Patriotism Is the Last Refuge of an Idiot
by Mark R. Crovelli
by Mark R. Crovelli: Where
Are the Christian Churches When We Need Them†Most?
While Dr. Johnson
was no doubt correct to write that "patriotism is the last
refuge of a scoundrel," he just as easily could have written
that patriotism is the last refuge of an idiot. The latter phrasing
is arguably more useful to commit to memory, given the higher likelihood
of bumping into patriotic idiots on the street than of bumping into
patriotic scoundrels (outside of Washington D.C. and New York, of
of the patriotic idiot is "love it or leave it," which
means, in the parlance of idiots everywhere, that anyone who happens
to doubt the governmentís greatness or legitimacy should expatriate.
The phrase is invariably used in a last-ditch attempt to avoid having
to confront political ideas that are challenging or uncomfortable.
Unfortunately for the idiot, and I suppose this is part of what
makes him an idiot to begin with, the phrase is as absurd as it
In the first
place, it is instructive to note that even idiots do not use the
phrase "love it or leave it" on every occasion. For example,
the idiot never shrieks out "love it or leave it" during
a simple discussion of Roe v. Wade or current tax law. Even an idiot
is aware that he will sound like a complete fool if he tells people
they should either love Roe v. Wade or get out of the U.S. The fact
that idiot cannot utilize the phrase on all occasions without looking
like a fool ought to be a sign to him that there is something terribly
wrong with it in general.
It is in the
context of discussing fundamental political questions involving
the governmentís legitimacy that the idiot believes the phrase "love
it or leave it" constitutes a powerful argument. If the debate
turns to the question of whether taxation
is morally and legally synonymous with robbery, for example,
the idiot thinks that anyone who doubts the governmentís legitimacy
should simply leave. It completely escapes the notice of the idiot
that the question of what dissenters can or should do is completely
irrelevant to the question of whether or not the government is legitimate.
What also escapes
his notice is the circularity of his reasoning in trying to use
the phrase "love it or leave it" as a serious argument.
The question at hand, after all, involves the legitimacy of the
government, not some trivial question about government policy. But,
the phrase itself assumes that the government and its policies are
legitimate from the outset, because it assumes 1) that dissenters
are the ones who should leave, and 2) that the dissenterís only
legitimate options are to love the government as it now stands or
to leave. If these are not assumed to be the dissenterís only legitimate
options, then whatís the problem with hating the government? But,
how could those be the dissenterís only legitimate options unless
government itself is assumed to be legitimate? In other words, the
idiotís only argument to defend the legitimacy of the government
boils down to nothing more than saying "government is legitimate
because government is legitimate." Needless to say, unless
one is speaking to an idiot, this sort of circular reasoning is
silly and absurd.
"love it or leave it" is sometimes used in a pathetic
attempt to demonstrate that people "consent" to live under
their particular governments. According to this moronic line of
thinking, because most people do not flee their countries forÖwell,
somewhere else, they have thereby "consented" to their
governmentís existence. "Since they havenít left," the
idiot blusters, "they must love it." That the conclusion
does not follow from the premise is obvious to anyone with a working
brain, however. A person might stay in his country of birth for
many different reasons unrelated to "consent." He may
not have the money to move, or he may not be permitted to leave,
as in North Korea. Or, he may be aware that every piece of inhabitable
land on Earth is claimed by governments more or less similar to
his own, so his situation will not improve by moving abroad. Like
the branded slave, he has no place to go where he will not be recognized
and treated as he is right now. He has been branded with the word
"taxpayer," and every government in the world will treat
him as such. However, finding oneself without a place to run does
not constitute "consent" to being raped, robbed or taxed.
most obvious problem with the idiotís catchphrase, however, is the
fact that he has no way to make people either "love it"
or "leave it." He lacks the muscle to deport people who
disagree with him, and he lacks the mental abilities to convince
them to "love" the government. The best that his feeble
brain can muster is to rub the governmentís existence in the face
of his intellectual opponents as if that resounded to his own glory.
It is tragic in the true sense of the word, since the poor idiot
cannot see that the institution he mindlessly defends is his true
enemy, not the lonely government dissenter.
governments themselves are every bit as impotent as the idiot to
enforce the phrase "love it or leave it," because they
have no way to force their subjects "love it,"
and they cannot possibly hope to deport or incarcerate everyone
who doubts their legitimacy. They are reduced to making their presence
and brutality known by stomping on minorities
that canít fight back, and, like the idiot, making asinine and
propagandistic statements about their own magnificence and beneficence.
Once a significant number of people wake up to the fact that governments
everywhere are nothing more than unnecessary
criminal gangs, however, there is nothing governments can do
to keep from being smashed to pieces.
glorious day arrives in the West, as it has in the Middle East,
the idiots of the world who mindlessly defend their governments
with the phrase "love it or leave it" will finally have
a chance to heed their own advice.
Crovelli [send him mail]
writes from Denver, Colorado.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Best of Mark R. Crovelli