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longgone's avatar

Do we need patriotism?

Asked by longgone (7441 points ) 3 months ago

I was just discussing this with a friend. His claim: “Patriotism is necessary for us to accept the system we live in.”

Thoughts? Can you think of any examples for why patriotism is vital?

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51 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Sure the wealthy want to give you the illusion that you are free, so when the time comes you will go to some foreign land and fight for their, OOOps your way of life so they can keep screwing the working joe back on the home front.

JLeslie's avatar

Patriotism helps keep a volunteer military going.

It also helps feel good about where you live. In America I think one of the problems among our Black Americans (not all of them, I am just talking about something I have observed with some, especially in the south when I lived there) is parents don’t install in their children the greatness of our country and the feeling that they can do anything. In fact, quite the opposite, many black children are raised being told they will find it difficult to get a fair shake. That America treated them as slaves, a subclass, and continues to do so in some ways. How can a 10 year old feel good about himself and have hopes for the future being told all of that from the age of little? How can those children feel good about the very country they were born in and are living in? I think some amount of patriotism gives the individual freedom psychologically. At least it can in America. It also creates a commonality between countrymen. How can black Americans feel American? Feel on the inside? They are told they are still outsiders. Some of them. Are they patriotic? It’s probably difficult to be when you feel your country screwed you and all your ancestors.

When patriotism goes too far it is bad. We don’t want mindless citizens and soldiers following a leader, or being so ethnocentric that they feel superior in the world. Feeling pride in ones ethnicity and country does not have to mean the person actually feels better than others.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
—Albert Einstein

Dan_Lyons's avatar

No, what we need are more individuals who have reached a level of enlightenment wherein they understand implicitly the criminal insanity fostered by such idiotic notions as patriotism.

Read the poem Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen.

“If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.”

Then, for some light reading, go to the library and check out Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.

“Joe Bonham, a young soldier serving in World War I, awakens in a hospital bed after being caught in the blast of an exploding artillery shell. He gradually realizes that he has lost his arms, legs, and all of his face (including his eyes, ears, teeth, and tongue), but that his mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body.”

Yes, both are written with WWI in mind, but after seeing the senseless slaughter of human beings since WWI in the name of patriotism, you might conclude that there really is no goal in war any longer other than to enrich the war mongers.

Sure, there are terrorists who are willing to steal jets in mid flight and crash them into our cities like some kind of Hari Kari mission, but keep in mind that it was our government and their cronies and the guys who apparently own our government now who created our own terrorists against us.

Blackberry's avatar

It doesn’t matter if we need it because it’s there, but of course we know the ideology is close minded and ignorant when applied to real life by people.

ibstubro's avatar

We need patriotism because it links diverse people together for a common cause. Love of country is what keeps extremists in check and keeps a country from splintering the way that Iraq now is.

Even in Russia, where is seems as if the general population was gaining great strides before Putin, the people seem to support him because of the relative security and stability he’s given them.

Darth_Algar's avatar

No. We don’t.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Patriotism is dangerous because it is used to deflect the sheep from questioning the motives of those who shear them. The results can be rather sickening. I get depressed at the number of vets who actually believe that they were in Vietnam or Iraq “defending their country” It IS my country right or wrong. But when it’s wrong, jingoism is no substitute for the truth.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@stanleybmanly sorta like I said huh?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

We do, now more than ever. People seem to always confuse patriotism with nationalism. With patriotism people don’t necessarily put up with things that the home country does that goes against what the citizens want. It encourages structured change and improvement. Nationalism does not, big difference. We don’t need nationalism.

Darth_Algar's avatar

There is no tangible difference between patriotism and nationalism. They are one and the same.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 No, it’s EXACTLY like you said.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Darth_Algar I disagree, there is a massive difference but it’s been systematically marginalized through misinformation and propaganda.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Patriotism and Nationalism are the same thing.

CWOTUS's avatar

It depends on the context in which the term is used. Obviously, most of the prior respondents take a dim view of it, equating it to nationalism, xenophobia and oppression. Color me surprised.

But it’s pretty natural to feel “love of one’s homeland and country”, whether that expands to “love of one’s government” or not. I, for one, love the country and the ideals that made it a country, while I abhor its government.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

They are in no way the same. With nationalism control is centered with Gov’t, military, oppressive power and the desire for more and more control. (Think Nazi Germany) Patriotism is centered with the people, culture and the improvement and extension of it to others. (Think your local farmers market) Light years apart, hell not even in the same universe. Nationalism is malevolent and offensive, Patriotism is benevolent and defensive.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me The notions are interlinked. You say that patriotism is centered on the people and culture; but in fact, patriotism seems always to be connected to a state. One has patriotic feelings for, say, France or Ireland—not for the Gauls or the Celts. On the other hand, a people and their culture can be spread out across the world regardless of borders. Indeed, in political philosophy, it is quite common to reverse your definitions. A nation is a group of people, who may or may not form a state/country. It is then the state for which one might have patriotic feelings.

