Patriotism is not a virtue

A patriot is defined as:

“a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion”

On the surface this concept is innocuous. If the country you live has given you the freedom and opportunity to secure meaningful employment and build a life for you and your family then why wouldn’t you feel some kind of gratitude? If that’s all patriotism means then patriotism is a good thing, but in practice patriotism is rarely so blase. More often than not a patriot takes a more fanatical tone; the tendency is to support and defend your government unobjectively against all forms of criticism.

Imagine if a parent raised a spoiled, rotten child who had no respect for other people and consistently hurt others for his own amusement and benefit. But the parent steadfastly refused to acknowledge the child’s flaws and blindly defended everything the child did. That would actually cripple the child mentally and allow him free reign to hurt others. Whether we’re talking about a child, government, religion or anything else, you will never be able to raise the object of your devotion to its full potential by indiscriminately defending it. Doing that doesn’t make you responsible; it makes you an enabler at best and insane at worst.

Blind patriotism is the definition of insanity.

“Sane” is defined as :

“having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense”

Insanity is the lack of use of reason and judgement. Patriotism throws reason and judgement out the window in favor of blind faith, and the effects are catastrophic even though they’re based on good intentions. Let’s flip the previous analogy and look at like this. The patriot sees their country like a parent who has put a roof over their child’s head, sent him to school and bought him lots of toys. In and of itself, that’s great. However, if the parent also beats his child the fanatic patriot refuses to acknowledge that the parent has done anything wrong. Anytime the child complains about being beaten the patriot defends the parent’s actions by focusing entirely on the positive things the parent has done for the child. Now, by all means, we should give credit where credit is due, but that doesn’t justify or excuse the harmful behavior. And if the child grows up crippled by their abuse then all the positives are for naught anyway.

The more unconditionally one supports their government the more their patriotism defeats its own purpose. If you’re truly devoted to your country you’ll want it to fulfill its potential. Refusing to acknowledge its flaws will only only cripple it. Sincere patriotism necessitates hunting down the flaws in your government relentlessly and then rigorously addressing those issues through open conversation and political change. If you view the desire to change your government as treason then you cripple your government’s ability to ever improve.

Furthermore, patriotism misses the whole point of government existing in the first place. Governments exist to serve their people. People do not exist to serve their governments. If a person feels, perceives or understands that their government is not serving them then it’s their right and even their responsibility to change their government. If people lose their ability to change their government then their metaphorical slave becomes their master, and they literally become slaves to their own creation.

And to what end can blind servitude to the random government someone happened to be born under serve? If you want the answer then go to Germany and ask any German. Germans today are possibly the least patriotic people in the entire world. To them it’s taboo to even say you’re proud to be German, because they know all to well where the path of patriotism leads. Let me spell this out loud and clear. The holocaust would not have been possible were it not for patriotism.

Patriotism enables atrocity under the guise of appreciation. Blind, fanatic patriotism enables tyrants. Tyranny cannot exist without fanatic patriotism. Thus the truest form of patriotism is the most critical of government.

And patriotism undermines humanism. Why would anyone value the good things its government does? Because they value people. Whatever value a government has is derived completely from the value it places on people. But if you value the people who just happened to be born in the same geographical area as you then why not value all the people who were born on the same universe as you? Are we not all equal? If so then why pledge allegiance to one bureaucratic system? Why not pledge allegiance to humanity? And if you truly value humanity then why pledge allegiance to one system that cares for a relatively small portion of humanity, especially if it does so at the exclusion or expense of others?

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3 responses to “Patriotism is not a virtue

  • Catholic

    Patriotism has and is destroying the world as it transmutates towards jingoism and nationalism. I put humanity before flag, and no artificial borders will stop me. I don’t care if right wing wingnuts denounce me; I think true Christianity demands this. I may live somewhere but my home is heaven.

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  • arihanta

    Schopenhauer once mentioned in one of his books that the Germans in his time were the least patriotic and people were less likely to claim that they were German than any other race known.

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    • wise sloth

      I haven’t read Schopenhauer, but I lived in Germany for 2 years, and what I said is what the Germans I spoke to told me.

      And then there’s this quote, “Of course the people dont want war…that is understood. But voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” — Hermann Goering, 2nd in command to Adolf Hitler

      Like

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