Saturday, October 06, 2007

The "Dissent" School Of Patriotism

This is from Jonah Goldberg at NRO. I could not have said this better myself - and, believe me, I have tried. This post actually delineates the infantile intellectual paralysis which commonly afflicts those on the Left. If you don't believe me, visit Daily Kos, Democratic Underground or the Left leaning site of your choice and then tell me how wrong I am. Emphasis is mine:

"So, Jonah, here's the problem I have all too often with the "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" line. Patriotism, as I see it, is love of country—an actually-existing, historically grounded, geographical, political, and social entity. It's not uncritical, it's not unwilling to acknowledge flaws or misdeeds, but it's a fundamental attachment to an entity, a place, a thing, a group of people, and in the case of America, of course, a set of ideals enshrined in our founding documents.

The "dissent" school seems to acknowledge love not of the actual country, but the Country of the Future, once all the flaws are fixed, which is not only utopian but utterly quixotic, since no group of human beings can ever organize themselves in a fashion without problems. Moreover, it's a very subjective standard. You're dissenting on whatever the hell problem is your own hobby horse. Feminist A is upset about the state of women and is patriotically "dissenting"; Klansman B is upset about the state of white folk, and in his mind, he's equally patriotic in his "dissent." There isn't a hell of a lot in the "dissent" principle that can distinguish the two. A historically-grounded analysis says the feminist is (perhaps) appealing to American ideals of equality while the Klansman is appealing to an ugly tradition of anti-black bigotry, but neither are, in any real sense, showing their love of country. The former may be offering a constructive criticism, the other clearly is proposing a destructive one, but both are equally ideological and neither is expressing a love of America qua America, but rather a love of what they think America should be.

While that's a grand American tradition, I don't think it's patriotism. Moreover, it easily descends into narcissism and paranoia when the messy reality of America meets the pure, pristine clarity of their ideals—"I hate this country so much because it's not the country I want it to be, but because I have in mind the Other Country It Should Be, I'm a patriot of the Ideal America of My Mind.

The great, truly patriotic reformers of American history have the country for what it is despite its flaws, which they dedicated themselves to amending. It's only of late, under the influence of Marxism and the tumult of the '60s (perhaps the Kennedy assassination, if you believe that guy's new book) in which you see large numbers of people expressing the loopy theoretical proposition that you can despise your country out of love for it, which seems to be the bottom line for a lot of petty university-educated intellectuals these days."

And the intellectual Lefts love of "The Country of the Future" might also explain why they are the last bastion of socialism/communism - since it is all quite lovely on paper. But then reality intrudes and "therein lies the rub".

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