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[P]
The Holy Fire of Patriotism

By Best Ace in Op-Ed
Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 04:17:24 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Far from being a positive force in the world, patriotism is as destructive as organized religion, and deludes us into acting irrationally. Read on to find out more...


Patriotism, according to my dictionary, is a `devotion to one's own country and concern for its defence'. This is generally considered to be a noble virtue, celebrated in heroic acts of a nation's history, celebrated in a national flag, national works of art and national holidays. It could be said to be comforting, to provide that sense of belonging that all humans seem to innately require. In the secular and modern society that we live in, some might say that this becomes all the more important, suggesting that patriotism has grown to displace religion as the primary means of creating a sense of identity and community.

Yet this implies some facets of patriotism that are disturbing: if religion is the opiate of the masses, then patriotism must also be considered as an artificial superstition that maintains subservience to authority through this amorphous notion of `devotion to one's own country'. The French socialist Gustave Hervé realised as much when he said `For it is a religion this patriotism of modern peoples, a religion inculcated in us from the cradle by the same methods employed in all times to inculcate all religions'.

Indeed it can be argued that patriotism is more dangerous than misplaced religion because whereas (in the western world at least) religion has been in a slow and steady decline for the last century or more, patriotic fervor and zeal are very much still with us. Where religion came up against a scientific method that rapidly gained ground to fill in areas formerly occupied by religion, patriotism seems to know no such counterweight, and thus remains unchecked.

Arguments against patriotism have been made in the past on the basis that it is irrational for people to believe that they are somehow better than other people, purely on the grounds that they were born in a part of the world enclosed by lines drawn arbitrarily on a map. George Bernard Shaw understood this best when he defined patriotism as a `a conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it'. Such arguments may or may not have merit, but I think this misses the point. At its extreme, patriotism is used by those in authority to root out dissent and bring about abuses of civil liberties that would otherwise have no chance of making it through the democratic process. It has created much misery and strife, justified pointless wars with pointless causes resulting in pointless deaths, and it has introduced sheep-think into a nation's citizens when what is needed most is debate, dissent and diversity of opinions. Patriotism is not a 'devotion to democratic principles', as Walter Berns argues in his book `Making Patriots'; it is instead the complete opposite.

So it is on the grounds of patriotism that the US government jailed anti-war activists during the First World War, such as Emma Goldman who was deemed subversive for writing things like: `The people are urged to be patriotic and for that luxury they pay, not only by supporting their "defenders," but even by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother, sister'. And so it is on the grounds that they were anti-patriotic, that some of Mark Twain's anti-war essays were suppressed for 90 years. And it is also on the grounds of patriotism that Hitler manages to unite a whole country into accepting his view that the Jews must be exterminated.

Attempts have sometimes been made to pass off the uglier side of patriotism by distinguishing between it and nationalism. For example George Orwell wrote in his `Notes on Nationalism' that `Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism', and the historian John Likacs wrote: `Patriotism is defensive, nationalism is aggressive; patriotism is love of a particular country and of its traditions; nationalism is almost inevitably populist'. While making such a distinction may be useful for those who seek to justify rampant patriotism, the line drawn between the two is blurred to the point of vanishing. It is surely better to see patriotism and nationalism as a coin, where one is the obverse side of the other. If there is one, then the other is also present by default. The three principal characteristics that Orwell imputes in nationalist thought (obsession, instability and indifference to reality) are equally true for patriotism as they are for nationalism. So where we now pass off Hitler's patriotic posturing as `nationalism', we also justify the US invasion of Cuba in 1898 under some patriotic notions of humanitarian intervention and of a duty to bringing liberty to Cuba. These are just two examples of how making a distinction between patriotism and nationalism is at best misguided.

Likacs and Orwell were not the only ones to draw this false distinction; In his farewell address, George Washington told Americans to `guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism', a warning that was echoed a hundred years later by Theodore Roosevelt when he wrote that `True patriots should be especially jealous of any appeal to what is base under the guise of patriotism'. While both these statements acknowledge that patriotism can be subverted to destructive ends, neither man makes the further step of accepting that true patriotism is itself fundamentally destructive.

So whenever politicians blithely appeal to our patriotism, let us always remember that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It is patriots that shout loudest without knowing what they are shouting about.

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Poll
Are you patriotic?
o Yes - I am prepared to die for my country 18%
o Yes - My country is better than all others because I was born in it 4%
o No - Patriotism is irrational 38%
o No - In this day and age, patriotism is irrelevant 25%
o Don't know/None of the above 12%

Votes: 106
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Gustave Hervé
o Making Patriots
o Emma Goldman
o Notes on Nationalism
o three principal characteristics
o farewell address
o Theodore Roosevelt
o Also by Best Ace


Display: Sort:
The Holy Fire of Patriotism | 58 comments (49 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Patriotism and scoundrels (3.85 / 7) (#3)
by John Thompson on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 06:09:34 PM EST

Best Ace wrote:

> So whenever politicians blithely appeal to our
> patriotism, let us always remember that
> patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Wasn't that from Shaw as well?

> It is patriots that shout loudest without
> knowing what they are shouting about.

But do remember that just because scoundrels may try to wrap themselves in patriotism to justify their perfidy that not all patriots are scoundrels. I suspect the vast majority are not.

-John

Johnson not Shaw (none / 0) (#25)
by Best Ace on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 08:57:59 AM EST

Wasn't that from Shaw as well?

It was Samuel Johnson, although the 'shouting loudest' bit was Mark Twain (which is also where the title of the article came from)

[ Parent ]

Patiotism, a definition you've probably seen.... (3.42 / 7) (#4)
by GreenHell on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 06:12:47 PM EST

Well, I read your article and I'm not sure what I'm going to vote yet, but it reminded me of something... took me a moment to figure it out, and then it dawned on me. I figured while anyone who has the bsdgames fortune installed may have seen it, not everyone would have, so after digging through my books for my copy of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, here we go:

"Patriotism, n. Combustible rubish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit it that it is the first.
"
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, published 1911

And as a final note, Samuel Johnson's famous quote is actually "...last refuge of a scoundrel" but I think we can all agree to overlook that point.. hmmmm?

