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The Five Principles of Patriotism


The Five Principles of Patriotism

Robert Reich

We talk a lot about Patriotism, especially around July 4th, but we need also to take to heart its five basic principles.

First: True patriotism isn’t simply about waving the American flag. And it’s not mostly about securing our borders, putting up walls and keeping others out.

It’s about coming together for the common good.


Sixth: Real patriots do not hide behind the flag as they assassinate foreign leaders and kill innocent civilians for private financial or political gain.


The story goes that when Alexander travelled to meet Diogenes and assess the patriotic depth of the latter, Diogenes told him that "I am a citizen of the world." Cosmopolitan. Patriotism has always seemed to me to be another expression of tribalism.

In my early middle age I felt sometimes patriotic because: at great cost we abolished slavery based on race; universal suffrage was at least nominally achieved; at the height of the Cold War we recognized our environmental malfeasance and enacted the Surface Mine Reclamation Act, The Clean Air Act, and The Clean Water Act.

Today we have a black POTUS who champions the new slavery based on class (TPP, TTIP, etc,) a "conservative" political party hell-bent on dismantling our environmental band-aids, and a duopoly that controls roughly 34% of the eligible voting population that actively endeavors to disenfranchise the remainder.

Diogenes, it is also written was the original cynic, a word derived from the Greek word "cynikos," which means "like a dog" because he lived in the street, begged food and favors, relieved himself in public whenever nature called, and even masturbated in public. In the spirit of Diogenes, and in defiance to all that it represents I say - take your patriotism and stick it where the sun doesn't shine.


Nice article Robert Reich !

Old school American - nothing wrong with that - laudable even !

But one point:

"We" has to mean something if a "Nation" is to fulfill its definition and purpose.

No one should be welcome who despises the very principles that define 'that' "Nation".

This is Logic 100.

You really can't have your cake and eat it too, i.e., "everyone" is welcome.


"Patriotism is about preserving, fortifying, and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money and buying off politicians. "

Gee, Professor Reich, you could not possibly be referring the H.R. Clinton for whom you are going to vote?

"Our" democracy has given us the choice opportunity to vote for either a dangerous Super Bozo or an equally dangerous made up Ophidian Woman. One of them will win no matter what third party a member of the world's exceptional nation votes for.


But everyone who makes up this Nation came from another or was overwhelmed into the nation that invaders constructed. One of the principles that define this Nation is indeed, everyone is welcome. Or let's just push down that statue in the harbor.


These are particular principles of USAmerican patriotism. The one I found most significant in today's context was this:

Fourth: True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of their country and know the government is a tool to help us solve problems together. They may not like everything it does... But true patriots work to improve our government, not destroy it.

This weekend we the people celebrate declaring our independence from the colonial power that sent us here. We need to also celebrate our interdependence on each other. Government is one of the ways we exercise it.


Extreme patriotism, exceptionalism, one leg of fascism.


"Fourth... But true patriots work to improve our government, not destroy it."

Had the founders of this country believed that, this country wouldn't exist. They believed and penned it many times, that when a government is beyond the reach of the people, the people have a duty to rise up and overthrow it. The U.S. was founded on this very principle. The Revolutionary War was most definitely fought to destroy British rule, not to improve it.

I am not necessarily advocating destruction, but to suggest that people should think only in terms of improving the current government, rather than unseating it or destroying it is a revisionist interpretation of American patriotism. Further, it is a back door invitation to vote for the lesser of two evils and to work within the narrow confines of the status quo with its very limited options for change. The one sentence that Reich probably deleted was to be a good and proper little citizen and vote for Clinton.


Other principles are: "everyone is welcome, so we can exploit and brutalize them for our own profit". And while we are at it...let's also mass kidnap some others from other continents...and let's also exterminate the ones we found and who disobey us. You may want to re-read Frederick Douglass' 4th of July talk. But for now I leave you with Howard Zin's definition of patriotism.

“If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one's country, one's fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.”


"Finally, patriots don’t pander to divisiveness. They don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions."

Saved the last principle of patriotism for calling out presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump without actually naming him it appears. Good way to to end the list.


There's disobeying the government when it violates our principles, and there's a presumptive principle of dismantling the government whether it's working or not. I believe the latter is what Reich was talking about; I know it's what I referred to.

As it happens, I was off making the same observation about slaves and Native Americans on another post. We don't have to say everything on every line. You might also be interested in the diary I wrote on Daily Kos last July; it's under the same username I employ here.


[ It’s about coming together for the common good – being willing to pay taxes in full -- Patriotism is about preserving, fortifying, and protecting our democracy -- They’re proud of their country and know the government is a tool to help us solve problems together -- patriots don’t pander to divisiveness ]

1 patriotism also ranks high in the fascist handbook. if by "the common good" you mean to imply the good of u.s. citizens above the common good of earth, then i must disagree. flag waving nationalism fails to recognize the rights of other cultures.

2 our tax dollars have been used as bailouts for the very financial institutions which caused the housing crisis. even worse our tax dollars go to support a humongous military presence, bombing raids, drone warfare and secret black ops locations for torture. whether we know it or not we are subjects of a powerful empire that threatens the peace, stability and environment of the entire earth. this is an affront to my code of ethics.

