Patriotic, anyone?

“Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy
George Bernard Shaw

I didn’t wish any of my fellow Canadians a happy “Canada Day”, so I’m not going to do so now for any of you Americans on this July 4th. This isn’t because I despise you or something. Rather, I quite despise patriotism. It is, in the words of Oscar Wilde, “the virtue of the vicious”. We already have so much to divide us in this world. Do we really need to add artificial borders to the mix?

For those of you that do bleed Red, White and Blue, I have a few questions for you: do you think this nationalism will be helpful in the world of the future? Do you think children should be taught that their country is better than any other, or that, by extension, they have more in common with those living geographically closer than those further apart? What values do we teach when we make such superficial distinctions?

Comments (12)

  • avatar


    I will agree that the United States of America is not a perfect nation.

    “do you think this nationalism will be helpful in the world of the future?” I certainly hope that it will. Alghouth, with all the devisiveness in politics over the last two decades it is difficult to say. However, the Obama Administration seems to be doing all that they can to lower the standard of living in the US so as to not have other countries so envious of what an individual CAN accomplish.

    “Do you think children should be taught that their country is more special than any other,”

    Special has such different meanings to people. If by “special” you mean that do mean that should children be taught that it is better to live in a country where the government will not chop off your hand if you are caught stealing; or that a woman is a second class citizen and dare not even report being raped for fear of being stoned to death; or that if you don’t worship the government approved god your head will be cut off; or that if you want to become educated (even if you are a woman) then that possibility is afforded you; or that if you want to work and you can’t find a job that you can start your own business; or that out of all the countries on the face of the earth the coming to the United States of America remains the dream of many non-citizens because of the opportunities there, then yes I do believe that children should be taught that.

    “or that, by extension, they have more in common with those living geographically closer then those further apart?”

    Difficult to (completely) read your agenda here. Therefore it is equally difficult to know what you mean by “in common.” We all bleed red blood. We all need the same things to survive and too even thrive. However, it is easier to communicate with others whom speak the same language. It is easier to live a healthy life style somewhere where the citizens do not have to use the bathroom in the same area that their drinking or bathing water comes from.

    “What values do we teach when we make such superficial distinctions?”

    We teach that being a responsible part of your government is important. We teach that if you do not take care of your liberties/freedoms they will be lost. We teach that there are consequences for making poor life and political chioces.


  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Where do countries like Panama, Chile, Argentina, Iran fit into this argument? These countries had democracies before America decided that pro-American dictators were better suited. Did the citizens in those country get to decide for themselves how to be governed, or is that done by fiat from the most powerful military nation in the history of this planet?

  • avatar

    B. J. Price

    do you think this nationalism will be helpful in the world of the future?

    I don’t believe it has helped so far. There have been many cases throughout history of countries trying to extend their borders. The U.S. tried doing that once with Canada.
    England has made a terrible mess of things around the world and many are still paying the price of that. The present could be very different if the past had been different. The way things are now seems ephemeral.

    Hopefully the internet, and whatever else is to follow, will change our perspectives and priorities.

    Do you think children should be taught that their country is more special than any other, or that, by extension, they have more in common with those living geographically closer then those further apart?

    Should children be taught they are special because of location? Definitely not. As a child my parents told me I was lucky. Good enough!

    What values do we teach when we make such superficial distinctions?

    Agreed. Superficial accidents of birth and culture. I was born and raised in England and am now a Canadian citizen. Which country is better? Which do I value more? Neither. They are both just chunks of land and populated with a variety of peoples.
    How can I pick and choose who, or what, is better?
    There are ideas that need changing all over the world and hopefully communication technology will unite most of us.

    Boy, you got me going with these questions. On Canada Day my co-workers and I discussed patriotism and none of us hope to suffer from it. We are quite glad to just put our feet up. No parades necessary.
    And some are still trying to recover from the twelve weeks of Christmas. We need a rest. We don’t need to be going from one idealogical adrenalin rush to the next.

    Oh, a store here in Ontario had to send back all the gluten free stuff from Denmark because it didn’t have French on the packaging. Stuff patriotism! I want my choc/hazelnut bars! Such idiocy and waste of airplane fuel.

