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Why be patriotic? What is the point?

  1. May 12, 2004 #1
    Why be patriotic? What is the point? Does it do anything for you? Would we all be better off without it, or should we prefer our own arbitrary borders to someone else's?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2004 #2
    It may be the devil and it may be the lord but you gonna hafta serve somebody.

    Bob Dylan
  4. May 13, 2004 #3
    Why serve anyone or anything?
  5. May 13, 2004 #4


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    I hate to be so predictable, but could you define patriotism?
  6. May 13, 2004 #5
    It's good that someone reminded that patriotism must be defined. I'm not sure how to define it, because too many things fall under the concept of patriotism. Like religion, I think patriotism is basically a good thing, but it's often used by the elite to manipulate the masses into doing what they would otherwise not do. So it's not patriotism that is to be shunned, but the people who abuse it for their own selfish ends.
  7. May 13, 2004 #6
    patriot [Show phonetics]
    noun [C]
    a person who loves their country and, if necessary, will fight for it

    patriotic [Show phonetics]
    showing love for your country and pride in it:
    patriotic fervour/pride
    Many Americans felt it was their patriotic duty to buy bonds to support the war effort.

    patriotically [Show phonetics]

    patriotism [Show phonetics]
    when you love your country and are proud of it

  8. May 13, 2004 #7


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    ?? Patriotism- Love for or devotion to one's country. ??

    My problem is with country; Patriotism involves the idea of something larger or grander than oneself, but what exactly? Culture/heritage? Sustaining social structure/government? Land/generational property?

    I would make a distinction similar to confutatis's; between sincere and insincere/forced patriotism. Of course, insincere patriotism isn't really patriotism.

    I have a feeling this discussion will end with the definition.

    Happy thoughts
  9. May 14, 2004 #8


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    The biggest problem with patriotism is though it has a specific definition, many people choose to ignore the definition for political reasons. Those quotes you posted were posted by people who choose to ignore the definition of patriotism - clearly, they do not fit the definition you posted.
    Predictable or not, letting someone manipulate a definition for their own purposes is bad as being the one who manipulates it. Good catch.

    And to take care of the obvious direction of this thread:


    n 1: love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it [syn: patriotism]
    2: the conviction that the culture and interests of your nation are superior to those of any other nation."

    Though subtle, that difference is critical and often overlooked for the sake of convenience (convenience of manipulation).
    Last edited: May 14, 2004
  10. May 14, 2004 #9
    I am patriotic. I am a patriot. I am proud of it though don't go around spouting it nor wearing or waving our flag. I served my country and am proud of that too. I also admit that the USA may not be the best or the most righteous but it is my country and better than most.

    Could it be better? Of course it could be better. But as pointed out it is the people not the country or nation that make it great or not so great.

    The bottom line is that I would rather be here and be a citizen of the USA rather than anywhere else.

    I don't know about Huxley but the other two were British cynics who made there living being, writing and saying controversial things.
  11. May 14, 2004 #10
    I have a problem with viewing your country in a positive light because it is one's own country. Viewing a country in a positive light out of an objective assessment is acceptable to me.

    I am a little turned off by people having more concern for their own country than others because it is theirs.

    The idea that being patriotic is necessarily good or that not being patriotic or antipatriotic is necessarily bad is a ridiculous part of nationalism.

    Those who consider themselves "patriotic" are often nationalistic, and so it is often hard to completely separate the terms. Russ stated that the difference is often overlooked, presumably referring to those who talk negatively of patriotism. However, the words are often manipulated or otherwise misused by those who speak positively.

    To sum things up, I have a problem with unwarranted emotional attachment to one's country/tribe/whatever. It is dangerous. This is usually the case with those whom one would consider merely patriotic or whom one would consider nationalistic.
  12. May 14, 2004 #11


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    Using the US as an example, the motives which led to its birth, its whole democratic process, including amending the Constitution, granting certain rights to states, counties, etc, creating new laws, and repealing old ones, involves its citizens exercising their rights to disagree with and to take action to change their country and its laws.
    The idea that US citizens have a legal duty, or even a moral obligation, to serve their country or support all of its decisions is in conflict with that process and those rights. At least, IMHO.

