Mo’ PATRIOTISM

While surfing through the OxBlog links, I tripped over this article in Dissent by Michael Kazin…‘A Patriotic Left’:

I love my country. I love its passionate and endlessly inventive culture, its remarkably diverse landscape, its agonizing and wonderful history. I particularly cherish its civic ideals-social equality, individual liberty, a populist democracy-and the unending struggle to put their laudable, if often contradictory, claims into practice. I realize that patriotism, like any powerful ideology, is a “construction” with multiple uses, some of which I abhor. But I persist in drawing stimulation and pride from my American identity.
Regrettably, this is not a popular sentiment on the contemporary left. Antiwar activists view patriotism as a smokescreen for U.S. hegemony, while radical academics mock the notion of “American exceptionalism” as a relic of the cold war, a triumphal myth we should quickly outgrow. All the rallying around the flag after September 11 increased the disdain many leftists feel for the sentiment that lies behind it. “The globe, not the flag, is the symbol that’s wanted now,” scolded Katha Pollitt in the Nation. Noam Chomsky described patriotic blather as simply the governing elite’s way of telling its subjects, “You shut up and be obedient, and I’ll relentlessly advance my own interests.”
Both views betray an ignorance of American history, as well as a quixotic desire to leap from a distasteful present to a gauzy future liberated from the fetters of nationalism. Love of country was a demotic faith long before September 11, a fact that previous lefts understood and attempted to turn to their advantage. In the United States, Karl Marx’s dictum that the workers have no country has been refuted time and again. It has been not wage earners but the upper classes-from New England gentry on the Grand Tour a century ago to globe-trotting executives and cybertech professionals today-who view America with an ambivalent shrug, reminiscent of Gertrude Stein’s line, “America is my country, Paris is my hometown.”

Yup, America is my country…I like the sound of that…

6 thoughts on “Mo’ PATRIOTISM”

  1. Really, would you stop feeding into this?
    I didn’t realize that the Left was limited to Antiwar activists, radical academics, Katha Pollitt and Noam Chomsky. While the pundits on the Right use these limited examples to define and marginalize the Left, there are plenty of Lefties who will display the flag on their porch today, who have buttoned up a uniform, who will defend the Bill of Rights, who work as captains of industry, police officers, teachers, and social service volunteers. Why don’t you ever talk about them? And why are you shoving their noses in the dirt because you are ambivalent about your patriotism?
    If you want to analyze your feelings that’s fine, but please remember that not all of us are as ambivalent as you and don’t tar us with your conflict.

  2. Looks as if Ann is calling for a new discussion of what “left” means.
    Apparently there are some lefties who love America without saying something about what they really love is the possibility of its becoming a People’s Republic just like the USSR.
    Is that true? Is it possible that “left” can be defined other than by including–at least–anti-Americanism?
    Is there a difference between a liberal and a leftist?
    Anyway, I’d like to see Ann and her companions do some serious work on reproaching and renouncing such clowns as Pollitt and Chomsky.
    Is it enough for Ann to say she’s not like them and so the Left isn’t all bad?
    Or does she, as a proud lefty, have to try to clean up the Left?

  3. Left-Right, Conservative-Liberal: labels. To paraphrase a famous ssyaing, “The map is not the Territory” – just shorthand.
    Well, then again, from
    http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/SunSpec/Dec02/index63.shtml
    I shall have to use the words “left” and “right” to explain what I mean, with the usual apology for unavoidable intellectual shorthand. Looking back to the Cold War era, it becomes obvious that superficial positions on “left” and “right” of the political spectrum have been exchanged. As one example, where the left were previously obsessed with “human rights” and “democracy” — demanding active effort to make the world a better place — now these causes belong almost exclusively to the right. The “realpolitik” and “caution” of the right are now watchwords of the left. The idea of “containment” has been transferred almost entirely from right to left, and it is the left today that is allergic to grand strategic ambitions.

  4. I’ve been thinking about this tendency among the left recently (tangently to things I’ve blogged recently) … the tendency is this: to make a fetish of “peace.”
    The left seems to believe in “peace” at all costs. Peace, for the left, has become some sort of god.
    Now, I think peace is all well and good, but peace without freedom or justice is meaningless. This seems to be something the left has forgotten.
    On the right, there is a certain tendency to elevate the “Constittuion” or the concept of “nation” to a higher level than seems wise, to me at least.
    My patriotism is about the ideas this country has carried forward. I believe in freedom and justice. These are the ideals I want to see advanced — advanced as the greatest achievement of mankind. The U.S. just happens to be the greatest expression of these ideas to date, but the U.S. is not greater than these ideas.

  5. “While the pundits on the Right use these limited examples to define and marginalize the Left, there are plenty of Lefties who will display the flag on their porch today, who have buttoned up a uniform, who will defend the Bill of Rights, who work as captains of industry, police officers, teachers, and social service volunteers. Why don’t you ever talk about them? ”
    I’d *love* to hear about them! Some names, please?

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