrienne Rich. Arguably, it is precisely this privilege that facilitated overlooking the atypical features of white middle-class women’s experience and ignoring women’s experience of racism. Wini Breines’ discussion of how race and gender were negotiated by black and by white feminists in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s points out that ‘from the perspective of African-Americans … abstractness impaired white women’s understanding of the lives of women of color, which, in effect, was racist.’42 It was racist not because the parties held white supremacist beliefs or attitudes (as Breines points out, members of mainly white feminist collectives were explicitly anti-racist), but because it assumed a commonality to all women’s experience which effectively excluded or classified as deviant the experience of black women. Often white feminists took women’s oppression to be universal and more basic than other forms of oppression, and in doing so took ‘women’ to be an undifferentiated group. But women from non-white groups experienced oppression very differently from those whose white privilege allowed race to be an abstract variation on the fundamental gender based oppression. An abstract defence of ‘moderate racial preferences’, explained without reference to contemporary racial hierarchies, would risk the same problematic effect.43 Perhaps the critique of the additive models of oppression is orthogonal to patriotism. However, looking at the problems with this model leads to a caution about undifferentiated group memberships and invites the question of whether patriotic identification and loyalty can work in the same way for all members of a community that is structured by race, gender, class and so on. It might be that I am loyal to a partial group, not to the diverse range of compatriots, because I take the 42 Breines, ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?’, p. 1122. 43 Further comparisons could be made. What if patriotism is more like white supremacy than the facially neutral racial loyalty that, I have argued, is a troublesome conception? Reasons that push in this direction include the ‘racial contract’ analysis of colonialism by Charles Mills (and perhaps problems feminists have identified in apparently neutral notions of citizenship). Might patriotic identification intersect with white supremacy in colonial countries, or racially hierarchical societies? If patriotism cannot be disentangled from these concerns, and if these concerns are not easily defused, then perhaps patriotism is less clearly an acceptable partiality. Charles Mills’ work on the ‘racial contract’ (The Racial Contract (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997)) could be used to suggest that patriotic loyalty is complicated by race, and perhaps inextricable from race, at least in colonial countries where ownership of land, citizenship and full humanity were denied on racial grounds. But concluding that patriotic loyalty is therefore irredeemably flawed might be too hasty: there are independent reasons for thinking that some kind of state affiliation is necessary for distribution, and that for a polity to function, some state-based citizenship is important (see Appiah, ‘Cosmopolitan Patriots’, in Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country). I think the case for patriotism needs to be argued independently – the analogy is not strong enough. What this possibility suggests is that there might be quite different considerations about the moral status of nations when there is a relatively recent history of colonial (and perhaps other) takeover.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


group to be like me (an imagined unity) just as some feminists thought their own experience of sexism yielded analyses adequate for all women. The additive model treats groups as internally homogeneous. Forms of oppression, sexism or racism, are analysed, then added together to account for people who experience both. My identity seems to be made up of a series of memberships – Australian, white, middle class, female, not disabled, and so on – which I could wear like a series of coloured wristbands identifying my affiliations to the sports teams or charities I support. But this approach is unsatisfactory if, as in the above example, the intersections of gender and race undermine a unified category that is the same for all its members. Just as membership of the group ‘women’ is not necessarily the same for white and non-white women, membership of the group ‘Australian’ might not be the same for an indigenous and a non-indigenous compatriot. A justifiable patriotic loyalty needs to be moderated not just by general moral constraints or an overall consideration of a particular nation and its relations to others. It needs to include an account of the relationships between compatriots and their complicated intersecting group memberships.44 The above discussion has emphasized two aspects of thinking about race as a group. The first part argued that the basis for racial groupings and identifications is not inherently morally acceptable, so it is reduction in injustice that can justify racial loyalty. Without that dimension, even a moderate racial loyalty is problematic. The second part illustrated how groups are internally complex, and showed that problems can arise when groups are misconceived as homogeneous or unified. The complex constitution of groups within any set of compatriots presents a challenge to a defence of morally acceptable patriotism to take account of social diversity. Concentric circles of moral concern Families Both patriotism and citizenship are sometimes presented through a concentric circles model in which moral concern expands from smaller to larger groups producing what Andrew Oldenquist has termed ‘nested’ loyalties.45 The circle starts with the family, and extends to all of humanity via local concerns for neighbourhood, community, country and the like. This pattern depends on a view of the family as exemplifying the kind of moral concern that should be extended to other groups. As well as the problems of treating groups as internally the same, this seems to rely on an imaginary model of the objects of moral concern and our capacities. 44 The basis for a general claim about loyalty or partiality being permissible has to include some account of what that loyalty or partiality sustains, and the basis on which it is grounded. It is easy for some Australians to identify with the ANZAC legends; for others, history has been erased. During my education in Tasmania, the lives and histories of indigenous aboriginal Tasmanians were denied; I was taught, and the museum verified, that they had ‘died out’. (This history has since been revised.) How do I understand compatriotism with these survivors of invasion? 45 A. Oldenquist, ‘Loyalties’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, p. 31.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

It is initially plausible that social inclusion and moral concern both begin with family-like relationships in which one is at first taken care of, and through which one comes to care about and care for others. We also probably start to think about fairness as children, especially those of us with siblings who learn, at an early age, to identify ways of treatment that are or are not fair (admittedly with an egocentric focus). So it might appear that there are concentric circles, expanding our domains of ethical recognition, concern and inclusion from our immediate community to transcend familial, local, national and ethnic divisions. Ultimately our moral concern encompasses humanity, or so it is hoped. Patriots or citizens will attend to the public good as well as to their own immediate good, and for global citizens or cosmopolitans this concern extends to humanity and the world. David McCabe, for example, expresses great confidence about effective moral concern for close groups that can be expanded to others: … Intuitively there seems a very good moral reason to encourage people to adopt wider over narrower loyalties – namely, that the chief moral danger for most people is that they will fail to give appropriate attention to the needs not of those closest to them, but of those more distant. The very idea of moral development, as moral psychologists since the Stoics have pointed out, involves the expansion of our circle of moral concern: the egoism of the child gets expanded to include the family, then friends, then the community and so on.46

To think more about the shape of this moral concern, consider families within McCabe’s timeframe of Stoics to the present. Equal treatment across birth order and gender is the exception, not the rule, with respect to inheritance rights and education and much else. Often parental (especially paternal) relationships were simply denied: family relations were not considered salient for sexual partners outside marriage, for illegitimate children, children of slave owners and slaves, colonialists and ‘natives’ and so on. In such cases, it seems false that ‘the chief moral danger’ was a failure to attend to those far away. Moral failure was manifest with respect to people in face to face and intimate bodily proximity. McCabe seems to suggest that appropriate moral concern is accorded to all family members in a fair and just way, but it seems more plausible that the moral concern extended to ‘the family’ is already selective and that even within an acknowledged family, this concern distributes benefits and burdens quite unequally. Further extension of this kind of moral concern might be a less promising model for a wider circle of loyalties.47 In discussing partialities, the common form of appeal to family loyalty does not represent everyday treatment of family members. Instead, when it is more than a vague reference that assumes family relationships are morally good, it is an imagined thought experiment about saving one’s drowning child in preference to someone else’s child, or one’s spouse in preference to a stranger. Families and family relationships appear in an idealized form, but for the moral significance of families to do important theoretical work, perhaps more attention to the concrete realities and 46 D. McCabe, ‘Patriotic Gore, Again’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, p. 123. 47 Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas explicitly compares ‘daughters of educated men’ to their brothers. Thanks to Igor Primoratz for pointing out this connection.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


imperfections of families is necessary. The imagery of mother country, fatherland and homeland further connect patriotism, family and home.48 Actual families are problematic exemplars, but perhaps patriotism and citizenship reproduce the family connection in precisely this problematic way. The family is not a model of perfect fairness, in theory or practice. In some modern theories only the head of the household counted as a citizen. Families in Rousseau’s analysis were necessarily hierarchical: there needed to be one ‘head’. Rousseau quite explicitly describes the compliant and companionate virtues appropriate to the female partner who was to be neither the ‘head’ of the family, nor a citizen in her own right. As Rousseau makes clear, the extension of concern from the family to the polity is compatible with a strictly masculine public sphere. In his words: … as though there were no need for a natural base on which to form conventional ties; as though the love of one’s nearest were not the principle of the love one owes to the state; as though it were not by means of the small fatherland which is the family that the heart attaches itself to the large one; as though it were not the good son, the good husband, the good father who make the good citizen!49

Thus Rousseau proposes that citizenship begins at home and that the family, and mothering in particular, form the seedbed of civic virtue. But he thinks this system requires what we might call separate spheres for men and women. As Iris Marion Young has argued, on such accounts the generality of the public depends precisely on excluding women.50 While families are the most common providers of the care necessary for children to grow up, they often are not models of equal concern for all. Age, birth order and gender have yielded unequal rights probably in most families since the Stoics’ times. A further problem comes from the gendered nature of the stereotypical (heterosexual, nuclear) families of Western political theory – a problem about the status of caring. Independence is cited as a civic virtue, and frequently equated with earning a self sufficient income.51 Here, civic virtue means being a good citizen of a nation or state, described by Kymlicka, following Galston, as follows: … Responsible citizenship requires four types of civic virtues: (i) general virtues: courage; law-abidingness; loyalty; (ii) social virtues: independence; open-mindedness; (iii) economic virtues: work ethic; capacity to delay self-gratification; adaptability to economic and technological change; and (iv) political virtues: capacity to discern and 48 A link between patriotism and citizenship is expressed by Nathanson in this way: ‘To say that one is not patriotic suggests that one lacks the loyalty that is appropriate to citizens’ (S. Nathanson, ‘In Defense of “Moderate Patriotism”’, p. 87). In his discussion of patriotism and cosmopolitanism, Robert Pinsky says: ‘if patriotism suggests the pull of a parental home, cosmopolitanism suggests the pull of the market place, the downtown plaza.’ R. Pinsky, ‘Eros against Esperanto’, in Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country, p. 85). 49 J.-J. Rousseau, Emile, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), p. 363. 50 I.M. Young, ‘Polity and Group Difference: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship’, Ethics, vol. 99 (1989/90), p. 254. 51 I.M. Young, ‘Mothers, Citizenship, and Independence: A Critique of Pure Family Values’, Ethics, vol. 105 (1995/96).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives respect the rights of others; willingness to demand only what can be paid for; ability to evaluate the performance of those in office; willingness to engage in public discourse.52

Virtuous citizenship thus includes forms of self-sufficiency, so that one does not impose excessive burdens on the state.53 It requires caring for one’s health, moderating one’s consumption, saving for retirement and so on. These virtues of responsible citizenship are supposedly learned first at home, in the family. Not all family members will display or learn these virtues in the same way or to the same extent. But just as they produce agents with moral capacities, families reproduce patterns of injustice and inequality. Women, and especially mothers, tend to be less independent in the economic sense described above than men, in part because they typically dedicate more time and energy to caring for dependent others. Such a mother, who exhibits ‘the virtues of caring and sacrifice necessary for nurturing children to be good citizens’, will not be independent in the required sense.54 Rather than being responsible for meeting her own needs, she meets others’ emotional, practical and sexual needs, and is probably economically dependent, since less likely to be earning a self-sustaining wage. In traditional heterosexual families, those households often taken to be the unit of liberal and republican societies, the mother/wife’s independence is often not well secured. We must be cautious with respect to an ideal that makes independence part of virtuous citizenship. The citizenship virtues that are supposed to be nurtured in families rarely mention or recognize the contribution of caring for others or the need to be cared for. Making independence a duty or virtue obscures the fact that women are usually the ones who care for dependent others. We must also be cautious about taking a family as a model for a just community since many family types, including those appealed to in phrases like ‘family values’, are actually not good examples of fairness and equity. Citizenship within a nation is also complicated by the diversity of groups who make up the population. Rights and entitlements are formally extended to all groups who share a particular national citizenship, but even so, equality and justice are elusive for members of some groups: oppression remains. For this reason, among others, theorists such as Iris Marion Young recommend differentiated citizenship. She advocates attending to group distinctions because inclusion and participation are not maintained by strict formally equal treatment, but by special rights sensitive to capacity, behavioural style, values and the like. 52 W. Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy, 2nd edn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 288. 53 As Nathanson plausibly puts it, patriotism includes the following: ‘(1) a special affection for one’s own country; (2) a sense of personal identification with one’s country; (3) a special concern for the well-being of one’s country; (4) a willingness to make sacrifices to aid or protect one’s country’ (Nathanson, ‘Is Patriotism Like Racism?’, p. 114). The fourth (and perhaps the third) conditions approximate what are here called citizenship virtues, if we take it that preserving the community and polity includes civic participation as well as military defence. 54 I.M. Young, ‘Mothers, Citizenship, and Independence’, p. 545.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


There are considerable problems with starting with the family as the basis of morally valuable citizenship. Often, we don’t understand or treat our family members terribly well. Family feuds, rifts, breakdowns are dramatic examples; but in mundane life, when things are going as well as can be expected, we often misunderstand and are often misunderstood. This is not to deny that families are a site where we learn moral concern, but it is to claim it is dangerous to abstract from the realities of nonideal families and replace them with a sentimentalized imaginary version. Avoiding such idealization might encourage noticing whether the moral concern we extend has the features of hierarchy and privilege learned in families rather than imagining that an ideal model of fairness is already in our grasp. Since it is hard to understand those closest to, and supposedly most like ourselves, we should heed Robert Pinsky’s warning: ‘how extreme an act of imagination paying attention to the other must be, in order to succeed even a little.’55 Scarry and Young are rightly sceptical about imagination, pointing out how it differs from attending to what others say, and how it may distract from ensuring others are heard, not just imagined. Concrete, not fictional others are the objects of moral concern for family members as well as for humanity and the world. Our thinking about morally acceptable preferences should start with a careful account of actual, not fictitious relationships and attitudes. Homelessness Consider another group that seems absent from discussions of virtuous citizens and patriots. Many homeless persons, while probably not independent in the sense of earning a self-sufficient wage, are probably not interdependent in the way of connected family members in stereotypical families, and remain outside this picture of citizenship even if it could be supplemented to include the virtues of caring for others. Overlooking the neighbourhood’s homeless would seem quite consistent with the citizenship virtues sketched above, although this might vary according to the set of virtues in question.56 Members of homeless families face the obstacles to citizenship sketched below as well as other challenges. It is hard for non-householders, individuals or families, to be citizens. Shelter and housing are important conditions for citizenship in practice. This is important because the model of concentric circles is misleadingly inclusive: it is taken to have the potential to extend to national borders and beyond, but it leaves out people closer to home. The above version of citizenship virtues is compatible with a concern for public spaces that explicitly excludes those deemed indigent.57 Above, I discussed selective moral concern about and 55 Pinsky, ‘Eros against Esperanto’, p. 88. 56 Arguably, patriotic virtues will be less vulnerable to such an objection, although a strong emphasis on mutual obligation and mutual benefit can risk excluding those who are marginal contributors. 57 In July 2006, in Las Vegas, Nevada, the city passed an ordinance that bans providing food or meals to ‘the indigent’ in parks. When I lived there, rules prohibited sleeping in bus shelters. The members of that community are arguably not treated as fellow citizens.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

within families; here, my concern is with selective rights for compatriots and fellow-citizens.58 Considering homelessness and public spaces, Jeremy Waldron has suggested that being at home means being somewhere that no-one else has a right to throw you out of.59 This is similar to having a right to be in your country of citizenship – I might need visas to enter the United States, and to work there, but at home, in Australia, I can take my right to work for granted. I can’t be thrown out of my own home. At home, I can do all manner of things that are inappropriate elsewhere, and for which I can be removed from public spaces. In the privacy of my own home, for example, I can do certain chores of bodily maintenance which I can only do at home, or in a small range of places where I belong in some sense or have special privileges. Waldron points out that public space restrictions make dignity and even life effectively impossible for those who have no place of privacy – no home. In some jurisdictions, you cannot sleep in public and there may be no available toilets. Without one’s own home, one is always on regulated property where one may not sleep, wash or urinate at will, and if certain bodily needs cannot be legally met in public spaces, homeless people have nowhere to go. Waldron talks of the plight of homelessness in the context of freedom and property. He explores the constraints afflicting people who are homeless because of certain prohibitions on what can be done in public places. Access to citizenship rights is also impaired. Pragmatically, voting registration is tricky when one has no fixed address; so much the worse for homeless citizens’ voting rights, let alone opportunity to practice citizenship virtues of public discourse. Participation is made impossible, if I cannot live with dignity. As Iris Marion Young points out, persons of privilege will dominate the political public sphere because they (we) have the ‘material, personal and organisational resources that enable them to speak and be heard in public’.60 A person who is homeless is unlikely to have those resources, nor will she find it easy to have her political voice acknowledged if she does speak. Arguably, via group representation in a political public we can offset certain patterns of privilege and exclusion, but notice that a similar pattern of privilege applies to political representation and to the use of public spaces – for me, a public park offers resources I don’t have at home, particularly a large space to let my dog frolic. But access to a public space only expands my options if certain things are in place – if I already have a place to sleep, wash, toilet, launder. Shared public spaces are not supposed to provide the needs that the homeless have, even though their needs for shelter and bodily maintenance are more pressing than those of wellhoused pet owners. Public spaces to meet the wants of some deliver increasingly

58 The selectivity here is not that of favouring compatriots over other nationals as defended by Richard Miller (‘Cosmopolitan Respect and Patriotic Concern’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism). Rather, it is a selective way in which rights are more effectively guaranteed for some co-nationals than for others. This is an example of an extension of moral concern that does not admit its own omissions. 59 Jeremy Waldron, ‘Homelessness and the Issue of Freedom’, in Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit (eds), Contemporary Political Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997). 60 I.M. Young, ‘Polity and Group Difference’, p. 262.

Patriotism: Problems at Home


restricted and regulated options for those with least resources. The demands of those with privilege dominate the forms of acceptable use, as laws that prohibit sleeping in train stations, parks, bus shelters and subways illustrate. Much of this regulation emerges from some version of a constitutionally democratic process, but it does not enhance the inclusion of marginalized citizens. It is easy for some of us to take citizenship for granted, but when we look at homeless people’s lives it is clear that even within a neighbourhood some neighbours are less protected by citizenship rights, even though equally entitled to them. We see that extending moral concern from private families to compatriots or fellow citizens is problematic, and that minimal conditions for a dignified life need to be met in order for citizens to participate. Recall McCabe’s claim that we fail in moral concern for those more distant than those close to us. The case of homeless people in one’s own community shows an ambiguity in this claim. They might be physically close, seen every day, neighbours in all but housing, but homeless people are almost always strangers. Perhaps the problem of including all persons as moral equals is already present in the family, and a resistance to inclusion remains in ideas of patriotism and citizenship that extend from that model. Conclusion Why is it so easy to fail to notice the need for and to deliver the benefits of moral concern? It seems hard to see people as equal in rights or desert when they are strange, whether foreign and distant, or odd and close. Perhaps our imagination is not up to the task. Perhaps our families have taught us that some people’s rights are more valuable or considerable than others and this, rather than equal inclusion, is what we extend to wider circles. Perhaps we are mistakenly drawn into thinking that we can and do extend equal concern. In this chapter, I have illustrated some difficulties of imagining others and offered some examples of troublesome thinking where group identities like race and gender are involved. It is difficult both to extend moral concern in practice and to think clearly about what it takes to theorize groups, loyalty and difference. We are not so good at managing fairness within our own families, or extending moral concern within neighbourhoods, let alone towards or beyond national boundaries. Families are not straightforwardly benign, nor are the roles of idealized families in thinking about patriotism and other group loyalties. The challenges of thinking about patriotism and cosmopolitanism are intensified when we take seriously the magnitude and persistence of problems at home.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 11

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance? Robyn Eckersley

Introduction Although there is a burgeoning literature on environmental citizenship, there have been relatively few scholarly attempts to develop a union between environmentalism and patriotism or environmentalism and nationalism.1 This is not surprising, given that the modern environmental movement and the broader green political movement are generally cosmopolitan in their orientation.2 It is now a trite observation that ecological problems respect neither the territorial borders of sovereign states nor the boundaries of particular nations or peoples. That nation-states have mostly exploited rather than protected the environment for nation-building and military purposes has also prompted many green political theorists to search for alternative forms of political identity, authority, and governance that break with the conventional ‘bounded’ understandings of national identity, citizenship, and democracy and the traditional statist model of exclusive territorial rule. The quest has been to avoid the tragedy of the global commons by developing new, cooperative governance structures and associated practices of citizenship and democracy that engender responsibility to all those affected by ecological risks. Ecological sustainability and ecological justice require not only a reduction in the production of ecological risks but also the avoidance of their unfair externalization or displacement through space and time. Popular green maxims such as ‘think globally, act locally’, and ‘live simply, that others may simply live’ rest on recognition and respect for an expanded moral community that goes beyond compatriots to include all of humanity, future generations, and, for some, nonhuman species and the Earth itself. As the author of an environmental website called ‘Are you a planet patriot?’ put it: We live in a global world, as the Apollo photographs of Earth showed us, and we are increasingly interdependent. It is time to broaden our sense of patriotism to encompass all humanity and even life itself.

