• It’s hard for people abroad to “ease up on the Americanism” when the classical liberal ideas that are, in theory, supposed to having nothing to do with the organized violence that is the American state constantly appear to be coupled with it.

    This makes for cynicism, not a love of Frederic Bastiat.

  • joleson

    I think that many tend to unfortunately equate ideas of loving one’s country with valuing one’s countrymen above another country’s citizens. These are the sentiments associated with the jingoistic advertising urging us all to “buy American”. I think these values are wrong. Common humanity should mean far more than common nationality. One should care just as much about the life of an innocent Iraqi civilian as I should about the life of an American soldier. In my opinion, there is only one broad classification of people whose lives one should value less than any civilian, an opposing armed force.

  • $54123764

    I agree with the definition of patriotism as defined by Tim Lee. However, I would like to add this caveat. The degree and manner in which to which a person manifests patriotism is directly proportionate to the alignment between the individual’s political philosophy, and the country’s. I propose that the closer the alignment is, the more likely the actor is to make overt expressions of his patriotism. For example, say the country’s political philosophy is, by virtue of a majority view among its citizens, that the country should regularly intervene in the affairs of other nations with military action. The more closely an actor’s views align with the country’s, the more likely he is to express his patriotism, by making a gesture like joining the military. Likewise, the further the actor’s political philosophy is from the nations, say pacifism, for example, the less likely the actor is to join the military as an expression of his patriotism. The actor with lower affinity to the country’s political philosophy may be more likely to show his patriotism by protesting against the war.
    How is this relevant? If “classic” patriotism is defined as doing things like joining up with the military, then the person who loves their country but believes that protest against war is the most patriotic action may not be considered to be patriotic, when he is just as patriotic as the one who joins the military.
    In response to joleson’s comment, about defining oneself as a citizen of the world as opposed to a citizen of a particular nation, the static analysis of considering all lives equally valuable except an opposing army fails to take into account that such considerations may lead to a strengthening of a future opposing army’s prospect of defeating us and inflicting casualties on us. If one considers the big picture, the fact that in world affairs, we are playing chess and not checkers, the ultimate calculus sometimes involves deciding who is going to die, us or them, without middle ground. Personally, I value the life of my child over that of someone I have never met. Part of humanity is valuing the lives of our own loved ones over that of strangers. Doing otherwise is widely considered to be cold and inhuman.

  • Tom

    I completely agree with the main sentiments Will is expressing here, though for me America’s heterogeneity gives it a lead in lovableness over places with comparable commitments to liberty.

  • southpaw

    Actually, I think this is way off.

    Tim Lee says, “Loving your country because it embodies specific political ideals isn’t patriotism, it’s called having a political philosophy. Patriotism is loving your country because it’s your country, regardless of what political ideals it may or may not embody.” Right. A revolutionary can love his country as much as the head of its intelligence service, though they’re fierce enemies. Devotion to the country and its people should lead a patriot to try to see his ideals enacted because he sincerely believes the country would benefit.

    Okay, then Will totally misses the point. “If another society does better in securing these things, it’s a better society, and I would indeed switch my allegiances if it came down to it.” Crap, Will. You don’t book a one way flight to the Netherlands every time they best us in marginal utility. What about fixing your country? What about the rest of us who will be stuck here in this suckier system? Are we so cheaply abandoned? You say, “If you really care about liberty, you’ve got to ease up on the Americanism.” I say if you really love liberty, you ought to insist on it in America.

    All that said, I suspect that defining patriotism is a mug’s game. You know it when you see it.

  • Larry

    I feel incredibly lucky to live in the place that best (albeit imperfectly) embodies my ideals and that does so better than any country in history.

    Note that Bush has said over and over that “that liberty is not an American invention but the common heritage of mankind” and he is right.