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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Friday, 24 September 2010

Polyglot Music: Joseph Roth and the Imbecility of Patriotism

With the current spectacle of the French Prime Minister (himself of immigrant stock) hounding the Roma and even Labour leadership candidates talking solemnly of the need to address public "concern" about immigration it is time to listen to the bracing good sense of the Austrian writer Joseph Roth:

One might say: Patriotism has killed Europe...European culture is much older than the European nation states. Greece, Rome, Israel, Christendom and Renaissance, the French Revolution and Germany's eighteenth century, the polyglot music of Austria and the poetry of the Slavs: these are the forces that have formed Europe...All are naturally opposed to the barbarity of so-called national pride.
The imbecile love of the "soil" kills the love of the earth. The pride of being born in a particular country, within a particular nation, wrecks the feeling of European universality."

Joseph Roth, "Europe is Possible Only Without the Third Reich" (1934) from The White Cities

1 comment:

Andrew Kenneally said...

"Anyone deserves the West who arrives with fresh energy to break up the deadly, antiseptic boredom of its civilization."

Joseph Roth- 'The Wandering Jews.'

To lift, profitably is doubtful, a bit of something I'd written elsewhere, though to add it is written in a certain flippant tone, from the perspective of some exaggerated or fictitious consciousness:

We,(the Irish) or at least I, don't understand, or don't want to understand, the atrophied need of other peoples for rational maps to and of existence, within which self-formulated structures they, the world, and all within it, have their solidly defined places.
. . . All incidentally reminds me of some of Dostoevsky's musings about the Russian abroad, and perhaps more or else specifically himself: that there was an ingrained sense of cultural inferiority, of uncouthness compared to the civilised Europeans, but it would begin to dawn on him that he was actually the superior one, broader, less able to exist within 'form', and this at being at ease within form was much of what this being civilised or cultivated comprised; the capacity to exist without doubt within a definition, and this capacity for inhabiting narrowed dimensions endowed them with boundless certainty and self-righteousness; in subservience to the idea of the nation-state, for example, and beneath which certainty those not capable of dwelling comfortably and confidently within 'form' mistakenly quailed.