In any case, your definition still involves dividing human beings up into separate peoples and cultures. This is perfectly natural, of course. But once you bring in rivalries, we have the basics of politics. And those are the seeds of nationalism in your sense. So even if we accept your definitions, it seems like we can’t separate the positives and negatives quite so cleanly.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I live in a place where a sizeable proportion of the inhabitants feel a strong and singular sense of nationalism, although their government represents a much more diverse group of people. Their sense of nationalism is what makes this group want to separate from the country. Nationalism has to do with what ties a people together; it’s social and cultural, not directly related to government.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m not sure that localized nationalism is of a help, @dappled_leaves

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro Try seeing it from their point of view…

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Nationalism plainly deals with the state and its power structure. Patriotism deals with culture and traditions. No it’s not black and white but the difference is still quite substantial. Nationalism is not cultural, it’s synthetic. Patriotism is a little more organic and closer to home. While there can be overlap we still must not confuse the two, that’s actually dangerous.

While I love this country as a melting pot of cultures and the freedom we have to pursue our interests I don’t always agree with our Gov’t an its foreign policy or some of our corporate behavior. I want to see more opportunity, less conflict, increased environmental stewardship and general well-being of our citizens. That is patriotism without nationalism. This sadly is nationalism.

ibstubro's avatar

Sorry, I don’t have a “their” point of reference?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me You have it backwards, I’m afraid.

As to whether we “need” patriotism… as an end in itself, I’d say we don’t particularly need it. It might be needed for a specific purpose, say to engage people for a common effort like war. Or it might be needed to keep a country from fracturing, if there are distinct groups who would prefer not to be united under the same flag.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I don’t see how that is plain. Indeed, the technical definitions within the academic disciplines of political science and political philosophy are quite at odds with your own. This is not dispositive, of course, but it does undermine the claim that your usage is “plainly” correct.

Moreover, nationalism in the political sense is frequently tied up in appeals to the people or the folk. Nazi propaganda, for instance, was all about raising up a particular notion of the “true” German people (the so-called Aryan race) that would abolish the old state and create a new one. Thus your own example seems to undermine your claim.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Let’s do a thought experiment. If a destructive Alien race were to suddenly appear in the sky over all the major cities in the world (like the movies Independence Day or War of the Worlds) all nations would combine efforts to fight back as they could. Would the fighters be considered Earth Patriots?

I like my home, family, job and life style. If an army of sunlight -starved Canadians decided to come across the border swinging hockey sticks and broken Labatt bottles intent upon taking my land and sunlight,. I’d do everything I could to keep them off my property – and my neighbors’ and the other residents’ land. I would gladly help protect my neighbor even though my place might not be attacked at the time. Is that called being a patriot?

What if the interlopers weren’t wearing beaver hats but wore keffiyeh or shemagh instead? Would I now be called a zealot?

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

Patriotism has been dead for a while now but it will be on the rise in a couple of years. It died because of the agenda of pitting the so called “rich” against the “middle class”. The Media and our current Government worked on this agenda hand in hand.

LostInParadise's avatar

Strictly speaking, patriotism is not necessary. We could all go about our daily lives with no particular feeling for either the people or the culture of the place we inhabit. We could still be motivated to form a military, because it is in our mutual interest to defend our homes.

There is a natural human tendency to identify with whatever group we are a part of, where the group might be familial, territorial, religious or occupational. These various attachments can be at odds with one another, which can make problematic exactly what we mean by patriotism.

I see a small dose of group loyalty as a good thing. It creates a diversity of cultures and makes the world a more interesting place. That the world is getting smaller in many ways is a good thing, but there is a price to be paid in greater homogenization. We have been losing languages at a rate of about one every other week. Imagine what it would be like if the homogenization is take to an extreme. Picture the world as an endless tiling of indistinguishable small cities, industrial parks and recreational areas. We might have some natural areas, but the various species invasions have created a uniformity of flora and fauna in areas with similar climate conditions. This is not a pretty picture.

kritiper's avatar

Without patriotism, and it’s basic sociological connections in everyday life, humans wouldn’t give a damn about anything.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?”
—Blaise Pascal

@kritiper I still give a damn about plenty of things without patriotism. Rather than putting my country or my government on some special pedestal, I care about humanity as a whole. The planet has no natural political borders, and I fail to see how drawing an artificial line between two people alters anything morally relevant about the relationship they have with one another.

kritiper's avatar

@SavoirFaire So you can see what I meant, can’t you?? What you describe would be FAR worse without patriotism! Patriotism for your loved ones, humanity as a whole, yourself, Mother Nature. the land, the sky, the water, a oneness, a belonging, etc.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@kritiper That’s not patriotism, as discussed above.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@kritiper

You’re seriously reaching there to try to make patriotism fit bounds that are far beyond its scope.