Thoughtful article (3.37 / 8) (#7)
by M0dUluS on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 07:51:58 PM EST

This is a well written article addressing a culturally important concept. I agree with your idea that there is little difference between patriotism/nationalism. They're both very woolly, hard-to-define concepts but share the essential feature of promoting an in/out-group distinction based loosely on geographical location. I suppose that nationalism tightens up patriotism a bit and narrows its definition to include ethnicity.
Very important to think about where patriotism leads and who its biggest cheer-leaders have been.

"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
Good Patriotism (4.36 / 11) (#8)
by wiredog on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:06:00 PM EST

Patriotism goes hand in hand with nationalism. What's good about that, you ask? Well, nationalism replaced feudalism, warlordism, and tribalism. Read Barzun's "From Dawn To Decadence" or Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" to get an idea of the situation that preceded nationalism.

There's also what I will call "cultural patriotism". I am a patriotic American, and Westerner. I've read Locke, the Federalist Papers, and the Constitution. I've looked at Islam, read the Koran once, years ago. Have a copy of the baghavad gita gathering dust on the shelf. I prefer western culture to others on the basis of my studies. I think that the USA provides the most freedom to an individual of any country in the West. I enlisted in the Army, spent three years in it, so I was willing to put my life on the line for my country.

I would recommend that everyone read Christopher Hitchens latest pieces in The Nation for a better statement tan I can make on the superiority of western culture.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle

Superiority of Western culture. (2.60 / 5) (#14)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 05:29:46 AM EST

Yes, no doubt Western culture is superior.

Beethoven, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Picasso, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Reagan, Thatcher ... Clinton.


------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
[ Parent ]
That's fine with me... (4.66 / 6) (#16)
by Rocky on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 09:20:23 AM EST

...I'll just take you to the top of this pyramid, bend you backward over the altar, and cut out your still beating heart. Let's offer it to Huitzilopochtli, and allow your blood to flow down the steps.

After that, we'll play pelota, and the loser will be executed...

Superiority is all relative.


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Yeah, Clinton sucks. But he's still far better (4.00 / 7) (#36)
by jeremiah2 on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:19:11 AM EST

than the sort murderous tinpot tryants the "developing world" has to offer. And he's no worse than the sort of clowns they elect in Europe.
Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
[ Parent ]
I beg your pardon? (none / 0) (#58)
by WinstonChurchill on Sun Oct 14, 2001 at 03:28:20 PM EST

Not all that are elected to office on this side of the pond are "clowns".

I decline to be utterly impartial between the fire brigade and the fire.
[ Parent ]
The conspicuously missing poll option (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by hjones on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:02:11 PM EST

"Yes, my country is better than all the others based on its merits"
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]
bullshit (3.44 / 9) (#10)
by Refrag on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 11:37:42 PM EST

I am a hardcore patriot, and it is exactly my patriotism which makes me oppose (what feels to be) sweeping changes that are adversely affecting our civil liberties.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

Imagine (3.37 / 16) (#11)
by MSBob on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 12:10:09 AM EST

"Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one"

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Lenon rules (n/t) (2.16 / 6) (#13)
by decaf_dude on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 05:10:35 AM EST


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Mr. Lennon, go to Hell. (1.88 / 9) (#20)
by Ialdabaoth on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 09:27:42 PM EST

I don't want to be "one with" anybody or any thing. I do not join others. I am my own cause, and I serve no one. Instead of Lennon, imagine a world where nobody robs or rapes or murders other people because everybody respects himself as an individual. Imagine a world where individuals can respect each other's rights because they respect themselves.

Show me a religious man, or a patriot, or a person wanting to be part of something greater than himself, and I will show you a person who has never learned to face reality, think rationally, or respect himself as a human being.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

hum.. (4.33 / 6) (#17)
by rebelcool on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 12:30:56 PM EST

Sounds trollish. I'll bite.

Patriotism to me is the drive to make the land you live in a better one. Whether it be through the means of force (as in, fighting the british or whoever oppresses you at that moment in time) or protesting what you feel are the bad policies of your government, or simply doing good for your fellow neighbors.

Do all patriots believe in the same thing? No. Certainly not. I would say the patriots I side with are the ones who protest the upcoming actions in afghanistan. They do not want to see others hurt, in this country or that because of the actions of a few madmen. That's patriotism.

Not to say the troops already over there arent patriots either - they're doing what they feel is right for the betterment of their country. That's patriotism.

Whats bad is nationalism, which advocates that one group of people is better than others simply by the country they're from.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Not trolling (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by Best Ace on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 08:38:00 AM EST

Trolling? No. Unless your definition of trolling is when someone puts forward a view you disagree with.

Part of my argument is that blanket patriotism does not allow protest against bad policies, precisely because of the sheep-think mentality that it engenders.

Another part of my argument is that nationalism and patriotism are the same thing. I am arguing that it is misleading to split up the concept of patriotism/nationalism by saying all the good things inherent in this concept are patriotism while all the bad things are nationalism. This might be an unusual way of looking at things, but troll it certainly ain't.

bA

[ Parent ]

An alternative to patriotism... (2.75 / 8) (#19)
by Ialdabaoth on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:54:46 PM EST

When I look at the concept of patriotism, I see beyond the skin of love and loyalty to one's nation. I see the skull beneath the skin: the idea that one should live for one's nation instead of living for oneself. This is a kind of collectivism, the suggestion that it is better to live for a group than it is to live for yourself.

Taken to an extreme, patriotism demands that one die for the nation as well as live for it. Such thinking places the group above the individuals that comprise the group. Such thinking always destroys individuals.

