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    Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 7254
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism Empty Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Mar 13 Oct - 6:43


    "In scholarly literature and common language, 'love of country' and 'loyalty to the nation', patriotism and nationalism, are used as synonyms. And yet, as I hope to show in this study, they can and must be distinguished. The language of patriotism has been used over the centuries to strengthen or invoke love of the political institutions and the way of life that sustain the common liberty of a people, that is love of the republic; the language of nationalism was forged in late eighteenth-century Europe to defend or reinforce the cultural, linguistic, and ethnic oneness and homogeneity of a people. Whereas the enemies of republican patriotism are tyranny, despotism, oppression, and corruption, the enemies of nationalism are cultural contamination, heterogeneity, racial impurity, and social, political, and intellectual disunion.
    This does not mean that the champions of patriotism neglected or despised the culture, the ethnic background, the language, or the traditions of peoples. Even the theorists who wanted to make the distance between the political values of the republic and the sphere of ethnicity and culture as wide as possible, always meant the republic as it was expressed by the common liberty of a particular people with its particular background and its particular culture. The crucial distinction lies in the priority or the emphasis: for the patriots, the primary value is the republic and the free way of life that the republic permits; for the nationalists, the primary values are the spiritual and cultural unity of the people. In the writings of the founders of modern nationalism, the republic is either repudiated or regarded as an issue of secondary importance. Patriots and nationalists have noi. only recommended different ideals as objects of our love: the republic, in the case of the patriots, the nation as a cultural and spiritual unity in the case of the nationalists; they have also endeavoured to instil or strengthen in us different types of love: a charitable and generous love in the case of patriotism, an unconditional loyalty or an exclusive attachment in the case of the nationalists
    ." (pp.1-2)

    "In addition to being historically wrong, the confusion between patriotism and nationalism has pernicious practical effects. Properly understood, the language of republican patriotism could serve as a powerful antidote to nationalism. Like the language of nationalism it is eminently rhetorical; it aims at resuscitating, strengthening, and directing the passions of a particular people with a specific cultural and historical identity rather than at attaining the reasoned approval of impersonal rational agents. It endeavours to reinforce bonds, such love of the common liberty of a people, which are as particularistic as the love of, or pride in, the cultural tradition or the shared destiny of a people. Precisely because it competes with nationalism on the same terrain of passions and particularity and uses rhetorical rather than purely rational arguments, patriotism is a formidable opponent for nationalism. It works on bonds of solidarity and fellowship that like feels toward like to transmute them into forces that sustain liberty instead of fomenting exclusion or aggression. It does not say to the Italians or the Germans who want to remain Italian or German, that they should think and act as citizens of the world, or as lovers of an anonymous liberty and justice; it tells them that they should become Italian or German citizens committed to defend and improve their own republic, and to live freely in their own way, and it says so by using poignant images that refer to shared memories and by telling meaningful stories that give colour and warmth to the ideal of the republic.
    Patriotic stories have morals to tell, but do not offer a moral argument as to why we have the obligation to commit ourselves to the common liberty of our people. The answer that republican thinkers have been giving to this question is well known: we have a moral obligation toward our country because we are indebted to it. We owe our country our life, our education, our language, and, in the most fortunate cases, our liberty. If we want to be moral persons, we must return what we have received, at least in part, by serving the common good
    ." (pp.8-9)

    "We need to define the boundaries of the obligation; we have to be able to say in public arguments which demands our country makes on us must be rejected, and which must be accepted. If our obligation toward our country is an obligation to protect the common liberty, the boundaries of the obligation are defined with sufficient precision, with as much precision as is possible in moral arguments. If we are patriots in this sense, we have to fight against anyone who attempts to impose a particular interest over the common good; we have to oppose discrimination and exclusion, but we have no obligation to impose cultural, or ethnic, or religious homogeneity, nor to foster self-aggrandizement at the expense of other peoples' liberty, nor to deny civil and political rights to any of our fellow patriots.

