The ideological framework of “national unity” is taken to the point that “this country,” “society,” or “our system of government” is set up as an object of gratitude for “the freedoms we enjoy.” Only the most unpatriotic notice that our liberties, far from being granted to us by a generous and benevolent government, were won by past resistance against the state. Charters and bills of rights were not grants from the state, but were forced on the state from below.
If our liberties belong to us by right of birth, as a moral fact of nature, it follows that we owe the state no debt of gratitude for not violating them, any more than we owe our thanks to another individual for refraining from robbing or killing us. Simple logic implies that, rather than being grateful to “the freest country on earth,” we should raise hell every time it infringes on our liberty. After all, thats how we got our liberty in the first place. When another individual puts his hand in our pocket to enrich himself at our expense, our natural instinct is to resist. But thanks to patriotism, the ruling class is able to transform their hand in our pocket into “society” or “our country.”
The religion of national unity is most pathological in regard to “defense” and foreign policy. The manufacture of foreign crisis and war hysteria has been used since the beginning of history to suppress threats to class rule. The crooked politicians may work for the “special interests” domestically, but when those same politicians engineer a war it is a matter of loyalty to “our country.”
The Chairman of the JCS, in discussing the “defense” posture, will refer with a straight face to “national security threats” faced by the U. S., and describe the armed forces of some official enemy like China as far beyond “legitimate defensive requirements.” The quickest way to put oneself beyond the pale is to point out that all these “threats” involve what some country on the other side of the world is doing within a hundred miles of its own border. Another offense against fatherland worship is to judge the actions of the United States, in its global operations to keep the Third World safe for ITT and United Fruit Company, by the same standard of “legitimate defensive requirements” applied to China.
In the official ideology, America’s wars by definition are always fought “for our liberties,” to “defend our country,” or in the smarmy world of Maudlin Albright, a selfless desire to promote “peace and freedom” in the world. To suggest that the real defenders of our liberties took up arms against the government, or that the national security state is a greater threat to our liberties than any foreign enemy we have ever faced, is unforgiveable. Above all, good Americans don’t notice all those military advisers teaching death squads how to hack off the faces of union organizers and leave them in ditches, or to properly use pliers on a dissident’s testicles. War crimes are only committed by defeated powers. (But as the Nazis learned in 1945, unemployed war criminals can usually find work with the new hegemonic power.)
After a century and a half of patriotic indoctrination by the statist education system, Americans have thoroughly internalized the “little red schoolhouse” version of American history. This authoritarian piety is so diametrically opposed to the beliefs of those who took up arms in the Revolution that the citizenry has largely forgotten what it means to be American. In fact, the authentic principles of Americanism have been stood on their head. Two hundred years ago, standing armies were feared as a threat to liberty and a breeding ground for authoritarian personalities; conscription was associated with the tyranny of Cromwell; wage labor was thought to be inconsistent with the independent spirit of a free citizen. Today, two hundred years later, Americans have been so Prussianized by sixty years of a garrison state and “wars” against one internal enemy or another, that they are conditioned to genuflect at the sight of a uniform. Draft dodgers are equivalent to child molesters. Most people work for some centralized corporate or state bureaucracy, where as a matter of course they are expected to obey orders from superiors, work under constant surveillance, and even piss in a cup on command.
During wartime, it becomes unpatriotic to criticize or question the government and dissent is identified with disloyalty. Absolute faith and obedience to authority is a litmus test of “Americanism.” Foreign war is a very useful tool for manipulating the popular mind and keeping the domestic population under control. War is the easiest way to shift vast, unaccount- able new powers to the State. People are most uncritically obedient at the very time they need to be most vigilant.
The greatest irony is that, in a country founded by revolution, “Americanism” is defined as respecting authority and resisting “subversion.” The Revolution was a revolution indeed, in which the domestic political institutions of the colonies were forcibly overthrown. It was, in many times and places, a civil war between classes. But as Voltairine de Cleyre wrote a century ago in “Anarchism and American Traditions,” the version in the history books is a patriotic conflict between our “Founding Fathers” and a foreign enemy. Those who can still quote Jefferson on the right of revolution are relegated to the “extremist” fringe, to be rounded up in the next war hysteria or red scare.