The Partition of Patriotism.

Patriots without chests.

By Paul J Cella Posted in Comments (54) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

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A clique of intrepid Redstate readers have over the past few months joined me — or perhaps, as these are in general generous men, it would be better to say they have indulged me — in an occasional debate that we might set under the head, On the Nature of Patriotism. As with all good debates between men, this one will never end; as with all good debates online, it is no insult to the participants, or the forum, to say that it would be much better — more boisterously, more warmly, more fruitfully — conducted over mugs of strong beer late at night, to the consternation of attached women. Alas, this true form of the masculine self-government is unavailable to us, so we will make use of what we have.

Grab another cup of coffee (I fear you may need it), and Read on.

Some years ago now, I began a project on Patriotism, with the intention of turning it into a book. The impetus was not mine, but rather a well-known editor’s, who astonished me by approaching me on the subject. This project never came to fruition, mostly for reasons deriving from my difficulties getting a handle on it; but I have never lost interest in the subject. On the contrary: my interest has only grown, even as I have taken up another project dealing with what has already, or certainly will soon become the primary object of the indignation and antagonism of American patriotism: namely, the Islamic religion; or more precisely, the wicked doctrine of Jihad, which is one of the darker offspring of the Islamic religion. This project is moving along nicely. The expectation is that it will be published by Spence in mid-2007. Anyway, in the earlier project, I had gone as far as discover what must be the title for what may be the central chapter in my now-imaginary book on patriotism. Titles being indispensable things, I was quite satisfied with this one: the Partition of Patriotism.

The Partition is an attempted violent separation of things that are in fact an integrity; a partition like that which preceded the Civil War, or followed the various conspiracies of subjugation visited upon Poland by European powers; the breaking of an organic union. The union in question here is of mind and viscera, “head and belly” as C. S. Lewis put it: “The head rules the belly through the chest — the seat,” he continues, “of emotion organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by the intellect he is mere spirit and by appetite mere animal.” Patriotism is a thing of the chest. I might almost say it the quintessential thing of the chest.

But it is also, like so much else that is true, a thing of irresolvable paradox. It is the paradox of the sort proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount; that of small being great, of poor being rich, of weak being strong. This is not a mere clever verbalism, but rather a reflection of the feebleness of our apprehension of reality — the ineradicable limitations of our perception. The meek shall inherit the earth is a verbal contradiction that has been repeated in reality a hundred times over, not least in the conquest of the great Roman Empire by the meekness of the early Christians, or, more basically, in the meekness of the infant who was God. And patriotism too begins in meekness. Only by feeling that our home is small and unheralded and very dear, can we ever realize that it is great. When we discover that our country is weak, unutterably weak and broken, subjugated and beset — then our love for her grows to a grandeur equal to the word patriotism. That poet laureate of Imperialism, Rudyard Kipling, once asked a pregnant question, with a ring of thunder: what can they “know of England who only England know?” Here, as Chesterton perceived, Mr. Kipling let his worldliness oppress his patriotism, and lost his way. For the patriot is a lover; and thus cosmopolitanism is adultery. The patriot may surely come to learn much about other countries, and come to admire some as he detests others; indeed, only a very narrow patriot will abjure that intuitive delight in variety which is the birthright of man. But this is something quite different than “knowing” as we are using it here. The ancient writers of Scripture even refer to the conjugal act as “knowing” your wife; and if the reader can forgive my pressing of this earthy parallel still further, the English patriot, lest he debase his love, can indeed “only England know.”

All this is suggested, more reliably than my scribblings ever can, in the striking language of natural beauty that permeates our patriotic songs. They are, indeed, a kind of love song. “Purple mountains majesty,” “woods and templed hills,” “oceans white with foam” — this is the poetry of the lover. It is the particulars of the beloved that inspires the emotion. It is even, if you will, the smallness of these particulars. And being small they are vulnerable, which is what moves the patriot to action. What is “The Star-Spangled Banner” (its most familiar stanza, at least) but a hymn to the vulnerability of something beloved? We would have a strange anthem indeed if the flag venerated therein were seen as vast and indestructible; if the poetry rang with unflagging optimism about its endurance. Does the flag of that song not feel small and dear? — silent against the shattering report of the bombs bursting; soon to vanish in swamping darkness of perilous night; distant and feeble against the breaking dawn; dwarfed by the glowering ramparts? There is even a solid edge of surprise that it has survived the night, that small and menaced flag. And this small and menaced banner could not possibly wave over the land of the free unless the latter were also, in a sense, small and vulnerable.

Sometimes, as with most loves, patriotic love will move men to amusing acts of that folly which is actually wisdom. There are unique delights in every man’s warm feeling for his home. He may remember a certain valley, or the glow of a sunset at a certain time of year; he may be surprised by some long forgotten smell, or reminded of warm memories by an old tune. But at any rate he can hardly describe these things with any exactness. They are the inexpressible particulars of any love. Poetry and song are their best approximations. For example, whenever I hear the opening chords of the Allman Brothers’ song “Blue Sky,” I feel patriotic. It is silly and even embarrassing; it is also true. The lyrics of that song are really quite banal; but the song is beautiful to me, because it reminds me of the American South, which has become my home — the vast sun-drenched majesty of the South, which sometimes feels so small and vulnerable.

In other words, Patriotism cannot be properly understood — understanding cannot even begin — unless we first see that its “belly” is anchored in the intuition of something weak but tenderly adored that is threatened: the intuition of meekness under threat. A passion has been stirred by this intuition. Not an argument; a passion, and a particularly vital one. That passion is Indignation; and the whole world, in a sense, must be, at least potentially, the enemy.

Alright. How, then, does the “head” enter the puzzle? How is this passion of Indignation “organized by trained habit into stable sentiment”? First, it enters in concrete acts of discipline, the intentional impression of order upon anarchic things. We feel a passion, and we train it by ritual, custom, prescription. At every sporting event in the country, even the half-drunk crazies with faces painted like mediaeval warriors remove their hats and stand quietly for the national anthem. We send great volleys of pyrotechnics into the air, and give ordered liberty to the pyromania of young boys, on Independence Day; it used to be (and still is, in some places) that on that same day families would gather round for readings of legendary American oratory and text. The passions are ordered according to their nature, in a sort of renewal and reformation. Even in this collective work of the intellect is rooted in the particular. And it is important to realize that this discipline is emphatically not a purely individualistic thing: it springs from that great “democracy of the dead,” which is tradition. It is an attempt at a sort of communion with the American mind across the generations, embracing the living, the dead, and the as yet unborn.

But it is here, when we come to the question of the role of the intellect, that, alas, the heresy of Partition wreaks its havoc. For the instinct of modern men, even those inspired to defend patriotism against other moderns who would like to have done with it altogether, is to introduce a Universalism that appears to enlarge but really only narrows. The attempt is made, by this theory, to attach the love of country to a variety of political doctrines. Mostly these are fine political doctrines — liberty, rule of law, free enterprise — but they cannot be the stimulus of truly human passion, because they exist only as abstractions. We need only give cursory consideration to the sanguinary Twentieth Century to observe the sort of inhuman passions wayward abstractions can stimulate. Sloppy talk and sloppier thinking allows such phrases as the “threat to democracy” to pass unremarked almost daily, but the pulverizing fact is that “democracy” has no concrete existence of its own. There is no democracy as such; there can only be American democracy, or French, English or Iraqi democracy. Men only talk of a threat to democracy because they perceive a threat to their country, which they have associated, through the rarefied parlance of Western politics, with this system called democracy.

But the only way to force this conflation of political abstraction with concrete reality — and thus the only way to achieve an approximation of the passion of Indignation — is through the abbreviation of reality we call an Ideology. This is why I say Universalism narrows, despite its claim to do the opposite: the whole vast organic tangle of attachments, memories, prescriptions, and intuitions, which are conjured by the word “country,” and which inspire such songs of love as our patriotic ones, and which become the seedbed of our national patriotic rituals, is contracted into a set of stock phrases of political discourse. No political discourse, no matter how sensitive, no matter how inspired, no matter how comprehensive, can possibly capture even a fragment of the living tradition that is within a man when he reflects on his country. Reality is too vast for words. Ideologies have their uses, of course, but they must always be abbreviations of reality.

For example, it is said that Capitalism is a part of the American creed, and as such should be part of the object of our patriotic affections. But I do not love Capitalism, and never will. I see its uses, and sometimes I suspect that it is merely a term we use to denote “the way things are,” but in any case I shall never love it. And indeed, there are times when this passion of Indignation has risen in me with great fury against it — usually when Capitalism has made a dark alliance with darker forces to oppress my home, as when, for example, a local homeowner must jump through a hundred bureaucratic hoops to remove a dead tree that threatens his house, while the large developer can remove a whole copse of trees with impunity. Small property is fettered; capitalist collectivism is emancipated. The vulnerability of the American South to these dark alliances is acute; and I confess that there are moments when I feel that nothing is so great a threat to my home as these. There are parts of the South which have been so tortured by Capitalism, so visited with unthinking ugliness, that one can feel only hatred — a hatred for the devil and his works. This is the passion inspired at times by Capitalism.

But of course, Capitalism is primarily a matter for adjudication by reason; the place for passion is small. Ugliness is certainly not the greatest evil, and anyway Socialism has far outdone Capitalism in producing ugliness. But if someone tells me that Capitalism must be included in my patriotic love, I will simply answer: “you do not know what patriotism is.”

To summarize, then: the whole effort of Universalism, which for our purposes here consists of the attempt to replicate the natural passion which impels patriotism, and attach it to a set of political abstractions arranged into an ideology, amounts to a partition of the patriotic force from its elementary source. To recall our earlier image, wherein patriotism was compared to a marriage, we might say the proffered universalism is very often merely an invitation to promiscuity. When what is wanted is fidelity, universalism seduces with a sanctified adultery.

Universalism is really not universal. So often universalism has been the mere projection of certain particulars of the world, onto the whole world: an overlay of provincialism upon all the provinces. A political creed can only be an abbreviation of a living tradition; and it can be only a terrible truncation of the object of a patriot’s love.

Now to say this is not to say there are no universals; it is only to urge caution, considering how many of them have been exposed as false and pernicious. More germane to my argument, it is to say that, while there certainly is a transcendent order of justice, to which all men owe an accounting, it is not the same as a country. The patriotic loyalty is not the same as the duty we owe to Justice. The first is, strictly speaking, parochial and particular; the second universal and abstract. I feel that I am on firm ground leaving most of the latter, in the field of politics, to prudence. It is said, for instance, that democratic government is universal. Perhaps. But this is a matter of some dispute. A much more solid proposition, it seems to me, is that government is universal. But in at rate, by entering such a discussion, we have left the question of patriotism behind.

Recall that I said patriotism is first about a passion, not an argument. A man can no more argue about his elementary patriotism than he can argue about his vivid and jealous love of the color green; he can no more contend like a formal disputant for his love of his country than he can for his love of his venerated old eccentric of an uncle. To be forced to lay out the evidence for his uncle, like a forensic debater, is already to do an injustice to the man: most of the jury or audience will only see the eccentric and not the uncle, for he is a man, and a man is too large a thing to be embraced by any forensic science. Part of the evil of divorce, for example, is that it forces this terrible rationalistic contraction: it forces people to spread out the character of their loves and attachments like organs in a dissection. They are inevitably demeaned. And patriotism is inevitably demeaned when it is compelled into a forum where ideas are set before the bar of rationalism and weighed in abstraction. I can almost see the pitiful figure of captive Patriotism, suddenly constrained to answer the slashing dialectic maneuvers of the cross-examiner in the elusive language of poetry. To the hard question: “How long can the patriot’s love endure his country’s wickedness?” — Patriotism can only answer as in song: “America! America! God mend thine every flaw.” To the even harder question: “When must the fealty of the patriot submit to the higher claims of justice?” — Patriotism can only murmur: “Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep.” You can see how such replies might dissatisfy the stern rationalist, or the ambitious prosecutor.

