Tag: patriotism

Scott Horton Talks Patriotism, Israel and Palestine, and Hope

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Scott Horton is the author of Fool’s Errand and managing director of The Libertarian Institute. 71 Republic’s Mason Mohon sits down with him to talk about the wars.


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A Good Patriot Is Nothing More than a Good Killer

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

A man stands tall, clothed in a faded T-shirt bearing an American flag. With each beer he downs, the less he realizes that his garb violates U.S. flag code. Because he loves the beacon of independence and freedom that is the United States of America, the good patriot vehemently supports the troops and parrots the national anthem.

All of a sudden, a record scratches, and the screen freezes. You may be wondering how he got here. More importantly, you may want to know the implications of this terrible position. Ultimately, as a good patriot, it is the job of that man to die or even kill for his country at the whim of its leaders. Patriotism, both in the abstract and applied to the United States, leaves much to be desired.

Patriotism and the Good Patriot

Patriotism, on the surface, is a love for one’s country. Upon first consideration, this may appear to be an admirable quality, or even one to strive for. However, further inspection reveals that unyielding love has no place on the national stage.

In defense of patriotism, several key arguments exist. First, many, such as Leonard Niemand in his essay, “Defending the American Patriot”, claim that the United States offers preferable condition to any other place in the world. Thus, we owe some sort of reverence and gratitude due to our favorable birthright. Arguably, this is true. Yet, there is nothing that this suggests that there is any gratitude necessary.

The Best Option Available

As a parallel matter, consider the following hypothetical. Two friends walk down an alleyway, and all of a sudden, a third man approaches with a gun. One of the two victims tries to flee, and he shoots him down. But, the other man willingly gives him $1000, so the killer simply walks away from the situation, now $1000 richer. By the logic of the good patriot, the living victim should bow towards the murderer, singing great praise and kissing his boots. After all, out of every possible outcome, he got the one with the most freedom! Clearly, this logic does not hold true, as when a man kills a friend and steals from a survivor, praise is simply not an acceptable reaction. Why not? Essentially, because the lesser of evils is still evil. An option being the best available does not mean it is right or just.

Does this principle work any differently with the idea of patriotism? Not in any meaningful sense, anyway. The United States government, with every law it passes, threatens to kill those who disobey. They often imprison the survivors and steal from even those not guilty of any fines on a daily basis via taxation. Time and time again, bombs fly overseas and strike innocent children while even the most dovish politicians merely fiddle slightly with the military budget. The United States is not a beacon of freedom, and should not be treated as such. Though it may oppress less than North Korea or Russia, it is not without deep, inherent flaws.

Unfortunately, every country acts in most, if not all, of the same coercive ways. Given this frightful reality, it is entirely unrealistic to propose that anybody should show love for their own brand of murder.

A Lack of Choice

It is also worth noting the simple fact that in the history of humanity, not a single individual has ever chosen where they were born. So, what reason is there to feel pride in a particular region? States, ultimately, are nothing more than lines in the dirt that the government uses to control the people. They are nothing more than an abstract set of norms that groups coincidentally share. This brings me to, without a doubt, the most dangerous element of patriotism: the willingness to kill and die for such an abstract idea.

The Familial Discrepancy

When a man loves his wife, and she loves him, they are creating meaning. Many, including Niemand, claim that there is a parallel between familial love and patriotism. But in their situation, they are not creating any inherent competition or negativity towards others. The personal sphere is not inherently a violent one. Hence, it is safe to say one can love their spouse without having any dislike for anyone else in the world. The same, though, is not true for a country. The good patriot, in this sense, becomes a good killer, as the good patriot loves and supports his country over all others. The underlying issue is that the political sphere is inherently violent.

When one country receives favorable treatment, another receives unfavorable treatment. This is nearly always true in times of peace, and inherent in times of war. When a country goes to war, the good patriot is willing to go fight the good fight, or at the very least, show strong support the troops back at home. Why should the individual give up his life for an abstraction that mistreats them? And worse, why should the individual kill others who are only guilty of wearing the wrong color on the battlefield? Beneath the guise of national superiority, each human being is equal. Thus, every death on the battlefield is no better than a murder, and the good patriot that supports the country when it acts is no better than a good killer.

