Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Notion Of Patriotism

Another light blogging day - my fingertips are still bruised from that Lucifer post - but I thought I'd point to a nice little article by J .K. Rowling (thanks to Kevin Drum for the link) in the Times regarding the importance of the welfare state. It's a good article, made better by Rowling's direct experience, but I think my favourite line is this:
...I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug.
When I was younger I used to view patriotism with distinct suspicion and condescension. Having mellowed as I have gotten older (fuck off, I have), I've realised that my problem isn't patriotism itself, simply the myriad evils committed in its name, and the equally expansive assortment of actions that are patriotic and yet self-styled patriots often refuse to have anything to do with.

Actually bothering to pay taxes to the society that got you to where you are sounds like a pretty textbook case of the latter, even for those people who didn't actually take advantage of benefits themselves, but still gaining the advantage of a labour force kept healthy and protected by the machinery of the state.

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