Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Damn Nationalism

Several days of news coverage were taken up this week by Michelle Obama's remark to the effect that for the first time in her adult life she is "proud of her country." Predictably, the right-wing came down on her with maximum force. Bill O'Reilly said he might join a "lynching party" for her (good choice of words, Mr. O'Reilly) if she meant what he feared she meant.

According to our civic religion -- nationalism/state-worship -- nothing is worse than confessing that one lacks, or at one time lacked, such pride.

Excuse me, but what the hell does it mean to have pride in one's country?

I know what the right wing means: pride in the government's record of foreign and domestic aggression. So let me declare here and now: I have no pride in that whatsoever!

If the right means something else, let it say so. I, for one, want nothing to do with nation or state worship. The last thing I would be proud of is a country. (I admire what some people in the country have done and said, but that's something else.) That you can send people into apoplexy by saying this speaks volumes.

Why don't they grow up?

6 comments:

Jimi G said...

Nice post, Sheldon.

"According to our civic religion -- nationalism/state-worship -- "

YES!

There is no separation of church and state because the state is the church.

Joel Schlosberg said...

"I have already several times expressed the thought that in our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering, and that, consequently, this feeling — should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men. Yet, strange to say — though it is undeniable that the universal armaments and destructive wars which are ruining the peoples result from that one feeling — all my arguments showing the backwardness, anachronism, and harmfulness of patriotism have been met, and are still met, either by silence, by intentional misinterpretation, or by a strange unvarying reply to the effect that only bad patriotism (Jingoism or Chauvinism) is evil, but that real good patriotism is a very elevated moral feeling, to condemn which is not only irrational but wicked.

What this real, good patriotism consists in, we are never told; or, if anything is said about it, instead of explanation we get declamatory, inflated phrases, or, finally, some other conception is substituted for patriotism — something which has nothing in common with the patriotism we all know, and from the results of which we all suffer so severely."

Leo Tolstoy, "Patriotism and Government"

littlehorn said...

"Why don't they grow up ?"

According to Arthur Silber, because they can't.

They are authoritarians who are simply not able to question the authority, and therefore they cannot have someone else criticize it either.

Something to do with education through corporal punishment during early childhood...

Matt C. said...

My problem with Michelle Obama's statement is that she said that she is finally proud of her country because people are voting for her husband. She has been given special privileges that most American's don't have because they are neither a legislature or a spouse of a legislature.

What if her husband were not doing well in the primaries? Would that make her "not proud of her country?" I am proud of my country because of the freedoms that we have been allowed to exercise, but I am not proud of where we are headed. I am proud of why were founded, freedom and individual rights. Yes, you can question how far those rights were truly extended, but that was a founding principle. I am proud of our country because we have a long history of individualism.

My question is why hasn't she been proud of her country in the past? It has adopted policies that encroach upon an individuals natural rights. Those rights with which her husband would proudly trample if given the opportunity. I do have a problem with her saying that she is finally proud because her statist and power hungry husband is being recognized by those who would have no problem providing tyranny of the majority over us all.

But I agree with you Sheldon, we all know why the right is crying wolf. That is not something to be proud of.

Sheldon Richman said...

What exactly is this country one is supposed to be proud of? Isn't it an abstraction. What do you mean we are allowed to exercise freedoms? That's something to be proud of? That we are allowed to exercise freedom?

I was not expressing sympathy for Mrs. Obama. Obviously she thinks it's meaningful to express pride or nonpride on one's country. I reject the whole thing. I am more interested in the right's reaction, just as I was interested in its reaction to Obama's decision to stop wearing an American flag lapel pin.

Matt said...

Sheldon-
I probably didn't express myself correct. In using the word "allowed" I was trying to express that we have more freedoms than elsewhere in the world. Do I believe that there is no tyranny or that rights not being trampled here in the US? My answer is, "No". I believe that we could do better with no government. That we don't have as much tyranny as other countries is, in my eyes, something to be proud. I am proud that if the government would try to impose more tyranny that there will always be individuals who would fight against such imposition. I guess when I think of the country I think of the individuals, rather than the policy of the government or arbitrary political boundary. Maybe country is too abstract.

Nor, did I mean to imply that you were expressing sympathy for Ms. Obama. I was only stating why I had a problem with her statement.