Treatment of Oppressors

In every other realm of life, when a victim treats his or her oppressor well, we aptly deem this as a dangerous mental hurdle to get over. Why, then, do we ignore this in the realm of the country and patriotism? The state asks much and gives much, but what does it not give? Choice and free will. There is no legitimate reason to feel an obligation or emotion, as a free adult, to an organization that robs the fundamental right to self-ownership.


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Puppets of Parasites: Escaping the State is Impossible

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

By definition, a government is compulsory and coercive. Do you want to be the living embodiment of Ron Swanson, despising its very existence? How about a radical revolutionary, aiming to bring about serious political change? Rather than simply holding a belief, the proper course of action, in this case, is to take action.

Ideas Without Actions

It is safe to say that only having ideas for the sake of entertaining them, to borrow a phrase from Civil Disobedience, is not bringing about any change. Even the most ardent supporter of the state, in fact, is all too quick to point this out. With a stained American flag shirt and a hollow conscience, the patriot approaches the complaining anarchist brusquely. If only were he to have voted, then he would have seen his change! By sitting at home, is he not complicit in the crimes he claims to oppose? How is he escaping the state by allowing it to exist, unchanged?

The anarchist, then, bored and well-versed, is used to such questions. Almost as if reciting a second grade play for the thousandth time while one child cannot understand, he calmly asserts that a vote is a consent to be governed. By paying taxes into the system and voting for a leader, he would be complicit in the crimes of the state. Thus, he cannot, in good faith, do so.

An Inescapable State

Despite the vastly differing mannerisms and ideologies of these two particular individuals, they have one critical thing in common: they are both right. In fact, the very design of the state prohibits anyone, in any way, from stopping its injustices. Whether it did so intentionally or not, the state has a crippling grip on its people, to the point where not a single action can fully excuse him or her from its great injustices.

The average American has quite an interesting concept of liberty. As a general rule, the Land of the Free supports freedom everywhere except right here on planet Earth. With the magnificent Space Force, the outward bound of hypocrisy may soon expand beyond even our atmosphere. For all intents and purposes, though, I will primarily focus on the crippling nature of the United States.

The Three Types of Rebels

Simply put, the right to rebel is an integral part of American culture. It is interesting, though, that nobody really tries to bring this belief into reality. Is it perhaps because of the fact that the state is currently not acting unjustly? With soldiers slaughtering children across the globe, anyone with the slightest shred of morality cannot possibly vouch for the state in this manner. However, a sweep of the country reveals that not everyone has the slightest shred of morality, or for that matter, even pauses to think about whether or not something is right.

Ardent Supporters

An individual must either support, be unaware of, or condemn the inhumanities of government. The first group, of course, has no desire to act in a civil or moral sense. Wearing stability and order like a grotesque mask, such actors in a society are no better than mounds of dirt that small children may play in. Their necessary barbarism is not even worth the passing glance a slightly concerned parent may give. Of course, the idea is terribly destructive, and like that mound of dirt, it is nearly impossible to rid the kids of it. The dirt, at least, lessens as they mature, but war only impacts them more.

The ideology of war, of murder, has no place in a civilized society. Also, those who practice it willingly will clearly have no desire to end it. Thus, those associated with it will garner no significant further mentionings.

The Unaware

The second group, then, would be those who are unaware of the government’s injustices. Someone without a great deal of political knowledge, for example, likely does not know how the state spends their money. Likewise, a backwoods recluse in a home without electricity, even if well-versed in politics, likely is largely unaware of modern drone strikes.

Though not as detrimental as the former, the uninformed do prove to be a bit of a roadblock. They act as lukewarm Spam on a table, beginning to gather E. Coli on its surface. Though not so hard to take care of, it is hardly the most pleasant thing to encounter. Without a doubt, the less knowledgeable are not meaning to cause any harm, but by silently paying into the system, they perpetuate it.

The Opposition: Tepid Supporters Nonetheless?

By process of elimination, the last group, of course, is the only one which may have any way of truly escaping the state. The first would have no desire to, and the second, at the minimum, must pay some form of tax on property, sales, or income. The third and final, having both a moral disposition against violence, as well as knowledge about the state, the institution of violence, is the only one that may have any hopes of escaping it. It is comprised of those who condemn the actions of government.

The vast majority of these individuals do not strongly attempt to escape the state. Though nominally decent, they sit and fund the wars while still criticizing them. Are they not so horrific that they are not worth any amount of self-sacrifice? This point would lead one to suggest that like Thoreau, one can live morally via tax evasion. But even then, one is not making a difference.

