Why be patriotic? What is the point?

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BoulderHead

Something I alluded to before but didn’t fully develop: Clearly, people who think patriotism is a good thing and people who think it’s a bad thing are using two different definitions.
Consider this; Clearly, people who think Christianity is a good thing and people who think it’s a bad thing are using two different definitions.

I’d like to know why?
It doesn’t matter how it is defined, people can and will think what they want, even about those ideals you cherish. That you have trouble with this suggests to me a depth of emotional attachment you have to this word, and little more. Yes, I define it with ideals, but it still has a disgusting nationalist element about it. I prefer to be cosmopolitan.


I can’t ask Vonnegut, but I can ask you: why is it that you choose to use this definition?
I don’t ‘use’ this definition, I merely challenge you to show why Vonnegut cannot hold a valid definition, and why it must be true the only possible way to logically derive an understanding must equate it to ideals when in fact this has historically not always been the case.

When someone tells you “I am a patriot,” what do you assume that person means?
You mean a total stranger? The statement would mean nothing conclusive except to suggest this individual has an emotional attachment to something they likely feel is greater than self and noble. As such, it is likely safe to assume they are emotional 'clubbers’.

Do you assume s/he is using your definition?
At no time would I assume that.

Does it tell you anything that the definition you choose conflicts with the definition an avowed patriot probably uses?
It tells me meanings abound.

Thinking about it more, perhaps like love itself, patriotism is something only a patriot understands?
In the sense that patriotism involves the love word, it is emotional and personal, yes.
 
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BoulderHead

They speak...

We see the problem in the controversy surrounding the word “patriotism.” It’s a bad word in academic circles nowadays. Patriotism implies “a false air of moral weight and glory,” writes University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum. Rather than developing preferences for any particular nation-state, students should be taught that they are citizens of the world that “happen to be situated in the United States.”
Taken from; http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed040303a.cfm [Broken]

Perhaps patriotism differs for each citizen, what he or she regards as the quintessential aspects of the country: one man's hero may be another woman's traitor. Or is patriotism the mean of the country's sensibility, our societal norms?

Patriotism seems to me akin to allegiance: one can plausibly profess allegiance to vague or specific principles; but why on earth would one pledge allegiance to a piece of colored cloth?

In the end, the word "patriotism" differentiates one people from another, selects one group as being more deserving of special treatment at the expense of others, and encourages indifference to the plight of others' condition for the benefit of our own. It is yet one more obstacle to our species' learning to include all its kind under the umbrella of human need, right and frailty, a term full of "sound and fury, signifying nothing".

*John N. Cooper, Ph.D. (UC Berkeley) has been Professor of Chemistry at Bucknell University, since 1967 (retired 6/30/03).
Taken from; http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_10790.shtml [Broken]


Should we not begin to redefine patriotism? We need to expand it beyond that narrow nationalism which has caused so much death and suffering. If national boundaries should not be obstacles to trade - we call it globalization - should they also not be obstacles to compassion and generosity?
Tom Paine used the word "patriot" to describe the rebels resisting imperial rule. He also enlarged the idea of patriotism when he said: "My country is the world. My countrymen are mankind."
Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and author of "The People's History of the United States."
Taken from; http://www.veteransforpeace.org/A_kinder_patriotism_041303.htm [Broken]
 
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russ_watters

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First off, the issue of the US vs other countries:
BoulderHead said:
Try to account for Non-Americans if you can, please.
Patriotism is a word that can apply to other countries, but the word is an American English word, regardless of its entemology. Its meaning comes from the American usage. I can't speak to how an Australian might use the word - I can't even say for sure they use the word at all.
I know it is difficult for many nationalists to see beyond their own territory, but judging the world so one dimensionally can come across as bigoted.
Do you see the irony in that implication? Since I consider you to be misunderstanding the difference between the two words, implying that I'm a nationalist only strenghtens that view.

In any case, I only skimmed that page with the transcript discussing patriotism, but it seemed to fit my definition quite well. Could you just please quote for me the section of the discussion where they talk about patriotism being defined as 'love of a chunk of land?'
Nowhere in ANY definition?
Nothing even to suggest?
You've been harping on this for a while now, and quite frankly, I've let it go because I simply didn't know how to respond. After thinking about it, I must concede to one thing: I have never before considered the possibility that an American would define "The United States of America" as 'a chunk of land in North America.' Yes, the dictionary definition of "country" does allow that possibility. Having now (apparently) seen two people who would define the USA in these terms, I stick by my initial assesment, with a minor modification: neither you, nor Vonnegut understands what makes the USA the USA and as a result (edit: actually, I'm not sure if thats really the cause or the effect), neither of you understand what patriotism is.
Consider this; Clearly, people who think Christianity is a good thing and people who think it’s a bad thing are using two different definitions.
:confused: :confused: What? "Christianity" has a quite simple, objective definition. Its a religion/group of religions that believe that Jesus was the son of God and the savior of mankind. Do you also consider "The People's Republic of China" to be an allowable usage of the word "republic?"