If you want an alternative to patriotism, consider true individualism -- the idea that you live for youself and not for others, the idea that others live for themselves and not for you. Individualism, as opposed to patriotism, suggests that each individual is an end in himself instead of a means to somebody else's end.

When a politician speaks of patriotism, he demands that you be the means to his ends. Those who accept the politician's lies deserve the destruction they bring upon themselves.

Consider reading Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, if you want a real alternative to 'patriotism'. Lacking that, visit the ARI website (Ayn Rand Institute).
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley

OT: Objectivism/Ayn Rand (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by rehan on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 06:49:48 AM EST

I went to watch the introductory videos on the Ayn Rand site. I want to thank you for motivating me to do that, finally - it's certainly a good prod to thinking. I agreed with some of it, but what's with the contradictions???

I'm supposed to think for myself and yet the philosophy of objectivism seems so prescriptive?

I'm supposed to pursue my own happiness and yet my emotions play no role in ethics? Don't my emotions play a large role in my happiness? :)


Stay Frosty and Alert


[ Parent ]
OT: Objectivism/Contradictions (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 09:36:10 AM EST

Rehan, you make an interesting point. It's possible that Ms. Rand made a mistake in using the phrase "pursuit of happiness", but did so in order to link her philosophy with that of Thomas Jefferson. I interpret this not as pursuit of an emotional state, but as the right to pursue my own well-being, the right to do what is best for myself.

Also, consider that in Ms. Rand's philosophy, emotions are not causes but effects. One does not do things that contribute to his well-being because he is happy. One is happy because his actions contribute to his well-being.

I'm not an expert on Objectivism, but if you're interested in a further discussion, get send email to matthew@starbreaker.net.

By the way, you're welcome.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Objectivism is an Illogical Cult (3.57 / 7) (#32)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 06:05:30 AM EST

Objectivism is a cult riddled with contradictions, poor philosophy, and poor thinking generally. (It is not taken seriously by most professional philosophers - and for good reason.) Here are just two examples. Many more could be provided. See Usenet (http://groups.google.com) for more examples of "objectivist" lunacy.

Individualism, as opposed to patriotism, suggests that each individual is an end in himself instead of a means to somebody else's end.

Er... how do you square that sentiment with Ms. Rand's support for capitalist exploitation, e.g. sweatshops. Oh no, no-one's being treated as a means to an end there, no sir.

Those who accept the politician's lies deserve the destruction they bring upon themselves.

The overwhelmingly working-class men who died in the stupid Battle of the Somme were duped by propaganda and swept by forces pretty much beyond their control. Once you're duped, it was a case of go out and die, or be shot for insubordination (assuming you could stand the humiliation of refusing orders, which to most soldiers would have been unthinkable). It is distressingly callous to put all the blame on their shoulders. As very frequently, Objectivists tend to blame the victim (emotionally reminiscent of blaming a rape victim for being raped) - for example, Ayn Rand blamed the Native Americans for the holocaust against them - except when it comes to capitalists, when Objectivists in my experience become disgustingly fawningly obsequious ("all praise our great clever wonderful self-made enterpreneurs! Destroy more children's lives and hopes in the sweatshops! Go Nike!")


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

You want to see a cult? (1.75 / 4) (#37)
by Sheepdot on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 03:36:08 PM EST

<P>Ha! If you think objectivism is a cult, you outta look at the growing European religion of global warming. You can see masses of people basing rituals off of illogical and erroneous data. Yet for some reason they cling to it as if it has some growing influence on the way they should live their lives.

<P>And not just their lives, but the lives of those around them and far from them. Which is precisely why objectivism is so attractive right now, and will continue to be in the future.

<I><P>Er... how do you square that sentiment with Ms. Rand's support for capitalist exploitation, e.g. sweatshops. Oh no, no-one's being treated as a means to an end there, no sir.</I>

<P>There is a world of difference between an institution offering poor farmers the opportunity to do something other than farming, and a government forcing its citizens to abide by the means (lower wages as a result of companies following strict enviromental restrictions) to achieve an end. (the elimination of this ficticious "global warming")

<I><P>The overwhelmingly working-class men who died in the stupid Battle of the Somme were duped by propaganda and swept by forces pretty much beyond their control. </I>

<P>That's odd, you say that Objectivism isn't taken seriously by most "professional philosophers", yet you still abide by the Marxist distinction of "working-class". Hmm.. Sounds like either you have no conception of a middle-class that owns property *and* labors, or you're just trying to discredit a philosophy that my instructor in Phil 230 spent 80% of his time trying to discredit.

<P>For a pretty poor philosophy, you socialists sure spend an awful lot of time debating it.

<I><P>Ayn Rand blamed the Native Americans for the holocaust against them - except when it comes to capitalists, when Objectivists in my experience become disgustingly fawningly obsequious</I>

<P>Yes, yes. We've heard this before, capitalism is to blame for the exploitation of Native Americans, not Christianity and the government using it as an excuse to expand. Capitalism is to blame for slavery, not the Arabian slave traders and leaders of various tribes.

<P>Bascially, since we have to blame something that still exists, let's blame capitalism yes? In fact, let's give out reparations, invest all the money in foreign countries, and generally bring ourselves down to nobodies.

<P>BUT DAMN YOU IF YOU TOUCH MY RESEARCH MONEY! The government promised me that money so I can do my research. Ah, yes.. My research.

<P>I love socialists and their reasoning. They always make perfect sense.
<BR>

[ Parent ]
Interesting refutation. (none / 0) (#43)
by Ialdabaoth on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:50:07 PM EST

I'd have given you a 5, Sheepdot, except that your formatting confused me. Then again, it could be that Mozilla 0.9.4 (Linux/X11) is acting wonky.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Don't worry... (none / 0) (#56)
by Sheepdot on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 05:53:31 PM EST

My ratings have been lacking as of late, and my inability to preview before that one sealed my fate.

The guys that rate low and don't respond are really starting to irk me as of late. Especially strlen (or similar) who I think is actually a result of a second account.

