Patriotism: A Negative Assessment

Edward Jayne in Dissident Voice:

FlagwavingyouthOf course many US troops have returned from military conflict disillusioned with the unavoidable excesses of warfare, but many others have been converted by the experience into an intense patriotism that lets them serve as cheerleaders supportive of future wars, whoever the enemy (or enemies) might consist of. Meanwhile, the biased media coverage needed to drum up support for each of these wars has left a residue of patriotic enthusiasm that could easily be revitalized in support of the next conflict. Anybody who dares to question this intellectual juggernaut risks social ostracism, especially in rural communities and across the so-called red-state region.

And thus the growing sense that patriotism can be taken too far, whatever its benefits on a moderate scale. Tabulated here are some of the more assertive judgments opposed to patriotism over the past three centuries.

Never was a patriot yet, but was a fool.

– John Dryden

A patriot is a fool in ev’ry age.

– Alexander Pope.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

– Samuel Johnson

In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.

– Ambrose Bierce

Patriotism is as fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and irrational as a headless hen.

– Ambrose Bierce

That pernicious sentiment, “Our country, right or wrong.”

– James Russell Lowell

“My country right or wrong” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother drunk or sober.”

– G. K. Chesterton

Patriotism which has the quality of intoxication is a danger not only to its native land but to the world, and “My country never wrong” is an even more dangerous maxim than “My country, right or wrong.”

– Bertrand Russell

Patrioism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.

– George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

– George Bernard Shaw

More here.