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GP ESSAY OUTLINE : Should we encourage the love for country / patriotism / nationalism ?

Arguments For :

1) The love for country imbues people with unique values, purpose and direction that stem from their country’s history or geography.
In general, people want peace and progress in their country. There could also be specific cherished values that they feel set them apart from other countries.
e.g. America prides itself for upholding freedom

(The remaining arguments for the claim in the question are largely a result of this first argument)

2) Out of the love for their country, the people can organise themselves to make improvements
In more extreme cases, they would be to go as far as try to overthrow the unjust or dictatorial regime that controls them.
e.g. the Arab Spring of 2011 led to the ousting of dictators, Hosni Mubarak & Muammar Gaddafi
e.g. In Singapore’s 2011 General Election, opposition candidates made it clear through their rally speeches and interviews that their participation was out of the love for country, lest their speaking out against the ruling party be misconstrued as an act of sowing discord among citizens who love the country.

Worldwide, individuals have come to together to found non-government groups for a myriad of niche social causes. They do so out of love for country and its people, instead of succumbing to the arrogant expectation that the government is the one who should meet all their needs.
e.g. In Singapore, these groups include AWARE for women’s issues & Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) for migrant workers

3) The love for country keeps people rooted to their homeland, regardless of where they are in the world. This rootedness is becoming more and more important as workers enter the global job market to support themselves or realize their personal aims. Yet, their skills are still valuable for their own country, thus it is important for the country not to ‘lose’ their citizens who wish to give up citizenship or choose not to return to contribute in any way.

For developing countries, remittances from migrant workers abroad contribute significantly to national income. The local economy is given a boost because such remittances can stimulate domestic spending. Without even the slightest feeling of love and duty for one’s country, it could be more convenient and even lucrative to just find work abroad and then sever ties with one’s country of origin.
e.g. In Nepal, remittances make up approximately 26% of national income, and each year, more than half of the income earned abroad is remitted. (In 2007, this was as high as 65% of income earned)

e.g. Israel is now trying to reverse its brain-drain by inviting its foreign-trained graduates home. Those who have returned cite the love for country which they had to suppress when they lived abroad because they felt they had to constantly defend Israeli leaders against critics (even though they ironically did not agree entirely with these leaders). Yet, they acknowledge that they “could be themselves again” when they returned.

4) The love for country can help people transcend the barriers of race, culture, language and religion. A globalised world and more flexible immigration policies have created more diverse societies almost everywhere. A love for country helps the people unite despite these differences to see themselves as people whose fates are now connected. Divisiveness and sectarianism would be ruinous for all.
e.g. Singapore pledge embodies the enduring ideals, namely putting justice and equality above race and religion, to promote progress and happiness.

5) The love for country can help mitigate the strong influence of more dominant and accessible foreign cultures. These cultures may not be entirely pernicious; they may even benefit other countries. But they are nonetheless products of different historical, geographical, political and social contexts. Without the love for country to cultivate and uphold values that help a country progress, the people could be swayed by foreign influences.
e.g. America, having most control of the media, is able to project its ideals to the rest of the world. Yet countries have banded their people together to resist American hegemony which they feel has contributed to materialism, consumerism, poor social support or even violence. Across the northern border, the ‘Canadian way’ is decidedly different which shows national pride at work.
Another response to foreign influence would be develop quality home-grown alternatives. The support for home grown talents and alternatives. This sets a virtuous cycle in motion since the products of love and pride for one’s country can deepen that love further. This is especially so what is actively nurtured by the local government, private sector and the people themselves – that is, home-grown talents and products – get wider recognition.
e.g. Bollywood, India’s version of Hollywood is a thriving movie industry that has been successfully exporting its works for decades, and whose biggest stars have even broken into the English-speaking film industry.


Arguments Against :

1) It encourages a superiority complex that makes the people more willing to accept dangerous, supremist ideologies. People can persuaded into hating other groups or countries, instead of thinking for themselves. When the population is less educated or less informed, this herd mentality can be more pronounced.
e.g. WW2 : the Japanese people’s love for country was so tightly-linked to reverence and loyalty to the king that it helped Emperor Hirohito mobilize tens of thousands, many on suicide missions, to expand the empire.

2) The love for country could make us blind to opportunities provided elsewhere in the world, or lessons that we can learn from others because we frequently (or constantly) make comparisons about how our country is compared to other countries. This actually can lead to stagnation.

3) This denial or even defensiveness can actually hamper global cooperation which is needed now more than ever since many of the problems today, such as climate change or pandemic diseases, transcend national borders.
e.g. China’s tardiness in providing information on its casualties during the SARS period could be done out of fear of being embarrassed since there is too great a sense of love for country to bear international disgrace. But this does not help disaster management.


4) We should not do what is impractical and impossible. Encouraging a love of country goes against the realities of the globalised world we live in. It becomes impractical to expect a person to love his country of origin exclusively when the country that he has migrated to has offered him so much. His ‘new’ place could be where he plants his roots, builds a home or serves the immediate community. And so he could feel a greater sense of belonging there.

It also becomes impossible to encourage the love for country when every person is complex, and his identity is a composite of several identities, including his race and religion. It is impossible to determine which identity is most dominant. Enforcing laws to prevent other identities from overriding national concerns could be more effective.

5) An educated crowd could cynically translate encouraging a love for country as government propaganda. So the government’s efforts to unite the people could backfire.

6) It lets xenophobia fester and creates an “us-versus-them” mentality that pits citizens against the foreigners who come to the country. Foreigners end up being blamed for many things, most of which are products of poor policy rather than the acts of foreigners themselves. Citizens also lose sight of the importance of foreign talent or even unskilled workers for their country


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