The Poison of Patriotism

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Last Monday, I was reminded of my bright, feverish zeal for my nation while driving on the thruway. I was headed home from a camping trip when the night brightened with the explosion of fireworks overhead. I was so enthralled, in fact, that I passed and watched the fireworks fade behind me without a trace on my mind.

Oh right, I thought. Today is Independence Day.

That day when the Committee of Five, a secret cabal of the most enlightened men in human history, convened and drafted the Declaration of Independence from the British empire. All the progress of the Renaissance era – Greek philosophy, religious pluralism, anti-authoritarianism – came together at last in an hour of labor, with the grand intention to give birth to the first free society of the human race.

Together, these men were the Justice League of the Enlightenment era. And with independence as their guise, they conducted the most ambitious, radical experiment in the creation of a philosophical paradise – a State that ruled by objective principles, that would never infringe on individual liberty of its citizens, a State that would be held by checks and balances. Through the Bill of Rights, which would adapt the laws to the changes of technology and culture, this free society was formulated to last forever.

They failed.

Almost immediately, this new government betrayed its people and became all that which it had fought to repress. The Whiskey Rebellion – in 1791, George Washington led the fresh United States army against a gathered citizen militia – composed mostly of veterans from the war – fought against a tax on all alcohol that was meant to pay off the war debt incurred during the Revolution. Ironic for a nation that had just won a brutal rebellion over taxation.

In 1861, this government finally collapsed. The southern states seceded and the federal government, displeased by their exit, fought them in the Civil War. More than 600,000 Americans – most young white men – were murdered by their brothers in what should be declared genocide, in a ludicrous campaign to “preserve the union” (translation: secure the North’s monopolies on the markets sustained by slave labor in the South) and “end slavery” (which, ironically, England was able to end without bloodshed, simply by purchasing all the slaves from the slaveholders and setting them free). Yet the orchestrater of this violence, a racist proto-facist named Abraham Lincoln, is celebrated as having freed blacks in the United States and putting an end to the institution of slavery — never mind that he himself was racist and cared nothing about the Blacks. Today public schools, run by that same State which committed the American holocaust, teaches us that this Civil War was clear evidence that its power needed to be drastically expanded. that no State would ever be permitted by the federal government to secede from the Union.

Could it be – just a crazy idea – that it is the victor who writes history?

But the list goes on. Two world wars, both of which the United States had no part in, but through propaganda and conscription and lies brought its people into the mythologized mayhem. In 1973, the War Powers Act handed power to the Commander in Chief to wage war without the consent of Congress. In the 20th Century alone, the dictates and actions of governments smeared 200 million lives from the bloody slate of history. Governments nearly brought the entire planet to nuclear annihilation through arms build-up and fearmongering. The crimes of the State are endless, and growing faster still.

Today, the prelude to this carnage, tyranny, and absurdity has been declared a holiday. It is celebrated by barbecues, fireworks and sparklers. We are taught in public schools that this experiment, while flawed at its conception, will one day be perfected if we vote, if we participate in the political process, or if we take arms and fight and die for it. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the dream of the enlightened republic was stillborn, even the most intelligent Americans are quasi-religiously infatuated by the external trappings of the State. Waving flags, setting a hand to their heart, and singing its songs of worship.

The word “holiday” comes from Old English, and literally means “holy day.” Isn’t it curious that the State can declare the day of its own existence as a holy day?

Most Americans are keenly aware that there are many things wrong in society, and these things are exacerbating rapidly – what with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, they know they are choosing between two evils. What very few people understand yet, but I believe more will wake up to in future elections, is that there is nothing wrong with the political process. This is it. This is political process is functioning as it should, a machine of pure evil. This is the true face of government, the sum total, the end of the line. There’s nothing wrong within politics. Politics is the problem.

Straight from Wikipedia: “Patriotism is an emotional attachment to a nation which a person recognizes as their homeland. This attachment, also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one’s own nation, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.”

