Saturday, July 4, 2009

Flag Waving Is Not My Kind of Patriotism (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs is fond of his country, but not of its government (like all true patriots should be):

Independence Day would seem to be an especially ill-chosen time to denounce what passes for patriotism in the United States. But maybe not, because on this day Americans express their patriotism – in truth, little more than worship of statism and militarism – in extraordinary displays and celebrations, thus presenting more prominent targets to those who have no sympathy for patriotism as it is commonly understood in this country.

I suppose that already some readers are thinking, "Higgs is an America hater. Why doesn't he do us all a favor and get the hell out of this great country while he still can?" Anyone who is thinking such a thought, however, is utterly mistaken. I do not hate this country, though I do despise the governments – local, state, federal, and hybrid – that now rule it.

Bill Clinton once felt moved to scold the people who took offense at some of the government's especially monstrous recent crimes by saying, "You can't love your country and hate your government." Au contraire, Slick Willy. I am living proof that you can indeed. I do so in every waking minute of every day, and sometimes in my sleep, too. To be perfectly frank, I have trouble in understanding how any decent, halfway honest person who loves America cannot hate its governments, inasmuch as by their laws, their judicial decisions, their regulations, and their daily conduct they prove themselves a standing reproach to every ideal embraced by the men who shed their blood to establish this country's independence from the British Empire. Do you recall those first patriots' declared devotion to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Can anyone today look upon the pack of scoundrels, liars, thieves, and (in all too many cases) murderers who control the governments of this great country and feel anything but the most wrenching revulsion?

But if I feel this way about our glorious government leaders, how can I then maintain that I love the country? It's really easy. I simply recognize that everything I love about it – and there is a great deal – stands to its governments more or less in the same relation that matter stands to anti-matter. To qualify for my affections, a person, place, or thing almost by definition must exist (or have existed during its time) outside the sphere of government and its manifold evils.

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