Friday, February 13, 2009

The Religion of Patriotism

"I am not against loyalty to a system that shows loyalty to its members by respecting every individual's personal freedom of choice. But blind patriotism is yet another form of religion that often enslaves the people for the benefit of the master. Do we not understand by now that blind patriotism is not always good for the health of the people -- the stirring, patriotic rhetoric, the flags unfurling, the bands marching, the people charging off to war? Do we not understand by now that the message of patriotism is often an invitation for the people to serve the system rather than for the system to serve the people?

"All 'isms' become religions. The Nazi party, the Communist party, the notion of the sacredness of capitalism, indeed, of any 'ism,' any economic theory, any government that demands the submission of the individual to the interests of the state, is an invitation to slavery."

-- Gerry Spence, Seven Simple Steps to Personal Freedom (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2001)

I prefer the term idolatry to religion, but the essential point holds. When we honor a State that oppresses its people, we are encouraging it to continue that oppression. Of course, it takes courage not to follow the crowd; but no great change has ever been accomplished without people who were willing to resist the opposition of the timid.

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