By Matthew Rothschild on July 03, 2010

It’s July 4th, my least favorite holiday.

And I’m not referring to the bugs, or the crowds, or the traffic on the highways.

I’m talking about the mindless patriotic bubble bath we’re all supposed to soak in all weekend long.

Well, not me.

My heart does not beat faster at the strains of the Star Spangled Banner, much less at the sight of F-16s flying overhead to kick off the show.

You see, I don’t believe in patriotism.

You can call me unpatriotic if you’d like, but really I’m anti-patriotic.

I’ve been studying fascism lately, and there is one inescapable fact about it:

Nationalism is the egg that hatches fascism.

And patriotism is but the father of nationalism.

Patriotism is not something to play with. It’s highly toxic. When ingested, it corrodes the rational faculties.

It gulls people into believing their leaders.

It masks those who benefit most from state policy.

And it destroys the ability of people to get together, within the United States and across boundaries, to take on those with the most power: the multinational corporation.

Plus, it’s a war toy, wheeled out whenever a leader needs to improve his ratings by attacking some other country—often after invoking God’s name, too.

It’s been so since the Spanish-American War and World War I and right up through the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.

American patriotism has also gotten in the way of solving global warming. Many in the United States, which consumes 25 percent of the world’s resources but has just 4 percent of the world’s population, believe we have the God-given right to use up all the resources we can. And there is an all-too-common attitude that we don’t need to listen to any other countries, or the U.N., or obey any international agreements because we’re Americans, and we’re better than everybody else.

We’ve got to get over patriotism, and we’ve got to cure the American superiority complex.

So celebrate the 4th if you like.

But as for me, between God, country, and apple pie, I’ll take the apple pie.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “State Department Denies Visa to Leading Colombian Journalist and Nieman Fellow.”

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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Comments

We can both not celebrate, together. I'll celebrate when the US is actually the land of the free- not the materialistic and self serving hypocritical country it is today, both domestically and in regards to foreign policy.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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