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Patriotism is a belief in “American” values, those being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet what is this deep, intimate relationship that a given population is expected have with their government? For an American, or any citizen of a Western nation, they might say: “We elect our leaders. They represent our values.”

Ah, the sheep are bleating. The State, even when elected, only represents the values of those whose votes they received. Of course, since keeping one’s word is not law for a politician, the grumblings of citizens whose politicians betrayed their campaign promises is growing into a thunderstorm. A State, populated purely by the self-interested and the power-hungry, wears Patriotism like a flashing, seductive gown. It is the greatest stupidity of all to believe that the State will ever govern in the interests of the masses, that it would never betray those it purports itself to protect.

“Patriotism is not obedience to the government. Patriotism is obedience to the principles for which government is supposed to stand,” said Howard Zinn, renowned historian and playwright.

For the human race to ever live in peace, we must finally divorce this disgusting love affair we have with moral values to absurd arbitrary factors, such as our geography, race, or culture. Americans, simply by having particular ancestors, for living in the same territory, or for being governed under the same State, do not have a monopoly on the value of liberty. The Founding Fathers, upon writing the Constitution, did not invent freedom. Liberty was a right for all people ever before Voltaire penned Candide, before Aristotle was born, before even the first proto-humans climbed down from the east African canopies. Truth has always been truth. Yet we still have much difficulty evolving from tribalism.

Ayn Rand, for all of her genius, argued that a government which rules by objective principles is the only justified government. “It is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.”

But this “just government,” is a fantasy. The State cannot stand for moral, objective principles. By virtue of its sheer existence, the State itself is a violation of such principles. The State collects its revenue solely through the extortion of money from its citizens – taxation. It cannot sustain itself except by the threat of force upon those it purports itself to serve. It uses the major bulk of this stolen money to pay soldiers to wage war against another State, or proto-State revolutionaries hidden within a failed State, for its money as well. The most basic moral principle, the withholding of physical force against another human being except for self-defense, cannot be kept by even the smallest State.

Of course, were every citizen within the territory arbitrarily controlled by the State paying their taxes willingly, why require a State to enforce the policy? If every citizen could voluntarily choose how much to be taxed and to what projects the State would spend their money, the State would become a superfluous entity, a middle-man involved in charity operations.

Patriotism is the collectivist delusion that keeps the Moloch of government churning in this endless stupidity and destruction. It is the milder little brother of nationalism. While a nationalist will follow his leaders with unfailing obedience, a patriot succumbs to a more subtle and dangerous delusion – an idealism that his leaders will ever be kept under control by him. That his government, if it does not fit the image of that collective fiction he calls his “country,” could be dismantled and rebuilt like a god forging man in his own image. But the State, the Patriot’s creation, will only ever control him. A patriot will, until the very end, keep his government on life support when it obviously his government must die.

I tend to take Murray Rothbard closer to his word. “A limited government is truly a Utopian government. Small government has been tried, and it has obviously not worked. Anarchy has never been tried before.”

Patriots and Statists – that is, anyone in society who has colloquial associations of “chaos” and “crime,” or that socialist intellectual who’s built a cognitive fortress of sophistry – still pervasively believe that the government is like a car; you just need the right driver to operate it. A smaller fraction of the public believe this car, which once ran like a well-oiled Thunderbird, is broken. A new driver isn’t going to make it run properly, they say; what we need, the Statist chimes with a finger pointed in the air and a sparkle in his eye, is a mechanic who will fix the car. This, I find, tends to be the mentality of the iconic Patriot.

But the State is not a broken car. The State itself is that blight of rust, the broken axle, everything that prevents society from functioning properly.

I’ll watch your fireworks. I’ll pledge myself to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But I’m not proud to be an American. I just live here.

Further reading:

https://mises.org/blog/libertarian-view-nationalism-secession-and-ethnic-enclaves

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