PERIGRINATION AROUND PATRIOTISM:
The fireworks have ended. Molly and the wife missed them this year under the expectation that Vancouver weather transferred to Winnipeg would prevent the event.The thunder storm happened, but it stopped in time. Not that the extreme trial of finding a parking space and getting out afterwards is a very enjoyable event anyways. Molly can remember last year when it took 1 and 1/2 hours to get out of the illegitimate parking zone in St. Boniface. People who went for legit parking fared FAR worse. Taxis are a joke in such situations unless you are willing to fight for them. Public transit is a joke only slightly less funny, unlike in some other cities.
Anyways, patriotism ? Canada Day ? Molly has to admit that she has little to say for Canada until she starts to compare it to other places. As Winston Churchill might have said, "Canada is the worst place in the world except for all the others". ONE of the reasons that Canada is such a good place is that so many of its citizens share Molly's attitude. Despite the efforts of our present federal government very few Canadians are under the illusion that sending troops to Afghanistan is somehow "defending Canada". Greater numbers recognize the reality that it is a "suck up" to our imperial masters because we didn't join with them in conquering Iraq. As something of a "revenge" the Americans have determined that the Canadian troops have to take the most dangerous positions in southern Afghanistan. Tough tit suckers. More is expected from you than that from Polish troops. Payment for favours in blood. Though in the case of Canada it is not payment. It is blackmail so Canadians can avoid economic reprisals rather than "gaining" anything as other countries expect from sending mercenaries to fight American wars. The reality , as opposed to the official Canadian government line, is so sad precisely because the blackmailers don't pay up. Canada has gained nothing from its complicity in American imperial adventures. Canada will be the same place in the future as it was when Anerican sponsored thugs defeated the Soviets, when they in turn were defeated by the sort of religious fundamentalists that try and control the US government, as it is today when a coalition of thugs and religious nuts hold power as clients of the Americans and as it will be in the future when a slightly different coalition holds power. It will affect us sweet diddly squat. At the same time the Americans will be not one tiny millimeter removed from their usual negotiating positions over economics just because we pretend to support their foolish enterprises. It's illusion. The sort of illusion that government thrives on.
Patriotism is a somewhat admirable and totally artificial way to generalize "fellow feeling" from its legitimate sphere of the local community to abstract entities known as the "nation". It is admirable because it makes this attempt at generalization. It is, of course, unrealistic as the events following military defeat in "hyper-patriotic" nations have shown. It generalizes "solidarity" to an "idea" rather than to real people. The goal of human progress is to generalize altruism from its familial and local base to larger and larger communities. The "nation" is actually a diversion from this road. Solidarity is generalized by more frequent interactions amongst communities whereby people in a community enter into relations with people in other communities. The international enterprise of "science" is the sterling example in the modern age. Actual things are planned and accomplished by these self organizing networks, and the participants come to see each other as part of a "whole" that is seperate from geography. In comparison to this real generation of cooperation the devotion to an abstraction such as the "nation" lacks blood and reality.
Not that people can't be motivated to extremes of behavior, often quite immoral, by appeals to an abstraction that has no reality. Humans are symbol forming animals. As such they often mistake the creations of their own mind for reality. The only long term solution is to build networks for many different purposes outside of the control of the state. These networks come in conflict with the adherance to abstractions. It is indeed long term, but it is the only way.