The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

By Jessica Geary

There has never been a good war or a bad peace.~ Benjamin Franklin

I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge to mankind.~ Thomas Jefferson

I am deeply anti war, I am accused of lacking “patriotism” because I don’t feel that murder and destruction are conducive to a civilized humanity. I don’t apologize for this. I assert that my abhorrence of war is a manifestation of my love for, not only, my country, but for humanity as a whole. To me empty jingoistic nationalism is not patriotism, it is hubris and a maniacal assertion of one’s own supposed superiority. It’s the manifestation of an empty soul. To accept the idea that fealty to the state is patriotic is to renounce the very heart of the American ideal of a free society. Our country was founded in the belief that the individual had natural rights and no government was divinely granted any power that infringed upon those rights. I am an un-terrified Jeffersonian Democrat, I believe in freedom and I know from history that war is the main mechanism in which the state destroys the liberties of those who live within its borders. So, let us beg the question: What is patriotism?

“…patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be.” Socrates

Much like the love of my children leads me to correct them when they make a mistake and teach them to be independent, thoughtful, and polite, my love for my country leads me to want to correct it when it is wrong. To sit silently while atrocities are committed using my money and in my name makes me a compliant co-conspirator in the murder, rape, and theft the state partakes in. My love of the American ideal makes me want my country to act in accord with said ideals, not use it as a shield from criticism. The founders were critical of war, entangling alliances with other nations, and blind devotion to the state. When I question our naked aggression towards others I am carrying on the tradition of American patriotism, I am suspect of the rationalizations I hear and I won’t defend the state because I am not willing to sanction their blatant disregard for human life and liberty. I am also unwilling to sacrifice my neighbor’s, or my own, children on the altar of the US quest to maintain its bellicose empire. It’s time to renounce the broken idea that we can make the world “safe for democracy” or “spread our goodness” by the barrel of a gun. It is not our job to police the world and it is folly to think otherwise.

“PATRIOTISM, n. 1) The inability to distinguish between the government and one’s ‘country’; 2) A highly praiseworthy virtue characterized by the desire to dominate and kill; 3) A feeling of exultation experienced when contemplating heaps of charred ‘enemy’ corpses; 4) The first, last, and perennial refuge of scoundrels.”
—Chaz Bufe

Most self-styled patriots I have come into contact with are not patriotic, they are collectivists who derive their sense of self-worth from vicarious glory, which unfortunately is garnered by murder and torture. There is no threat to them as they sit safely at home criticizing anyone who doesn’t blindly follow the talking heads that endlessly reinforce the false virtue of worshiping the state. This attacking of the character of those who oppose war is nothing new:

“But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
—Hermann Goering

As a Nazi minister he was knowledgeable about the state’s use of propaganda to further the war racket. The state needs external, as well as internal enemies, to tighten their control over their own people, any war will do.

The “War on Drugs” has been the excuse for the militarization of our local police forces, while the “War on Terror” is an ambiguous unending war that is used to step up the surveillance on and the restrictions of the liberties of the American people. For the state, we are the true enemies, not Muslims in the sands of a far off desert, however they need to maintain their mask of benevolent authority. They do this by enlisting the people themselves into their service by furthering the myth that they are a legitimate enterprise, that they need to go to war for the “good of the people”. There has been no cases throughout the entirety of human history where war was justifiable, it has always been those in power using those they lord over as sacrificial lambs in order to keep and expand their power .

For me to follow my conscience I must leave you with this thought: By using violence in any way that is not purely defensive, we are committing an act of evil. If we break our laws in the name of justice, there is no justice. I refuse to submit to the idea that I must support the state to be a patriot, to me dissent is patriotic, as is peaceful resolution of our conflicts. Anything else is just an excuse to hate blindly. So, if this makes me unpatriotic I wear the label proudly, as it means that I think and speak for myself.