    This is one reason I would make the distinction between insincere/forced patriotism and sincere patriotism. It sounds like Royce is a sincere patriot.

    I think those who condemn conscientious objectors as "unpatriotic" have missed the whole point and do not realize the hypocricy of their condemnation.

    There seems to be another point in Huxley's comments: that a person need not hold themselves responsible for their own actions when they are part of a larger group or acting on behalf of another or under the command of another. This is tied to the distinction of war crimes. An interesting debate about this can be found in Shakespeare's Henry V, Act IV, Scene 1. (I think if everyone read Shakespeare, the world would be a much better place :biggrin: )

    BTW I found Shaw's comment more comical than rhetorical.

    Happy thoughts

    EDIT- spelling.
    Last edited: May 14, 2004
  13. May 15, 2004 #12
    There's no why about it. You serve everything simply by existing.

    How? you may ask.

    The shadow you cast serves to provide refuge for photophobic microorganisms from the sun. They thrive until you move... then they wiggle around which alerts their predators who come in and eat them... so that your moving has served the predators of those microorganisms you served up until you moved.

    You breathe, while you're alive. The carbon dioxide you expell with each exhailation is serving the flora in your vicinity with one of the elements it needs to stay alive (via photosynthesis and the adeno-tri-di-phosphoric metabolic process).

    You serve a great many processes that support life on this planet. You are serving everything, and everything is serving you.

    In more philosophical terms, you are serving people by your very existence as well. Each social blunder you make... makes other people realize their own social blunders are equally as abhorent and may actually decrease the occurance of social blunderism. Each socially benevolent and altruistic act you make serves as an example for those who would like to be altruistic.

    Blah blah blah. You may be seeing the picture now.
  14. May 15, 2004 #13
    A country can lead by example. If its all cleaned up and running self sufficently in a self-sustaining manner. If its citizens are prime examples of good neighbours and its economic, social, educational and cultural values are second to none... that's when other countries will begin to take note and, perhaps take lessons from the system.

    If a country is running around in Brown Shirts with German Sheppards at everyone's throats, people will either follow suit (more likely than not) or they'll begin to ostrasize the country until it is suitably softened up for a takeover. Take Iraq for example. Commiting a bunch of human rights violations seems to have caught on in the region and beyond.
  15. May 15, 2004 #14
    I think that the question refers to intentionally serving, going out of one's way to serve...
  16. May 16, 2004 #15
    The problem with patriotism is that it gives an excuse for many to just simply blindly follow.
  17. May 16, 2004 #16
    I am a patriot for many countries, but I am least patriotic about my own country. If I see myself as Irish, Indian or African, then I am Irish, Indian or African. My idea of patriotism depends on what country I love and support. To take one's own country's party does not always serve well.. That is my idea.
  18. May 16, 2004 #17
    OK Dan, thanks. I think that when one goes out of one's way to make ethical choices with one's energy and one's time and one's cash, one is serving one's country with a high level of efficiency. One is serving one's country in such a way that is unobtrusive, non-invasive and purely harmless to one's country's social, economical and environmental systems.

    This sort of ethical patriotism can only lead to the establishment of a better country which, in turn, builds a country that is able to serve neighbouring countries in a similar, ethical manner, as examplified in my former paragraph.

    Thanks again!
  19. May 16, 2004 #18
    There is an old latin adage that says: Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori (i think that is correct) that translates into "It is sweet and becoming to die for one's country."

    Civilians can serve their country, but they take great risk in doing so.
  20. May 16, 2004 #19


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    That Latin line was by Horace, who also bragged about running away from battle (since his position had been in the army opposing the emperor, this was a prudent thing for him to claim).
  21. May 16, 2004 #20
    Interesting. Never knew that. Very ironic too.
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