This kind of argument reminds me why liberalism is so alien to me, in many ways. I have no problem with patriotism in its most sentimental forms. In fact, I love it in all its sentimental garishness. I don’t like it when it is abused by partisans, like Romney’s ugly attempt to insinuate that the president doesn’t “believe in America” as he does. But what Roger Scruton in his fascinating new book, Green Philosophy, calls oikophilia – a love of one’s own home – requires no intellectual defense to me. It is an integral part of human nature. It comes very naturally to me.
And this is where British patriotism is particularly interesting, because it also focuses on the monarchy, which is a way of indirectly celebrating the country. Next week, Brits will have a four-day weekend to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Bunting, flags, flotillas, marches, street-fairs will proliferate. And it will not be some jingoistic thing. It will simply be a royal anniversary. Because the head of state is not a politician, because monarchy taps into the irrationality of love of country, it deftly deflects nationalism into patriotism. Its very anachronism empowers it. Which is why I couldn’t really defend the monarchy’s persistence on liberal grounds. But because I’m a Tory, I don’t have to.
*Yeah, I know. Like hell this just happened!