And yes, I really would have liked to have seen him respond to that.


[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#57)
by strlen on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 05:24:06 PM EST

I'm no second account, I used to have a web page and e-mail address listed here separate from others, but I don't any more out of fears for my privacy in light of some of the recent events. I also find arguing with people that share your views quite pointless, and the way you've chosen to state yourself was quite inflamatory. If I disagreed, and didn't wish to reply I would not have voted. Just out of curiosity, who's second account did you think I was?

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Better Ayn Rand than Jim Jones. (1.00 / 2) (#42)
by Ialdabaoth on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:46:38 PM EST

At least you won't hear about Objectivists getting together a bunch of ignorant schmucks and passing out poisoned Kool-Aid.

I resent your referring to Objectivism as a cult. We do not pressure people to join us. We do not claim that Ayn Rand knew everything and that her ideas must never be challenged. (If somebody did, no doubt the lady would do the Watusi in her grave.) Most of all, we don't tell people who disagree with us that they will burn in Hell if they don't toe our line, unlike a certain death cult called Christianity.

You said, "how do you square that sentiment with Ms. Rand's support for capitalist exploitation, e.g. sweatshops".

As far as I'm concerned, the use of sweatshops is not a legitimate practice, and it goes against my ideal of capitalism. If Nike got a bunch of Asian peasants together and offered them $20 dollars a day to work 10 hours in their factories, and the peasants agreed, that's capitalism. Nike needed labor, the peasants needed money, both parties agreed to certain terms. That sounds like capitalism to me.

The fact that the peasants agreed to work 10 hours a day for $20 a day does not give Nike the right to treat them like slaves.

Does Nike have an obligation to make sure that its employees are working in a safe environment? Of course they do. Is it the government's place to hold a gun to Nike's head and insist that Nike do business their way? I say no. However, that's how the government does business, and that sounds like fascism to me. I do not approve of it.

As for the soldiers who died screaming in the Battle of the Somme, I do blame them. As far as I'm concerned, anybody ignorant to accept government propaganda without asking any questions deserves whatever they get. If you swallow the guts 'n glory bullshit that Washington is going to start spewing once the war heats up, then that's your problem.

Now, what do the Native Americans have to do with anything? The government and the Christian clergy wanted them either assimilated or killed. I don't remember hearing Vanderbilt or Carnegie giving half a damn about the natives. I certainly don't.

You said that the soldiers of the Somme were "duped by propaganda and swept by forces pretty much beyond their control." Again, I disagree. If a person is duped, it is because they allowed themselves to remain ignorant enough to be duped.

I could go on all night, but the fact remains that I do not agree with you. All I'll say before feeding my cat is that if you don't make the effort to think for yourself, somebody else is going to do your thinking for you -- and you won't like the results.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Parting shot (2.33 / 3) (#44)
by Ialdabaoth on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:55:11 PM EST

Given the anti-capitalist, pro-masses stance of your comments, I'd say that you agree with the socialist viewpoint. All I'm going to say is that the socialists had their chance, and if Russia is any indication, the socialists failed miserably. If Russia is the best that Marx's disciples can do, then they should shut up and get out of the way.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

uh huh.. (3.27 / 11) (#21)
by eurisko on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 09:43:42 PM EST

every man's cause is another man's falicy.

no matter what you belive in, there's someone who thinks you're an idiot for doing so. so fuck'em, can't please'em all.

--
The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.

Would you be willing to die for an ideal? (3.23 / 13) (#27)
by marlowe on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 09:51:30 AM EST

Multicultural nonsense aside, the fact is some ideals are better than others. I would say the ideal of representative democracy, free speech, free enterprise, free association and basic human decency are all preferable to either leftist political correctness or fundamentalist Islam. And I'd be willing to die to secure the victory of the good ideals over the evil ones.

In practise, this amounts to favoring some countries over others. Not for the sake of the countries themselves, which are merely vessels, but for the sake of the ideals that are bound up with them.

Is there a problem with that?


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Political Correctness? (3.50 / 4) (#34)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 06:26:10 AM EST

I'd agree with that apart from the reference to "leftist political correctness". Political correctness is not necessarily in opposition to free speech. For example, it is not politically correct for a politician to use racist epithets - because, quite simply, that's racist. If they do, they are likely to lose many votes. This of course acts as a dampener on speech, unsurprisingly. (What's more surprising [to me] is that US politicians can get away with calling Muslims "diaper-headed" without being verbally thrashed in public by other politicians to within an inch of their political lives.)

But all this is incomparable with jailing someone for using a racist epithet. That indeed is an area for First Amendment debate - unlike the first kind of political correctness (social disapproval). Politicians lose votes over many things - you can't prevent that having a chilling effect on what politicians can say, short of abolishing democracy!

So I think you need to qualify that by saying "the criminalising of political incorrectness". Otherwise I'm afraid the typical liberal/lefty reader will suspect you are a foaming-at-the-mouth repressed racist. ("Why aren't I allowed to say Jews are a bunch of scumbags? It's a restriction on my SACRED LIBERTIES!!!!")

I personally believe, from what little I know, that the SCOTUS precedent has struck approximately the right balance between free speech and prohibiting fighting talk. Fighting talk (e.g. death threats against muslims) steps over the line and is not protected by the First Amendment (even though this is entirely - and justifiably - created by judicial precedent. The literal text of the First Amendment does not mention fighting talk.)


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Oh yes, it is. (2.88 / 9) (#35)
by marlowe on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:05:36 AM EST

The PC crowd will do whatever they can get away with to stifle any speech that hurts their feelings. If they can't outlaw it, they'll settle for getting it shouted down. But never mistake that for tolerance. Tolerance, is, after all, just a word with these people.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Only a fool will die for their ideals (2.20 / 5) (#40)
by smallstepforman on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 07:19:07 PM EST

Just look back at how you viewed society when you were 5/10/15/20/25/30/35, and you'll notice that you've gone through a 720 degree shift in focus. An ideal worth dying for when you're 20 is a stupid idea when you're 30. All patriots/nationalists who died for their country deserve a collective Darwin Award (a platinum one).

