General Question

Ivan's avatar

Can you explain the logic (or lackthereof) behind the "My country, love it or leave it" argument?

Asked by Ivan (13384 points ) March 26th, 2009

My country, love it or leave it.

This is the notion that this country (whichever country that happens to be) has it’s own set of laws, traditions, and customs. If you disagree with or speak outwardly against these laws, traditions, and customs, then it is irrational for you to remain in this country; it would be better of everyone involved if you were to just leave and find a country that better suits your beliefs.

This argument is usually used against progressive discussion which calls into question the legitimacy of the established laws and traditions. “My country, love it or leave it” is in direct contention with the philosophy that laws and traditions should be changed for the better, rather than simply acknowledged and obeyed.

In modern settings, the argument has been used against those opposing the Iraq war, questioning the role of private enterprise in areas such as health care, education, etc, arguing against the unchecked dominance of Christianity, supporting homosexual rights, and opposing the USA Patriot Act, to name a few.

What are your thoughts? Is this a valid argument? If so, what is your rationale? If not, why do you feel that it is not satisfactory? Why do you believe that it is relatively popular amongst citizens in the United States? I am interested in your responses. Thank you.

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84 Answers

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

neopatriotism, plain and simple.

marinelife's avatar

This seems like another thinly disguised barb.

What applies to countries that have a democratic government does not apply to privately owned businesses.

Ivan's avatar

@Marina You can take from this question whatever you wish, but I believe that the argument is universal. It represents a deeper philosophy that is not limited to specific circumstances.

That being said, I hope to discuss the logic behind the universal argument itself, not it’s implications in specific instances.

Facade's avatar

no i cannot

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

That phrase reminds me of Al Franken and his schtick about childish notions of love vs grown up love.

I prefer grown up love and wanting to improve things.

asmonet's avatar

@Ivan: Things can represent multiple points all at once.

@Marina: I’m with you.

Blondesjon's avatar

Break it down to your country being the same as your home or your property Ivan.

very simple shit…i thought you all were in mensa or some such thing

fireside's avatar

It sounds like a less offensive version of “Bring them to their Japa-knees” and other such nonsense.

We’re in a global world now and nationalism is counterproductive to where the world needs to be heading.

Ivan's avatar

@asmonet Can you expand upon that? I’m not sure what you mean.

@Blondesjon I guess that would depend on whether or not I was welcoming people into my home or property. If I wasn’t, then anyone there would be trespassing. If I was, then the situation would be analogous to my country, in my opinion.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivan…Even if the guests wanted you to change your shower curtain, let them pick the music, and expected you to buy all the beer?

Acyd's avatar

The problem with this definition of patriotism is that, in many ways, they run contrary to the best interests of the nation. Demanding unquestioning loyalty, regardless of the situation, is a poor excuse for love of one’s country, and an avoidance of the duties that citizens of the country have. Sometimes the best kind of love is tough love. Without critical thought, without constant questioning of the motives of leaders and the standards they use to make decisions, we will never discover the real things that are worth feeling patriotic about. One of the most patriotic things a person can do is to take a stand against popular wisdom or public opinion, if he or she feels it is in the best interests of the country, even if the country does not want to admit it.

Ivan's avatar

@Blondesjon I only say that I would welcome their suggestions and consider any ideas they might have, not that I would simply do everything they told me. I certainly would not just tell them to leave. That is what this question is about: welcoming ideas and discussion from the populous vs. telling everyone who disagrees with you to leave.

fireside's avatar

@Acyd – As long as by “taking a stand” you mean within the limits of the law, i think that is a great post.

Allie's avatar

“disagree with or speak outwardly against these laws, traditions, and customs”
Kind of like outcasts?

“the argument has been used against those opposing the Iraq war, questioning the role of private enterprise in areas such as health care, education, etc, arguing against the unchecked dominance of Christianity, supporting homosexual rights, and opposing the USA Patriot Act, to name a few.”
You can speak out, but that doesn’t guarantee change.

