06 November 2010

Patriotism as status collectivization

Julian Sanchez | Patriotism as Status Socialism (or, America: F**k Yeah!)

You can think of patriotism as a kind of status socialism—a collectivization of the means of self-esteem production. You don’t have to graduate from an Ivy or make a lot of money to feel proud or special about being an American; you don’t have to do a damn thing but be born here. Cultural valorization of “American-ness” relative to other status markers, then, is a kind of redistribution of psychological capital to those who lack other sources of it.
You know that annoying guy on internet message boards who is always talking about how The Simpsons already made that joke?

Well I'm that guy, except I turn to Eric Hoffer instead of The Simpsons.
The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.

The True Believer, Section 9

Speaking of this, I liked the sentiment Rand Paul expressed in his victory speech earlier this week. Here's how Tim Cavanaugh described it:
So in his speech he declared that "America is exceptional, but it is not inherently so." It is the choice of freedom that creates the fragile exception, not a blood/soil birthright.
I like America because of what it has made and can make possible, not because it is America.

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