1 See, for example, Andrew Dobson and Derek Ball (eds), Environmental Citizenship: Getting from Here to There (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005) and Andrew Dobson, Citizenship and the Environment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). 2 See, for example, Robyn Eckersley, The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives It is time to grow once again, to be citizens of not just our country and nation, but our Earth. But we don’t stop loving our nation-state just because we also love the Earth. We can be patriots of both! 3

But does it make sense to say that we can be patriots of both? The notion of planetary patriotism appears to subvert rather than merely extend the conventional understanding of patriotism as love of one’s country. Defenders of the virtues of traditional patriotism, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, would find planetary patriotism nonsensical because patriotism is understood as a particularistic attachment, rooted in the life of particular national communities, which he takes to represent the very opposite of impartial or universal morality, whether liberal, green, or otherwise.4 Although I disagree with MacIntyre’s particular defense of the virtues of patriotism, for the purposes of this chapter I shall accept his conventional understanding of patriotism as an attachment to one’s own country. My aim is to explore whether and to what extent this conventional kind of patriotism, as a particularistic project that is rooted in the life of particular national community, might be pressed into the service of environmental protection. My strategy is to explore how one might go about convincing a green cosmopolitan skeptic that environmental patriotism is a virtue. This entails putting the case in the best possible light, and then exploring whether environmental patriotism has the potential to ‘grow ugly’ or otherwise backfire. It will be shown that it is not easy to convince the green cosmopolitan skeptic because associating environmentalism and patriotism carries similar potential, and similar risks, as associating environmentalism with nationalism. On the one hand, the association holds the promise of building on the progressive tradition of patriotism that promotes democratic engagement and social criticism, and a nonexclusive love of one’s country that includes attachment to the land – to indigenous flora and fauna, local landscapes, and national ecosystem integrity. At its best, environmental patriotic attachment might serve to mobilize both citizens and their government to act as environmental guardians to protect and, where necessary, restore national environmental heritage. Such attachment might also help to build social solidarity in ways that transcend ethnic, religious, and cultural differences within national communities. I also suggest how it might be possible to reconcile environmental patriotism with environmental cosmopolitanism by defending the idea of nationstates, or compatriots, as ‘local agents of the common good’, to adopt Hedley Bull’s phrase.5 On the other hand, bringing together environmentalism and patriotism also carries significant risks that might subvert the radical, progressive and cosmopolitan core of environmentalism by pressing it into the service of parochial claims or political causes with racist and bloody histories. It might encourage an insular environmentalism or 3 Harold Wood, ‘Are you a planet patriot?’, (accessed 12 July 2006). 4 The locus classicus of this view of patriotism is Alisdair McIntyre’s essay ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, The Lindley Lecture (University of Kansas, 1984). Reprinted in Richard J. Arneson (ed.), Liberalism (Aldershot: Elgar, 1992), vol. III, pp. 246–63. 5 Hedley Bull, Justice in International Relations: The Hagey Lectures (Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo, 1984), p. 14.

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


‘nimbyism’ that allows the ‘export’ of dirty industry to other countries or the use of other nation’s natural resources such as forests in order to protect one’s own. At its worst, environmental patriotism could fuel a dangerous set of linkages between ‘blood and soil’ and could assist in the resurgence of an ethnic nationalism that seeks to remove any form of contamination or impurity from a white body politic and/or pristine national wilderness. Clearly, not all expressions of patriotism are necessarily bad and not all expressions of environmentalism are necessarily good. In this chapter I show that the arguments of political and moral philosophers about the virtues and vices of patriotism cannot be evaluated in isolation from historical and sociological studies of ‘actually existing patriotism’. Persuading the green cosmopolitan skeptic How, then, might we begin to persuade a typical green cosmopolitan skeptic of the environmental virtues of patriotism? The first move would be to point out the variable meaning and history of patriotism. Patriotism has served a wide variety of political purposes, from revolutionary to conservative. It has helped to fuel democratic demands for liberty and active self-government in opposition to tyranny and absolutism, as well as demands for justice and equality.6 It has also been used by political elites to stifle social criticism and justify militarism and the sacrifice of the lives of young soldiers in the waging of unjust wars. For some, it is expressed in the form of a strong emotional attachment to the flag and the national anthem while for others it may be expressed through the act of burning the flag or refusing to sing the national anthem. For the former, the true patriot is she or he whose loyalty to the nation is unquestioning whereas for the latter, the true patriot is she or he who is democratically engaged in criticizing the government for thwarting certain political hopes or progressive national ideals such as liberty or justice. In all of these respects, however, Alisdair MacIntyre is right to point out that patriotic attachment is an attachment to a particular kind of national project, which may mean reviving a particular past or bringing into being a particular future that is rooted in the life of a particular national community.7 Understood in these terms, patriotism joins liberty and justice as an ‘essentially contested concept’.8 There is broad agreement about the abstract core of the concept (namely, an attachment to one’s country) but there is deep disagreement about the nature of the attachment, the particular objects of attachment and the reason why such attachments are considered worthy. 6 See, for example, Mary G. Dietz, ‘Patriotism: A Brief History of the Term’, in Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell L. Hanson (eds), Political Innovation and Conceptual Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 177–93; reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002), pp. 201–15. See also Peter Dreier and Dick Flacks, ‘Patriotism and Progressivism’, Peace Review 15(4) (2003), pp. 397–404. 7 McIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’ p. 257. 8 W.B. Gallie, Philosophy and the Historical Understanding (New York: Schocken Books, 1964). See also William E. Connolly, The Terms of Political Discourse (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Given that environmentalists are clearly involved in a wide range of political projects in particular national communities, a first step in this exercise might be to take stock of the variety of competing discourses about patriotism and national identity, both in terms of ‘actually existing patriotism’ and philosophical defenses of patriotism, and identify which discourses are serving or thwarting environmental goals. For example, in their study of the role of patriotic values in the 1988 US elections, John Sullivan, Amy Fried, and Mary Dietz identified no less than five varieties of US patriotism, including what they called ‘instinctive environmental patriotism’ and its nemesis, ‘capitalist patriotism’.9 Environmental patriots (who were found to be roughly twice as prevalent as capitalist patriots) regarded those who degraded the American environment as traitors to America while capitalist patriots saw the exploitation of natural resources and capitalist development as acts of patriotic devotion because it provided jobs and prosperity to Americans.10 Sullivan, Fried, and Dietz also found that environmental patriotism bore little relationship to the traditional patriotism scale used in standard questionnaire research, which typically singles out attachment to the pledge, the flag, and the nation as markers of patriotism.11 Instead, environmental patriotism joined what they called ‘iconoclastic patriotism’ in believing that civil disobedience and removing an unjust government were patriotic acts.12 They also found that ‘instinctive environmental patriotism’ was instrumental, but not entirely so.13 In other words, patriotism was clearly a means to a larger end – protecting the environment – but it was also valued as an expression of active citizenship as an end in itself. Of course, Sullivan, Fried, and Dietz merely provide a snapshot of patriotic discourses in the United States in 1988. Had a similar study been conducted in the United States in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 we would have probably found both iconoclastic patriotism and environmental patriotism to be considerably muted and overwhelmed by a passionate flag waving patriotism that accepted no criticism of the Bush administration’s military retaliation. Indeed one simple opinion poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center after 9/11 found that confidence in both 9 John L. Sullivan, Amy Fried and Mary Dietz, ‘Patriotism, Politics, and the American Presidential Election of 1988’, American Journal of Political Science 36 (1) (1992), pp. 200–234. The five forms of patriotism identified were: iconoclastic, symbolic, instinctive environmental, capitalistic and nationalistic symbolic. 10 Sullivan, Fried and Dietz, ‘Patriotism, Politics, and the American Presidential Election of 1988’, pp. 212–13. Sullivan, Fried and Dietz employed Q-methodology to identify these different streams of patriotism. They also found that around 31 per cent of their surveyed sample of 400 represented environmental patriots while only 16 per cent represented capitalist patriots (p. 218). 11 Sullivan, Fried and Mary Dietz, ‘Patriotism, Politics, and the American Presidential Election of 1988’, pp. 225–6. 12 Sullivan, Fried and Mary Dietz, ‘Patriotism, Politics, and the American Presidential Election of 1988’, p. 215. 13 Sullivan, Fried and Mary Dietz, ‘Patriotism, Politics, and the American Presidential Election of 1988’, p. 217.

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


the US executive and military increased dramatically, which considerably narrowed the space for public criticism of US domestic and foreign policy responses to the terrorist attacks.14 The point of drawing attention to the variable meaning and history of patriotism, including the debate among moral and political philosophers over whether patriotism is a virtue or a vice, is that our green cosmopolitan skeptic can be discriminating. She can reject the patriotism of neoconservative political elites such as the Bush administration as inconsistent with liberty and sustainability. The Bush administration’s Patriot Act 2001 restricts the civil liberties of citizens while its national and energy security policies require stepping up oil production and exploration (including in national parks), which increase greenhouse gas emissions and destroy wilderness areas.15 And she can align her concerns, like the US environmental patriots, with that tradition of patriotism that promotes democratic engagement and social criticism. However, two important and interrelated questions arise at this point. First, why might we welcome democratic engagement and social criticism as environmental virtues? Second, if we understand patriotism as a particularistic project, rooted in the life of particular national communities, then what is particularistic about the tradition of patriotism that prizes democratic engagement and social criticism? As to the first question, a good deal of the work of green political theorists over the last decade and a half has been directed towards showing that the ideal of unconstrained deliberation over questions of value and common purpose in the public sphere lends itself to the protection of generalizable interests and public goods, such as environmental protection. Democratic engagement and social criticism facilitate the public exposure of ecological problems and the political mobilization of environmental concerns, ranging from mass protests, citizens’ initiatives, independent scientific inquiry and the formation of environmental nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and green political parties. Social criticism enables the detection and correction of environmental problems and the exposure of unsustainable practices. Public spirited political deliberation is also the process by which we learn of our dependence on others (and the environment) and the process by which we learn to recognize and respect differently situated others (including nonhuman others and future generations). It is the activity through which citizens consciously create a common life and a common future together, including the ecosystem health and integrity that sustains political communities.16 While our green cosmopolitan skeptic would welcome these arguments, she might point out that there is nothing in this case for democratic engagement and 14 The poll is discussed in Patrick G. Coy, Gregory M. Maney and Lynne M. Woehrie, ‘Contesting Patriotism’, Peace Review 15(4) (2003), pp. 463–70 at pp. 463–4. 15 See, for example, David Orr, The Last Refuge: Patriotism, Politics and the Environment in an Age of Terror (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005). Indeed, David Orr has called for nothing less than a second American revolution and a ‘higher patriotism’ based on justice, equity and sustainability. 16 Robyn Eckersley, ‘Deliberative Democracy, Ecological Representation and Risk: Towards a Democracy of the Affected’ in Michael Saward (ed.), Democratic Innovation: Deliberation, Association and Representation (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 117–32.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

social criticism that suggests that it needs to be restricted to compatriots or contained within the boundaries of national communities. Indeed, we have already noted that green political theorists have welcomed the development of transboundary democracy as a necessary and appropriate response to transboundary ecological problems. So while there are some patriots who embrace democracy, there are also many democrats who reject patriotism, just as there are some patriots who dislike social criticism. For example, Alisdair MacIntyre has suggested that good soldiers cannot be liberals, because that might mean the questioning of patriotic loyalties.17 In order to answer our second question, then, we need to find out whether there is something about particularistic patriotic attachments that might be conducive to public spirited democratic engagement. I shall turn, first, to the defense of ‘constitutional patriotism’ and then to ‘republican patriotism’. I shall argue that there is nothing obviously particularistic about the former because it has been defended as a cosmopolitan rather than nationalistic project. However, I also want to suggest that the absence of any particularistic element means that this version of patriotism might ultimately have less to offer both democrats and environmentalists. Is constitutional patriotism enough? The growing interest in patriotism by democratic theorists owes much to Jürgen Habermas’s resuscitation of the term patriotism as an alternative, or at least a functional equivalent, to nationalism. For Habermas, ‘constitutional patriotism’, which involves a commitment or loyalty to democratic procedures and human rights, provides a more benign source of social solidarity than particularistic national identities because it does not privilege any cultural, ethnic, or linguistic communities within the polity.18 Constitutional patriotism is defended as providing a source of cosmopolitan social solidarity that is appropriate for any culturally diverse political community, small or large, including post-national communities such as the European Community. Yet the fact that Habermas should find it necessary to develop a functional equivalent to the idea of loyalty to the nation is itself an acknowledgement of the contribution of the national imaginary in the evolution of citizenship and democracy. As Habermas recognizes, ‘[b]elonging to the nation made possible for the first time a relation of solidarity between persons who had previously been strangers to one another.’19 Pre-existing local loyalties and social hierarchies were dissolved or 17 McIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’ pp. 260–61. 18 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity’, Appendix II in Between Facts and Norms (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997), pp. 491–515 at p. 500; Habermas, ‘The European Nation-State: On the Past and Future of Sovereignty and Citizenship’, in Ciaran Cronin, and Pablo De Greiff (eds), The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998), pp. 105–27 at p. 118; and Habermas, ‘Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State’ in Amy Gutmann (ed.) Multiculturalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 107–48 at pp. 134–5. See also Chapters 6 and 7 in this volume. 19 Habermas, ‘The European Nation-State’, p. 111.

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


weakened in favor of a national sense of community and solidarity. As Benedict Anderson has argued, it was the development of capitalist print media that has enabled the development of nations as ‘imagined communities’.20 While national communities – and compatriots – may be imagined in a variety of different ways, they are always imagined as limited and sovereign. As Anderson puts it, ‘No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind.’21 Indeed, he points out that all communities beyond small, face-to-face local villages or tribes are imagined in the sense that each individual member does not personally know all the members of the community, but they nonetheless feel a sense of connection with fellow nationals. We see this especially in times of war, national disasters, or international sporting contests. Charles Taylor has likewise shown how the new social imaginary of the modern nation signaled a ‘shift from hierarchical, mediated access societies to horizontal, direct-access societies’.22 That is, unlike subjects, citizens were able to stand alongside each other in a direct relationship to the state – the object of their common allegiance.23 Sometimes the idea of national sovereignty has come into conflict with the idea of state sovereignty. Whereas state sovereignty emphasizes the territorial integrity of borders, for nationalists the legitimation of rule stems the bonds that hold together particular communities, defined by particular linguistic, cultural, and social ties.24 But this long, drawn-out, and sometimes bloody process assisted in the transformation of mere subjects into fully fledged citizens, who were recognized not only as the addressees of the law, but also its active creators, and therefore the ultimate source of sovereignty. The problem for Habermas is that bringing together the state and the nation in the composite term ‘nation-state’ contains a deep-seated tension between the universalism of an egalitarian legal community and the particularism of an existential cultural community united by a common history, language, and/or ethnicity.25 Habermas, like all liberal cosmopolitans, has tried to abolish this tension by largely dispensing with a cultural interpretation of membership. Yet Habermas’s alternative, constitutional patriotism, provides a very weak functional equivalent to belonging and attachment to the nation, precisely because it requires no pre-existing social bonds or the development of any particular national identity – merely a commitment to democracy as a procedure, and to human rights. Indeed, constitutional patriotism fails to qualify as patriotism according to our conventional understanding of patriotism as love of one’s country. In contrast, republicans, liberal nationalists, and 20 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London and New York: Verso, 1991). 21 Anderson, Imagined Communities, pp. 5–7. 22 Charles Taylor, ‘Nationalism and Modernity’, in Robert McKim and Jeff McMaham (eds), The Morality of Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 31–55 at p. 36. 23 Taylor, ‘Nationalism and Modernity’, p. 36. 24 J. Samuel Barkun and Bruce Cronin, ‘The State and the Nation: Changing Norms and the Rules of Sovereignty in International Relations’, International Organization 48(1) (1994), pp. 107–30. 25 Habermas, ‘The European Nation-State’, p. 115.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

democratic communitarians have all variously defended the importance of a cultural interpretation of membership precisely because it provides the necessary social solidarity or ‘we-feeling’ that motivates citizens to pay taxes, work for the common good, and even risk their lives for their compatriots and their country in times of war or during national disasters.26 Maurizio Viroli offers a slightly ‘thicker’ form of patriotism than Habermas insofar as it involves an attachment not only to the liberty, laws, constitution of a particular republic but also ‘the way of life’ of the republic.27 For Viroli, ‘republican patriotism’ may be understood as a nonexclusive love for a people’s common liberty that is rooted in the particularistic culture and history of the people. This kind of patriotism refers not to individual rational consent to general political principles but rather to a motivating political passion, affection or love of a particular people and their laws and country – including memories, hopes, fears, victories, defeats – in short, a way of political life.28 However, Viroli is careful to draw a distinction between the bonds of citizenship and the bonds of the nation, which seem for him irredeemably tainted. As he explains, ‘whereas the enemies of republican patriotism are tyranny, despotism, oppression, and corruption, the enemies of nationalism are cultural contamination, heterogeneity, racial impurity, and social, political, and intellectual disunion’.29 In their efforts to distinguish a benign civic patriotism from an ugly ethnic nationalism, both Habermas and Viroli failed to consider the full range of expressions of patriotism (not all of which are nice), and the full range of expressions of nationalism (not all of which are ugly).30 Our green cosmopolitan skeptic would, of course, sympathize with their concerns. Both Viroli and Habermas want to defend a form of patriotism that is inclusive of all members of the national community, one that does not favor particular ethnic, linguistic, social, or religious groups at the expense of others. Yet while attachment to the nation has produced a bloody history, it has also been central to the development of modern citizenship and democracy. If we jettison the idea of attachment to a particular national community, or the idea of love of a particular country or our compatriots, then we may be throwing the democratic baby out with the ethnic bath water. 26 David Miller, On Nationality; Miller, ‘Bounded Citizenship’ in Kimberly Hutchings and Roland Dannreuther (eds), Cosmopolitan Citizenship (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999), pp. 62–5; and Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992). 27 Maurizo Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 192. 28 Viroli, ‘On Civic Republicanism: Reply to Xenos and Yack’, Critical Review 12(1/2) (1998), pp. 187–96 at p. 189. 29 Viroli, For Love of Country, pp. 1–2. 30 Margaret Canovan, ‘Patriotism is not Enough’, British Journal of Political Science 30 (2000), pp. 413–32; reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002), pp. 273–94 (citations refer to this volume). As David Brown has also reminded us, both civic and ethnic nationalism have the capacity to emerge in liberal and illiberal forms. See David Brown, Contemporary Nationalism: Civic, Ethnocultural and Multicultural Politics (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 50.

