Why be patriotic? What is the point?

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"One of the great attractions of patriotism -- it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous."
-- Aldous Huxley

"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."
-- Oscar Wilde

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it."
-- George Bernard Shaw
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?
 

p-brane

It may be the devil and it may be the lord but you gonna hafta serve somebody.

Bob Dylan
 
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p-brane said:
It may be the devil and it may be the lord but you gonna hafta serve somebody.

Bob Dylan
Why serve anyone or anything?
 

honestrosewater

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Voltaire said:
A witty saying proves nothing.
I hate to be so predictable, but could you define patriotism?
 

confutatis

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.
 
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Definition
patriot [Show phonetics]
noun [C]
a person who loves their country and, if necessary, will fight for it

patriotic [Show phonetics]
adjective
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]
adverb

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

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=58085&dict=CALD
 

honestrosewater

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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
Rachel
 

russ_watters

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Adam said:
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?
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.
honestrosewater said:
I hate to be so predictable, but could you define patriotism?
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:

"nationalism

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).
 
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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.
 
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.
 

honestrosewater

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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
Rachel

EDIT- spelling.
 
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p-brane

Adam said:
Why serve anyone or anything?
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.
 

p-brane

Dissident Dan said:
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.
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.
 
p-brane said:
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. [.....................................]
I think that the question refers to intentionally serving, going out of one's way to serve...
 
The problem with patriotism is that it gives an excuse for many to just simply blindly follow.
 
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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.
 

p-brane

Dissident Dan said:
I think that the question refers to intentionally serving, going out of one's way to serve...
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!
 
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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.
 

selfAdjoint

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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).
 
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Interesting. Never knew that. Very ironic too.
 

jcsd

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motai said:
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.
Dullce et decorum est pro patria mori, used to be part of my tagline, but I wasn't quoting directly from Horace's Odes, but Wilfred Owen's famous poem from 1917 (Wilfred Owen was a British officer in the Western Front, he himself did actually die for his country as he was killed just one week before the Armistice).
Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
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.
 

p-brane

I'll maintain that any patriotic action that goes against ethics is treasonous and extremely harming toward one's country.

My definition of ethics would include fighting for the democratic and ethical treatment of others. However, take Iraq, again, for example: how many people were actually in control of the suppression of the Iraqi people? Lets say 1000 big wigs upstairs in the golden shower room with the flat screen. OK. Is it ethical to send in 140,000 people to take down these twisted little sisters that were in power? No. that's unbalanced. Is it less conspicuous and more thermodynamically efficient to send in 1000 Navy Seals to take out these Slag Heap MFing child beaters? Yes. Then what? There is always an ethical choice.

Every unethical/unbalanced action however minute, is the seed to an exponential deterioration of a nation. Every unethical manouver is an unpatriotic one.
 
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having lived thru the 60's and 70's i can tell you patriotism can be very confusing. the peacenik's believed they were being patriotic and the hard hats believed they were (hawks and doves). which was more patriotic?????

it always seems to come down to being faithful to oneself. if you believe that your country's action was proper or not, speak up and be active in support of your opinion-- that's being patriotic. being a happy or grumbling citizen and being quiet is not.

regardless, I believe that any kind of military action should be decried as unnecessary. there are always other solutions to social problems. when i grew up getting spanked or whipped for misbehaving didn't cure anything. in fact, i think it made more violent citizens. it is interesting that the flower power - peaceniks - love children came as the first generation to be raised in a more progressive - Dr. Spock - manner. were the 2 sides of the above debate from the two different family styles????

it can be done, it just ain't as easy or quick as paddling the rear end or sending in the troops.

love and peace,
olde drunk
 
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olde drunk said:
regardless, I believe that any kind of military action should be decried as unnecessary. there are always other solutions to social problems.
love and peace,
olde drunk
While I agree with most of what you said, I do disagree with the above statement. Sometimes war is necessary and sometimes all other alternatives do not turn out to be solutions. A prime example is Nevil Chamberlain's appeasement policy with Hitler and Nazi Germany. Of course its OK to hand over other countries but eventually you run out of other countries to hand over to greedy despots and it is either turn over your own country or go to war.

The same results were poised against the Japanese prior to WW II by both the united States and Britain. Due to all of the demands, sanctions, restrictions and insults received Japan had no choice to knuckle under and give up all of its dreams of expansion and being a world power, its national identity, or go to war.

We as a race of nations are not yet civilized enough to think that war is obsolete and social remedies will solve all of our problems and disputes. What social remedies would you propose to end terrorism, religious and nationalistic fanatics willing to sacrifice their own lives or rather the lives of their young, just to kill noncombatants, women and children?
 

honestrosewater

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Belief is desecration when given to be unproven statements for the solace and private pleasure of the believer. It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
-William James, psychologist & philosopher

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.
-William James, psychologist & philosopher

These then, are my last words to you; be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
-William James, psychologist & philosopher

Well, a quote taken out of context is a quote taken out of context, but I still think it's interesting. I like James BTW.
 

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