There are some things we know deep inside that are true, but we often don’t sit back and think about them. One is the saying that character is defined by what we do when no one is watching. However, emotions often come into play and distort truth until we have difficulty making a determination. I ran into this quote yesterday-
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” -Charles de Gaulle
As I study history and write so much about our founders and the revolution, nothing jumps out at you more than words like character and patriotism. They are closely aligned. As a lover and reader of history, I see things happening that have happened before; and we are often reminded of those who ignore history.
People are often reactionary. Rather than having deep seated core beliefs that guide them, they operate more on feelings and are easily swayed, or manipulated by rhetoric. People have not really changed since the beginning of recorded history. Some are engaged, some (most), are not. Some are informed while others are not. Historically, most people were engaged in day to day survival: planting, harvesting, hunting, securing shelter. People were not engaged because they were trying to live from day to day, keep their family fed and properly sheltered.
As we look at today, there are many parts of the world that are still engaged in a day to day struggle for survival. Oppressive governments often keep the people in this situation, look at North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. For that matter, the former Eastern European countries and Soviet satellite countries. Hungry and cold people have little time for political unrest. There is a fine line; you don’t want people so enraged they will revolt. We don’t have those issues here in America, but there is little difference.
We recall the horror of the Nazis in Germany and the propaganda machine they ran, additionally, the Soviet Union as well in Russia and the Eastern Block nations. In fact, every totalitarian form of government requires propaganda, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea come to mind in today’s world.
Few know or understand that Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, learned his trade from an American. Edward Bernays is known as “the father of public relations,” a fancy benign term for propaganda. Bernays was in advertising before going to work in the Woodrow Wilson administration. What is advertising but a form of propaganda– essentially, we call it advertising when it involves business services and products, we call it propaganda when it is government related. An interesting note, Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud.
Advertising is used to entice us to buy something we otherwise would not likely know about or think we need. Propaganda is designed to make the people want or to accept a government plan or action, something they otherwise would reject. Propaganda generally has a negative connotation because it typically requires either an outright lie or emphasizing part while denying or ignoring other parts. As with Obamacare, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, if you like your plan you can keep your plan” comes to mind.
One of these days I will delve more into the history of propaganda and how we have been “played.” I’m reading a book now written by an insider in the Federal Reserve. Our entire economy is driven by government programs, laws and regulations designed to encourage or avoid certain behavior and habits. We began this discussion looking at nationalism vs. patriotism, so what does all of this have to do with those things?
Nationalism and patriotism are directly related to government policy. The rise of nationalism in 1930s Germany was a response to the policies of the Weimar Republic which were also the response of other nations following WWI. The patriot movement in 18th century America was a direct result of British policy.
Remember, I said these movements are a response to a totalitarian government? If you understand the Enumerated Powers of government, what would you call the IRS, EPA, BLM, OSHA and the rest of the alphabet agencies? Do you think we have a free market? Think again, children’s lemonade stands shut down, cupcakes not allowed in schools for birthdays – it’s at the local, state and federal levels. What of immigration law not being enforced, immigrants forced on communities to school, feed, and house? What of “Sanctuary Cities”? These things all have an impact on us and how we respond.
As government has departed its defined guidelines, we have been made to believe it is in our best interest. In reality, it was in government’s best interest. Over time this has created ill feelings and frustration. When we have become cynical about government and are willing to believe anything and everything, in the end, means we stand for nothing.
The policies and rhetoric of our government, from local to federal, have given rise to several movements. In the interest of time, I am looking at nationalism and patriotism. As we look back at Charles de Gaulle’s quote, it breaks it down simply.
Nationalists see the threat as one from the outside, and the solution is in dealing with that outside threat. Patriots see the problem as one that is systemic and fixing the system solves the problem. The immigration problem is the number one issue for most nationalists, and this is seen in the hatred towards immigrants, especially those as seen as a greater threat. To make a simple analogy, we can look at our pre-revolution nation. Nationalists would see the problem as the British bureaucrats and soldiers who were here enforcing laws. Patriots understood the problem was deeper than that; it was in London, Parliament and the King.
Nationalism has never solved a problem; it never ends well. The Nazis were nationalists; the French Revolution was a nationalist movement, and WWI and WWII were both the result of nationalism. While globalists tend to be socialist and communist, nationalists tend to be fascists. While many nationalist movements may be a reaction to a real problem, it is just that, a reaction. If you eat spicy food and get heartburn, a reaction might be to take an antacid; a solution would be to not eat the spicy food.
Nationalism is on the rise, not only in these United States but in Europe, as well. A key difference between the patriot movement in 18th century America and say the French revolution is the principles underlying the movements. In America it was based on God-given natural rights, in France, it was based on fraternity and nationalism. The popularity of Marine Le Pen in the French election is a nationalist one. Neo-Nazi groups have been on the rise in Germany. This gives rise to another reactionary group such as “ANTIFA”, anti-fascists who are prepared to face off in confrontational and increasingly violent clashes.
The only reasonable answer is education. People need to understand our Constitution, its principles, and intent. People have been fooled into voting and reacting based on feelings. When Benjamin Franklin responded to Mrs. Powel’s question on the type of government they were forming, “A republic, if you can keep it.” IF was a very important qualifier.
It’s way past time we stop flying by the seat of our pants, become involved at the local level all the way to the highest level, learn the basics and hold our government accountable – not to our feelings but to our constitution. Time is short!
Photo: By Unknown