No, Sir (as the old orators would say), the purpose of the intellect is the ordering of the passions. For nothing can be more certain than that the passions of man want ordering. Patriotism, like any other passion, can be destructive if untamed. And so the integrity of patriotism lies in the word rule. The head must rule the belly. My disputants in this debate have hurled the accusation of relativism. We who emphasize the particular that is the anchor of patriotism, they say, fall into a relativism which forsakes the transcendent order of justice to which all men owe obedience. I share their revulsion of that heresy; but I say to them: It is not our heresy. We do not denigrate Justice by refusing to call it Patriotism. The two are not one. A man does not apply reason to discover if his love of country is just; he discovers that he loves his country, and applies reason to set this love in its proper place. It is not Patriotism (recalling our image from above) that should be cross-examined; it is Man. And among the resources and particularities in each man is his love of his home, which is a passion impelled by his sense of menace to his home. Since each man’s home is a portion of creation, which God declared was good, then I cannot think otherwise than that this passion has its roots in something good; that this love is a just love; and that it only becomes unjust when a man’s reason fails. Patriotism must always be seen in the context of the paradox of the man who loves his earthly home, but knows it is only a temporary home; the man who feels a duty to his land, but a higher duty to a transcendent order of justice. The duties are not the same, and one of the tragedies of the Fall is that they may even stand at times in opposition. Then, indeed, his freedom will be a burden, for he will know that his choice will be judged. Sin, a disordering of the will, has made in us the original Partition; and there is no clearer awareness of the Fall than when a man must choose between his loves. “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

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The Partition of Patriotism. 54 Comments (0 topical, 54 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

In my experience - and I am a reasonably well-traveled individual - places are just places without the people and systems that animate them. To be sure, each has its own beauty, and there is probably one place that each individual feels attached to as "home," but it seems impossible to me to claim that events might not occur which would lead a man to justifiably repudiate his "home," and that the changing of people and institutions will not play a part of that. As such, I don't know that it's accurate to say that head and chest are partitioned, without at least the recognition that the partition is one that has an imperfect seal, and that if enough irritates the head, the infection will seep into the heart, and so on.

Second, and you touched on this in your post, a person with true perspective understands that this world (and, by extension, any particular place in this world) is not his home. As such, I cannot agree with what seems to be the unstated premise of this piece, which is that the patriotism of the "chest" is a good thing, if divorced from the head. After all, as the Psalmist said long ago, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord," and even the prophets of old of Israel came at times to justifiably loathe the country that they loved.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

First, it is not that it is impossible, even for the most devout of patriots, to conceive that there could transpire some dark events which might lead him to withdraw his loyalties from his place in the world, but that so many of the modern ideologies, and the social institutions and practices informed by ideological thinking generally, do not merely engender such examinations of the proper objects of loyalty, but actively transform, by subversion and deformation, those places that are well loved, and proclaim this very thing the apotheosis of the 'virtue' of ideological thought. Hence, all of the grand talk about the great marches of liberty through history, whether it be social, sexual, or what have you, all that Jacobin rot one often hears about 'creative destruction', and, more generally, the refusal to situate the American identity upon a shared history, which binds the generations one to another, but upon fabulist nonsense concerning what we might be - more powerful, more prosperous, etc. - if only we continue to revolutionize our ways of living. Yes, places are nothing but natural wonders absent the people who inhabit them - and their lived world, their culture, which requires a stability that our age will not permit it to enjoy. But ideological thought, and the modes of organization it generates, does not permit those people to preserve the habits and modes of living that make those places what they are.

Second,it is not that a patriotism of the chest simply is a good thing, but that a patriotism warped and stunted by corruptions of the intellect is a horrid thing. Or, more theologically, that grace elevates nature, as opposed to obliterating or negating it - this latter being what ideological modes of thought do to patriotism.

My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ shall speak with the voice of them that weep. Spare me, O Lord, for my days are truly as nothing.

I don't think we're in disagreement except perhaps upon this point:

But ideological thought, and the modes of organization it generates, does not permit those people to preserve the habits and modes of living that make those places what they are.

This depends, of course, upon what is meant by "ideology." If we are discussing the issues which affect the various details along the "higher order" of human desires - such as wealth, etc. - then I agree that you are correct. But insofar as "ideology" encompasses a doctrine which, when put into practice, is destructive to the basic ordering of life and society, then I cannot conceive of patriotism except in rejection of such an "ideology."

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

you are drawing. The presupposition of my statement was that those


issues which affect the various details along the "higher order" of human desires - such as wealth, etc...

are all to frequently the spawn of

doctrine(s) which, when put into practice, is (are) destructive to the basic ordering of life and society...

and that many of those issues, institutions, causes, and addling abstractions have as their foreseeable, and sometimes expressly intended, effect the withering away of the particularity and 'homelikeness' of places for those who inhabit them and impart to them their distinctive characters. And patriotism is, if nothing else, inimical to such desolating doctrines, whether those 'doctrines' are mere policy prescriptions, of some degree of consistency, or more thoroughly articulated philosophical constructs.

My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ shall speak with the voice of them that weep. Spare me, O Lord, for my days are truly as nothing.

And patriotism is, if nothing else, inimical to such desolating doctrines, whether those 'doctrines' are mere policy prescriptions, of some degree of consistency, or more thoroughly articulated philosophical constructs.

In the more common vernacular, a man might look at the direction of his country and proclaim, "This country is going to hell in a handbasket," and in so saying, come to feel somewhat less love and dedication for his country. Paul's piece seems to be a rejection of the validity of this type of thinking, but apparently (now I'm told) only if the perception of hell-in-a-handbasketness is arrived at rationally, which is a difficult proposition for me to grasp, or adopt as my own.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

Consider this parallel (and I would say that analogic reasoning is the only really valid type here):

A man might look at the direction of his wife and proclaim, "She is collapsing under the weight of her sins," and in so saying, come to feel somewhat less love and dedication for her.

My piece is a rejection of this thinking. He may come to love his wife less and repudiate his dedication (sworn in a vow) to her, but I think that, if so, he will be judged for his failure.

Now the parallel is obviously weakened because a country is not an immortal soul. But the point is this: the love for something good is not destroyed because that good is poisoned by wickedness. Eventually the wickedness may become so acute that the man will painfully say, I can no longer associate with you. But his love is not destroyed; or at least it should not be.

(I do think that the marriage vow is probably a stronger bound that that of a man to his country.)

I would also say that the hell-in-a-handbasket proclamation might even be the cause of a deeper love. Sudden this man realizes how imperiled his country his. Patriotism surely has a strong dose of the tragic in it.

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I have to say that it is, in fact, a poor parallel, because I am of course under Biblical injunction to love every man and woman - regardless of their sin - and especially my spouse. There is no such corresponding Biblical - or, so far as I can tell - natural obligation to have undying and unconditional love for one's country. In fact, passages such as Phillipians 3:4-7 would seem to contain an express repudiation of this principle.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

I have used the matrimonial parallel throughout this discussion. I think is is a valid one.

That said, I not claimed that there is an obligation, biblical or natural, "to have undying and unconditional love for one's country." The obligation I know of is submission to, and prayer for temporary authorities. I have started with the fact that most people do love their country, and have reasoned from Scripture that this love is a just love. If they do love her, then this fact bestows obligations, not undying or unconditional, but firm and binding.

The same may be said of marriage. We are not in any way obligated to marry, but once we do, a very strong obligation is called into being.

As for Phillipans 3, I would resist setting down a parallel between the Hebrew idea of "nation" with the modern one.

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Two things:

First:

The same may be said of marriage. We are not in any way obligated to marry, but once we do, a very strong obligation is called into being.

This analogy is still inapposite, because even after the dissolution of the marriage bond, the other person is still a human being, and as such we are specifically enjoined to love them, regardless of their sin. Again as I pointed out, there is no such obligation towards countries.

As for Phillipans 3, I would resist setting down a parallel between the Hebrew idea of "nation" with the modern one.

Indeed, the parallel is imperfect, but the imperfection actually serves to strengthen my point - which is that, if Paul was willing to abandon his national heritage - which held a unique claim to blessing from God - it follows a fortiori that this principle applies to those who are not of such a unique heritage.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

as they inveighed against the faithlessness and idolatry (and it behooves us to bear in mind what idolatry in the ancient world really entailed) of ancient Israel, invoked a final, annihilating wrath against her, but prophesied a judgment, a chastisement or existential reproof that would be intended to restore the remnant of the people to their right sensibilities. There was still a reservoir of faith, of hope, of love in those pronouncements of calamity; a purely rational judgment would have consigned the lot of them to the abyss. And when we discuss those atrocities of our national life that might prompt us to withdraw a measure of loyalty, I don't believe that our judgments are purely rational, as if the product of the observation that in America there is a want of correspondence to a moral ideal, or, somewhat more pointedly, the natural law. The revulsion from injustice itself is not purely rational; and the determination that the nation has obviated its most fundamental moral duties cannot exclude the possibility of conversion or repentance upon the pertinent matters, for if it does, it is tantamount to a pronouncement of reprobation, which I take to be forbidden to us. The soul of someone would could pronounce a sentence of finality against his nation and people, without even a glimmer of that nonrational affection and hope for transformation, would, I think, be a deadly thing. In other words, the judgment that the nation is going to hell is not purely rational, but includes affective aspects, and those affective elements must, in someone spiritually healthy, encompass a hope, perhaps even a weak one, for repentance.

My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ shall speak with the voice of them that weep. Spare me, O Lord, for my days are truly as nothing.

Of course, the fundamental difference is that the prophets spoke of a nation which had yet to fulfill God's great promise in Genesis 12 - and even then, in passages such as Habakkuk 1, you can see that even they despaired of their country.

That is not to say that a person, having abandoned association with his/her country, should actually hope that his nation will not repent - far from it. The question is whether s/he may love it while it is in its state of wickedness. This evaluation must, to some extent, be a rational one.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

First, is the wickedness ever so total as to obviate every last vestige of good that might elicit affection?

Second, is not the desire for repentance, even if wan and forlorn, a sort of love, a refusal to believe in the finality of evil?

Seriously, I write as someone already on record as harbouring the expectation that the GOP, let alone the nation as a whole, will jettison even the pretense of a committment to the momentous questions of the nature and value of human life, and that before 2012. These are not the only questions which would occasion much soul searching as to the orientation of my loyalties, but they are surely the most profound; and I am impelled to pose the question: Will this unconscionable wickedness lead to a decision to turn away, so as not to see? To turn one's back irrevocably?

My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ shall speak with the voice of them that weep. Spare me, O Lord, for my days are truly as nothing.

Re: as they inveighed against the faithlessness and idolatry (and it behooves us to bear in mind what idolatry in the ancient world really entailed) of ancient Israel, invoked a final, annihilating wrath against her

I don't think we can draw parallels between ancient Israel and modern America, or any modern nation. Israel was uniquely a creation of God, intended (among iother purposes) to be the birth creche of Our Lord hismelf. Other natiosnhave no such divine pedigree (for all the self-congradulatory preenings that kings and presidents and other do), but are merely human constructs. Which is not to say we ought not love them, for humans too can create things of majesty and glory, but only that we ought not trespass into idolatry in that love. Nor even into the venerative love we give to other human beings, who are also direct creations of God. As for annihilating judgments, Israel, whatever its sins had to be preserved for its role in the divine comedia of salavtion, but there have been some nations in history which needed annihilation due to their wickedness and we are better off without them. America is not such a nation, for all the jeremiads of the ranting Left (and of some on the Right), and we ought pray it never becomes one.

