‘Patriotism’ and Manipulation of it by the State

September 30, 2017 / Edit

The notion that we must ‘support our troops’, that we must be ‘patriotic’ towards our nation state and its military because they are fighting for our freedoms and democracy is at a minimum misguided and more egregiously a manipulated conditioning by the state.

The idea that military ‘interventions’ are necessary to maintain our freedom or expand democracy ignores the evidence that the invasion and occupation of foreign sovereign states is motivated by imperial expansion to control fundamental resources (e.g. fossil fuels) and sustain or improve financial/economic hegemony (i.e. maintain the US petrodollar as the world’s premier reserve currency).

War is racket as US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler argued[1]. It serves the financial interests of the State oligarchs. The State, however, must persuade the masses that this is not the case. It must have the support of the people for the political class to remain in their privileged positions and avoid blowback from the citizens over which they rule.

As Murray Rothbard argues in The Anatomy of the State[2]

“[t]he State is almost universally considered an institution of social service…[and that] we are the government…[But] the government is not ‘us.’ The government does not in any accurate sense ‘represent’ the majority of the people…Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area…Having used force and violence to obtain its revenue, the State generally goes on to regulate and dictate other actions of its individual subjects…[Moreover, the] State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively ‘peaceful’ the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society…The State has never been created by a ‘social contract’; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation…While force is their modus operandi, their basic and long-run problem is ideological. For in order to continue in office, any government (not simply a ‘democratic’ government) must have the support of the majority of its subjects…[Thus] the chief task of the rulers is always to secure the active or resigned acceptance of the majority of the citizens…For this essential acceptance, the majority must be persuaded by ideology that their government is good, wise and, at least, inevitable, and certainly better than other conceivable alternatives…Since most men tend to love their homeland, the identification of that land and its people with the State was a means of making natural patriotism work to the State’s advantage.”

The State uses this patriotic ‘feeling’ to convince its citizens that any ‘attack’ is upon them and not upon the ruling caste. Any war between rulers thus becomes a war between people, with the masses defending the rulers in the misguided belief that they are defending themselves and certain ideologies.

In Hegemony or Survival[3], Noam Chomsky argues that Empire (the American one in particular) attempts to maintain its hegemony through military, political and economic means, demonstrating a total disregard for democracy and human rights in the process. He goes on to provide evidence that ‘preventative’ wars by the current global superpower are often used to keep potential/imagined threats from ever reaching a stage where they become real threats to its hegemony.

There is also increasing evidence that, in fact, the State’s citizens have far more to fear from its own government with regard to a loss of freedoms and erosion of democracy than some concocted threat from outside its own borders. The mass surveillance programmes revealed by NSA insiders, undermining of elections, and constant devaluation of currency/purchasing power comes to mind.

To once again quote Murray Rothbard:

“The greatest danger to the State is independent intellectual criticism; there is no better way to stifle that criticism than to attack any isolated voice, any raiser of new doubts as a profane violator…[and] to depreciate the individual and exalt the collectivity of society…[In fact,] the State must nip the view in the bud by ridiculing any view that defies opinions of the mass…Thus, ideological support being vital to the State, it must unceasingly try to impress the public with its ‘legitimacy,’ to distinguish its activities from those of mere brigands.”

The State, therefore, relies upon and manipulates its citizens’ very emotional notion of ‘patriotism.’ It uses it to maintain and expand its control of resources (both physical and financial) both domestically and abroad. And those who question or challenge it are branded treasonous and attacked/ostracised in any number of ways. Questioning is not allowed.

[1] War is Racket. 1935. Smedley D. Butler.

[2] Anatomy of the State. 1965. Murray N. Rothbard.

[3] Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. 2003. Noam Chomsky.

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