    BTW. I have to get your book so I can read it and then donate it to the local library.

  • avatar


    In my opinion (for what it’s worth) it’s a mistake to conflate patriotism and nationalism. Though the two do often go hand in hand, they’re not the same as far as I understand them.

    Patriotism is loving your country and having pride in your country.

    Nationalism involves devotion to your country, usually of a fanatic and/or dogmatic nature.

    Pride is ok, fanaticism and dogmatism is not.

    So in my opinion there is nothing wrong in being patriotic, whether you’re from America, Canada, Panama, Chile, Argentina, or Iran. But when you’re a Nationalist that is little better than being a religious fundamentalist.

    I could talk more about this, but I was trying to be as succinct as possible and I think this gets my view across.

  • avatar


    If you want to argue with me about how I defined those two words, that’s fine. Language is often changing and very flexible, that’s just how I’ve come to understand the words.

    I just think I should clarify one point. When I think of my country, I don’t think of the dirt I’m standing on; the dirt is inconsequential. No, when I’m talking about my (or any) country, I mean the other people in it, the government it’s established, the laws it enforces, how it treats its citizens and others. Those things are what make a country, not the land you happen to be in possession of. And in those things, I see nothing wrong with showing patriotism.

  • avatar

    B. J. Price

    Great! I just had to look up patriotism and nationalism in the dictionary. And now I have to say I’m Welsh as that’s the land of my fathers. Funny how I never noticed pater in patriot before. Or am I African?

  • avatar

    Hieronymus Fortesque Lickspittle

    Thank you. That needed to be said. For me, once I became certain god didn’t exist, I recognized religion was just one more tool to keep people in line. Just like patriotism. God and country, kinda go hand in hand don’t they? BTW, I’m retired from the US Military, so I was hard core brainwashed.

  • avatar


    it was Diogenes of Sinope who said “I am not an Athenian or a Corinthian, but a citizen of the world.”

    Fuck patriotism and all other methods of dividing humanity into boys’ clubs. All it does is teach kids how to consider themselves and their immediate neighbours as superior to anyone else who lives on outside the invisible dotted lines.

  • avatar


    pardon the horrible english, i’m very tired and on pain killers for a dislocated finger >.<

  • avatar

    Cody Bailey


    Right on, brother!
    This country was founded on some very high ideas, the only country in the world founded on ideas and not culture, language, geography or tribe.
    Admittedly we have had difficulty living up to those ideas, but we have made more progress in the last couple of hundred years than other nation in history. Despite our failings, we at least have those ideas. They are despised and laughed at in the rest of the world.
    What many fail to appreciate is just how bad the rest of the world is. See the following article titled ‘Beat your demons away’. That story is repeated in second and third world shit-holes countless times all around the world, every day. Unfortunately the author simplifies the cause as faith, when it is deeper than that. It is culture.

    @Jim – Citizen of the world? that is a fuzzy nebulous term that has no meaning.

    @ the author of this article – “I also made it quite clear that Socialism means equality of income or nothing, and that under socialism you would not be allowed to be poor. You would be forcibly feed, clothed, lodged, taught, and employed whether you like it or not. If it were discovered that you had not character enough to be worth all this trouble, you might possibly be executed in a kindly manner; but whilst you were permitted to live you would have to live well.” – George Bernard Shaw
    Translation – All people should be slaves.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Socialism would mean that the government would force-feed people? Man, i think you need to fucking educate yourself as to what the term actually refers to. By your logic, the more socialist the country, the fewer rights of the citizenry. Am I correct?

    America is hardly the first nation to be build on an ideology. I respect the Founding Fathers, but i think a lot of Americans need to realize that they didn’t invent the wheel.

  • avatar


    I’ve been pretty worried because there are american patriots among the atheist community, for example Seth (The Thinking Atheist): “Patriotism, in my opinion, can be a wonderful thing. National pride. Admiration and love of country. I’m an American, and I’m a patriot, without apology.”

    Why are you proud of being an american? Think it through… It was just a matter of chance that you were born there. Of course cheering for your country when it comes to sports is natural but when you come out like that it seems like you’re putting other countries down.

    I found this great clip of Carlin on national/ethnic pride just a few days ago though;

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