A rather blunt and rude title; but I imagine it evokes; or it should, a bit of irritation, maybe even a bit of anger. This was the commentary that an essay was wrapped within, by William Nelson Cromwell, aka George Kateb, Professor of Politics Emeritus, at Princeton University.
The essay he wrote “On Patriotism” I came across almost by accident on a web site called “CATO UNBOUND”[1]. Professor Cromwell, along with John Rawls and Isaiah Berlin have added prolifically to Liberal Political Theory; but the last few years Professor Cromwell has turned his attention to fighting, what he sees as the erosion of individual liberties, wrought by the Bush administration.
The focus of this paper is to analyze “On Patriotism” partially as a rebuttal to what I see as the illogical and subjective aspects of Professor Cromwell’s agenda; but also to define and demarcate the rather obvious problems that we in the military have, when dealing with the reigning Intellectual Elitism that seems to have taken over every aspect of our society.
Professor Cromwell and those like him, limit our ability to communicate the truth and urgency of our needs, with the dire circumstances that face our country if those needs are not met. Understanding those who attack us, malign us or disrespect us is a first step toward our goals; but we also have to attack in kind and in form, those untruths as they are printed, to wit, “On Patriotism”[2].
The nature of how we define patriotism and by its extension, “The Patriot”, evokes a range of emotions and descriptions of those emotions that are innately simplistic, or gratuitously complex. In every generation; the current one included, the concept of patriotism is abused, used and gloried in, both by the politicians that lead us and the individual citizens which grant them proxy power to steer our course into the future of our world.
All too few of our representatives search for answers to the many questions that would give us guidance on the path we should walk, as opposed to the path we find ourselves all too often being led down. Many such leaders we elect to office; but all too often the decision makers are those that stand behind the throne, or are those who find positions in middle management, that filter out the essence of truth to those we elect.
In point of fact; be it on the throne, behind it, or kneeling in front of it, it has always been the intellectuals among us that write and pontificate through our writings and sermons, that are the true catalytic agents that mark the cadence of our course; personalities such as Jackson, Washington, Madison, Franklin and many others; some of whom had excellent academic backgrounds; but many of whom did not.
The only watchword of the day was “Vision”; the vision of a farmer to create a stable home for his children and grandchildren; the vision of the average man or woman to become something more than average, by the nature of what they believed, and what they were willing to fight for with their collective visions coming together, through battles wrought as often by the pen, as the gun.
Through it all, it has been the intellectual that seeded the world with the logic of their words. Words designed to manipulate, to use; sometimes with permission, and many times without; as to the nature of what a vision can do for, or to a society.
Intellectual validation as a rule did not depend on pedigree, or a piece of paper that told of what they should be capable of; but depended rather on the nature of a person’s thoughts, how well they could express them, and how well they transformed those thoughts, into the creative power that defined the birth of our country.
The Intellectual Elites of today; as many have so named them have divorced themselves from the reality of how thought and the abstract process should be connected to the practical aspects of life. They define the theoretical nature of those things they study; but limit the nature of their understanding to those things only provable in the virtual world of their own mind.
The logic of their minds and the decision making process that these elitists use, is the end-all-be-all of what is in their philosophy, the true difference between the concept of man and the other forms of life that coexist in our world. They negate or ignore as inconsequential, the emotional, or the spiritual by which the wisdom of our ethical or moral behavior is defined.
It is the ego of the intellectual and the “rightness” of their assumptions they use in their logic; that drives the significance of their errors. For they do not understand the emotional and spiritual needs of humanity; that give any intellectual process its context, and by definition the wisdom that defines our morality as a species.
When defining the essence of choice, it is not enough to mathematically state or model a problem as is the way of these elite’s; for although a solution to a problem can be logically derived, the assumptions we make will always be subjective, and by definition, unpredictable outside the context of our goals.
The nature of the Universe is by definition unquantifiable in the snapshot of a formula, an array of data, or the approximation that comes from the limited language we have in mathematics. This is not to say that these tools are not usable; but they have to be used within the understanding of their limits, and the significance of those limits.
The ability to calculate, to analyze a problem, to see the symmetry and patterns of life around us, and how it connects us to one another, is the pinnacle of what we as a species should aspire to. This is the essence of the Renaissance thinker. This is the essence of many of the founding fathers, and oh so many of the citizens, then and now; who created, and help to support this grand experiment called the United States of America.
The province or ability to be a great thinker does not depend on a formal education, or its lack thereof; but it does require honest introspection of oneself, the ability to intuitively, or if you will, to syllogistically work through the logic of how life processes around you work, and ultimately never being able to settle for the easy answer; to reject a life of swimming in the shallow end of the intellectual pool, and seek out the depths of truth in ourselves and in those around us.