JLeslie's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat What country do you live in that patriotism is dead? The only people I hear consistently who are very negative about it on fluther are Germans (I am not saying all Germans think this way, but it seems very widespread in that country) and I am sure that has to do with the country’s history. However, it would be hard for me to believe that the Germans were not rooting for Germany to win the World Cup. I swear I feel more tension during the World Cup than the Superbowl or the Olympics. Maybe that is because I have Latin Americans around me.

Here in America I still feel tons of patrioticism around me. People who have US flags on their houses, immigrants who are proud to be US citizens, all the people around me chanting USA at the end of the fireworks just a week ago for independence day. All those people seem to be patriotic to me. Every time I write on fluther that something seems unAmerican or American to me, I think I am basically saying I am an American and care about my country and perserving it.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

@JLeslie you asked what country I live in? I live in “The People’s Republic of New York”. You should see and hear what I do on a daily basis. No one on my block waves the American Flag, I took mine (the only one on the block) down six years ago for my own personal reasons.

JLeslie's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat LOL. Go on down to AL, GA, WV, TN, MS, NC, SC, and then let me know what you see and hear. I would guess even parts of NYS have some patriots, you just have to go to the corners of the red parts.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“The nation is divided, half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which.”
—Mark Twain

I lived in New York State for 25 years. There’s plenty of patriotism there, both to the country and to the state. But of course, one might miss it if one only counts something as patriotism when it is comes along with shared political beliefs (e.g., if one thinks only a person who is in the same political party as oneself could be a patriot).

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire Great point. Especially during the Bush years I heard a lot of Republicans accusing Democrats of not being American enough or not being patriotic. I found it quite horrible that whole mantra.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie Well, in another recent question about this topic, one person described displaying a flag as the sign of a true patriot, so that mantra appears to live on.

rojo's avatar

While I have felt this way ever since I can remember, in 1971 John Prine pretty well summed up my feelings on the subject of patriotism in his song Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.

For those reluctant to link to an outside website, the lyrics are as follows:

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore
© John Prine

While digesting Reader’s Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I’d tell her how good I feel.

Chorus:
But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
“If you join the Christmas club
We’ll give you ten of them flags for free.”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife’s forehead.

Repeat Chorus:

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn’t see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I’ll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said…

“But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
We’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.”

kritiper's avatar

I will adhere to my original answer.

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves Ironically my husband wanted to display the flag on our last house (we never got around to it, and I am not very keen about doing it on the outside of the house) and he is Mexican American. Some of the people around me who claimed to be patriotic and saw the willingness to display the flag as a sign of patriotism would be the first to sound off about Mexicans.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

@SavoirFaire I have lived in N.Y. for 50 years. I grew up in the South. I have seen major changes here (N.Y.) as far as patriotism goes.I would be interested in how many years ago you lived in New York. You might not even recognize the place now.

when I first moved to my neighborhood everyone had an American Flag by their front door. It has been years since I have seen even one. There are so many other things I could mention but I have a feeling that your mind is made up since “you use to live in New York”.

I still do live here.

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CWOTUS's avatar

No one could say that we “need” patriotism. After all, we don’t “need” privacy, liberty, the ability to think for ourselves or a conscience, either. (And a good thing, too, because of the scarcity of all those things.)

But humans are social animals, and “shared love of country” is one of the things that we use to select those with whom we prefer to socialize. (A lot of us are lazy thinkers, too, and prefer to have the categorization, selection and thinking done by others who then label some as “patriots”, some as “traitors” and some as “terrorists”, etc., so that we will know how to act toward them without having to think about them much.)

So, no, we don’t need patriotism unless we have lazy-thinking associates or intend to lead them. Personally, I’m not looking for a leadership position and I don’t have too many lazy-thinking associates (or I’d disassociate), so I don’t really need patriotism or a lot of other labels. Still, they’re useful from time to time, like a lot of other tools that humans have made and set aside over the years. You just have to know the right use for the tool, and the time to use it. And especially be aware of how others can use it.

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