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


If we look more closely at the kind of public spirited deliberation defended by green political theorists we find that it also presupposes some kind of social bond or common basis for reaching mutual understanding among citizens, such as a shared language, a shared media and some kind of common life-world that gives rise to a collective ‘we-feeling’. Members of a cohesive political community are able to feel pride in their collective achievements. In the absence of this collective ‘wefeeling’ we are less likely to see democratic engagement for the common good, as distinct from self-interested political bargaining that typically favors and enhances the socially privileged and the powerful. Public spirited deliberation is also unlikely to occur in nations made up of extreme inequalities, social alienation, or abandoned minorities. As Charles Taylor points out, democracy needs patriotism (conventionally understood as love of one’s country) because ‘a citizen democracy can only work if most of its members are convinced that their political society is a common venture of considerable moment and believe it to be of such vital importance that they participate in the ways they must to keep it functioning as a democracy.’31 Of course, the noble ideal of citizens joined together in a common political venture is becoming much harder to maintain in a globalizing world. The increasing movement of peoples has created increasingly heterogeneous national communities, many of which contain growing tensions as diverse and sometimes incommensurable cultures now find themselves living side-by-side. To the extent that affinities and a sense of trust among compatriots increasingly fray, then so too does the appetite for the public-spirited democratic engagement that is necessary for the protection of public goods, such as the environment. This is a problem that should concern all green cosmopolitan democrats. It is at this point in the argument that we might suggest to our green cosmopolitan skeptic that, perhaps, environmental patriotism might provide at least one answer to this dilemma. Could the national environment serve as one benign source of common allegiance or loyalty that transcends the ethnic, linguistic, social, or religious differences that now characterize most national communities? We have explored the argument that democracy is good for the environment; but perhaps an attachment to the environment is also good for democracy? The environment as a potential source of national loyalties If we accept the argument that patriotism serves to temper purely individualistic orientations towards society, then we might also argue that environmental patriotism has the potential to temper purely individualist and instrumental orientations towards not only society but also the environment, understood as a collective or ‘national asset’.32 Thus patriotism as ‘love of one’s country’ would take on a quite literal or physical meaning: love of national flora and fauna, landscapes, 31 Charles Taylor, ‘Why Democracy Needs Patriotism’, in Joshua Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country? (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2002), pp. 119–21 at p. 120. 32 Avner De Shalit, ‘Nationalism’ in Andrew Dobson and Robyn Eckersley (eds), Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), in press.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

and ecosystems. Moreover, this love or attachment might arise not simply from appreciating the characteristic beauty, diversity, and specialness of one’s particular national environment but also from learning to understand and protect it, based on an appreciation of the collective dependence of all compatriots on its health and integrity. All compatriots, regardless of their social background or their religious or cultural values, require clean air and water and uncontaminated food. Conversely, the wellbeing of the national community suffers when lands are degraded, or airsheds, rivers, and coastal seas are polluted. In serving as a common asset that is basic to the wellbeing of the community, the national environment might also provide a basis for building social bonds among a diverse population, and encouraging publicspirited deliberation that is directed towards its protection and prudent management rather than reckless exploitation. Thus we might point to the potential for a virtuous relationship between environmental commitments, democracy, and citizenship. Attachment to the national environment would supply the particularistic loyalties that are missing from Habermas’s constitutional patriotism, but without the dangers associated with an uncritical allegiance to the state or to a particular ethnic grouping within the nation. Quite the contrary, environmental loyalties and concerns could provide the basis for ongoing criticism of the state insofar as it orchestrates or facilitates environmental degradation. And the practice of democratic engagement would enable the negotiation of different cultural perspectives about the environment, at the local, regional, and national levels.33 In the Australian context, this would include the perspectives of indigenous Australians, the descendents of the British colonists, established migrant communities as well as more recent arrivals. As Andrew Oldenquist explains, loyalties are neither impersonal duties nor selfish interests. They relate to the particular people or places to which we are attached in some way, because they are, or have become, ‘ours’. Indeed, Oldenquist suggests that ‘it is likely that loyalties ground more of the principled, self-sacrificing, and other kinds of nonselfish behaviour in which people engage than do moral principles and ideals.’34 I have suggested elsewhere that it is the deep and intimate knowledge of, and attachment to, particular places, rather than abstract knowledge of abstract spaces, that provides one of the strongest motivations to act to defend threatened neighborhoods, parks, waterways, and other local ‘heritage’ buildings or ecosystems.35 In the Australian context, community environmental activism and environmental initiatives, such as Landcare, Conservation Volunteers Australia, StreamWatch, and Coastcare, and local community environmental monitoring may be understood as both expressing and fostering environmental patriotism by enhancing knowledge of, and appreciation of our dependence upon, a range of different Australian ecosystems 33 William A. Shutkin has argued that civic environmentalism works best when it is local, pluralistic and multicultural. See Shutkin, The Land that Could Be: Environmentalism and Democracy in the Twenty First Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000). 34 Andrew Oldenquist, ‘Loyalties’ in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, p. 25. 35 Robyn Eckersley, ‘Communitarianism’, in Andrew Dobson and Robyn Eckersley (eds), Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


of varying levels of aggregation within the borders of the nation-state.36 Indeed, for the committed environment patriot, activities that threaten to degrade local ecosystems are tantamount to an invasion of self and community. At the other extreme, a lack of attachment to, or knowledge of, particular places can provide the basis for alienation and vandalism or corporate profiteering. Although the modern environment movement and the green political movement have generally been cosmopolitan, they have also welcomed the cultivation of a sense of place and local community engagement, both of which are encapsulated in the second half of the green maxim ‘think globally, act locally’. These arguments are exemplified in the philosophy and practice of bioregionalism, which recognizes that human animals – like all animals – are unavoidably biologically embodied and ecologically embedded beings. Whereas privileged social classes and nations have managed to remain relatively remote (spatially, temporarily, epistemologically, and technologically) from many of the ecological consequences of their lifestyles, bioregionalists strive to remain on much more intimate terms with the particular species and ecological relationships in their bioregion and the ecological consequences of their actions. A bioregion is literally a ‘lifeplace’ and bioregionalists seek to discover how best to sustain the life in the place. They ask where everything comes from, and where everything goes, in order to reinhabit the bioregion in ways that are respectful of the characteristic ecological diversity and particular ecological dynamics of the bioregion. In the ideal bioregional world, all communities would look after their own bioregion, there would be no ‘spillover effects’ and therefore no pressing need for coordination. The case for environmental patriotism would extend this same logic to national communities and their national environment. If national communities looked after their national environmental assets and pursued ecologically sustainable development within the territory of their state, then there would be much less need for international agreements to address transboundary environmental spillover effects. In order to sway our green cosmopolitan skeptic, we might take this argument one step further by building on Robert Goodin’s idea of ‘assigned responsibility’.37 According to this idea, the best way to fulfill cosmopolitan ideals is to assign particular responsibilities to nation-states. It is important to emphasize the composite term ‘nation-state’, rather than just nation or state, to underscore the idea that the special responsibility lies as much with citizens or compatriots of the nation as with the government of the state. The special responsibilities of the composite entity know as the nation-state may thus be understood as derivative of general or cosmopolitan environmental responsibilities to an expanded moral community or planetary environmental constituency. Nation-states would thus become the ‘local agents of the common good’, to adopt Hedley Bull’s phrase.38 Just as we would 36 Conservation Volunteers Australia also welcomes visitors to Australia to join in conservation programs as part of a holiday program while also offering opportunities for Australians to volunteer abroad. . 37 Robert Goodin, ‘What is so Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’, Ethics 98(4) (1988), pp. 663–86; reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, pp. 141–65. 38 Hedley Bull, Justice in International Relations, p. 14.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

accept that familial attachments and mutual dependencies provide the best reason why families are better suited than any other social institution to nurture children, so too we may think of patriotic attachment to, and dependence on, the national environment as providing a good reason for assigning nation-states with the special responsibility to protect and manage the environment. Nation-states are better placed than supra-national institutions to discharge these responsibilities because of local knowledge, local attachments, local feedback systems and the fact that nation-states are in possession of legal systems with stronger enforcement and better welfare capabilities than most supra-national organizations. However, we might also argue that the assignment of environmental responsibilities to nation-states might be more than a mere administrative device based on arguments of functional efficacy. Rather, we might also defend the cultivation of environmental loyalties because these loyalties also help to cultivate the practice of citizenship. Wherever the circle of human loyalties ends, it always begins with the local, the familiar, and the particular. The fact that cosmopolitan arguments must always work by analogy with local, embodied relations (such as the ‘human family’) is itself telling. The home, the family, the school, the neighborhood, and the nation are where we are most likely to learn the meaning and value of citizenship and solidarity with others (sometimes including non-human others). As Benedict Anderson has pointed out, the development of nations as ‘imagined communities’ is usually accompanied by the idea that nations belong, or are attached, to a particular territory or homeland.39 Both the nation and the ‘national environment’ are ‘imagined’ or socially constructed as belonging to each other. While very few Australian citizens are personally familiar with all parts of their national landscape, they still recognize and understand it to be ‘part’ of their nation. This is because we have learned about it through newspapers, television, radio, nature documentaries, feature films, literature, the education sector, scientific discoveries, clubs (for example, bush-walking or bird watching), associations, and nongovernment organizations (for example, the Australian Conservation Foundation or the National Farmers Federation), and especially the various arms and agencies of the state. Much of this ‘national production’ is daily and banal, and takes place through the chatter of talk-back radio, the ‘dramas’ of TV soaps set in the ‘the bush’, or simply the daily handling of Australian coins, which carry images of unique Australian fauna. However, sometimes parts of our environment are appropriated for more significant nationalist purposes. The green and gold of the wattle serve as Australia’s national sporting colors, while various native fauna have served as our sporting mascots. Libby Robin has also shown how special days of nature, such as Wattle Day, Arbor Day, and Bird Day, have all played a role in ‘nationalising nature’.40 Whereas Australian fauna and flora were once viewed as ‘inferior’ to their British counterparts by British settlers, by the time of Federation in 1901, British Australians were beginning to overcome their ‘biological cringe’ and embrace what was once considered a very 39 Anderson, Imagined Communities. See also John Rennie Short, Imagined Country: Society, Culture and Environment (London: Routledge, 1991). 40 Libby Robin, ‘Nationalising Nature’ in ‘The Dog of War’ Special Issue of Journal of Australian Studies 73 (2002), pp. 13–26 and notes, 219–23.

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


foreign ecology.41 The adoption of the kangaroo and emu on the Australian coat of arms signaled one of many turns away from the British Empire. Whether wittingly or not, environmentalists have also regularly exploited the idea of the ‘national environment’ to exhort or persuade. Just as national parks, wilderness areas, or native species provide a source of national pride (on a par with national galleries), the degradation of parks or wilderness, or the loss of native species, are often described as a ‘national disgrace’. For example, the degradation of the Murray-Darling river basin and much of Australia’s agricultural land has often been described by environmentalists and farmers alike as a ‘national disaster’. However, at this point in the argument our green cosmopolitan skeptic would point out that not all efforts to ‘nationalise nature’ necessarily serve the cause of social inclusion or environmental protection. Nation-building is a discursive practice that can vary widely in the degree to which all members of the resident population are included or excluded. The same can be said for the practice of constructing the national environment. Clearly, the success of environmental patriotism depends on how national communities are imagined, and how the environment is included in this national imaginary. When environmental patriotism becomes a vice Bernard Yack has doubted whether patriotism can provide us with the solidarity of particularism without also producing nasty side-effects.42 As Yack reminds us, Greek, Roman, French, and American patriotism have sometimes risen to the level of a fierce passion that has been anything but charitable. In his reply to Viroli, he has pointed out that republican patriotism has been almost as fierce and hostile to outsiders as nationalism. So while patriots might be better citizens, it does not necessarily follow that these citizens will work to make the world, as distinct from their own country, more just, sustainable, and secure. Can the same be said for environmental patriotism? We have already noted that not all expressions of environmentalism or environmental citizenship are necessarily agreeable. One such expression is NotIn-My-Back-Yard environmentalism, otherwise known as nimbyism. While this term was coined to refer to local community efforts to prevent the siting of toxic waste facilities or major developments such as freeways, airports, or factories in the local community without any concern for where else such facilities or developments might end up, the practice of ‘externalizing negative ecological externalities’ associated with nimbyism is often enacted on a grander scale by many transnational corporations and nation-states. Japan protects many of its native forests, yet appears indifferent to the fate of tropical forests elsewhere through its massive import of tropical timber from Malaysia. The shipping of hazardous waste from rich to 41 Tom Griffith, ‘Ecology and Empire: Towards an Australian History of the World’, in Tom Griffith and Libby Robin (ed.), Empire and Ecology (Edinburgh: Keele University Press, 1997), pp. 1–16. 42 Bernard Yack, ‘Can Patriotism Save Us From Nationalism? Rejoinder to Viroli’, Critical Review 12(1/2) (1998), pp. 203–6, at p. 204.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

poor countries (now banned under the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste) and the relocation of dirty or hazardous industries to countries with low environmental standards provide two graphic examples of what might be called national nimbyism. Is not national nimbyism the flip side of environmental patriotism? Is not the negotiation of the Basel Convention proof enough that international cooperation based on nothing short of a planetary perspective is essential to solving so many of the world’s ecological problems? The general phenomenon of nimbyism, whether enacted locally, nationally, or regionally, provides one vindication of the cosmopolitan critique of patriotism, namely, that strong loyalties to particular places, territories, or nations that are felt to be ours gives rise to isolationism and indifference to places, territories, or nations that are not ours. While the national environment may be considered a national asset, it is an asset that is nested into, and interacts with, a range of other ecosystems, small and large, all of which are also ecological assets. The largest of these, the biosphere itself, is a common asset of humanity.43 Surely this should be the ultimate object of our common allegiance? The only defensible reply to these arguments would be to defend environmental patriotism as a nonexclusive attachment to, and responsibility for, the national environment. This is consistent with our earlier argument for assigned responsibilities. It requires both nations and their states to think ecologically and to act responsibility, not only towards their own environment but also towards the global environment. Indeed, for so long as the world is divided into nation-states, environmental patriotism is necessary if nation-states are to fulfill their environmental responsibilities to the rest of the world. However, some environmental scholars have argued that nation-states are not always the most appropriate units to which we might assign responsibilities for environmental protection or blame for pollution or over-consumption. For example, Ken Conca has argued that we should not reify the state as the sole site of political authority because it is neither the primary nor only cause of unsustainable practices, nor the primary or only agent of global sustainability.44 States themselves are not meaningful units of consumption, and aggregate figures of wealth or pollution tell us nothing about the vast disparities of wealth, income, and risks within particular states. Instead of allocating responsibility or blame to particular nation-states, Conca suggests that we should be monitoring and allocating responsibility to transnational commodity chains, from investment, resource extraction, production through to marketing, advertising, retailing, consumption, and disposal.45 While we should concede the argument that nation-states should not be considered the sole agents of environmental responsibility, there may still be some room left 43 See, for example, Martha C. Nussbaum, ‘Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism’, in Joshua Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country? (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2002), p. 12. 44 Ken Conca, ‘Beyond the Statist Frame: Environmental Politics in a Global Economy’, in Fred P. Gale and R. Michael M’Gonigle (eds), Nature, Production, Power: Towards an Ecological Political Economy (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2000), pp. 141–55, at p. 142. 45 Conca, ‘Beyond the Statist Frame’, 149.

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


to defend nation-states as pre-eminent or at least very significant agents because they have control of societal steering systems such as regulations and taxation, backed by enforcement mechanisms. More significantly, in democratic nation-states these legal systems also uphold the civil and political rights that are basic to the practice of environmental citizenship. Moreover, the process of learning to become a citizen necessarily involves the cultivation of particularistic attachments. For all the limitations of particularism (and there are many), cosmopolitans have never been able to satisfy communitarians with a viable account of why humans might rally in defense of all humans, or all ecosystems, with the same degree of fervor as they would rally in defense of particular communities and ecosystems to which they are familiar and in some sense belong. Place-based activism enables the ongoing social and ecological learning that is required for communities to reorient their practices on a more sustainable basis. Without this nurturing process, it is less likely that citizens will learn to become cosmopolitan citizens of the world.46 Yet there are more malign potential expressions of environmental patriotism to consider than national nimbyism. Environmentalism is a very broad church, and it is possible to find environmental orientations that are compatible with every conceivable political ideology, from conservatism to fascism, and every form of nationalism, spanning civic, ethnic, and hybrid varieties.47 But it is the ‘blood and soil’ nationalism of Nazism that probably provides the major reason why there have been very few explicit defenses of environmental patriotism or eco-nationalism by environmentalists, green politicians, or green political theorists. Many prominent Nazis shared a strong interest in rural utopias, the goodness of all things ‘natural’, including the native born and the regenerative capacity of native soil. The Nazis are claimed to be the first to introduce nature reserves in Europe, German forests were extensively protected and anti-vivisection laws were passed.48 The Third Reich’s minister for agriculture, Richard Walter Darré, was a strong supporter of small-scale organic farming and he even persuaded Himmler to set up such a farm at Dachau.49 Rudolf Hess was an enthusiast for biodynamic farming and there were at least ‘two thousand biodynamic farmers registered in the Nazi “battle for Production”’.50 And it is well known that Hitler was a vegetarian. Of course, it would be absurd to suggest that all organic and biodynamic farmers and all vegetarians are fascists. However, when the otherwise benign idea of uncontaminated soil is linked with the idea of uncontaminated race, then the resulting ecological nationalism can serve to legitimate efforts to protect not only the land but also the body politic from all foreign bodies and impurities. Likewise, otherwise benign ecological arguments for the protection of characteristic native diversity and the eradication of environmental

46 This argument is developed in more detail in Eckerlsey, ‘Communitarianism’. 47 Peter Hay, Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought (Sydney: University of New South Wales, 2002). 48 Anna Bramwell, Ecology in the 21st Century: A History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 199. 49 Anna Bramwell, Blood and Soil: Richard Walter Darre and Hitler’s Green Party (Kensal: Bourne End, 1985), p. 204. Bramwell, Ecology in the 21st Century. 50 Bramwell, Ecology in the 21st Century, p. 197.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

weeds and feral animals can be made to serve malign purposes if linked with virulent strains of ethno-nationalism that seek to rid the nation of ‘feral elements’. More generally, environmental arguments have sometimes been used in efforts to stem immigration.51 For example, the group Australians Against Further Immigration (AAFI) lists ecological concerns as one reason why we should exclude others from what Ghassan Hage has described as ‘the White-imagined nation’.52 Environmental arguments against immigration have been made more explicit in the group Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) (formerly Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population (AESP)), which describes itself as ‘an ecological group dedicated to preserving species’ habitats globally and in Australia from the degradation caused by human population growth’.53 The political reforms recommended by SPA include replacing the Minister for Immigration with a Minister for Population and Environment, considerably reducing immigration (focusing mainly on humanitarian immigration and family reunions) to the point where there is a balance between immigration and emigration, ending pro-natalist policies and increasing Overseas Development Assistance to reduce the push factors that force people to emigrate.54 While there is nothing that is overtly racist in the arguments and proposals of SPA, Ghassan Hage has drawn on Lacanian psychology to suggest that they nonetheless rest on a white fantasy of ecological balance.55 While pro-Aboriginal, he suggests that the arguments of this ‘modern ecological subject’ position Aboriginal people ‘as a harmless part of the Australian landscape that needs to be preserved’ because they ‘fit into nature’ and preserve the white ecological fantasy.56 That is, the white subject, who purports to be ‘the voice of nature’, is still positioned as the privileged domesticator of Australian space.57 The foregoing examples raise the important question: who contributes to the social construction of environmental patriotism in diverse, multicultural societies and whose views prevail? While our defense of environmental patriotism defended a ‘bottom-up’ and cooperative process, emerging spontaneously from citizens’ initiatives, this represents a rather naïve view of the ways in which national imaginaries are constructed. For example, state political elites usually have an interest in fostering certain kinds of national identity and attachments, including particular constructions of the national environment, that enlarge the material capabilities, steering capacity, and legitimacy of the state.58 As Charles Taylor puts it, ‘it is not just that nations strive to become states; it is also that modern states, in

51 See, for example, Janet Biehl, ‘“Ecology” and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right’, Society and Nature 2(2) (1994), pp. 130–70. 52 Ghassan Hage, White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society (Sydney: Pluto Press, 1998), pp. 165–78, at p. 165. 53 (accessed 30 July 2006). 54 (accessed 30 July 2006). 55 Hage, White Nation, p. 173. 56 Hage, White Nation, p. 176. 57 Hage, White Nation, p. 177. 58 See also Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983).

Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?


order to survive, strive to create national allegiances to their own measure.’59 Social constructions of nature for the purposes of state formation or nation-building take particular forms in different national communities.60 For example, Libby Robbin has shown how the wattle has not only provided Australia’s national sporting colors, but also signifies major military losses at Gallipoli and in the Second World War. So when sprigs of Australian wattle were laid out on the 129 chairs in the Great Hall of Parliament to commemorate the Australian victims of the Bali bombings, the occasion was invested with military significance.61 The destruction and taming of wilderness in New World regions such as North America, Australia, and New Zealand formed an essential part of the process of state formation and nation-building. Frederick Turner Jackson (1861–1932) celebrated westward expansion in the United States not only because it opened up the continent for development but also because it was the battle with the elements that forged American self-reliance and democracy.62 ‘Nationalising nature’ was also part of the decolonization movement. For example, the principle of ‘permanent sovereignty over natural resources’ played an important role in the decolonization process in the 1950s and 1960s by preventing wrongful appropriations of nationalized nature (oil, timber, minerals, land) by foreign powers. Thus citizenship, democracy and selfdetermination have been claimed to emerge from destroying, taming, or wresting control of nature rather than from protecting it. Conclusion We have seen that environment patriotism has the potential to provide a source of motivation for the renewal of both citizenship and the environment. However, we have also seen that environmental patriotism has the potential to legitimate national nimbyism, racist forms of ethno-nationalism, and environmental destruction as a patriotic duty or for nation-building purposes. The contested character of patriotism, along with the discrepancies between philosophical ideals and the historical record, suggest that the decision whether rhetorically to combine environmentalism and patriotism may ultimately be a strategic rather than philosophical one that must be based on a careful assessment of the respective histories of both patriotism and environmentalism in particular national contexts. This must also include a sober assessment of who controls the mass media and who dominates the construction of the national imaginary in different nation-states. Populist understandings of patriotism, and the discourses of political elites, are perhaps more important to this strategic assessment than the arguments of political and moral philosophers. For example, discourses of patriotism are much more prevalent and passionate in the United States compared to Australia. This suggests that perhaps US environmentalists might gain some political mileage by critically harnessing the language of patriotism in ways that bring environmental risks, responsibilities, 59 60 61 62

Taylor, ‘Nationalism and Modernity’, p. 41. Rennie Short, Imagined Country, p. xvi. Robin, ‘Nationalising Nature’. Rennie Short, Imagined Country, p. 19.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

and loyalties, and not just the risks of terrorism, into view.63 There is also a rich reservoir of cultural patriotic resources to glean, from the American nature poets such as Emerson and Thoreau to Woody Guthrie’s unofficial national anthem of the underdog ‘This Land is Your Land’. However, in Australia I suspect that most environmentalists would approach the discourse of patriotism more skeptically, in part because the discourse is infrequently utilized by politicians, poets or social movements and in part because it is generally understood in a rather conventional and conservative rather than republican and progressive sense. Australia, it must be remembered, has yet to achieve the status of a republic. At the end of the day, then, our green cosmopolitan skeptic would probably remain, well, skeptical. She would probably find our defense of environmental patriotism appealing but rather naïve. She would probably take the view that patriotism has been more responsible for environmental degradation than environmental protection, in part because conservative patriotism (especially that of neoconservatives in the United States) has usually had more power at its disposal than the progressive patriotism of civic republicanism. The success of environmental patriotism thus depends on the particular cultural and media resources that are available in different national contexts, whether patriotic discourses are highly polarized or converging around common understandings, and how the environment has been included in national imaginaries. In the absence of an engaged citizenry and a robust public sphere, facilitated and informed by a diverse, independent, and critical media, environmentalists may be better advised to challenge and subvert, rather than merely extend, the language of patriotism by calling on us all to become planetary patriots and global ecological citizens.

63 This, at any rate, was the strategy of the US peace movement in the aftermath of September 11. See Coy, Maney and Woehrie, ‘Contesting Patriotism’ (p. 468), who show how a strategy of ‘harnessing patriotism’ served to insulate peace activists from censure and promote dialogue.

Chapter 12

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism Robert Sparrow

Introduction The hostility of anarchists towards patriotism is notorious, with several of the most ringing denunciations of patriotism being penned by anarchist writers.1 An investigation of whether patriotism is something that might be embraced by anarchism may therefore appear quixotic. Yet I have several reasons for pursuing this topic. First, to declare my own political colours, I am personally committed to an anarchist politics arising out of the tradition of the Enlightenment. Yet I am also by inclination a communitarian in philosophical debates about liberalism and culture and have written elsewhere about the conceptual and pragmatic connections between political community and forms of exclusion which are problematic for universalists. My democratic commitments suggest that there should be a strong connection between democracy and citizenship. My universalist and egalitarian intuitions suggest that discriminating between citizens and non-citizens cannot be justified. Whether or not these competing (and widespread) intellectual commitments can be reconciled is unclear and this chapter is part of a larger project of trying to examine and resolve this tension.2 Second, the relationship between anarchism and patriotism is, I think, of interest in its own right. While anarchists have been amongst the harshest critics of patriotism they have also defended the virtues of localism and community against ‘mass’ society. Historically some anarchists have explicitly allowed space for a genuine love of national traditions where this is clearly distinguished from jingoistic attachment to nations and their governments.3 Moreover, in its celebration of the virtues of 1 Emma Goldman, ‘Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty’, in Wendy McElroy (ed.), Freedom, Feminism, and the State (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 1982); Leo Tolstoy, ‘Patriotism and Government’ and ‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’, in David Stephens (ed.), Government is Violence: Essays on Anarchism and Pacifism (London: Phoenix Press, 1990). 2 Robert Sparrow, ‘“Barbarians at the Gates”: The Moral Costs of Political Community’, in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Politics and Morality (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and ‘Borders, States, Freedom and Justice’, Arena Magazine, no. 66 (August–September 2003). 3 Michael Forman, Nationalism and the International Labour Movement: The Idea of the Nation in Socialist and Anarchist Theory (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

solidarity in the class struggle, the communist anarchist tradition is committed to celebrating a form of partiality which is interestingly analogous to patriotism. It is my hope that investigating what attitude anarchists should have towards patriotism might reveal some unexpected features of both anarchism and patriotism. Third, thinking about the possibility of anarchist patriotism forces us to pay close attention to the relation between patriotism and political institutions. Anarchist patriotism, if it exists at all, must be patriotism of a very special sort. While patriotism is usually represented as love of ‘country’, countries are usually distinguished with reference to states; thus in practice patriotism usually appears as love of states. Yet states are an anathema to anarchists. In order even for the conceptual space for an anarchist patriotism to exist we need to distinguish between a series of subtly different concepts which are competing descriptions of the possible objects of patriotic feeling. The attempt to reconcile anarchism and patriotism therefore involves examining the connection between the possible objects of particularist loyalty, political community, and the relation of each of these to institutions. It also involves a re-examination of the origins of anarchist hostility to patriotism. I will argue that the anarchist critique of patriotism has been divorced from its historical and political context, such that its basis in a critique of the institution of the state has been forgotten. Finally, I hope that thinking about anarchism and patriotism can tell us something about patriotism in relation to more familiar political philosophies. There is now a large literature on whether patriotism is compatible with liberalism; the question of whether it is compatible with anarchism has been less discussed. Yet, in many ways, anarchism – even more so than liberalism – is the quintessential political philosophy of the Enlightenment, drawing on both liberal and socialist traditions and demanding that all institutions and social relations be subjected to the searching light of critical reason and rejected if they cannot be demonstrated to have a rational foundation. Investigating whether or not anarchism is compatible with patriotism therefore allows us to think through the more general problem of the relation between universalism and morally permissible forms of partiality in a context where the relative unfamiliarity of the anarchist tradition of political thought throws the philosophical commitments of the Enlightenment into stark relief and provides an illuminating contrast to other forms of politics. Patriotism It is a platitude to say that patriotism refers to love for one’s country. The philosophical controversy about the definition of patriotism begins when we turn to the task of explaining what sort of love is involved and precisely what is meant by ‘one’s country’. This is a much larger debate than I can afford to engage in, in any detail, in the current context.4 Fortunately, the subject of my inquiry itself provides University Press, 1998), pp. 24–5, 36–7; Rob Knowles, Political Economy from Below: Economic Thought in Communitarian Anarchism, 1840–1914 (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 30–39. 4 See Primoratz, ‘Introduction’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002).

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


reason to adopt a particular approach to the question of the definition of patriotism. If there is to be any possibility of reconciliation between anarchism and patriotism we must discover an account of patriotism which does not define it in relation to the institution of the state. While most discussions of patriotism assume that countries are defined by states, this distinction between the country which the patriot loves and the state which usually governs it is defensible. It is clearly possible to defend one’s country against its government, implying that one’s government does not define one’s country. It is also possible to defend a people against their state. Together these observations suggest that the country which the patriot loves can be distinguished from the state which usually governs it. Does this mean that patriotism can have no relation to a sense of political community? This depends on whether we believe that politics begins and ends with the state. Anarchism just is the belief that people can govern themselves in the absence of the state.5 Yet, as I have argued elsewhere, self-government requires the existence of a political community.6 Anarchists are therefore committed to the possibility of political community without the state. Insofar as we are concerned with patriotism in the context of an investigation of the possibility of anarchist patriotism, then, we are concerned with love for, and loyalty to, a political community.7 However, this description fails to distinguish between patriotism and other forms of particularist political commitment. Not any form of political community can serve as the object of patriotism. It must be a community which is ‘identity-forming’ and within which one locates one’s ‘home’. That is, it must be a community with which people are inclined to identify and feel positively towards. Moreover, it must be one that other people recognize as identity-forming. This means that the political communities which are the appropriate object of patriotic love are those that we think of as most fundamental and least dependent on historical contingencies. Given this qualification, it is natural to ask whether the only plausible candidate for a non-state patriotism is a love of nation, wherein ‘nation’ is thought to refer to an ethnically homogeneous historical group associated with a particular territory. However, this conclusion would be too swift. It is entirely possible for people to 5 Of course, it is possible that anarchists are mistaken about the possibility of political community in the absence of institutional authority, or alternatively, that whatever mechanisms of political decision-making apply in anarchist political communities are ultimately indistinguishable from a form of state. However, this is a much larger debate that I cannot settle here. The possibility of political community in the absence of the state is the very matter of contention between anarchism and other political ideologies. For the moment, it will have to suffice to note that rejecting anarchist patriotism on the grounds that government requires the state is simply to define away the question that interests me here – whether anarchists can be patriots – by denying the possibility of anarchism. 6 Sparrow, ‘“Barbarians at the Gates”’ and ‘Borders, States, Freedom and Justice’. 7 Primoratz (‘Introduction’) has suggested, following Mary Dietz (‘Patriotism: A Brief History of the Term’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism) that such a usage involves a return to a pre-political concept of patriotism. However, this criticism conflates political community and state in a manner which – I have argued above – prejudges the question of the relation between anarchism and patriotism by denying the possibility of anarchism.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

identify and be identified with political communities which are drawn either beyond or inside of the boundaries of nations so conceived. Many countries are multinational and do not seem any less the appropriate object of patriotism because of it.8 Thus, for instance, one may be a Canadian patriot regardless of whether one comes from the French-speaking, English-speaking, or Native nations which coexist within Canada. Equally well, one might be an Iraqi patriot despite being a member of a Kurdish nation which extends across existing borders between states. It is therefore clear that in the ordinary case at least the political communities which are the objects of patriotism need not be national ones. The possibility of a ‘post-national’ patriotism has been much discussed recently in the debate surrounding Habermas’s notion of ‘constitutional patriotism’.9 Constitutional patriotism also relies on the fact that it is possible to distinguish the political community to which the patriot is loyal from the nation and also from any particular government. If we allow that the political or constitutional order with which the patriot identifies can be a non-state political order then anarchist patriotism will be a version of constitutional patriotism.10 There is one particular interpretation of the ‘country’ to which a patriot might be loyal, which, while it avoids any reference to states or nations, nevertheless relates it to love of a specific territory. Modern environmentalism has promoted the idea of ‘bioregionalism’, as a solution to the problem of the appropriate scale of social organization and the boundaries of political communities.11 The core idea of bioregionalism is that human social organization should be sensitive to ecosystemic demands and therefore be conducted, at least in part, in geographic regions, and at a scale, which match the distribution of ecosystems. This implies that the boundaries of at least some forms of political community would coincide with differences in climate, landscape, watershed, flora and/or fauna. In a world organized along bioregional lines, then, love of country is given a plausible and unique object – the local environment. While I cannot afford here to investigate this idea at any length, the notion of bioregionalism offers a vision of a society wherein patriotism and an environmental awareness converge on a love of the land itself.12 More controversially, there is, I think, room to argue that the political communities which constitute our home need not be geographically bounded at all. There is an intimation of this possibility in the thought that it is possible to be a patriot of a national community which is dispersed and which has no homeland. However, it may also be possible for a geographically dispersed political community based on forms of solidarity other than national sentiment to be the primary locus of the identification for its members. The slogan ‘workers of the world unite’ is in part 8 Of course, the boundaries of such multinational polities are established by states, but there is little reason to think that a multinational political community without a state is any more improbable than any other form of political community in the absence of a state. 9 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe’, Praxis International 12 (1992). See also Chapters 6 and 7 in this volume. 10 My thanks to Neil Levy for drawing my attention to this possibility. 11 For a discussion, see the essays collected in Michael Vincent McGinnis (ed.), Bioregionalism (London: Routledge, 1999). 12 See Chapter 11 in this volume.

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


a call on proletarians to acknowledge that their home is in the company of other members of their class wherever they are to be found. At various points in the history of socialism, this call has arguably met with a strong response, with activists and unionists in the socialist movement around the world acknowledging class solidarity as more important than any other form of group loyalty. Where this is the case, such class solidarity is a love for a political community which people identify as their home. Of course, if such solidarity is going to be included within ‘love of country’, country here will obviously need to be understood metaphorically. Yet, the ‘country’ which patriots love is always already somewhat metaphorical. The country which the patriot loves may be made up of physical regions which are discontinuous, as when British patriots rallied to the cause of the Falklands (Malvinas). It includes regions which the patriot has never visited and compatriots whom they have never met.13 One can be a patriot while living away from one’s homeland and even without having lived there at all. Patriotic sentiment extends to include compatriots who may never have lived at ‘home’. All of which is to say that even in patriotism’s core usage, ‘country’ is defined with reference to the boundaries of a political community (usually, but as I have argued, not necessarily, marked by the boundaries of the state) rather than any geographical or physical features of the landscape. Given that it is political community rather than geography which is the primary referent for ‘country’ it may be appropriate to analyse love for non-geographical communities which are people’s homes alongside more familiar examples of patriotic identification. Of course, whether we are willing to describe such a phenomenon as patriotism is a matter of judgment. It may be in the end that love of political communities without any geographic reference is simply too far from the ordinary usage of the term patriotism for us to feel comfortable including it within its aegis.14 However, regardless of our ultimate judgment on this matter, I hope to have shown that there is a form of love for a non-state, non-geographical, political community which is interestingly analogous to patriotism and which may be productively placed alongside it. Thus far I have been discussing how we should conceptualize the object of patriotic identification. It is one thing to identify the object of patriotic feeling, another to characterize its nature. I have been content to this point to gloss it as ‘love’ and will largely continue to do so. Yet, of course, the nature and limits of patriotic feeling are at least as – if not more – controversial than its proper object. 13 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991), p. 6. 14 Interestingly, in her discussion of the right of the state of Israel to try Adolf Eichmann for crimes committed in Europe, Hannah Arendt argues that ‘“territory”, as the law understands it, is a political and a legal concept, and not merely a geographical term. It relates not so much, and not primarily, to a piece of land as to the space between individuals in a group whose members are bound to, and at the same time separated and protected from, each other by all kinds of relationships, based on a common language, religion, a common history, customs, and laws. Such relationships become spatially manifest insofar as they themselves constitute the space wherein the different members of a group relate to and have intercourse with each other.’ Hanna Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: The Viking Press, 1966), pp. 262–3.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

However, other authors have done a much more thorough job of investigating this matter than I could attempt in the current context.15 I will settle for assuming that patriotism is love for the political community within which one feels at home and its members, accompanied by the belief that one is morally required to assert the interests of one’s compatriots over the interests of strangers in some circumstances.16 Later in the chapter I will discuss the limits to the circumstances in which it will be acceptable to make this distinction between the moral claims of compatriots and of strangers which are imposed by anarchism’s egalitarianism. Anarchist communism Before I proceed any further, I need to take a moment to specify the kind of anarchism (and anarchists) with regard to which I will be conducting my inquiry. The anarchist tradition is an extremely broad one and it is difficult to say very much about it without first narrowing down the object of analysis. Anarchist attitudes towards patriotism will vary dramatically with the type of anarchism being considered. Definitions of anarchism are, moreover, notoriously contested.17 Despite this, the central ideal of anarchism is relatively easy to get a sense of, if not to define precisely. Anarchism is founded in a thoroughgoing and radical egalitarianism and consequently in a hostility to political authority. In particular, anarchists are hostile to the authority of the state. At a bare minimum, anarchism is the belief that social life is possible in the absence of the state and that justice requires the abolition of the state.18 Beyond this, there is a major division in anarchist thought concerning the economic relations appropriate to an anarchist world and in particular the relationship between individuals and the ‘free’ market. Individualist anarchism emphasizes that just social arrangements must be founded in the free consent of individuals. On some interpretations, this is compatible with the operations of a free market wherein individuals voluntarily exchange goods and services, including their labour.19 Communist or collectivist anarchism is also concerned with the freedom of individuals, but holds that this is incompatible with the inequalities of social and

15 See Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, and Chapters 1, 2 and 5 in this volume. 16 Of course, this definition is inevitably controversial, especially in relation to the extent and force of the requirement to assert the interests of compatriots over the interests of strangers. However, to attempt a defence of this definition here is outside the scope of the chapter; in any case, I hope the discussion which follows will be of interest regardless of the precise definition of patriotism endorsed by the reader. 17 See, for instance, the contributions collected in Section 1 of Leonard I. Krimerman and Lewis Perry (eds), Patterns of Anarchy: A Collection of Writing on the Anarchist Tradition (New York: Anchor Books, 1966). 18 Daniel Guerin, Anarchism: From Theory to Practice (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970), pp. 11–13; George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1971), pp. 7–8. 19 Benjamin R. Tucker, ‘State Socialism and Anarchism’, in Henry J. Silverman (ed.), American Radical Thought: The Libertarian Tradition (Lexington: Heath & Co., 1970).

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


economic power established by private ownership of the means of production.20 Communist anarchism therefore favours social control of productive resources. In what follows, I will be discussing whether patriotism is compatible with the communist anarchist tradition. I choose to focus on this particular anarchist tradition because it is the tradition with which I identify and because its commitment to various forms of collective solidarity means that it perhaps allows room for a form of patriotism – or something like it – which is less obviously available to individualist anarchists. Major writers and historical figures in this tradition are Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.21 However, my concerns are philosophical rather than historical; I am interested in what anarchists in this tradition should, or might, say and not what particular figures have said. This project will therefore inevitably involve a certain degree of rational reconstruction of a communist anarchist politics. A full elaboration and defence of communist anarchist politics is beyond the scope of this chapter. However, in order to investigate properly the possibility of anarchist patriotism I need to briefly sketch a few more details of a communist anarchist politics. As well as being egalitarian communists who are opposed to the authority of the state, communist anarchists are radical democrats and federalists.22 A crucially important observation for the discussion which follows is that this part of the anarchist tradition allows a role for government – or rather ‘selfgovernment’ – in an anarchist society. Communist anarchists accept that social life requires organization and that social control of the means of production will require formal mechanisms of social decision- making.23 The difference between the anarchist and (non-anarchist) communist and other democratic socialist traditions is that within the anarchist tradition self-government is thought to be distinct from, and possible in the absence of, the state. According to anarchists, government is something that people do for and by themselves, whereas the state is an institution above and separate from the people.24

20 Alexander Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism? (New York: Dover Publications, 1972), pp. 15–17; Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (London: Allen Lane, 1972); Errico Malatesta, ‘Expropriation’, in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: His Life and Ideas (London: Freedom Press, 1977), pp. 167–9. 21 Michael Bakunin, God and the State (New York: Dover Publications, 1970); Kropotkin, Mutual Aid; Kropotkin, The State: Its Historical Role (London: Freedom Press, 1969); Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, ed. Paul Avrich (New York: New York University Press, 1972); Malatesta, ‘Anarchism, Socialism, and Communism’, in Richards (ed.), Malatesta; Goldman, ‘Patriotism’; Goldman, ‘What I Believe’, in Alix Kates Shulman (ed.), Red Emma Speaks (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 1998); Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism? 22 Guerin, Anarchism, pp. 16–17, 63–6. 23 Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism?, p. 211; Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread. 24 Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism?, pp. 182–5, 188–9; Bakunin, God and the State, pp. 42–3; Guerin, Anarchism, pp. 14–16, 42–3; Kropotkin, The State, pp. 10, 59; Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread; Knowles, Political Economy from Below, pp. 30–39.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

The attitude of communist anarchists towards democracy historically has been equivocal. As communists committed to social control of productive resources, it seems that they require some mechanism whereby such control can be exercised. Democratic decision making by some relevantly delineated community of interested parties is the obvious candidate. On the other hand, anarchists have also traditionally been extremely conscious of the evils of the ‘tyranny of the majority’ and so have typically preferred consensus decision-making models over majoritarian models, and have also tried to minimize the potential for conflicts of interests by emphasizing the freedom of competing interest groups to disassociate and pursue their projects separately.25 The anarchist obsession with federalism stems largely from the thought that it makes possible a partial reconciliation between democratic communism and individual liberty by means of a vigorous defence of freedom of association. Federal structures create maximum room for disagreement within a system of social decision-making. Yet it seems clear to me that consistent communist anarchists should be majoritarian democrats in the last resort. Equal respect for individuals seems to require abiding by the decision of the majority, because to do otherwise would be to give more weight to the opinion of each individual in the minority. This has the consequence, unpalatable for anarchists, that when a decision cannot be avoided an anarchist society must permit the possibility of the coercion of the minority by the majority. If I’m correct in this, then the distinction between anarchism and other forms of radical democracy cannot be that anarchism abjures coercion or even (perhaps) the political authority of the community.26 Instead, majoritarian anarchism is distinguished from similar ideologies by its insistence that the possibility and occasional necessity of such coercion need not involve the establishing of institutional mechanisms to wield such coercive power in the form of the state. The difference between anarchism and socialism then turns out to be largely a question of post-revolutionary institutional design.27 This conclusion is less deflationary than first appears as the institution at issue – the state – is thought to be essential by all political ideologies other than anarchism.