[ Parent ]
To live for (3.25 / 8) (#28)
by dzimmerm on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 10:03:08 PM EST

In my opinion no ideal can be worth dieing for. An ideal exists only in the living human mind. To die means that no ideals can exist for the person who died.

People who I care about are worth sacrifice on my part of some sort or another. I may choose to sacrifice myself for my wife or my daughter if I thought such a sacrifice would likely perserve their life.

There was a Novel called Hells Pavement, sorry, I do not recall the author with certainty, Damon Knight perhaps, where a person who was willing to die for an ideal was summarily executed. The justification for the action was a little vauge but the person in charge of the execution said that the ideal holding individual died believing he was forwarding his ideal. The message I got from the author was that being willing to die for an ideal is very counter productive to survival.

My point is that being willing to live for an ideal is often much harder than being willing to die for one. The other point is that ideals mean nothing to the dead so only the living can hold them. With those two points in mind, dieing for an ideal is not productive.

dzimmerm

Illogical Captain (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 05:52:09 AM EST

I rated your comment 2 (Vulcan-like) for being illogical. No offense intended. Just because ideals exist in someone's head, they can still be about relatively objective conditions such as democracy, free speech, other civil liberties etc. So the living certainly can benefit from the sacrifice of the dead in the past! You only have to look at WWII, where for all their wrongs, the Allies did at least finally stop the Nazis from pursuing the Holocaust, and re-instated democracy eventually (at least in West Germany).

(Disclaimer: I don't support ignorant knee-jerk patriotism; however, there is something to be said for pride in the good aspects of one's country, and certainly I do concur that what little democracy we have is subjectively, from my point of view, superior to despotism or totalitarianism - not many people around here would disagree with that I hope.)


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

No problem (none / 0) (#33)
by dzimmerm on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 06:15:57 AM EST

I was not real happy with the way I presented the point I was trying to convey. I did not expect it to be highly rated.

I still can not adequately express what I mean as it is a distillation of years of life with all its hopes and fears added to the propaganda I was immersed in as I grew up.

You might check out my diary entry I put up this night. It explains a little of my feelings regarding my world outlook.

I wonder how many people died for an ideal in WWII? I would question if it was their loved ones faces or the words of a politician that motivated their selfless actions.

dzimmerm



[ Parent ]
Stupid Question Time! (3.87 / 8) (#29)
by _Quinn on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 10:24:12 PM EST

   I believe the entire article is illuminated by the following Stupid Question: "Why do we call it patriotism here and nationalism there?"

-_Quinn


Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
Axe to grind? Yeah, I got one. (3.70 / 10) (#30)
by thejones on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 04:44:39 AM EST

To quote a quote: "George Bernard Shaw understood this best when he defined patriotism as a `a conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it'."

For all these years I've thought my country was the superior country not because I was born here, but because a lot of people worked very hard for a very long time to make it that way, many knowing that they would not live to see the reward of their efforts.

Please excuse me while I take my misplaced estimation of my fellow countrymen and turn it into an exercise of ego gratification.

-1

wow (1.57 / 7) (#38)
by core10k on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 03:47:32 PM EST

Talk about meta-ignorance. You take the cake, pop the top, frost the icing.

[ Parent ]
For those of you... (1.00 / 3) (#48)
by core10k on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 10:23:26 AM EST

who voted me '1' or '0' because you have trouble sparking up your neurons, I'd suggest you reread the original poster's patriotic nonsense, and the quote which REFUTES that nonsense, posted WITHIN HIS OWN POST.

[ Parent ]
Refining the vocabulary (4.14 / 7) (#39)
by anansi on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 06:13:08 PM EST

Granted, the ideas of 'nationalism' and 'patriotism' are often confused. I'd toss in 'jingoism' if I thought it would help. But I think they might be tickled into describing different things, if enough people decide that the difference is worth paying attention to. I certainly do.

Consider the difference between 'country' and 'nation'. Anyone can move to the country, the early western explorers were certainly making their way across a country before any governments made any legal claims on that turf. So a country might be defined as a landscape with plants, animals, and people.

A Nation, on the other hand, has a (set of) shared language(s), a political system, and in the modern world, a system of police and/or soldiery to maintain "the peace". It's significant when various indian tribes make claims to nationhood, the 500 nations of north america, the 5 civilized nations of the The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole peoples. The nine nations of north america. We speak of an affinity to a territory or country, like what city do you like to live in. But when it comes to patriotism, it is (correctly, IMHO) defined as a feeling of affinity towards a nation rather than a country.

But now it starts to get a little strange. If people are going to invoke Ayn Rand and John Lennon, I'm going to pull out one of my personal heroes, Buckminster Fuller. He spoke of a loyalty to the largest system about which one can care. In the case of your garden variety psychopath, that's the individual. With many folks, it's their families. And while risky, self destructive behavior is frowned on in mental health circles, it's lauded with medals in the military, in the service of a nation. The question that lies begging is, Is there any system more significant than a nation? If there is not, then we can all go home early, and pledge alliegience to our flag and to the court-appointed president who wants us all to wave it. If there is, then we might find ourselves using tools like the internet to build such a system.

Even though he criticized multinationals whenever he could, Bucky was mostly ignored on that front, and I think much misunderstood. Another misunderstood hero of mine, who spoke at length about patriotism whenever he could, was Robert Heinlein. (Oh, god, I can see the eyes rolling already!)

In particular, I'm thinking of an essay in Expanded Universe on page 459 of the mass market edition, called The Pragmatics of Patriotism As jingoistic as many people asumed Admiral Bob to be, he also advocated putting all nuclear weapons in the hands of a UN-like global police force, believing (as I do) that no nation can be trusted with such things.