I think that a nation should work for the majority of its citizens. It’s not going to make everyone happy and that’s just something that some people will have to live with. Ultimately, those who are honestly that unhappy with their situation will find another place where they belong. (Example: Move to another city, state, country… whatever.)

Ivan's avatar

@fireside Just brainstorming, what would you consider acceptable if you felt that the limits of the law were unfair and needed to be changed? (Such as was the issue with the Patriot Act and the civil rights movement)

@Allie Does working for the majority automatically mean that the rights of the minority must be ignored or violated? Does it mean that anyone who is not part of the majority should simply leave without having their arguments discussed?

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivan…Are you sure it’s about all of that and not about finding a palce to take out your anger at once again being a small fish in a big pond?

Ivan's avatar

@Blondesjon I’m afraid I don’t understand your response. Do you think that people who question societal norms and laws are merely taking their anger out on people unjustifiably?

Allie's avatar

@Ivan You can’t please everyone. Those who are unhappy will (a) change their situation, or (b) make due with the way things are.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivan….No I think that you, personally, have a very hard time being a noob again. Hey, it would drive me apeshit too.

The things that you have posted are almost verbatim to what I would post in your position.

Ivan's avatar

@Allie I guess I disagree with the notion that those in the minority should simply conform or leave. I think that the democratic system encourages a third option, that of intellectual discussion in an attempt to better their current situation.

@Blondesjon I don’t know what you’re talking about. I feel as though this is getting off topic.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – In this country, we have the right to redress of grievances. So the proper way to do it would be to petition the government. If there is a critical mass of people, then the law will most likely be changed.

However, running a country comes with a lot of caveats, I imagine. Some things may not be changeable.

Allie's avatar

@Ivan You can discuss things until you’re red in the face. What good does that do anyone if the circumstances stay roughly the same? Let’s not kid ourselves, you and I both know they won’t change much.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside I am talking about a step in the process that comes well before petitioning the government. It is important that discussion between citizens is encouraged so that new ideas can be exchanged and people can become educated about alternative ideas and arguments against established norms. Many people resist this.

@Allie I don’t think it’s a very good attitude to say that nothing is ever going to change. A lot has changed over the past 50 years in the United States.

Allie's avatar

@Ivan Good point. Maybe in another 50 the minority will be content. Or there will be something else to moan about. There’s always something to be unhappy with.

YARNLADY's avatar

The thinking behind it is simply logic “I like what I have now, I don’t want it to change, and if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.” However, that is not a well reasoned position. Reasonably, change is inevitable, and we should always work for positive change, not deny it’s existence. I can see parallels in the workings of the Fluther Community as well.

Ivan's avatar

@Allie Yes, society will never be perfect. But so long as we keep ourselves open to discussion and change, we will always be making it better than it was before. If we have a futile attitude and never try to change anything, everything will always be just as bad as it ever was.

So we may not ever make it perfect, but we can make it better.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – Really?

These issues seem to be pretty hot topics:

“arguing against the unchecked dominance of Christianity, supporting homosexual rights, and opposing the USA Patriot Act”

But there is a difference in how the issues are presented and discussed.
Let’s separate style from substance.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside I said that many people resist discussion of those topics, not everyone. Yes, they are hot topics, but many people simply respond with “If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

Kelly27's avatar

@Allie Without the minority “moaning” would we have an African American president? Would the LGBT community have made as much progress as it has or women for that matter?

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – well, you’re not going to convince everyone to agree to your point of view. There are a wide range of opinions, some informed and some not. That doesn’t change the process that should be followed.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivan…“There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk “his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor” on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else.”

Ivan's avatar

@fireside I agree, but that does not lessen the importance of discussing different ideas openly. The idea isn’t necessarily to convert everyone to your line of thinking, it is more about the exchange of ideas and learning about alternative arguments.

@Blondesjon I do not feel that improving the quality of life for a large number of people and altogether creating a better country is an ‘outcome dubious.’

