Part 2. Are You a TRUE Patriot?
In the last part of this series, I described concepts such as libertarianism, pacifism and Marxism; and what it means to say these things ‘exist’. I said that we can group people together based on their ideas of what Marxism (for example) is. If we are generous about this grouping, we might get one nebulous global idea of Marxism, everyone in one group. If we divide further, we might have many Marxisms.
What I didn’t talk about what whether any of those individuals think they are Marxist, or whether they just have opinions about Marxism. In other words I want to bring in sectarianism into the discussion.
I’m bored of talking about Marxism though, so let’s change our concept. Patriotism works just like Marxism. Most of us have some idea what ‘Patriotism’ means. At one level we’re all right, and Patriotism is some nebulous concept that includes all our views. At another level we might split into specific (possibly political) understandings of what is Patriotic, and at the extreme everybody’s view is different in some way to everyone else’s. [That much is a summary of last time].
So we can group people that way. For any arbitrary threshold in our heatmap, we can imagine the groupings of people that arise – groups of people who have the ‘same’ view of Patriotism.
But we can also group people according to their sectarian understanding of the concept. A certain group of people will recognize themselves as patriotic, and will characterize other people as un-patriotic. This is the first time I’ve mentioned un-something. And it is important when considering sectarianism.
So what does this do for my thesis?
Well. Glad you asked.
Two Different Criteria for Making Groups
Sectarian understandings of Patriotism are fascinating. They fill books. They start wars. They assassinate journalists. But they aren’t what I want to talk about in this series.
You see, in the first way of looking at concepts, we might put two people in the same group. For some level of detail, they have the same understanding of Patriotism. But they may think they have different understandings. They may loathe each other. They may think each other the worst kind of traitor possible.
In other words, beliefs about sectarianism are not the same as natural groupings around concepts.
Now, I think the two things often go hand in hand. We might naturally have a different opinion of what is Patriotic, if we’re on opposite sides of some civil war, for example. But the correlation should not be confused with identity. And, when I’ve been trying to think through these issues, one of the things I find, over and over, is that I’ve accidentally slipped into thinking about the wrong kind of group, and that is clouding the issue.
Why Bother Talking Sectarianism?
So, this was a waste of a post then, talking about what isn’t important.
Well. I think it feeds into the next post, because there is one feature of sectarianism I want to point out.
When sectarianism is in place, people listen more to those in the ‘in’ group than the ‘out’ group. So if somebody’s concept of Patriotism is changing, it is likely changing because of influences from the ‘in’ group, and reactions to the ‘out’ group.
Over time, these groups tend to wander over the heatmap I drew in the last post. And they do so by coalescing around people they sympathize with, and fleeing from those they hate.
These kinds of dynamics are the main topic of part 4 (which may be the final part, I don’t know). But first part 3, where we get into the really juicy stuff.
This mini-series is exploring the theological model I am using for some work I am doing at the moment. I am experimenting with different ways to express the core ideas, because I’m not sure what makes the most sense. I’d really appreciate feedback, suggestions and links to other similar work.
Oh, and I’m still an atheist 🙂