    To be committed to the common liberty of our people means that if our country is unfree we have to work to make it free instead of leaving to look for liberty elsewhere, and if we are forced to leave, we have to continue to work in order to be able to go back to live in freedom with our fellows. 'Why', one may ask, 'should I suffer for the liberty of my own people instead of looking for my own liberty elsewhere ? If my country treats me injustly, I owe her nothing, I have no obligation.' One possible answer is that the liberty that we may enjoy in another country is necessarily less rich, less complete than the liberty that we would be able to enjoy with our own people. In another country we might, in the best possible case, enjoy civil or even political liberties, but we would not be able to live freely according to our culture. Liberty among our own people has a sweeter taste ; we would enjoy it as our own liberty, as a liberty that is distinctively ours.
    This argument has its weaknesses: the reward may well appear too remote and uncertain; one may still find liberty in another country more attractive. To move our compatriots to commit themselves to the common liberty of their people we have to appeal to feelings of compassion and solidarity that are— when they are—rooted in bonds of language, culture, and history. The work to be done is to translate these bonds into love of common liberty. To make this alchemy of passions possible we surely need moral arguments that appeal to reason and interests, but we must also be able to resort, as good rhetoricians do, to stories, images, and visions. Hard as it is, we cannot disregard the task of working to encourage patriotism: to survive and flourish, political liberty needs civic virtue; that is citizens capable of committing themselves to the common good, to stand up for the defence of common liberty and rights
    ." (pp.9-10)

    "Contemporary advocates of 'a politics of civic virtue', on the other hand, stress that civic virtue can only be sustained by a 'vision of the good' and the attachment to a particular community, to a particular culture. The devotion to the public good, they say, must be rooted in the love of the country, a love of what makes each country unique: its language* its ethnic background, and its history. The identification with this sort of patriotism, however, damages rather than helps the cause of civic virtue. If to love one's country means to love common ethnic and linguistic characteristics, a shared conception of the good life, or the vision of a common national destiny, such a love no doubt sustains commitment to the common good. It also encourages, however, contempt and intolerance for cultural, racial, and political diversity both at home and abroad. Examples abound of civic-minded citizens who are prepared to give their blood for their country but who are also prepared to deny religious liberty, minority rights, and cultural pluralism ; and the narrowness of their patriotism reflects the exclusive character of their love of country.
    Civic virtue seems then to be either impossible or dangerous ; it cannot and must not become an important concept in our political language and a shared value among contemporary citizens. But a decent republic needs citizens who are not just interested but capable of love and attachments ; and love and attachments belong with particular peoples, and ways of life.
    One must find ways of encouraging and sustaining the right sort of passions and love; one must enter into the dangerous world of particularity and confront the dangers of exclusive and intolerant loves. Civic virtue has to be particularistic to be possible and yet we do not want it to be dangerous or repugnant. To find a solution to this dilemma, we should re examine the works of republican political theorists who define civic or political virtue as love of country understood not as attachment to the cultural, ethnic, and religious unity of a people, but as love of common liberty and the institutions that sustain it. It is a particularistic love, as it is love of the common liberty of a particular people, sustained by institutions that have a particular history which has for that people a particular meaning, or meanings, that inspire and are in turn sustained by a particular way of life and culture. Because it is a love of the particular it is possible, but because it is a love of a particular liberty it is not exclusive: love of the common liberty of one's people easily extends beyond national boundaries and translates into solidarity
    ." (pp.11-12)

    "I consider cultural, ethnic, religious oneness and homogeneity as vices. They do not make the republic stronger, nor do they help to forge citizens committed to liberty. On the contrary, they make the republic asphyxiatingly dull, soporific, and oppressive, and citizens narrow-minded bigots, intolerant, and boring. A good republic that really wants to be the city of all does not need cultural or moral or religious unity; it needs another sort of unity, namely a political unity sustained by the attachment to the ideal of the republic. Here I must emphasize that I do not mean love of the republic in general or attachment to an impersonal republic based on universal values of liberty and justice. I mean the attachment to a particular republic with its particular way of living in freedom. A purely political republic would be able to command the philosopher's consent, but would generate no attachment, no love, no commitment. To generate and sustain these sorts of passions one needs to appeal to the common culture, to shared memories. But if the appeal has liberty as a goal, one must resort to the culture that grows out of the practice of citizenship and is sustained by shared memories of commitment to liberty, social criticism, and resistance against oppression and corruption. There is no need to strengthen moral or religious unity, ethnic homogeneity, or linguistic purity." (p.13)

