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2. See Davis Condren and Mulligan and Richards 3. See Wood and 5. Sabine 6.
Table of contents

It is so, he claims, because it puts emphasis on personal bonds and the moral significance of being a member of a polity, which in his view are the foundations of morality. MacIntyre criticized what he took to be an "emasculated" form of patriotism, which he attributed to the "liberal moralist" who values universal and impersonal values over local loyalties. MacIntyre described such patriotism somewhat dismissively as the "perfectly proper devotion to one's own nation which must never be allowed to violate the constraints set by the impersonal moral standpoint.

The gap between Cause and goal

In his journey through the U. Americans, he claimed, had a patriotic spirit of their own. He hastily concluded that there are two types of patriotism: an "instinctive" patriotism, typical of monarchic governments, and a "reflective" patriotism, akin to republics. The former arises "from the disinterested, undefinable, and unpondered feeling that ties a man's heart to the place where he was born.

This instinctive love is mingled with a taste for old habits, respect for ancestors, and memories of the past. The rest of the time , individuals imbued with it sit passively chewing the cud, to use Burke's in famous expression: it "impels men to great ephemeral efforts, but not to continuous endeavor.

Having saved the state in time of crisis, it often lets it decay in time of peace. Its place, he is convinced, will be occupied by a "more rational" patriotism: "less generous, perhaps less ardent, but more creative and more lasting, it is engendered by enlightenment, grows by the aid of laws and the exercise of rights, and in the end becomes, in a sense, mingled with personal interest.

Contra Burke, Tocqueville would argue that enlightenment, reason, and greed do engender patriotic feelings: a reflective patriotism different in nature from chivalric patriotism. The inexorable progression of equality makes the existence of the latter impossible, tied as it was to a hierarchical, unequal society. Briefly put, Tocqueville distinguishes between a patriotism based on "unpondered feelings" that bind "a man's heart to the place where he was born;" based, furthermore, on tradition, ancestry, memories of the past; and a more reflective patriotism, one that is crucially anchored on political rights and institutions.

Michael Oakeshott

For example, in a language whose aesthetic undertones are undeniable, one commentator praised postbellum Germany for "arising like a Phoenix out of the test of the war", thus continuing to be the harmonious, conflict-free and uniform national community Volksgemeischaft that it had always been.

Habermas's criticism to the kind of patriotism implicit in these ideas is that that it relies on predetermined historical identities; on passive and inherited nationality; and on ascriptive pre-political criteria. It thus impedes the formation of public discourses of collective self-understanding.

As an alternative to the patriotism of the historians, Habermas proposed a notion of patriotism built on very different principles. Rather than taking for granted a passive and inherited nationality, it requires a conception of citizenship according to which free and equal citizens ought to have effective access to communication processes.

Instead of relying on ascriptive pre-political criteria, it relies on forms of political belonging that are based on public interpretation in the light of universalist norms. This is patriotism relieved from the aesthetic and affective constraints that Burke has in mind. Consider how these two types of patriotism seem to handle the problem of coming to terms with the past. I previously mentioned Burke's plea to throw a veil over the violent origins of the state. This plea is consistent with his belief that the emotions associated with the beautiful as opposed to the sublime are the main pillar of patriotism.

A criminal past does not make a country lovely. For this reason, Burke believes that it is desirable to throw a veil from the wardrobe of our moral imagination over many shameful crimes of the past, such as Great Britain's colonization of India. As was mentioned before, a generous interpretation of these passages would have it that Burke's purpose in idealizing British not so distant past in this regard is to mobilize moral outrage against certain political practices of his time. Let us concede this point and therefore rule out that Burke is an unprincipled politician, or even an author proposing ideas resembling anything like Machiavelli's justification of violence in the founding of states recall Machiavelli's praise of leaders such as Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, who acquired "new principalities" through their "own arms and virtue".

Whatever the purpose of Burke's idealization of the past, and however noble that purpose would be, idealizations of that sort lend themselves easily to deployment in the service of less noble causes. It is not that chivalric patriotism will inevitably lead citizens to deny colonial abuses for which one's country bears responsibility. But with some likelihood, it will distract attention away from problematic traditions i. Idealizing the past, regardless of the purpose, may produce unintended consequences.


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For authors like Burke, keenly sensitive to the unintended consequences of "untested methods" of government, this should be a great source of concern. By contrast to chivalric patriotism, for constitutional patriotism unveiling past crimes of one's nation is a patriotic exercise. These crimes should inspire a productive kind of shame.

Reflections on Political Theory

Christina Tarnopolsky's insights on the function of shame should be helpful here. Tarnopolsky argues that shame is a social emotion that reveals an inadequacy in the self individual or collective , thereby creating a certain degree of discomfort and perplexity that is necessary for self-consciousness, self-criticism, and moral and political deliberation. The outcome might be unpalatable, revealing ghastly events, such as widespread complicity with, or even passivity towards, wrongdoing. The public shame that these events trigger is a crucial component of the process of rectification.

This is why publicity and thorough investigation has been the road that many so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commissions throughout the world have taken, or at least suggested, as a national response to past injustice, be it at the domestic level or with regards to former colonies. In this vein, Habermas believed that in the German case, historical revisionism obscured one of the underlying domestic causes of the Holocaust anti-semitism.

Historical revisionism prevented many from fully comprehending the causes of genocide, some of which have to do with false beliefs about historical identities and prepolitical ascriptions. In short, constitutional patriotism brings to bear a broader palate of emotions as a support for patriotic loyalties. Shame, although not a pleasing emotion, is one of them. In turn, shame is the catalyst of beneficial processes of collective self-understanding and self-assertion. Burke's aesthetic-affective framework, then, is a dangerous one. Let me put the idea in a different way.

