Patriotism, Or Symbolic Nationalism?

I recently read an interesting article about a proposed new Thai Patriotism law:

A proposed new law to boost patriotism in Thailand would be “chaotic” because it would require motorists to stop when the national anthem is played twice a day, lawmakers said Friday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now obviously, a law such as this could create serious other traffic problems for the already highly conjested Thailand streets. However the article raises a more universal question. What exactly is patriotism? What does it really mean to be patriotic?

The Oxford Dictionary defines it thus:

pat•ri•ot•ic /’pe{I}tri’{phon_capq}t{I}k; ‘paet; NAmE ‘pe{I}tri’{phon_capa}:t{I}k/ adj. having or expressing a great love of your country: a patriotic man who served his country well – [Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary online]

Now, by my reckoning that definition means that a patriotic persons actions are intended to benefit their country. Right? OK. With that in mind, Let’s look at this proposed Thai law. When everyone drops what they are doing, stops in the streets, etc., whenever the national anthem is played, is that a good thing or a bad thing for the country?

Yes, granted, It’s only a few minutes out of each day, but isn’t that a few minutes that people are actually not doing anything productive for thier country? Isn’t that largely a symbolic action, and not actually a beneficial one? Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all about being patriotic. It’s just that nowadays I’m not entirely sure that we are all on the same page about what it really means.

I’m just saying…

Patriotism law seeks to halt cars for anthem – [Yahoo/Reuters]

2 thoughts on “Patriotism, Or Symbolic Nationalism?

Leave a Reply