Patriotism, America’s favorite poison – Trinitonian

If you were asked to name a stereotype about America, there’s a good chance you’d name something related to patriotism. Patriotism is considered an essential virtue in political and civilian life in the United States, as evidenced by the abundance of American flags found in almost any populated place.

Furthermore, a feature that is closely associated with American life is the supremacy of patriotism. In almost every Republican campaign ad you can find references to candidates as “true patriots” or “putting America first.” In response, the American left tends to defend its own patriotic virtues, viewing its patriotism as a more logical patriotism that puts the people and justice first.

In a country that grew up believing that patriotism was an objectively correct attitude, it was an understandable strategy to win over moderates. However, the time has come for us to address the issue, where “patriotism” and nationalism seem almost indistinguishable when analysing the subject of attitudes among the people of a country.

Nationalism is dangerous because it is often used by oppressive regimes as a tool to maintain power. This danger was demonstrated by the Axis powers in World War II, and continues to be demonstrated today in Russia, China, Brazil, North Korea, and even the United States, to name a few.

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If your instinctive reaction to comparing nationalism and patriotism is to explain the difference and defend patriotism, then I have a question to ask. If patriotism is defined as the love of one’s country and the desire to defend it, as in the Oxford English Dictionary, why is that right? Why should America’s interests take precedence over all other countries? Why are the lives of people here more valuable to us than those abroad? In other words, what makes us so special?

If your answer involves something related to the inherent superiority of the US to other countries in some way, then you are a nationalist. If you’re struggling to find the answer, you’ve identified the problem. This is not to say that it is wrong to serve the interests of the American people, but patriotism is not synonymous with that purpose. Patriotism is loyalty to the country; loyalty to the country. This is not good.

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Loyalty to the country is a path that much of the world has taken before, which is why you won’t see many examples of multi-faceted flags flying on the streets of Germany, unless it’s the World Cup. It’s not just Germany, though. American patriotism is unique, and people in other countries often find it offensive and strange. It’s not normal to swear allegiance to the “nation” every day before school or every big event.

If patriotism is unusually surprising, you may well have fallen victim to its normalization, given its obvious flaws in its logic. Patriotism essentially breaks down into being loyal to the entity that has the monopoly of violence and the use of force against you, and believing that the person ruled by your entity is more important than the person ruled by a different person. It’s not about caring about the American people, and it never was.

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Through this lens, we on the American left can identify an attitude that is a better way to improve people’s quality of life, here and elsewhere. The government claims a monopoly of force over the people living within its fictitious borders and maintains its sovereignty over them through historical precedent and the use of force against other governments. Therefore, holding the government accountable and opposing the oppressive tendencies of the state is, in my opinion, the ideal way forward.

Therefore, it is necessary to change your attitude towards national loyalty. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about your fellow citizens, but you should realize how arbitrary it is to draw our boundaries on a global scale. Unless a billionaire or politician somehow found my article, you have more in common with the poor in any other country than with the people in power here. America is not special, but human nature is special, and it is worth fighting for whether humans live here or not.


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