Screwing for Virginity

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Patriotism and Place: A Repetition

Patriotism, as “love for and devotion to one’s country,” has (re)emerged with extensive vigor in the post-9/11 American way-of-life. This (re)emergence is perhaps most evident in the “patriotic” display of bumper stickers, car magnets, the flag, passionate reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem, and the unquestioning allegiance to the nation, including governmental actions and national ideals. In light of this newfound patriotic fervor, the question must be posed: Is this authentic patriotism?

Etymologically, “patriotism" comes from the Greek word pater, meaning “father.” Patrios and patris are the root words of “patriotism”; patrios is the “love of one’s fathers” and patris is the Greek word for “fatherland.” Therefore, etymologically, “patriotism” is the “love of the land of one’s father.”

Praxiologically, people could be considered patriotic by definition, generally, up until the 19th and 20th century, because they tended to remain “bound to one place for the entirety of their lives.”[1] In the Old World, patriotism was the loyalty to and love for a particular soil and a particular way-of-life which was distinct ethnically, religiously, politically, linguistically, culturally, etc. In other words, patriotism was the ethical connection to a particular place.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, however, philosophical developments dating back as far as Aristotle coupled with new technology such as the airplane, automobile, radio, television, the internet, etc. began to affect Western praxis. People no longer remained bound to one place. They instead moved around for a change of scenery, occupational prestige, financial progress, and a multitude of other reasons. At this point patriotism ceased to be the love for a particular land and a particular way of life and instead dissolved into an abstract, nationalistic "love of and devotion to one's country."

"Love of and devotion to one's country" devoid of an ethical connection with a particular place necessarily leads to abuse and exploitation of the land, people, and local communities. This love of country is an abstract "love." Love, however, is never abstract. It is impossible to love a country the size of America, because one lacks the intimate knowledge necessary for love and good care. Therefore, we can only love America in as much as we love our particular place. We can only live responsibly as Americans by living responsibly in some small part of it, or else this abstract "love" will only lead to further destruction of the land, people, and local communities existing in particular places.

This (re)vision or (re)appropriation is a repetition of patriotism as the “love of one’s father’s land” but understands that an ethical connection with particular land necessarily works its way through the interconnection of place and includes all other aspects that affect the land; quantitative, spatial, kinematic, physical, organic, psychic, analytical, cultural/historical/formative, lingual, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, ethical, and pistic. “True patriotism” as Wendell Berry calls it, is the “love for one’s land” [2], but it is more complex and necessarily includes all other aspects of a place. Therefore, patriotism can be (re)defined as the “love for one’s place.”

I am writing my senior thesis on Patriotism and Place. It is tentatively entitled "A (Re)Vision of Patriotism: The Necessity of Ethical Connection with a Particular Place. Any insights are welcome and would be of great assistance.

[1] John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, 6.
[2] Wendell Berry, “A Citizen’s Response to ‘The National Security Strategy of the United States of America’”, Citizenship Papers, 5.


  • At 2:50 PM, August 01, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    If love is right relation among all elements of creation, doesn't that include structures of creation such as government? I think we would agree that there is a right relation between humans and government/nation/country. Isn't that a type of love, and what would you call that if not patriotism?

  • At 3:57 PM, August 01, 2005, Blogger Eric said…

    I wish my response would sound more academic, but I can't get it to. I think that having a love for one's fathers land is possible granted we accept that America is "the land of our forefathers." Accepting "father" to be something other than our own blood related father, the definition still works on some level. But I assume thats already understood. I guess it all depends on what how you choose to use the word "father."

  • At 5:17 PM, August 01, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    You have 24 hours to explain what your comment has to do with the discussion at hand before I delete it.

    How do you define America?

  • At 3:10 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger Chris said…

    Buddy, we do agree that there can be a right relation between humans and government/nation/country. Yet, the love of government/nation/country is only possible if you love a particular place. Nation/country are far to abstract to know intimately which is necessary for love. Abstract love is a contradiction of sorts. You can love nation/country from a particular place, otherwise it is meaningless.
    You cannot, however, love government/nation/country and destroy the land and exploit the people. This can only be avoided through intimate knowledge necessary for love, care, and proper use of land and love and care of particular people.

    America has been labeled the "land of our forefather's", yet by American patriotism seems to be interested, not in the land, but power. Nevertheless, if American patriotism was concerned for the land, the people, etc; it would have to be concerned with particulars places Only by loving particular places and caring for particular places can we love and care for America as a whole.

  • At 4:44 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Why is intimate knowledge necessary for love?

  • At 4:32 PM, August 10, 2005, Blogger Chris said…

    Perhaps, because love is, to some extent, based on memory, familiarity and understanding of harmony. This intimate knowledge is placed in Dooyeweerd's aesthetic aspect with anticipates the ethical aspect. Therefore, the ethical aspect retrocipates the aesthetic aspect.
    Is that good enough?

    By the way, government, I believe, is a structure for Creation. Democracy would be a structure of Creation.

  • At 6:24 PM, August 11, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    But can't I exist in proper relationship to something without having intimate knowledge of it? Isn't love more a matter of obedience than experience?

    I understand your distinction, but I really hate admitting that government is a structure of Creation. Maybe that's an example of a structural evil.

  • At 6:25 PM, August 11, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Structure for, I mean. Damn prepositions!

  • At 8:57 PM, August 11, 2005, Blogger Chris said…

    The distinction I am attempting to make is that to live in proper relation with America, one must maintain and enact the connections of a particular place.
    Love of America devoid of the love for a particular place runs the risk of being violent and destructive. Americans are characteristically transient nomads that use and abuse one place and subsequently move to another. They care not for any particular place. This is destroying the country. One must ask "who are the real enemies of this country?"
    I would offer, with Wendell Berry, that if one disagrees with the violence toward the country, one is obligated to dwell in a particular place and cultivate peace and harmlessness in it. This health will work its way through the connections of Creation. Therefore, to love America one must love a particular place.
    Sorry, Common Ground is closing so I cannot answer all of your questions.

  • At 4:31 PM, August 12, 2005, Blogger Chris said…

    "But can't I exist in proper relationship to something without having intimate knowledge of it?"

    Yes. Let's use the world as an example. I love the world and you love the world. We are called to love the world, and aid in its redemption. However, this love for the world must be embodied in a particular place or it runs the risk of being violent and destructive, as can be seen in American nomadism. Therefore, the proper relationship with the world, love for the world, cannot occur on a global scale, it must be embodied in a place and working there to improve a place which will work through the connections and affect the world. Love for a place is fundamentally love for the world, however love for the world is a meaningless abstraction without the love for a particular place.

    Isn't love more a matter of obedience than experience?
    Love is a matter of obedience embodied in experience.



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