Sunday, July 06, 2008

Admit It

It's always a pleasure to be in the mountains of Mexico on Independence Day. Here, we celebrate Independence, but not from the tyranny of England, we celebrate our independence from the nation state itself. For it is the nation state, and specifically the US nation state that is on the verge of becoming a true rogue entity.

These ideas are typically not very popular. Even the most liberal and progressive of us generally fall prey to the patriotic fervor. But here's part of a piece from the Progressive that indicates that a crack in the American myth is beginning to find form:

Why I’m Not Patriotic
By Matthew Rothschild
(In memory of George Carlin.)

04/07/08 "The Progressive" -- It’s July 4th again, a day of near-compulsory flag-waving and nation-worshipping.

Count me out.

Spare me the puerile parades.
Don’t play that martial music, white boy.
And don’t befoul nature’s sky with your F-16s.
You see, I don’t believe in patriotism.
It’s not that I’m anti-American, but I am anti-patriotic.

Love of country isn’t natural. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s an inculcated kind of love, something that is foisted upon you in the home, in the school, on TV, at church, during the football game.

Yet most people accept it without inspection.


For when you stop to think about it, patriotism (especially in its malignant morph, nationalism) has done more to stack the corpses millions high in the last 300 years than any other factor, including the prodigious slayer, religion. (clip)

When Americans retort that this is still the greatest country in the world, I have to ask why.

Are we the greatest country because we have 10,000 nuclear weapons?

No, that just makes us enormously powerful, with the capacity to destroy the Earth itself.

Are we the greatest country because we have soldiers stationed in more than 120 countries?

No, that just makes us an empire, like the empires of old, only more so.

Are we the greatest country because we are one-twentieth of the world’s population but we consume one-quarter of its resources?

No, that just must makes us a greedy and wasteful nation.

Are we the greatest country because the top 1 percent of Americans hoards 34 percent of the nation’s wealth, more than everyone in the bottom 90 percent combined?

No, that just makes us a vastly unequal nation.

Are we the greatest country because corporations are treated as real, live human beings with rights?

No, that just enshrines a plutocracy in this country.

Are we the greatest country because we take the best care of our people’s basic needs?

No, actually we don’t. We’re far down the list on health care and infant mortality and parental leave and sick leave and quality of life.

So what exactly are we talking about here?

To the extent that we’re a great (not the greatest, mind you: that’s a fool’s game) country, we’re less of a great country today.

Because those things that truly made us great-the system of checks and balances, the enshrinement of our individual rights and liberties-have all been systematically assaulted by Bush and Cheney.

From the Patriot Act to the Military Commissions Act to the new FISA Act, and all the signing statements in between, we are less great today.

From Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Force Base and Guantanamo, we are less great today.

From National Security Presidential Directive 51 (giving the Executive responsibility for ensuring constitutional government in an emergency) to National Security Presidential Directive 59 (expanding the collection of our biometric data), we are less great today.

From the Joint Terrorism Task Forces to InfraGard and the Terrorist Liaison Officers, we are less great today.

Admit it.

We don’t have a lot to brag about today.

It is time, it is long past time, to get over the American superiority complex.

It is time, it is long past time, to put patriotism back on the shelf-out of the reach of children and madmen. "

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.


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yellow flag courtesy of Jasper Johns collection



Blogger Ryan Garou said...

Though it's been said, many times, many ways ...

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson

1:22 PM  

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