Re: patriotism and the abuse thereof
Yes. I am fully willing to acknowledge the fact that patriotism can be abused- in fact, I acknowledged this in the original post. But I've always felt that the self-interest vs. human interest dichotomy was a false one. I don't see how they cannot be welded.
In actuality, what jump started my thoughts along this line was a recent argument between soulonds9 and I about Londo. soulonds9 seems to be of the impression that Londo's final sacrifice "doesn't count" as a heroic action because it is largely Centauri-centered and not performed for the galaxy at large. And I don't think that's necessarily fair. The Third Principle of Sentient Life doesn't specify that all applicable actions be intergalactic in nature. In fact, it explicitly states that dying for one person- a loved one- counts just as much as dying for a larger cause.
Mind you, I wasn't attempting to excuse or defend Londo's actions during the Shadow War. (At least, I certainly hope I don't come across as a Centauri apologist, because that's not my intent at all.) But there is more to Londo than that- and that's why he's a magnificent and endlessly fascinating character.
Re: Cartagia's love affair with Londo
I remember JMS once said that one of the reasons Cartagia loves Londo so much is that Londo manages to stand up to him without ever giving him an in to seek reprisal. Londo's behavior is not the simple sycophancy displayed by the rest of the court. He talks back, but he does so in such a way that Cartagia never has an excuse to execute him. And somewhere in his fevered mind, Cartagia admires that.