    "As history has often shown, when a nation faces a moral and political crisis, either the language of patriotism or that of nationalism is likely to attain intellectual hegemony. Those languages seem to possess a unifying and mobilizing force that others lack. A rhetoric that tells citizens that they should above all regard themselves as individuals endowed with a number of rights against the intrusions of other individuals or of the government, is unlikely to generate the commitment and the solidarity that is needed to make many individuals work together to regenerate a nation. More effective, perhaps, would be words that tell citizens of multicultural liberal societies that beyond particular group loyalty they, as rational moral individuals, ought to share allegiance to the common values of liberty and justice. The argument is powerful, as it appeals to common universal principles and values. The commonality based on shared universal values, however, is too distant and too general. If this sort of liberal language were to be opposed to a nationalist language that appeals to less rational but closer common values like religion, ethnicity, language, culture, and memory, its chances of winning a rhetorical contest do not seem high. Political languages cannot be assessed in absolute terms; they should be evaluated for what they can do against other languages that sustain different or alternative political projects. What is needed is a language capable of countering nationalistic and communitarian languages that give priority to the quest for cultural purity and distinctiveness. The language of republican patriotism is perhaps the right antidote because it is as particularistic as the languages of nationalism and communitarianism, but it is  particularistic in the sense that it makes the republic particular ; it does not fly the field of particular loyalties on which nationalism flourishes, but works on it to make citizenship grow.

    The need to confront nationalism seriously both intellectually and politically is particularly urgent for the democratic left. Nationalist rhetoric has been and still is very powerful on the poor, the unemployed, frustrated intellectuals, and the declining middle class. Socially humiliated and discontented people find in the membership of the nation a new sense of pride, a new dignity: 'I am poor, but at least I am American (or German or Italian).' As a result important social forces that ought to contribute to the cause of a democratic socialist left have often passed into the camp of the right.
    And yet, although the political costs have been very high, the left has allowed the right to have the monopoly over the language of patriotism. Historically, socialists have been either internationalists or champions of solidarity within the unions or the party, or both. With a few laudable exceptions, socialist intellectuals have made little or no effort to construct a patriotism of the left capable of countering nationalism
    ." (pp.14-15)

    "In addition to and strictly intertwined with religious patriotism, however, classical antiquity transmitted to modernity a political patriotism based on the identification of patria with respublica, common liberty, common good. In the Titsculanae disputationes, to cite the most frequently quoted text, Cicero connects patria with liberty and laws. Sallust in De coniuratione Catilinae sets patria and liberty against oligarchic government. In a passage from Ab ttrbe condita, Livy, reporting an imaginary oration, speaks of sacred armies, patria, liberty, and lustral gods. Quintilian, in the Institutio oratorio, makes a distinction between natio which he takes to mean the customs of a people, and patria, understood as the laws and institutions of the city. Finally, in De civitate Dei, Augustine condenses and transmits to the Middle Ages the republican equation between patria, republic, and common good [...]

    patria, understood as respublica, must commend a particular type of love, that is,pietas or caritas, which may be translated as respect and compassion. This was the other main feature Roman republican patriotism. Citizens owe to their patria, went the typical exhortation, a benevolent love similar to the affection that they feel for their parents and relatives, a love that expresses itselfs in acts of service (officiurri) and care (cultus). Pietas and caritas involve no cupidity (cupiditas), no desire to possess the object of our love or our desire exclusively ; they are, on the contrary, generous affections that extends beyond the family to embrace the republic and all fellow-citizens. For the virtuous citizen, pietas is part of the duties that justice imposes on him ; it is the specific way of behaving justly toward one's own country. And it is also the particular passion that moves citizens to accomplish acts of benevolence and service not just for their parents and relatives but for the republic." (pp.19-20)

    "Vassals and knights who fought and died for their lord were sacrificing themselves pro domino, not pro patria, to honour a bond of fidelity or faith (fidelitas or fides), not to discharge a civic duty. Even when it was portrayed and exalted as an exemplary form of brotherly love, love of country never regained the sense of compassionate love for fellow-citizens.
    The idioms of Roman republican patriotism survived to a degree in the works of Scholastic philosophers. In his authoritative treatment in the
    Summa Theologiae, Aquinas refers in many instances to Cicero to stress that love of country is a form of piety." (p.21)

    "It was, however, in the intellectual context of the Italian cityrepublics that the classical Roman meaning of patria was fully recovered to form the basis for a distinctive republican language of patriotism. The works of the theorists of communal selfgovernment and of the civic humanists offer examples of different arguments for patriotism: some stressed that love of the republic is a rational love ; others that citizens should hold their republic dear because life in a free city is sweet ; others still that citizens have the obligation to serve their country because they have contracted with her a debt that can never be fully repaid.

