Patriotism Is Just Another Religion
(Many thanks to Adi and Ken for their editing of this article)
Patriotism as defined by M-W states:
“One who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.”
That definition is quite an interesting statement. I would like to break down various aspects of patriotism to show that it is yet another bizarre example from the cult of government.
Let’s take the last part from the definition of patriotism. A patriot is one who “supports its [the country’s] authority and interests.” In order to show how absurd that is, we need to understand the nature of borders and countries and whether “they” can have authority or interests.
Okay, so what is a country? You cna look it up if you want, but the answer should be pretty obvious. Countries are nothing more than various geographic places that have been given memorable names so we can tell them apart. We cna also break this down for sub regions and so fourth.
Is there anything really significant about a place named so-and-so and another place with a different name? If you think such a difference exists beyond the superficial, I want you to try an experiment for me. Get out some map and locate a border on that map. If you’re in the U.S. just find a State or City border and go to that border. Now if you’re really close to “it,” I want you to step over the border. On the map you should be in a different location. Now, step back to your previous position. After you have done the Hokey Pokey dance a few times, tell me what the real difference is.
Nothing, you say? Good. Now you know how absurd it is to talk about countries outside the context of abstract labels that serve as geometric markers. It is even stranger when somebody attributes “authority” and interests to “it”. Yes, I know, what we really mean by that are the people in those areas and not the actual land they are standing on. Of course, but I think it instructive to talk about the often mistaken attribution of human values and wants to the place they are in.
Somebody here in the U.S. might say that “New Yorkers are more violent”. What they mean is people in that area tend to be more violent, and it is not the result of naming that area they live in “New York”. You can name it Texas and they will remain the same. The real difference is culture and the other social factors surrounding them that would tend to make those people a little more violent than someone from a different area.
The patriot, however, likes to associate the various values and attributes of people to the place in which they live. This fallacious thinking has not reflection on reality.
Pledge of Allegiance
In America (and I am sure this is the case with other places), we have our kids recite the pledge of allegiance. When people recite it, they are expected to stand up and place their hand on their heart, recasting the metaphor that we think with that particular organ.
Okay, another question. If you omit the infamous “under God” reference from the pledge of allegiance, is it still religious? Look at the very first line: I pledge allegiance to the flag…
Did you catch it? What does it mean to pledge your allegiance to a flag? A flag is an inanimate object, so how can you pledge allegiance to an inanimate object? Patriots will say that it represents certain ideals and values, but that inanimate object is not those values and ideas. You are superimposing those ideals and values like you would upon a religious idol.
This behavior is particularly disturbing whenever people burn flags in protest. The burners mean to project the things they despise about a country unto the flag that is supposed to represent it, and the patriot sees the flag burner as burning all the ideals and values that he thinks his icon is supposed to represent.
No better example could be brought up for patriotism than the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. That’s what we Americans call the doctrine that states we should go out and conquer the rest of the world because it is owed to us. Who owes us this? Well, God of course!
Surely that would justify all those wonderful efforts by the Americans to spread “democracy” and “freedom” around the world, right? See, the problem is patriots from all countries have some version of this doctrine. Europeans who thought like this felt no shame in making slaves of others then knocking people out of their homes, all for the glory of God and (name place of origin here).
Some could argue that this is not the case anymore, and I would have to reply that while Manifest Destiny is not quite as rampant and commonplace as it was in the past, it still happens today. The American empire, for instance, is still expanding by installing their own puppet leaders in conquered areas while starting up wars and resorting to other general bullying.
(For an interesting look at some vintage manifest destiny propaganda, check out this World War 1 Song.)
Nationalism – The Us and Them Mentality
Nationalism is another sickening type of collectivism where not only is extreme patriotism is encouraged, but this little group becomes even smaller as people inside the same country are attacked if they so much as deviate from what the nationalists think the country is supposed to represent.
This is especially prominent in times of war. Pick any type of war and look at the people on both sides who support the war. There is a rampant, nationalistic patriotism present in their thinking and actions. The nationalist patriot wants to whip his neighbors, friends and family into a frenzy, and if they resist, those other people risk being ostracized or worse.
What is very devasstatingabout this religious kind of behavior is that artificial in- and out-groups are created as a result of this. They approach people with the “with us, or against us” mentality, which is a false dichotomy. If you observe the history of organized religion, they fall into the same type of behavior.
When All Else Fails, Incite Patriotism
The best examples of this rabid national-patriotism is found whenever States get into warfar. Let’s take some quotes from Bush on 9/11:
This nation is freedom’s home, and freedom’s defender.” — Speech, Veterans Day Prayer Breakfast (11/11/01).
“The evil ones have roused a mighty nation, a mighty land. And for however long it takes, I am determined that we will prevail. And prevail we must, because we fight for one thing, and that is the freedom of our people, and the freedom of people everywhere.” — Speech, Veterans Day Prayer Breakfast (11/11/01).
And a patriotic quote from Hitler:
Only a handful of Germans in the Reich had the slightest conception of the eternal and merciless struggle for the german language, German schools, and a German way of life. Only today, when the same deplorable misery is forced on many millions of Germans from the Reich, who under foreign rule dream of their common fatherland and strive, amid their longing, at least to preserve their holy right to their mother tongue, do wider circles understand what it means to be forced to fight for one’s nationality. – Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
It is frightening indeed whenever wars and acts of terroism happen and instead of admiting that the State is the primary instigator of wars and terroism, patriots simply ignore the facts and take it on faith that their leaders are morally just and that those who do not share their views and fanaticism are the “enemy.”
9/11 And The Symbology Of The Flag
Thanks to the fervor kicked up by Mr. Bush after 9/11, the patriots did their part of the “war on terroism” by taking any kind of American flag they could find and stuck it on their cars and property. It does make sense in a bizarre way because, again, we are speaking in collectivist terms. You cannot have a war on abstraction like terrorism, nor can you have a war against objects we call “drugs”.
So, it makes sense to the patriot that the way one fights an impossible war is to stick those flags on their cars to show that they are part of the same “in” group as everyone else and that some group called “the terrorists” are out there and if you are not with us, you are against us.
Love It Or Leave It!
A lot of times libertarians, anarchists, and other anti-collectivists find themselves on the other end of this ohhhh so devastating non-argument. To say any equivalent of this is simply a cop-out and a nice way of saying “fuck you”.
By “it,” the patriot of cours means himself and his attitudes that are the things he wants you to love. The land itself that you two are occupying does not have any of these said values and neither does his flag or any other symbol he cares to bring up. He alone has those values and attitudes and he wants you to love those values and attitudes or be labeled as an outsider.
Well, patriot, I don’t need to go anywhere else in order to love the place I’m standing on right now, and I certainly don’t need to leave in order escape your insane religion of patriotism.