Bennett, Bill Mclean, Alvarez discussed on The Good Fight

The Good Fight


The objection to not to patriotism itself but to roll it can potentially plainest side. It has more to do with the extent to which it is potentially going to be taken up. Bennett does with any inherent internal contradictions. How different is your view on this. Do you think i'm missing something. Or is this just a different way off framing much the same. I'm very sympathetic to those objections. My question is really what the alternative is particularly. If we are not willing to engage in the kind of systematic often coercive manipulation of national culture that characterized the wartime mobilizations of the twentieth century civic nationalism or patriotism is thin it can be unsatisfactory and i don't think that it plays the definitive psychological role for many people that one might think based on some of the discussions of these issues but there are three hundred thirty or more million people have very different ethnic and cultural backgrounds in this country that spans a continent and more. And i'm just not sure that we can do a lot better than that in practice at least without adopting measures of centralized control that i at least would find frightening. Those would be was disease in language of american civic patriotism and the federal people's so i read your book in draft form and when i did that i got the impression that the isn't really a very clear answer to the problems that you oppose it but by deconstructing the free cases people have historically made for different ways of understanding american identity and patriotism left slightly wringing our hands and saying well so perhaps the whole enterprise is futile. I understand now from this conversation that i misunderstood redraft. Or you've changed your mind since that. What do we do going forward for those of us who think but it is important for precisely a huge agos nation to find something on which we can ready around something on which we can agree something by the way that makes it easier to say look we may have differences of raising regional other things but still owe you duty of solidarity. I owe you consideration precisely because books americans. What can the base so bad. beat i. Think somewhat counter intuitively that we need to encourage and protect institutions that can embody and cultivate a more limited sense of identity and solidarity and that will allow us to see better. What are the things that we truly have in common. I think the problem with consensus seeking patriotism is that we look for things. Everyone agrees on. And there's a short list and it doesn't tell us very much that's unsatisfying. I think that it's only through religious and local and interest based associations that we can figure out who we really are and once we have a sense of who we are we can determine how we relate to others which when we have something in common we our fellow citizens and we have certain cultural similarities. But not all of them so whereas conventional appeals to patriotism or nationalism. Have this top down. Quality that i think makes them thin and unsatisfactory. I'm much more interested in finding ways that we can pursue an realize disagreement s a serious and legitimate feature of american life rather than dismissing it in pursuit of some evanescent similarity. So that's very appealing to me. But it sounds a little abstract. What does it mean to take disagreement. As one of the fundamental building blocks of what is to be american know how is it. Different organizations you invoked from civic religious organizations Actually add up to a form of commonality because often they precisely emphasize what makes us different from each other. Not always problematic way nature of religion to say we are one religious community. We disagree with the alvarez's communities there's nothing inherently worries about it but it's hard to see how it can provide the fulcrum for some full of recognition that we have things in common no matter how thin the notion may be. Well i think that reflection on differences is often helpful for discovering which things we truly do have in common and which we don't so i'm teaching a seminar on nationalism. This week and among other things will be teaching the historian. Bill mclean essay. America idea or nation and one of the things he points out which i think is correct. Is that contrary to what you would think. It's often people who are most closely engaged with an identified with a religious community a town or region or labor union or other interest based association. Who are also most patriotic about america. As a whole. You would think that would be a paradox but in practice it actually isn't and again. I am less worried about difference pulling us apart when it is embodied by structured by institutions. The problem arises when we simply yelling at each other on social media. Why does that make a difference. Why is it a problem. Ppi java on social media. We shouldn't worry about it when it is for example different activist groups coming together but really in pursued off shouting into trouble so to differences. I i think it's very important. Psychologically and sociologically that we do things in person and face to face. The abstraction of social media encourages irresponsibility in heightened rhetoric of a kind. That is much more difficult when you actually have to look at the people you are talking to. The other is that institutions of this kind are responsible for delivering results. They promise something to those who participate and presumably if they don't provide the good they will lose their participation and support so again. I think that on the level of rhetoric. It's very easy to disagree and to yell at each other and to denounce each other but when you actually have to do things for particular people they're much greater incentives if there are no guarantees to engage in the kind of pragmatic negotiation and compromise. That is necessary to our institutions and if there is a sort of background intuition to the book. it's that like it or not and not everyone has liked it. The united states is not a classic nation state and can't be governed like one so here we are. We're stuck.

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