I guess in light of your views on patriotism, this shouldn't surprise me, but it is clear to me now that your biases are affecting the way you define and use words. Worse, it actually seems that you are saying that its right that people should choose definitions based on their personal biases instead of on some objective basis. I'm not sure if its coscious or not, but that's horrid misuse of language. A month ago, I probably would have assumed it was intellectual dishonesty (that's why the word "nefarious" kept coming up). Now I'm not sure. It may simply be a complete misunderstanding of the concept of "definition."

Again, science isn't somehow special in this regard: definitions are specific and not a matter of personal choice. In science as in life, the words you use are decided on by consensus and usage is restricted to the agreed-upon definition. Making up your own definitions means you are making up your own language: you're not speaking Enlish anymore, you're speaking "Boulderese." In "Boulderese," "patriotism" can mean whatever you want it to - in American English, it can't.
 
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BoulderHead

Patriotism is a word that can apply to other countries, but the word is an American English word, regardless of its entemology. Its meaning comes from the American usage. I can't speak to how an Australian might use the word - I can't even say for sure they use the word at all.
An American monopoly?

Patriotism is a praiseworthy competition with one's ancestors.
- Tacitus (55 - 120) Roman historian

“…Canadians have historically been quiet patriots, says Jedwab. The very word "patriotism" seems more appropriate to describe the louder, more boisterous American variety of nationalism.”
Taken from; http://www.angelfire.com/celeb/rickmercer/molson.html

“Nietzsche wrote that words with a history cannot be defined. Their meanings are in their stories, their biographies. That is surely the case with "patriotism." Patriotism is as patriots have done. And in relatively recent times--say, since the American and French revolutions--those who have called themselves patriots or who have called others to the banner of patriotism have largely fallen into two camps.”
Taken from; http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=19910715&c=1&s=forum [Broken]

Do you see the irony in that implication? Since I consider you to be misunderstanding the difference between the two words, implying that I'm a nationalist only strenghtens that view.
No irony, I understand full well that scratching the surface of patriotism generally reveals a narrow minded nationalism.

In any case, I only skimmed that page with the transcript discussing patriotism, but it seemed to fit my definition quite well. Could you just please quote for me the section of the discussion where they talk about patriotism being defined as 'love of a chunk of land?'
The point to the exercise was to demonstrate the difference of opinion which prevails. It is clear that different people ascribe different meanings to the definition of patriotism. You have quite wrongly argued your meaning is the definition when in fact it may very well not be. As to land being involved enough has been quoted previously to establish it, but here is more;

“The other company of patriots does not march to military time. It prefers the gentle strains of "America the Beautiful" to the strident cadences of "Hail to the Chief" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever." This patriotism is rooted in the love of one's own land and people, love too of the best ideals of one's own culture and tradition. This company of patriots finds no glory in puffing their country up by pulling others' down. This patriotism is profoundly municipal, even domestic. Its pleasures are quiet, its services steady and unpretentious.”
Taken from; http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=19910715&c=1&s=forum [Broken]



Quote:
Nowhere in ANY definition?
Nothing even to suggest?
You've been harping on this for a while now, and quite frankly, I've let it go because I simply didn't know how to respond. After thinking about it, I must concede to one thing: I have never before considered the possibility that an American would define "The United States of America" as 'a chunk of land in North America.'
Which demonstrates two things; your view is rigidly Americentric, and you haven’t been exposed to what many actual Americans have had to say with regard to the subject matter. In other words, your opinionated views are supported predominately by mere opinion.


Yes, the dictionary definition of "country" does allow that possibility.
Thank you, I appreciate the concession.

Having now (apparently) seen two people who would define the USA in these terms, I stick by my initial assesment, with a minor modification: neither you, nor Vonnegut understands what makes the USA the USA and as a result (edit: actually, I'm not sure if thats really the cause or the effect), neither of you understand what patriotism is.
Well, of course I would expect you to have this opinion, but you really should remain politely silent on this point. You have already granted the dictionary definition allows the possibility and the fact Vonnegut is an American means his view should have as much determination on the point as your own. So all you’re actually arguing is that your opinion means more to you than another’s, which is not the same thing as saying anything substantial. Additionally, it is quite possible for either of us (V. or BH) to understand your meaning of what patriotism and still not accept it is essentially ‘good’.