    An example of the first line of defence of patriotism is Remigio de Girolami's
    Tractatus de bono communi, composed in 1304. In this text Remigio uses the term 'fatherland' (patria) as the equivalent of the common good. Quoting Cicero's famous line from the first speech against Catiline: 'our country, which is much dearer to me than my life', he stresses that love of country imposes upon those who rule the republic the obligation to care for the good of the whole community: the common good is the source of all the honour and glory of the citizens, because there is nothing nobler and more glorious than to be citizens of a free city in which the common good is properly realized. In addition, the common good is also the foundation of the most valuable good of civil life (bonum civile), which consists in living together in peace under the protection of just laws. The love for the common good is therefore virtuous and rational and we should be devoted to it, as the political virtue of the pagans urges us to do.

    The love of patria—which is the basis of political virtue (
    Politicam virttttem)—is a rational love because it is a love for a good (the free city) that it is rational for each citizen to want to preserve. If the community is corrupted, the individual's life is also impoverished. [...] Whoever loses the quality of citizen, loses that of man too, since one cannot live a proper human life without being a the citizen. For this reason, stresses Remigio, a citizen should never remain passive before the corruption of his city, but should instead fight it with the utmost vigour." (pp.24-25)

    "Florentine fifteenth-century patriotism, however, was not just commitment to the republic and common liberty, but also celebration of the city's military and cultural superiority, of the nobility of its ancestors, and the purity of the language. Models of Greek and Roman rhetoric were skilfully employed to instil in citizens a love mixed with pride and haughtiness. The most obvious example is Leonardo Bruni's Laudatio florentinae urbis, composed in 1403-4. Florence, he remarks in the conclusion of the eulogy, is a republic devoted to justice and liberty, because without justice 'there can be no city, nor would Florence even be worthy to be called a city', and without liberty a great people 'would not even consider that life worth living'. The principles of justice and equality that inform the institutions of the republic also affect the way of life of the citizens, encouraging habits of toleration and humanity: since all are equal as citizens, no one can be 'prideful or disparage others'. Fair to its citizens, Florence is also fair to the foreigners who come to live there. All those who have been exiled from their country either by seditious plots or by the envy of their compatriots can find another homeland in Florence: 'as long as Florence continues to exist, no one will ever really lack a homeland'. Hence, Florence is not only a true patria for the Florentines ; it is also a patria for all victims of misfortune and injustice.
    Along with the celebration of republican political principles, the
    Laudatio exalts Florence's superiority based on the purity of its language and its unique splendour: 'Florence is of such a nature that a more distinguished or more splendid city cannot be found on the entire earth.' The city's extraordinary splendour is a claim for domination: everyone, stresses Bruni, must surely recognize that she is 'worthy of attaining dominion and rule over the entire world'. Moreover, Florence's origin is nobler than that of any other city, since it was founded by the Romans when Rome was still a republic. The combination of republican values and civic pride that characterizes Bruni's patriotism also appears in the Oration for the Funeral of Nanni Strozzi. Strozzi was a Florentine citizen who died in 1427 in battle against the forces of the Duke of Milan. Our patria, Bruni remarks, deserves the foremost honour, even above our parents, because she is 'the first and prerequisite basis of human happiness'." (pp.27-28)

    "It took a patriot who did not belong to the Florentine elite, Niccolo Machiavelli, to elaborate a different version of republican patriotism. Unlike Bruni, he was not interested in the celebration of Florence's superiority and historical mission. The magnificent palaces that Bruni had mentioned in the Laudatio as symbols of the city's splendour, were for Machiavelli 'proud and regal' symbols of the power and wealth of the great families. To build his magnificent palace, he writes in the Istorie fiorentine, Luca Pitti did not refrain from using illegal means, and once it was completed, it became the centre of seditious gatherings of the enemies of the republic. The theme of the origins of the city that had received great attention from Florentine historians, was for him of little interest. In the Istorie fiorentine he settles the issue with few words: 'it was born under the Roman Empire; and in the times of the first emperors it began to be recorded by historians'. Its origins were therefore servile ; a mark that affected the subsequent history of the city. All the wars that Florence fought to enlarge its territory, Bruni had claimed, were justified because the Florentine were the descendants of the Romans and therefore the heirs of the territories that belonged to the Roman Republic. But the wars Florence fought with King Ladislao and Duke Philip, remarked Machiavelli, 'were made to fill the citizens [with riches and power], not for necessity': they were therefore unjust. Since the very beginnings of his political career he was more a critic of, than an apologist for, the Florentine Republic. He was devoted to it, he served it with all his energies and with impeccable honesty, but he did not fail to remark upon its injustice and imprudence. As his political enemies pointed out, he was even too ready to denounce Florence's faults. He admitted, 'it is true that I am contrary, as in many other things, to the opinion of [Florentine] citizens'. His love of country shows no signs of parochialism and civic pride. It did not make him blind. It, rather, pushed him to try to understand the larger horizons of Italian and European politics, and to search into the past to find the roots for a possible regeneration of Italy: 'this land seems born to resuscitate dead things, as one has seen in poetry, painting, and sculpture'." (pp.29-30)