The nature of an objective truth, processed by such a mind as this; is what we all should aim for; but by which we all fall short of at times. This is the essence of the Renaissance mind by which path we should follow; but by which today’s elites are slowly destroying.
We as a species are like the school children who are given the task of learning math; but cheat their way through it by using a calculator and the given formulas. They may pass the test; but the art of solving the problem’s and the mental growth that comes from such effort are lost in the homogenized environment of our public educational system. It is the fast food mentality of our society that this has created, that now drives the ignorance of many of today’s intellectuals.
Professor Cromwell and his essay “On Patriotism”, is an example of the type of failure of today’s elitist intellectual. He is one of today’s shining intellectuals who have lost any sense of an objective truth, on his path through the delusion of his own self-image. Like many people who make their way in this world through the nature of how well they “live-in-their-head”; Professor Cromwell, is one such Aristotelian personality. His essay is an example of a brilliant mind caught up in the false shadows of his own logic; wedded to assumptions more suitable for a grade school child, then the man of thought that he aspires to be.
He thinks, defines and melds his inner world into a form that by itself; is an art form of self-delusion, which at its core defines the unknown landscapes of his “wish” of how the world should be. His logic is impeccable in its nature; but his assumptions and the data he derives from those assumptions, feed a lifetime of synergistic works, that each in their own, drive us further and further from the balance the founding fathers, so exquisitely defined within the Constitutional formulary that we live our lives by.
The Founding Fathers did not haphazardly bring their thoughts together without an understanding of the nature of humanities emotional and spiritual needs; as well as knowing the limits of those needs and how they should be integrated into the practical application of a Rule-of-Law.
They understood the need of a common vision driven by the action of individual patriotism, and the need for a mix of cohesive forces that would bring together those idealistic visions into a well-balanced governmental institution, which could provide safety and shelter to the majority of its people.
At its cusp, that is what drives the nature of patriotism and the visions that give it power; the need for a group of people to find stability for their lives and that of their families in the body politic, that we now call our “Republic”.
Loose adherence to the Rule-of-Law and the legal subjectivity of precedent defines chaos, and the “slippery-slope” syndrome that destroys a society. Too much of an adherence to the strict “letter-of-the-law” breeds conformity, and decreases the ability of the law to be adaptable to the nature and needs of its people.
The Founding Fathers understood there is a practical logistical limit, to how much a governmental institution should involve itself in the daily lives of its people, as well as how much direct control the individual citizen should have, in the process of the daily activities of the government that they elected to represent them. This is the balance defined and regulated by the Constitutional Formulary; a well-defined conservative document that the Founding Fathers set into motion, to act as the foundation for our way of life.
Although the Founding Fathers for the most part were devout Christians, they had a well-reasoned process of thought that drove them to limit governmental intrusion into the choices its citizens would make; even if that choice were not Christian based. That is the true mark of an intellectual; the ability to set aside their own needs and wants, and to see the objective truth that benefits all, and not just the one.
The intellectual elites of today; mix and match their private agendas, with the honed skills of the written word, so as to run roughshod over those around them who are more easily lost in academic language. Language they spent a lifetime in learning; but yet somehow expect the intelligent; but non-academic to connect with, digest and easily form a rebuttal.
Professor Cromwell epitomizes the nature of the modern day Intellectual Elitist. He starts out his essay “On Patriotism” with:
“Patriotism is love of country. What kind of love is that? Some defenders of patriotism who want us to love our country use such terms as fatherland and mother country.”
And he ends the first paragraph with:
“they know that of course a country is not a person, yet they act with energy on the belief that it is. The metaphor facilitates an exploitable mental confusion.”
He starts out with a sophomoric argument generalizing the concept of patriotism, using the colloquial expressions “fatherland” and “mother country”; while intellectualizing “country”, as an object without substance, evoking emotions on the part of the reader, that harkens us back to the days of the Nazi Swastika, European imperialism, and Communist Russia.
His intent seems to mix and match historical stereotypes, in hopes that the reader will not see the illogic of his rhetoric, or to evoke an emotional response to his comparison of Communist or Nazi ideals and to link them to his thesis.
His thesis defines the concept of Patriotism as some intellectual argument defining political power, instead of it being a collective extension of the “Will of the People”. Cromwell links the nature of an open constitutional government supported and created by the people, to relics of the past, which even in their peak years of citizen oriented justice, were questionable at best.
