Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gerhardie on patriotism

I just found William Gerhardie's posthumous book God's Fifth Column: a Biography of the Age 1890-1940 in a used-book store. I knew that Gerhardie was the author of some obscure but influential novels, but I didn't know that he had written a history book.

On p. 201, while discussing the beginning of WWI, Gerhardie has this to say about patriotism:

"Patriotism is not an evil, provided it is quiet. But a peaceful nostalgia for one's own land is better. It is competitive patriotism which is a bore and a general nuisance, being unblushing self-approbation anonymously multiplied and hurled at the throats of other similarly swollen fools."

This struck a chord with me in view of my own little shire's orgy of patriotic excess ('Own the podium!') during the Winter Olympics.

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