Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Sunday, July 6, 2008


It is fair to say that I am not a patriot. In fact, I consider patriotism a remnant from ye old, uncivilized times, only one step removed from bashing the other guy over the head with a rock.

Part of the reason I feel like this is upbringing. My family comes from all over Europe: My father from (then) Yugoslavia, my Grandmother from the Sudetenland, etc. etc. My big sister was born in Germany before my parents moved to Austria. Furthermore, in Austria it is mostly (at least in my social circle) considered bad taste to be a patriot - we have unfortunately shown the world where that leads if taken too far.

But the biggest part of the reason I detest patriotism comes from (I hope) rational reasoning. The Merriam Webster's dictionary defines patriotism as:

pa·tri·ot·ism \ˈpā-trē-ə-ˌti-zəm, noun circa 1726: love for or devotion to one's country

So in effect, patriotism means being proud of having been born within the arbitrarily drawn borders of a patch of land. Congratulations!

To expatiate: I do not think that one can or should be proud of something which one achieved by chance. Happy, yes. I am quite happy to have been born in Austria and not in Sudan, for example. But proud? Am I proud of myself if I find a hundred Euros on the street? Am I proud of the hundred Euros, for having the good chance to be found by me?

I think not. I think patriotism is a vulgar sentiment, which only exists to bolster our feeling of superiority about those others, those foreigners. Patriotism makes it easier to close our borders to the unwashed masses, easier to punch those bastards who have the audacity to support the team of their own country instead of ours, easier to shoot those not of our tribe.

Humans of all nations should do well to remember that nations are first of all constructs of organization - there to collect taxes, build roads and protect us from the horror of GMO's or radiation or whatever the scary technology of the week is - and not some mystical entities imbued with all that is good and holy.

So when you are waving your countries flag while swilling beer on your nation's national holiday, think about all those billions of foreigners who have the same feeling of superiority as you do, even tough their flags sport different colours. They are in the majority, you know.


  1. Interesting post! I responded on my blog... so thanks for dragging out yet another post out of me. I should resort to buying knives and taking pictures of them, but then I wouldn't know what to do with all that! Everytime I think, hey, maybe I should look up Boris and say hi the next time I'm in Lausanne, you post up a new knife. Very effective deterrent!

  2. I totally agree with you and couldn't have put it better. I'll probably link to this post from my blog at some point!

  3. Thank you both! But adwoa, there is no need to be afraid of my knives - the only one that ever was injured by them was I...

  4. I like the term scary technology of the week... very well said!