Anti-Patriotic Quotes to Ponder on July 4
Diogenes, Greek philosopher, circa 360 BC
“I am a citizen of the world.”
Albert Einstein, scientist (1879-1955)
“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
Emma Goldman, American anarchist, 1908
“Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.
“The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that from early infancy the mind of the child is provided with blood-curdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc.
“When the child has reached manhood he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition...”
Samuel Johnson, British man of letters, 1709-1784
“Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”
John Lennon, English singer-songwriter and Beatle, 1971
“Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for.”
Thomas Paine, English-American philosopher, 1737 – 1809
“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.”
Socrates, circa 400 BC:
“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”
David Suzuki, Canadian environmentalists, 2012
“So we draw lines around our property, our counties, our cities, our states, our countries. And, boy, do we act as if those lines are important. I mean, we go to war. We will kill and die to protect those boundaries. Nature couldn’t give two hoots about our national boundaries ... “
Leo Tolstoy, Russian author of War and Peace, and Anna Karenina, 1894
“To destroy governmental violence, only one thing is needed: It is that people should understand that the feeling of patriotism, which alone supports that instrument of violence, is a rude, harmful, disgraceful, and bad feeling, and, above all, is immoral.
“It is a rude feeling, because it is natural only to people standing on the lowest level of morality, and expecting from other nations such outrages as they themselves are ready to inflict.
“It is a harmful feeling, because it disturbs advantageous and joyous, peaceful relations with other peoples, and above all produces that governmental organization under which power may fall, and does fall, into the, hands of the worst men.
“It is a disgraceful feeling, because it turns man not merely into a slave, but into a fighting cock, a bull, or a gladiator, who wastes his strength and his life for objects which are not his own but his Government’s.
“And it is an immoral feeling, because, instead of confessing one's self a son of God (as Christianity teaches us) or even a free man guided by his own reason, each man under the influence of patriotism confesses himself the son of his fatherland and the slave of his Government, and commits actions contrary to his reason and his conscience.”
Patriotism is “a very definite feeling of preference for one's own people or State above all other peoples and States, and a consequent wish to get for that people or State the greatest advantages and power that can be got- things which are obtainable only at the expense of the advantages and power of other peoples or States.
“It would, therefore, seem obvious that patriotism as a feeling is bad and harmful, and as a doctrine is stupid. For it is clear that if each people and each State considers itself the best of peoples and States, they all live in a gross and harmful delusion.”
“In our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering, and that, consequently, this feeling--should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men.”
Mark Twain, author of Huckleberry Finn (1835-1910)
“Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people's countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood of his hands and works for ‘the universal brotherhood of man’-- with his mouth.”
“A man can be a Christian or a patriot, but he can't legally be a Christian and a patriot -- except in the usual way: one of the two with the mouth, the other with the heart.
“The spirit of Christianity proclaims the brotherhood of the race and the meaning of that strong word has not been left to guesswork, but made tremendously definite -- the Christian must forgive his brother man all crimes he can imagine and commit, and all insults he can conceive and utter- forgive these injuries how many times? -- seventy times seven -- another way of saying there shall be no limit to this forgiveness. That is the spirit and the law of Christianity.
“Well -- Patriotism has its laws. And it also is a perfectly definite one, there are not vaguenesses about it. It commands that the brother over the border shall be sharply watched and brought to book every time he does us a hurt or offends us with an insult.
“Word it as softly as you please, the spirit of patriotism is the spirit of the dog and wolf. The moment there is a misunderstanding about a boundary line or a hamper of fish or some other squalid matter, see patriotism rise, and hear him split the universe with is war-whoop. The spirit of patriotism being in its nature jealous and selfish, is just in man's line, it comes natural to him -- he can live up to all its requirements to the letter; but the spirit of Christianity is not in its entirety possible to him.”
Howard Zinn, U.S. historian, 2005
“There was something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call ‘civilization,’ we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call ‘nations’ and armed to apprehend or kill anyone who crosses a boundary.
“Is not nationalism--that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder--one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking--cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on--have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.
“…Surely, we must renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
“…We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.”
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story A Shameful Supreme Court Ruling on Voting Rights.
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter
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