25 Guerin, Anarchism, pp. 54–5, 63–6; Alexandre Skirda, Facing the Enemy: A History of Anarchist Organization from Proudhon to May 1968 (Edinburgh: AK Press, 2002). 26 The question of the moral authority of majorities in genuine democracies is probably the most vexed question in the anarchist tradition – and for good reason. It forces anarchists to confront the question of where their priorities lie when the freedom of some individuals interferes with the freedom of others. 27 Some communists might quibble with this description, pointing out that in a fully communist society the state is supposed to ‘wither away’, leaving a communist society identical to a communist anarchist society. However, most communists also believe that a transitional ‘workers’ state’ will be necessary for an extended period to suppress counterrevolution and usher in the communist world (V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1970)), which anarchists deny. Anarchism and socialism also famously differ on the political means required to bring about a proletarian revolution, with the anarchist hostility towards the state extending to organizational forms they consider to represent a socialist proto-state in the making (Kropotkin, The State).

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


In what follows, then, when I refer to anarchists I am referring to thinkers in the communist anarchist tradition I have described above. Anarchism against patriotism Any plausible account of the relationship between anarchism and patriotism must begin by acknowledging the notorious hostility of anarchists towards patriotism. Anarchist hostility towards patriotism stems, I think, from four sources. First, the thorough-going egalitarianism of anarchism means that anarchists can have no truck with forms of patriotism which deny the full humanity of those who are not our compatriots. If feeling for one’s compatriots is to be admirable, or even permissible, it must not lead to our depriving other people of the respect which is owed to them. Anarchism’s commitment to the moral equality of persons thus places clear limits on any possible reconciliation with patriotism.28 I will discuss these limits further below. For the moment, I merely want to note the role they play in motivating anarchist hostility to patriotism per se. Second, anarchist hostility to patriotism derives from a deep cynicism about the uses to which the concept of patriotism has been put historically. While non-state patriotism may be possible, patriotism is almost always invoked to encourage loyalty to states or to nations pursuing statehood. According to anarchists, states are artificial creations designed to serve a class interest.29 The class character of loyalty to the state is evidenced by the fact that patriotism is a moral duty that, in practice at least, is demanded selectively. Patriotic sentiment seldom seems to stand in the way of the ruling class if there is money to be made. It is only working-class people who are expected to sacrifice their lives for their country.30 Sacrificing for their country also looks surprisingly often like sacrificing for their local ruling class. Patriotism works to disguise the real differences which exist amongst people – which are differences of class and which involve deep and irreconcilable differences of interests – and to encourage workers to identify with the institution – the state – which is the primary defender of class society. Anarchists have therefore tended to denounce patriotism in the course of denouncing class society and its institutions.31 Third, anarchist hostility towards patriotism is also motivated by a perceived connection between patriotism and militarism.32 Patriotism plays an obvious role in making possible the mobilization of populations for war. According to anarchists, it is a tool used by the ruling class to motivate the working class to fight in their interests.33 Patriotism can also be a cause of war, when popular anger at perceived slights to national pride itself becomes a pressure towards war. Yet overwhelmingly 28 Tolstoy, ‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’. 29 Goldman, ‘What I Believe’, p. 51; Knowles, Political Economy from Below, pp. 30–39; Kropotkin, The State, pp. 56–60; Tolstoy, ‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’, pp. 94–6. 30 Goldman, ‘Patriotism’, p. 339. 31 Goldman, ‘Patriotism’, pp. 346–7; Tolstoy, ‘Patriotism and Government’, pp. 79–82. 32 Tolstoy, ‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’, pp. 96–7; Tolstoy, ‘Patriotism and Government’, pp. 81–2. 33 Goldman, ‘Patriotism’, p. 342; Tolstoy, ‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’, p. 99.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

it is the working class who are the victims of war both directly as casualties, and also indirectly when resources are diverted from socially productive uses to preparations for war. The role played by patriotism in both causing and facilitating war has therefore been one of the main targets of the anarchist critique of patriotism.34 By distinguishing so clearly between state and country, anarchism opens up the possibility that the worst evils of patriotism are in fact due to its expression by means of the state. An important question for my investigation, then, is how much of anarchism’s hostility to patriotism stems from the first of these sources – egalitarianism – and how much from the second and third? I want to suggest that a sizeable part of anarchist hostility to patriotism actually stems from this latter set of concerns about the role patriotism plays in a class society and in a world organized into competing states.35 It is clear at the very least that the evils associated with patriotism are greatly exacerbated by the division of the world into competing nation-states. States cultivate a patriotic loyalty in order to bind their citizens together. Much of the symbolism of patriotism is consequently oriented towards the state. The state works to divert class resentments to focus on external enemies while the class inequalities which – according to anarchists – the state maintains fuel patriotic bigotry. The causes of the wars which patriotism makes possible are often conflicts between states and many of the ‘injustices’ that spark wars, such as violations of ‘sovereignty’ or loss of territory, are crimes against the state rather than the community which it claims to represent. Some – but not all – of the atrocities carried out in the name of patriotism would not have been possible without technologies or institutions which are maintained by states. In particular, modern warfare is only made possible by the existence of weapons and military institutions which could not be built or maintained without the state. The connection between some of the worst manifestations of patriotism and the institution of the state highlighted by anarchists has, I think, been neglected by philosophers writing about patriotism precisely because they are philosophers; they have focused on the intellectual or conceptual connections between patriotism and its abuses at the expense of the historical and political connections which have been the main concern of anarchist thinkers. In particular, philosophers writing about patriotism have largely been concerned to separate patriotism from nationalism and have, for the most part, blamed the worst excesses of patriotism discussed above on the conflation of country and nation.36 However, it is loyalty to the nation-state that has been implicated in these atrocities, many of which would not have been possible but for the institutions of the state. An investigation of anarchist patriotism may therefore serve as a useful reminder that the real-world evils associated with patriotism may have more to do with the way the world is organized than with 34 Less reputably, Goldman (‘Patriotism’) links patriotism to the spread of ‘sex perversion’ in the form of homosexuality in the barracks. 35 In fact these two phenomena are connected, as anarchist communism shares with Marxism the belief that the primary function of the state is to serve and defend the ruling class. 36 Primoratz, ‘Introduction’, p. 19. For a different approach, see Chapter 8 in this volume.

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


patriotism itself. In a world without states, patriotism might be a harmless loyalty, perhaps even a virtue. Finally, for the sake of completeness I should mention a fourth source of anarchist hostility to patriotism. While the anarchist criticisms of patriotism discussed above reflect political/pragmatic concerns about the evils of state power and the dangers of allowing the state to harness the energies of patriotic sentiment to its own ends, there is also the basis for an ontological critique of state-centred forms of patriotism in anarchist thought. For instance both Kropotkin and Bakunin have contrasted artificial institutions such as states with the natural order of human affairs, which includes nations and peoples.37 According to this way of thinking love of state is a form of delusion – a love for an imaginary object. This objection to patriotism lapses if patriotic sentiment is directed towards a non-state political community. Anarchist patriotism? Given the vehemence of major thinkers in the anarchist-communist tradition towards patriotism, it may appear that there is no motivation for or possibility of any reconciliation between anarchism and patriotism. Yet there are at least three reasons to believe that the incompatibility of anarchism and patriotism has been overstated in the course of the anarchist critique of patriotism. First, in other writings, anarchist-communist thinkers have acknowledged that love for one’s own people, community and historical traditions, is both understandable and sometimes admirable.38 Second, while anarchists have been hostile to national loyalties they have also sung the praises of class loyalty and collective solidarity.39 These forms of partiality and collective identity are interestingly analogous to patriotism and may teach us something about it even if we ultimately decide that they are too far from the ordinary usage of the term to be named as patriotism. Finally, because of its commitment to democratic self-government, anarchist communism seems to require a rich conception of citizenship, or something like it. That is, it must allow that when particular decisions need to be made a particular group of people should make them, and consequently that members of this group should share a common interest, and an awareness of the common nature of that interest. Anarchism and national communities I suggested above that anarchists have often argued that the objects of patriotic feeling are artificial and the product of the political manipulation by elites. This argument leaves intact the possibility that people may come to care – and care deeply – about 37 Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, pp. 293–300; Bakunin, cited in Knowles, Political Economy from Below, pp. 35, 181–2; Knowles, Political Economy from Below, pp. 30–39. 38 Forman, Nationalism and the International Labour Movement, pp. 36–7; Knowles, Political Economy from Below, pp. 30–39. 39 Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism? pp. 89–93; Errico Malatesta, ‘Anarchists and the Working Class Movements’, in Richards (ed.), Malatesta, pp. 113–15.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

some consequences of these artificially created differences. In terms of the lived experience of individuals it may be irrelevant to them that their deepest loyalties are the products of historical processes which have been shaped by the deliberate actions of political elites. Loyalties can be both manipulated and real. Moreover, it is unclear whether all of the phenomena, such as language, historical consciousness, and culture, which are associated with national identities can be dismissed as the product of class society. While some aspects of nationalism are clearly artificial creations, other phenomena such as language and ethnic identification seem to have more complex histories and origins. Finally, there is a danger that in denying the moral weight of these aspects of identity we commit ourselves to denying the significance of the majority of issues that actual people actually care about. Both anarchist and Marxist criticisms of national identification have, for instance, occasionally verged on an elitist insistence that intellectuals know better than working-class people what is important to them – something anarchists should be concerned to avoid. Some anarchist writers have therefore accepted that national communities play an important role in the lives of individuals and should be maintained and defended for that reason.40 Love for these communities is unobjectionable and admirable so long as it does not lead us to identify our interest with those of the ruling class, implicate us in support of the state, or cause us to neglect the moral claims of others. Anarchism and patriotism are reconciled by insisting on the distinction between country and state defended above. However, as I noted above, the egalitarianism of anarchists means that anarchist patriots will need to be extremely careful about where their patriotism leads them. A special concern for the interests of our compatriots is only legitimate when it is compatible with the moral rights of others: an expression of freedom of association, rather than a defence of privilege. Preferential treatment of compatriots over strangers can only be justified if the strangers are not thereby denied access to any primary social goods. That is to say, anarchist patriotism must be a version of moderate patriotism.41 It will therefore be subject to the same criticisms that have been made of moderate patriotism more generally. Indeed, the emphasis on solidarity in the communist anarchist tradition even in those strands of the tradition which allow room for national patriotism suggests that anarchist patriotism may need to be more ‘moderate’ than liberal versions thereof. The debate about the coherence and permissibility of moderate patriotism is too extensive for me to survey or engage in here.42 It is clear though that anarchist patriotism will be hostage to the conclusions of that debate. However, as is intimated above, there is one regard in which anarchism may be better situated than liberalism to defend the possibility – if not the likelihood – of moderate patriotism. One of the main challenges which besets accounts of moderate patriotism is to establish that moderate patriotism is both psychologically plausible 40 Forman, Nationalism and the International Labour Movement, pp. 12–13, 62–3; Knowles, Political Economy from Below, pp. 30–39. 41 Stephen Nathanson, ‘In Defense of Moderate Patriotism’, Ethics 99 (1988/89). 42 For a collection of sources in this debate see Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism. See also Chapters 1, 2 and 5 in this volume.

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


and politically stable: that is, that it is plausible to expect a large number of patriotic members of a community to maintain their commitment to their compatriots and to universalist morality simultaneously, without this ‘moderate’ patriotism collapsing into either liberal universalism or a stronger variant of patriotism.43 A defender of patriotism who is prepared to embrace anarchism perhaps has more reasons to be optimistic about this possibility than adherents of other ideologies. Anarchism would moderate patriotism in at least four ways. The absence of states would deprive patriots of the worst and most dangerous means to pursue patriotic goals at the expense of the rights of other communities. It would also deprive them of powerful means to encourage chauvinism in others within their political community. The absence of class conflict in an anarchist world would remove one of the factors which fuels patriotic bigotry. Finally, without the large-scale inequalities characteristic of the contemporary political order there would be fewer causes for conflict between political communities. Yet, according to some anarchist visions at least, an anarchist world would continue to sustain political communities, even national communities, which could be the appropriate objects of patriotic loyalty. An anarchist world therefore seems to offer the best possible circumstances for moderate patriotism to flourish. Of course, egalitarian liberalism can also aspire to achieve a world in which inequality cannot serve as the fuel to transform the spark of moderate patriotism into the destructive flames of national chauvinism. However, if liberalism is to be distinguished from anarchism, it must allow a role for the state even in a liberal utopia. This means that even in the most utopian liberal world there is the danger that the competing interests of states, the elites that states inevitably establish, and the powerful mechanisms for propaganda and indoctrination that states possess, separately or together may fan this spark towards whatever fuel is available, turning moderate patriotism into its more dangerous ‘strong’ form. The anarchist critique of patriotism can be read as a warning that this is not only likely but inevitable. Only in a world without states could we be secure in the expectation that patriotism would remain moderate.44 It is one thing to establish that there are plausible objects available for a nonstate national patriotism that is compatible with anarchism, and another to establish that such patriotism can be expressed in ways which are politically productive for anarchism in our current political circumstances. There is an important and complex debate to be conducted about the politics of loyalty to a national community in a world in which states exist and in which speaking out in support of a national community may be received as support for the state. Given that the language of nation and community has been so thoroughly co-opted by the state, it may well be that in practice there are very few occasions on which it is productive for an anarchist politics to campaign on behalf of the defence of existing national political communities. At the very least, anarchists should be extremely cautious about the circumstances in which they speak out in support of national political communities. 43 Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, in Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, pp. 46–7, 56. 44 It must be admitted that this may be cold comfort to advocates of moderate patriotism, given how unlikely the prospect of an anarchist world looks at the moment.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

The union makes us strong: anarchism and partiality While anarchist-communists have been scathing towards patriotism, they have simultaneously exalted the virtues of another form of moral partiality – class and/or collective solidarity. The emphasis on solidarity in the anarchist condition stems from anarchism’s origins as a tradition founded in the context of class struggle. Anarchist communism evolved within the labour movement and of necessity developed intellectual and political tools to serve it. One of these tools was the idea of solidarity – to one’s class and to one’s comrades. Without solidarity workers are helpless in the face of the ruling class’s monopoly of the means of production. If workers can stick together, they can respond to employers’ control of the opportunity to work by controlling the supply of labour. Solidarity between workers is therefore an essential prerequisite for success in class struggle. It seems, then, that anarchists should place an extra moral weight on the demands of their comrades compared to the demands of others. This form of partiality is not just acceptable but actually obligatory for anarchists in the communist tradition. The concept of solidarity has been subject to less philosophical scrutiny than the concept of patriotism. Its structure is closely analogous to patriotism, and it raises some of the same dilemmas. In particular, there appears to be a conflict between the universalist egalitarianism which motivates communist politics and the particularism involved in solidarity. This tension is revealed most dramatically when anarchists are confronted with working-class strike breakers. In such circumstances, the universalist foundations of anarchist politics seem to point to the need to respect the choice of the strike breakers not to participate in industrial action. In practice, the communist anarchist tradition at least has tended to adopt tactics designed to enforce solidarity such as the naming and shunning of scabs, or physically enforcing pickets. That is to say, this form of loyalty to a collective has often been less than moderate in the history of the communist anarchist tradition. Other strands of the anarchist movement have tended to be less sanguine about denying the liberty of others for the sake of collective solidarity. Interestingly, however, such class-based partiality is arguably capable of being reconciled with universalism in a way in which orthodox patriotism is not. The class struggle in which anarchist partiality has its role is, on the working class side at least, a struggle to abolish class society. The need for solidarity is also established by class conflict. Loyalty to class is therefore self-limiting. If the working class were to succeed in abolishing class society there would no longer be any need for this form of solidarity. The contingent and finite nature of the need for class solidarity renders such solidarity compatible with universalism in a way that is not true of national patriotism. Working-class loyalists can properly insist that in a just world everyone would be a member of the working class and proud of it.45 National patriots on the other hand cannot insist that in a just world everyone would be a member of their 45 Of course, another, perhaps more accurate, way of describing this goal is that class would disappear in an anarchist world. However, it would remain the case that people would be proud of their status as both workers and owners simultaneously.

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


nation. The exclusion of others is essential to national or state-centric patriotism in a way it is not to communist struggle. The importance of loyalty to a collective or commune, on the other hand, is unlikely to disappear with the abolishing of class society. I noted above that while communist anarchists reject the institution of the state, they do not deny the necessity of government. This means that anarchists must have some plausible story as to how and why individuals are motivated to participate in the collective institutions and processes necessary to self-government. In the absence of the coercive power of the state, anarchists rely on individuals having a strong sense of public duty or civic community to motivate their participation in government and their willingness to accede to the decisions of the majority. It may even be the case that something like patriotism turns out to be necessary for anarchists, in order for anarchist social institutions to be able to function effectively. This will be true regardless of whether the collective institutions concerned are local bodies within a larger political community or the political community itself. In the latter case, identification with, and concern for, the political community and its members represents an anarchist version of republicanism. The need for some forms of collective solidarity even in an anarchist society should serve to underline the familiar communitarian point that there are forms of political association which will inevitably fail unless their members are committed to them in ways which compete with their commitment to a universalistic morality. However, it also suggests that there is a trade-off between the existence of institutional forms of social coercion and the need for individuals to acknowledge loyalties to groups in order to make possible important social goods. More familiar political ideologies have arguably disguised the need for citizens to be committed to partialist goals by relying on coercive institutions to resolve collective action problems. If those institutions are to be justified then ultimately the underlying partial commitments that would replace them in a world devoid of coercive authority will need to be justified. The philosophical problems posed by the justification of partial commitments may therefore be more urgent and even more widespread than initially appears. Finally, there are also resources available within the anarchist tradition which suggest that anarchists might be able to mount a plausible defence of one form of preference for members of a political collective using an argument which in the hands of other political philosophies is inevitably a parody. One of the reasons that patriots’ belief that their compatriots have distinctive virtues is a problematic phenomenon is that in ordinary circumstances it seems both that it is unlikely to be true and also that, even if it were true, whatever character traits they possess don’t seem likely to reflect any special effort on the part of those purported to possess them. If, for instance, the reason France is worthy of patriotic loyalty is because its citizens have access to the French language and the wisdom contained in its literature, then not only will this not be true for some citizens (who may not speak the language), but where it is true it will be true largely due to accident of birth and not because of any special effort on the part of individuals. However, if the object of patriotism is a voluntary association of the sort exalted by anarchists, then it may indeed be that all members of this association share features or even virtues which are not possessed by those outside of the association and which reflect choices they


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

have made. It may be a formal condition of membership that members have these properties or an accurate empirical generalization that those who are inclined to join the association have these virtues. Where this is the case, loyal members of a political community or association can rightly point to the virtues of other members of the community as a ground for their special preference for them. Of course, even in an anarchist society, it is unlikely that the majority of people will be members of the political communities to which they belong as a result of conscious choice. Many people will become members of political communities by accident of birth or other circumstance. Nevertheless, the possibility that a significant percentage of the members of a voluntary association may in fact share character traits that they each admire and value can go some way towards explaining how patriotic sentiment could arise through a process of extending a justified belief in the virtues of some members of the community to the community as a whole. While, for reasons of space, I cannot develop the argument here it also does not seem impossible that this might also play some role in the justification of patriotism proper in the rare circumstances where membership of political communities was largely, if not entirely, voluntary. Conclusion My examination of the possibility of anarchist patriotism has revealed that there is more room for such a phenomenon than first appears. If we admit the possibility of political community without the state – that is, anarchism – then we should also allow that patriotic love for country, nation or community can be described without reference to the institution of the state. This in turn opens up a conceptual space for an anarchist patriotism. There are two possible candidates for the object of anarchist patriotism, with two possible versions of one of these. Anarchist ‘patriots’ might love their nation, where this body is thought of as a historical community defined with reference to a culture, language or ethnicity which is distinguished from any institutional political community, or they might love some non-state non-national polity. This might be the political community as a whole, in which case we would have an anarchist republicanism, or it may be some smaller political entity – the commune or union of my title. There are elements in the communist anarchist tradition which have embraced each of these. Because egalitarianism is at the very core of anarchism, anarchist patriotism must be a version of moderate patriotism and thus will be subject to the same criticisms. Awareness of the possibility of an anarchist variation on patriotism is, I think, salutary because of the way in which it places the morality of patriotism in institutional and political contexts. The anarchist account clearly links the evils of patriotism to the political institutions which sustain it and give it expression. While this observation is not unique to anarchism, other political traditions, including liberalism, which are more comfortable with the authority of the state, are liable to neglect it. Furthermore, the role played by class and collective solidarity in the anarchist tradition is a topic deserving of further investigation in the hope that it might shed light on the nature, role and justification of partial commitments more generally.

