Patriotism- Is it necessary/ethical?
#1
This thread was initiated in relation to a discussion on the FB group. Since the subject comes up every few weeks, I thought it would be good to have the discussion here. Here are the first few comments from the recent discussion. I will post my thoughts on the issue below.

Quote:Anita Jose
Is patriotism necessary? Isn't it also mostly based on accidents of birth just like religion.. I'm generally not a very patriotic person. I don't have a 'special' love towards 'my land' or 'my fellow countrymen' than any other place or any other person on earth. I tend to see the whole world as equal and I actually like the idea. Is there something wrong in that? Am I missing something..? I'm a little confused on this..
And why I'm posting this is because I feel atheism promotes this idea, it removes a lot of differences and brings everyone together..Just a vague thought.
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Quote:Arvind Iyer The utility of nationhood and freethinkers' attitudes towards the same are touched upon here : http://nirmukta.com/2009/05/11/hinduism-...ment-28431
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Quote:Pratap Mohan Patriotism is the good feeling of being part of a group and feeling that the group is good because we are in it. Therefore patriotic feeling is akin to ego, nothing more. The confusion is the normal labour pain of coming out of the long standing societal standards. Country is similar to a larger tribe to which allegiance is automatically expected. As one gets out of this frame of mind - one feels that all humans are same. remember we are all Africans. Atheism is about embracing facts. Patriotism is political boundary thrust upon us by those who wish to have larger territory to rule on. On the other hand we need to define boundaries for us and others so that there is safety (survival) in keeping within our territories and defend when others breach it.
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Quote:Kanad Kanhere ‎// Patriotism is the good feeling of being part of a group and feeling that the group is good because we are in it.//
Isn't this circular logic?

//On the other hand we need to define boundaries for us and others so that there is safety (survival) in keeping within our territories and defend when others breach it.//
Haven't we progressed enough to be liberated from such primeval concepts
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"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#2
Evolution is the common thing, however humans migrated to different parts of the world and adapted to different environments. Hence we have different languages and cultures. You just can't be all packed in one.

It is necessary to be patriotic -- you know who you are, your history and your people. Say your dream is to spread freethought in our country. You better earn our trust, and being patriotic would help you connect with us better. Dawkins with his cultural background would have a tough time haranguing in our country.

Borders could be seen as something that divides people, but on the other hand it helps in preserving identitiy and diversity. Helps keep the world organized. And even promotes healthy competition in different fields which is the pivot of progress. Politicians should see to that this doesn't get out of control jeopardizing global harmony.

Even if the final goal is global integration, it has to happen gradually in the form of knowledge sharing. We live in the age of globalization where the knowledge sharing is much faster and easier, thanks to the progress in technology. So people no longer have to cross seven seas or mountains to get to know about another country and its people.

I'm not sure if anyone over here has watched the series "the human weapon" aired on the history channel. The monks on the show performed some stunts that simply defied physics. It simply made me doubt the so called progress made by humanity in the field of science or probably modern science was ignoring something.

I have a pluralistic approach and I believe in preserving traditions. I believe that human diversity is a part of bio-diversity that should be preserved. I may not be a patriot, but I don't have any problems with people who are patriotic, peaceful and not dogmatic.





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#3
I will paraphrase what Ajita used to say about patriotism - Being patriotic is about caring for people around you, being proud of what they've accomplished. It is different from nationalism which is what patriotism usually means (Mera Bharat Mahan, The Greatest Culture, Mother of All Civilizations etc...). Nationalism is what is reprehensible.

(22-Jan-2012, 03:23 PM)screech Wrote: It is necessary to be patriotic -- you know who you are, your history and your people. Say your dream is to spread freethought in our country. You better earn our trust, and being patriotic would help you connect with us better. Dawkins with his cultural background would have a tough time haranguing in our country.

There's an assumption of cultural homogeneity in there. Not all of us have the same “patriotism”. Even though some of us were “patriotic”, we still had many questions about religion, and Dawkins' or Sagan's unfamiliarity with Indian culture didn't prevent them from reaching out to us. Of course, we also have (and had for a long time) a freethought movement from within the Indian culture. It is reflected in articles like this.

(22-Jan-2012, 03:23 PM)screech Wrote: I'm not sure if anyone over here has watched the series "the human weapon" aired on the history channel. The monks on the show performed some stunts that simply defied physics. It simply made me doubt the so called progress made by humanity in the field of science or probably modern science was ignoring something.

Science isn't ignoring anything. That some humans can do feats which look spectacular doesn't mean they are defying physics. Years of practice will give you those abilities. For me a 2x2 inch piece of silicon which packs millions of transistors is orders of magnitude more spectacular and trascendent than the feats of monks. As such, I have absolutely no questions about progress in science.