I have been arguing that Burkean political thought may promote what Martha Nussbaum calls "emotional narrowness:" caring only, or disproportionately, for our kin. Those far removed from us remain outside of the scope of concern, or even become a source of suspicion. Martha Nussbaum argues that such narrowness, although containing a positive dimension, is ultimately undesirable.

But concern should not stop with these local attachments.

Servicios Personalizados

This, however, is beside the point. How is one to transcend emotional narrowness if it is tied to local allegiances, and, even more, idealized ones? As we saw, Burke is suspicious of "doctrinal" interests that are detached from local and emotional allegiances. Supranational movements such as the Reformation introduce "other" interests that for him necessarily come into tension with those of local communities. The "Frenchness" that revolutionaries wish to create will come into conflict with traditions of Bretagne and Normandy just like in our day European identity will create be in tension with national identities, so critics say.

But Frenchness is a response to perceived past injustices. It might not be aesthetically pleasant, and it might seem to advance too broad and ambitious a scope for building political attachment. Beyond his skepticism, however, Burke has little to offer as an alternative. The foregoing characterization of chivalric patriotism should qualify the positive views of some scholars about Burke's emotionalism.


  • Table of contents.
  • Reflections on Political Theory: A Voice of Reason From the Past.
  • Editor’s Foreword.
  • Enlightenment Wars: Some Reflections on ‘Enlightenment Now,’ One Year Later?
  • Reflections on Political Theory by Wood, Neal, Professor (ebook);
  • To quote this article :.

For instance, Uday Mehta argues that such emotionalism underlies the vehemence with which Burke worked to bring Warren Hastings to justice for his responsibility in atrocities in India. Burke's political thought ascribes value to cultural dialogue between the unfamiliar and the unfamiliar, between "us" and the "other," something that liberal rationalism, so Mehta argues, does not do. Burke articulates a "cosmopolitanism of sentiments," Metha concludes, in which "through the conversation, which has as its purpose the understanding of the sentiments that give meaning to people's lives, wider bonds of sympathy can be forged.


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  5. Burke never came close to developing an account of sympathy as complete as Adam Smith's in his Theory of Moral Sentiments ; he nevertheless stressed the importance of sympathy in political and social relationships. Sympathy was more important for him than, for example, compassion because it had a broader scope: the former applies to anyone's welfare through extended identification with them, while the latter applies only to those in a worse situation than oneself.

    However, as Lauren Hall rightly argues, Mehta overstates Burke's cosmopolitanism. Burke's understanding of patriotism is a manifestation of this failed cosmopolitanism of sentiments. In this paper I have identified some of the features of Burke's patriotism in light of some general features of his political thought, and of recent conceptual and normative work on the understanding and implications of patriotism. To conclude, let us go back for the last time to the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.

    In the threshold of death, when "melancholy and depression were bringing him to his end" II, LXXIV , Don Quixote regained reason and abhorred of the books of chivalry that had driven him out of his mind. Now I see through their absurdities and deceptions, and it only grieves me that this destruction of my illusions has come so late that it leaves me no time to make some amends by reading other books that might be a light to my soul" II, LXXIV.

    The waning of the age of chivalry has a different effect on Burke. In his small treatise on aesthetics, he writes: "The passion excited by beauty is in fact nearer to a species of melancholy, than to jollity and mirth.

    That is how Burke admired the beauties of the age of chivalry; their destruction plunges him in a state of depression when the anger has subdued. His countenance is that of a sorrowful knight.

    London: Rivington, Burke on the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, Esq. Select Works of Edmund Burke. A New Imprint of the Payne Edition. Czobor-Lupp, Mihaela, "Herder on esthetic imagination as a source of post-national democratic solidarity: A contribution to Habermas' constitutional patriotism," Contemporary Political Theory Forst, Rainer, Contexts of Justice.

    MacIntyre, "Is Patriotism a Virtue? Primoratz ed. MacIntyre, Alasdair, After Virtue. Nussbaum, Martha, The Therapy of Desire.

    A Reflection on Populism - Books & ideas

    Upheavals of Thought. Primoratz, Igor and Aleksandar Pavkovic eds. Tarnopolsky, Christina, "Prudes, Perverts, and Tyrants. Tully, James ed. Zerrili, Linda, Signifying Women. Henceforth Enquiry. Burke's account of the emotional economy of political order is richer than Hobbes's, which focuses exclusively on the emotions such as fear. Hall quotes this passage in "Rights and the Heart. London: Rivington, , Emphasis added. In discussing patriotism in the context of the French Revolution, Burke also writes that "No man has ever willingly obeyed, much less was desirous of defending with his blood, a mischievous and absurd scheme of government.

    For public consumption, Burke eulogizes the queen, in the manner just described. By contrast, in his private correspondence he ridicules her. For an extremely interesting take on this passage from the perspective of gender theory see Linda Zerrili, Signifying Women. The exact reference goes as follows: "Many circumstances of this acquisition [of India] I pass by. There is a sacred veil to be drawn over the beginnings of all governments.

    Nota Bene:

    They are not independent of practical activity and do not in fact govern it RP They are, to borrow language from Michael Walzer, interpretations rather than discoveries or inventions Walzer And what they interpret are ways of doing things—customs, habits, traditions, and skills:.

    RP The Rationalist, unaware of the local origins of the universal principles he thinks he has identified, disparages knowledge gained through experience and rejects it in favor of something called reason.