It’s time to reclaim patriotism from the racist narcissists
September 1, 2009
NOT all that long ago, ”Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” was just an innocuous, if inane, chant at sporting events. Commemoration of Anzac Day was greeted with indifference. And the idea of tattooing sunburnt flesh with the Southern Cross was, well, strange. Not today…
- Previously on Patriot Street Blues:
‘Reclaim’ patriotism from the Right
August 5, 2009
TIM Soutphommasane has spent more time than most people thinking about what it means to be Australian.
Growing up in Sydney’s western suburbs as the son of Chinese and Lao migrants, he built his own sense of national identity among friends from more than a dozen ethnic backgrounds.
As a political philosopher at Oxford University, he has spent much of the past five years examining the concepts of patriotism and nationalism in 21st century Australia.
When he travelled back to Sydney this year he was shaken to see ethnic clashes in that city’s seaside suburbs even while the city was celebrating Australia Day with a relaxed, friendly and newly confident pride.
The result is that Soutphommasane, an ALP member since the age of 15, is urging Kevin Rudd and others on the Left of politics to mount what he sees as a long-overdue campaign to reclaim the notion of nationalism from John HoWARd and the political Right…
Affronted by the xenophobic nationalists who stalked the land during the HoWARd years, many progressive Australians have rejected a love of country, forgetting that there is a patriotism of the liberal left that at different times has advanced liberty, egalitarianism, and democratic citizenship.
Tim Soutphommasane, a first-generation Australian and political theorist who has journeyed from Sydney’s southwest suburbs to Oxford University, re-imagines patriotism as a generous sentiment of democratic renewal and national belonging. In accessible prose he explains why our political leaders will need to draw upon the better angels of patriotism if they hope to inspire citizens for nation-building, and indeed persuade them to make sacrifices in the hard times ahead. As we debate the twenty-first century challenges of reconciliation and a republic, citizenship and climate change, Reclaiming Patriotism proposes a narrative we have to have.
Reclaiming Patriotism is published by Cambridge University Press in September 2009. It is the lead title of the new Australian Encounters series published by Cambridge in partnership with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University.
“It is fitting that Tim Soutphommasane makes the case for progressive politics in defining Australian patriotism. When right-wingers claim the national story as their own – white picket fences, Don Bradman, Gallipoli – we need books like this to remind us that Australian citizenship belongs to us all.” ~ Bob Carr, former Premier of New South Wales
Whose cuisine will reign supreme? See also : George Orwell on democracy, nationalism, patriotism and socialism.
NB. Tim also has some thoughts on ‘Democracy’ in the August edition of The Monthly, in the form of a review of John Keane’s latest magnum opus The Life and Death of Democracy. On ‘Democracy’, see also : Cornelius Castoriadis Agora International Website | On ‘radical democracy’, see :
In Motion Magazine: What is radical democracy?
Gustavo Esteva: We are still using the word “democracy” because it has still a beautiful tradition. For some time, I used the expression “radical democracy” to re-claim the original meaning of the word: that is “people’s power”. Among the Greeks, that was the meaning.
Radical democracy implies two things. One, is a very radical critique of representative democracy and here I would like to mention the enlightenment of Douglas Lummis who published a book “Radical Democracy” and who gave to me a lot of elements of historical and theoretical critique of representative democracy and offered a clue for some alternatives within the framework of democratic thinking.
Douglas is a very interesting guy from California who has been teaching for twenty years in Japan. He is a brilliant thinker and his book, this book, I find particularly interesting as a very enlightened critique of representative democracy and an opening to other forms of thinking.
The second source for my radicality is in the sense of “radical” in Spanish which means to come back to the roots, the root of the things. Our roots here is what we describe as democracy in the villages. Meaning that they don’t have vertical authority and a structure of government. They are governing themselves.
…Anarchy alive! Anti-authoritarian politics from practice to theory, Uri Gordon, Pluto Press, 2008 (review by Tom Jennings, Freedom, Vol.70, No.3, February 2009; review by Lawrence Jarach, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed; and elsewhere… except the arse-end of the world, Australia, where the book isn’t even on the bloodyfuckingshelves unless yous wanna pay an arm and a leg and order it in from o/s goddamnit).