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Friday, September 5, 2008

Who is a Patriot?

Dr Sam C. Holliday, director of the Armiger Cromwell Center, following an earlier posting on the subject ("The Perversion of Patriotism"), in present essay is sharing his analysis on how Postmodernism has corrupted American patriotism, and applies it to the present Presidential contest.

Today's post-democratic, federalizing Europe is actively suppressing any form of love of country as primitive Nationalism: the perverted redefinition process of pomo lingo is too blunt to differentiate between jingoistic chauvinism, the ethnic Darwinism of National Socialism, hot-blooded Nationalism, and patriotism or the love of one's country or nation. All expressions and symbols of the 'outdated nation state' are frowned upon and suppressed through social pressure, also known as political correctness, or The Nudge.

It is badly understood that American patriotism is an altogether different animal than the politicized European versions, which are often closely interlinked with ethnicity, religion or shared history. The American variety expresses pride of the idea that is America, the philosophy behind the founding of this specific country based on Enlightenment values as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. These two of the most inspiring documents that have ever been conceived by the human race, are today the subject of vicious Postmodern conspiracy theories, possibly for that reason alone.

In the Treaty of Lisbon Europeans missed an opportunity to bridge the philosophical gap: the treaty is a massive, uninspired exercise in bureaucracy and pragmatism, held together by paper, glue and legal speak. No trick or underhanded manipulation is spared by the collectivist neo-totalitarians behind the E.U. to get it ratified. It is therefore hoped the Irish will save history and will firmly continue to reject a 'corrective referendum'.

Enjoy Sam's perspective on American patriotism!


Looking directly into the camera during his acceptance of the Democrat nomination Sen. Barack Obama said: "I've got news for you John McCain. We all put our country first." To this McCain replied: "I do not question his patriotism. I question his judgment." But the American people need to understand the two very different meanings of the word "patriot" and to recognize the consequences of replacing the traditional meaning with the postmodern meaning.

To make his point Sen. Obama also said: “We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. Since “patriotism has no party” we will challenge the old Republican “partisan playbook” to make Democrats unpatriotic. He also expressed support for the military and veterans several times. His aim was clear: to immunize himself from the vulnerability he created by claiming to be a “citizen of the world” and from something which had worked against Democrats in the past, i.e. that he is not a patriot. Most Americans value patriotism and expect their leaders to be patriots.

Two Meaning of Patriotism
Patriotism as presented by McCain and Obama can be read at this article on Parade. McCain’s traditional patriotism is defined as demonstrated love, support, defense and sacrifice for one’s country and loyalty to that country. Obama’s postmodern patriotism is defined as the feelings, emotions and dreams someone has about others and his/her country. Traditional patriotism is an expression of moral certainty, while postmodern patriotism is an expression of relativism. Both versions claim they express love for past, present and future countrymen.

Traditional American patriotism claims there is right and wrong behavior, as defined by society, to demonstrate patriotism without regard to personal opinion. This means putting the country first, before ideology, factions, personal ambition, or anything else. Move. Most Europeans consider this view of patriotism a relic of the past.

On the other hand, postmodernists present patriotism as being subjective and dependent on the life narrative of each individual. This means the memories, hopes, dreams and feelings of each person are stressed.

Most Americans and Europeans hold preconceptions that cause them to be emotionally committed to one of these two versions of patriotism. Humans usually base their views on feelings but represent their decisions as being rational. Sometimes this encompasses unconscious competence, so this method of reasoning is not always wrong, but it is the source of confirmation bias, denial, etc. Therefore, it is wise to consider the history of patriotism and the modern/postmodern paradigm before we consider the terminology needed to resolve this issue. Now is the time for all Americans to understand why patriotism is important.

History of Patriotism
Patriotism as a word gained its meaning as nation-states became the major actors in world affairs. Prior to the 18th century, loyalty was to the sovereign. With the rise of nation-states and the decline of the divine right of kings it became necessary to shift loyalty from an individual to a nation, i.e. a collectivity of those with a common identity.

Under “the divine right of Kings” people were expected to be loyal to a lord, count, king, and emperor who held secular authority and who was also often the custodian of sacred authority. In most of Europe this concept was abolished during the age of political revolution. However, the new nation-states needed some way to express loyalty to the new sovereign, i.e. the people as a whole (the nation). This task fell to patriotism.

The concept of patriotism thus performs an essential function. Today, anyone who rejects the nation-state will also reject the traditional definition of patriotism and will favor the postmodern version.

