So, You Think You’re A Patriot, Huh?
You think you’re a patriot, do you?
You think being viciously angry over an individual taking a knee during the national anthem makes you a patriot?
You think being an armchair warrior venting your disgust over trivial matters on social media makes you a patriot?
You think slinging around “patriotic” memes all over the internet makes you a patriot?
You think that waving a flag around and loudly singing ‘God Bless America’ makes you a patriot?
You think being an obedient citizen makes you a patriot?
You think blind and unwavering support of the military, the police, and the national security state makes you a patriot? And do you really think you’re pro-military when you sit back silently while corrupt politicians send them overseas to fight illegal wars based on lies?
My friends, this everything against what a patriot is.
You’re a cog in the national wheel, a predictable subject who worships at the altar of state power.
You’re everything that the Founding Fathers were trying to get away from.
You despise freedom when it involves peaceful individuals acting in ways counter to your warped value system.
You clamor for the state to coerce others to adhere to your principles. You’re not a patriot, you’re a nationalist.
You’re exactly how the system hoped you’d turn out.
You revel in your conformity and smug attitude. Your opinions are not yours. They’ve been force fed to you. You think the same thoughts as the herd and you think this is good. You believe obedience and being an upright citizen is the definition of a “good person.” You think other people who hold different values and conduct themselves to honor these values are “entitled” or “disrespectful.”
You spend weekends on the couch, comfortably sitting in a mortgage home that you’ll never pay off, watching grown men throw around a ball and chase each other. You’ve never read the greats or even tried to look a little deeper into the bigger issues of life. You’re quite content in your beliefs and you dwell unapologetically in the cave of your own ignorance.
But this makes you bitter and you know it. Your life is stale, it’s unlived. It’s stagnant and predictable. You’re too comfortable. You’ve stopped growing. Stopped learning. Stopped laboring. You’re in debt up to your eyeballs. You let trivialities bog you down and paralyze the rational being you’re supposed to be. You let politics dominate your worldview.
You think a president or a politician can fix your problems and “make America great again.”
And unfortunately, because you have the flag wrapped so tightly around your skull, you don’t even realize that you’re a blind disciple of the new-fangled dogma of nationalism.
As Jung reminded us decades ago, the state has ‘taken the place of God’ — making it comparable to a religion in which ‘state slavery is a form of worship’.
Instead of Bibles, prayers and gospel hymns you have “brass bands, flags, banners, parades and monster demonstrations [that] are no different in principle from ecclesiastical processions, cannonades, and fire to scare off demons.”
It was Nietzsche, the greatest mind of the 19th century, who recognized that the modern political state was a suspicious mechanism — what he called a “cold monster.”
He thought it to be the great manipulator of education and the enemy of culture. Nietzsche saw nationalism as a gathering place for the mob and as a threat to human freedom. He foresaw demagogues and agitators using nationalism to arouse and exploit the fears of the weak-minded masses.
And the flag that you unduly worship — that devout symbol of the state — represents a geographical territory within arbitrary borders that you were accidentally and randomly born into. The anthem is a hymn that glorifies the monopolistic and violent nature of the state that rules over you within this territory.
There’s no style in being excessively proud of any of this. It’s not of your doing. You were born into this.
But you treat anthems and pledges as a prayer and you think it’s utter blasphemy when an individual doesn’t bow his head in the proper way.
You’re too ensnared by the superstition of patriotism to build your own unique individuality. Resentment and spite fill your soul over the fact that other people are non-violently dissenting against an issue that you’ve never taken the time to really look into or understand.
You’ve already made up your mind. You’re certain that you’re right, and your self-righteous arrogance oozes on the keyboards of your battle station.
People like you can’t see outside of their own ideological lenses. And because of this, everything in our culture today is politicized. And because everything is politicized, everyone is divided.
But the real question is: if you’re a so-called patriot, why have you been so eerily silent on the huge issues that are tearing our country apart?
Not a peep out of you when the Pentagon sends our youth to senselessly die for lies overseas.
Not a peep out of you when the US illegally and unconstitutionally invaded Iraq, spent trillions of dollars, killed many civilians and left a devastating vacuum that ISIS now occupies.
Not a peep about your tax dollars funding terrorist organizations overseas.
Not a peep over the fact that we just discovered that one of our biggest allies in the Middle-East, Saudi Arabia, helped fund 9/11.
Not a peep over the dreadful fact that our country is drowning in a sea of unpayable debt that will surely enslave your children and your great grandchildren for generations to come.
Not a peep about the complete and utter erosion of the Bill of Rights and our civil liberties since 9/11.
Not a bit of concern over the fact that the Fed is propping up the economy at the expense of cheapening the hard-earned dollar you earn, postponing the inevitable plunge.
Not a peep out of you when both Bush and Obama bailed out the criminal bankers who’ve turned the economy into a chaotic casino.
Not a bit of concern over that fact that true patriots have been thrown in jail for being honest and exposing US war crimes, while the debauched perpetrators who committed the vicious crimes are pinned with metals.
Not a peep on the fact that the true patriot (you call him a traitor, predictably), Edward Snowden, exposed the mass surveillance program that the US government is and has been conducting on its own people since 9/11.
Where’s the outrage on these major issues; issues that actually drastically affect your life unlike the trivial little gesture of kneeling during an anthem?
How about definitions of what a patriot is and what it isn’t?
Have you ever looked at what it really means to be a patriot or how some of the greatest minds on the planet have defined patriotism/nationalism?
A lot of great thinkers saw it as a dangerous idea. Excessive patriotism is what Hitler exploited to condition ordinary men into mass-murdering psychopaths. It’s what causes shallow pride, rampant division, and futile wars.
The great historian, Howard Zinn, wrote this about patriotism: “If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one’s country, one’s fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.”
The brilliant Albert Einstein had this to say about patriotism: “I look upon myself as a man. Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
And another one: “This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism on command, senseless violence and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism.”
How about the greatest novelist of all time, Leo Tolstoy: “Patriotism is a survival from barbarous times which must not only be evoked and educated but which must be eradicated by all means — by preaching, persuasion, contempt, and ridicule.”
George Bernard Shaw: “Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it.”
The great German Philosopher, Schopenhauer: “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”
Voltaire: “So it is the human condition that to wish for the greatness of one’s fatherland is to wish evil to one’s neighbors. The citizen of the universe would be the man who wishes his country never to be either greater or smaller, richer or poorer.”
What if a true patriot is one who honors his own value system. One who doesn’t blindly follow the orders of authority figures when those orders don’t coincide with his own values. What if a patriot is one who loves his fellow countrymen but despises the political apparatus that rules and divides us, no matter which party holds the reins.
What if a patriot is one who respects his place of birth but is not fanatically proud of it.
As Mark Twain so eloquently put it:
“Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.”
A true patriot is a radical thing. It’s a rare thing. He’s one that thinks things out for himself; he’s familiar with the lessons of history and talks with an unfiltered honesty. A patriot is one who cherishes freedom of the individual over collective notions of anthems, pledges and forced allegiances.
The true patriot is one who eventually society tries to isolate and marginalize.
Because the patriot holds values outside the conditioned dogma within the nation-state, he’s deemed a traitor, a rebel, a dissident. A true patriot doesn’t accept the odious maxim “My Country Right or Wrong,” and so, is accused of hating his country when he points out the evils and flaws his country is participating in.
But let us be reminded of the great insight of H.L. Mencken: “The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”