Patriotism: Get Used to It


George Kateb, author of the wonderful Patriotism and Other Mistakes leads off a Cato Unbound forum on whether "patriotism is good for anyone other than flag manufacturers." I found Kateb's contribution a little disappointing (though I enjoyed his liberal use of the word blood-tax), but Chandran Kukathas' charmingly world-weary little essay makes up for it:

Patriotism comes not to undermine citizenship but to fulfill it. To rid the world of patriotism it would be necessary to rid the world of states. Even this would not relieve us of the burden of petty loyalties to clumps of soil or to far-fetched abstractions, but it would mean the end of one kind of nonsense. Yet I don't see states disappearing anytime soon, and am not wholly convinced we can give them up, whether or not we would perish without them. So I conclude we should just get used to patriotism, patriots, and their discontents.

That said, we can at least start calling certain legislation passed at the behest of the Bush administration "The Petty Loyalties to Clumps of Soil Act."