Political Compass #3: Pride in one's country is foolish

Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).

And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were. I will also suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation.

It might also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked.

Now, I appreciate that here is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them.

(The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll let each one die before starting the next. To date, the threads are:
Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong)

**Proposition #3: No one chooses their country of birth, so it’s foolish to be proud of it.

SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Agree.

My agreement with this is not quite as straightforward as my disagreement with #2’s “My country, right or wrong” but still strong enough to warrant a Strongly Agree. However, I appreciate that there is far more scope for a difference of opinion between non-radical, “moderate” people here than the IMO highly authoritarian bias of #2. I also feel that this proposition is worded with a little clever conservative bias since Agreement requires one to describe people as “foolish”, a rather harsh adjective, when “puzzling” or “myopic” might have been easier to Agree to. Nevertheless, I stick with my tick.

Pride is an ugly sentiment, unbecoming of one who seeks to understand the world. There is, of course, nothing wrong with appreciating, liking or even loving a given country (whether or not it is where you were born); its culture, its rich history, the characteristics of its people you find endearing etc. And one can certainly enjoy singing a “national” song or cheering a sports team wearing “national” colours along with people you consider to share a bond with. One might even be proud to represent one’s country in some way, since it demonstrates some level of excellence or ability which one has personally attained.

But being proud of one’s country? This entails an unhealthy “them and us” mentality, perhaps even a feeling of superiority which is, I believe, outright dangerous. And everyone has to be born somewhere - what word describes somebody who is proud of the geographical location of their birth?

“Fool”, I say. Authoritarianism thrives on nationalism, which a clever man once described as “an infantile disease; the measles of the world”. By saying “fool” I believe I garner, say, a further -0.25 on the social scale.

True. Given that the different forms and sets, that include you, are themselves malleable and subject to change over time and space.

Strongly agree. Pride in one’s actions, in one’s country’s actions, and so on, is perfectly plausible to me, but pride in the country itself is silly for any reason.

I generally agree with the statement, although I think it is poorly worded. (But I always overthink questions in surveys of that kind)

How does one separate different kinds of “pride in one’s country”:
[li]Kneejerk patriotism/nationalism[/li][li]Pride in one’s country’s current attitudes/actions/institutions/role in the world[/li][li]Pride in one’s country’s historical attitudes/actions/institutions/role[/li][li]Pride in one’s country’s artistic/cultural/culinary achievements, either recent or traditional[/li][li]Dedication to or at least acknowledgement of traditions and cultural institutions[/li][li]Pride in one’s national governing institutions[/li][li]Pride in one’s national social institutions[/li][li]boilerplate blah blah blah yes I am proud to be a whateverian blah blah[/li][li]Pride in one’s national team winning the world cup[/li][/ul]

I would expect that most people agree in principle that it is foolish to have pride in the land of one’s birth solely because one was born there (except in maybe a “my culture is ok too” sort of way). I think most people who have overweening pride in their own country feel that they are justified, whereas those foolish foreigners are just kneejerk nationalists. My pride in my country is entirely justified. Yours, maybe not so much.

The counterpoint to the pride leads to authoritarianism would be that pride, or at least some common and shared feelings and attitudes can unify a nation/state against centrifugal forces and avoid strife from the other direction.

Unsurprisingly, Eureka (-5.85,-0.15) picks strongly disagree. (Well, actually the strongly part might be surprising). Regardless of where one is born, one is capable of evaluating what would make a country worthy of having pride in. One can then decide whether the country that one is born in or is living in is worthy and then decide whether to have pride in it. Having pride in a nation purely because it is where one was born is perhaps a little silly, but it is quite common.

Strongly disagree.

Pride in one’s country is a natural road towards civic involvement and attempting to better one’s country. After all, one wants their natural pride of their country to be justified.

True, pride in one’s country can be used as an excuse for dangerous actions- the Nazi movement is an easy example of that. But a complete lack of pride in one’s country can lead to just as dangerous actions from the opposite front: the Weathermen, for example, and various Communist insurgencies.

Pride in one’s country and institutions lends itself to working within that country and within those institutions, whereas a lack of pride leads one to ignoring or destroying those institutions.

Interesting, John Corrado. I hadn’t thought of it like that.

Solely the concept of pride and its maintenance, will suffice for that. There’s no need for it to be continuously directed towards a single receptacle.

Strongly disagree.

No one chooses their country of birth but they do choose (in some cases) to stay and participate. Having pride in that is not foolish.

Remaining in a country with open borders that you have absolutely no pride in whatsoever seems more foolish (unless you’re active toward change).

I think we need to clarify our definition of “pride.”

Pride is something that should stem from personal achievment. There is no achievment in being born on this piece of dirt as opposed to that one, so pride in a geographical fluke of birth is beyond stupid.

Pride in one’s service to one’s country is different. It is earned by personal effort. Gratitude or love for a country is also different than pride. Pride at simply being “American” is just as retarded as being proud to be “white.” Being American, per se, is not an accomplishment and is nothing to be “proud” (or ashamed) of.

