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Monday, May 30, 2011

Powerful piece: "On Patriotism"

Patriotic CartoonImage via WikipediaThe last refuge of scoundrels takes another lashing here.

Excerpt:
When we say “John is a patriot,” we mean “John is a reliable member of our dog pack,” nothing more. The pack instinct seems more ancient, and certainly stronger, than morality or any form of human decency. Thus, once the pack—citizenry, I meant to say—have been properly roused to a pitch of patriotism, they will, under cover of the most diaphanous pretexts, rape Nanking, bomb Hiroshima, kill the Jews or, if they are Jews, Palestinians. We are animals of the pack. We don’t admire patriotism. We admire loyalty to ourselves.

The pack dominates humanity. Observe that the behavior of urban gangs—the Vice Lords, Mara Salvatrucha, Los Locos Intocables, Crips, Bloods—precisely mirrors that of more formally recognized gangs, which are called “countries.” Gangs, like countries, are intensely territorial with recognized borders fiercely defended. The soldiers of gangs, like those of countries, have uniforms, usually clothing of particular colors, and they “throw signs”—make the patterns of fingers indicating their gang—and wear their hats sideways in different directions to indicate to whom their patriotism is plighted. They have generals, councils of war, and ranks paralleling the colonels and majors of national packs. They fight each other endlessly, as do countries, for territory, for control of markets, or because someone insulted someone. It makes no sense—it would be more reasonable for example to divide the market for drugs instead of killing each other—but they do it because of the pack instinct.

Packery dominates society. Across the country high schools form basketball packs and do battle on the court, while cheerleaders jump and twirl, preferably in short skirts (here we have the other major instinct) to maintain patriotic fervor in the onlookers. Cities with NFL franchises hire bulky felons from around the country to bump forcefully into the parallel felons of other cities, arousing warlike sentiments among their respective fellow dogs. . . .



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