Patriotism is Not a Virtue

I have never seen anyone write it before, but it is so obvious, I am sure it is not original:

Patriotism is not a virtue.

Many may be taken aback by the statement, but most should be able to see it is clearly true. To go further and more general, loyalty is not a virtue. Unwavering support for something may make you feel good, but it speaks to a lack of critical evaluation, forced ignorance, or fear. In times of doubt, I understand falling back on what you know, but being blind to current and future actions is reckless.

Consider the situation in North Korea; no matter how you view any other country and their relationship with North Korea, you likely believe that the North Korean government is some form of dictatorship and is not a force for good in the world. What do you think of the North Koreans who worship their dear leader? If you are like me, you might feel sorry because they are clearly either completely ignorant or terrified. However, it is hard to not call them patriots after they live their whole lives supporting their leader while many of their countrymen flee. They are unwavering even in the face of immense hardships and a low quality of life. I do not see how someone could see this patriotism as a virtue whenever these devotees are supporting something so dangerous to the rest of the world.

Naturally, we must be a part of something (a tribe) and loyal to someone for at least some period of time (likely our parents). In tribal societies, we needed some loyalty or bias towards the members in order to promote survival. The loyalty of every member of the group promotes survival of the whole. As a result, any extreme selfish behavior that was detrimental to the group could easily mean isolation and/or death. Patriotism is an application of this natural loyalty to the small tribe to the large, unwieldy state. Governments were created by people in order to serve the needs of the people once groups became too large for tribal leadership. Loyalty to the state is certainly not a virtue and becomes a vice if the state does not serve those living within it or serves its people at the expense of another state. Patriotism becomes a massive issue when it becomes too wide spread because it allows the government to wield power without scrutiny and promote the interests of those already in power. Patriotism may have been instrumental in the founding of nations, but in the modern world it feels like its only remaining purpose is to control and divide.

You likely understood the concept long ago, but why do I continue to state the obvious? Because there are still so many people out there whose default is patriotism without a thought for the implications. In fact, this has been the case for quite a while. I understand we all must naturally be loyal to something, but I would encourage you to at least put your loyalty in something less large, less aggressive, and less wasteful than your average national government where you can actually form a community. In addition, it would be prudent to evaluate this group periodically to determine whether this group is infringing on the rights of another and is actually something you want to be a part of. I want to change the narrative and worship the critical thinker in order to promote liberty which could easily be siphoned out from under the patriot’s nose. Whenever you meet a patriot, apply the Socratic method to uncover a belief of superiority, fear, or ignorance.


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