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Is patriotism a crock?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Shifty Squid, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    This is a question that's plagued me for awhile, and a recent column I read about not booing the military academy football teams made me think of it again.

    I'm the first to jump into the pool of supporting free speech and many other Democratic principles. And I think American patriotism may have served a more tangible purpose when America was pretty much unique in the world in its form of government and its novel concepts of freedom of speech and religion.

    Now, though, there is any number of countries you could live where you probably would notice very little if any difference in your day-to-day existence from living here. In that sense, it's not necessary to have some sort of undying love for this country when there are several others very similar to it.

    So is the idea of patriotism just an outdated, romantic notion that people feel better holding onto than letting go? Is it something politicians push far past any tangible benefit to individuals because letting it prop them up aids in their political goals or allows them to wage wars while demonizing those who don't agree with the sentiment of "God bless the U.S.A."? Is it pushed as hard as it is because the military ceases to exist without it? Do we need people to have a largely irrational love for governmentally, somewhat arbitrarily defined legal borders in order to keep the borders intact and the people within them safe from outside threats?

    And keeping the military in mind, does the idea of patriotism allow the government to use its own citizens as hitmen, ordering them to whatever corner of the globe they wish to kill people who often are guilty of nothing other than what they themselves are guilty of: intense patriotism. Patriotism, then, allows the true guilty people to stay out of the fray, to guilt other people into doing their bidding in the name of "Love for thy country."

    It's all just something that's bounced around in my brain for awhile, and I'm curious what other people's thoughts are on this. I'm not saying we shouldn't respect the troops; quite the opposite, in fact. If what I'm saying has any truth to it, the troops are basically victims of a society of patriotism, promoted by the people that often send them to their deaths. They fight so I can sit here and have these questions without fear of retribution.

    Thoughts? Am I totally out in left field here?
  2. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    Your premise seems faulty. Patriotism and national pride existed long before the U.S. and continue to exist outside of the U.S.
  3. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Not sure that negates my premise.

    There are certainly different motivations behind patriotism in all countries. Some of them overlap with the ones for the U.S. and some don't.

    The premise would be the patriotism may be a bad bill of goods in all countries, not just the U.S. I'm just focusing on the U.S. because, well, that's the one I'm clearly the most familiar with.
  4. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    You're conflating nationalism with patriotism. Nationalism is, "My country, right or wrong." (To which, I quote G.K. Chesterton, “‘My country, right or wrong’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying, except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober’.”).

    But patriotism is different. Patriotism believes there is something inherently special about our customs, beliefs, institutions that is worth protecting. When we talk about truth, justice and the American Way, we are talking about patriotism. Patriotism is believing in the greatness of your country and wanting to preserve that which makes it great.

    I can't say it better than Orwell did, so I'll leave it to him.

    “By ‘nationalism’... I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”
  5. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member


    You rebel scum.
  6. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Good point, Pope.

    But I also think I'm talking about patriotism as defined by the governmental entity that oversees a particular country, in this case the U.S. And they conflate patriotism and nationalism all the time. People talk all the time about being patriotic without knowing a lick about the difference between patriotism, nationalism or any other -ism you might toss their way.

    So while I think you're exactly right, I also think my point remains valid because I've framed it as how it's sold to Americans by the government.

    Somebody may think I'm a total idiot. I'm OK with that. Just curious to hear opinions on the subject because I don't think it's one that's addressed much, at least not in this country.
  7. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    Because some people don't understand patriotism does not make it invalid as a concept or a belief.
    Patriotism as a concept and as a belief existed long before the U.S. It continues to flourish as a concept and belief around the world.
    There are probably some who think the U.S. no longer engenders patriotism, or that the U.S. no longer worthy of such sentiment.
    I disagree.
  8. jay_christley

    jay_christley Member

    Anybody that says we can't boo military academy football team clearly hasn't seen the Coast Guard Academy play.
    9-27 at Div. III the last four years.
    [And yes, they are a military academy]
  9. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member


    Don't think I'm trying to insinuate in any way that patriotism was invented or even popularized by the U.S. That just happens to be the country I'm using as an example. It has nothing to do with the U.S. or any other country being "worthy" of patriotism.

    It has to do with whether patriotism in and of itself is an outdated model of how a country's citizenry should act and whether that model is pushed upon said citizenry for a government's gain.

    Ya know, just sayin'. :D
  10. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace ...
  11. zimbabwe

    zimbabwe Active Member

    Pope's eloquent analysis, and pern's "comeback" reply, is the single greatest exchange in the history of this board. Either that, or I'm delirious with boredom on the first full night of taking prep phone calls.

    We need an awards category for "Best Exchange."
  12. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    why do you have to be 6-feet tall to join the coast guard?

    so you can walk back to shore if your boat sinks </navyjoke>
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