Patriotism and Motherland

Sutputra Radheye

Let's talk about something, something that is as important to you as your education, as your profession. Being a citizen of such a prestigious, and liberal country, I am considering you to be in the secular class of citizens. And, I am sure, you all indeed are. So, let's talk about patriotism, and the word 'Motherland'. I know, you all have read a lot before coming to this part, so let me keep it short and simple.

Patriotism- a term we all have come across quite often. Definition-wise, it can be considered as the quality of being a staunch supporter of one's own nation. In the due course of time, it has included a word into its definition, thus making it: the quality of being a blind staunch supporter of one's own nation, regardless of all the chaos, melancholies, violence, and assassination of civil rights. In almost all the countries across the world, patriotism has taken the shape of jingoism to destroy the basic need of a nation: its population. History has many examples of it. From Hitler to Mussolini, from Stalin to Kim Jong-un, we can find many leaders who have used patriotism to jingoism. But how?

While seeking for answers, we must look back at history. It is the subject that has all the answers. It has all the thesis and anti-thesis, and the struggle, the synthesis between the two opposite forces. And, whenever a struggle has taken place, we can find a common chord between most of them, the word 'Motherland'. Almost all the countries in some point or the other have used the word motherland to address their countries (and fatherland in special cases like Germany etc.). Though, it is said that the term was used as an honour to the land that has given birth to us, provided us with food, roof and employment to earn a living, but is it as simple as it looks?

I know, the question might sound absurd but it brings me to a far more logical answer to the personification of nation as a woman (and very rarely, men). Across all the ages: Primitive Communal Age, Age of slavery, Age of Feudalism, and now, the Age of Industrialism, or in simple, the Age of Capitalism, we have had a male dominant society, a patriarchal one. It was men who was thought to be the responsible class. Women were nothing but objects of barter, and pleasure. Though, it is changing now when we are facing dialectics for a liberal change, but patriarchy is still prevalent. And secondly, it has always been men who fought wars. Though, there were females who were knights, kings and in armies, but the number was considerably very low. What I am trying to convey is, it was men who was the targeted mass, the ones who could win them wars, who could produce and take care of the economy.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, came up with a theory known as the Oedipus Complex, which has always been relevant in the society, and is a major factor in the personification of nation as 'Mother', knowingly or unknowingly, except the voyeurism aspect of it. A male child always shares a close bond to the parent of opposite gender, that is, the mother.

(If we seek for a specific example, during the October Revolution, and The Russian Civil War, the image of Mother Russia was in propaganda of the supporters of the White Movement who were trying to manipulate the people to interpret the struggles against the Bolsheviks as a battle against the 'Oppressors of Mother Russia'. The cover page of Sentry Magazine depicted the image in 1932.

In case of Germany, it was the authoritarian rule of parentalism that binds your tongue to obey your father, which was manifested in the society to mobilize soldiers during World War.)

As the strong working class of the society were men, referring to the country as 'Motherland' seemed the best option. It might have or might not have been a strategic step but to mobilise the men, the word 'Mother' played a pivotal role. Men started feeling a sense of connection and bond with his country immediately. And, the word mother is subjective. For everyone, the description of it is different and at a very individual level. Thus, it helped the ruling classes to emotionally enslave men to die, to silence their free voices, and dechannelize the thoughts of citizens into different subjective aspects. No-one thought of a perfect motherland in the same manner. Everyone had their own definition. Thus, leaving 'All hats and no cattle'.

This step, in the age of capitalism, should be called a masterstroke. With the investment of a word, they could mobilise millions of men to fight, bleed and die for them. Also, it almost nullified the probability of tough intellectual questions being thrown at the governance or decisions of the establishment as it connected patriotism to the age long authoritarian parentalism, the rules of which could never be disobeyed by the children. Only a fistful of citizens dared to ask questions like: Why people are dying in the name of countries? Why humanity is struggling for geography? What is patriotism? Is it not questioning the country or is it pointing out its fault to make it better? So on and so forth, and have always been considered as anti-nationalists by the establishments, and were often executed or assassinated.

Everything in the world has its own pros and cons. It is the percentage they share that makes the difference. The personification of nation as 'Mother' too has its pros and cons. The pros are quite visible, and have been discussed about quite a lot. But, the darker side of this personification is the oppression on intellectuality and the right of questioning. The over-dose of personification often leads to the transformation of patriotism to jingoism and fascism, thus making the people blind, and history is the proof of it.

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Vol. 52, No. 7, Aug 18 - 24, 2019