Patriot is a very old word; originally it meant “defender of the lands of our fathers”. Throughout history all successful groups have found ways to create group identity and shared civic virtues to bind its members together during competition with others. The concept of patriotism has been instrumental in creating and maintaining (1) loyalty within a nation, (2) respect for authority and the institutions of governance, and (3) a sense of reverence for a nation. All successful nations have valued their patriots, and shunned those deemed unpatriotic. Nevertheless, a backdrop of American Flags, red, white and blue bunting, stirring words, flag pins, thousands of cheering countrymen, and patriotic songs do not prove patriotism.

Patriotism is a question of loyalty. It replaced the loyalty to an individual sovereign (lord, king, emperor), derived from feudal law, with loyalty to the people (a nation)—the new sovereign. In our case "the good People of these Colonies" absolved “all Allegiance to the British Crown".

In Europe the 68-generation has attempted to suppress any form of patriotism as integral nationalism: jingoistic chauvinism or the ethnic Darwinism of National Socialism. All expressions and symbols of the “outdated nation state” are frowned upon and suppressed through social pressure, i.e. political correctness. In Europe, and among postmodernists, sovereign nationalism is never considered.

Sovereign nationalism seeks the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Sovereign nationalism is an expression of the human desire for freedom and self-government. It places an emphasis on popular sovereignty, a constitution, decentralization, and civil rights—it is legitimized by a social contract between a people and their state. Sovereign nationalism is based on E Pluribus Unum—thus it is uniquely American and the reason traditional American patriotism differs from the politicized European versions, which are often closely interlinked with ethnicity or religion. The American version expresses pride in the founding documents of this country.

The Modern/Postmodern Paradigm
The distinction between traditional patriotism and postmodern patriotism depends on motive. But it is impossible to know motives with certainty. Therefore, to avoid antagonism and separation debates over this distinction should be avoided. However, it is necessay to recognize that voting for either McCain or Obama will have consequences other than on issues. A vote for Obama will at least erode traditional patriotism and might even destroy ways to create and maintain (1) loyalty to our country, (2) respect for authority, and (3) reverence for our country.

Traditional American patriotism states what a person must do for his/her country to be considered a patriot. But postmodern thought rejects such objectivity. It is based on communication theory and focused on language, it stresses subjectivity and claims that objectivity is an illusion used by the powerful to manipulate people and oppress the disadvantaged. Postmodern patriotism is an expression of moral relativism. It is the love and feelings each person has for people and his/her country as a result of that individual’s life narrative. It considers opposition to your country’s policies and actions that you consider unjust to be the highest form of patriotism.

The social contract of a nation of free individuals with free will depends on patriots being loyal to, dedicated to, and willing to sacrifice for their nation. Of course, members of the loyal opposition love their country just as much as patriots. Members of the loyal opposition believe they are working for the common good just as much as patriots. They argue and work to change policies prior to decisions by those in authority, and then they either support the implementation of that policy or remain silent. Each citizen of the U.S.A. has the right to challenge constituted authority and to "alter or abolish" those exercising that authority, but the consequences of such action must also be considered. In order words, individuals have the right to dissent and to express their grievances. They might be right, brave, noble, wise, etc., but that does not make them patriots.

On the other hand, postmodernists make dissent an aspect of patriotism so they will not be constrained in their efforts to advance personal, ideological, or factional interests. Partisan politicians who do not want their words and actions constrained by patriotism, and unintentionally give aid and comfort to enemies of their country, should be considered “useful idiots” regardless of their intentions or how much they claim to love their country.

Terminology
If we want to preserve the United States of America as a successful nation, there needs to be consensus on the words used to discuss this important subject. However, in this essay there is no attempt to place anyone in any specific category. That is a matter of opinion on which there will never be agreement. Nevertheless, discussion will be more meaningful if there is consensus on terminology. Hopefully this terminology will cause people to consider more carefully how what they say and do might give aid and comfort to our enemies. This is the purpose of this essay.

Patriotism: actions to demonstrate love and loyalty to one's country, support and defense of one’s country, and sacrifice for one’s country. Patriotism is a way to give a nation of free people with free will the ability to unify and sacrifice for the common good in a common cause.

Patriots: loyal and dedicated persons who not only love their country but also willingly work and sacrifice to advance the policies and interests of their country.

Loyal Opponents: those persons who love their country but oppose, and work to change, the policies of their country yet are careful not to give aid and comfort to the enemies of their country.