3 protecting our democracy? we have not yet achieved democracy. we have a highly secretive government so paranoid that it spies on its own citizens. we live in an inverted totalitarian society, a meritocracy or oligarchy--not a democracy!

4 sure, we should pull together to create a harmonious and just society--a society worthy of pride. however, just to feel "pride" for pride's sake holds us from the necessary democratic reforms.

5 in principle i agree that we should not pander to divisiveness, yet doesn't our entire two party duopoly run on divisiveness?


That's pretty much the gist of what I heard Reich arguing. But if we didn't start from pride in and love for the nation, with all its faults, what would be our motivation to do the work of reform, which is very, very hard?



Yes - "coming together".

A "nation", states Websters College Dictionary, is:

A stable, historically developed community of people with a territory, economic life, distinctive culture, and language in common."

I am a Canadian, with many many relatives in the United States. My father was a US Marine in WW II.

Since JFK was terminated by the powers that be, I have watched in horror as the US has descended the dark and dreary path of unrepentant empire, instead of the 'world citizen' that JFK so believed in.

Theodore Roosevelt felt that 'the surest way' to destroy the idea of the United States was to have it become a "polyglot boarding house".

You have allowed this to happen.

Money rules - everywhere.

Here in Canada also, money can buy you a ticket to citizenship - and the so called entrepreneurial spirit is everything - revered like the false god it is - as are all gods and Gods.

A secular state - with laws that mean something - that are followed in spirit as well as as by the letter - and with ideals, yes, IDEALS - that might be worth aspiring to - working for - giving to.

What happened since John Kennedy stated - 'as everyone knows, the United States will never start a war'?

You have become a nation of plutocrats, which the same Theodore Roosevelt stated was the worst possible world, in fact, a nation of "glorified pawnbrokers".

Robert Reich is living in this dreamworld of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, which for the past sixteen years has been dragged through the dirt, profaned and spit upon by power and privilege and several presidents.

These are the facts - known to every honest and thoughtful person the world over.

But unfortunately, these thoughtful and honest citizens are an endangered species, an 'avis raris' indeed.

This type of citizen was Thomas Jefferson's ideal, without which he felt no democracy worthy of the name could exist.

And as far as I can see, Thomas Jefferson was right.

To continue the struggle for Abraham Lincoln's America - this indeed would seem to be mission impossible, and all history tells us that once a system has reached the advanced state of decay that is the western world and in particular the United States today - there is no realistic prospect of redemption.

Let's hope Jacques Cousteau was right when he stated that: 'only the impossible missions succeed'.

Let all of us - in this world - hope that there may still be enough Americans - somewhere - in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence - who may restore order to your lawless land.

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Uuugghh. Another smarmy essay from Robert Corporate Governance Apologist Reich.

Number 4 was of course directed at Sanders supporters, Stein supporters, and others on the principled, not compromised Left.

To preempt, the possible food fight, I just mean ANY Leftist that gets the problem of Corporate Governance. That Corporate Governance need be destroyed.

Reich is of course against such a destruction.


Patriotism is held high - none more than in the USA. It is held so high that it has become a proxy virtue, and it becomes difficult to attack, hard to tell truth about the reality that it implies. It is by definition "For us first", It implies "The rest only after us".

So, patriotism, now being an unassailable virtue in the USA, Robert R takes another approach, i.e. redefining it to be an actual virtue rather than the "We and not you" that is the actual truth about Patriotism. Some of us prefer to call a spade a spade.


Every baby born today, was born within the boundaries of some national destinction. A citizen of somewhere is everyone in the governments of the world view. Ever notice under that destinction, no one is truly free. We are all inherently, through law, dictated to and controlled by some government imposition, depending on who holds the papers of ownership on our flesh.

Who cares about patriotism? People who are tools of idiocracy. F this country it's government and every establishment on this planet. We are actually all free, there are no borders and no rules. Only those imposed with guns, which we've gotten used to and all conformed and fallen in line.

But since we have to shovel out the sh@t house and can't get to an un-governed free society then, I'm with Bernie- let's see what happens I hope people live happier throughout the world. So pass the dip, enjoy the fireworks, greatful for my family, and flush the flag. Cuz it doesn't mean anything. We are all slaves until we are truly free.

No countries no government. It's a big lie. We don't need them. Psst. The founding fathers were flawed too. Patriotism is a placebo, I'll take reality thanks. Life needs no Flag.


"...know the government is a tool to help us solve problems together."

I think he is directing it at extreme conservatives like Ted Cruz. Sanders and Stein are all about the government helping people solve problems. Cruz want to pretty much dismantle the government, although of course not the military.


Place, philosophically, is an "accident." I think certain people understand this more than others. This I think helps explain why so many Afro-Americans understand proper patriotism, the love of the place they live. Think of all the great songs Afro-American musicians have composed and sung about Georgia, a place of sorrow and suffering, yet home. This is patriotism, love of place and home, not America the Empire but America the Beautiful.