Sunday, September 4, 2011

Patriotism -- Tibe and others

So, here I'm looking at patriotism in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

Different characters have different ideas of what patriotism is.

SPOILERS

"Death walks behind the king" (3).

And the king is the perfect patriot (19), so therefore death walks behind patriotism? Or patriotism involves sacrifice?

"I fear those who sent you. I fear liars, and I fear tricksters, and worst I fear the bitter truth. And so I rule my country well. Because only fear rules men. Nothing else works. Nothing else lasts long enough. You are what you say, yet you're a joke, a hoax. There's nothing in between the stars but void and terror and darkness, and you come out of that all alone trying to frighten me. But I am already afraid, and I am the king. Fear is king!" (40)

Well, the king of Karhide is of the opinion that fear must be used to rule...and that patriotism involves fear?

" 'What the devil, I know what you were exiled for, my dear: for liking Karhide better than its king.'

'Rather for liking the king better than his cousin, perhaps.'

'Or for liking Karhide better than Orgoreyn,' said Yegey" (84).

Not sure if this has to do with patriotism, but it might...

"Argaven was not sane; the sinister coherence of his mind darkened the mood of his capital; he fed on fear" (101).

Again, not sure if this is to do with patriotism...

"He wanted his hearers to be frightened and angry. His themes were not pride and love at all, though he used the words perpetually; as he used them they meant self-praise and hate" (102).

This is just a small part of a whole paragraph about Tibe's opinion of patriotism. The gist -- Tibe's opinion is that proper patriotism is hate and fear of anything outside of one's country.  There's also a little bit, perhaps, on page 103.

"If you play against your own side you'll lose the whole game. That's what these fellows with no patriotism, only self-love, can't see" (146).

So we don't know what Shusgis' definition of patriotism is, but we know that it doesn't include self-love.

"If Tibe had known any good reason to fear you, he would have accused you of serving a faction, and Argaven, who is very easily moved by fear, would likely have had you murdered" (197).

Well at any rate it's about how politics work.

"And I wondered, not for the first time, what patriotism is, what the love of country truly consists of, how that yearning loyalty that had shaken my friend's voice arises: and how so real a love can become, too often, so foolish and vile a bigotry. Where does it go wrong?" (280)

So, patriotism can mean love, though it can also mean hate. Depending on who you ask.

" 'He loved his country very dearly, sir, but he did not serve it, or you. He served the master I serve. [. . .] Mankind.'

As I spoke I did not know if what I said was true. True, in part; an aspect of the truth. It would be no less true to say that Estraven's acts had risen out of pure personal loyalty, a sense of responsibility and friendship towards one single human being, myself. Nor would that be the whole truth" (293).

I've got this here instead of saving it for Therem's post because although it's about Therem (as is the previous one) it's not said by Therem.

Basically, patriotism here would mean:

*love
*love to individuals
*love to something bigger?

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