July 5, 2008

Reasons to Resist "Patriotism"

Thoughtful and thought provoking, here are excerpts from Mr. Blum's excellent essay, shining light on the oppression known as "patriotism."
Written on July 4, 2008
Some Thoughts on Patriotism
By WILLIAM BLUM
M
ost important thought: I'm sick and tired of this thing called "patriotism".
The Japanese pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor were being patriotic. The German people who supported Hitler and his conquests were being patriotic, fighting for the Fatherland. All the Latin American military dictators who overthrew democratically-elected governments and routinely tortured people were being patriotic -- saving their beloved country from "communism".

General Augusto Pinochet of Chile: "I would like to be remembered as a man who served his country."[1]

P.W. Botha, former president of apartheid South Africa: "I am not going to repent. I am not going to ask for favours
. What I did, I did for my country."[2]
Pol Pot, mass murderer of Cambodia: "I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country."[3]

Tony Blair, former British prime minister, defending his role in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis: "I did what I thought was right for our country."[4]

I won't bore you with what George W. has said.

[...] Howard Zinn has called nationalism "a set of beliefs taught to each generation in which the Motherland or the Fatherland is an object of veneration and becomes a burning cause for which one becomes willing to kill the children of other Motherlands or Fatherlands."[5] ... "Patriotism is used to create the illusion of a common interest that everybody in the country has."[6]
[...] What a primitive underbelly there is to this rational society. The US is the most patriotic, as well as the most religious, country of the so-called developed world. The entire American patriotism thing may be best understood as the biggest case of mass hysteria in history, whereby the crowd adores its own power as troopers of
the world's only superpower, a substitute for the lack of power in the rest of their lives. Patriotism, like religion, meets people's need for something greater to which their individual lives can be anchored.
[...] "Pledges of allegiance are marks of totalitarian states, not democracies," says David Kertzer, a Brown University anthropologist who specializes in political rituals. "I can't think of a single democracy except the United States that has a pledge of allegiance."[10] [my bold] Or, he might have added, that insists that its politicians display their patriotism by wearing a flag pin. Hitler criticized German Jews and Communists for their internationalism and lack of national patriotism. Along with Mussolini in Italy, the F├╝hrer demanded that "true patriots" publicly vow and display their allegiance to their respective fatherlands. Postwar democratic governments of the two countries made a conscious effort to minimize such shows of national pride.

[...] "The very existence of the state demands that there be some privileged class vitally interested in maintaining that existence. And it is precisely the group interests of that class that
are called patriotism." Mikhail Bakunin, Russian anarchist[13] [...]
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II,Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir
Please click on the link below (Counterpunch.org) to read the entire essay and review the footnotes:
http://www.counterpunch.org/blum07062008.html
For William Blum's bio, here's Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blum

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