Sunday, March 9, 2008

Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism By Martha Nussbaum and Charles Taylor

In Rabindranath Tagore's novel, The Home and the World, the young wife Bimala, entranced by the patriotic rhetoric of her husband's friend Sandip, becomes an eager devotee of the Swadeshi movement, which has organized a boycott of foreign goods. The slogan of the movement is Bande Mataram, "Hail Motherland." Bimala complains that her husband, the cosmopolitan Hindu landlord Nikhil, is cool in his devotion to the cause:

And yet it was not that my husband refused to support Swadeshi, or was in any way against the Cause. Only he had not been able whole-heartedly to accept the spirit of Bande Mataram.
'I am willing,' he said, to serve my country; but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.'
Americans have frequently supported the principle of Bande Mataram, giving the fact of being American a special salience in moral and political deliberation, and pride in a specifically American identity and a specifically American citizenship a special power among the motivations to political action...

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