Probably more than he intended, Max Hastings' essay in The Times - appropriately coinciding with publication of the general election results - highlights one of the dangers of popular (and populist) patriotism. Hastings argues that the British (and indeed French and Russian) aircraft carriers give an appearance of strength, but are of little use compared with smaller ships that need to be built instead.

The philosopher Hannah Arendt rightly said that patriotism is part of the world of appearances, but, unfortunately attention to appearance and symbols often means giving reality short shrift. The ordinary patriot, such as those former Labour voters who distrusted Corbyn's lack of patriotism, would not intend to be putting pressure on politicians to go in for 'hairy chest beating', as Hastings puts it, rather than proper security, but nonetheless can easily fall into doing so if she worries about national humiliation.

I have no truck with people who scoff at or look down on popular patriotism, but I feel free to warn about the dangers inherent in the patriot's credo. One of those dangers is to squander resources on making a delusive show of strength rather than on effective defence and security.

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