Allie's avatar

@Ivan Agreed. Still, the majority have to agree that a change should be made. Although civil rights (just for example) was started by a few, do you think it would have become anything without the support of the thousands of others?

@Kelly27 I think the reason we have an African-American president is because the majority wanted it that way. They expressed it with their votes. Like I said earlier, small groups can be a catalyst, but it takes a lot of people to make changes happen.

Ivan's avatar

@Allie That’s the point though. If the arguments of the minority are suppressed, they never have the opportunity to convince the majority. It’s important that they at least get the chance.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – Who is arguing that you shouldn’t discuss things openly?
And it really does come down to style over substance, in that regard.

Did the Black Panther movement create the change for African-Americans?
Or are people like Martin Luther King Jr. more effective?

Kelly27's avatar

@Allie My point was, do you think if the minority had shut up and accepted their “appropriate place” in this country, separate water fountains and all, do you think a black man would have even had the chance to run for president?

Ivan's avatar

@fireside I am not arguing over different styles of movements. Either way, if the Black Panthers or MLK would have simply left the country when people told them to, things would be much worse off than they turned out to be.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivan…Did you actually read my answer or are you skimming?

Ivan's avatar

@Blondesjon….yes I read it…I don’t feel as though the quote is applicable in this situation.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – I already agreed that the sentiment posed in the question was nonsense.

But I get the sense that we aren’t actually talking about countries, are we?

Ivan's avatar

@fireside Apologies. I haven’t really learned everyone’s names yet, so it can be difficult to remember who exactly said what.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivan…“If you ask yourself a personal enough question, your response is more likely to be personal, and that means that if you get yourself into trouble, no one else’s answers are going to be applicable, and you’ll be flying by the seat of your pants and you’ll have to come up with something.”

Allie's avatar

@Ivan I think they are given the chance. I think that in the US there is no lack of minority groups arguing their point.

@Kelly27 I don’t remember saying they had to shut up.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – no worries. But I think my point is that it is one thing to discuss things and another to take over government airwaves to incite dissent.

grog's avatar

Of course killing people in an illegal invasion, such as Americas invasion of Iraq, is murder.

Ivan's avatar

@Allie But we are saying that they should be listened to, rather than simply ignored. Sure, you might not literally ban their movement, but not listening to what they’re saying can be just as repressive.

@fireside I don’t think anyone is arguing for that, this is simply about whether to actively ignore/malign discussion vs. accepting it and taking part in it.

Kelly27's avatar

@Allie “You can discuss things until you’re red in the face. What good does that do anyone if the circumstances stay roughly the same? Let’s not kid ourselves, you and I both know they won’t change much.”

I thought that was what you had said here, but maybe you were referring to something other than the question at hand?

And this quote here “Good point. Maybe in another 50 the minority will be content. Or there will be something else to moan about. There’s always something to be unhappy with.”

Seemed to imply that the minority is just bitching for the sake of bitching and the tone I got from that comment was questionable as to your view of minority groups.

Allie's avatar

@Ivan I agree they should be listened to. I don’t think that every single group should get what it wants. That’s where I think majority comes in and decides.

@Kelly27 First, saying that change might not come from the discussion does not mean the same thing as no discussion should take place. Second, I don’t think they’re “bitching for the sake of bitching.” All I mean with that comment was that you can’t please everybody. Don’t read too much into it.

Amoebic's avatar

@kelly I’m not sure where you’re pulling “bitching for the sake of bitching” from “Maybe in another 50 the minority will be content. Or there will be something else to moan about. There’s always something to be unhappy with.”

I understood that as “You can’t please ‘em all.” The intent is totally different.

mammal's avatar

yeah, it’s like red rag to a bull to me, i’ve seen the `love it, or leave it’ logo proudly displayed on the back of clapped out, old automobiles, sheesh, what a joke, what they really mean to say is `i’m poor white trash, thanks to immigrants, lefties, homosexuals and people of colour.’