He assumes that the nature of patriotism is a love of country, where love is blind fealty of Master and Slave; instead of it being more the innate sense of our social needs, and the support of each other through the dynamic relationships that created, and support the “Republic” we thankfully find ourselves a part of.
The United States is more than the sum total of its geographic boundaries; it is a collective of families, neighbors, associations and common beliefs; that at its core, does at some level evoke the concept of love. A love of self for the success of our dreams, a love of family for our desire of their safety, and yes even a love of neighbor; for it is with these associations taken collectively, that gives us a hope of success for what we desire most; the freedom to be, and the freedom to choose the path that our dreams lead us down.
Patriotism like so many other descriptors that we use to interpret a facet of an individual’s psyche, nebulizes into a complex and precarious social philosophy. Individual philosophies that become instinctive corollaries; or social syllogisms, that when brought together in mass, provide the cohesive connections required to balance out the psychological, physical and logistical aspects required to maintain social order.
Professor Cromwell continues to argue that the people who are Patriotic are not bright enough to understand that “Love of Country” is a metaphor; but he never quite gives you the sense that he understands the nature of the metaphor he is talking about. He makes the mistake that it is impossible for a reasoning person to think two contradictory things simultaneously, when in actuality it is normal for the balanced mind to have contradictive thoughts all of the time. It is the biology that wars in us with the objective reasoning of how we look at things. Heart versus mind, gut versus head; it is the mixing and matching of all of our senses; both conscious and subconscious that works its way through our mind, and determines the inspirational clarity of our thoughts.
We don’t see the “love of country” as a person or a parent that the metaphor implies; but intuitively we do feel the connection of our fellow citizens as a collective representative of all those things we aspire for ourselves, and our families. Our patriotism is the extension of our empathy for our fellow man, and we colloquially define it as a “Love of country”; for only in our social connections too our neighbors, do we build a stable life, and save ourselves from the anarchy that would rule without the Republic that now defines our collective natures.
It is irrational to the intellectual elites for the average citizen to recognize that “love of country” is not a person; but yet to act on it as if it is; but it is rational to those of us who see that “love of country” is at some level a collective representation of ourselves, and in some ways acts and reacts with all of the ethical and moral plasticity that this implies.
We could unfold the layers of Professor Cromwell’s diatribe “On Patriotism”; but of course what would be the point. His logic is impeccable, his historical references are accurate within the context of his goals; but of course his goals are not to elicit objective thought; but more to drive his agenda, and those assumptions that support his agenda into the hearts and minds of all who would listen to his rhetoric.
He continues on with love of country being a monstrous extension of our love of our parents, and that love is relegated to a form of gratitude for one’s personal existence. He makes a comparison such that:
“Should love of country overwhelm all self-centered reluctance? In particular, is gratitude, a kind of love, the right emotion to feel towards one’s country? Although children are not usually asked to die for their parents, and most parents wouldn’t accept the offer if it were made, some defenders of patriotism imagine the state as a super-parent that may ask its children to die for it. The idea of patriotism is inseparable from killing and dying for your country. A good patriot is a good killer.”
From this point Professor Cromwell uses the academic’s stock-in-trade to guide, to confuse or debilitate through his recitation; philosophical ideals that he can rest his laurels on, without much thought of any argumentative rejection by the reader.
Words written by Aristotle, Socrates, Viroli, and Pericles top the list, in his venture to validate his assumptions through the connection of his words to those great thinkers. Never once does he show any sense of fault with his correlative endeavors, to prove a subjective point to the out of context quotes, from the varied historical works of political philosophy he chose to use.
William James[3] seems to be both admired by Professor Cromwell, and rejected in surprise at the same time.
“An intensely American philosopher, William James (in “The Moral Equivalent of War”), can think that it is good for young people especially to feel that they are “owned” by their country. I find it surprising that such a clear-headed thinker, democratic through and through, can voice such a view. But the much larger surprise is that we find in him, where we shouldn’t, a defense of the idea that, being owned, we owe the state or the country a debt, a “blood-tax” that must be paid when the state demands it. A blood-tax, however, isn’t an exaction of gratitude. Rather, the patriotic heroism of dying prematurely or risking death is the best definition of being a man. If James doesn’t follow Socrates in saying that the state, as our parent, gives us our lives, he exceeds Socrates by suggesting that in being owned by the state, we owe it a blood-tax, not merely a grateful readiness to die when it commands. For James, only death or its risk proves patriotism.”