Preservation of traditions cannot be done by ignoring the changes brought about by technology, brought about by evolving morals. When there is a conflict between the two, it is better to throw out tradition without a second's thought.
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#4
Quote:I will paraphrase what Ajita used to say about patriotism - Being patriotic is about caring for people around you, being proud of what they've accomplished.

I agree. I would also add that patriotism requires selflessness where you put your efforts into building a --congenial environment for the future generations to grow and thrive -- an "identity" to which the nation can associate itself with.

Quote:There's an assumption of cultural homogeneity in there. Not all of us have the same “patriotism”. Even though some of us were “patriotic”, we still had many questions about religion, and Dawkins' or Sagan's unfamiliarity with Indian culture didn't prevent them from reaching out to us. Of course, we also have (and had for a long time) a freethought movement from within the Indian culture. It is reflected in articles like this.

I tried veering away from that since achieving an identity in a multi-religious and multi-cultural nation like ours is a complex topic. Thanks for sharing the link. I do appreciate Dawkins reaching out; I understand that people have varying degrees of patriotism in them. Thinking from an average Indian's POV, I'd prefer an Indian spreading rationalism. Someone who speaks the language, understands the locals, has a similar background, share stories, small-talk etc.

Quote:Science isn't ignoring anything. That some humans can do feats which look spectacular doesn't mean they are defying physics. Years of practice will give you those abilities. For me a 2x2 inch piece of silicon which packs millions of transistors is orders of magnitude more spectacular and trascendent than the feats of monks. As such, I have absolutely no questions about progress in science.

I have great respect for the Monks. They push the limits of the human body. It just goes to show what we can do. Its about adaptation, survival and inner peace. They talk in terms of energy and soul, but as a whole I'd call it emotional balance. We're yet to unlock inner workings of the brain and the human system. We're yet to decrypt consiousness.

However when you look at scientific studies the subjects mostly are westerners. Probably that's why the term western science is used hehe. I understand that its easier for those scientists to find subjects nearby than travel to some other place, with all their funding problems.

I consider technology as a tool that aids scientific progress. But at the same time we shouldn't become overtly dependent on the tools limiting our own capacity.

Quote:Preservation of traditions cannot be done by ignoring the changes brought about by technology, brought about by evolving morals. When there is a conflict between the two, it is better to throw out tradition without a second's thought.

Yes I agree. Not all traditions survive and upon further review I don't think that we need to go after traditions trying to preserve them. If a tradition survives -- its for a reason. Nature shall decide!
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#5
(24-Jan-2012, 12:57 AM)screech Wrote: I have great respect for the Monks. They push the limits of the human body. It just goes to show what we can do. Its about adaptation, survival and inner peace. They talk in terms of energy and soul, but as a whole I'd call it emotional balance. We're yet to unlock inner workings of the brain and the human system. We're yet to decrypt consiousness.

However when you look at scientific studies the subjects mostly are westerners. Probably that's why the term western science is used hehe. I understand that its easier for those scientists to find subjects nearby than travel to some other place, with all their funding problems.

Proper balance involves engaging all of our senses. Shunning away some of them is not what I would call as “emotional balance”. What it is, is a brilliant marketing technique. That brings me to the thriving spiritual business which has tried to show “scientifically” how their mumbo-jumbo is valid. So I don't see from where the problem of funding comes in. Nor do I see any valid justification for saying “science is ignoring something”. As I said, patriotism is fine. But nationalism is not. The underlying thought processes differ between the both. I see you leaning towards the latter given that you used the false dichotomy of east vs west.

(24-Jan-2012, 12:57 AM)screech Wrote: Yes I agree. Not all traditions survive and upon further review I don't think that we need to go after traditions trying to preserve them. If a tradition survives -- its for a reason. Nature shall decide!

I take issue with statements like that. They are so broad, in fact encompassing everything, that there is very little useful information in them. What does Nature mean? If humans and everything are part of Nature, then it is obviously true that Nature shall decide. The same can be said of anything. Will it rain tomorrow? Nature shall decide. Will the cancer respond to this treatment? Nature shall decide. You say that tradition survives for a reason without justifying the reason itself, but instead said “Nature shall decide”. The caste system is a hugely successful tradition. So are many other religious traditions. Should we just accept them since Nature has decided that they are worthy of survival for thousands of years?