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positing an analogy between Israel and America, or any other modern nation, but between the judgments of the prophets who, as the Biblical metaphors have it, at once upbraided wanton Israel for her infidelities yet called her to return to her covenant with God, and those who, in some foreseeable future, might adjudge America too wicked (in, for example, the insistence of the elite class that abortion and the entire panoply of life-as-commodity practices be enshrined as fundamental human "rights") to be worthy of loyalty. The import of the analogy is that the patriot cannot render such judgments with finality; he must always hold forth the possibility of reformation, for the love of the patriot for his country is grounded in soils other than the natural law and the imperatives of justice.

My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ shall speak with the voice of them that weep. Spare me, O Lord, for my days are truly as nothing.

My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ shall speak with the voice of them that weep. Spare me, O Lord, for my days are truly as nothing.

with you then. Though ultimately it is also true that our judgments upon other human beings can in no way be abolsute and final either (that's is God's prerogative alone) but must always be open to the hope or repentence and salvation.

The concept and analysis of Ideology I am relying on here is Michael Oakeshott's. His discussion of it is, though demanding work to get your mind around, exceedingly helpful I think. Ideology, for him, is best understood as an "abbreviation" of a living tradition. The word abbreviation is perfect: the idea here is a rationalization into something communicable of vast, intricate, basically indescribable human things; the translation of an epic poem into an epigram.

Ideology is not a curse word. We all must have recourse to them if we are to debate politics. But it is absolutely crucial that we guard against allowing the ideology to be conflated with the actual living tradition for which it stands.

____________
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

So, then, in this view, others are offering an "abbreviation" for their living tradition - and the contest is between the two. In the end, however, the success of a given ideology (under this view) will inevitably lead to the subjugation (and probable destruction) of the underlying living tradition. Right?

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

I suppose it is, in a sense. I just finished noting in another comment that patriotism embraces a large measure of the tragic.

Much of Oakeshott's work was a vast lament for the resolution of modern politics into this contest of rationalisms and the "inevitable" subjugation of living traditions. One possible remedy to this politics-as-struggle (the fruit of Machiavelli and Hobbes, I suppose) may reside right there in our own political tradition of localism, states rights, and federalism.

______________
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I worry that you may misunderstand me, Leon, on some vital points, which is probably my own fault.

(1) Your parathetical note "and I am a reasonably well-traveled individual," elicits immediate concern. Kipling was an extraordinarily well-traveled man, and (as I noted in my essay) his attendant approach toward cosmopolitanism enervated his patriotism. My sense is that wide travel, especially in our day, while it may broaden and deepen certain things, also tends to obscure the patriotic sentiment or passion, both in oneself and as viewed in others.

(2) I did not claim that it is impossible that "events might ... occur which would lead a man to justifiably repudiate his 'home.'" I did not even address this possibility. It seems to me that it is a distraction, and an undue focus on it might have the effect of dissolving the rule by exaggerating the exception. Especially with your use of the hard word "repudiate," I think this hypothetical an even more unusual event.

It is a much more common experience for one's home to gradually shift in one's sentiment. I grew up in Colorado, and have never lost my love of that great state. When I first came to Georgia, I was for some time dissatisfied. I longed to return to my home. But over the years, and quite against my intention, I came to love the Peach State. This did not happen because someone set before me the virtues of both states, and Colorado was found wanting (I suspect that if such an absurd inquiry were undertaken, the thing might go the other way); nor did it happen because I undertook, with my reason, to discover which was a nearer approximation of the Good. It happened because over time I became a Colorado-born Georgian. Georgia is my home.

(3) This statement confuses me somewhat: I don't know that it's accurate to say that head and chest are partitioned, without at least the recognition that the partition is one that has an imperfect seal. I am not advocating Partition; I have called it a heresy. I believe that true patriotism is a Union. And my argument is that the Universalists or Propositionalists are attempting to break this Union, and refashion it in a particularly perilous way. They are attempting to dislodge the passion from its natural affections in place, sentiment, memory, etc (nonrational things) and by a strange surgery or alchemy, attach it to political doctrines (rationalized things).

(4) I agree with your admonition against making an idol of patriotism. I affirm it most heartily. This is where the operation of reason is proper and indispensible. My essay is a kind of "two cheers for patriotism." But its main intent is to correct what I see as a creeping error which is, indeed, an idolatry.

Even the prophets of old of Israel came at times to justifiably loathe the country that they loved. And thus the final sentences and quotation of my essay. Have I not myself speculated with you, Leon, about the wickedness toward which America is hurtling? This wickedness will not destroy our love of her, but it may force us to choose against her.

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Stems from this basic premise:

I am not advocating Partition; I have called it a heresy. I believe that true patriotism is a Union. And my argument is that the Universalists or Propositionalists are attempting to break this Union, and refashion it in a particularly perilous way. They are attempting to dislodge the passion from its natural affections in place, sentiment, memory, etc (nonrational things) and by a strange surgery or alchemy, attach it to political doctrines (rationalized things).

An observer might comment, after reading your piece, that you are advocating a different kind of partition, one that seeks to entirely exclude rational things from their effect on the "chest" (the New Testament, in the Koine Greek, frequently makes reference to the "bowels" as the seat of emotion - which I like. Reference to the "heart," as such, is also common.) which I advocate is neither possible nor desirable.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

I would point the observer in question to these two passages:

How, then, does the “head” enter the puzzle? How is this passion of Indignation “organized by trained habit into stable sentiment”? First, it enters in concrete acts of discipline, the intentional impression of order upon anarchic things. We feel a passion, and we train it by ritual, custom, prescription. At every sporting event in the country, even the half-drunk crazies with faces painted like mediaeval warriors remove their hats and stand quietly for the national anthem. We send great volleys of pyrotechnics into the air, and give ordered liberty to the pyromania of young boys, on Independence Day; it used to be (and still is, in some places) that on that same day families would gather round for readings of legendary American oratory and text. The passions are ordered according to their nature, in a sort of renewal and reformation. Even in this collective work of the intellect is rooted in the particular. And it is important to realize that this discipline is emphatically not a purely individualistic thing: it springs from that great “democracy of the dead,” which is tradition. It is an attempt at a sort of communion with the American mind across the generations, embracing the living, the dead, and the as yet unborn.

And:

A man does not apply reason to discover if his love of country is just; he discovers that he loves his country, and applies reason to set this love in its proper place. It is not Patriotism (recalling our image from above) that should be cross-examined; it is Man. And among the resources and particularities in each man is his love of his home, which is a passion impelled by his sense of menace to his home. Since each man’s home is a portion of creation, which God declared was good, then I cannot think otherwise than that this passion has its roots in something good; that this love is a just love; and that it only becomes unjust when a man’s reason fails.

I cannot see how I can be rightly interpreted as "entirely exclud[ing] rational things from their effect on the chest."

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Between noting the possibility that a mystical union of the "American mind" upon generations can affirm one's sense of patriotism, and the recognition that - in my opinion - a given political doctrine (or a set of them) can (and in some cases should) lead rationally to the rejection of patriotism.

In other words, I see little to claim this:

It is an attempt at a sort of communion with the American mind across the generations, embracing the living, the dead, and the as yet unborn.

As the fruit of the mind, rather than the chest.

"Administrative Law is not for sissies." - Justice Antonin Scalia

Re: The ancient writers of Scripture even refer to the conjugal act as “knowing” your wife; and if the reader can forgive my pressing of this earthy parallel still further, the English patriot, lest he debase his love, can indeed “only England know.”

I think you are misunderstanding Kipling's "know". It is not the "Know" of the bible, or of French "connaitre", German "kennen". It is the "know" of "know about", ("savoir", "wissen"). If you know only your own country then you really don't know it, because you have no larger context in which it fits, and like some country boy let loose in a big city strip club you may easily forget your love when someday seduced by strange and wondrous things beyond your knowledge. America (or any country) is best loved and comprehended in relationship to all the world, past and present. Not that one must be a scholar of course, only that one should have an appreciation of that which is not America to love better that which is. Much as the traveler, long away from home, finds himself loving his home even better upon his return.

Re: My sense is that wide travel, especially in our day, while it may broaden and deepen certain things, also tends to obscure the patriotic sentiment or passion, both in oneself and as viewed in others.

I disagree with this quite deeply. Experience is not only the principle source of simple knowledge, but also the loam in which wisdom grows-- hence the reason why more sensible generations once revered the elderly who had seen and endured much and presumably learned something thereby. And I am astonished at any proposition that "ignorance is bliss". No truth can be gained through ignorance, and love is not made more enduring through blindness.

Aleks, you have the curious habit of lecturing writers on points they themselves made. Here, for example, you chide me for favoring ignorance and provincialism. But then, the sentences immediately prior to the ones you have quoted, I wrote this:

The patriot may surely come to learn much about other countries, and come to admire some as he detests others; indeed, only a very narrow patriot will abjure that intuitive delight in variety which is the birthright of man. But this is something quite different than “knowing” as we are using it here.

It hardly seems fair to you to simply quote my original essay back at you, but what more can be said? I have expressly denied that a patriot should not learn of other countries; and have rebuked the "narrow patriot" for aspiring to such blissful ignorance. Not only that, but I have clearly indicated that I am appropriating Kipling's masterful line for my own purposes, an appropriation which I re-emphasize with an apology about an "earthly parallel." Did you really think I read Kipling as using "to know" in the Biblical sense?

Perhaps your objection amounts to that I have misused Kipling. Fair enough, but you might take that up with Mr. Chesterton, for -- as I noted in the text -- I am just following him in arguing that Kipling's imperialism was actually diminishment of patriotism.

So I'm left with the impression that you did not read my essay very carefully -- which is understandable enough, considering its interminable length.

And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

read the you found something troubling in Leon's description of himself as well-traveled, with an implication that such traveling to foreign venues might risk something in his Americaness? I enjoy your essays like this one very much-- they are among the best on RedState-- but if misunderstandings like this can occur (at least with reagrds to the follow up posts) may I suggest that there is something ambiguous in what you are trying to express?

Check out http://www.museumofpatriotism.org/
in Atlanta. Their Board has had amazing input into this issue. Great post.

Cog
Atlanta

but never gone in it. This is a void I shall soon fill. The building is a rather pathetic one, which, somehow, seems appropriate.

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I don't think I've come across another writer on the internet whose work inspires in me such a strong combination of disagreement and admiration. You have a beautiful prose style, Mr. Cella. It's always a pleasure to read you.

This is a compliment I will treasure: "whose work inspires in me such a strong combination of disagreement and admiration."

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I'll have to agree wholeheartedly with Julian. And Mr. Paul, Sir, your post will require a substantial measure of reflection before I respond. Would that I could do better than tedious analysis.

You might reflect upon the degree to which you yourself have ideologically compartmentalized or abbreviated - whether the Cap'ped words have conjured an actual common referent? - in the latter course of argument; but also how it is that your words can sometimes so gloriously strike so dead-on target, as in the first part of your piece where you conjure up the feeling of patriotism such that it elicits tingles in me from tip to toe. You do reach my chest through my head.
John E.

I have a fundamental question right from the start. And it would be useful to clarify this point before quaffing the next one. This ties back an earlier point of discussion as well.

