There’s been a lot of negative press about Reclaim Australia (and rightly so) over the past few days, but people are avoiding using the word ‘nationalism’ as a descriptor.
Nationalism is a problem. Nationalism was described by George Orwell as “power-hunger tempered by self-deception.”
The issue with Nationlism is its inherently divisive. It highlights a perceived difference between people of that nation, and other nations. Putting an emphasis on the individuals identity with a nation. The problem with this is that a nation has many diffident individuals that belong to it from many different cultures. By blurring the lines between cultural heritage and national identity, people are robbed of their individualism.
It does have uglier sides, too. Nationalism that worked its way into social policies saw the genocides of the 20th century that are forever embedded into the human race’s shameful history. Places such as Germany, Turkey, Japan, Cambodia, and the former Yugoslavia dealt with the brunt of Nationalism’s ugly face in the form of ethnic cleansing, economic dislocation and mass genocide, partly due to the fact that Nationalism calls for the blurring between cultural heritage and national identity.
So, is Reclaim Australia a Nationalist movement, or is it just Patriotism?
Let’s take a look at the key differences and answer each:
According to George Orwell, “nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all respects, while patriotism is merely a feeling of admiration for a way of life.”
Reclaim Australia have yet to cross this line, but we see a lot of its supporters claiming superiority of the Australian way of life over how other countries operate. Not only an open denigration of Islamic nations, but nations throughout Europe where they perceive a ‘molestation’ of their ways due to multiculturalism or losing their ‘national identity’. On the other hand, Orwell described patriotism as a feeling of admiration for a way of life. Between these two stark differences, Reclaim Australia seems to fall between the two.
“Patriotism is based on affection and nationalism is rooted in rivalry and resentment. One can say that nationalism is militant by nature and patriotism is based on peace.”
Let’s take a look at this difference. Particularly the ‘peaceful’ element. There seems to be elements of rivalry in the Reclaim Australia movement, a constant denigration of those who speak against their ideas, tarring them as ‘treasonous’. We also saw on Saturday these were hardly based on ‘peace’, as much as Shermon tried to convince otherwise.
“Most nationalists assume that their country is better than any other, whereas patriots believe that their country is one of the best and can be improved in many ways. Patriots tend to believe in friendly relations with other countries while some nationalists don’t.”
We don’t even need to list examples as to why Reclaim Australia believe Australia to be a nation better than any other. Slamming other nations for their ‘multicultural failure’ throughout the Middle East, Europe and even at times Asia, particularly Indonesia, for their laws. It’s not just criticism, but blatant superiority complexes. Friendly relations with other countries went out the door with many of Reclaim Australia supporters spewing racist nonsense and at times completely ignoring our obligations to the UN in favour of ‘preserving our ways’.
“In patriotism, people all over the world are considered equal but nationalism implies that only the people belonging to one’s own country should be considered one’s equal.”
We’ve seen the signs claiming differences between cultures and showing a disregard for equality between both. It just doesn’t seem to be a goal of their supporters.
Even the attacks on those who try to speak of equality, claiming they cannot be equal whilst they follow ‘evil ideologies’. There’s certainly no speaking of equalism worldwide.
“A patriotic person tends to tolerate criticism and tries to learn something new from it, but a nationalist cannot tolerate any criticism and considers it an insult.”
Anyone who attended a rally can attest to the fact that criticism and open discussion of Reclaim Australia rally-goers was never going to happen. Pre and post rally, it’s still evident this will never happen.
Every discussion either ends in you being called a terrorist sympathiser or traitor to your country. Both of which reek of Nationalism.
So what about the offensiveness of the flag burning at the Sydney rally?
Firstly, opponents in this debate like to rewrite history and pretend that our current national flag – the blue Australian ensign – has been our national flag forever and that people have “fought and died” for it.
AusFlag.com.au wrote the below points as to why this is just stupid:
There are many problems with this argument. The first is that the blue ensign became Australia′s national flagonly in 1954. Prior to that date, its use by ordinary citizens was strongly and actively discouraged. The blue flag was not some glorious and romantic flag of the people, but an instrument of Government, much like the Coat of Arms.
This meant that the public didn′t officially have a flag to fly other than the Union Jack, which is what many people did. In this official vacuum, if anyone wanted a more Australian symbol they used the red ensign as a de-facto Civil Flag. It was not strictly correct, but it happened at every level of the community, including the Armed Services.
The second problem with this argument is that members of the Armed Services in Australia never “fought and died” for a flag anyway. They fought and died for our country – a subtle but important difference.
The third problem is that there is a wealth of pictorial evidence which proves that the red ensign was the flag which both the public and members of the Armed Services overwhelmingly related to and “adopted” as Australia′s de-facto national flag prior to 1954. This period of course includes both World War I and World War II.
In fact, in 1967, prime minister Robert Menzies wrote in his book Afternoon Light, Some Memories of Men and Events
“In the year of my birth 1894 – Queen Victoria was on the throne of the United Kingdom and Ireland and the Dominions and Colonies beyond the Seas… For us, the maps of the world were patterned with great areas of red, at a time when red was a respectable colour.”
It seems clear Menzies′ arbitrary changing in 1954 of the then popular Red Ensign to blue, without consulting the Australian people, was for blatant political purposes in his campaign against the “red” communist peril.
A lot of people are mad at the fact the flag was burnt at a Sydney rally, even though in Australia, flag desecration is legal.
Many have pointed out its just a piece of cloth. In many counties, inappropriate use of their flag (be it hanging it upside down, allowing it to touch the ground, even wearing it) is illegal.
Yet, in Australia, we step on it when we print it on thongs, eat off it when we print it on plates, use it to clean up mess when we print it on napkins, and allow bodily fluids to build up on it when we print it on clothes. Sure, this isn’t a protest in any way, but it’s still frowned upon in other nations.
The issue seems to be the burning that bothers people.
What seems to be neglected by the opposition is the fact it was burned by the nation’s first people. Indigenous Australians, as a protest and rejection of the oppression that the British Settlement inflicted upon their people. They didn’t burn a flag of a kangaroo on the green background, they didn’t burn an Aboriginal flag, they burnt what is to them as flag of oppression, with the Blue Ensign being an obvious link to our British history – a link to British oppression of the Aboriginal people.
You can cast judgement on flag burning being acceptable or disrespectful, that’s fine – but this is not tolerable:
People can make their own judgements for whether the Reclaim Australia movement is Nationalist or just ‘roided up Patriotism.’
But please, keep your head on.