Patriotism: An Obituary

Imagine a world where herd mentality is condemned if among men who share a common belief, but praised if among men sharing a common political or provincial frontier. “What?”, one might ask. But, this is the very essence of patriotism – a plot of fiendish statesmen who knew that creating an Us Vs Them dynamic is the first phase of oppression.
Let us take the case of a soldier, the highest exemplification of patriotism. He is believed to have placed his nation above himself, an alleged act of ‘selflessness’, and conventional morality teaches us to value any act of selflessness. There is more to be said: He placed the lives of the citizens of his nation above the lives of citizens of another nation, which apparently is an alleged act of ‘selfishness’. Here lies the paradox. A man who placed the citizens of his nation above himself is revered while a man who places his life above others is looked down upon. It explicitly means that nationalism is noble while self-love is base, a notion which makes no sense to me. If a man holds two principles so incompatible, it can only mean that he doesn’t hold any, and acts on the expediency of the moment. It can have no other meaning. If an ‘eye for an eye’ is the rule of a beast, ’X’s eye for Y’s fault’ is the rule of the vilest of beings.

If sacrificial animals are being sought to protect the rest, it can only mean that the rights of the protected takes precedence over the protectors. It is bad enough to have the right of anyone take precedence over another, but isn’t it even more so when the protected takes precedence over the protector? If draft is slavery at the point of a gun, what could be said of voluntary servitude? Aren’t they the basest of creatures?

One who values human lives cannot place the life of his countrymen over that of another. One who values his own life can never place lives of his fellow beings above himself. Needless to mention, defense ‘services’ are entirely uncalled-for. A soldier is seen as a person who has placed his nation above himself and his own family. The issue is clear if someone asks whether one who cannot value himself or his own family can love his own ‘nation’. In fact, there is no such thing as a ‘nation’ or ‘society’.
Quoting the most brilliant economic journalist ever lived, Frederic Bastiat,” One part was converted into cartridges, which emitted the most beautiful smoke in the world. Another went to pay the men who had got crippled in foreign countries after having laid them waste. Then, when this expenditure brought invasion upon us, our gracious enemy was unwilling to take leave of us without carrying away some money, and this money had to be borrowed.”
Upon logic, there is no reason why wars should be waged at all! Any attack is that of an individual, or a group of individuals over another individual or a similar group. Surely, one wouldn’t argue that if the neighbors’ kids bully his children, he has the right to bomb their home. What if a person is attacked? He has every right, then to seize them to their den and attack from there, but there is no reason why it should extent to others. There is no reason why he should be allowed to get away with it. In the words of Murray Newton Rothbard, “The question is not whether “we would be willing to use force to prevent the rape of our sister,” but whether, to prevent that rape, we are willing to kill innocent people and perhaps even the sister herself. To the old militarist taunt hurled against the pacifist: “Would you use force to prevent the rape of your sister?” the proper retort is: “Would you rape your sister if ordered to do so by your commanding officer?”
In fact, it does not make any difference to a martyr whether one or a billion lost their lives in a war. It might concern me if it’s that of a loved one, but I ,or for that matter, anyone else do not give a damn if a billion people who do not matter to me at all lose their lives. They are just part of statistics for the rest of the world and we better admit it. Glorifying wrongdoings claiming ‘nobler’ motives (“Ends will justify the means”) gets followers from inferior minds & only from them.
Many of us would agree it is wrong to divide the nation on religious or caste lines and that it will only exacerbate the problem. Many of us know that it is divisive to pigeonhole people on the basis of purportedly shared convictions. Yet, the very same people fail to realize it is divisive to classify people on the basis of national or political boundaries. Isn’t it paradoxical? Communalism is seen as a coarse form of collectivism while nationalism is euphemized as ‘patriotism’. Why isn’t racism, then an ideal? Why is a mutual bond based on race seen as atavistic, while that on nationality is perceived as noble?
Why is one supposed to love and take pride in his own birthplace? If you were born into a slum , would it be fair if you were supposed to identify with its inhabitants? Should you drag yourself down to state your pride in being born there? It is the lowest herd mentality to which a person sticks to that makes him a patriot. It is a desire for unearned pride, a feeling that he would share the virtues of his fellow beings that motivates him, and helps to get away with it. Would anyone be proud to identify himself with savages? Patriotism, thus as racism and communalism are, is simply a proclamation of inferiority. It is the crudest form of collectivism. One, needless to mention, could love a place for its freedom, affluence, politico-economic system or some particular emotional reason. Conceding that, I find no reason why it should spread as far as one’s provincial frontiers. There is no reason at all why it should stop just there too! On a free world, there would be no such difference in degree of freedom, or political system either. We should have to dismiss that too!
If one is supposed to be patriotic, then he should of course, be expected to have similar feelings toward his own state, and progressively toward his city and village. It should certainly be so if it were so genuine a feeling man is endowed with. Yet, one’s village, city or state does not evoke the same emotional attachment nation does. Wars aren’t waged between them at all. Surely, a striking situation! It just proves that it is neither genuine, nor the root of wars. The reasons, hence, should be different.
If an honest answer is sought, one would inevitably founder over national self-determination, trade and immigration restrictions. Let us question the very notion itself. Why should a group of men living a particular geographical area have the right to form a nation? What if an individual, or a group of individuals, want to secede? Will they be allowed the freedom to do so, or will they be forced at the point of a bayonet? Why should not then every state have the same right of determination and of imposing restrictions? Why not every city and village? Why not every home and person?

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