Fast forward to the present day: Must I wave 'Old Glory' in order to express my outrage and grief around the 9/11 attacks? Notwithstanding some video of dancing arabs, I am hearing reports from other countries and the huge emotional outpouring coming from those countries, even as 80 other nations were represented in the death toll. If they can grieve while maintaining their own citizenship, whay can't I maintain a larger sense of citizenship as well? This may not be a popular sentiment right now, but I will grieve without waving a flag. I mourn those who died not for their nationality, but for their humanity.

This is a dangerous, slippery slope, because if those people's deaths were significant beyond their citizenships, then so are the deaths of Iraqi civilians, the Bangladesh, Laotian, Chilean, Palistinian... etc. non-combatants that our tax dollars have gone towards killing. In many ways, it's easier to wave the flag, and assert that if our country wanted them dead, there must have been a good enough reason.

As long as I'm on this particular limb, I'll go out farther... The media has declared the spectacle over, and now it's time to get back into holiday shopping mode. Maybe I'm being unpatriotic, maybe my patriotism is to a larger system than the nation I was born into... but I just don't quite feel like going back into an overconsumptive lifestyle that makes this nation so envied and so hated in the rest of the world.

And if our court-appointed president were more interested in justice, he might be focusing on ways to get Bin Laden on trial at the Hague, rather than simply rubbing him out like a mob-style hit. But the similarities between gangs and governments is probably a topic best left for another day...

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

The two extremes. (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by Apuleius on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 12:45:19 AM EST

Working in Los Alamos, I have the dubious pleasure of encountering something much worse than the overeager patriot. It's the overeager anti-patriot. Specimens of this vile species are found all over Santa Fe. These are people who believe as an article of religious faith that the United States is the source of all the evil in the world. And I dare say that the only reason they feel this way is because it gives them a feeling of superiority over their fellow Americans. To that end they will equate the Gulag with McCarthyism, and so on, and so forth.

If I had to choose between an over-eager patriot and an over-eager anti-patriot, for my next door neighbor, I would in a heartbeat opt for the former. Keep some perspective, folks.




There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
I concur. (none / 0) (#52)
by NovaHeat on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 06:31:37 PM EST

And I dare say that the only reason they feel this way is because it gives them a feeling of superiority over their fellow Americans.

I have to say I agree. The town I live in, Eugene, OR, is full of anti-patriots, anarchists, and their ilk. From my observations, many of the people who are caught up in the 'down with the system' thing are often (OFTEN, NOT ALWAYS) frightfully stupid, unemployed (unemployable?), angry people who don't really seem to have any goals or prospects in life, and in an attempt to feel on-par or better than people around them, they adopt a "moral high-ground" which lets them feel better than their peers. Again, I am not saying MOST are liket this, but a fairly significant portion of them fit this category. They gleefully run around shouting slogans about issues that they haven't really researched (beyond a biased pamphlet or flyer that was probably passed around at a protest or rally), calling everyone who disagrees with them "sheep", and just generally acting as if they were somehow posessed of a vastly superior intellect than 'the stupid masses'. This kind of behavior really irks me.

Of course, people who blindly beleive that their nation is somehow "better" than all other nations doesn't impress me much either. I guess that's what disturbs me the most about G.W. Bush... he's constantly talking about our 'duty' and the "righteous mission" of the U.S. and all that.

Patriotism per se can be a very good thing, bringing people together to help one another in times of crisis (I can't count the number of times I've seen people give money to firemen along the streets here... money that is then collected and sent to releif efforts in NYC, literally on the opposite end of the nation), but, like anything, it can lead to arrogance, and arrogance in any form is a disgusting and dangerous thing.

-----

Rose clouds of flies.
[ Parent ]

Human Nature is Being Ignored (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by eliwap on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 02:57:40 AM EST

One of the things that every arguement that I have read here seems to ignore, is fundamental human nature. Take a look around us, almost everyone lives amongst some group of people. And the question is why? Answer... because we do.

Patriotism, at its finest is not only a self defensive reaction, but a celebration of identity and it can bring people to do great things on behalf of family, friends and neigbors. The expression of the love of family, friends of neighbors can indeed be considered love of self. In its most nobling aspect, it expresses itself in self sacrifices that defends and promotes the life of beloved people. This does not mean hate of another. It means love of self. We are stronger in cooperative groups than we are as individuals working against groups.

Problems occur when this gets translated into elitism. My group is better than your group or my group deserves it more that your group, my group is more right than your group, only by the virtue of the existence of the group; not by the virtue of hard work or good deeds. We have yet to evolve a mentality that wraps the entire human family into a single group. We indeed pay a great deal of lip service to this, and it is indeed a great start. But, our thinking has not evolved to deal with the reality of the technologies we use to empower and promote our lives.

Paraphrasing Jacob Bronowski (hoped I spelled his name correctly). Anyone that initiates an act of war is initiating an act of theft. The key here is initiatiation of the violence. An act of extreme envy (please do not assume that I am thinking about anyone particular incident in modern history).

The thing that I hope that I can get across, is that most of the destructivene ramifications of patriotism can be summed up by the charismatic despot who somehow manages to convice those that would listen, that by joining with him and fighting "windmills" his followers will find "divine glory" and a place in heaven.

We are stronger if we work together. Sometimes competition is a good thing. We find out indeed who is the best, the brightest, the strongest... etc. But, competition cannot always resolve contests in a way that is satifisfactory to both parties (here, I am thinking about the political conflict in my region). However, if people and groups act in mutual self promotion then resolution can be achieved. People are looking out, trully, for the best interests of everyone, not only for themselves.

Patriotism at its best promotes the life of beloved of those that surround the patriot. Patriotism at its worst promotes the self interest, (power and wealth) of the charismatic despot and leads to death and destruction of all those that stand in the way of the despot.

"Understanding is the basis of communications. Enlarge your mind to multiple points of view. The world is infinitely larger than your huge ego. -- Hey I said that :)"

Biased poll (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by free779 on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 09:46:52 AM EST

What kind of options are those?