The Partition is an attempted violent separation of things that are in fact an integrity

But

Patriotism is a thing of the chest. I might almost say it the quintessential thing of the chest.

I understand that the first sets up a criticism for the violence to the integral whole that we "ideologues" may be doing. That point is one that I wish to reflect upon further before responding. However the second is a point on which I have previously and do now seem to again find you guilty of doing violence to this integrity of heart and head. We meet with no dispute in that patriotism is heartily felt. (Though I might refine your descriptions a bit: for example the defense of the meek may be a particularly noble but not essential heroic component of patriotism). Likewise we may agree that it develops naturally and universally - not an objectionable use of the word I hope - among men because it inheres in our human nature. But I have argued to you that the mind is integrally involved in the stepwise process by which patriotism organically grows in its attachment to its objects. You seem to grant here only that the head engages after it has sprung forth fully formed in the chest, serving only to put it in order.

Do you grant the integral operation of heart and head in the continual formation of patriotism's attachment to its object? Perhaps an elaboration is all that is necessary. Or else do you offer some defense for your own violent partition? (One that you might hope exists because of all the errors you and your camp are so keenly aware that the mind is prone to fall into). Or more simply, am I to read your description of patriotism as a defense of this partition?

John E.

But I have argued to you that the mind is integrally involved in the stepwise process by which patriotism organically grows in its attachment to its objects.

Here's how I would put it: The mind's involvement is integral, yes, but its action follows the appearance of the passion. In a sense, it has authority but no force. It must await the appearance of the passion before it can act. The force springs from passion; the mind cannot conjure its own. The mind's office is one of rulership.

Here is another way to look at it: that the distinction between dialectic and rhetoric. There is no way, so far as I can tell, to bestow upon men a patriotic sentiment through the work of dialectic. This is a field for rhetoric, which as Richard Weaver very wisely said, is indispensable because “the most obvious truth about rhetoric is that its object is the whole man.” He elaborates: “the very characterizing feature of rhetoric” is that it moves beyond “the rational part of man” to appeal to “other parts of [his] constitution, especially to his nature as a pathetic being, that is, a being feeling and suffering.”

So, again, obviously the mind is involved. But its role is secondary: a role of stewardship or supervision. It is working with materials it cannot create, dangerous materials, and its role is vital, but secondary.

[Be careful that you do not confuse "chest" with "belly." The Chest is the integrator of belly (passion) and head (intellect).]

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I am still rereading for a more clear understanding and reflecting. You have presented a bit of a Gordian knot and I would prefer not to untangle it at the periphery. So I am still just doing some exploratory poking here.

The answer above is a bit less than I would have hoped in that the role of reason seems narrowed beyond its normal extent. The passions may exist independently in potentiality but they are activated toward an object in the course of our experiences. That object is served up to them by the mind with all the limitations of cognition: abstraction, generalization, abbreviation, etc.; that you elsewhere criticize. The "home" is not an object per se, but a collection of associated experiences. Actually "a" is not even appropriate because Home can refer to collections at various levels of generality from house to neighborhood to town to state to country to earth to heaven. The object "Country" is no less; or "Sweet land of Liberty" where our many common experiences of Liberty are referents of a category of experience that contribute to the associated experiences that comprise Country.

Can you grant reason this role on the front end without damaging the argument you raise against Ideologues? Personally I think you can, but in a way that requires you to refine that argument such that it would not apply to me :).

I heard a soldier in Iraq interviewed tonight. Paraphrasing, he says in earnest: I am over here risking my life because I love my country and I want my children to have the same freedom that I do. Is he an ideologue? I don’t think so. Is he expressing Patriotism? I think so. I know how he feels because I feel it too and the freedom he references as a particular good of his country for which he fights is known to us by our common experiences of it.

I fear that I remain confused on this point, even as I continue to reread. It feels to me as if you seek to put Patriotism on some ground beyond the reach of reason, for you see in reason an unstable infirmity and source of heretical error. But on the other hand you endorse reason as necessary part of the intergal whole. Do we refer to the same thing by this word?

Furthermore, what is the role of Judgement and Evaluation? In the tripartite model, are these functions of the reason or are they integrative functions of the chest? Do you consider me in error for perceiving that these functions play a role in the formation of my patriotic sentiments? And is the love - which I have equated with patriotism - a passion of the bowel or an integration in the chest?

When I have traveled overseas and acquired experience that permitted me to evaluate my country in contrast to another, my love for my country grew because the contrast allowed me to perceive precious and valuable aspects I formerly took for granted. I have seen careless indifference and cynicism in my niece and nephews transformed into patriotic love and appreciation as a result of travel abroad.

And what am I to make of Justice? Reason, passion, love, judgment, evaluation, freedom of choice, patriotism, abstraction, etc. are all human faculties or aspects of common subjective experience. Your referent for Justice is not in this category so could never be confused with Patriotism. But our evaluation and furthermore our judgment of what is Good is in this category and consequently can very much be involved with patriotism as illustrated above. And to judge that liberty is good for my forbears, me, my countrymen, and future generations but that submission is good for some other folks who happen to live across a border is a denigration of what I love. It is a lack of confidence in its goodness. It is an acknowledgement that submission might actually be good for me too or perhaps for future generations who will enter the world in different circumstances. This is not about a divine order of Justice but a very human love for the preservation of what is good, what is precious, what is meek and what is easily threatened and smashed. But now I have veered into rhetoric, a line I prefer to wait to cross.
John E.

I can grant the role of intellect in the act of observation or perception, if that what's you're looking for. You say that the object of patriotism is "served up to [the passions] by the mind," and I think I can follow you here at least a few steps, in the sense that intellect is always operating in the activity of perceiving and remembering. But I am worried that such a formulation may lead quickly to error. A great many of our experiences of home are impressed upon us before our minds are even capable of the sort of abstract reasoning we are engaged in here. Later, as we are educated, we begin to associate these experiences with a variety of political doctrines. But what if we are never educated in the process of abstract philsophical reasoning? It is an art, this philosophical reasoning, and it is one that (happily) the great majority of men get by just fine without. What of simple men whose "associated experiences" of home have never included any sustained consideration of political doctrine at all?

I would ask that you recall also what I said about the role of the intellect in the disciplining of passion, in the ordering of this wild thing into ritual, perscription, service, etc.

Paraphrasing, [the soldier] says in earnest: I am over here risking my life because I love my country and I want my children to have the same freedom that I do. Is he an ideologue?

I think the soldier's statement is well in line with my argument. I might (begging the soldier's pardon) paraphrase him further: "I am here risking my life because of Patriotism and Justice." It is quite a compliment to our country that these two obligations have often been in accord; but it may also be a source of confusion. Robert E. Lee said he fought for Patriotism and Justice too, but I think the broader judgment of history tells us that these two were not in accord. Under your theory, can Lee be properly described as a patriot? Under my theory, Lee is one of the great figures in the history of Patriotism, not least because the cause for which he fought exhibits for us, in a particularly stark way, the difference between Patriotism and Justice, and the often tragic character of former.*

And to judge that liberty is good for my forbears, me, my countrymen, and future generations but that submission is good for some other folks who happen to live across a border is a denigration of what I love. It is a lack of confidence in its goodness.

I see that I am never going to get out from under the accusation of relativism . . .

Again, the question of whether liberty is good for all folks is a question which falls not under the head On the Nature of Patriotism, but under the much more tremendous head On the Nature of Justice. We judge our country to be good; we judge, therefore, our patriotism to be good; we ask then, "ought not everyone enjoy the goods which we see embodied here?" But now we have left Patriotism behind, and are on to other matters. (Incidentally, if we are going to get into these universal questions, I will say that I think submission is good for all folks too. Virtually every night I ask God to give me contentment in submission to his will. The Muslim is not wrong to affirm the sovereignty of God; he is just wrong in his understanding of the character of that God.)

This is not about a divine order of Justice but a very human love for the preservation of what is good, what is precious ...

Judging what is good is impossible without reference to the transcendent order of justice. Is it perhaps my opportunity now to suspect the approach of relativism?

[* Now I want to be very careful here, but I will point out that anyone who takes up arms to repel the invader has at least the presumption of Justice; and so I don't think we can say that Justice was entirely absent from Lee's cause.]

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I will be asking you to pour your cup of coffee - or perhaps by the time I am ready with it, it will be a fresh mug of beer - while I talk about Values as the elision which produces most of our differences. But until then, a few quick notes on what you say above.

But what if we are never educated in the process of abstract philosophical reasoning?

There is a discipline to this, no doubt, that may be refined by education. But the point you have granted recognizes that reasoning qua reasoning involves abstraction (as does language itself as you have argued elsewhere). And whether educated or not men develop philosophies for living - what, why, when, where, how are not newly met at every moment but rather by habits ordered by the beliefs formed by reason. This is rightly described as philosophy however uneducated or informal. I, BTW, have never consciously read any literature classified as political philosophy until recently, as a result of encounters with your conservative camp here at RedState. All my political discussions, along with those of all my acquaintances from carpenter and kid to CEO, have been those of the uneducated armchair variety. We "happily" - whether wisely I shall not venture - conduct these discussions using all manner of abstractions and categorical phrases and philosophical orientations. A bit of educated discipline applied to the endeavor might be a welcome thing for the purpose of discussion.

I would ask that you recall also what I said about the role of the intellect in the disciplining of passion, in the ordering of this wild thing into ritual, perscription, service, etc.

That is the part that I believe needs elaboration; the part where we may yet meet on the ground of Values. It is not a transcendent order of Justice that I read into the soldier's reference to freedom, but a Value which is well within the grasp of Man and associated with a proper ordering of that particular form of love that we call patriotism. There may be a connection from Value to Justice by virtue of Creation - you made an allusion in the diary which appears to me to foreshadow this. Nevertheless, we cannot fail to examine (and compare) our Values in the context of Nature without demeaning our confidence in them. You seem to have no confidence to do so and this is what stifles me. When did some men become afraid to do so? The answer seems to me to coincide with the advent of cultural relativism. Would your conjugal "knowing" of the Patriot have treated with the exposure to gunpowder or paper from foreign sources as illicit? Surely you must make room for evaluation of the good whether from home or foreign as the means by which productive growth within a particular civilization occurs. Your view of Patriotism seems meanly protective of what is too fragile to survive scrutiny or exposure or change. The heroic sense of protecting what is precious and fragile is a sentiment I can identify with. But you have misplaced it - according to my experience - by attaching it merely to meekness. I attribute this to an elision of Value.

Under my theory, Lee is a tragic hero riven by competing Values. I love Lee and I love Lincoln but twas Lee's lot to lose and perhaps he cast it himself.

Judging what is good is impossible without reference to the transcendent order of justice.
Well this really is the rub. I hope to show you through an examination of Value that everyone of us does indeed naturally and organically evaluate and even judge what is good all the time. It is a function of the Integrated whole, and you do a violence of Partition when you elide it. To abstract this away as a reference to divine and transcendent Justice is an erroneous and violent Partition.

And since even this response took me so long - I have to recognize that I am interminably slow at this - there may be a number of beers that pass you lips before I can deliver my tome on Values. Perhaps you can reason forward to where this is going and cut a shortcut to the outcome. If so, come back on me here.
John E.

Well, its increasingly clear to me that our true differences concern not Patriotism but Justice. This really comes out when you write, "To abstract [the natural act of judging and evaluating what is good] away as a reference to divine and transcendent Justice is an erroneous and violent Partition." I also see this difference here: "It is not a transcendent order of Justice that I read into the soldier's reference to freedom, but a Value which is well within the grasp of Man and associated with a proper ordering of that particular form of love that we call patriotism."

