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FUCK Patriotism

December 18, 2008

This post was deleted by hackers 1/12/2009 and recovered from a cache version and re-published. The post was originally parked at http://www.stumplane.us/blog/?p=299 but not anymore! The comments were likewise deleted and recovered. They have been pasted into the post body under the cut.

I’M NOT A PATRIOT. I was just born here. Donald Douglas at American Power, on the other hand, writes:

These people [vocal Iraq war opponents] embrace anti-Americanism as a badge of honor, and they denounce love of country as some radiactive “shibboleth,” and in so doing, they work to destroy the institutions and values to which patriotism directs its loyalty.

No, I just reserve my love for people rather than institutions. I wouldn’t call it “anti-Americanism,” so much as anti-coercion. More of a broad suspicion of faceless authority and amoral power structures.

“Love of country” seems weirdly thoughtless to me— “national belonging” not being a universal truth —but I wouldn’t say “radiactive.” Irrational jingoism is the scary-ass radiactive shibboleth here.

Lastly, I’m only in the ‘question everything’ business. Being anti-coercion, I can’t clear it with my conscience to actually “work to destroy” anything. I’m just a non-violent, free thinking, hobbyist. BLARG!

I only speak for myself, of course, but I propose Douglas’ passage be corrected thus:

These people embrace anti-coercion-ism as a badge of honor, and they denounce irrational jingoism as some radiactive “shibboleth,” and in so doing, they call into question the institutions and values to which patriotism directs its loyalty.

Which still surely describes a Thought Criminal in Douglas’ view, but surely not a threat to the republic.

Bill Hicks:

Click “more” to see the recovered comment thread.

7 Responses to “FUCK Patriotism”

  1. thepuppethead Says:

    December 18th, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Well, it is the last refuge of the scoundrel. And really, it might not be so bad, if there weren’t so many dang scoundrels. I mean, I do sort of love my nebulous idea of country in a Mark Twainy or Garrison Keillorish way, until some scoundrel or other inevitably pops the bubble. I’m looking at you, Dick Cheney.

    On the other hand, it’s amazing how much ridiculous crap you can get away with in the name of God, King, and/or Country. Likewise, it’s amazing what you can talk folks into doing by appealing to their love of same. Oh, if only we could harness this power for good, instead of for rotten! But you know what? We probably can’t.

  2. Michael Says:

    December 27th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    “My parents fucked there, that’s all…”
    A more succint, yet still inherently truthful, version of Douglas’s ideas would be this:

    I am a dangerous twat.

  3. LarryE Says:

    January 1st, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I came to the site via Jon Swift’s listing of “best posts” and went to the main page, where I found this post.

    I just thought I’d throw out a slightly different perspective on “patriotism,” in case you might be interested.

    I give the link because it’s really too long to put in a comment, but I suppose the single-line summation would be that patriotism should be measured in terms of devotion to the highest ideals expressed by a society.

  4. Montag Says:

    January 2nd, 2009 at 12:06 am

    happy new years, thepuppethead and Michael.

    thanks for stopping in, LarryE. I was interested to read your post and your point is well taken.

    patriotism should be measured in terms of devotion to the highest ideals expressed by a society.

    the ideals you mention seem to be of two types: “natural rights” as they are called: to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to rebellion against oppression; and societal goals, or the functions of state power: promoting the general welfare; government “of, by, and for the people”; an intent to “establish justice,” (which should include economic and social justice.)

    the discussion of patriotism here, and in the post i was responding to, deal with the second group. to use Douglas’ terms: “the institutions and values to which patriotism directs its loyalty.” my most steadfast ideal being “question everything,” i must also question the validity of these ideals, especially as they pertain to the exercise of state power. can justice be imposed? does a representative republic actually represent the will of the people? is the general welfare provided for?

    if a society fails at the very ideals it holds up as its basis, then how is a patriotism measured in terms of devotion to those ideals measurably different than reverently saluting the flag or “standing behind” the commander in chief in a time of war?

    as for, “it is natural to have an abiding affection for the land of one’s birth”: indeed. the land (to the extent that it hasn’t been spoiled by cellular towers,) and many of the people roaming around on it are pretty ok. mostly.

  5. LarryE Says:

    January 2nd, 2009 at 2:44 am

    if a society fails at the very ideals it holds up as its basis, etc.

    The “measurable difference” lies in the fact that devotion to the ideals means a devotion to what could be rather than what is and so to the degree to two differ, to that same degree you are ethically and logically obligated to reduce that gap to whatever extent you can. To do otherwise is to say that you are not actually devoted to those ideals.

    Reverently saluting the flag” is an outward expression of a feeling. One person might do it by taking the flag as a symbol of the ideal, not the reality. Another could do it out of satisfaction with the status quo, even an opposition to any changes. In itself, the act doesn’t tell you anything about what that person believes. (Which is one part of why I said a patriotism measured in such terms is hollow.) In fact, take away the reference to reverence, and you know even less, as the person could be doing it as just a social action, not thinking about it at all, or perhaps as cover for fear of what others might say about their failure to do so.

    Committing to ideals commits you to uphold them and work for them. Saluting the flag commits you to saluting the flag.

  6. Montag Says:

    January 2nd, 2009 at 9:29 am

    point taken. but “a devotion to what could be rather than what is” is certainly a different conception of patriotism than what is commonly thought of: loyalty to a country and its institutions, ie: the status quo. (which is fine. you did rightly introduce it as a different perspective on patriotism.)

    the ideals that we were drilled on in high school civics class, in my view, are no more than symbolic tokens to be believed in and accepted without question, meant to evoke a certain emotional response, much like a flag. i’m not convinced they have ever been tried as a means of governance in this country.

    ps: ‘Lotus-Surviving a Dark Time’ added to the blogrolls.

  7. LarryE Says:

    January 2nd, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    you did introduce it as a different perspective on patriotism

    :grin: I actually meant that to mean “a slightly different perspective“ from what you had said about not being a patriot – because, as I have said elsewhere, by the normally-understood meaning of the term, as you laid out here, I’m not at all patriotic.

    ps: ‘Lotus-Surviving a Dark Time’ added to the blogrolls.

    I’ll have a reciprocal link up in a day or two. :-)

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