Happy ‘the-country-I-was-born-in-is-the-best-country-on-earth’ Day

NationalismThis week marks the newly-proclaimed “Sovereignty Day” in Iraq (June 30), Canada Day here in Canada (July 1), and the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States.

I’ve always thought that it was the most fortunate of happenstance that, throughout history, most people who believe Canada to be the best nation on earth just happen to have been born in Canada; most people who believe England to be the best were born in England; most people who believe France to be the best, were born in France and so on and so forth.  The Americans are actually the luckiest of all in this regard since not only do a majority of them believe they live in the best country on Earth, but a recent poll found that a supermajority (61%) of Americans also believe that God — the putative creator of the universe, heaven and hell — has literally blessed their country specifically and has not similarly blessed any other country in the world (or universe?).

In honour of these august nationalist occasions, it is worth sharing some of my favourite quotes on nationalism and patriotism.


Shaw“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior because you were born in it.”
-George Bernard Shaw

“Q: If you find so much that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, then why do you live here?
A: Why do men go to zoos?”
-H.L. Mencken

“Nationalism is an infantile disease.  It is the measles of mankind.”
-Albert Einstein

“A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbours.”
-William Ralph Inge

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist J. Krishnamurtidictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
-Hermann Goering (Nazi party official)

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? It is because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
-J. Krishnamurti

“The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The working men have no country. We cannot take Douglasfrom them what that have not got.”
-Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency.  Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded.  Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
-U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, 1957

10 Responses to “Happy ‘the-country-I-was-born-in-is-the-best-country-on-earth’ Day”

  1. 1 RPJ 1 July, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    And Happy Canada Day to you too! You have certainly done a good job setting out all the negative aspects that come with nationalism but I would like to propose that there are positive aspects too (as there are with almost anything you look at). People need people period. Our first group that we depend on to survive and thrive is the family (or perhaps the couple first and then the family). I don’t think you would take exception to folks feeling proud and protective of their family. That does not mean that all other families are their enemies, just that their first obligation is to their own family. Honourable people will still lend a hand or hospitality to other families when they are in need, but they do not do this at the expense of their own family. That is the pact that families rely on and that gives them security. This family unit is the basis for all other groups that we as humans construct. Teams, tribes, countries, age groups (like children, teens, adults, seniors etc.) and so on… There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these alliances and they do in fact come with many benefits. After all, we know that those things that work well for us human beings are maintained and those things that stop meeting our needs are gradually abandoned. I think we are seeing that very thing happen with religion (no offence to the religious readers). Of course, as with all other human constructs, if there is a way to screw things up and turn it against each other we seem uniquely engineered to do so. What we need to do is foster ways for us to reach out and embrace our neighbouring families, teams, tribes, and countries while maintaining our sense of connection, warmth, security and identification within our own groups. The more we open up direct communication and also interact with other groups, the less we tend to behave towards them with suspicion, mistrust, animosity, and fear. For the second message in a row I find myself again holding up the concept of a free internet as extremely necessary for this to take place globally. We have witnessed this happening just recently in the real communications coming out of Iran and now Honduras. The power elite is fully aware that this is a death knell to their power and control so we need to be prepared to fight tooth and nail to keep this tool free and unfettered. It is those that wish to use these differences as a way to foment mistrust and animosity that need to be exposed and then ignored. I myself, love my family unreservedly, want to help my community to thrive and grow, feel a great connection to my history and kinship through my roots in other countries, a committment to protect and care for my country of birth (and environment), enjoy the cameraderie of my gender, and yet still feel a real connection to all other people of the world and fellow creatures on the planet. I don’t see my affiliations taking anything away from those feelings and should actually help me accomplish more when I extend a helping hand to them. Groups can always accomplish more than individuals, both for good and for evil. That is the reality of it.

  2. 2 RPJ 1 July, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    And further…
    There will always be ways that distinguish each of us from each other and therefore, can be used to separate us. Blondes vs brunettes, male vs female, tall vs short, fat vs thin, black vs white etc. There is no getting away from these differences so the only thing we can do is find a way to get past them and forge connections in spite of them.

  3. 3 Brandon 2 July, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Here are two gems from Mark Twain:

    “Patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.”

    “Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”


  4. 4 marcel 3 July, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Yeah well,

    I saw the fireworks last night, with my wife and kids. It was a lot of fun.

    Must of made the wildlife were all very afraid though.

    Boom bang boom, fieworks made by slaves in china, of wherever they get the cheapest possible fireworks from these days. They had one that shot red and white over and over with a noise that must of sounded like the forth of July. Yeehaw.

    Canada could be such a great country. Too bad it’s not living up to it’s potential. Soveriengty, vast resources, peace, yet we can’t even feed and house everybody.

    It’s not even considered a priority in this current era of civilization. Some people are comdemned to live in servitude to enable billionaire masters of the universe.

    If everyone just did their fair share of the work required for civilization to exist, mankind would enjoy freedom. Rather than milking it for dividend payments totaling millions per year, or interest payments on held debt profiting millions a year. This is not work, and does not profit civilization, it is parasitic. It is a dinosaur that needs to die.

    People shouldn’t be able to make a billion dollars in a day, like George Soros did, by pushing money around some weird shell game of international currencies. It’s parasitic.


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