If I read these passages right, you interpret me as setting Justice outside "the grasp of Man"; and thus you see my references to it as a kind of cop-out. I would ask that you understand, even if you do not agree, that I do not see Justice outside of the scope of Man. It is, as St. Paul put it, written upon his heart. The proper operation of reason, guided by a properly formed conscience, will reveal to him what is good and true. I do not use the word "transcendent" as a way of setting it utterly beyond us, but rather to indicate that it is not of our making, and it is, in a true sense, a revelation.

Now, a corollary of this is that reasoning toward what is good or true, which does not make reference to the transcendent order, is bound for failure and frustration -- and indeed, for the poison of relativism. This is why I judge patriotism to be good because it is a love of our little corner of Creation, which is good. Existence is good. I quoted Chesterton, in his almost unbelievably brilliant book on Aquinas, on this point a couple weeks ago: “If the morbid Renaissance intellectual is supposed to say, ‘To be or not to be — that is the question,’ then the massive medieval doctor does most certainly reply in a voice of thunder, ‘To be — that is the answer.’” My country is; therefore it is good.*

Nevertheless, we cannot fail to examine (and compare) our Values in the context of Nature without demeaning our confidence in them. You seem to have no confidence to do so and this is what stifles me.

Here again: while I am reluctant to examine and compare our values in the context of Patriotism, I have no such reluctance, but only the reluctance of my own limitations, to do so in the context of Nature. But I really cannot see why these issues of comparison and evaluation must become the hinge upon which my own patriotism depends. Even more firmly: they will never be that hinge, because men can't be argued out of loving their home, however short it falls of higher standards. (That is, they can't be argued out unless they hang their patriotism on the hook of political doctrine: then, indeed, they may be suspectible to being argued out of patriotism, which is a real danger that worries me.)

On this question of confidence in values, I will also say this: Part of my reluctance, which you tend to interpret as relativism, to infuse the question of Patriotism with the broader questions of Justice, is my fear of the pride that will ensue upon their conflation; a pride of hubris that anticipates nemesis. Men may come to love their country only because she seems to them to have achieved the best approximation of Justice in the political realm. And every time some leftist or cantankerous critic delivers a solid blow against this approximation, every time they are forced to feel a deep loathing of something in American history, their patriotism will diminish; until at last, like so many of our Liberals, they have nothing left of Patriotism but an ideal of Justice which they cannot actually see in their country. They love ideas, hate their country, and still believe themselves patriots.

Let us instead have a more humble and reticent, but solid, shining and enduring Patriotism, on the one hand; and all the abstract, confident universalist arguments on Justice we like, on the other. Let us even compare our countries, according to their approximations of Justice, so long as we have not deluded ourselves into thinking we are comparing the validity of our Patriotism. Absent catastrophe, that love of home will remain, whether we judge our country to be first on the list of approximations, a few places back on the list, or farther down.

Two cheers for Patriotism; three cheers for Justice.

[* Now don't you dare try to sidetrack me on the existence of evil. :) Sin, we remember from our Augustine, is a deprivation, with you true existence of its own. And sin and death have been conquered by Christ.]

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And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Well we come closer but still do not quite meet.

What if they hang their patriotism on the hook of political doctrine

There may be much to fear there. But what of one such as I - and this is how I relate to the soldier and to so many common men who appear to be just such as I - who hangs his patriotism on the hook of Values. Values are not abstract things to me. They are subjectively experienced. They are made of the stuff of appetites, sentiments, cognition, and experiences all rolled together. They are subject to rational comprehension and recognizable - through sympathy - as also present in others. They can be compared and prioritized and systematized and shared. Some values seem both to be able to inspire love and be inspired by love almost as if love is somehow inseparable from them. Liberty - however else someone may think of it - seems to me to be first a value: a respect for a certain measure of our natural (limited) capacity for freedom of choice which I am accustomed to exercise. Some shared system of values seems to exist in America and I love her for this. By this she has loved me and I want with all the force of my heart to preserve this for all. This is not some idea that I rise to defend. It motivated by a love firmly rooted in my experience, in the gift of the good life bestowed upon me by This Great Lady. My bell is not rung by Justice. It is sounded by my sense of what is valuable and precious and what needs to be protected. Not everything that America is is dear to me and you have said the same (Capitalistic). My Values show me what is dear. Existence cannot provide me with the predicate for good that you claim to find in it.

You may think me an anomaly Paul. I suppose that is an empirical question. I am no vast collection of random particulars experiences. These experiences have been sorted into (often named) conceptual cateogories, colored by the sentiments they provoked, evaluated as good and bad, analyzed into opinions, judged one against another, systematized into values. Love may very well be the quintessential thing of the chest as it is the well ordered state in which all my appetites and capacities are ordered by well-placed Values. Patriotism refers to some subset of this Love which I will humbly defer from trying to define, but it is tied to Values as well. This particular Man is no blank slate which can be programmed by an Ideology constructed by elites for to make a better world. A pox on the progressive liberal. But neither is this particular Man a blank slate programmed by the circumstances of his birth to love a particular Home or State or Country or Civlization. This particular Man is a moral agent: embodying the propensity, even the responsibility to evaluate my experience in terms of good and bad. I believe that other men are too. Perhaps we shall need to inquire.

Regarding reason does it not seem that what you give in one hand with your reference to St. Paul you take away with the other?

It is, as St. Paul put it, written upon his heart. The proper operation of reason, guided by a properly formed conscience, will reveal to him what is good and true.

But then in referring to revelation as a transcendent order you take away reason's effectiveness as reaching the good and true, since

reasoning toward what is good or true, which does not make reference to the transcendent order, is bound for failure and frustration -- and indeed, for the poison of relativism.

St. Paul says to the Romans: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them...For when Gentiles who do not have the Law [revelation] do by nature the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending themselves..."

And St. Paul "reasoned" with those in Athens. It seems clear to me that St. Paul believed that we do have access to know good through reason because God has granted us that access. And a man need not believe in God to believe this, because Nature shows that we have been made this way as well. We who know God may have access to a more perfect - still imperfect - revelation of transcendent Truth and Justice, but we share a common though imperfect access provided to all men and it is on this common basis that our civil society comes together. Patriotism can thus be hung on Values, not mere Existence as if whatever is is the good object of Patriotism.

Reasoning which fails to take account of what God has "written on our hearts" is indeed doomed to failure and frustration. That is the mark by which we know it for the flawed reasoning that it is. That is the mark by which it is left - unloved - to perish. No lasting object of Patriotism that. God has nowhere provided us access to a ready made transcendent order. He has provided us tools to figure it out and reason is part of that along with what is in the heart and bowels.

Final Judgment will be in the hand of God. Present judgement is in Burke's "wisdom of the species" or Smith's "invisible hand" which is comprised by all of our individual judgments. We can only hope to collectively keep making progress towards knowing the good by preserving the goods that we have already grasped. I cannot screen off Patriotism because it is evident to me that it is part of the process.

The fear of our self-loathing is justified by its very sad and unfortunate presence. Rooting out the cause for this is precisely my utmost concern. It is what motivates the clarion call for confidence - on which I joined TS - that has kicked us into to this latest round of dialogue. And it is a happy moment to meet with you in agreement over our fear of this outcome. It is ironic that you say confidence will produce self-loathing - for pride comes before a fall - while I say this self-loathing is precisely due to a lack of confidence - a failure to endorse the really unique, vital and enduring values that America has bestowed upon us and the world; a failure I trace to the enervating force of cultural relativsm. I want to confront the lies and untruths of our cantankerous critics. I know the goods I have received. I know something of the world. I know that some special set of the values are not mere provincial-isms but prime time. No empty argument void of experience and history will dumb me down.

As for the final injunctions to humility, perhaps you are right. I shall contemplate it further. But please let us confront this issue of self-loathing and this fear of brittleness. What is the cause? What is the response? It engages my Patriotism, but you seem to advise me not to risk it; while I want to enlist yours for the cause. We seem to be like the snake devouring its own tail.
John E.

Let us instead have a more humble and reticent, but solid, shining and enduring Patriotism, on the one hand;

Yes, I can honor that.

and all the abstract, confident universalist arguments on Justice we like, on the other. Let us even compare our countries, according to their approximations of Justice, so long as we have not deluded ourselves into thinking we are comparing the validity of our Patriotism.

But here it seems you invite me to endorse the very Partition that you rightly lambasted in your diary. I cannot divorce my heart and bowels from my search for the good as though it were some abstract thing accessible to my reason alone. I engage the Integral whole in this endeavor; and I cannot do it alone: I do it as part of a community, as one constituent in the "wisdom of the species." My abstract reason does not have access to some transcendent order of Justice by which it may judge the degree to which specific instantiations of countries approximate that order. I must employ the whole self - with all the gifts of its nature that god has given me - in pursuit of the good at hand. And I do so as part of a social group, a civilization, a great diffuse mind of accumulating knowledge and tradition.

Absent catastrophe, that love of home will remain, whether we judge our country to be first on the list of approximations, a few places back on the list, or farther down.

And it will grow and become more robust and approximate ever more closely that maximum good which it seeks to receive from God's gracious hand, but may never be able to finally achieve until Christ returns in the flesh.

Three cheers for Patriotism in its quest for and service to the Good. Let us proceed in a confidence which can only be born from a humility which makes us quick to improve our relationship to the Good.

John E.

I think I muddled matters with the use of the phrase transcendent order of justice, because you are perceiving disagreement where there is none. I am, for example, in total agreement with this statement:

And St. Paul "reasoned" with those in Athens. It seems clear to me that St. Paul believed that we do have access to know good through reason because God has granted us that access. And a man need not believe in God to believe this, because Nature shows that we have been made this way as well. We who know God may have access to a more perfect - still imperfect - revelation of transcendent Truth and Justice, but we share a common though imperfect access provided to all men and it is on this common basis that our civil society comes together

It is probably the word "transcendent" that introduced the confusion. I say again I do not use it to indicate the insurmountable distance between Justice and Man, but rather to indicate its origin outside of Man. My transcendent order of Justice is accessible to man, in an imperfect way, by means of his reason -- which was, of course, itself bestowed upon him when he was made in the image of his Creator -- but it is not made by man.

So if you like I'll abandoned the use of that phrase in favor of something more palatable to you. Natural law maybe?

This particular Man is no blank slate which can be programmed by an Ideology constructed by elites for to make a better world. A pox on the progressive liberal. But neither is this particular Man a blank slate programmed by the circumstances of his birth to love a particular Home or State or Country or Civlization.

I never came close to arguing a blank slate theory, but I will say I admire your turning the standard attack on blank-slateism on its head.

I'll start a new comment thread to talk about the issue of self-loathing.

_____________
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

You guys have sure been shoveling a lot of manure on to the pony. Patriotism is simply the fundamental human emotion of "This is mine, I like it, leave it alone because you will have to kill me for it or die trying" applied to the combination of the ideals of the society in which one lives and the ground upon which one stands.

As such, once the person determines that this combination no longer warrants the fundamental emotion set forth above, he can no longer be a patriot. He can withdraw, either intellectually or physically and become an ex-patriot, or he can become a traitor seeking to replace the ideals the society has adopted by supporting those whose ideals he prefers.

This is why the secular progressives in this country are traitors. They have rejected the founding principles and developed traditions of this Nation and actively support those who would replace them, not through the evolving process of the consensus of civilization, but through the imposition of the ideals of the minority by abuse of societal systems, such as the courts.