Innocent or Guilty: A Common Result

By not paying for the wars, sure, you didn’t pay for it. But why does this make a difference? The military budget does not rely on your tax dollars. While it would greatly appreciate them, to make itself easier to fulfill, they are not necessary. So long as a small enough percentage of the people pay, then the state may merely print the remaining money.

A government in charge of both budgets and the coining of money is a dangerous combination. This danger only multiplies when the figureheads are using this for the immoral practice of war.

Moreover, a large percentage of tax evaders end up going to jail. In this situation, the state is paying for your food, utilities, clothes, and more. Does your clean conscience excuse the fact that because of your actions, the state now needs even more money? Not only do the wars not stop, but your place in a jail cell only furthers state action, transforming you from the puppet to a part of the parasite itself.

The Boulder Comparison

Compare the situation to a group of one thousand men rolling a boulder up a hill to a cliff. Armed guards stand behind, and will shoot anyone who dares to step out of line. Additionally, the guards have a nearly endless supply of men that, also held at gunpoint, will fill in if enough men stop pushing. A town lies below the cliff, and at this rate, the boulder will miss a few of the closest homes and sail farther away, crushing most of the town. But, if you stop pushing, the boulder will lose a tiny bit of speed, crushing every home and person in town.

Two options exist: you may either continue to push the boulder, or you may step out of line and face severe punishment. By pushing the boulder, you may be able to slightly lessen your role in the collective harm done. When you avoid prison, the immoralities still occur, but you are not adding to them. When you accept punishment for yourself, you live with a clean conscience, but the burden on others is even more. What is the value of your clean conscience, when it may only bring further harm to others?

Puppets of Parasites

Much like the boulder situation, the state is inescapable, even through lack of participation. By taking an inactive approach, even if you do not find yourself in a jail cell, there is no real improvement, so long as the state has control of the treasury and does not change the budget. Is there, then, a way to truly escape the state’s parasitism? It appears, at least in the short term, that such a notion is impossible. We all, for now, are either puppets of parasites or the parasites themselves.


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Stationary Plane Leaves American Patriots Breathless

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Upon reading this headline, one may expect a miracle of nature to have occurred. It appears, though, that such an event is no longer necessary to astound everyday citizens. No, some force in Burlington did not freeze a plane in the air like Michelle Gomez’s character in Doctor Who did. The stationary plane of today sat on the ground, a hundred yards or so behind tall, outwardly sloped barbed wire fence, waiting for take-off.

From a crowd standing at a laser tag, mini golf and arcade complex across the street, murmurs grew, most of them mentioning the vice president. The plane, sitting motionless on the runway, just so happened to be Air Force Two. Surely, Mike Pence himself sat aboard, as the American patriots sat and watched. And sat and watched. And sat and watched some more.

At several strategic locations, police cars sat, lights flashing, harassing the occasional citizen. At times, they let the cars pass, parking in front of them at other times. It appears that traffic was alternating, one direction at a time, for at each point, the blockade only existed in one direction.

Running by the spectacle, I pondered why the crowd simply sat staring for several minutes. Not a thing was happening, and the brutal Vermont summer gnats were swarming the muggy afternoon. As the crowd, and the preceding and following cops, faded into the distance, so did the spectacle from my mind.

A bit over an hour later, though, my run took me back through the same location. Much to my surprise, an officer was still parked in the same location, about a half mile from the plane. Passing the first blockade, I asked the officer why it was necessary to halt traffic, and was given a short, curt response of “The vice president is leaving soon.”

Following up, I questioned what half of a traffic blockade had to do with Mike Pence. But as I kept jogging, the only sounds I heard were the tune of “Come Sail Away” in 5/4 time in my head, in perfect rhythm with the soft tone of my shoes hitting the pavement.

As the laser tag arena came into view, I noticed at once that the crowd had grown. However, many of the same faces stuck out, and I realized that they had been staring at the stationary plane for over an hour. Air Force Two was admittedly a neat sight. Yet, this was because I had been looking at overgrown fields and working-class homes for the past hour. For families with children at an entertainment complex, what was the draw? It seemed as if golf and ice cream would be much more entertaining. So, I asked several of the American patriots just what in the world was going on.