Ivan's avatar

@Allie Of course not everyone gets what they want, but it should not be up to the majority to simply make whatever decision they like. The majority should listen to the arguments of the minority and consider their points so that improved policy can be put into place. This is in contrast to the notion that the minority should simply “leave,” i.e. “be quiet.”

Allie's avatar

@Ivan Do you think that in the United States that is not the case?

Kelly27's avatar

@Amoebic If you say to me that you are having trouble with your boss at work sexually harassing you, I say “yea, well sorry, maybe in 50 years sexual harassment won’t be an issue” or “sure, moan about that, what next do you want equal pay too, you’re just never happy are you?”

What would you take away from me saying that?

fireside's avatar

Sexual harassment is against the law.
That’s different than wanting to change the law.

Ivan's avatar

@Allie That’s not what this discussion is about. I wanted to know whether or not you thought the argument was valid on an individual level. In the United States, I find that many individuals do indeed use the “my country, love it or leave it” argument.

Kelly27's avatar

@fireside Had the minority not fought against it, would it be? Sexual harassment has not always been illegal, is was fought for.
There are plenty of laws that I do believe need to be questioned, just because it is law does not always mean it is the right thing.

fireside's avatar

What is the point here? It’s getting a bit cyclical.

People have a right to discuss ideas and petition the government for change.
But change is slow.

Allie's avatar

@Ivan It seems like that’s what we’ve been discussing for a while now, but ok, whatever. On an individual level (meaning any person who either does or does not agree), sure, it’s valid. Everyone thinks they are right. If you’re asking what I think personally, then I’ll say this: I don’t think that “love it, or leave it” is how it should be, but in many cases it’s the way it is.

Sr_Q's avatar

“If you’re asking what I think personally, then I’ll say this: I don’t think that “love it, or leave it” is how it should be, but in many cases it’s the way it is.”

@Allie And that my friends, is how you become a sellout. That’s how one betrays one’s principles.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside You’ve hit the point. The “love it or leave it” argument is in contrast to what you’ve said. That’s all.

@Allie Well, we were discussing how society would be effected if everyone accepted the “love it or leave it” mentality, so I guess you are correct.

Amoebic's avatar

@Kelly27 That example you just gave about sexual harassment only confirms to me that you misunderstood the intent of the original comment. I can’t see how your example and her comment are in any way similar enough to parallel.

Kelly27's avatar

@Amoebic Perhaps :)

I can barely read anything people write when they whisper like this

fireside's avatar

@Kelly27 – If you are on a PC, you should be able to go to: Start Menu > Accessories > Accessibility > Magnifier. Maybe that will help.

Or you can just hit Control +

Kelly27's avatar

@fireside Thank you! Now I don’t need to squint to read the whispers anymore. :D

kenmc's avatar

All sides should be heard and listened to. If they are not supported by evidence or common sense, they should shot on sight. Duh!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i remember in elementary school, in the back of one of our little agenda books that they give kids in the beginning of the year, there was a poem that i still think about now.
i can’t find it anywhere, and i don’t remember how it went, but it was about a little boy whose grandpa didn’t take part in the typical ‘patriotic’ festivities most other folks do, and he would complain and criticize the government regularly. he wrote letters to people of authority, etc. and the boy always wondered why his grandpa hated america so much, but at the end, the grandpa tells the little boy he does it because he cares.

whenever i hear someone say ‘love it or leave it’, or something to that effect, i always think back to that poem. i definitely think that many of the people who criticize a country are often the ones who are trying to improve it, and who care the most. though just complaining doesn’t usually solve anything

fundevogel's avatar

it’s more of a motto than an argument really, and I’m never very impressed with arguments that over simply things for the sake of fitting on a bumper sticker.

Anyway this is the sort of ‘argument’ you can’t actually engage in actual argument over since, it isn’t a position based on anything other than people’s bullheaded jingoism. In fact I think the people who say these sorts of things actually go deaf when you try to talk to them about the other side.

J0E's avatar

The logic is: everyone has a choice of where they live (granted some are not able to move) but for the most part people don’t have to live here if they don’t like it. Also, this is how America was formed…

btw, nice first question!