Well, you’re right, we definitely need a definition of “pride.” You seem to interpret pride as either “arrogance” or “a sense of accomplishment in achievement.” I intrepret pride as “being proud of something possessed.” As an American, I possess a great government, a brilliant Constitution, and a culture that emphasizes and supports individuality, creativity, and self-reliance. At what point does honor, respect, and love differ from pride? Can I love, honor, and respect something I am a part of without also being proud of it?

I don’t think pride has to come from personal accomplishment. In fact, I think that pride can engender personal accomplishment or action- one wishes to emulate the things that makes one proud, or at least not disappoint.

-3.2/-6.1 here, and I ticked “disagree”, for all the reasons John Corrado has posted (but not “strongly disagree” because I think many people take the pride thing to excess).

Maybe my definition of pride is skewed from yours… but I think that should be factored into the scoring of the test.

I of course marked strongly disagree.

  1. It does indeed depend on how you interpret the word pride. Unfortunately at times the English language is not one that is uniform. Pride can be a disdainful, haughty feeling or it can be a feeling of appreciation and self-respect. One is a vain position and the other is a perfectly healthy one.

  2. As it is, I don’t feel a “disdainful” I’m better than everyone else pride in my nation. I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for my country. Remember a country is not just lines on a map. It is history, culture, government, heroes and dreamers, people stretching back generations who have sacrificed and done great deeds, had great moments et cetra. There is just simply nothing wrong with being proud of your nation.

  3. Some nations are inherently superior to others. Some people chalk burying women up to the necks in dirt and stoning them to death up to cultural relativism, I chalk it up to an inferior savage culture. Simple as that. I can recognize cultural relativism but that does not mean I need to throw away my values whenever I see them violated by other cultures. Especially when we have the case of one person being horrifically mistreated by their culture.

I see pride as a feeling of personal ownership or involvement in something. I may feel lucky to have been born in the US but I don’t see that the advantages of my birth have anything to do with me personally so I can’t take “pride” in it. It would be like being proud to win a lottery.

Pride is a good feeling about one’s self. nationalistic pride is only justified insofar as at is earned by some contribution to whatever is good about that nation.

I believe the debate here is what is meant by the proposition.

If it means, “proud because I was born in it,” the arguments about civic and cultural pride mean bupkis. If you were born in Iran, would you instantly be proud of Iran?

If it means, “I can be proud of my country and culture,” then yes, all of the above arguments can be true.

I’m proud of my Mexican heritage, just as I’m proud of my American heritage. I think the Mexican culture, and probably most cultures I could be born into, has its own merits. So no, I don’t think it is illogical to be proud of your culture. On the other hand, being proud of one’s culture does not exclude being ashamed of one’s government, and I certainly have my issues with how Mexico is run.

So we have to define three things; one, what the question means, two, what “pride” means, and three, what “country” means.

But isn’t being part of a nation and culture inherently being some contribution to that nation and culture? I exist within the United States; the culture and political process reflects upon me, but it reflects me just as much. Do I only get to be proud of the Constitution if I was one of those who wrote it? Or can I be proud of it because I help keep the government based upon it running? And if the latter, what do we mean by that? Do I have to serve in office in order to be upholding the Constitution? Or is merely voting enough? Or can non-impedence- my lack of attempting to destroy the Constitution- be enough to be seen as assisting it? After all, democracy only works so long as enough members of the democracy actually want it to exist.

Yes. Just like you only get to be proud of Hamlet if you wrote it. The Constitution is not my accomplishment so it makes no sense for me to be proud of it. I admire it. I am grateful for it, and when I vote I do feel some pride that I am participating in a democratic process. I may even feel some pride in whatever hand I had in protecting it during my military service, but all those things are separate from feeling a sense of pride or “ownership” in the Constitution itself. That is someone else’s accomplishment.

Well, then, we’re not going to agree on this.

I see pride as veneration and idolizing: because I am proud of the Constitution, I work to ensure that our government stays within its guidelines, and vote regularly; because I am proud of American culture, I attempt to stay tolerant of differing ideas and values; because I am proud of American history, I attempt to model my actions on those of my heroes Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman.

To be proud of those things and to not venerate them, to actively work against them or to simply ignore them, is hypocrisy in my mind. A common one, but that commonality doesn’t render the pride itself immoral or wrong.

I would suspect it would rather be the contrary. Being critical of one’s country would motivate one to try and improve things.

Precisely. And the institutions might need to be destroyed or rewamped. Here, you’re assuming that these institutions are the best possible, something you can believe only if you’re too prideful to notice/ accept your country’s flaws.

Well…first, for the wide majority of people, it would be very difficult, or even near impossible to leave and to be accepted in a country they would like better.

Second, why would you need to feel pride in your country to stay? You just need to feel it’s okay and/or that other countries aren’t any better.