"Patriotism is slavery."
"Patriotism is balderdash."
"The religion of Hell is patriotism, and the government is an enlightened democracy."
-James Cabell (1879)
"The first casualty when war comes is truth."
Senator Hiram Johnson 1917
"In war time the State seeks to destroy its own culture. It is only when this destruction has been completed that the state can begin to exterminate the culture of its opponents. In times of conflict authentic culture is subversive. As the cause championed by the state comes to define national identity, as the myth of war entices a nation to glory and sacrifice, those who question the value of the cause and the veracity of the myths are branded internal enemies. "
War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
"No one shall be held in slavery or servitude..."
-Article 4. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it."
"I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time."
"He who works to improve the civic, economic, social and moral condition of his country and the world is more truly patriotic than he who exalts his own nation at the expense of others or supports and justified its action irrespective of right or justice."
"We should not forget that our tradition is one of protest and revolt and it is stultifying to celebrate the rebels of the past -while we silence the rebels of the present."
Henry Steele Commager
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any public official, save exactly to the degree he himself stands by the country."
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
"the rise of the people called Quakers is one of the memorable events in the history of man. It marks the moment when intellectual freedom was claimed unconditionally by the people as an inalienable right."
"There does not exist, and there has not existed , a case of aggregate violence committed by one set of men against another which has not been committed in the name of patriotism."
"I do love my country’s good with a respect more tender, More holy and profound, than my own life."
"If patriotism is "the last refuge of a scoundrel," it is not merely because evil deed may be performed in the name of patriotism….but because patriotic fervor can obliterate moral distinctions altogether."
Ralph Barton Perry
"What produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one’s own nation-what is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism."
"Patriotism now presents to men nothing but the most terrible future; but the brotherhood of the nations forms that ideal which more and more grows to be comprehensible an desirable for humanity."
"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."
"Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy."
George Bernard Shaw
"Patriotism is a perennial part of life….(while) nationalism is a very distinctive species of patriotism, and one which becomes pervasive and dominant only under certain social conditions, which in fact prevail in the modern world, and nowhere else…."
Nations and Nationalism
"It is sad that in order to be a good patriot one often has to be the enemy of the rest of mankind."
"Patriotism is a kind of religion: it is the egg from which wars are hatched."
Guy De Maupassant
"Talking of patriotism, what humbug it is; it is a word which always commemorates a robbery."
"We don't have patriotism in England like you do in America. That went out with the First World War-when it was proved to be a load of bollocks."
"That a man can take pleasure in marching in fours to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him."
"Love of our country is another of those specious illusions, which have been invented by imposters in order to render the multitude the blind instruments of their crooked designs."
William Godwin (1756-1836)
"Patriot leaders-including Thomas Jefferson, the Cabots and the Lodges of Boston, and most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence-were quick to use their tongues and pens against the British, but never carried a rifle in the entire war. John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, showed up at one battle in Rhode Island in 1781, and then returned to Boston, where he "did business as usual."
In his book Code Number 72/Benjamin Franklin: Patriot or Spy?, historian Cecil B. Currey raised the possibility that Franklin may not have been the the wholly shining patriot talked about in American History. Basing his case on what he described as "previously unused papers of the British Secret Service," the author concluded that in the delicate negotiation period of 1776-85, when Franklin was America's ambassador to France, the master diplomat "may indeed have been an enemy agent."
George Bruce Woodin
The Shady Side of America
"You might ask mockingly: 'A flag? What's that? A stick with a rag on it?' No sir, a flag is much more. With a flag you lead men....for a flag, men live and die. In fact it is the only thing for which they are ready to die in masses, if you train them for it. Believe me, the politics of an entire people-especially a people scattered all over the earth-can be manipulated only through imponderables that float in thin air. Do you know what went into the making of the German Empire? Dreams and songs, reveries of black, red, and gold banners, all in a very short time. Bismarck merely shook the tree that the visionaries had planted."
