As we head toward the Fourth of July, perhaps some might enjoy the following definition of patriotism from Jonah Goldberg (via Whiskey Fire):

Definitions of patriotism proliferate, but in the American context patriotism must involve not only devotion to American texts (something that distinguishes our patriotism from European nationalism) but also an abiding belief in the inherent and enduring goodness of the American nation. We might need to change this or that policy or law, fix this or that problem, but at the end of the day the patriotic American believes that America is fundamentally good as it is.

It's the "good as it is" part that has vexed many on the left since at least the Progressive era. Marxists and other revolutionaries obviously don't believe entrepreneurial and religious America is good as it is. But even more mainstream figures have a problem distinguishing patriotic reform from reformation. Many progressives in the 1920s considered the American hinterlands a vast sea of yokels and boobs, incapable of grasping how much they needed what the activists were selling.

Why "must" it involve such echoes of state religion (i.e., fascism)?  No one knows.  Goldberg doesn't bother to say.


7 thoughts on “Patriotismo”

  1. Why the goodness of the “American Nation”? I can get behind the idea that American people (in general) are good and decent. But a government, if we share the view of our founding statesmen, is a necessary evil that should be watched closely and with a skeptical eye. Franklin glibly thought that a government should be dissolved and reformed every 10 years or so. So unpatriotic of him…

  2. at the end of the day the patriotic American believes that America is fundamentally good as it is.

    Bullshit. Just utter and complete bullshit. Why does every one of the neocon characters posit patriotism in terms of fealty? Do they wish a king? When did the right-wing become Hamiltonians? This is appalling language. It is how demagogues come to power. I love this country, but I would never go so far as to assert it is a “fundamentally good” nation. We carry with us a long train of human rights abuses, both on the indigenous person of this continent and those from other continents we brought against their will. We meddle in the democratically elected governments of other countries…it goes on and on. We are selling our freedoms for so many scraps from the table and we try in vain to fill our bellies with the lie that the place we live resides, alone and grand, on the moral high ground.

    The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.

    -Albert Camus
    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
    -James Madison


  3. Goldberg is suggesting, with his inimitable brand of frat-boy libertarianism, that a patriot is someone who loves America like a four year-old loves its mother. Mommy is perfect and mommy is wonderful and mommy is always right. Like David Brooks, maybe it is time to retire Goldberg from the Non Sequitur list of acceptable targets. This is beginning to take on all the challenge of mocking a freshman American Government student’s exam responses.

    If we choose to take this seriously, I find the most amusing thing is that no matter how high-minded a definition of patriotism these wingnuts discuss in theoretical terms, their application of the term in practice amounts to an Oath of Personal Loyalty to George W. Bush. We will see how strictly Jonah adheres to this definition under the next president.

  4. I wonder if these people — the neo-con pundit columnists and op-ed writers — are really only writing their, um, crap, in order to impress their peers of how “patriotic” they are.

    I mean, Goldberg is so utterly stupid, as are so many neo-cons… They just are making shit up and are not being rational at all.

    Perhaps I just don’t get. Why are these people still “in power?”

  5. GA asks, ‘Why are these people still “in power?”’

    “Gegen den Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens,” or “Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain.”  — Schiller

    But then, I’m jaded …

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