Unsurprisingly, none of the answers particularly stood out. A few of those who had been standing the entire time remarked that the vice president was leaving soon. But, those same people had mentioned the exact same thing over an hour ago. Just how long was soon going to be, and just how long would the stationary plane mesmerize them?

The most peculiar response came from a middle-aged man, who remarked that he was an American patriot, and even though he did not support Pence, this was a once in a lifetime experience. Burlington International Airport was only a couple of miles away, I thought, and he could watch planes sit still as nobody boarded or went near them any day he wanted. Maybe the neat colors on the side intrigued him.

Statism is quite an interesting ideology. The last police officer, on the opposite end of the crowd by a quarter mile, was still stopping cars with his own. When some of the drivers asked and were told of the situation, they appeared stunned, immediately losing any hint of anger or disapproval. Keep in mind, this is in Vermont, where Trump and Pence scored less than a third of the popular vote.

Despite this, the American patriots showed utter respect, almost worship, for the vice president. Though they overwhelmingly despise the man, the group, as well as the cars, appeared to simply forget this fact. The ideology of statism, surely, comes into play, for they all found Pence’s stationary plane quite interesting.

Beyond politics, it is hard to imagine such a love, such a deeply ingrained fascination, for such a hated figure. This is especially true when the figure himself is not even visible. It would have been more understandable, had Pence not been sitting in the craft the entire time.

Ultimately, every human life in existence is equal, and all possess an equal claim to life. Why, then, must even the most tribalist of us come together around a figure of destruction? The state, through its wars, drone strikes, taxes, regulations, and imprisonments, inherently hurts the individual. Arguably, the state is actually what causes tribalism in the first place, at least politically. Literally and metaphorically, I ran away from the spectacle of hero-worship, deep in thought, imagining a world where a stationary plane stained with the blood of innocents would not leave American patriots breathless.


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A New Look on Authoritarianism: Roman Dmowski

By Daniel Szewc | Republic of Poland

Beyond what most politically oriented people think, authoritarian capitalism hasn’t only existed as the offspring of third-positionism meeting reality, in the form of military dictatorships- (ie late stage Francoism, Pinochet’s Chicago boys or Xiaoping Deng’s opening on the world. In fact, the biggest ideological precursor of free market consequentialism in the interwar period was an authoritarian capitalist. Namely, Roman Dmowski, a world-renowned Polish diplomat, head started the biggest nationalist/right-wing movement that supported free market values in Europe.

Aside for his ideological work, he was a signatory of the Versailles treaty. During his first talk with the big 3 (Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin; U.S.President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill), Dmowski gave a five-hour entry speech concerning Poland’s bid for independence. In it, he explained how an independent Poland would positively influence the balance of power in Europe. Interestingly, after a few sentences in Polish, his dissatisfaction with the translator’s ability to express his points in English and French, he decided to make his points in said languages himself.
After achieving his goal of creating an independent Poland, he proceeded to pursue a short-lived political career as minister of foreign affairs. Moving out of partisan politics completely, he constructed a political ideology named “National Democracy”, based on a principle of nationally aware masses that knew and understood the interest of their nation. He also coined the term “national egoism”, the idea that a nation-state should only pursue its own interest, not foreign ones. As to not make the state Machiavellian in nature, and ready to undermine all other nations, he was a strong supporter of morals and civic responsibility. What’s more, in an era of blatant global antisemitism, and the support for expulsion/extermination of Jews, he proposed a healthy rivalry- for example, instead of burning down Jewish shops, he promoted natives building their own. As to show how far he was from fascism rhetorically, he said that he doubted that fascism would outlive Mussolini himself (prior to the thought of a world war coming up being blatant).
Economically, he despised the “third way”- he was a supporter of the Krakow school of economics, a precursor to the Austrian school of economics. Its first member, (Prof. Dunajewski) was the teacher of Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian school. Later on, Heydel and Rybarski, two Polish economists who proposed extreme deregulation of the economy during the time when most of the world was shifting towards Keynesian economic interventionism, lead the economic thought in his nationalist movement.

Dmowski’s line of reasoning was based upon the logical conclusion of taking the following ideas as principles- that his nation had potential, and that regulations slowed down the economy. The conclusion to this is that the members of the said nation should be allowed to freely compete in a free market, and through it, gain the best results. His hard work results in the fact that the biggest nationalist/libertarian party in Poland, Liberty (Wolność), is a market-oriented, pro-free trade movement.


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