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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. Roobin
    August 20, 2013 @ 5:35 am

    Good stuff – I'm glad you reminded me, whenever I hear the phrase "don't you want to be part of something bigger" or words to that effect, either in life or in culture I always think "no, I want to be bigger".


  2. Anonymous
    August 20, 2013 @ 10:16 am

    What always annoyed me about the line was the idea that a damp little island… which still has a massive world-spanning empire it has brought into the war with it, as well as allies like Canada and Australia which turned out not to be as separated from that empire as some may have thought, (and those are the sorts of places we don't tend to forget have real people in them, for another inaccurate use of 'we') — could possibly be described as "alone". Probably because I was once under the illusion that the UK was the only country in that side of the war at the time, and it's now teaching that illusion to a new generation of children.

    Taking credit for the English Channel is irritating as well. "We're more admirable than the French because the Germans ran into a formidable natural barrier and had to stop."

    More pertinently, there's something in here where I find it bafflingly difficult to put my principles into practice, and that's sport. Even though I explicitly reject nationalism and patriotism, the idea that I should be any more concerned about someone who lives 50 miles from me than someone who lives 5000 miles away being obviously ridiculous, I somehow find the appeal of 'supporting' English and British sportspeople and teams impossible to resist. It's probably just some instinct towards communality, so it's not unduly troubling, but caring more about British sportspeople than foreign sportspeople is uncomfortably similar to, say, caring more when comparatively small numbers of British or American people get blown up than when huge numbers of Iraqi or Afghan people get blown up. Maybe I can just afford to behave in a completely daft way when it's over sporting results which are so completely bereft of real meaning.


  3. Matthew Celestis
    August 21, 2013 @ 3:18 am

    There is something mawkish and saccharine about modern patriotism.

    I get a bit nauseated by some of the charitable concerns aimed at the British army like 'Help the Heroes.' Those gestures seem to want to avoid endorsing the missions that the armed forces are on, while at the same time using the language of 'heroes' in a way that avoids criticism of the missions.

    It is as though the British armed forces have been turned into another set of victims, the objects of charity and compassion, rather than either the agents of justice and British values or as the agents of a capitalist imperialistic agenda.


  4. jane
    August 22, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

    Some of your best work, Jack, and compelling enough for me to recant whatever I previously said to defend the notion of patriotism in the first place.


  5. jane
    August 22, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

    re: "caring more about British sportspeople"

    It's always easier to care about people you know than people you don't know. Also, it's quite likely that the way our brains evolved and are organized plays a large role in determining our affectational responses. We evolved to deal with the particulars of day-to-day life; while reason dictates that the lives of a thousand strangers carry greater weight than a dozen acquaintances, our emotions themselves are generated primarily by concrete experience, not generalized abstractions.

    But one should not feel discomfort for supporting any particular sporting group. Unlike the competition for material goods and power in the real world, which is virtually compulsory, participation in sport — beyond the hegemony of childhood academic institutions — is almost always voluntary. Athletes are well aware that losing is a part of the game, and necessarily have to accept that construct as part of their participation. Whether it's truly meaningful to engage in sport, directly or vicariously, is another matter.


  6. Jack Graham
    August 22, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    Ah, you guessed the origins of this post. It began, as you have spotted, as a response to what you said in the comments under the Empty Child post at the Eruditorum, but firstly it grew too long to be a comment, and secondly I deliberately removed it from that context and held it back for a while in case it came over as aggressive towards you (which I'd hate). 🙂


  7. Mike
    April 24, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

    Americans are really proud of their country. They take more pride I think then Canadians.


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