Patriotism is a weapon and it is aimed at your identity. Shoot back!
18th century British Tory writer Samuel Johnson once said of people who feign love of country to promote political aims that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” What Johnson missed in his analysis was that more broadly, patriotism in its ideal form as an identification with the abstract concepts which comprise the idea of the nation and its character, is an abnegation of self-identity both in its collective and individuated forms. This is accomplished for the individual, through the acceptance of the ideal national identity into oneself through the act of identifying with those characteristics which constitute the abstract idea of the nation. For the mass community of nationally assimilated communities, this is accomplished through the collective aspiration toward a broader amalgamated collection of such conceptions into a more homogenous (and indeed culturally hegemonic) center. To thrive fully, however, patriotism requires, from both the individual and the national mass, an active will toward and craving for social alienation from self-identity. Thus the struggle against alienation, is inherently a struggle against patriotism.
This can be seen, in its American complexion, through the totalitarian bodies assigned the task of superimposing the identity of the nation upon the identity of the state in an effort to succor much of the national mass, discontented in their collective disempowerment. The political party system within the United States, which holds two great parties in perpetual conflict with one another provides dual engines for the idealization of national self-conception as well as incubators for newly developing and future arrangements of self-conception. For the Republican of today, a relative alignment with abstract conceptions of rural life, christian morality, and national exceptionalism tend to be the guiding culturally central themes around which the individual republican identifies with in and the collectivity of republicans reinforces through the party. For the Democrat of today, these themes include abstract notions of urban life, a will toward social diversity and a love of technocracy. This dual instrument of reflecting “American values” onto these incubators of state functionaries can, however, be reoriented to any configuration of value sets the popular mass demands.
In each of these cases, these bodies of political identification act in such a way as to seduce the individual through the foreplay of eliciting soft support. The party member or party sympathizer
does not have to engage with the party to such a degree as to sacrifice their professional identity or social life & time. The party member need only support the party in elections and less frequently, on campaign work, while the sympathizer need only give lip service to the perceived ideals of the party. The dual body engine of political idealization, whereby the mass offsets its own identity into those of the parties never has to make good on finalizing or fulfilling the wishes of the mass which perpetuates it. Indeed, the will aroused within the masses by each party must always be driven to a point of torrid turgidity but never to a point of full political climax, if the state is to maintain social stability. Meanwhile, any dysfunction or failure to fulfill the political needs of the masses by the party can be easily offset onto the counterbalancing force of the opposing party.
The seduction of patriotism can only thrive off our individual and collective will toward alienation.
It is only when we accept our disempowerment from the capacity to take agency for ourselves and our communities as inborn and natural that we have need to seek refuge in such inherently alienated identities. The decolonization of the patriotic mind, subsequently begins with the fight to build and sustain our identities, our community and our autonomy from the cultural hegemony perpetuated by those who would seek to illicit your “patriotism.” Today we live amid a sea of scoundrels but tomorrow, through creativity and struggle, win the fight to free all of our heart and minds. Let’s get creative. Let’s win.