William James was a pacifist, so it is no surprise that the nature of his writings were oriented in a manner at odds, with the moral or immoral use of violence to solve the social problems of the day. Professor Cromwell’s commentary of being “owned” by the country is not what James was alluding to though. James’s essay, was a logical progression of ideals in the make-up of society that; from his prospective, gave us alternatives to solving social problems without the use of force. His expression of “blood tax” was not the use of societies youth through acts of force and the resulting death of those same youth; but more about instituting programs whereby the youth of the day, would be conscripted into organizations that gave back to the state, while simultaneously developing the moral and ethical nature of our countries young adults.
In the quote above by Cromwell concerning William James, he says “For James, only death or its risk proves patriotism.” Nothing could be further from the truth; for William James was embarking on a fairly radical idea, that the only way to rid the world of war, was first to offer up an alternative. His alternative was; as will be shown below, a way of developing the youth of our country in a more moral and ethical manner, without losing the benefits of the martial forces of the military.
Professor Cromwell uses the words of James intentional out of context, to evoke in the less well read, assumptions that go against the very tenor of James’s intent in his essay. James continues with:
“Let me illustrate my idea more concretely. There is nothing to make one indignant in the mere fact that life is hard, that men should toil and suffer pain. The planetary conditions once for all are such, and we can stand it. But that so many men, by mere accidents of birth and opportunity, should have a life of nothing else but toil and pain and hardness and inferiority imposed upon them, should have no vacation, while others natively no more deserving never get any taste of this campaigning life at all, — this is capable of arousing indignation in reflective minds. It may end by seeming shameful to all of us that some of us have nothing but campaigning, and others nothing but unmanly ease. If now — and this is my idea — there were, instead of military conscription, a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against Nature, the injustice would tend to be evened out, and numerous other goods to the commonwealth would remain blind as the luxurious classes now are blind, to man’s relations to the globe he lives on, and to the permanently sour and hard foundations of his higher life. To coal and iron mines, to freight trains, to fishing fleets in December, to dishwashing, clothes washing, and window washing, to road-building and tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke-holes, and to the frames of skyscrapers, would our gilded youths be drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas. They would have paid their blood-tax, done their own part in the immemorial human warfare against nature; they would tread the earth more proudly, the women would value them more highly, they would be better fathers and teachers of the following generation.”
William James defines a “Blood Tax” as an army of young people conscripted; not into the Army as we know it; but into public works projects, civil services and humanitarian endeavors, so as to help develop their ethical and moral natures; in this way creating a society that could logically and ethical move away from the violence so prevalent throughout the world. In James’s essay, which was based on a speech delivered at Stanford University in 1906, he originated the idea of an organized national service. This eventually led to the Peace Corps, and other volunteer agencies sanctioned and supported by the American people.
James further brings out the thought, that in following his model for social engineering, our future would be best served by combining the best of what ideals we find in the military, and the best that we find in the more pacifistic philosophies.
“Such conscription, with the state of public opinion that would have required it, and the many moral fruits it would bear, would preserve in the midst of a pacific civilization the manly virtues which the military party is so afraid of seeing disappear in peace. We should get toughness without callousness, authority with as little criminal cruelty as possible, and painful work done cheerily because the duty is temporary, and threatens not, as now, to degrade the whole remainder of one’s life. I spoke of the “moral equivalent” of war. So far, war has been the only force that can discipline a whole community, and until and equivalent discipline is organized, I believe that war must have its way. But I have no serious doubt that the ordinary prides and shames of social man, once developed to a certain intensity, are capable of organizing such a moral equivalent as I have sketched, or some other just as effective for preserving manliness of type. It is but a question of time, of skillful propagandism, and of opinion-making men seizing historic opportunities.
The martial type of character can be bred without war. Strenuous honor and disinterestedness abound everywhere. Priests and medical men are in a fashion educated to it, and we should all feel some degree if it’s imperative if we were conscious of our work as an obligatory service to the state. We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would rise accordingly. We could be poor, then, without humiliation, as army officers now are.”
At odds with Professor Cromwell’s interpretation of James’s work, we see that James used the term “owned”, not in the sense of slavery to the state; but more of the ethical and moral choices that each mature adult makes, in their contributions to the stability of the “Republic”, and by definition, the stability of their way of life, and that of their neighbors.
It was an ownership defined by the self-sacrifice of those who choose to give back to the republic, by having a vision that went beyond their personal needs; this is Patriotism, these are the Patriots; people who consciously choose to put the greater good of others before their own, and sacrifice if need be; their tomorrow’s for the greater good of their families, and the extended family that links the common philosophy of our country.
