20 Jun “I Don’t Love My Country”
In one of the more remarkable posts I have read, Brian Tamanaha over at Balkinization loudly protests against the virtues of patriotism:
For many reasons, I feel fortunate to have been born in the United States, but I don’t love my country. It has no love for any of us. A cold, manipulative, object of affection, the state fans patriotism, then asks those who love it deeply to prove their love by dying or sacrificing their limbs for it. It will not happen in my lifetime, but I look forward to the day when states are no more.
I’m not sure where to begin. Brian you may not love your country, but your country loves you, even if you don’t know it. You are its raison d’être. The fundamental purpose of a democratic country like the United States is to serve you and your fellow citizens. Representative democracy means that our elected officials are trying (albeit imperfectly) to look out for your interests, your benefits, your needs, and your wants. Your country seeks to protect your safety, your economic well-being, your property, and your freedoms.
When a government official takes an oath of allegiance, the only oath he or she makes is to support and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He doesn’t swear allegiance to an abstract entity called the United States. He swears allegiance to the values embodied in the Constitution. When a soldier fights to defend the country, he is not fighting for a cold, manipulative object of his affection. He is fighting to protect your freedom, including your freedom to profess disloyalty or infidelity.
In recent decades, your country and countries like it are diligently working together to improve the general welfare of a much broader constituency. This broader universal ethic recognizes the common humanity of everyone and is pursuing the basic rights, security, liberties, and interests of the larger international community. The progression of international law is in many respects the progress of universalizing the collective values that define these countries. This universal ethic is not at the expense of countries such as the United States, but because of them.
If there were no states, there would have to be some other collectivity to serve the function of the state. It might be a microcosm of a state, such as a tribal or feudal system, or a macrocosm of the nation-state, such as a world federation. But either way, a group of individuals, small or large, will gather together to look out for your interests and welfare. It might not engender a sense of loyalty or allegiance on your part for such collective efforts, but it will pursue them nonetheless.
So in response to Brian Tamanaha, I say that for many reasons I feel fortunate to have been born in the United States, and I do love my country. It is far from perfect. It is often demanding of its citizens. But it offers so much in return. For that, I am deeply grateful and I feel a strong sense of loyalty and allegiance.