The Best Definition Of Patriotism

       (1) the first subterfuge of insider scoundrels aiming to trick or intimidate "the people" into assisting in their own exploitation and flag-saluting youth into dying for the rich without asking why;

       (2) an attitude of illogical devotion to the state which makes the state itself a religious idol (or business regime), existing for its own sake rather than for the sake of its citizens (or workforce), who exist only to serve it;

       (3) an artificial tribalism, a kind of racism, the first step toward and probably the most important underpinning of fascism.

       Those aren't definitions of the wrong kind of patriotism. That's what patriotism is. There is no "good" patriotism. Patriotism isn't good. It's pure stupid.

       Patriotism is a lot like religion and a lot like television. Eduardo Galleano, talking about the odd abundance of TV sets in Latin American shanties, once wrote that poor TV watchers are being taught to accept fantasy as their share. Exactly! When he described religion as the opiate of "the people," Marx was making the same point, and patriotism is another drug that serves the same purpose.
       As another even dumber kind of religion, patriotism turns the citizens of a state into the mere shadows of their citizenship, clouding men's minds to obscure the failure of the state to serve the citizens whose only reason for having a state ought to be to do themselves some good but who wind up accepting a reverse situation in which the state's only reason for having citizens is to do it (or rather it's major stockholders) some good.

       Logically, a state should be justifiable only as a productive mechanism - but its product should be a good life for all its participants, not profits just for the rich insiders. A state should be practically considered a joint venture to which all participants contribute as equally as they can and from which all equally take the benefits (since there is no logical reason to participate equally unless you expect to benefit equally).
       But, instead, almost all modern states are the instruments of a few powerful politicians, capitalists and big land owners, military and media chiefs, celebrities, courtiers and friends and families of the powerful. Most of the rest of the nominal citizens are virtually forced to contribute - but in the win or lose economic systems that dominate the world, the benefit they derive is rarely and then only coincidentally their fair share. The insiders - the winners - the actual stockholders - to whom the countries of the world and most of their resources de facto belong - find it expedient and sickeningly easy to pacify (and intimidate) most of the losers by giving them fantasy as their share - election circuses, flags, marching bands, TV, religion, and patriotism - patriotism both to keep their foolish chests puffed up with empty air and to keep them securely in line (and productive).
        Like religious fervor which is always strongest in a crowd of righteously self-deputized believers in a demanding and vengeful god, patriotism is intimidating. In fact, people are more afraid of the power of their states than they are of the power of their gods. The armed jackboots of the state, its black-robed judges, its walled and barred prisons, and its gallows loom much larger in people's nightmares than the devil and, except perhaps in the middle east, children pressed into citizenship at birth and forced under the watchful eyes of their fellows, including the ever present bullies in the room, to salute a flag daily, stand for the anthem, and cheer for the team, once the state's godhood is deeply embedded in their brains, fear being branded unpatriotic more than they fear being branded sinners. In the last few decades, in slightly enlightened parts of the world, leftist agitators have almost liberated people from fear of being caught black, gay, female, or even atheist. But even leftists still fear being caught unpatriotic.
       Which is absurd. Patriotism is not a beautiful ideal. Thinking of it that way is an illogical habit. It's an ugly trick played on the peons to con them, confuse them, and keep them conveniently scared of each other. Once the flag is tightly wrapped around any "free" enterprise venture to keep on exploiting "the people," including through one war after another, even leftists trying to get the exploited but thoroughly conned workers and soldiers to listen to them for their own benefit, must absurdly wrap the ill-fitting flag around their objections to corruption and war and pretend to salute the rich insiders' damned country.
       The only common sense reason for people to organize a state is as a practical mechanism to do things together they can't do or can't do as easily or as well apart - FOR THEMSELVES. Obviously, a sensible state is a tool or organization to serve its members, not a totem to be saluted. The only obligation intelligently self-interested members owe the state is to take care of it, as you would take care of any tool, to keep it working properly - FOR YOURSELF - not for the tool. Of course, participants in a state have to seriously participate to make the state work - but not for the state - FOR THEMSELVES - obviously. And that only makes sense if it does work or can be made to work.
       Jefferson argued that the state should be overthrown every time it stops working. To exactly paraphrase the first leg of the syllogism in the Declaration of Independence: worn out, broken, inappropriate tools or malfunctioning organizations should be fixed or (if they can't be fixed) discarded and replaced. But a lot of propaganda has gone under the bridge since Jefferson's day, and today's patriotic citizens, brainwashed since birth to regard the state as a totem (a godhead) rather than as their own tool or organization, don't think they have the right to rebel.

       A state should be called a state, which means a civil mechanism the importance of which lies in its function, but patriotism is a dumb fantasy that distorts a state into a country or a nation - a sacred tribal unit based on territory or race - not function.

       The logical function of a state is to serve the individual participants by making their lives better. The logical relationship between participants and the state should be at best a practical, highly beneficial contractual relationship. And the attitude of individuals committing themselves to participate in a state should be the same sensible attitude of watchful self-interest that they take into any contractual deal. A commitment to blind (even eagerly suicidal) patriotic fervor is the kind of deceptive sub-paragraph any smart person should cross OFF a contract before signing to avoid being cheated or cynically discarded.
       Patriotism transforms what should be equal fellow citizens, participants, into cowed serfs subjecting themselves to the country as if it were the lord of the castle on the hill (or the owner of the mill). Patriotism surrenders individual importance and dignity to the country and (always, everywhere) excuses the country's failure to work equally for each individual. Patriotism turns an illogically sacred country into one more master and a second absurd religion.
       Patriotism is outrageously illogical. It goes against common sense, and nothing dismays me so much as that even people who should know better have bought into it.

-Glen Roberts

        (Incidentally, to fend off any reactive language abuse, I am not talking about actually respectable, sentimental, nostalgic love of a PLACE where a person, due usually to childhood bonding, feels "at home." But home and bloody-demi-godly-flagdraped-mainlygloriousttodiefor   country are NOT synonymous.)