A more precise statement would be that reason based on science will decide. Nature by itself is agnostic to good and bad. It is us humans who have such concepts. It is us who can influence where our morality is headed. Traditions fall squarely within that framework. Of what use is saying "Nature will decide"?
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#6
Quote:Proper balance involves engaging all of our senses. Shunning away some of them is not what I would call as “emotional balance”. What it is, is a brilliant marketing technique. That brings me to the thriving spiritual business which has tried to show “scientifically” how their mumbo-jumbo is valid. So I don't see from where the problem of funding comes in. Nor do I see any valid justification for saying “science is ignoring something”. As I said, patriotism is fine. But nationalism is not. The underlying thought processes differ between the both. I see you leaning towards the latter given that you used the false dichotomy of east vs west.

I was referring to martial arts and meditation in general. When I used to do karate(shotokan) my instructor kept emphasising about keeping all senses active all the time. Physical conditioning is not the only thing, its about getting a proper balance between your body and mind. Meditation was an important part of our curriculum - it was not just about freeing all your senses, but also about channelling all your senses to focus on one thing. We need to attain the balance before we can focus. Meditation may not be scientific per se, but it does help in relaxation and improves our concentration which helps us in our day-to-day life.

There is no shunning away from some senses, if you're a fan of taking supplements then yes, you could get that kind of experience by taking drugs, but its not permanent. When it comes to technology, and the kind of life we lead today. I think techniques like meditation is very essential to us. I mean when I look at a digital camera - no matter how good the resolution is - its still no match to the human eye. I listen to digitized music and find it very artificial. If there is a louder sound that masks a feebler sound. The feeble sound is eliminated since you won't be able to listen to it anyway. But you can easily make out the difference because you just feel it. I can give tons of examples. The thing is we shouldn't become overtly dependent on technology which ultimately will reduce the human potential.

I don't like the way our ancient wisdom is treated by scientists - the trend is changing though. I have a feeling that western scientists care a lot about their prestige and money. I don't like the east-west dichotomy either, but somehow it oozes to the surface when I read these kind of articles : Patent Issues All these copyrights.. patents are western concepts. We come from a culture where knowledge was free. In fact I had trouble remembering the names of people, but somehow I was good at remembering concepts, in school.

Speaking of nationalism, looking at our history. I'd say its better to have a sense of nationalism. There is nothing wrong in saying we're the best. In fact if you're in a defense organization or a sportsperson representing your nation in the Olympics, its not enough if you're patriotic, you also need to be a touch nationalistic. Nationalism is a bit more aggressive compared to patriotism, but I think its good to have it when you need to conquer other nations.

Quote:I take issue with statements like that. They are so broad, in fact encompassing everything, that there is very little useful information in them. What does Nature mean? If humans and everything are part of Nature, then it is obviously true that Nature shall decide. The same can be said of anything. Will it rain tomorrow? Nature shall decide. Will the cancer respond to this treatment? Nature shall decide. You say that tradition survives for a reason without justifying the reason itself, but instead said “Nature shall decide”. The caste system is a hugely successful tradition. So are many other religious traditions. Should we just accept them since Nature has decided that they are worthy of survival for thousands of years?

A more precise statement would be that reason based on science will decide. Nature by itself is agnostic to good and bad. It is us humans who have such concepts. It is us who can influence where our morality is headed. Traditions fall squarely within that framework. Of what use is saying "Nature will decide"?

I believe in diversity. Its diverse styles of thinking and reasoning that leads to innovations. The scientific methodology itself should be open to scrutiny and revisions. By diversity I mean without religious dogmatism.

The class system is used even to this day all over the world. Its about social status, its about your wage, about your assets to an extent your profession. The respect you get is directly proportional to your social status. I think the problem here is not about the status, but the class being thrust upon by the parents on their kids and then it further degenerates to marrying someone of your own class thereby making it a family tradition. It further degenerates when some classes claim superiority over the others. Religion degenerates it further. I've heard of the term low-skilled and high-skilled laboroures. I wonder what that means?

I think religious traditions are more successful because they reach out to people better than atheists. They are more creative hence good at marketing. Not to mention they reach out to the poor better. They give lots of freebies thanks to the wealth ammassed through generations. We on the other hand are very few to start with, don't have the marketing acumen, tend to be individualistic so the odds are stacked against us. Dawkins talks about sexed up atheism which I believe is the way to go. You need to be a Pantheist!

Speaking of caste system in India. Its in a degenerated state - which can be seen even in corporate companies here. Come to think of it, its our Republic Day today. Lets spare a thought for the architect of Indian constitution Dr. B R Ambedkar who was an atheist(?). Introducing reservations for SC and ST was fine at the time, but its getting abused to the core not only by politicians, but also citizens who are changing their caste status on purpose. I think its time to remove all reservations and move towards a uniform civil code. The identity which was given to us by Gandhi of "Unity in Diversity" should also be revised to say "Diversity United".
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#7
(26-Jan-2012, 11:09 PM)screech Wrote: The thing is we shouldn't become overtly dependent on technology which ultimately will reduce the human potential.