James continues:
“The only thing needed henceforward is to inflame the civic temper as part history has inflamed the military temper. H. G. Wells, as usual, sees the centre of the situation. “In many ways,” he says, “military organization is the most peaceful of activities. When the contemporary man steps from the street, of clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration, underselling and intermittent employment into the barrack-yard, he steps on to a higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and cooperation and of infinitely more honorable emulations. Here at least men are not flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no immediate work for them to do. They are fed, drilled and training for better services. Here at least a man is supposed to win promotion by self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking. And beside the feeble and irregular endowment of research by commercialism, its little shortsighted snatches at profit by innovation and scientific economy see how remarkable is the steady and rapid development of method and appliances in naval and military affairs! Nothing is more striking than to compare the progress of civil conveniences which has been left almost entirely to the trader, to the progress in military apparatus during the last few decades. The house-appliances of today, for example, are little better than they were fifty years ago. A house of today is still almost as ill-ventilated, badly heated by wasteful fires, clumsily arranged and furnished as the house of 1858. Houses a couple of hundred years old are still satisfactory places of residence, so little have our standards risen. But the rifle or battleship of fifty years ago was beyond all comparison inferior to those we now possess; in power, in speed, in convenience alike. No one has a use now for such superannuated things.”
Professor Cromwell is either disingenuous in his remarks, or blindly dishonest to the nature of his own meanderings, through the philosophies of others he would use to reinforce the logic of his course. He works his way through theoretical arguments of a “Social Contract”; but even here he alludes to its nature as still connected to the state instead of that of the people:
“the theory of the social contract never wrestled free of the claim that the people owe their existence to the state and hence that the state owns the people. While the contract theorists unmistakably struggle to establish the proposition the state does not own the people, they nevertheless also say – and I think, inconsistently – that it can require citizens to die to preserve it. All the theorists accept this requirement. It is as if by eroding the idea that the king is father and owner of the people and owes his authority to God’s grace, they feel the compensatory need to replace devotion to the king by some other bond that would yield a moral obligation to sacrifice oneself for the state. The claim is that such a bond is created by a person’s consent to live under a state. The basis of the state in rational choice is turned into the basis for morally allowing the state to cause the death or the risk of death of citizens. Our choice to preserve our lives is turned by the contract theorists into a choice to assume an obligation to die for the sake of what supposedly, in the first place, exists in order to preserve us. Necessity gives birth to the state but the state gives birth to another kind of necessity, which is a dangerous and recurrently lethal necessity. The state for all does not preserve all lives, and loses or wastes a good many.”
There is cruelty lodged in the heart of the theory of the social contract, even though it seeks to demystify the state and to replace the traditional awe of the parent-state by clear-sighted understanding of the state’s rational purpose. The language of obligation supersedes the language of gratitude and devotion. But the mentality of self-sacrifice perhaps takes on a greater strength when it is made to flow logically from the obligation that choice creates. The social contract tends to become a more ingenious trap than any appeal to the patriotic love of country rooted in filial loyalty, whether in its pure Socratic form or in the various dilutions of it that is always current. Just because parents usually don’t ask their children to die for them, and consider it an unspeakable tragedy when any child dies before its parents, the metaphor of the state as parent must contradict its literal source: parents
If neither the metaphor of the parent-state nor the idea of the people’s consent to government can justify killing and dying for the state, patriotism has not run out of resources. Whatever theory says, patriotism will prevail. One main reason is that it is a usually tacit ideology and flourishes without philosophical assistance. The theoretical debate about patriotism directly interests only thinkers who concern themselves with questions of political and moral philosophy, and publicists who are eager to promote some policy or other. The debate about patriotism reaches undeniably to some of the most profound speculative matters, yet patriotism itself proceeds as a brute fact of life. The trouble is that this brute fact contributes to the erosion of the sentiment that government exists by consent and has the status of servant to the people. But haven’t I just said that the manifestation of consent, the social contract, tends to rationalize killing and dying for the state? Yes. But I think that properly revised, it need not; the revision must build on the ambivalent work of Hobbes and the ambiguous work of Locke, as I have elsewhere tried to suggest. In any case, modern liberty can’t do without the premise that government rightfully exists only by means of popular consent to a system of government that routinely works through continuous popular consent. The point is to show that patriotism facilitates the erosion of the idea of rational consent, and does so by means of an improvident and un-reasoned acceptance of a second social contract that usurps and inhabits the body of the original one that created the system of constitutional democracy.
