Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
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.”
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