For the Union Makes Us Strong: Anarchism and Patriotism


To a certain extent, it must be admitted, these observations are of academic interest only. Anarchism as a political movement dedicated to the creation of an anarchist world has yet to recover from the collapse it underwent after the physical elimination of a generation of anarchists in Russia (and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union) after the Russian Revolution, the defeat of the Spanish revolution in the 1930s, and the government repression of the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States during and immediately after the First World War. Moreover, those anarchist groups and organizations which do still exist tend to emphasize anarchism’s individualism and internationalism rather than its communism and concern for the rights of self-determination of nations. Yet I hope to have shown here that they are of academic interest at least and can usefully illuminate the larger debate about the nature and morality of patriotism.46

46 I would like to acknowledge the work done by Emilio Mora in helping me prepare this chapter for publication. Thanks are also due to Igor Primoratz for the invitation to present the paper at the CAPPE workshop on patriotism in August 2006, for encouraging me to write it, and for his patience throughout the process.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 13

Killing for One’s Country Aleksandar Pavković

The question I would like to explore in this chapter is: •

Can patriotism offer distinctive moral reasons for killing people in pursuit of patriotic goals?

‘Distinctive moral reasons’ are here the moral reasons specific to patriotism as an attitude or worldview which are distinct from those generated by other types of attitude or worldview. Patriotism, as I understand it, favors one’s country and its inhabitants over all other countries. This is a consequence of the nature of love: love is, by definition, directed to one item or items which are favored over all other items or objects. If patriotism is love for one’s country, then it presupposes favoring that country over all others. Favoring one’s country is a notoriously – and perhaps intentionally – vague notion. The conception of patriotism that is discussed in this chapter links favoring one’s country and killing others in the following way: if a patriot favors her country over others, then she is ready to fight and kill others for the sake of her country and not other countries. This conception – which we may call ‘fighting patriotism’ – offers only one possible way of understanding patriotism. One could also be (or feel) patriotic without being ready to fight or to kill anyone. But fighting patriotism also implies that the readiness to fight and kill is praiseworthy and, indeed, a duty of a patriot. This prima facie duty is not necessarily related to any other just cause; for a fighting patriot, fighting for one’s own country is, at least prima facie, a just cause. A fighting patriot is thus required to fight and kill for one’s country, provided that there are no other reasons which in the view of fighting patriots would absolve her from that duty. For example, fighting patriots may consider that a fighting patriot has no duty to kill those who are not directly threatening her country, such as unarmed women and children of the enemy. In some situations, killing unarmed women and children may avert or remove threats to a country and yet, in spite of that, fighting patriots of that country may consider that killing them is not permissible. In other words, some moral reasons may, in the view of fighting patriots, override the prima facie patriotic duty to kill for one’s country. In this chapter, fighting patriotism will be contrasted to a universal humanism which holds that the value of human life is paramount and that, therefore, taking of human life – homicide1 – can be primarily justified as a form of self-defense or 1 This kind of universal humanism regards homicide as non-consensual taking of someone else’s life. It would permit voluntary euthanasia. Universal humanism of this kind


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

the defense of the lives of those who are not in a position to defend themselves. According to this kind of universal humanism, every person has a prima facie right to defend oneself from a potentially deadly attack and also has the right to defend persons who are not in a position to defend themselves from such an attack. In an abbreviated form, one can say that every person has a right to self-defense from an attack using lethal force and a right to defend the defenseless from such an attack. In relation to these rights of (self-)defense, all persons also have a duty not to attack with lethal force other persons who are not attacking them or a third party in this manner. Universal humanism of this kind forbids a patriot to attack and kill anyone who is not attacking her with lethal force (or threatening to do so) or attacking defenseless people in this manner. For example, a patriot would be forbidden to kill any foreign soldiers who are merely threatening to occupy her country or occupying her country but are not, in fact, attacking or threatening to attack her or other defenseless people with lethal force. If the aim of a foreign state is to occupy only a portion of a territory of another state and to establish its rule or rulers there, it is not necessary for that state to threaten to kill anyone in particular, except those who are resisting its occupation by using lethal force. As Rodin suggests, this strict view of self-defense may in fact prohibit most cases of defensive warfare.2 This view of (self-)defense denies not only that a fighting patriot has a prima facie duty to kill in the defense of the territory of her country but that she is morally permitted to do so. In view of this, the principal question for a fighting patriot who is concerned with the morality of her patriotism is: •

Can fighting patriotism provide distinctive moral reasons for killing in the situations which are not, strictly speaking, those of self-defense or the defense of the defenseless?

The question we shall be addressing in the chapter is: Are (fighting) patriotic reasons for homicide moral reasons, that is, do they carry the moral force sufficient to override the universal humanist moral prohibition of homicide (except in the context of self-defense)? If they are, then they at least establish that a fighting patriot is morally permitted to kill for her country. I first contrast universal humanism, which prohibits homicide except in the cases of self-defense, with a (fighting) patriotic view of the defense of one’s country. In the second section I construct a case of collective self-defense which, I shall argue, provides a moral justification for the defense, by lethal force, of the land on which one has settled and of one’s dependants. In the third section I outline and analyze a few patriotic reasons for killing those who are threatening or attempting to occupy one’s country. In the fourth I argue, on the analogy with our case of collective selfdefense, that the defense of one’s country (nation-state) against foreign occupation is either opposed to capital punishment or regards it as a form of society’s self-defense or defense of the defenseless. 2 David Rodin, War and Self-Defense (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 162. He holds that the central case of personal or individual self-defense does not provide any justification for patriotic homicide of this kind.

Killing for One’s Country


by lethal force is, in some cases, also morally justified. If so, in order to justify the use of lethal force against those who are attempting to occupy one’s country, one does not need to appeal to patriotic duties or attachments. In the fifth section, I argue that patriotic reasons for killing are not moral but political reasons and that the admiration many have for the acts of patriotic killing of foreign occupiers arises from the admiration for the radical altruism and the political beliefs of the patriots who are ready to die – and not only to kill – for their country. 1. Fighting and killing for one’s own country ‘Fighting’ here obviously means voluntarily participating in a violent conflict as an armed combatant. Participation in such a conflict presupposes readiness to be killed and to kill others. Voluntary participation only implies that the combatant was not forced or intimidated by the use of coercion (for example, imprisonment) to participate and that the primary motivation for participation was not social pressure such as the fear of social exclusion of the non-participants. But ‘for one’s own country’ is, in contrast, very vague because, historically, it has come to include a variety of different causes.3 For the purposes of this chapter, fighting for one’s country is limited only to fighting against the forces of another state crossing or threatening to cross the border of one’s country in order to occupy the whole or a part of the latter. Thus a fighting patriot appears to be defending her country from the forces which want to take away the whole or part of her country from her and her fellow patriots. If successful, these armed forces she is fighting will impose a government composed of people whom our patriot does not consider to be patriots – who do not love the country, at least not in the way she loves it. In such a case, the country is no longer hers because it is ruled by non-patriots imposed by foreign forces. In some cases, people who also consider themselves patriots contest this particular patriotic view of an armed foreign occupation of their country. A patriot can welcome an armed invasion of her country by another state for at least two reasons: first, the foreign forces may remove an oppressive and, therefore, nonpatriotic regime and allow true patriots to come to rule; second, the foreign forces may help the (secessionist) patriots to reclaim, from its present alien government, the territory for its local population and enable them to establish a state of their own. In a case of the second kind, the patriots love a country which is part of another state and is ruled by a central government which these patriots consider an alien and not a patriotic government. By invading their country, the foreign forces would 3 The following is a brief list of the causes that are labeled ‘patriotic’: Fighting against the forces of another state or states which are crossing the border of the territory of the state of which one is a citizen or against the forces of an insurrectionary movement within the state of which one is a citizen. Fighting as part of a resistance movement against the occupying forces of another state or the forces armed and supported by an outside state. Fighting, as part of occupying forces in an overseas colony, against the anti-colonial resistance forces or against the forces of another state invading that colony. Fighting on foreign battlefields for the safeguarding or promotion of important interests of one’s own state.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

then help them remove the non-patriotic and alien government and establish a patriotic one.4 But whether a foreign invasion is contested in this way or not, those patriots who oppose the foreign invasion often justify their killing of the foreign invaders by appealing to their patriotic motives or reasons. But those who believe that the value of human life is paramount – the universal humanists – often regard such patriotic motives for killing either non-moral or insufficiently good reasons to justify the killing of the (potential) aggressors. Thus Rodin points out, first, that in at least some cases of aggression, the aggressor state is making a conditional threat of the use of lethal force: it is demanding that a piece of territory be surrendered to its control and threatening to invade, by armed force, only if this demand is not fulfilled. In doing so the aggressor is not threatening to kill anyone in particular, nor is it actually killing anyone. This is, in his view, comparable to the threat by a mugger that she will kill her victim unless handed a dollar.5 We shall examine below his example of such a conditional threat in the case of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in 1939. Second, Rodin claims that the threat to occupy a piece of territory does not present and is not equivalent to the threat of the use of lethal force against a particular person. The conquest and rule over territory is not, in his view, analogous to killing anyone. Therefore, he claims that the defense of the territory of an independent state from foreign occupation by lethal force is not always a case of self-defense and, in consequence, does not justify – that is, does not morally permit – the use of lethal force against the occupiers, as the mugger’s conditional threat does not justify killing her. Using the model of conditional threat, in the next section I shall outline, schematically, a central case of collective self-defense. I shall argue that in such a case, the defender is, pace Rodin, morally permitted to use lethal force against the aggressor. In the section following the next one, I shall examine a few patriotic reasons that our defender in such a case may have for using lethal force. 2. Collective self-defense: a justified use of lethal force against aggressors Collective self-defense differs from individual or personal self-defense in that the defender is defending herself as well as her dependents who, alone, are not in a position to defend themselves effectively. The dependents are those who depend on the defender for protection – in our case they may include members of her family as well as neighbors or visitors to her home. The following imaginary case illustrates collective self-defense: A farmer is living on a family farm (which includes his home) in a weak state which is incapable of providing him, his family and his farm protection from armed intruders. As 4 An example of this kind is the Indian military intervention in East Pakistan in December 1971 which removed the Pakistani army and government from what was then East Pakistan and enabled the local Bengali politicians to establish Bangladesh as an independent state. 5 Rodin, pp.132–6.

Killing for One’s Country


a result, he has acquired weapons in the use of which he trains his dependents. A band of armed men threatens to kill him and his family if he does not surrender his farm for their use and control and either leave with his dependents or remain on it and disarm. He is forced to choose between using lethal force against the aggressors, on the one hand, and, on the other, disarming and staying on the farm or being rendered homeless and destitute (without means of providing a livelihood to himself and his dependents).

As Rodin points out in discussing similar cases, the defender’s life and the life of his dependents is not under an immediate or imminent threat which can be removed only by using lethal force. But what are the moral implications of a conditional threat of this kind? First, the defender’s choice is forced: he is forced to choose between losing his life and fulfilling the aggressor’s demands. Second, the choice forced upon him is between losing his life and losing the control he has had so far over his life. Fulfilling the aggressors’ demands involves a high risk to his and his dependents’ lives: if he disarms, he loses all means of defense against the aggressors’ possible attempts at a later stage to kill him and his dependents; and, if he leaves the farm, he and his dependents may face exposure, starvation, and illness as well as the continued risk of being killed by the aggressors. Third, their conditional threat restricts his and his dependents’ existing freedom to move, to earn their livelihood and to use and to bequeath their property on which their livelihood depends. Fourth, the aggressors treat the defender and his dependents as instruments to their ends and not as persons with rights to pursue their life plans. They are not only morally degrading him and his dependents but forcing him and his dependents to regard them, the aggressors, not as persons but as potential instruments of death and destruction. An analogous case of personal self-defense would be that of an attempt at kidnapping: in such a case an aggressor threatens to kill the defender unless he or she submits to the aggressor’s control. As in the case of an attempt at kidnapping, in the present case the universal humanist raises the question of whether the defender is morally permitted to use lethal force to remove the threat. In the present case, using lethal force against aggressors would involve shooting at them, as they advance against his farm to carry out their threat, not with the intent to kill them but with the intent to dissuade them from pursuing their threat to kill him and, possibly, to disable them from pursuing it. In short, the defender’s use of lethal force is an attempt to remove the threat to his life and to the life of his dependents by, among other things, threatening the aggressors that, if they try to carry out their threat, they may lose their lives. The defender is here responding to the aggressors’ threats with threats of the same kind. In this sense, his response is proportionate to the threats he is facing. On Rodin’s scale of values, a defender would be justified in using lethal force – the force that may result in killing – to prevent his kidnapping because kidnapping is a form of enslavement against which lethal force is justified. The use of lethal force would be justified, in his view, in particular when there is a high risk that kidnapping would result in the death, prolonged enslavement or serious injury of


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

the kidnapped.6 Likewise, in collective self-defense, the defender would be justified in using lethal force to remove the threat of his and his family’s subjugation to the control of the aggressors. If the defender is thus justified in using lethal force against the aggressors, what additional reasons could a patriot/defender offer to justify the use of lethal force in such a case? 3. Patriotism as a justification for the use of lethal force The above story about our farmer/defender can be further elaborated as follows: Our defender/farmer was born and raised on the farm on which generations of his forebears lived. His lifelong goal is to improve it and to bequeath it to his children or descendants. His whole life is tied to his farm and his family and he takes pride in his farm, his work and his ability to manage his life as he sees best. He loves his farm and its surroundings or region and so he does not distinguish the interests of the farm, its surrounding country and his family settled on the farm from his own interests. The interests of his farm, its inhabitants and its surroundings are his interests. His world revolves around the farm, his family and the surroundings; therefore, the world without the farm, his family and its surroundings has no meaning to him.

The attachments our defender has to his farm are of the kind that a patriot has to his country. The aggressors are now threatening to remove, by force, from him and his family: (a) the land and home that has sustained his family through generations and, he hopes, will do so in the future; (b) the land and home with which he personally identifies; (c) the land and home to which he is passionately attached, that is, which he loves.7 Furthermore, by forcing the defender to choose between his life and the object of his love, they are trying to force him to admit that he prefers his own life to the object of his love: that in order to save his life, he is ready to abandon the object of his love. This is a humiliating and cruel mockery of his feelings. For such a defender, defending his farm and family from the aggressors is defending something that he loves and something that gives meaning to his life – something that is, for him, irreplaceable. And yet, however important the farm may be for him, in the view of many academic theorists, his attachments to the farm provide no moral reasons for killing someone who would be attempting to take it away from him. According to Richard Norman, attachments of this kind do not provide a reason for fighting and killing in the defense of a particular region. They are not ‘constitutive of our national identity’ and thus provide insufficient or not sufficiently fundamental reasons for valuing 6 Rodin, p. 137. 7 Not surprisingly, many patriots see a foreign occupation of their country as its (metaphorical) ‘rape’.

Killing for One’s Country


the membership of a larger group, the nation.8 If so, they cannot provide a moral reason for killing in the defense of the larger group, that is, the nation or the nationstate. The problem Norman identifies here is that of any transfer from local or regional attachments to the attachments to a whole country. If I love my farm and its surroundings, why should I love the whole of my country and all of its inhabitants? Why should then the above farm case serve as an explanatory analogy for a case of the defense of a whole state or country? These questions will be addressed in the next section. In Rodin’s view, attachments of this kind are ‘subjective’ in that they could not be ‘recognized by a neutral independent observer and also the aggressor himself provided he viewed the situation fairly and objectively’.9 The problem Rodin identifies here is that of the moral value of personal attachments to the land, its people and the common life flourishing on that land. In his view, only values recognized as such by neutral – unattached – observers can have the moral force required for universal or inter-subjective moral reasoning. The fact that I am deeply attached to my car gives me no moral reason – no reason that those unattached to that car or to cars in general can recognize as a moral reason – for using lethal force against anyone attempting to use the car without my permission. There are people who are not deeply attached to cars or farms, landscapes or countries; they are indeed neutral observers who can vouch that such attachments have no high rank or no rank at all in their hierarchy of moral values. Although this test seems plausible at first sight, it may prove to be difficult to apply the same test of a neutral and independent observer to those values which are, in Rodin’s opinion, objective moral values. Take the value of human life. Who is a neutral or unattached observer to vouch for its moral worth or its moral ranking? Only a non-human intelligence or a pathological killer is not ‘attached’ to human life. Are they called to vouch for the objectivity of the value of human life? For the purposes of Rodin’s argument, it is not sufficient to point out that the great majority of human beings value human life above any other value: universal or near-universal attachment to human life is not evidence of its moral objectivity or the required moral force but only to its widespread emotional appeal. In some societies, one could argue, there was a near universal deep attachment to their country or patria, at least among the citizens of the state. Perhaps in the city-states of ancient Greece and Renaissance Northern Italy, and in Swiss cantons, such attachments were near universal among the citizens of these states. In wars between their tiny states, the citizens appeared to have recognized the moral force of their respective patriotic/ personal attachments. Did these patriotic attachments have a moral force in these societies which they presently lack in modern and large nation-states? This question is beyond the scope of this chapter. But it leads to two interrelated questions which we shall address in the concluding section of this chapter: Why do patriotic attachments seem incompatible with universal humanism in cases of

8 Richard Norman, Ethics, Killing and War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 146. 9 Rodin, p.151.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

defensive wars? And, if patriotic attachments have no moral force, what makes so many patriots believe that they are morally praiseworthy and obligatory? 4. Defending one’s farm and defending one’s country: are there any parallels? There are at least two problems in any attempt to use the case of our farmer/defender as a basis for an analogy with a defense of a country/state from foreign attack and occupation. The first concerns the object and nature of the attachments that one forms regarding one’s country. One’s country, as an object of such attachments, we shall here call patria. The second, identified by Rodin,10 concerns the complexity of relations among the nation-states or patriae which makes any attempt to distinguish defender states from aggressor states difficult if not impossible. Modern nation-states are composed of millions of culturally diverse people inhabiting, at times only temporarily, a variety of diverse urban, semi-urban and rural settings.11 The inhabitants of a modern nation-state and their way of life bear no similarity to a group of families settled for generations on their own farms. The former, therefore, have no attachments to their patria resembling those of the farmers’ attachment to their family’s land. Yet during the twentieth century a great many citizens of, for example, France and Germany, (a) regarded their respective state as the patria which offered them and their families home and livelihood for generations and which they expected to continue in the future; (b) personally identified with the perceived interests and historical goals of their patria and, as a result, felt obliged to sacrifice their personal interests, including their lives and property, to those of their patria; (c) felt deeply attached to the whole country – they felt pride, admired and loved its diverse landscapes, even though they personally did not visit or see most of them. Their attachment to their respective patria provided both a motivation and a justification for their readiness to sacrifice their own lives (and to kill others) in what they saw as the defense of their patriae. Unlike the farmer’s attachments to his farm, which are shaped by his or her family upbringing, the patriotic attachments of the citizens of modern states are usually a result of a complex interaction of their family upbringing and the exposure to compulsory state-controlled education, patriotic media and popular patriotic literature as well as the direct political propaganda emanating from the government of their states. Such attachments appear to be products of systematic state-controlled indoctrination. Citizens thus appear to have been induced to attach themselves to ‘imagined communities’ and ‘imagined landscapes’ – in short, imagined and not real objects – while our farmer simply grew up in a community attached to its land and thus came to have a genuine attachment to a real community and landscape. But the distinction between the imagined and the real objects does not bring into question the reality of patriotic attachments themselves. Although the objects of these attachments were in a sense imagined, the attachments themselves proved to be sufficiently real to many citizens to provide them with often intense personal