The key component of patriotism is the willing to use or support the use of the force of arms to preserve or impose. Without this component you have a parasite, not patriot. This is why the "anti-war" and "anti-warriors" can not be patriots, but just parasites living off the freedom earned and preserved by the arms of true patriots.

Envisioning when all that is Left is the Right.

The Ease of Discerning the Patriotic from the Un-Patriotic/Lovers from Siblings

Sunday, November 19, 2006 5:30 PM

excerpt

And then it struck me. I looked around at America in a whole new way, especially those in my communities and State, but also the whole country. I saw the country that my Mom and Dad lived and died in and left their mark upon. I was one of their marks, and this was my country. And Others wanted to destroy my country. To cause my Dad to die all over again. To cause all of us and all we have been, are and will be, to die, utterly, and forever.

The Cold War was never real to me. Probably because I was in a Carter-like liberal denial. After my conservative epiphany, though, when I read many books about Reagan and what he faced, I now realize how dangerous was the world I sleepwalked thru while Reagan won the war.

But on 911 and after, it really hit me just how much I loved this country and would do anything to preserve it for posterity. I thought back to a College Professor that I didn't understand at the time. He would tear up talking about sitting on the banks of the Panama Canal watching our Boys go to fight Japan after Pearl Harbor. I didn't understand then. I was a young spoiled American that just took all this for granted. WWII was history and it had to be that way....

Well, when the WTC towers fell, I knew that things would be like they would be only if we fought and won. And what was to happen post-911 wasn't in a history book.

It was and is in us. George W Bush is one of us, and he has in him what many of us have in us. Hopefully a majority. I am confident it is a strong majority. But there is a string minority that does not have in themselves what Bush and I and Millions have that will not let us ever stop fighting to save this country, and that is a love so deep that to live is to love this country.

Yes, TS, Cella, Johne, and others, it is first an emotion. It is THE emotion. The emotion that animates a man to want to live. That cares about his fellow man. After the fall, and more specifically, after man united under one government totally alienated from God living in pure evil, God separated man into nations so that evil would not compound exponentially. So that nations could check each other and not be as likely to think himself God.

So it is God's plan that men look after themselves in groups that take care of themselves first and protect themselves from others. For when man is not so separated, he is less able to see God.

Patriotism is really a barometer to determine if a man is truly alive in God's world. Is a man's life connected with others or is he an Island to self?

This patriotism I have post-911 is different in kind from what it was pre-911. I think about this love everyday. And I guess it explains my complete and total contempt for people that show that they do not love this country by what they say and do. They say they love this country, but what they really love is themselves and an imaginary country that never was and never will be. They are not connected to our people by love. No. They are connected to us and this land, more like a Scientist is to guinea pigs, or doctors to patients, or a hotel patron to the Hotel staff, or curious ex-patriots from Utopia nation. We just don't measure up to them. they just can't accept that this is as good as it gets. They hate life because they are surrounded by Neanderthals compared to them. they hate their parents for not fixing the world before they were born into it. They reject the notion that man cannot perfect himself thru social structure. They reject the notion that war is ever necessary. Send a few detectives to Tora Bora.

It is people like theses that look at 5000 years of history in which there has always been war and in which civilizations like them fell to barbarians, and yet come away clueless and in denial. If only people would just do right, then I might could love them...

Well, they wait to love and so are not prepared to fight.

And if we are to preserve this nation we love, we will have to defeat the Left just as surely as we have to defeat the Jihadists.

God Bless America

the whole thing

http://gamecock.townhall.com/g/9fc7ced6-20d6-4874-a8e8-f04b46ff99b9

www.race42008.com
"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson
http://gamecock.townhall.com

Re: This is why the secular progressives in this country are traitors.

This is way unfair. Secularism and progressivism have been part* and parcel of our American culture since the founding-- or indeed, even before through our heritage from the Puritans (who sought a New Jerusalem in this world, not in the next; and who also thought they could improve on human nature by legislating sin into submission). It is impossible to read Jefferson, for example, and not see the roots of modern-day secularism and progressivism both. And others shared in his tradition, handing it down to our day, with appropriate changes necessitated by time's passage. And indeed judgments like the above are themselves deeply damaging to American patriotim by creating out of thin air an inimical Other which by definition cannot be an American though he was born here and lives here and devotes his life to the nation. One great genius of our nation is precisely that Creed does not identify an American, and that should include Creed in the larger sense as well. Only those whose beliefs actually preclude an America (say, the Jihadists or the Communists) can be truly outside our patriotism.

* Please note that I say "part". I do not argue that we are purely a secular nation, only that secularism is one of the strands woven quite anciently into our tapestry.

Re: This is why the "anti-war" and "anti-warriors" can not be patriots

I would argue that America has room for true pacifists, else should we evict (metaphorically even) the Quakers and the Amish and the contemplative religious orders from our America? Indeed I would not want to live in a culture that did not make place for those who refuse to shed blood. Such a road is not for everyone, any more than poverty or celibacy is, but it is something that a moral society should never exclude. (See: Islam, with no such tradition)

Re: This is why the "anti-war" and "anti-warriors" can not be patriots

The true pacifist, who trusts in God and does not lift his hand against his own death, or the death of those he loves, actually has the harder road in such matters, and the deeper faith. Else why did the ancient Christians so honor the martyrs who went to their deaths unresisting with the name and hope of Jesus on their lips? Somewhere in your opinions I catch a glimpse of the idolatry of nations, and of the other things of the Here and Now, that blinds us to more transcendant truths.

bushlied crowd are not pacifists and don't pretend to be. They are a varied lot, to be sure, but the ones whose patriotism I question are those that share talking points with our enemies and whose words have been emboldening the enemy since 2003. Many even voted for the war and yet want to quit and not finish and win a war their country is in when it gets tough. They treat the war like a political issue as if the war is Bush's war or a GOP war. They are paper tigers. They are invested in American defeat. They couldn't be convicted of being patriots, Even if in their heart they think they are. They love only a secular progressive governed America, not the actual America that is having war waged against it and a defeat of which in Iraq would substantially increase the peril we face in many ways, up to and including our very survival.

www.race42008.com
"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson
http://gamecock.townhall.com

and I probably should have made it myself. There most certainly is a profound difference between a pacifism of conviction and one of political convenience. Though I would ad a caveat, that an American who opposes a specific war because he sincerely believes it is bad for the country is not being unpatriotic. For an example, see Lincoln's rather fierce denuniciation of the Mexican War.

To the caveat: We should recognize that “sincerity” of “belief” has a measure. The belief must be measured against the actual goodness. And furthermore the good/bad consequences of the belief going forward – not simply a heuristic discussion of the past – will dominate. And a “sincere” person will recognize when criticism of a countries war effort, or a refusal to fight, is actually bad for the country, regardless of any initial belief regarding the goodness. Furthermore, a “sincere” person - when confronted with strong beliefs of the countrymen he loves and respects – will put his very soul under scrutiny. “Sincerity” will set a very high bar for urging against a war in which his country is engaged. And such an argument which reaches that bar should prove itself in terms of its clarity and persuasiveness. Triviality, banality, and spite are among the dead give aways.

To the “progressive”: It remains my belief that there is a dangerous category of individuals in America that fail to give proper place to tradition. There is an harmfully erroneous strain of thought that under girds “progressivism”: that we can remake ourselves according to ideals – some kind of abstract Kantian principles – and cavalierly throw off the chains of our ignorant traditions. I believe this is a misguided approach that fails to comprehend our human nature and its natural place in Nature. Following this approach has harmed us. Reform needs to occur organically, not by fiat, through the “wisdom of the species” born out of innovation in the experience of living

John E.

Let me address both your "Re"s. It is very simple. If you are not willing to use, or support the use, of arms to preserve that which we have, you can not be a patriot. If you are not willing to metaphorically stand on the "Line on Lexington Green", you can not be a patriot.

You do not get to choose if your Country is right in a particular matter. If you are in opposition to your Country's adopted position to an external threat, inclusive of an internally generated civil conflict, you are a traitor.

Now, a traitor can be a good thing. All of our Founding Fathers were traitors. But you had better be able to tell right from wrong. The secular progressives in this country can not do this because they have rejected core moral values for the comfort of equivalency.

If you are a pacifist by conviction or cowardice, you are a parasite sucking on the blood of those who have earned your freedoms and liberty. Fortunately for the pacifists, but at great expense to others, there has been plenty shed to nourish their needs.

Envisioning when all that is Left is the Right.

Well, let's go ahead and talk more about this. Back when I was working on my book on Patriotism, I had gone as far as collecting a fairly sizeable mass of empirical (or at least anecdotal) evidence, in the form of questionaires sent to a wide variety of Americans. Now what particularly alarmed me about the the trends I was seeing was (surprise surprise) the common attachment of Patriotism to an ideology. Essentially it amounted to this: "American Patriotism is the love of our country, so long as she embodies Liberalism."

Now, I want to take you back to an episode when my college days, an anecdote that may help illuminate my revulsion for ideological patriotism. In a class one day, the discussion turned briefly to the American Founders. The specifics of it are long forgotten now, save one outburst. A guy off to my left suddenly jumped in with a brief shocking diatribe which amounted to the standard Leftist critique (which at that time I was unfamiliar with): "Of course, the Founders were all just slave-owning patriarchal white men who made a revolution in order to secure their vast properties and make themselves richer!" I have since kicked myself for not answering that with the scorn it deserved.

But you see, this guy could defame the Founders based on his discovery that they were not good Liberals. He could castigate them and their work based on their failure to live up to his notion of Liberalism. And he could do this without the shame that would normally attend openly unpatriotic tirades, because he felt himself a patriot for his act of defamation. And how will the ideological patriot gainsay him except by trying to convince him that he has his ideology all wrong?

So I think we have produced quite a bit of this self-loathing that Johne and TheSophist and myself decry: precisely by detaching patriotic love from its proper object -- one's home, conceived not primarily by a process of intellection, but by the processes of memory, tradition, custom, etc. -- and, by a strange surgery, grafting it to a set of political doctrines. We have put patriotism at the service of ideology; and as our age is an age of particularly ruinous ideological fervor, we have by this alchemy sown ruin and desolation. Our ideologies tell us that our ancestors never lived up to our standards, that they had different ideas about liberty, equality, justice, and order -- ideas, in many cases, repugnant to Liberalism. Learning this is a frightful experience for someone who has grown up into this ideological atmosphere. The shock of debunking induces cynicism, despair and self-loathing.

John and TheSophist have far better ideologies to offer -- of that I have no doubt. But they are still ideologies, still abbreviations of a living tradition, and just as a Liberal of the 1950s would hardly recognize his ideological offspring today, so I think there is good cause for doubting the even short-term endurance of the saner ideologies of today.

A truer patriotism must be anchored in something outside of politics, sheltered from the whims of political opinion; more than that, a truer patriotism is anchored in such things. It is only the "strange surgery" mentioned above that has obscured this.

__________________
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

"American Patriotism is the love of our country, so long as she embodies Liberalism."

I hope you see just how small is the intersection between the scope of that generalization and me: whereas, American Patriotism is the love rooted in values of country, of which liberty is a primary traditional value amongst others like place and home.