Maybe I don't believe that America is the BEST in the world just because I was born here? Perhaps I do subscribe to the ideals that this nation was founded on, and that we have so imperfectly followed over the centuries?

You describe nationalism, a different, it similar, beast than patriotism. Can I subscribe to feelings of patriotism without looking down on everybody else? Can I feel patriotic about the fact that America is one of the most open countries in the world?

Can I feel ashamed of our shortcomings while being patriotic? Yes.

Poll Options (none / 0) (#51)
by Best Ace on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 06:26:30 PM EST

The poll option you picked up on was based on the George Bernard Shaw quote from the article, that's the only reason it was there. (But having read the article, you'd know that, right?) ;)

Maybe I should have added some more options, but the poll was only an afterthought, and K5 polls should never be taken too seriously anyway - they generally provide more humor than insight.

The article is by far the most important part. I'm just trying to provoke some debate here on what I think is an important issue.


[ Parent ]
Patriotism and Organized Religion (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by StephenFuqua on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 04:12:07 PM EST

Your analsysis of patriotism in relation to nationalism is rather interesting and provocative.

I find it interesting that you echo Marx's declaration that religion is the "opiate" of the masses, and yourself claim that "patriotism is as destructive as organized religion." While there is certainly truth to any claims that religion has been used to subjugate the masses, where is the acknowledgement of religion as an exercise of free will? This is particularly true today, where we see the free movement of people between religions in the Western World, Africa, and even much of Asia. For the majority of people, religion as a heartfelt belief is only peripherally political--politics and religion are mostly separated, unlike the religion practiced during Marx's days and in preceeding centuries.

As for organized religion being destructive... what organized religion has ever destroyed anything? Perhaps you will comment on the Christians in ancient Brittanium destroying the pillars of Celtic belief, or more recently the destruction of Buddhist statues by the Taliban (offtopic--how many Americans heard about that this summer?). These insidious plots were not executed by a religion, but by groups using the name of that religion. I can think of no case where the religion as a whole required or sanctioned the destruction of anything. Quite to the contrary, religion has often been a builder and supporter of civilization. If it were not for the Irish monks during the so-called "Dark Ages" of Europe, very little knowledge would have survived in that continent. Likewise, Islamic scholars brought back to the light of day countless works from the ancient Greek civilizations, and actively developed basic sciences such as algebra. The organized religion of Christianity during the medieval times actively promoted the preservation of knowledge, as did the Islamic faith from its earliest days. Furthermore, religion has always been an integral part of our western heritage and culture, being one of the strongest proponents of and inspiration for music, art, and architecture.

It is certainly true that evil has been done in the name of religion. However, it is unfair to label religion as a destructive institution, in that this very thing you decry--PATRIOTISM/NATIONALISM--has almost always been more nearly at the heart of such conflicts.

I leave with a quote from Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith: "Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."



Destructive Religion (none / 0) (#50)
by Best Ace on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 06:18:32 PM EST

It may be true that at the root of all organized religions, there is little justification for the authorization of violence and destruction. However, I have been thinking about the points you raise, and I have come up with the following:

In the year 1095, pope Urban II gave a speech in France exhorting Christians to go and attack Muslims and 'liberate' Jerusalem. One chronicler quoted him thus: 'I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds... to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich... to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends... All who die by the way shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested.'. I'm sure that last bit sounds familiar from recent events. The results hardly need reprising. I'll just add that another chronicler described Christian knights 'sobbing for excess of joy' at the bloodshed and carnage they had wrought.

There's also a part of the bible which looks like an exaltation of genocide. It goes something like: 'go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys'. Hardly a constructive attitude.

OK there are two examples, both admittedly from a long time ago.

You may be right that it is misplaced religion that is the destructive force, and not the religion itself. But if religion is used as a raison d'etre (as has been the case for many wars in the history of humanity), then the religion and the distorted interpretation of it become virtually synonymous. Thus does organized religion become destructive. I agree with you that religion can be a very positive force in the world. You mention monks and scholars, I would mention the Taj Mahal and the pyramids, but I think it is fallacious to dismiss the destructive ways of organized religion purely on the grounds that they do not represent 'true' religion.

This argument has parallels with the one I made in the main article: The less desirable results of patriotism become synonymous with patriotism itself, and should be recgnized as such.

Your point about free will is also valid, but how many people today are blindly patriotic, without knowing exactly why? How many people recognize politicians exploiting patriotism to their own ends, or really distinguish between patriotism and the need to belong to a group? To put it more generally, free will is worth nothing without free thought.



[ Parent ]

Brief Reply (none / 0) (#55)
by StephenFuqua on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 04:46:17 PM EST

Unfortunately I've not had time to really read the comments in detail, though I've scanned them and think I know what the theses are.

I see that in my haste I did not clearly distinguish religion and organized religion, in my words and perhaps not even in my own thinking. Nevertheless, I believe that there are some significant problems with these analyses of "organized religion."

  1. No religion as originally organized, to my knowledge, advocated the destruction of anything.
  2. Religion as a political force (which does indeed imply organization) has been used for destructive purposes. It has also been used for constructive purposes, something rarely acknowledged.
  3. Amongst skeptics, anti-religionists, atheists, etc. in general, I notice a disturbing trend to say that organized religion AS A WHOLE is destructive because AN organized religion has been destructive in the past (or even multiple). This does not logically follow. Organized Christianity may or may not have been more destructive than constructive throughout its history, but this does not imply anything about "organized religion" as a blanket generalization.
  4. I suppose a large part of our disagreement will boil down to a matter of belief (go figure!). Simply, unscientifically stated, I believe that humans possess a "spirit" and that we must cultivate the spiritual side. Religions have, in their unadulterated forms (which are invariably organized), presented the best paths for spiritual development. Thus to me, anti-religion is equally destructive to spiritual and, I would go so far as to say, mental well-being of individuals.