Quote:
Consider this; Clearly, people who think Christianity is a good thing and people who think it’s a bad thing are using two different definitions.
What? "Christianity" has a quite simple, objective definition.
Patriotism also has a quite simple, objective definition. I was complaining about the application of moral terminology. In other words; anyone can look at your interpretation and call it either bad or good, so drawing such distinctions isn’t helpful.

I guess in light of your views on patriotism, this shouldn't surprise me, but it is clear to me now that your biases are affecting the way you define and use words.
I was simply showing what others had to say on the matter in an effort to demonstrate your bias in action.

Worse, it actually seems that you are saying that its right that people should choose definitions based on their personal biases instead of on some objective basis.
Then you miss my point; You are claiming objectivity where no such thing exists. Terms such as ‘Right’ can only be given within a certain context and you have turned to Academia to define the context. I, in turn, have quoted from such sources to demonstrate the meaning of the definition of patriotism is not as black and white as you have been saying. You seem to have drawn a general law from what basically constitutes a single, or at least severely restricted, particular instance.

I'm not sure if its coscious or not, but that's horrid misuse of language.
The horrid misuse of language was put forth yourself in claiming the definition of ‘love of country’ could only be interpreted in a single way.

A month ago, I probably would have assumed it was intellectual dishonesty (that's why the word "nefarious" kept coming up). Now I'm not sure. It may simply be a complete misunderstanding of the concept of "definition."
Yes, and you are the one who has been suffering from this ‘illness’ by insisting patriotism can only mean what you believe it to mean. Additionally, the meaning may even be changing to reflect a negative view of patriotism. If such a view should be predominate (I’m beginning to suspect it may be) then your continued use of the meaning you prefer to ascribe, by your own reasoning, could then be labeled ‘nefarious’. How would you feel about that? Perhaps righteously indignant, refusing to let anyone else flesh out and dictate meaning to you?

Again, science isn't somehow special in this regard: definitions are specific and not a matter of personal choice.
If you really think definitions are specific then define ‘love’ and explain why everyone in the world must subscribe 100% to your understanding of same.

In science as in life, the words you use are decided on by consensus and usage is restricted to the agreed-upon definition.
True patriotism doesn't exclude an understanding of the patriotism of others.
- Queen Elizabeth II

With regard to the majority;

Questioning Patriotism
But since when has patriotism been defined as following along with the majoritarian view? Are people only patriotic when they agree with the majority? Are all minority views unpatriotic?
Taken from; http://www.skepticism.org/politics/terrorism/ter_ACTA.shtml [Broken]
 
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BoulderHead

Making up your own definitions means you are making up your own language: you're not speaking Enlish anymore, you're speaking "Boulderese." In "Boulderese," "patriotism" can mean whatever you want it to - in American English, it can't.
Would you prefer ‘Clowardease’;
Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven
Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work
Professor, Graduate Center, CUNY


We take patriotism to mean love of nation and the loyalty that follows. My country right or wrong. Even as an abstract idea, it is hard to see how thinking people justify blind loyalty. And considered historically, patriotism is plainly dangerous, helping to unleash military rampages in the name of nation and obliterating the essential democratic capacity to assess concrete and particular interests.
Or perhaps ‘Falkease’;
Richard Falk
Professor of international relations, Princeton University

~ What is more difficult is to give patriotism a positive content in America at this time.
If you wish to continue arguing the majority viewpoint should prevail then you will need to begin actually to provide some evidence there is one, and that it is the same in detail as your own. I have provided more than a single example strongly suggesting there is general disagreement. Here is more of same;

The ethics of patriotism
Different people have different opinions about whether patriotism is morally good. Often, these opinions vary according to what sort of patriotism is involved.
Taken from; http://www.campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/p/pa/patriotism.html [Broken]

TODAY’S SCHOOLS
Since the rebellious 1960s, many traditional American virtues have been questioned by radical college students, some of whom even referred to their country as "Amerika." Other radicals blamed violence and poverty in the Third World on "American militarism, imperialism, and greed."
These "new barbarians," as former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin, called them, spawned a generation of radical professors in our colleges. And on a broader canvas a kind of "political correctness" that scoffed at Middle American virtues has permeated our universities and the elite media. For many of these cynics, patriotism seems to be "the last refuge of a scoundrel," to quote Samuel Johnson.

Taken from; http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.2140/pub_detail.asp [Broken]
It's looking like academia is not on your side.
 
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