Traitors or Useful Idiots: those persons who give aid and comfort to the enemies of their country as a result of carelessness, naivety or idealism. The politically correct will certainly object to the use of the term “traitor” and “idiot” in this context. For some traitor should be used only after someone is convicted of the crime of treason. Although traitor is a negative word it is an appropriate word since it refers to any person who betrays a person, cause, or trust.

Since the year 1300, idiot has meant an ignorant person. However, for the past 100 years it has been used by some to refer to a person with severe mental retardation; thus in an effort to avoid being insensitive to mental illness the word idiot is considered off limits by the politically correct. Yet idiot is correctly used to refer to a foolish person. In this context Communists used it, from the 1930s until the end of the Cold War, to refer to those in a country whom they could use to advance Communism. Therefore, both traitors and useful idiots are accurate and appropriate when used to refer to those who give aid and comfort to the enemies of their country as a result of carelessness, naivety or idealism.

Subversives or a Fifth Column: individuals or groups which hide their loyalty, convictions, and motives while they willingly work to advance the interests of a movement or faction seeking to weaken or destroy the country in which they live. “Fifth Column” was a term used during World War II for those living in a country that actively supported an enemy of that country. It was first used by Napoleon as he marched toward Vienna to refer to those in that city which he expected to rise up against their government. It was also used at the end of the Spanish Civil War as Nationalist forces moved on Madrid in the same context. It is a useful term, with negative connotations, which accurately describes those who are loyal to something other than their own country.

If there is ever conscious on this terminology it is hoped this will cause people to be careful about what they say and do. They should not be able to say and do things that will give aid and comfort to our enemies and still be considered patriots. Of course, some will use it to denigrate those who have different ideological or political views. Unfortunately, agreement on terminology will cause as many to use it for the latter as the former.

Conclusions
Without such agreement on terminology reasoned discussion of national interests is impossible. It will result in patrician bickering based on different political and philosophical points of view. With the acceptance of common terminology we can avoid some antagonism and separation as we seek unity in the pursuit of the common good in a common cause. Moral relativism must not prevent us from making judgments or from calling a spade a spade. It is hoped this clarity of terminology will cause people’s behavior to be more patriotic.

There will be those who object to the use of Traitors, Useful Idiots, Subversives, and Fifth Column. It is suggested they propose better terms.

We must have the courage, and be politically incorrect enough, to agree on civic virtues. We must distinguish right from wrong, good from bad. We must be judgmental. We can no long say everyone is a patriot just because they claim they love their country. Patriots are willing to work and sacrifice to advance the policies and interests of their country.

In addition to designating a new President, the November 2008 election will be a referendum on the meanings of patriotism which since the 1960s has been one aspect of the struggle between modernism and postmodernism.

Copyright © 2008 Armiger Cromwell Center, 3750 Peachtree Road, NE, Suite 374, Atlanta, GA 30319-1322. 404-201-7374. Permission is granted to forward this article by e-mail to friends or colleagues on a fair use basis. For reprint permission, contact Armiger Cromwell Center at armigercc@comcast.net

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- Filed on Articles in "The Armiger Cromwell Center" and "Americana" -


2 comments:

Jeff said...

This coming election will also offer a choice between:

1. Two very different skin colors.
2. Two entirely different names.
3. Two entirely different genders of running mates.

All share the exact same importance as the "definition of patriotism" represented by each candidate. Which is to say, exactly zero.

I'm voting for the person whom I believe will be the superior executive, and whose opinion on particular sub-issues (for example, their stance on abortion) over which they will have power to affect, most closely matches what I believe to be "correct."*

Their particular flavor of patriotism is as important to me as the particular flavor of invisible sky wizard they worship.

*Actually this isn't correct. Since neither candidate is a sterling example of what I'd like in a chief executive--one a relatively inexperienced fellow with no concrete ideas, and the other a PTSD-sufferer who appears to have escaped from a Home for the Befuddled--I'm not actually voting FOR anyone. I'm voting AGAINST the guy I think is the worst. A sad, but unfortunately all too common, state of affairs.

Cassandra said...

Jeff makes some interesting points. Of course the election involves many choices other then McCain's and Obama's views on patriotism. And he is certainly correct about everyone voting for the person who would best advance U.S. national interests. We all should vote for whom we think would be the best executive/manager/leader--even though our judgments might be different on this. But Jeff is very wrong if he does not recognize that McCain and Obama have very different views on the meaning of patriotism. And he is very wrong if he does not realize that this will be of great significance in the decisions made as President.

I share Jeff's sadness that many of us will have to be voting against someone rather than for someone. But such is life, or at least such is our current political system shaped by the adversarial approach--given to us by the Hegelian dialectic.

Dr. Sam

 
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