The brute fact of patriotism is made brute by the inveterate inclination in men to associate virility with the exertion involved in killing and risking death. No theory can ever defeat or discredit this inclination, which helps to engender the fantasy that the competition of political units is the highest kind of team sports. Men love teams, love to live in a world where they are called on to back or play for their team against other teams, even though the sport of war is soaked in blood. Socratic notions of gratitude or Jamesian notions of infinite indebtedness are not necessary for this love. In the sport, where aristocrats used to play their games, elites now mobilize groups or masses to slaughter each other. Men can become peace-loving for a while, but not forever. The women who love them encourage their inclination to see team sports as the essence of their masculinity, and to call patriotic this inclination when it is projected into politics. The pity is that men lend their energies to a state that sooner or later embarks on an inherently unjust imperialist career and thus gets constantly engaged in policies that are deliberated in secrecy, and sustained by secrecy and propaganda, and removed from meaningful public deliberation. Patriotism is indispensable for sustaining this career of anti-democracy.

In general, an activist foreign policy works tirelessly to de-legitimate any constitutional democracy. Patriotism is the greatest asset in the internal and ever-present war against the sentiments and institutions of free government. The support of one’s team is not the defense of the Constitution. What gets hollowed out is government by rational consent, while a number of basic freedoms are steadily attenuated. The original contract for constitutional democracy is usurped, and replaced, in significant part, by a second contract for expansion and predation. It is bad enough that the original contract is interpreted to mandate dying for one’s country. Much worse is the displacement of the original contract. The spoils of activism and imperialism intensify political and economic inequality while immunizing leaders from their accountability to citizens to an ever greater extent. Citizens become followers. Leaders and followers live in different worlds. Citizens allow the patriotic thrill of team sports to obscure the radical alteration that descends on the original contract, while acquiescing in the gains of large and sometimes sinister interests that use patriotism in their appeals for support. The great theorists of the social contract would have been horrified; they didn’t quite have such a drastic mutation in mind – not to mention the anti-imperialist Socrates in his espousal of the parent-state.
Patriotism, more than any other passion in political life, makes virtues do the work of vices while promoting the praise of vices as disguised virtues. It thus sustains enormous moral perversity. If no one were a patriot, the world would be better off than it now is, when almost all are patriots. Theorists shouldn’t join in.”
Professor Cromwell seems to have totally misunderstood the intent of the Founding Fathers and the nature of Patriotism. He validates this by his quote that “It is bad enough that the original contract is interpreted to mandate dying for one’s country”; but that the act of Patriotism somehow supersedes or mutates the original contract into something the Founding Fathers never intended.
The truth is that the Founding Fathers came together with the same moral and ethical limits we find in ourselves, for that is the state of human existence; but even so, they created an amalgam of words and deeds that brought the essence of the best of them together, balancing out the worst of their natures, to create a document that is not just a litany or list of thoughts about freedoms, or rules; but of balance.
A balance defined within the Constitutional Formulary, that supports our freedom to choose; but at the same time provides limits on being able to choose too much. The Founding Fathers understood that it is the nature of man to need limits to his behavior, for a healthy state to exist, as well as the health of the individual citizen.
The Constitutional Formulary was by definition a conservative document, defining a balance of power between the Executive Branch, the Senate, Congress as well as the individual power of each state. In so doing they created a direct link to the balance of power of the state, to the individual citizen and the representative government they vote for. The nature of each part, like the nature of the Founding Fathers; a template whereby the essence of the best of them are brought together, balancing out the worst of their natures.
Unlike civil governments of the past, where Patriotism was in some way an allegiance to the state, without regard to the individual, or any legal or statutory connection to the control of the state by the individual, the United States was built on the very premise that the individual liberties were sacrosanct.
The growth of this belief kept time with the aggressive nature of its people to be free of governmental influence; but contradictorily still finding the need to have some governmental control for social stability, and to avoid the sublime anarchy that reigns when committees of individual’s take the lead.
Though it all; the very fabric, the very nature of the Constitutional Formulary is built around the true nature of Patriotism. Throughout our lives in our fight against nature; to paraphrase William James, there will always be battles to be waged, social mountains to be climbed; but through it all, we only win when we have allegiance to each other. The Renaissance minds of old knew this, the Intellectual Patriots of today know this, that for us to succeed as individuals, requires that we succeed as a country, and the nature of that success can only be found in the connections that intelligently bind us to one another.
Throughout the diatribe that Professor Cromwell makes us work our way through, there is validity in his premise if we look at the historical aspects of political thought, when analyzing European Imperialism, the political systems talked of by Aristotle, or Socrates, and even at some level in his mismanaged quotes of William James. His ideas on Patriotism and by its extension the Patriot as being the best type of killer works well, if you think of Patriotism as some self-aware entity bent on maligning and driving the populace of a country, to acts of violent group behavior.
