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<nettime> Emma Goldman on Patriotism
molly hankwitz on Wed, 26 Sep 2001 09:56:47 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Emma Goldman on Patriotism

Emma Goldman was a Jew, a feminist and a leading anarchist who spent
much of her life living and working in New York City.

What then, is patriotism? "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of
scoundrels," said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-
patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify
the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better
equipment for the excercise of man-kiling than the making of such
necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that
guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the
average workingman.

Gustave Herve, another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism
a superstition--one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than
religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's inability
to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard
thunder, or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and
therefore concluded that back of them must be a force in the rain,
and in the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other
hand, is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a
network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his
self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.

Indeed, 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 better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the
living beings inhabiting any other spot...

The awful waste that patriotism necessitates ought to be sufficient to
cure the man of even average intelligence from this disease. Yet patriotism
demands still more. The people are urged to be patriotic and for that luxury
they pay, not only by supporting their "defenders", but even by sacrificing
their own children. Patriotism requires allegiance to the flag, which means
obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother, sister.

The usual contention is that we need a standing army to protect the country
from foreign invasion. Every intelligent man and woman knows, however, that
this myth is maintained to frighten and coerce the foolish. The governments
of the world, knowing each other's interests, do not invade each other.
They have learned that they can gain much more by international arbitration
of disputes than by war and conquest. Indeed, as Carlyle said, "War is a
quarrel between two theives too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore
they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms,
equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other."
It does not require much wisdom to trace every war back to a similar cause...

This passage is taken from the anthology  'Women on War: Essential Voices
for the Nuclear Age from a Brilliant International Assembly' Edited by
Daniela Gioseffi
NY: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 1988. It is public domain.

: ' )

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