Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Troika

 Heart and soul, I fell in love with you,
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do,
--Heart and Soul, Frank Loesser

Well the eagles been flying slow,
and the flag's been flying low,
and a lotta people say that America's fixing to fall.
But speaking just for me, and some people from Tennesse,
we got a thing or two to tell ya all 
--In America, Charlie Daniels Band

Smokestack, fatback,
many miles of railroad track
All night radio, keep on runnin'
through your rock 'n' roll soul
All night diners keep you awake,
hey, on black coffee and a hard roll 
--Living in America, James Brown

RAW's friend Peter Van Buren @ his blog WeMeantWell recently asked, "What's patriotism", deciding upon the definition that it was loving his country, if not its government. Ranger wishes to riff off of that idea.

Can one be patriotic and not love one's country (if the country is defined largely by its government)? Is patriotism affixed to a place, or an ideal? Western civilization recognizes many schisms, such as the tripartite mind - body - spirit. This may be a result of our delight in system-making, but can a thing like "patriotism" be cleaved from its referent?

Does being patriotic require the entirety (mind - body - spirit) to be on board, or is the body alone needed to make the claim -- the willingness to fight and die for one's country, for instance? Ditto for the laws that compose the nation: Does the mind and spirit need to comply if the body behaves in compliance with those laws, and further, is compliance the basic requisite in order to declare for patriotism?

Or is patriotism a phenomenon of the spirit, sans approval for any specific administration, government or law? Is it a non-corporeal love for a concept which may (or may not) transcend the practice of that concept at any given time? Is the government and the country an indivisible essence?

What is the role of "faith" in the idea of patriotism? Faith could be described as belief in a system beyond the empirical facts, so is patriotism faith-based, like belief in religious dogma? Is this why we vote for "hope", in the absence of any other viable option?

In reverse, what is the government's concern/obligation to the integrity of it's polity? Can a government be healthy if its constituents are not cohesive or in harmony? It seems the body (individual) and the body politic must be in symbiosis for effective functioning. We tend (generally, if inadequately) to tend to the individual's bodily needs, but do not tend the harmonious interplay of the individual with his government.

What is the function of patriotism? Is it necessary for the attainment of a robust and equable government and society? Is it a thought, or an action? Is it defined by what it is, or what it isn't?

We have not defined the term, but provided for some weekend musings.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

Personally, I feel that patriotism is; in Samuel Johnson's words "the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Its only recently in my life-even for a rabble rouser like me- that I understood the folly of pledging loyalty to an arbitrarily marked landmass on a map and a piece of colored fabric.

As for what a government is concerned about? Well, I'll let Mr. Albert Nock do the talking. True words some hundred years running.

"Once, I remember, I ran across the case of a boy who had been sentenced to prison, a poor, scared little brat, who had intended something no worse than mischief, and it turned out to be a crime. The judge said he disliked to sentence the lad; it seemed the wrong thing to do; but the law left him no option. I was struck by this. The judge, then, was doing something as an official that he would not dream of doing as a man; and he could do it without any sense of responsibility, or discomfort, simply because he was acting as an official and not as a man. On this principle of action, it seemed to me that one could commit almost any kind of crime without getting into trouble with one’s conscience. Clearly, a great crime had been committed against this boy; yet nobody who had had a hand in it—the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the complaining witness, the policemen and jailers—felt any responsibility about it, because they were not acting as men, but as officials. Clearly, too, the public did not regard them as criminals, but rather as upright and conscientious men.

The idea came to me then, vaguely but unmistakably, that if the primary intention of government was not to abolish crime but merely to monopolize crime, no better device could be found for doing it than the inculcation of precisely this frame of mind in the officials and in the public; for the effect of this was to exempt both from any allegiance to those sanctions of humanity or decency which anyone of either class, acting as an individual, would have felt himself bound to respect—nay, would have wished to respect.
At this time I was a good deal in Europe. I was in England and Germany during the Tangier incident, studying the circumstances and conditions that led up to the late war. My facilities for this were exceptional, and I used them diligently. Here I saw the State behaving just as I had seen it behave at home. Moreover, remembering the political theories of the eighteenth century, and the expectations put upon them, I was struck with the fact that the republican, constitutional-monarchical and autocratic States behaved exactly alike. This has never been sufficiently remarked. There was no practical distinction to be drawn among England, France, Germany, and Russia; in all these countries the State acted with unvarying consistency and unfailing regularity against the interests of the immense, the overwhelming majority of its people.

So flagrant and flagitious, indeed, was the action of the State in all these countries, that its administrative officials, especially its diplomats, would immediately, in any other sphere of action, be put down as a professional-criminal class; just as would the corresponding officials in my own country, as I had already remarked. It is a noteworthy fact, indeed, concerning all that has happened since then, that if in any given circumstances one went on the assumption that they were a professional-criminal class, one could predict with accuracy what they would do and what would happen; while on any other assumption one could predict almost nothing. The accuracy of my own predictions during the war and throughout the Peace Conference was due to nothing but their being based on this assumption.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 12:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

...The State did not originate in any form of social agreement, or with any disinterested view of promoting order and justice. Far otherwise. The State originated in conquest and confiscation, as a device for maintaining the stratification of society permanently into two classes—an owning and exploiting class, relatively small, and a propertyless dependent class. Such measures of order and justice as it established were incidental and ancillary to this purpose; it was not interested in any that did not serve this purpose; and it resisted the establishment of any that were contrary to it. No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose than to enable the continuous economic exploitation of one class by another."

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 12:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

Well said,BUT....
What is the obvious conclusion to your thoughts?
What is a realistic alternative to nation states?

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 6:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Underground Carpenter said...


"What is a realistic alternative to nation states?"

That's like saying, "Well sure, the Catholic religion is corrupt, but what alternative religion can we replace it with." I say chuck 'em all. There is no "realistic" alternative, only an idealistic alternative--anarchy. And that scares people more than their brutal, thuggish government.

I believe all beliefs are unsuitable occupants of a rational mind. But then again, that just might be a belief too. Never stop questioning.


Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 5:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

"Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before."

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 8:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger no one said...

I think it's pretty simple. Pick a land and a people where you feel a sense of kinship and then give of yourself to them and they to you. Fight for them and they for you if necessary.

It doesn't matter if the cause or culture is perfect or even good and just in some objective sense - because there really is no objectivity in these matters.

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 11:44:00 AM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home