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Old 09-17-2006, 06:48 AM   #1
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Is Patriotism a Virtue?

This is a discussion I had with a fellow teacher last week. I'm curious to know what all of you think?

Is patriotism inherently a virtue? I know it certainly used to be considered one--you know "honesty, courage, kindness, patriotism etc. . ." This concept seems to be going out of style today. And if patriotism is a virtue, wouldn't that mean that we would expect all people to be "patriotic" about their own country.

I'll admitt I'm thinking of this primarily as an American, so bear with me, I think it can apply to all countries.

If indeed patriotism is a virtue, then wouldn't we as Americans expect people to be equally loyal to their country as we are to ours? And wouldn't that mean that we would find those who want to leave their own country and come to America as the "land of opportunity" or who desire to become American citizens as unpatriotic and thus perhaps morally lacking somehow?

Or when we say "patriotism is a virtue" don't we really mean that "loving America" (or whatever country you belong to) is a virtue--one that should be embraced by people the world over? After all, when someone betrays their country to help the U.S. we may consider that person a valiant "freedom fighter" or "dissident" while anyone who betrays our country is vile, coward. Our CIA covert agents are heroes, while "their" spies are conniving, evil people.

Is patriotism really just an acceptable level of nationalistic "my country is better than your country?" Am I oversimplifying things? What do you think?

For the record, I love my country and am very glad I'm a U.S. citizen. However, I'm not sure that such feelings are virtuous pe se, or worthy of special praise, though at the same time I don't think they are "wrong" and worthy of censure either. To me, pride in my country is similar to pride in my culture or family or hometown heritage. It's where I'm from and what has made me who I am and is in no way a judgement on anyone else's appreciation for their own nations.

I guess I think of patriotism as inherently neutral, rather than a specific virtue, with the potential to be either a good thing or a bad thing.
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Old 09-17-2006, 07:11 AM   #2
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Patriotism is not a partisan virtue, but it is a virtue nonetheless. It is the belief that your intentions will result to benefit an entire society rather than yourself.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:47 AM   #3
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Patriotism with a capital P is the last refuge of scoundrels... an old and much-used quote, but not entirely untrue, I feel. A vehicle for bully-boy politics, browbeating and manipulation, not to mention crushing of dissent (equate the nation with its government of the moment, and voila, you have a hammer to slam your opponents).

Patriotism with a small p (if I'm not being too vague) may indeed be a virtue. Loving your country and what it means to you.

As for the anti-American angle... the slur is applied to all and sundry nowadays... any non-American is under no obligation to be 'patriotic' for America, I would have thought. The very idea is nonsense. There are things to admire in that nation, but it's not my nation.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:50 AM   #4
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I dont believe it is.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:50 AM   #5
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Actually, my opinion is already explained in Kieran's post.
Good work, soldier.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:00 AM   #6
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I don't think there's much wrong of being proud of your country when there's indeed something to be proud of
where you live does form you to become who you are

anything that patriotism supposedly stands for makes me ill at ease
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:14 AM   #7
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Skeptical patriotism--when you support what your country is supposed to stand for then watch like a hawk to make sure it does. I'm more a patriot to the idea of my country than I am to the country itself.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:24 AM   #8
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Patriotism is neither a virtue nor a vice. However, like any concept, it can go too far into nationalism and jingoism, both of which I consider a vice.

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Old 09-17-2006, 10:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kieran McConville
Patriotism with a capital P is the last refuge of scoundrels...
I thought that was Mos Isley
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Old 09-17-2006, 11:18 AM   #10
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It depends on what you mean by patriotism. Love of one's country is a form of love, and love is a virtuous act. Patriotism is an emotional act, too. What exactly is it? It's a form of possessiveness.
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Old 09-17-2006, 11:49 AM   #11
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I think it depends. I think being proud of your community and taking part so that there is progress to take care of each other is a good thing.

At the moment, I despise the current administration and a lot of things people are trying to legislate, but I would consider myself patriotic because I do have faith in our constitution and our justice system and the rights they afford us. Of course, there are always going to be people that try to twist these things to fit their own agenda, but I don't believe that either of them are inherently bad. I guess that means I'm patriotic in the sense that I believe in our PEOPLE as a community of individuals trying to move forward, and not necessarily our POLITICS.
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Old 09-17-2006, 02:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON


I thought that was Mos Isley


no, that was a wretched hive of scum and villany.

you must be cautious.

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Old 09-17-2006, 06:19 PM   #13
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A virtue? No.
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Patriotism with a capital P is the last refuge of scoundrels.
Funny how this is also said by people with the misattributed Jefferson quote that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:38 AM   #15
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^^ For reference's sake -- a link to the interview that that quote in fact comes from.
Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
To me, pride in my country is similar to pride in my culture or family or hometown heritage. It's where I'm from and what has made me who I am and is in no way a judgement on anyone else's appreciation for their own nations.
Quote:
Originally posted by Macfistowannabe
It is the belief that your intentions will result to benefit an entire society rather than yourself.
Quote:
Originally posted by BonosSaint
Skeptical patriotism--when you support what your country is supposed to stand for then watch like a hawk to make sure it does. I'm more a patriot to the idea of my country than I am to the country itself.
I find something to agree with in all these definitions, and in fact do not see them as necessarily incompatible. I'm inclined to think that pretty much any outlook which might be argued to fall along the spectrum of "patriotism," from nonviolent progressive dissent to militant chauvinistic nationalism, are ultimately more about fidelity to an idea (e.g. what would truly benefit one's society; what is pride-inspiring about one's country) than to anything enduringly quantifiable--like the reality that elected officials often fail to live up to their constituents' expectations and their own campaign promises, as revealed by public opinion polls and Congressional voting records.

But "fidelity," whether to an abstract ideal of one's country or the more tangible agendas of some particular administration, necessarily implies the possibility of "infidelity," and that's where the tendency of this notion ("patriotism") to really get loaded (and, ironically, divisive) creeps in. What does being unpatriotic look like, and is it by definition a vice? It seems these are the labels that no one wants to be slapped with. So perhaps by default this does make patriotism a "virtue," though it doesn't bring us any closer to agreeing how to measure it, or whether it's in anyone's best interests to attempt to do so, beyond minimalist proscriptions like laws against treason or violent dissent.
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