Professor Cromwell makes it obvious that his intellectual dissociation has blinded him to the concept of American Exceptionalism. It is a concept that defines the unique nature of our way of life, and the inherent national stability that extends from it.
What surprises me throughout Professor Cromwell’s essay is the one-sidedness of his argument. He maligns the concepts that are the basic glue that holds our society together. His quote “the best patriot is the best killer”, seems at odds with the intellectual objectivity that Cromwell wants us to believe that he maintains.
Throughout the history and philosophical writings that he quotes in his argument; he, like many elitist of today, put blame on the military, the patriot, or any individual who claims a sense of patriotism to their country; but what about the intellectual that uses the written word to manipulate, and drive the nature and fervor of the individual citizen.
I would submit, that it is not Patriotism, and by definition the act of the Patriot that is destroying the nature of the Constitutional Formulary (or Social Contract as Cromwell calls it). It is Cromwell’s lack; and others, to see and understand the uniqueness of American Exceptionalism, and how the Constitutional Formulary attempts to keep its inherent balance; even against those who write and weave their agendas through the hearts and minds of the average citizen.
Today there seems to be; as some call it; a “liberal haze” to the social battlefield of ideas and ideals about our own self-government. There has been a secular push to cleanse the government of all those things, that out of context are considered politically incorrect, or unseemly; to get rid of any words that may spark off shadows of Christianity, or even defining a separation of Church and State, that in truth has never existed.
The tenets of the Constitution defined that no religion would be sanctioned by the government over any other; but of course the politically correct thing to do today, has been to lazily interpret this in such a way, that no one has the right to express their religious beliefs on public property. We’ve all seen examples of this, and they continue to be spearheaded by elitist intellectuals redefining, or misinterpreting our rights, as they reweave the fabric of our Republic.
As individuals we all have thoughts and acts, that we wish that we could relive, forget, or change the affects those mistakes had on our lives and others; but throughout our life, the nature of our growth as moral and ethical beings is seeded with the mistakes we made; the introspection of our understanding of those thoughts that became greater than what we once could have understood.
The development of wisdom is not a concept of age, or intelligence; but of the emotional balance we seek inside of ourselves as we develop our intellect; bound within our introspection, and the process of our thoughts that leads us to who we have become.
So to, America’s history is full of mistakes, full of cultural inconsistencies and contradictions; but through it all, the balance of power that extends itself into a rational rule-of-law has kept us strong, has kept the nature of our patriotic connections in balance to the greater good of society, and through this to the individual.
We cannot change and manipulate those things that are a part of the fabric of our society, without losing the nature of what our country has become, any more than we could the history of ourselves and remain the same individual.
It was the strength of this balance and the strength of the individual that slavery was eventually overturned. Not as quick as one would hope at times; but it is the nature of Democracies to be slow and chaotic; but to do otherwise breeds anarchy and risks destruction of the Republic.
It is the balance of doing too much too quickly, or not enough too slowly, that is the magic we find in the Constitutional Formulary; for the balance is a dynamic process of a constant ebb and flow of our collective natures and the choices we each make.
For this balance to be maintained and to stave off anarchy requires aggressive optimism, and a collective vision by the majority of the Republic’s citizens, to limit the extremes of one social group over another, to believe in those who defend our rule-of-law with their efforts, and many times with their lives. Above it all, it requires faith; a faith in one another, a faith in the rightness of our goals, and the nature of such faith can be summed up in one word; Patriotism!
In Summary:
The dynamic balance of our society is generational in its swing back and forth, from one limit to another. We as American’s want social order, limits that define a world in control, a Rule-Of-Law that defines a level playing field for the life we lead. We don’t ask for an equal share in all things; just an equal opportunity to define how we live, and how we think. At least those were the ideals that drove those who came before us, and we see them today in those we still call patriots. People who take personal responsibility for their actions, and the aggressive will to make the effort of their dreams.
For truly in America, we define ourselves through the symbiosis of our ideals, the limits of capitalistic logistics, and the Christian philosophy that defines the underpinning of our social tolerance. The concept of American Exceptionalism that this defines; is the harbinger of our prophetic need for social stability, and the need for something of ourselves to live beyond our own limited corporeal existence.
The cohesive force that defines the stability of our society is the concept of Patriotism. It is the “social glue” whereby, the majority of the Republic has a common belief, adheres to a common standard, and by which the “Rule-of-Law”, is followed and applied within the parameters of the law defined and regulated by the people.
People tend to believe that Patriotism is some simple word defining the nature of one’s love of flag, of country, or an expression of Nationalistic pride devoid of thought or reason, and hammered into our children’s heads by the state. Like the concepts of religion, and politics and others, Patriotism has been maligned as some malignant entity that has a life of its own, and serves the Republic, at odds with the nature and wishes of the people.
