Towards a Complexity of Patriotic Allegiance
Edited By Maciej Hułas and Stanisław Fel
Imaginary Love: Patriotism as Transitional Phenomena.
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Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, Saint Meinard USA
Imaginary Love: Patriotism as Transitional Phenomena
I have never… “loved” any people or collective—neither German people, nor the French, nor the American, nor the working-class or anything of that sort. I indeed love “only” my friends and the only kind of love I believe in is the love of persons. (Hannah Arendt)
As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world. (Virginia Woolf)
Human beings, as far as I know, are the only creatures that can experience love in relation to an imaginary object. Examples abound. People proclaim their love for individuals they have never met. The death of an international figure, like Princess Diana, can evoke intense grief, even though some of those grieving never encountered the deceased and are not part of the British nation. We can come to love characters on television, in novels, and movies. And, of course, one can profess love for his/her country and it is this love and devotion that are core expressions of patriotism1. Interestingly, the “object” of a patriot’s love is socially constructed and paradoxically ubiquitous and nowhere (no singular object of devotion), except in the minds and hearts of patriots.
Imaginary love vis-à-vis one’s country can be quite benign and in many instances be life-enhancing. Patriots can...
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