Samuel Johnson, the eminent English writer, said that ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’. Applying this train of thought to the Commonwealth meeting that is taking place in Sri Lanka next week one wonders on which side patriotism rests and who is the scoundrel? Is patriotism a legitimate exercise that can only be practised by those upon whom the official status of statehood has been bestowed upon?
If so, then are the compatriots of that country the scoundrels? Can freedom fighters such as the Tamil Tigers (before their demise) be counted as patriots because they were fighting for a separate state under the banner of patriotism? If so, were they the scoundrels? When an internationally recognised body like the UN or the Commonwealth (which represent countries) takes sides in the battle of patriotism are they scoundrels too?
Does international relations come down to who the scoundrels really are? Is the battle cry of patriotism merely a Trojan Horse for the capitalists to hold onto vast acres of land? Is the measure of patriotism, then, acreage of land?