I should wearily think it necessary to take apart the erroneous assumptions in that leftist critique one small distasteful bite at a time. It is disgusting and ought to be humiliated. His notion of Liberalism is - as you say - an idea of the mind. It cannot be loved as an objective referent, but it is interesting that it engenders hate for one. To what is he a patriot? There is no extant country - embodying this Liberalism of his invention - that matches the object of his love. His love is for a disembodied idea. So whatever kind of patriot he may represent, he is not one of America. I think we both realize this fellow cannot characterize his critique as one of an American Patriot. And that should be a first and fair criticism. Furthermore, he is has picked out a couple of facts of history in isolation from all the other facts of its historical context as a read of Thomas Sowell, for example, would show. And he makes an unjustifiable leap from these sparse facts to ascription of a motivation. And he uses this invented motivation in a diatribe designed to show his moral superiority. This is a failure of character as well. He survives in class by relying on ignorance and decorum and perhaps by complicity in the temptation to indulge in this cheap acquisition of moral superiority.

You still think of me as an Ideologue. I think that you have elided the proper place of Values from your analysis of Patriotism; and if and when you flesh them out you will see that I am no Ideologue. There may be many who pull a Kant on those words of “political doctrine” and blunder in the abyss of “pure” and sterilized reason over matters of living. Pray not me. For me, in matters of life and country, those words attach to values; they are rooted in my concrete experience of living in this country.

I will not engage to convince that student that his ideology is wrong but that his manner of thinking is wrong, his grasp of the facts is inadequate and attention to his character development will beneficially affect his grip.

Shelter Patriotism, no! These are presently matters of life, exigent matters which call on Patriotism and call for Patriotism. Patriotism has been assaulted here at home and we have failed to rise to its defense. We must specifically confront all the fallacious modes of thought, the errors in fact, and the deficiencies in character that have dislodged it from its proper place, that have disrupted its vital function. We need our Patriotism repaired in vital health, for it must answer the call to confront the threat gathering on the horizon; a threat from a tradition whose men who are not infected with self-loathing and self-doubt and for which their very life serves as a weapon.

Confront and repair at home so we are prepared to meet threat from abroad.

And anyway Paul, what is the practical effect of this show-the-anchor project? Have we saved any of our liberals friends by it? Are their any who have truncated their disgusting unpatriotic tirades? Have we succeeded in insulating our youth from any of those tirades by showing them that they were confused all along about what patriotism actually is; something that has nothing to do with politics? Or do we perhaps plan to show everyone – at some opportune cathartic moment – that despite all their self-loathing unpatriotic tirades they really are patriotic so that now they can once and for all answer the call and put aside all the talk that engenders annihilating self-doubt?

If I did not doubt the phenomenology which produced it, I would still have doubts about the effects you expect to achieve from this project and the practicality of its implementation. I am not willing to concede, as you have implicitly done, that I (or one of your considerable rhetorical skills) cannot meet the Ideologue in the field of public controversy - disarm, subdue, and hopefully convert him, or least sway opinion against him - while wearing my patriotism as a breastplate. It is good for the task, not something I must tuck away. As a matter of fact, if I tuck it away, I know not how I shall fair, because sterile reason is not sufficient to discover and stir the beliefs that a man must live by. This is the very reason the ideologue fails. Wherever we meet the man who has taken the heart out of it, we need - all the more - to put our heart into it; this to restore the community to the proper way. We argue with our heart from tradition and for tradition but with the humility to scrutinize tradition. Do we not have confidence that tradition will prove itself right more often than Ideological Kantian reasoning? Shall we not confidently cleave to facts and wisdom?

What has become of self-loathing if your project succeeds? We do not seem to hope thereby to eradicate it from the classroom or elsewhere. Do we hope to compartmentalize such that it exists as unfelt theoretical self-loathing – if there can be such a thing – in the mind; but this mental thing never reaches into the sheltered heart where a pure and sustained Patriotism guides us fruitfully forward? I for one am not made that way, with such a Partition. But perhaps I have not reflected sufficiently to properly conceive your scheme. I will retire to do so or await reproof.

John E.

American Patriotism is the love rooted in values of country

My college classmate would surely affirm the same thing. He would just assert different values. Now, of course we would both move (I wish I had at the time) to disabuse him of the notion that his Liberalism embraces the authentic American tradition. We would both move to demonstrate how at odds his Liberalism is with this tradition, how abstract from the organic development of real America. But I would go further and try to show him that patriotism cannot be about "embodying" an ideal. It must first be about a body. So I might say to him, "Sir, I do not believe it is really possible to entertain such contempt for one's forebears, and still call oneself a patriot. I do not think a patriot can venerate the supposed and as-yet-unrealized ideals of his forebears, but fail to venerate them."

And anyway Paul, what is the practical effect of this show-the-anchor project?

It's purpose has always been to correct what I see as a debilitating error. The error is deeper, in my view, than the surface barbarities of my classmate, or of the many students and young people who answered by questionaires with a rigid conflations of America with Liberalism; somewhere back in the early twentieth century, an idea was spawned that unmoored America from its living tradition. This error was exacerbated (for mostly understandable reasons) by the Cold War, where much of the American Right began to cast America is a grand idea in confrontation with the idea of Communism. The error has been assisted immeasurably by the economic trends of the past 50 years: the break-up of communities, the ease of travel, the constant weakening of organic ties.

I did not mean by "sheltering" patriotism, that it should not be a public thing, something worn on the sleve and all that. Nor did I mean to imply that we cannot meet the Liberal in the field of debate and subdue him. This whole debate is occurring amongst a bunch of right-wingers who are not (let us hope) possessed by this self-loathing. We are trying to refine our arguments, to sharpen one another. Were we out there in debate with the Left, things would plainly look alot different around here.

What has become of self-loathing if your project succeeds?

If my immediate project succeeds, I'm afraid, not much has become of the self-loathing; because my project is aimed not at the self-loathers, but at men who do share a love their country. I am trying to correct an error which has migrated to the Right, to put it baldly. It has wholly conquered the Left, for the most part, but if it conquers the Right, we are well and truly doomed.

Now, as for rhetorical strategy against the self-loathers, I will say this for starters: I am convinced that part of it should include a determined effort to ignore them; to talk to each other openly and avoid get dragged into their obsessions and neurosis. There is a crying need for patriots to commit to a kind of defiance that refuses to concede the false propriety of the Liberals in setting the terms of the debate. We ought to talk to ourselves more, and avoid their distractions; we ought to indicate our contempt for their lunacies by not giving them the time of day; we ought to act like we are still the sovereign majority of this republic (as I believe we still are), and go ahead with the deliberation of the business of the republic.

For example, we ought to say of those imam-provocateurs in Minnesota that they should be deported forthwith, without apology -- and not exhaust ourselves in the effort to defend this action at the bar of Liberalism. To hell with Liberalism. Such action shall be defended at the bar of Patriotism. Our question is not, have the imams been afforded their full panoply of civil rights? but, have they shown sufficient loyalty to the country under whose laws and protection they move and act? We should not fear to talk about sedition laws and loyalty oaths. Why? Because we do not, like our Liberals, tremble and quake at the thought that we might careen off toward internment camps the moment we say Jihad is intolerable. We are not afraid of the opinions of our own people. We are not ashamed that America jailed anarchists, and blacklisted Communists; that Lincoln tossed the Copperheads in prison, or that Davis hanged Unionists in East Tennessee (a fact the despisers of Lincoln tend to forget); that Congress prohibited polygamy, and the Supreme Court upheld the prohibition, and that at one point half the prison population of the Utah Territory consisted of polygamists; that Adams cracked down on the Jacobins and (horror or horrors) used the law to resist the spread of a Revolution that bathed Europe in blood.

The effort of conversion is not always the most fruitful one. It might be better, in this age, to aim at perplexity and bewilderment among our opponents. This can be done, perhaps, by the kind of defiance I have sketched here.

_________________
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

I shall ponder this for a while. I think I understand better now the case you are making.
John E.

How have I progressed as a result of our conversations? I started off identifying with an idea of American Creedalism put forth by TheSophist, because he identified certain aspects that seem to be what make America exceptional in the world today; and gave account for how immigrants become Americans. But I tacitly knew and told him there was something different about the way I arrived to the conclusion of what joins people as Americans. Sam Gamgee followed it with a discussion of American Values with which I identified more strongly. You have caused me to concentrate on the importance of reifying the ideas implicit in these particular values. Perhaps reify is not precisely the correct word because the rule of the orientation is phenomenological, from concrete reality to the production of idea, not abstract idea to produce concrete object, much less abstract idea independent of concrete object and practice. Perhaps it is better to say that I realize that Patriotism – though it involves valuation for a tradition embodying ideas – is not about loving an ideal or working to make America embody an ideal. That may be good or bad as the case may be, but I won’t call it Patriotism now, if I ever did.

So what I have come around to is that America, through its culture which imposes some set of core values and outlook, creates a unifying good way of life; and we love America for this. Certainly the local (place, home, and community) are part of that; and I grasp your insight that our most basic social instinct is strongest at the point of the local, decreasing as it moves outward toward the foreign. You would leave off there in a move to tie our Patriotism to a local view of our world and so avoid issues introduced by values of universal extent. But I go further and treat with a system of values that seems to produce something especially precious about American our Way of Life, with an elevation of the priority of Liberty (not only this though) being a marked historical innovation¹ that seems coincident with this exceptional way of life. This might not be particularly significant to you if our traditions were not rooted in and born out of a universalistic view of the world. You and I cannot be a product of original and fundamental American tradition (the “all men are” of The Declaration of Independence) and not hold a universalistic view of the world. (Do you resist this?)

You have confirmed above – consistent with our traditional universalistic view – that God and/or Nature has granted or equipped all men with access to the good. So I must read your pitch against the “effort of Universalism” as something more specific. Primarily you seem to urge that the love of all that which is authentically universalistic about our tradition should not be considered as part of our patriotic feeling, but only that which is local. This cuts out too much for me – and for many – who consider the freedom which characterizes our way of life as a major reason for loving America; one which sets America apart for us from most all the countries of the world, whores such as we may be. Whether or not this feeling is a new thing introduced by a 20th century and cold war heresy of an Idea of America, I – and I think many others as well – cannot purge it. It seems a part of me, organically, as you like to say. Perhaps there is some Zen moment that could transform me. But I doubt it. It resonates in the words and songs of great Americans of past centuries, and in our oldest monuments like the Liberty Bell and the statue of Liberty, and in our founding documents like the Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights.

So I wonder if perhaps your intuition is chafing at something other than the universalistic ideology inherent in our love for America. When you refer to Ideologue and the “ effort of Universalism”, I comprehend a space in which I can join you. As Americans we are not zealous and doctrinaire supporters of an American Ideology. We are practitioners of it…lovers of the practice of it. This does not mean we know nothing of it as idea. We agreed above that you lovers of home and place are not without an abstract Idea of what a Home and a Place is. Thus you have an ideology even if it is just a local one. To be an Ideologue you must in addition be a zealous and doctrinaire supporter of this Ideology within at least some universe. I leave you to judge for yourself whether your project makes you into an Ideologue in this sense, but I think we should agree that doctrinaire support is not the product of Patriotism; perhaps it is to be filed under Politics. Thinking in terms of a Venn diagram, it may be related to Patriotism or something which incorporates Patriotism but it is not inside the bubble of Patriotism. Patriotism entails the defense of the loved but it does not seem to entail preaching. Furthermore, though our tradition and ideology is universalistic: such that we will believe that some things about it are good for all men; my patriotism does not make us advocates of one world order a la Brussels or the UN. The value system – or ideology as you prefer to call it – which is organically part of my patriotic love does not motivate us to conquer and convert other states or civilizations; nor to conform to them for the sake of one world order. It produces none of the Ideologue’s “effort” toward Universalism. Nevertheless we are quite confident that others will be better off if they conceive and practice what is comparatively – from a universalistic viewpoint – precious in our ways. So while I too can chafe against Patriotism entailing Ideologues and “effort of Universalism” I feel that it entails the measure of universalism represented in the previous sentence. This is what your Local notion of Patriotism seems to block and criticize. And this is where I think – in lieu of some future Zen moment – your local notion of Patriotism fails to meet with the actual phenomenological reality of American Patriotism. This narrow point – with weighty implications – seems to be what remains as the bone of contention between us. This is where I feel that you negate the employment of American patriotism. This is where you charge that I have succumbed to a 20th century heresy.