You both do insert important points. I have much work to do, so I cannot address them appropriately. I just ask that people keep open minds and realize that organized religion as a whole may not be as destructive as secular society popularly presents it. I hope this isn't interpreted as proselytism (it isn't), but I challenge you, for instance, to look into the Baha'i Faith for a religion that has not been destructive and presents answers as to how religion can be so spiritually important and divinely inspired, but yet fall into these destructive patterns. The "official" site is bahai.org. Or try my site.



[ Parent ]
How can you even promote that sort of filth? (none / 0) (#53)
by bADlOGIN on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 08:56:23 PM EST

There is no such thing as separating Religion from Politics. People living thier lives by whatever spiritual guidelines contaminate everything they touch with thier interpretations of unverifiable folk-lore.
As for destruction in organized religion, you seem to be forgetting a few other important historical events. Lets start with:
The Crusades - Organized Religion is backed with military might in order to create a christian unity and drive the Mohammedan tribes out. Thousands dead/injured/raped in the name of "god". This was backed by the Catholic Church. If that's not an "Organized" religion, I don't know what is.
The African Slave Trade, U.S. Civil War - The fact that there is not one bible verse condemning slavery, but many regulating it and one in particular known as The Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:25-27) was used by Southern Christains to justify the treatment of African slaves.
Islamic scholars only brought the Greek knowledge back because the HippiChristians felt the need to DESTROY all references of the Greeks because they were Pagans. Those things weren't "lost", they were "covered up" for the good of the Chri$tian Churches. You also ignore with music and art references, it's been a source of inspiration, but not a proponent. You ignore all of the censorship. And if you want to take the not all art is good, how about those wood-carvings of the crusades depicting the torture dished out. Bet the monks had fun doing those!
You casually let Religions impact on Science slip by. Copernicus' heliocentric theory and the house arrest by the Catholic church that he DIED under wasn't recognized and admitted officially by the church untill 1985. Yes, that's right; 1985. Da Vinci's Codex with the wonderful human anatomy artwork the attempted to push medical science ahead would have gotten him killed for religious reasons if discovered when he was alive. Let's just throw out cloning research, stem-cell research, and all of the people that have died at the hands of (love the oxymoron here) "Christian Scientists" just to keep the ball rolling.
You're brain must be nice and squeeky clean in order to post a comment like that. Religious hatred and destruction is what has defined most every attrocity of human history. Untill people wake up and dispose of the poison that is The Bible, Quran, Torah, or whatever completely; no human being on this planet is safe.

I leave with great biblical fault of logic:
"Thou Shall not Kill", Moses reading the 6th Commandment
"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him." Numbers 31:17, Moses Telling his soldiers to go back and kill little boys and pregnant women after having spared them.
It's sickening what's taught in these books when you bother to read it.
Sigs are stupid and waste bandwidth.
[ Parent ]

Advances in Thinking in the Modern Age (none / 0) (#54)
by eliwap on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 05:21:54 AM EST

Welcome to the modern age whose thinking is overshadowed by the events of WWI, WWII, the Bomb, Exploration of Space and Global Telecommunications.

The barbarisms that you so elequently tried to express did indeed happen. But, (perhaps as an apologist) for all of human beings. Practically every group in history, until the modern era, regardless of the religious, or national origins have achieved their place in history through military means and oppression of the groupe-de-jour. It was just the way things were done.

The specific Biblical passage that you have quoted as demonstration of the barbarism of the Bible mearly reflects the time. And if you were to take the quote you just mentioned in context, you would find that the commandment was one that called for an act of vengence towards an existential threat. This was not an initiated action, but a defensive one. And before you say that the is the same poisoness excuse that every despot spouts from their mouth, you were not there so at least, take the words as meaning self defense is legitimate. Question, for you (this is not an advocation of anything, just a question) how would you deal with a person or group of people, who, no matter what you do or give, keep attacking you for no other reason than you exist? What would you do?

Only in the modern age, where there is a seperation between church and state, is the modern world finally catching up with the enlightenment that exists in the Bible. If you would recall, the Bible seperates the Priests from the rest of the population, and their job was solely to attend to G-d's bussiness. They did not go to war, they did not possess land and so they had no political power what so ever. In those days, only nobles were land owners, had the right to self defence and a political say. Here the Bible made every one a noble. Which has only been achieved in the modern democratic world where everyone has a greater opportunity to be land owners.

As to slavery, in the Bible, slavery was not imposed apon any individual, a person went into servitude, voluntarily, to pay back debts to the person that they served. Other than not owning land, the slave had every protection, right and obligation under the law, as any person that was not a slave. Slaves had the opportunity to pay back their debts. A person who chose to remain in slavery was marked with a hole in his ear as a mark of shame. And what's interesting, is that every 50 years their is this thing called a Jubilee were every slave and their family, was set free, regardless of the state of the debt and when within that 50 year period they volunteered themselves into slavery. And what's really telling is that the servent's nobility was to be re-established. The lord who was served was to give the slave a possession, namely land. It turns out that what the Bible calls "slavery" is still somewhat more humane than what the modern world calls work.

Of course old habits are hard to break. And the world is full of examples of using the Bible and other great religious writings to justify acts of cruelity, barbarism and perversions. But, these are perversions of what was written, and what was intended. And if one was to give an honest examination of the social ills of the modern world, I think that one would conclude that we traded one set of problems for another. Maybe extremist dogmatic belief, whether religious or materialistic is harmful and destructive. Maybe... just maybe... The Ten Commandments are not so bad after all. And maybe just maybe if we would pay attention to the very first one, we wouldn't be so arrogant as to think that one persion has any greater right than anyone else.

"Understanding is the basis of communications. Enlarge your mind to multiple points of view. The world is infinitely larger than your huge ego. -- Hey I said that :)"
[ Parent ]

The Holy Fire of Patriotism | 58 comments (49 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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