Patriotism vs. Nationalism

by

With an eye on the 4th of July, I feel I should honor the revolutionary spirit which created the United States and which drives us to create a more perfect union.

The revolution was not merely a trade of one authority for another, but rather a hostile response to the very concept of an absolute authority.

We did not trade one king for another: we said “Good riddance” to monarchy and created a system of checks and balances which was meant to ensure that no unopposable authority would arise.

We did not trade one state religion for another: we said good riddance to religious authorities having direct governmental power.

If we were Tories, we would not have done these things. We would have questioned the patriotism of those who did, and we would have trumpeted our own patriotism while clinging to the status quo.

But I say that despite becoming rebels, the founders were truer patriots. They strove to do what was best for their country. They tried to appeal to their Parliament and reform before they came to the conclusion that the best thing for their land and people was to become a new nation.

And so, I argue against nationalism which says that our country is perfect as it is. It is a mask which pretends patriotism and tries to reap the benefits of such a reputation. But patriotism is hard: it requires hard work and sacrifice.
It is not replaced by the smug complaisancy of nationalism.

We must keep our eyes open and unclouded. We must see the defects in our system and correct them. We must defeat the control of our country by an oligarchy of corporations and the rich, and we must rid our system of its inequalities. We must commit to the education of our citizenry, for without an educated citizenry our democracy is flawed at its core.

We must do this in order to have government of the People, by the People, for the People. We must do this to make a more perfect union.

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