    "One of the goals of the Discourses, as he clearly states in the proem to book II, was to encourage the youth of the city to imitate the virtue of the Romans, and in the Istorie fiorentine he remarks that the central theme of his study is corruption and his goal is to explain the lack of virtue brought about the loss of liberty and the decline of Florence. And when he speaks of virtu, what he means is patriotism ; that is, in the republican sense of love of common liberty that makes men generous, capable of seeing their private and particular interests as part of the common good, and willing to fight vigorously for their republic. At the very outset of the Discourses, he calls 'the actions accomplished by captains for their country most virtuous [virtuosissime]'. Elsewhere, he mentions the common good (bene comune) together with the common fatherland (patria comune) as the distinctive aims of the virtuous founders. To realize his virtuous goal Romulus needed to acquire complete authority for himself. The murder of his brother Remus and of Tatius Sabinus are therefore to be excused, Machiavelli tells us, because they were perpetrated for the common good, for the common fatherland." (p.31)

    "Like the humanists, Machiavelli repeats the Ciceronian theme that to serve his country is the honest's man highest moral obligation. 'I have always gladly served my country,' he remarks at the outset of the Discorso o dialogo intorno alia nostra lingua, 'even when it was onerous and dangerous, because no obligation is greater than that that we owe to our country.' Even if a citizen is offended by his country, it would be most ignominious for him to turn into an enemy of his country." (p.32)

    "While patria is a central word, 'nation' (nazione) was of negligible importance in the works of Machiavelli. As Federico Chabod has convincingly shown in a seminal essay, Machiavelli rarely uses the term 'nation' at all. In the Discourses he speaks of nation with reference to France, Spain, and Italy to indicate common customs, and specifically corrupt ones. In the same chapter he uses as a synonym for nazione the old Roman term provincia that indicated in origin the administrative subunits of the Empire. A few lines earlier, he stresses the same point regarding the corruption of France, Spain, and Italy, calling them this time 'provinces' instead of nations. The distinctive characters of provinces or nations are for Machiavelli customs and forms of life." (p.36)

    "The customs of nations are to be studied and understood since customs are of fundamental political importance; they are not to be loved. Love goes to the patria, understood as the political institutions and the particular way of life of the republic. He is not concerned at all with the protection of the cultural homogeneity of the republic and even less so with the protection of the purity of its language. He regards the assimilation of alien words as an enrichment, not as a corruption of the language, as he writes in his Discorso o dialogo intorno alia nostra lingua, which was composed to defend the honour of Florence against those who claimed that Dante wrote the Divina commedia in Italian, not in Florentine.

    For Machiavelli, political institutions and political values cannot be separated from customs and ways of life. He speaks in fact of the
    vivere libero, or vita libera, a particular way of life, a culture, as opposed to the vivere servo, another way of life and culture. Patria, like nation, is a way of life and a culture ; it is a particular way of life inspired by liberty. In the famous sentence that Machiavelli wrote to his friend Vettori in one of his last letters—'I love my country more than my soul'—one could replace patria with vivere libero without altering the meaning of the sentence ; to replace patria with nazione would make it absurd." (p.37)
    -Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism, Oxford University Press, 1995, 206 pages.

    « La racine de toute doctrine erronée se trouve dans une erreur philosophique. [...] Le rôle des penseurs vrais, mais aussi une tâche de tout homme libre, est de comprendre les possibles conséquences de chaque principe ou idée, de chaque décision avant qu'elle se change en action, afin d'exclure aussi bien ses conséquences nuisibles que la possibilité de tromperie. »
    -Jacob Sher, Avertissement contre le socialisme, Introduction à « Tableaux de l'avenir social-démocrate » d'Eugen Richter, avril 1998.

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