Ivan's avatar

@J0E Wouldn’t it be better for everyone involved if grievances and arguments are welcomed and discussed?

J0E's avatar

@Ivan In an ideal world, yes. In the real world however “discussing grievances” just means yelling at each other. Plus, look at all the great things that have come from people who didn’t like their current situation and did something about it?

Ivan's avatar

@J0E Your two sentences contradict each other. First of all, I disagree that discussion automatically devolves to yelling at each other. Second of all, people who didn’t like their current situation and did something about it is exactly the point of this entire question/discussion.

J0E's avatar

@Ivan Nope, I can tell from personal experience that differences only result in yelling. Unless you are dealing with intelligent people, but we’re talking about America so…

If colonials had discussed there grievances and arguments with the British they would have (been executed) never came to America, in that case “love it or leave it” gave birth to a nation. That is only one example.

wundayatta's avatar

Can’t we all say the same thing? I mean, if you don’t like my work to get universal health care using a single payer system, then why don’t you leave and go to South Africa. By the way, enjoy the mortality rate! When I win, America will have a chance at being safe and secure.

Ivan's avatar

@J0E After 2 years at wis.dm, I can tell from personal experience that differences do not always result in yelling. Besides, we are talking about the philosophy behind everything, not it’s practice.

Like I said before, I am talking about a step in the process well before interacting with the government. I am talking about interaction between the people. You would have never had a Revolution in the British North American colonies if the citizens didn’t discuss the issue with each other. If everyone just said ‘Hey, if you don’t like British rule, move to France!’ then we would still be a British colony.

@daloon That comment made no sense.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – You know how those people met to discuss their problems with the Anglican Church/King of England? In private.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside OK….That probably had something to do with their fear of being punished. Are you saying that all discussion should be hidden from view? That doesn’t seem very effective. The whole idea is to spread the discussion to as many people as possible.

Again, this discussion was about the validity of the “love it or leave it” argument.

fireside's avatar

And that validity depends on the social context.
England 200+ years ago was a very different political climate from America today.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside I agree; I did not introduce the analogy.

J0E's avatar

@Ivan What good is it to discuss the philosophy behind it when the practice is what actually happens? I’m not talking about forums, I’m talking about real life face-to-face discussions.

Replace ‘France’ with ‘New World’ and you have exactly what they did…

fundevogel's avatar

except the new world was a British colony. The colonies were very reluctant to start a revolution and did attempt to get their grievances heard by their government. It was only after they saw that the government wasn’t willing to listen to them that they revolted, which is fundamentally different from leaving their country.

And nothing ever changes unless you ask for it, if you don’t demand improvement from your country it never will.

J0E's avatar

I guess I should explain that to me “love it or leave it” doesn’t mean literally leaving the country, to me it means actually doing something about your dislike.

Ivan's avatar

@J0E Because the philosophy impacts what actually happens. If you start thinking that things will never change, things will never change.

The “love it or leave it” argument is not really literal… It’s the “If you don’t like it, you can get out” mentality (There was a great episode of South Park about this, by the way). It’s fundamentally opposed the idea that your surroundings can be improved through discourse and civility. Essentially, these are the foundations of democracy. Yes, some religious zealots colonized this land after leaving their country, but they didn’t live in a democracy. Besides, if everyone had listened to them when they told dissenters to leave, we would be living in a Puritan theocracy right now. Instead, this country was revolutionized by a great era of open discussion and discourse. The seeds of the Revolution were planted in pubs and taverns where the great thinkers of the day discussed political philosophy and their grievances with the Monarchy. You seem to be arguing for brute action over discussion, but you can’t have action without discussion. One person cannot do anything significant to change their surroundings. One person can, however, convince the people around him of his arguments. If everyone just tells him to shut up, that never happens.

J0E's avatar

@Ivan See my above comment, I agree, I think all that can be considered “doing something about your dislike.”

J0E's avatar

You need to ask more questions like this Ivan.

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