In truth, Patriotism; like the other concepts mentioned, expresses the psychological needs of humanity, to control and define some level of social stability within our lives. Patriotism is the action of our innate needs to actively express solidarity and support to each other, and the life we have chosen to collectively live through the action of the Republic we have created, and continue to invest our futures in.
Patriotism is the expression or active participation within the social structure of our way of life. It is the voice of our needs, expressing itself as an infinite series of collective actions by the people; sometimes irrationally, sometimes logically; but always it plays a prominent role in the direction our society takes.
The Founding Fathers understood all too well the nature of these forces of humanity, and the needs to guide them with some sense of clarity and purpose. This is the beauty of the U.S. Constitution; an amalgam of intuitive and formal understandings into the nature of leadership and law. It is a formulary that does not require perfection from the people, nor it, the people who use it to govern. It only requires that the majority of the Republic’s citizen’s participate in a measured and thoughtful manner in the usage of their voting rights. Like all system processes, the very nature of each person’s opinions cancel out the extremes of one side or the other; thus the body politic becomes an intuitive organism searching and growing as an extension of its defined core beliefs, i.e., the collective drive of a citizens Patriotism.
Patriotism is the action and the will of that action that the individual citizen uses to express his or her innate feelings of their social drive. The defining connection that brings to stasis, the majority of a group of people who have come together to create a society greater in its whole, than in the sum of its parts. Patriotism like Damocles sword cuts both ways though, it supports and defines the stability of a society; but destroys a society if used or manipulated beyond the core values and needs of the People.
That is the problem with Professor Cromwell’s essay and other intellectual elite’s when they subjectify reality with their inner world needs. They do not understand the psychological needs of the group to find a status quo in a common belief system, and his misconception of defining Patriotism as just some surface emotion or trait defining a love of country, shows the skewed logic he and others seem to consistently employ.
To understand the nature of Patriotism begs the need to understand who we are, and how we communicate our individual needs, and the emotional and sometimes cognitive thoughts that we share. As communications and the technologies that support it, have broadened our ability to share information to the masses; it has at the same time decreased mass exposure to any real knowledge beyond the lowest common denominator.
Throughout this monologue, essay, or diatribe; judge it as you will, the one constant question that keeps arising in my mind in reference to Professor Cromwell’s quote, “The best patriot is the best killer” is the question: What’s the moral difference between causing the death of an individual or contributing to the death of our Republic with a gun and the pen that Professor Cromwell chooses to use?
Professor Cromwell continues with another quote, “If no one were a patriot, the world would be better off than it now is, when almost all are patriots. Theorists shouldn’t join in”. To the very end he dissociates any responsibility from himself for the nature of the chaos he creates in the words he writes
Professor Cromwell, and many of his same ilk, accuse us “the academically challenged” of not understanding the nature of “good government”, of not understanding the lessons of history, and of not realizing the dangers we are creating for ourselves in our support of concepts, like duty, honor, courage, self-sacrifice, and yes even a little bit of patriotism from us, the aging and out of date patriots.
In response to this I would quote Hilaire Belloc (1870-1957 )in his book “The habour in the North”.
“The voyage which I was born to make in the end, and to which my desire has driven me, is towards a place in which everything we have known is forgotten, except those things which, as we knew them, reminded us of an original joy.”
My original joy is the knowledge of having walked quietly beside those I admire and who have held true to the ideals the Founding Fathers gave to us, in the Patriotic birth of what we hold most dear, our freedom.
I have no doubt that Professor Cromwell is intelligent, probably moral in any objective sense of right and wrong that our society accepts; but he has come full circle to the mirror image of his own destruction, and that of the society he takes part in helping to destroy.
His hands are covered in blood, just as any soldier’s hands are covered in blood, in his drive to change the nature of his birth. The question is never whether there is blood on our hands; but how much and with what intent.
Every thought we have, every choice we make, creates synchronistic vibrations in the collective nature of the will of the people. Sin is not the act of causing a death; but whether there was intent in the nature of that cause.
For when the confusion of our thoughts becomes the nature of our actions, and our actions fall short of the nature of our hearts, and we’ve lost that center or balance of ourselves that defines the essence of any objective truth, then we have no recourse; but to look at those basic truths that define the nature of the path we have come to walk.
The future is unmapable, and we are only responsible for those things we can predict; only Professor Cromwell can answer to the level of his guilt, and the nature of his intent, in his drive to destroy through his own misunderstandings, or intentions, the fabric that defines our Republic, and by extension “we the people”.