10 Rodin, pp. 192–5. 11 Norman, pp. 139–41.

Killing for One’s Country


experiences of love and loyalty to their patriae as well as strong motivation for their voluntary participation in a series of wars, some of which led to huge losses of human life. The farmer’s attachment here may serve to illustrate and to explain the nature of his attachment and not of its object: the farmer’s attachment consists of interrelated networks of his beliefs about the land, his personal attitude to the land and its inhabitants and his emotions – of pride, admiration and love – concerning the land and its inhabitants. In observing the patriotic attachments of citizens of modern European states in the twentieth century, one can notice a similar set of interrelated beliefs, attitudes and emotions about the imagined object – their patria. But can our case of the farmer’s defense of his farm find a parallel in the citizens’ defense of their patria? Any attempt to draw parallels between the two would face the problem arising from the role that ordinary citizens have in the defense of their patria. Unlike our farmer/defender, ordinary citizens do not decide whether and how their patria will use lethal force against the soldiers who threaten to invade it by force. They do not decide how to deal with the potential invader/aggressor but are ordered, as soldiers, to fire or operate the weapons with the expectations that these weapons will kill at least some opposing soldiers whom the defenders may not even see. In doing what they are ordered to do, the defending soldiers are not considering the demands of the invader and are not always forced, by the enemy, to choose between meeting the demands of the invader and losing their life. Moreover, in many cases, as Norman and Rodin point out, the lives of the citizens of the invaded country are not under imminent threat and, in firing at the invading forces, they are not acting in their personal self-defense. Their situation and role appears to differ significantly from that of our farmer and his family. However, political leaders of a country who are entrusted with the protection of the freedom and lives of the citizens may face the same kind of choice as our farmer/defender.12 In virtue of their role of protectors from the imposition of foreign rule on its citizens by force, political leaders of a country threatened by invasion and occupation are forced to choose between the loss of their citizens’ lives (as a result of the invader’s attack) and fulfilling the demands of the invader/aggressor. They also have to decide how high a risk their citizens face of losing their lives and homes if they submit to the invader’s demands and how severe a restriction these demands will put on the citizens’ freedom and pursuit of livelihood. Like our farmer, the political leaders of a country threatened with invasion and occupation may decide against using lethal force in defense of their country and for the submission to the demands of the invader. This was the decision of the Czechoslovak government in 1939 and the Danish government in 1940, when faced with invasion by German armed forces. Ordinary citizens can, of course, disagree with such a decision. For example, in attacking German soldiers and officers who had occupied their country, some citizens of Denmark disagreed with their government’s decision not to use lethal force against the invaders. Obviously, in a defensive war, citizens are not 12 For a discussion of their role see Paul Gilbert, New Terror, New Wars (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2003), pp.11–15.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

reduced or restricted to the role of soldiers who follow orders of their political and military leaders. They can also decide to use lethal force against the invaders independently of the political leaders who, at the time of invasion or the threat of invasion, make decisions on their behalf. In the next section, we shall discuss a case of a resister/defender who faces some of the choices our farmer/defender does. Any attempt to draw parallels between the case of our farmer/defender and the defense of nation-states also has to face the problem arising from the present system of international relations among nation-states. Modern nation-states form alliances and confront potentially hostile non-members of their alliance by a series of threats and counter-threats. This politics of brinkmanship, Rodin argues, makes the distinction between the aggressor and the defender nation-state morally irrelevant; alternatively, its application to real-world cases is only an exercise of bad faith.13 But some nation-states do not threaten others and do not engage in the politics of brinkmanship – and yet are exposed to invasion by other nation-states. In such cases, the aggressor/defender distinction may retain some moral significance and allow us to point out morally relevant parallels with our farmer/defender case. Take, for example, the invasion of Finland by the Soviet armed forces in November 1939. The non-aggression pact between the two countries had been in force for over a decade and Finland was neither threatening the Soviet Union nor allied to its potential enemy, Germany. In March 1939 the Soviet Union started to negotiate with Finland for the cessation of Finnish territory near Leningrad (now St Petersburg), the second largest city of the Union, so as to ostensibly improve its security (the Soviet government offered a larger territory to Finland in compensation). In August 1939 the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with Nazi Germany which assigned Finland (without its knowledge or consent) to the Soviet Union’s ‘sphere of influence’. Following the refusal of Soviet demands by the Finnish government, on 26 November 1939 the Soviet government staged artillery shelling of the Soviet city of Mainila, claiming, falsely, that this was done by the Finnish army. This provided the Soviets with a pretext for the invasion of Finland on 30 November. On 1 December 1939, the Soviets also formed a puppet Communist government of the ‘Finish People’s Republic’ whose task was the take-over of Finland from the then Finnish government. The war ended on 12 March 1940 with the cession of 10 per cent of Finnish territory which contained around 20 per cent of Finnish industrial production. Over 400 000 Finnish citizens from the ceded territory (close to 100 per cent of its population) left for the unoccupied part of Finland, losing their homes and livelihood. Around 26 000 Finnish and around 130 000 Soviet soldiers died in the war.14 Rodin argues that since the Soviet demands were limited to the cessation of territory, the Finnish resistance, which involved killing Soviet soldiers, was not a defense of the lives of Finnish citizens or their defense from enslavement.15 Rodin’s 13 Rodin, pp. 193–4. 14 Carl van Dyke, The Soviet Invasion of Finland 1939–1940 (London: Frank Cass, 1997). For the estimate of Soviet losses see p. 214, note 8. 15 One could argue that the Finnish government’s decision to resist the cessation of the territory by force was not the best decision it could have reached. In retrospect it seems it

Killing for One’s Country


argument here rests on the assumption that the Finnish government defended only the territory the Soviet government demanded and nothing else.16 But if the Finnish government had good grounds to believe that, in the above case, it was defending Finnish citizens from a form of enslavement and indiscriminate killing, then their order to their citizens-soldiers to kill invading Soviet soldiers, on Rodin’s scale of values, would be justified. From the early 1930s, Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union had been killing tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of its citizens (as enemies and spies) and forcing millions to work as slaves. The Soviet occupation of east Poland in October 1939 (following the Polish defeat by Nazi Germany) led to the mass killing, mass deportations and imprisonment of Polish citizens by the Soviet forces. By forming a puppet Finnish Communist government at the outset of the war, Stalin’s government showed its intention to impose a Communist government on Finland. 17 All this would have provided good grounds to the Finnish government to believe that Stalin’s government intended to install an equally murderous government in Finland and not only to occupy a piece of Finnish territory. The moral justification of the defender’s use of lethal force, on Rodin’s model of justification, would primarily depend on the defender’s beliefs about the attacker’s intentions and the grounds he/she has for this belief. For example, if our farmer/ defender had good grounds to believe that the armed band only intends to take a small part of his farm and leave him and his family undisturbed in the other part, then, according to Rodin, he would not be morally justified in using lethal force against them. There are at least two potential problems with this model of justification. First, moral justification here depends on the defender’s subjective beliefs and the grounds that the defender has for his or her beliefs at the time and therefore lacks the ‘objectivity’ that Rodin demands of moral reasoning. Second, it is entirely up to the defender to estimate the ultimate objectives of the aggressor and, therefore, in his/her decision to use lethal force, the defender appears to be burdened with a high degree of risk of making a fatal error in decision-making. The second problem arises even if one does not agree with Rodin that moral beliefs are or should be objective (in the sense described above). Why should a defender – someone who is threatened with aggression – be obliged to establish the ultimate objectives of the aggressor who is threatening to kill him before he uses lethal force in defense? Doesn’t this requirement put the defender at an obvious disadvantage over the aggressor? Why should a defender risk the lives and freedom (from enslavement) of those whom he is protecting if he lacks sufficiently good grounds to believe that, in addition to the aggressor’s stated (and modest) demands, the aggressor is also threatening the lives and freedom of his dependents? Rodin provides no answers to these questions. would have been better for all concerned if the Finnish government had ceded the demanded territory without resistance, because that would have saved at least 150 000 lives. While this is a plausible argument, it does not show that the decision to resist was not morally justified in the circumstances in which it was made. 16 Rodin (p. 136) claims, ‘there does not seem to be any question as to the genuinely limited nature of the Soviet Union’s intentions.’ 17 The Soviet general in command of the invasion of Finland, in his call to his troops to annihilate the Finnish army, claimed that his army’s goal was to ‘free the Finnish People from the clutches of landowners and capitalists’ (van Dyke, p. 27).


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

At least in some cases, political leaders of a country faced with military invasion are forced to choose between the likely enslavement and unlawful killing of their dependents (citizens) by the invader and resisting the invaders by lethal force. Under these conditions, their choice to do the latter may be justified as collective selfdefense on the analogy with the above case of a farmer’s collective self-defense. Let us consider now a case of patriotic resistance to foreign invasion and occupation which cannot be justified by an analogy with this case of collective self-defense. 5. Killing for patriotic reasons Here is an imaginary case in which a defender uses lethal force without being exposed to any threats to her life or the life of her dependents or to the threats of their enslavement. The case corresponds to the situation of Danish citizens who decided to join various resistance groups in their country, following the peaceful occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany in 1940.18 A country has been peacefully occupied by its neighbor’s military forces following the decision of its political leaders not to resist the occupation. The occupier in general abides by the pre-occupation civil laws and allows the native government to maintain law and order. The occupier does not threaten the lives or civil rights of the citizens unless they resist. Therefore, one can argue that the occupier has not enslaved or ‘kidnapped’ these citizens but has denied them, by force, wide and important areas of political selfgovernment. Yet our defender decides of her own free will to join a resistance group,19 and as a resistance fighter kills an officer or officers of the occupying force targeted by her resistance group.

The foreign military, she claims, has taken away and subjugated her beloved country. She wants to liberate it from the foreign occupier and the only way to do it is to kill or to use lethal force against the occupying military forces. Her killing is, in her view, the means of last resort against the occupation of her beloved country. Since the legal and democratic government of her country submitted to the invasion without resistance (because it would have been too costly in human lives and destruction of property) and did not instruct its citizens to resist, the duty she

18 See D.A. Lande, Resistance! Occupied Europe and its Defiance of Hitler (New York: MBI Publishing Company, 2000), ch. 3. 19 Patriotic motives for joining a resistance force in occupied Europe probably greatly differed among individuals. The unnamed narrator in Albert Camus’ The Fall describes his experience in German-occupied Paris as follows: ‘I was tempted by the Resistance, about which people were beginning to talk just around the time I discovered I was patriotic. I made my discovery in the Metro passages … A dog had strayed into the labyrinth … he was cavorting and sniffing at the legs of passersby. […] I called this one, who hesitated, obviously won over, wagging his tail … Just then, a young German soldier … passed me. Having reached the dog, he caressed the shaggy head. Without hesitating the animal fell in step … and disappeared with him. From the resentment and the sort of rage I felt against the German soldier, it was clear to me that my reaction was patriotic.’ (The Fall, trans. J. O’Brien (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1963), pp. 89–90).

Killing for One’s Country


performed was not that of a law-abiding citizen but of a patriot. As we have seen in the beginning of the chapter, the duty of a (fighting) patriot is to resist the subjugation of her patria by foreigners, if necessary by lethal force. This duty, in her view, arises from and reflects the love and loyalty of patriots to their patria, as analyzed above. Her compatriots regard her decision and her killing as a praiseworthy exercise of her patriotic duty although many of them fail to join resistance groups and fail to perform that particular patriotic duty. Those who fail to perform this or any other less murderous patriotic duties either do not sufficiently love their country or other considerations (such as the fear of punishment or aversion to killing) and other principles or norms (such as the humanist prohibition against killing) override their patriotic duties. But for many people, at least in the European and North American countries, patriotic duties, in the time of war, override any other moral norms or principles that clash with such patriotic duties. Many people who otherwise refuse to kill are willing to kill enemies for patriotic reasons. Moreover, in some cases patriots of one country can recognize that the same reasons justify at least some acts performed by their opponents or enemies. A neutral observer who owes loyalty to none of these countries can evaluate, in a case of war, to what extent their citizens fulfilled their patriotic duties. This suggests that patriotic duties, at least for patriots, carry a certain moral force which can be recognized even by those who are in no way attached to that particular patria. Universal humanism, at least in the version which Rodin advocates, rejects this view of patriotic duty for either of the following two reasons: that patriotic duty is not a moral duty at all, or that the patriotic duty in such cases lacks sufficient moral force to override the universal humanist prohibition of homicide. The first implies that a patriot who kills an occupier in a situation in which she is not defending her life or the life of her dependents commits not only a morally impermissible act but also a category mistake by confusing patriotic with moral duties. The second implies only that the patriot is overestimating the moral force of her patriotic duty in this particular type of case. A patriot may indeed be morally obliged or permitted, as a patriot, to prefer her country and countrymen and women to other countries and their inhabitants when confronted with choices that do not involve killing or the use of lethal force. But there is no moral duty to kill people who are not engaging in killing or threatening to kill innocent people; on the contrary, according to universal humanism of this kind, there is a universal duty not to kill in such circumstances. Therefore, our patriot wrongly thought that her patriotic attachments to her country can override the universal moral prohibition of killing. Indeed, one can argue that while one’s personal attachments provide moral reasons for some kind of discriminatory conduct (preferring people or goods from one’s own country to others), such personal attachments provide no moral reasons for killing anyone. If one is attached to one’s car or house, this attachment, on its own, cannot justify the killing of someone who attempts to take the car or the house away. On this analogy, one’s attachment to one’s patria, on its own, cannot justify the killing of someone who is occupying, by force, that patria. In order to reject patriotic attachment to one’s country as a moral reason for killing, one does not need to accept universal humanism and its prohibition of killing outside the context


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

of self-defense. One needs only to accept that killing cannot be justified20 by the (potential) killer’s personal attachments including those of the patriotic kind. But why would anyone overestimate the moral force of one’s patriotic duty or even confuse that duty with other moral duties? Why are people ready to believe that there is a moral patriotic duty to kill foreign occupiers? There are at least two reasons that may lead patriots to believe this. The first reason is found in the conception of justice that is tacitly incorporated in the patriotic conception of one’s patria. Patria is, in the patriotic conception, a country ruled by its natives who love it as their patria. In short, a patria should be ruled only by patriots: any other political arrangement is unjust.21 When a country is occupied by force, it is not only removed from the patriots who love it but it is subject to an injustice that patriots need to rectify. Rectification of an injustice is a morally right act. In the view of many patriots this is the gravest injustice that can be committed against their country and its patriots. In many cases of military occupation, killing members of the occupying forces is the only way of rectifying this injustice. Hence if one is killing someone in order to rectify the gravest injustice (which can be rectified only in this way), one is acting for a morally right reason. This argument from patriotic justice attempts to explain why patriotic reasons for killing occupiers are moral reasons. But, contrary to the patriotic argument, foreign occupation of a country is not the gravest injustice that could be inflicted on that country and its patriots. Moreover, foreign occupation may not even be unjust either in a moral or a political sense. For example, foreign occupation may result in one or both of the following: it may remove a murderous regime which was killing its citizens (such as Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union or the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia) and/or it may establish liberal democratic political institutions and the rule of law. One could argue that, in the first case, foreign occupation is morally praiseworthy because it stopped and prevented the murder of innocents. In the second case, one could argue, foreign occupation led to politically just outcomes (which may or may not be morally praiseworthy). If so, one could further argue that foreign occupation in such cases was neither morally impermissible nor politically unjust. And yet even in such cases fighting patriots may (and do) resist, by lethal force, foreign occupation. For them foreign occupation is unjust, regardless of any otherwise beneficial outcomes that it may bring. If so, their view of patriotic justice clearly does not correspond to other, non-patriotic, conceptions of moral or political 20 Such personal attachments may, in some situations, excuse using lethal force or killing. 21 The patriotic view resembles but is not equivalent to the popular doctrine of selfdetermination (enshrined in several UN General Assembly resolutions) according to which all peoples have a right to self-determination. The doctrine of self-determination is notoriously vague. It fails to specify how to identify the self-determining people (for example, it fails to specify who are the people holding this right in multinational countries) or how this selfdetermining should be performed. However vague it is, this doctrine does not imply that the rulers of any country should only be those who love that country as patriots. In many cases of UN-approved self-determination, former colonies came to be ruled by those who favored their personal wealth or power and not their country. These are self-determining countries or peoples whose rulers are not patriots.

Killing for One’s Country


justice such as those above. Therefore, this conception of patriotic justice does not enable the fighting patriots to infer that their patriotic reasons for killing are universally acceptable moral reasons. The second reason for overestimating the moral force of patriotic reasons may be found in the radical altruism of some patriots, that is, in their readiness to sacrifice their lives in the liberation of their country from foreign occupation. By joining the resistance group, our defender/resistance fighter is showing her readiness to die for the liberation of her country: she thereby ranks the value of the liberation of her country higher than her own life (and the life of her compatriots and of occupiers). Since her life is a moral value, her ranking of her life lower than the liberation of her country appears to be a ranking of moral values. Her choice to kill an occupier also reflects her ranking of moral values – the value of the life of an occupier is, for her, lower than the liberation of her country. But her ranking the liberation of her country on the same scale as her own life and the life of occupiers does not transform the liberation of her country into a universal moral value; her ranking shows not that occupiers’ lives are morally less valuable than the liberation of her country but that she values the occupiers’ lives less than the liberation of her country. The liberation of her country even on her scale of values still remains what it is – a political situation in which the foreign occupiers are removed from the control of her country. Her ranking of her own life and the lives of occupiers as less valuable than the liberation of her country does not make the latter a universal moral value. Killing for the sake of the liberation of her country is not, thereby, killing for the sake of preserving or maintaining a universal moral value. Neither the radical altruism that our defender/resistance fighter displays nor the conception of justice she assumes show that her patriotic reasons for her killing of an occupying soldier are universally morally valid reasons. Patriotic values may, however, be political: by removing foreign occupiers through the use of lethal force, fighting patriots are aiming at establishing or reestablishing the political conditions which they believe to be just. If the control of a country is returned to native patriots and foreign occupiers leave, the patriots’ object of love – their country – would be returned to them. If so, our defender/ resistance fighter is engaged in killing foreign occupiers in order to establish just political conditions which would also restore to her and her compatriots their object of love. If so, her reasons for killing a foreign occupier are found in her patriotic attachments interlinked with her political beliefs. Her patriotism, it turns out, is an attitude and an emotion underwritten by a rather simple political belief in the injustice of foreign occupation. Her compatriots often share her political belief – that the foreign occupation of their country is unjust – and regard her attitude and emotion towards their country admirable and noble although their own emotions towards their country may not be as strong as hers. Her radical altruism – her readiness to die for the liberation of their country – may indeed appear particularly noble because it promises to deliver to them the benefits for which they themselves are not ready to die. Her compatriots would probably find such radical altruism less than noble and admirable when displayed, in wartime or armed conflict, by their enemies or opponents. Let us imagine, for the sake of argument, that the roles are reversed and


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

her country’s armed forces occupy another country. A patriot from the occupied country risks his life in order to kill an occupying soldier from our resister/defender’s country. Would compatriots of our resister/defender consider this case of radical altruism with the same admiration and approval? Very likely not. For them readiness to die in fighting their own compatriots/soldiers is not as admirable as readiness to die for the liberation of their own country. If so, radical altruism of this kind does not appear to them a universal moral value or morally praiseworthy quality. If this is how they view this quality, our resister/defender’s act of killing an occupier, in which she displays this quality, is then not a universally morally praiseworthy act. Using lethal force against – and killing – soldiers attempting to invade and take over control of one’s country can be justified, at least in some cases, by reference to the need for the collective defense of the territory and its population. Therefore, for the purpose of moral justification of these acts, it is not necessary to refer to any patriotic attachments or reasons. Moreover, there is at least some doubt that patriotic reasons for killing in such circumstances are moral reasons or reasons with a morally overriding force. Rather, patriotic reasons for killing in such situations appear to be political reasons in so far as they refer to the political outcomes that such killing is expected to bring about. Killing for one’s country may indeed be an expression of love and of frustration at the removal of the object of patriotic love. But it is also a political act, aiming at a political outcome. It is not, necessarily, an act that can be justified by universal moral considerations.22