Humans and Technology go together. There is no separating both. Saying otherwise is being ignorant of history. Something as simple and basic as agriculture is technology. If you want to realize the full human potential, by all means do so - by living in the wild without using any tools (like clothing and medicine). We have been overtly dependent on technology for several thousands of years. What you are doing is drawing an arbitrary line on what is technology and what is not. For you eastern is not technology. Anything western is. That goes back to my point about the false dichotomy of east vs west.

(26-Jan-2012, 11:09 PM)screech Wrote: I don't like the way our ancient wisdom is treated by scientists - the trend is changing though. I have a feeling that western scientists care a lot about their prestige and money. I don't like the east-west dichotomy either, but somehow it oozes to the surface when I read these kind of articles : Patent Issues All these copyrights.. patents are western concepts. We come from a culture where knowledge was free. In fact I had trouble remembering the names of people, but somehow I was good at remembering concepts, in school.

You cherry pick patents, but forget to mention things like the Internet. You cherry pick free knowledge in ancient India, but forget to mention how closely guarded that knowledge was. Only a tiny minority had access to learn it. Some Hindu apologists conveniently ignore this point when stressing how Varna is determined by gunas and not by birth. How does one get the “right” gunas when they haven’t been exposed to the “right” knowledge?

(26-Jan-2012, 11:09 PM)screech Wrote: The class system is used even to this day all over the world. Its about social status, its about your wage, about your assets to an extent your profession. The respect you get is directly proportional to your social status. I think the problem here is not about the status, but the class being thrust upon by the parents on their kids and then it further degenerates to marrying someone of your own class thereby making it a family tradition. It further degenerates when some classes claim superiority over the others. Religion degenerates it further. I've heard of the term low-skilled and high-skilled laboroures. I wonder what that means?

You obviously are from a non-discriminated background and do not understand caste oppression. It is nowhere close to the class system that you speak of. I too come from a non-discriminated background, but I've learnt to listen when someone who has faced oppression talks about it. I do not give in to the usual lame excuses against affirmative action. But all this is a digression. I don't have the time to elucidate more on caste. That reminds me that it is high time we had a FAQ against caste apologetics.

Nationalism is not good. I can be rabid about my Linux fandom, but it is done with the perfect understanding of where the boundaries of that rabidness are. Nationalism does not respect many boundaries. As such it is not even worth defending by citing innocuous things like sports teams. It is just as bad, if not more, than religion. While being an atheist is great, it is only a beginning point. Moving towards humanism should be the real goal. When you are a humanist, even the mere thought of conquering nations will seem repulsive.
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#8
screech Wrote:There is no shunning away from some senses, if you're a fan of taking supplements then yes, you could get that kind of experience by taking drugs, but its not permanent. When it comes to technology, and the kind of life we lead today. I think techniques like meditation is very essential to us. I mean when I look at a digital camera - no matter how good the resolution is - its still no match to the human eye. I listen to digitized music and find it very artificial. If there is a louder sound that masks a feebler sound. The feeble sound is eliminated since you won't be able to listen to it anyway. But you can easily make out the difference because you just feel it. I can give tons of examples. The thing is we shouldn't become overtly dependent on technology which ultimately will reduce the human potential.

Its really annoying when somebody quotes examples like this. Its typical of people, who think anything that is not natural is bad, to rant like this. For the very same examples, I can show how a digital camera is way better than human eye. It doesn't have a blind spot, no non-uniform color/brightness detectors. Also digitized music can be used to enhance music from some organs to bring out their best, change keys to make it sound better, and the list goes on.

Technology not being able to duplicate human senses doesn't make technology good or bad. Based on circumstances it might be bad, might be good. There is good enough reason for us to have this technology. Unnecessary dependence on anything is bad, not just technology.

[Apologies for a total aside from the main topic, but it was just annoying to not to comment]
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#9
Mod Note: The caste conversation is offtopic. It has been split into this thread - http://nirmukta.net/Thread-split-Nationa...-and-Caste
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#10
(Atleast we didn't ethnically cleanse humans-Screech)
What happened to the Kashmiri pundits?

Patriotism is a concept and does not carry any moral value either good or bad.
Patriots are another matter. They carry agenda, that sooner or later goes along the lines of my monkey tribe is larger than yours, my voice is louder than yours..We are stronger, braver, clever...(etc) It requires a lot of blind faith. It is easy to fool oneself into feeling good that we are a part of the tribe, while ignoring the larger agenda which is the eternal need to feel like the alpha male.
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#11
No. Patriotism is a relic of the times when our tribe must be more respected than the other one. It is not an important concept in today's global community. The view of secular humanism is much better - all humans as one species, the most successful one of millions of species.
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