Now I may have some ideals which make me an Idealist² and perhaps even an Ideologue. In particular I have an idealistic belief:
that the Good is accessible to all men;
that the history of human civilization reveals a progressive process of reaching for it;
that Western culture has assimilated many of the best discoveries produced in this process;
that there are some unique innovations of Western culture – which are quite foundational to our American way of life – that preciously enhance the ability of this process to progress toward the good;
that patriotism – as the love of that good which links people in a communal environment – is in general is a part of this process;
that our patriotic love for America in particular – which is enhanced by a recognition of the precious quality of these innovations (often summarily referred to as freedom) – in keeping with this process, intensifies (beyond the level of the jihadist) our inclination to defend and preserve what is so good and precious.

I reach this idealism through objective observations. But my subjective feelings of love for America – and my sympathetic projection of this on Americans – form part of that observation, and so I somehow enlist my patriotic sentiments or tangle them up with this idealism. This apparently causes you to see me as an ideologue who is wrongly conflating ideals with patriotism; while it causes me to see you as weakening – by setting forth an incorrect phenomenology – Patriotism.

What is the import? While we are nearly perfectly joined in our perception of two major threats to America: from without jihadist Islam and from within self-loathing postmodern progressivism which carelessly disrespects tradition; and while we agree on many prescriptions; we yet have some different constraints and intuitions about what can and must be done.

So what of your college classmate? I may also make the criticism that “patriotism cannot be about "“embodying” an ideal.” And I would feel perfectly comfortable reading him your extended quote. What I cannot criticize is patriotism as involving embodiment – from a phenomenological orientation – of ideas. To the extent your criticism is directed at his elevation of Idealism over Patriotism, his glorification of the role of ideologue over patriot, my view causes me to join you. If by “defiance that refuses to concede the false propriety of Liberals in setting the terms of the debate” you mean this kind of Idealism over Patriotism, we shall defy and overcome together. But I cannot consistently go beyond that. And if you do, and he is astute regarding your view of Patriotism, he will say that you also discuss Patriotism in terms of ideas: Home, Place, Community, Country; even if your Patriotism is of just of local rather than universal extent.

As to the survey conflation of America with Liberalism I would require a deeper look to be clear about what this means. Is this Liberalism as in a well defined distinct political philosophy; modern day progressive Liberalism; Classical Liberalism? Or is it identification with America as a place where Freedom rings? I must say that judging from my own self and my experience, most of us have a very poor understanding of political philosophy. I thought to call myself a conservative until I encountered rebuffs from you-all’s camp. And I have the impression that it is correct to call our founders Classical Liberals and that this is something quite distinct from modern Liberalism, but I am not educated on the matter. I am following an impression gathered from amalgamated sources that they were products of an innovative system of values that elevated individual freedom to a new but not absolute nor idealistic height and that they gave great consideration to historical forms of government in order to fill a void produced by their revolution. They were practical men laboring under the influence of great ideas to produce a somewhat new and enduring form of civil society. And we who are its heirs think that they hit on something quite special. If that is the Liberalism that the survey respondents referred to, I should not be surprised or alarmed. Why would that be troubling?

What we think may doom the Right.
Now what is very odd – actually I am laughing as I write this – is that we both feel we are trying to address something about the other’s view – heck we have called it heresy – which we perceive as dangerously debilitating. You believe that as a result of my emphasis on universalistic ideas that my patriotic sentiments are in great danger of being pulled out from under me or constrained by the deconstruction of those ideas; which would be debilitating indeed to me and much of the Right. So you urge us to establish our patriotism more firmly by limiting them to the local ground, which does indeed already form part of my patriotism. On the other hand, I believe that you must have little faith indeed in those universalistic aspects of our tradition. It is as if you fault my confidence in these aspects which make America exceptional; as if you would drain this confidence. So I fault you for a lack of confidence.

Is the fear justified, that the rug will be pulled out from under patriotism that rests on those non-local aspects of American tradition? Has this happened to you?

If it is justified, then when my patriotism falls victim in the course of public discourse perhaps you may rescue me with that meeker part that is left. It has not happened to me and you have not convinced me that it will. Indeed, you would have to show the error of this aspect of our tradition to convince me. And I intuit that you are not so much convinced of the error but rather that discourse presents risk without reward. If I can hold this ground in discourse, why should I give it up in the way you are advocating? And why should you relegate it only to instinct without the conviction that it is in error?

To deliberation of the business of the republic.
I agree with the sentiments you express here and the general direction of prescriptions to which they lead. I think I defend them at the bar of Patriotism, but my form of it rather than yours. As such I am constrained by the liberalism of our tradition, but I think not in the way you have contrasted it. The idealization of rights, freedom and our shared values is a dangerous and prevalent error. This error must be confronted by asking: in what reality can our rights inhere? The threat from foreigners who do not share our values should make evident the answer. It is by a particular shared system of values that we grant these rights to each other. Without these shared values and the common will there will be no rights whatsoever. Loyalty to this shared system of values is therefore a precondition of the rights. These rights are not abstract Kantian principles that we are all morally obliged to extend to every human being. They are products of a community with a shared system of values. The persistence of the community and this shared system of values is intertwined, interdependent. The community must insure its own survival if the values and rights are to survive. And this may demand forms and specific acts of individual sacrifice. We cherish the free expression of ideas because they allow men to innovate toward the good. But we must remember that bad ideas associated with hostile values have caused great harm and we have constrained them both by force and mores. This lesson is good for the present and the future. And ideas which are associated with value systems that are in zero-sum hostile conflict with ours are clearly bad.

No we are not afraid of the opinions of others when we are confident we are doing what is right and necessary. I employ my head with my chest and bowels to reach that confidence. And I am ready to defy PC along with you for this cause. But my aim will not be perplexity and bewilderment but shocking clarity and comprehension. Dialogue may be fruitful when men are sincere. If they are not, then we may jointly cast them to that awful fate you imagined while we strive to help the public see their insincere folly.

In my view, this hoary old uncle of ours deserves to be defended by all the resources at our disposal: argument, poetry, fist, and what have you.

Now it appears we join each other at essentially important points like the need to deal firmly with disloyalty and harshly meet with foreign threats to America. I agree that where Liberalism chafes at sedition measures it assails America’s own “living tradition.” I just argue that this brand of idealistic Liberalism is not consistent with authentic American tradition: which embodies classical liberal ideas in values, not Ideals. And this tradition is represented in the collective judgment or “deliberate sense” of our countrymen, as you say. And I draw your attention to what I consider to be a very significant point of difference in analysis. I believe the point of tolerance over which the modern mind “failed the test” in the Danish cartoon controversy, and the broader controversy that it symbolizes, is not the tolerance born out of our classical liberal values of tolerance. It is a new kind of tolerance invented in the 20th century out of a method of thought that applies a relativistic viewpoint to our core beliefs, those which we live by; a view which gives up on universalistic moral aspirations; a view which lazily resolves differences by an appeal to the subjectivity of the good, right and true; an expectation that tolerance requires us to agree that the other is right even when we believe they are utterly wrong, because no objective grip on what is right can be obtained. This relativism is not confined to modern Liberalism. It infects many who are not progressive Liberals. Hostility to universalistic moral aspirations is a symptom. In that you remain consistent with that universalistic endorsement of reason and valuation which you gave above, I think that it does not infect you. This relativism does combine with liberal ideas to produces a modern virulent form of Idealist Liberalism. It is this form of Liberalism at which I believe you correctly chafe. The tolerance in Classical Liberalism – I don’t have a precise definition of it, but to the extent that it refers to the value system which elevates liberty – is not the cause of our difficulties and need not be thrown overboard.

The finer differences in our two projects have implications that manifest in our strategy of action. Some implications of my more expansive Patriotism – as grasping the universalistic aspects of our tradition – and confidence project include expansiveness in strategy: that when non-idealist people come to America, the goodness in our way of life will usually prevail upon them to adopt it; that there is a sound reason to be proud of our colonial/imperialistic past even that of mother Britain; in our interaction with the wider world, from trade to war, we may confidently endorse the dominating effect of our culture’s way of life. Your project to localize Patriotism seems to also lead to localizing or contractive strategies: resist oppressive foreign influence of immigration since foreign ways threaten to dominate our own; foreign policy should narrowly aim to insulate ourselves from the effects of Middle Eastern culture; I am not sure but suspect you consider the colonial past suspect.

As for defining the turf over which our conflict with the disloyal, the self-loather, the (modern) Liberal is fought, that idea does appeal to me. If it were possible for us to set ourselves up on the ground of what may legitimately be referred to as Patriotic, I suppose quite a few would come to us to fight us for the claim to that ground. The few who don’t care for that title isolate themselves. Is it possible to define and set the scope of that appellation? Is it possible to form a society of Patriots which may legitimately lay claim to that title and the measure by which it may be dispensed?

¹ In the course of his study of The Moral Sense, James Q. Wilson examines the rise of universalism. He observes: ”… what is remarkable – indeed what constitutes the most astonishing thing about the moral development of humanity – has been the slow uneven but more or less steady expansion of the idea that the moral sense ought to govern a wide range, perhaps the whole range of human interactions. Our universe has been enlarged… The greatest and most sustained expansion in the boundaries of the moral sense occurred in the West… roughly northwestern Europe and North America.” He briefly traces the historical changes that led the West to the innovative valuation of Freedom. In describing it as a Western innovation he notes: “…the concept of Freedom, a notion that no matter how difficult it may be to define, we Westerners consider a self-evident good. But its value has not been self-evident in other cultures. Indeed as Orlando Patterson has noted, most non-Western peoples had no word for Freedom before they came into contact with the West. And those that did, such as the Chinese, typically meant by Freedom what we would mean by licentiousness.” And he offers this quote to express the import of this concept on the cultural value system. “…let me quote the words of a black scholar raised in a third world nation: Professor Orlando Patterson. “At its best the valorization of personal liberty is the noblest achievement of Western civilization. That people are free to do as they please within limits set only by the personal freedom of others; that legally all persons are equal before the law; that philosophically the individuals separate existence is inviolable; that psychologically the human condition is to be liberated from all internal and external constraints in ones desire to realize oneself; and that spiritually, the Son of God made himself incarnate then gave up his life in order to redeem mankind from spiritual thralldom and to make people free and equal before God; all add up to a value complex that not only is unparalleled in any other culture but in its profundity and power is superior to any other single complex of values conceived by mankind.”” I don’t offer this quote as a proper definition of Western values or the precise way that Liberty is formulated within them, but rather to show that there is a recognized historical basis for attributing to the West an innovation of Liberty into the production of a new and grand universalistic value system.

² Idealism may not actually be the appropriate word to describe this. Perhaps this is part of my modern day Mythos: the set of explanatory beliefs that I use to account for my place in this universe; which make sense of all the knowledge I, as a product of modernity, have acquired about ourselves and the world; something akin to the level of belief felt by Socrates that led him to drink the arsenic. By showing you this subset of the Mythos – where Patriotism ties in – I may give you some indication of why my view of Patriotism is so resistant to the change you propose. I have thought that an attempt at capturing a modern day mythos incorporating science and its intersection with religion would be a subject for a classic heuristic book.

John E.

 
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