22 I am grateful to Igor Primoratz for suggestions that greatly improved the coherence of this chapter.

Bibliography There is a rich literature on the history, sociology and psychology of patriotism. This list includes only books, book chapters, and journal articles in philosophy and political theory published in English and discussing conceptual and normative issues to do with patriotism. Articles marked with an asterisk are reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Patriotism, Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002. David Archard, ‘Three Ways to Be a Good Patriot’, Public Affairs Quarterly 9 (1995), 101–13. ——, ‘Should We Teach Patriotism?’, Studies in Philosophy and Education 18 (1999), 157–73. Richard J. Arneson, ‘Do Patriotic Ties Limit Global Justice Duties?’, Journal of Ethics 9 (2005), 127–50. Sidney Axinn, ‘Honor, Patriotism, and Ultimate Loyalty’, in Avner Cohen (ed.), Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity, Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1986, 273–88. ——, ‘Loyalty and the Limits of Patriotism’, in Kenneth Kipnis and Diana T. Meyers (eds), Political Realism and International Morality, Boulder, CO and London: Westview Press, 1987, 239–50. Veit Bader, ‘For Love of Country’, Political Theory 27 (1999), 379–97. ——, ‘Reasonable Impartiality and Priority for Compatriots: A Criticism of Liberal Nationalism’s Main Flaws’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (2005), 83–103. * Marcia Baron, ‘Patriotism and “Liberal” Morality’, in David Weissbord (ed.), Mind, Value, and Culture, Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview Publishing, 1989, 269–300. Charles Beitz, ‘Cosmopolitan Ideals and National Sentiment’, Journal of Philosophy 80 (1983), 591–600. Harry Brighouse, ‘Justifying Patriotism’, Social Theory and Practice 32 (2006), 547–58. Eamonn Callan, ‘Love, Idolatry, and Patriotism’, Social Theory and Practice 32 (2006), 525–46. Margaret Canovan, ‘“Breathes There the Man, with Soul So Dead …”: Reflections on Patriotic Poetry and Liberal Principles’, in John Horton and Andrea T. Baumeister (eds), Literature and the Political Imagination, London and New York: Routledge, 1996, 170–97. * ——, ‘Patriotism Is Not Enough’, British Journal of Political Science 30 (2000), 413–32.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Joshua Cohen (ed.), For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1996. Christian Coons, ‘Wellman’s “Reductive” Justifications for Redistributive Policies that Favor Compatriots’, Ethics 111 (2001/2002), 782–8. John Cottingham, ‘Ethics and Impartiality’, Philosophical Studies 43 (1983), 83–99. ——, ‘Partiality, Favouritism and Morality’, Philosophical Quarterly 36 (1986), 357–73. Ciaran Cronin, ‘Democracy and Collective Identity: In Defence of Constitutional Patriotism’, European Journal of Philosophy 11 (2003), 1–28. Richard Dagger, ‘Rights, Boundaries, and the Bonds of Community: A Qualified Defense of Moral Parochialism’, American Political Science Review 79 (1985), 436–47. * Mary G. Dietz, ‘Patriotism’, in Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell L. Hanson (eds), Political Innovation and Conceptual Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989, 177–93. Daniel Dombrowski, ‘On Why Patriotism Is Not a Virtue’, International Journal of Applied Philosophy 7 (1992), 1–4. Driver, Julia, ‘Cosmopolitan Virtue’, Social Theory and Practice 33 (2007), 595–608. George P. Fletcher, Loyalty: An Essay on the Morality of Relationships, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Robert K. Fullinwider, ‘The New Patriotism’, in Claudia Mills (ed.), Values and Public Policy, Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992, 449–54. James Gaffney, ‘Patriotism: Virtue or Vice?’, Philosophy and Theology 8 (1993), 129–47. (A revised version is reprinted in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Politics and Morality, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.) Alan Gewirth, ‘Ethical Universalism and Particularism’, Journal of Philosophy 85 (1988), 283– 302. * Paul Gomberg, ‘Patriotism Is Like Racism’, Ethics 101 (1990/91), 144–50. ——, ‘Universalism and Optimism’, Ethics 104 (1993/94), 536–57. * Robert E. Goodin, ‘What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?’, Ethics 98 (1988/89), 663–86. (Reprinted in Robert E. Goodin, Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.) Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity’, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, trans. W. Rehg, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998, 491–515. Martin Hughes, ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’, Cogito 3 (1989), 98–104. * Attracta Ingram, ‘Constitutional Patriotism’, Philosophy and Social Criticism 22 (1996), 1–18. George Kateb, ‘Is Patriotism a Mistake?’, Social Research 67 (2000), 901–24. (Reprinted in George Kateb, Patriotism and Other Mistakes, Ithaca, NY: Yale University Press, 2006.) Simon Keller, ‘Patriotism as Bad Faith’, Ethics 115 (2004/2005), 563–92. (A shorter version is reprinted in Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković (eds), Identity, Self-Determination and Secession, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.) ——, The Limits of Loyalty, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, chapters 3–4.



——, ‘Are Patriotism and Universalism Compatible?’, Social Theory and Practice 33 (2007), 609–24. ——, ‘Making Nonsense of Loyalty to Country’, in Boudewijn de Bruin and Chris Zurn (eds), New Waves in Political Philosophy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming). Klampfer, Friderik, ‘Can the Appeal to the Intrinsic Value of Citizenship Really Help Us Justify Special Duties to Compatriots?’, in P. Kampits, K. Kokai and A. Weiberg (eds), Applied Ethics: Proceedings of the 21st International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg am Wechsel: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 1998, vol. 1, 358–63. Pauline Kleingeld, ‘Kantian Patriotism’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (2000), 313–41. ——, ‘Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism’, Kant-Studien 94 (2003), 299–316. Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘The Magic in the Pronoun “My”’, Ethics 94 (1983/84), 113–25. * ——, Is Patriotism a Virtue? Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 1984. ——, After Virtue, 2nd edn, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, chapter 15. Andrew Mason, ‘Special Obligations to Compatriots’, Ethics 107 (1996/97), 427–47. * David McCabe, ‘Patriotic Gore, Again’, Southern Journal of Philosophy 35 (1997), 203–23. Mertens, Thomas, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Citizenship: Kant against Habermas’, European Journal of Philosophy 4 (1996), 328–47. Frank L. Michelman, ‘Morality, Identity and “Constitutional Patriotism”’, Ratio Juris 14 (2001), 253–70. David Miller, ‘Reasonable Partiality towards Compatriots’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (2005), 63–81. Richard W. Miller, ‘Killing for the Homeland: Patriotism, Nationalism and Violence’, Journal of Ethics 1 (1997), 165–85. * ——, ‘Cosmopolitan Respect and Patriotic Concern’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (1998), 202–24. D.H. Monro, ‘Archbishop Fénelon versus My Mother’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 28 (1950), 154–73. Phillip Montague, ‘Patriotism and Political Obligation’, Journal of Social Philosophy 25 (1994), 44–56. Jan-Werner Müller, Constitutional Patriotism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. * Stephen Nathanson, ‘In Defense of “Moderate Patriotism”’, Ethics 99 (1988/89), 535–52. * ——, ‘Is Patriotism Like Racism?’, American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience 91 (1992), no. 2, 9–12. ——, Patriotism, Morality and Peace, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993. ——, ‘Nationalism, Patriotism, and Toleration’, Synthesis Philosophica 9 (1994), 135–52. * Andrew Oldenquist, ‘Loyalties’, Journal of Philosophy 79 (1982), 173–93.


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Omid A. Payrow Shabani, ‘Who’s Afraid of Constitutional Patriotism? The Binding Source of Citizenship in Constitutional States’, Social Theory and Practice 28 (2002), 419–43. * Igor Primoratz, ‘Patriotism: Morally Allowed, Required, or Valuable?’, in Nenad Miscevic (ed.), Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Philosophical Perspectives, Chicago and LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 2000, 101–13. —— (ed.), Patriotism, Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002. ——, ‘Patriotism: A Deflationary View’, The Philosophical Forum 33 (2002), 443–58. ——, ‘Patriotism: Mundane and Ethical’, Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (2004), 81–98. (Reprinted in Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavković (eds), Identity, Self-Determination and Secession, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.) * John H. Schaar, ‘The Case for Patriotism’, Legitimacy in the Modern State, New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Books, 1981, 285–311. Samuel Scheffler, Boundaries and Allegiances: Problems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Henry Shue, ‘Mediating Duties’, Ethics 98 (1987/88), 687–704. Peter Singer, One World: The Ethics of Globalization, Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2002, chapter 5. John Somerville, ‘Patriotism and War’, Ethics 91 (1980/81), 568–78. F.M. Stawell, ‘Patriotism and Humanity’, International Journal of Ethics, vol. 25 (1914/15), 292–306. Kok-Chor Tan, Justice without Borders: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Patriotism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, chapters 7–10. Charles Taylor, ‘Cross-Purposes: The Liberal-Communitarian Debate’, in Nancy L. Rosenblum (ed.), Liberalism and the Moral Life, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989, 159–82. (Reprinted in Charles Taylor, Philosophical Arguments, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.) Mark Tushnet, ‘Forms of Judicial Review as Expressions of Constitutional Patriotism’, Law and Philosophy 22 (2003), 353–79. Toon Vandevelde, ‘Communitarianism and Patriotism’, Ethical Perspectives 4 (1997), 180–90. Andrew Vincent, Nationalism and Particularity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, chapter 5. Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. * Michael Walzer, ‘Civility and Civic Virtue in Contemporary America’, Social Research 41 (1974), 593–611. ——, ‘What Does it Mean to Be an American?’, Social Research 57 (1990), 591–614. Christopher Heath Wellman, ‘Relational Facts in Liberal Political Theory: Is There Magic in the Pronoun “My”?’, Ethics 110 (1999/2000), 537–62. ——, ‘Friends, Compatriots, and Special Political Obligations’, Political Theory 29 (2001), 217– 36. John White, ‘Patriotism without Obligation’, Journal of Philosophy of Education 35 (2001), 141–51.

Index Aldington, Richard, 31 American Civil War, 130, 149 American Revolution, 117 anarchism, see patriotism: and anarchism, philosophical anarchism ancestors, duties to, 8–9, 147–59; see also patriotic duties Anderson, Benedict, 189, 194 anti-patriotism, 75, 76, 80, 86, 87, 90–91 Arendt, Hannah, 97, 100, 205n Aristotle, 100, 144 Arnold, Benedict, 42 Baier, Annette, 47 Bakunin, Mikhail Alexandrovich, 207, 211 Barber, Benjamin, 164 Baron, Marcia, 24, 25, 32, 63, 64n, 165 Berkman, Alexander, 207 bioregionalism, 193, 204 Böll, Heinrich, 100 Boswell, James, 18–19 Breines, Wini, 174 Bull, Hedley, 184, 193 Burke, Edmund, 159 Cassirer, Ernst, 120 Cavour, Count, 19, 20 chauvinism, 7, 48, 213 citizenship, 50, 84, 104, 121, 123, 129n, 133, 135, 138, 139, 144–5, 175, 177–81, 183, 186, 188, 190, 192, 194, 199, 201, 211 class, 202, 205, 209, 210–16 collective responsibility, 97, 98, 107, 108 communitarianism, 1, 22, 26, 27, 28, 148, 190, 197 Conca, Ken, 196 concentric circles model, 9–10, 164, 165, 175–81 constitutional patriotism, see patriotism: constitutional

cosmopolitanism, 5, 7, 10, 23, 25, 47, 48, 75, 78, 79–85, 86, 90–91, 97, 125, 158, 177, 181, 184, 193, 194 Cottingham, John, 165 Cronin, Ciaran, 104 Darre, Richard Walter, 197 Decatur, Stephen, 20n, 139n democracy, 11, 96, 103, 107, 117–18, 120–23, 134, 135, 142, 188, 191, 199, 201, 208 Denmark, German occupation of, 227, 230 Dietz, Mary, 131, 132, 186 Eckersley, Robyn, 10–11 environmentalism, see patriotism: and environmentalism ethnic/cultural minorities, 48, 80, 115, 123, 143, 191 European identity, 8, 114, 122, 124, 125, 127 European Union, 6, 7, 113, 116, 119, 123, 126 executive virtue, 3, 38 family, 9, 10, 21, 24, 26n, 39, 46, 48, 65, 77, 78, 120, 137, 149, 163, 164, 165, 173, 175–9, 181, 222, 223, 224, 226 fascism, 99, 101, 105, 197 Feinberg, Joel, 49n, 151 feminism, 164, 173, 174 Fortuyn, Pim, 114, 115, 117 French Revolution, 117–18, 131 Fried, Amy, 186 Friedman, Marilyn, 169 Fuchs, Klaus, 42 German Constitutional Court, 98, 99, 101, 121–2 Goldman, Emma, 207, 210n


Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives

Gomberg, Paul, 9–10, 164–6, 169 Goodin, Robert, 193 gratitude, 1, 27, 28–9, 51n, 148–50 Habermas, Jürgen, 6, 7–8, 9, 96, 98, 102–6, 108–9, 110, 120–21, 125n, 126–8, 131, 132, 140–44, 158–9, 188–90, 192, 204 Hage, Chassan, 198 Hirschman, Albert, 41, 42, 51 Holocaust, 96, 102, 109, 140 Holocaust identity, 106 homelessness, 10, 179–81 Horton, Keith, 4–5, 71–2 human rights, 80, 123, 126, 143, 189 International Criminal Court, 80, 81 Ignatieff, Michael, 109 immigrants, 115, 130, 133 Jackson, Fredrick Turner, 199 Jaspers, Karl, 7, 96–8, 99, 106, 107, 109 Jecker, Nancy, 150 Johnson, Samuel, 18–19 Keller, Simon, 4–5, 6, 55–62, 78 King, Martin Luther, 166–8 Kleinig, John, 3–4, 6 Kohlberg, Lawrence, 103 Koskenniemi, Marti, 110 Kropotkin, Peter, 207, 211 Kymlicka, Will, 177–8 Lee, Robert E., 42 liberal nationalism, 95, 96, 110 liberalism, 1, 20, 131, 132, 134–5, 147, 148, 151, 156–7, 202, 212, 213, 216 Lincoln, Abraham, 149–50, 154, 155 Loewenstein, Karl, 7, 100–101 loyalty, 3, 8, 9–10, 37–42, 44–53, 59, 65, 67, 73, 122n Maastricht Treaty, 116, 117–25 Machiavelli, Niccolo, 2, 19–20, 129 MacIntyre, Alasdair, 1, 20–27, 32, 64, 76–7, 122n, 137n, 184, 185, 188 McCabe, David, 169n, 176, 181 McIntosh, Peggy, 169–70 McRae, John, 147 Mertens, Thomas, 7

metaphysical guilt, 97 militant democracy, 96, 100, 110 Miller, David, 87, 147, 148 moral taint, 34 Müller, Jan-Werner, 7 Mussolini, Benito, 99 Nathanson, Stephen, 5, 6, 9, 24, 25, 26n, 32, 63, 64, 67, 70, 164, 165–9, 177n, 178n nationalism, 2, 7, 8, 9, 44, 117, 118, 126, 130–31, 141, 142, 173, 185, 197, 198, 199, 212; see also patriotism: and nationalism Nazism/National Socialism, 101, 102, 105, 106, 197 Nolte, Ernst, 140, 141 Norman, Richard, 224–5, 227 Nozick, Robert, 152 Oldenquist, Andrew, 175, 192 Patriot Act, 2001, 187 patriotic duties, 5–6, 8, 86, 89, 219, 231; see also ancestors, duties to patriotism and anarchism, 11–12, 201–17 and bad faith, 4, 5, 55–62, 64, 69, 71–2, 78–9 and bias, 4–5, 55–62, 71–3 capitalist, 186 as cause of war/conflict, 1, 11, 23, 24, 76, 79, 81, 85, 143, 190, 210, 220n constitutional, 2, 6–9, 11, 95–111, 117, 119–28, 141, 144, 158, 188–9, 192, 204 definition of, 3, 5, 9, 17–18, 43–4, 63–7, 148, 158, 202–6 and environmentalism, 10–11, 183–200, 204 ethical, 3, 32–4 European constitutional patriotism, 7, 8, 114, 122, 124, 125, 127, 128 and exclusion, 2, 11, 23, 24, 44, 84, 120, 124, 127, 128, 130, 143, 177, 179, 190, 196, 198, 201, 215, 221 extreme, 3, 5, 20, 22, 24–5, 32, 34, 76, 80, 82–4, 85 and human flourishing, 45–9 and intolerance, 115, 124, 127, 128 and killing, 11–12, 219–34

Index and militarism/militancy, 1, 75, 76, 96, 110 moderate, 2, 3, 5, 24–7, 31–2, 33, 63, 67, 70, 75, 76, 77, 80–86, 87, 88, 90–91, 164, 165, 212–13, 216 as moral vice, 56n, 83, 85, 195; see also patriotism: and bad faith as moral virtue, 3–5, 12, 20–22, 25n, 30–31, 51–2, 55, 56, 75, 85–6, 91, 130, 185, 187, 211; see also loyalty and nationalism, 3, 17–18, 31, 43, 129–45, 148, 149, 188, 190, 195, 210 as obligatory, 3, 4, 5, 25–31, 32–4, 37, 49–51, 85–6, 156–9 and political opposition/dissent, 22, 43, 51–2, 63, 68, 76 and racism, 9–10, 31, 164–6; see also racism as sense of collective responsibility, 31, 33–4, 63, 67 and social solidarity, 42, 44–5, 49, 79, 102, 210, 184, 188 and the state, 11, 18, 46, 100, 110, 124, 136, 189, 192, 202, 203, 209–11, 213, 216, 221n utilitarian justification of, 30, 88–90, 91, 165, 166 Pavković, Aleksandar, 12, 83n philosophical anarchism, 156 Pinsky, Robert, 177n, 179 Pol Pot, 232 political guilt, 97 political obligation, 28, 138 political realism, 17 Poole, Ross, 8, 10 Primoratz, Igor, 3, 5, 63, 64, 67, 85, 87, 88, 89–90, 148, 158 racism/racial loyalty, 63, 166–72; see also patriotism: and racism and sexism, 172–5 Rawls, John, 1, 151 republicanism, 100, 131–2, 141, 200, 215, 216 Rich, Adrienne, 174 Robin, Libby, 199 Rodin, David, 220, 222–9, 231


Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 123, 131, 177 Russian Revolution, 140, 217 Sartre, Jean-Paul, 71–2 Scarry, Elaine, 163, 179 Schaar, John H., 131, 132 Schmitt, Carl, 98, 101, 118, 123n self-determination, 43, 114, 117, 118, 120, 217, 232n sexism, 192–5 Simmons, A.J., 156–7 Smend, Rudolf, 7, 98–9 sovereignty, 117, 155, 210 national, 89, 119, 189 popular, 103, 120, 121, 143 state, 189 Soviet-Finnish War, 222, 228–9 Sparrow, Rob, 11–12 special obligations, 24, 50, 77, 82, 85, 157 Spelman, Elizabeth, 174 Sternberger, Dolf, 6, 7, 98, 99–100, 102, 103, 104, 106, 109, 110, 120 substantive virtue, 3, 38 supererogatory virtue, 30–31 Sullivan, John, 186 Tamir, Yael, 139 Tan, Kok-Chor, 25n Taylor, Charles, 152, 189, 191, 198 Thompson, Janna, 8, 9 Tolstoy, Leo, 23, 24, 76–7, 79, 85, 87 Townley, Cynthia, 9–10 universal humanism, 12, 219–20, 225, 231 universalism, 1, 23, 25, 63, 76–7, 78, 111, 126, 135–6, 137, 189, 202, 213, 214 Vietnam War, 53 Viroli, Maurizio, 28, 130n, 131–2, 190, 195 Waldron, Jeremy, 180 Weber, Eugen, 118 Weber, Max, 97, 100 Weiler, Joseph H.H., 116, 124–5, 127, 128 Yack, Bernard, 195 Young, Iris Marion, 163, 177, 178, 179, 180