-Theodor Herzl (1895)
"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."
Baha U’ Llah
"There is a patriotism-the passion that makes us see human affairs as a competitive game instead of a common interest, a game in which ‘our side,’ by fair means or foul, has to get the better-inordinately-of the rest of mankind. For my own part, though I care very little for the British Empire, which I think a temporary, patched-up thing, I have a passionate pride in being of the breed that produced such men as Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon, Cromwell, Newton, Washington, Darwin, Nelson and Lincoln."
H.G. Wells (1918)
"The idea that the world should be divided into different countries is a fatal mistake. It makes for wars, discord and hatred. I think of myself as the Stoics did, cosmopolitan. I think of Austin, Texas, the same way I do of Buenos Aires, or Montevideo, Geneva or Edinburgh. I am a citizen of the world."
Jorge Luis borges
..."However, as often as not you will find that-whatever the high-sounding pretext may be-the worst crimes are still committed in the name of the old traditional rubbish: of loyalty to nation or "order" or leadership or tribe or faith. To train the condemnation upon the Utopians is to miss the historical point (the point made in Animal Farm, among other places) that Utopians become tyrants when they start to emulate their former masters..."
letters to a young contrarian
"Patriotism, which allowed politicians to send their men to fight and die for their country , is becoming an old-fashioned concept with little resonance among a generation that has loyalty to cyberspace but little loyalty to a world where sacrifice, honor and duty are the price that might have to be paid for membership in a society with standards, morals and principles. Patriotism has for centuries been enough to persuade people to lay down their lives. People talked of the "nobility" of sacrifice. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori-it is sweet and fitting to die for your country. Heroism and sacrifice are the hallmarks of soldiers through the centuries, from Sparta to Somalia. In ancient times men fought because they had to; their city or their state had to be defended from almost certain destruction. In the modern professional services, men and women join because the pay is good, the training excellent and among some people, service to your country still matters. But the men who died in the dusty streets of Mogadishu did so for their friends whom they vowed they would never abandon on the field of battle. Their country had no compelling reason to ask them to die, and the politicians who watched them die, courtesy of television, found in the very public deaths a reason to change their policy. It was a demonstration of just how weak political will has become in the face of public apathy and fear of media criticism."
The Next World War
"What we do know is that the nation demands allegiance; in fact, it considers citizens its subjects. "Citizens" may owe allegiance, but they also receive protection that enhances their security, and are the source of their government's authority. "Subjects," on the other hand, are controlled arbitrarily either by a personal sovereign-whether a king, dictator, or sheik, or by a power elite outside their control. Thus, whether you live in a so-called "free" country or in a dictatorship, national citizenship is actually a form of imprisonment. The system itself is the prison, and national borders are the bars. The more we know, the less attractive this arrangement becomes. But can the nation-state at least deliver the true security it promises? Can it guarantee the first human right-life itself? Twenty million war-related deaths since the end of World War II provide a clearcut answer. In fact, even the most powerful nations cannot promise that a nuclear war won't begin "accidentally," of that they won't start it. If that sounds extreme consider: even in our "Post-Cold War' world the United States declines to promise that it will not use nuclear weapons first in some future conflict. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, "the political-military system that has more or less kept global order since World War II is breaking down and nothing is in sight to replace it ." Big nations can no longer keep small nations in line. With technology provided by the industrial nations, some developing nations already have truly awesome military strength. But many of these have no stake in the "international order" created by their suppliers. In such an anarchic world community, today's friend is the nation that aids in dealing with a current enemy. In reality, status as a friend or enemy is more circumstantial than ideological. The harsh truth is that a nation, though it may suffer, can at least survive without many friends. What it absolutely requires is an enemy."
Passport to Freedom
Book: Making Patriots by Walter Berno
Book: "Patriotism in America" by Gerald Leinwand
Book: "American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm" by Gail Buckley
Book: "Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution" by A. J. Langguth
Back to Chrestomathy Next Page