Patriotism, Citizenship and Holidays

Arthur Dobrin (Arthurdobrin’s Weblog) had these thoughts in a post he called, Closing schools, Martin Luther King and ethics. This is an eloquent discussion of the importance of citizenship. Here is an excerpt.

We have confused citizenship with consumerism. A citizen is one who is concerned with the public realm and makes choices about representation and policy; a consumer is concerned with the private realm and makes choices about products and prices. By closing schools on national holidays we reinforce notions of buying. If schools remained open, there is the opportunity to underline what it means to be a citizen.

National holidays should be time for discussions about the difficulties and dilemmas of ethical choices in a democracy, the hard and sometimes muddy choices. There is George Washington, the man who could have become king but walked away from a third term as president, the same one was the leader of a troop that engaged in an Indian massacre; Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator of slaves, who also suspended the writ of habeas corpus in several places, then ignored a court orders to restore it; the veterans who served when called upon, occasionally in wars that shouldn’t have been fought; and, of course today, MLK, the civil rights hero who broke the law for the sake of fulfilling America’s more nobler self.

Citizenship and patriotism have been hit hard in the last few years. Oh, I have no doubt that virtually all Americans consider themselves, and justly so, to be patriots. Nevertheless, the development of an American economic class with slender ties to the United States is a disastrous event. Further, the ascendency of economic theories, free market fundamentalism, allows certain individuals to make decisions damaging to the nation which they pretend to be justified philosophically.

If a human has the heart of a patriot, hollowing out the nation’s infrastructure and manufacturing is not justified by any theory at any time at any place.

Citizenship is a similar issue. It is difficult to live anywhere in the United States where companies are not seeking through legislation, favors, “economic development zones,” and outright blackmail to evade paying taxes. They use the educational system, the roads and the other infrastructures but they will not willingly pay any sum whatever for the support of their community or nation.

This is citizenship only in “reasoning” built on deluded greed.

Yes, the holidays should mean more than a day off. We all need to consider the duties of citizenship and patriotism from time to time.

James Pilant

This Is Not A Recovery

I wrote this back in August. I haven’t changed my mind one bit. Whenever I read this nonsense about an economic recovery, I’m struck by how far away the commentator is from actual American life and how close he is to Washington.

So says Paul Krugman at the New York Times. And he’ right. This is the New Great Depression, the second in American history. It will always be remembered by future generations as Great Depression II, the second great depression. Just like the first world war failed to solve the problems that would eventually lead to the second world war, the same problems bit us a second time. The humiliating thing is that if we had continued with the protections from the first great depression we could have avoided much of the damage. But the claims and promises of an irresponsible and incompetent economic elite have led America and the rest of the world into disaster, a disaster these same creatures do not believe is happening since it has no effect on them except a persistent worry that their profession is being “demonized.” Demons would have had serious difficulty in doing more damage to more innocent lives.

James Pilant