Written by Frank Li
In my book Saving America, Chinese Style, I identified six similarities between communism and democracy as follows:
Destruction of capitalism
'You didn't build that'
1. What is patriotism?
According to Wikipedia, "Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy. In a generalized sense applicable to all countries and peoples, patriotism is a devotion to one's country."
2. My view of patriotism
It's simple and straightforward in two points as follows:
People are patriotic by default.
While most people love their own country by default, they do not necessarily love or even like the government. In other words, just because you do not like your government, it does not mean you do not love your country. Unfortunately, all too often, some people, especially many self-serving politicians, equate the love for a country to the love for its government, and vice versa. It was a wide-spread practice in Communist China (1949-1976), and it appears to be increasingly popular in democracy, such as France and even America.
3. Gerard Depardieu
Here is a recent news story: Gerard Depardieu 'pleased' to become Russian Citizen. Here is an excerpt:
President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to French actor Gerard Depardieu ... Depardieu (pictured below) decided to change his citizenship following a tax reform by French President Francois Hollande, levying a 75% tax on citizens earning more than one million euros per year ... French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called Depardieu's decision to quit France "pathetic" and "unpatriotic."
How ironic is this story? Two points:
A successful French actor became a Russian citizen a little more than two decades after communism collapsed in the former Soviet Union.
The way he has been treated at home (i.e. France) is little different from the way communist leaders treated their citizens in the former Soviet Union or Communist China (1949-1976), from asset confiscation to name calling of "unpatriotic"! Bad politicians use "unpatriotic" as a euphemism for "opposing my policy"!
4. Patriotism in America
I watch news on TV daily and noticed that a lot of folks coming back to America from the wars receive a hero's welcome. The photo below shows an example.
On the other hand, it is my understanding that the U.S. news media is censoring itself by not broadcasting the scenes of casualty returns, such as the photo below.
While it's difficult to accept the political reason behind media "bias", I was deeply disturbed after reading the 7/22/2012 issue of Time Magazine, whose cover story was "The War On Suicide". Here is an excerpt:
"Every day, one U.S. soldier commits suicide. Why the military can't defeat its most insidious enemy?"
Furthermore, according to the 1/28/2013 issue of Time Magazine, there were 349 U.S. military suicides in 2012, more than the 295 troops killed in combat in Afghanistan during 2012.
What a total tragedy! It led to a basic question in my mind for many years: Why is America, only America, involved in so many wars on earth?
When a war and the word "patriotism" are so closely linked in America today, it brings strong recollection of my previous life in China ...
5. Patriotism in Communist China (1949-1976)
Communism means abject poverty and an absolute lack of freedom. So it's not easy to rule in communism. A powerful tool used by the rulers in Communist China was patriotism. Two examples:
Put up with the hardship now, as life will eventually get better. Keep hoping, as it's a patriotic thing to do!
Now, a personal story: one of my uncles joined the People's Volunteer Army in 1951, and was sent to Korea to "fight against the American aggressors" for a key reason: "it's better to fight them over there than here", so was the Korean War portrayed in China at that time.
So, officially, he went to Korea as a patriotic duty!
Here are the two real reasons behind his going to Korea:
He had nothing better to do.
He viewed it as a way to escape poverty.
How did he fare in Korea? Well, a few days after he crossed the Yalu River, he lost one toe to frostbite during a very cold night and was immediately sent back home. Of course, he was warmly welcomed back, just as he was warmly sent off. Additionally, as a wounded war veteran, he was relatively well taken care of by the government. He passed away a few years ago at age 82.
Can you draw a little analogy between my uncle and a veteran in the U.S. today? While different people join the military for different reasons, patriotism has been a big draw, correctly or incorrectly.
6. Patriotism in America, again
Democracy, as we know it today, means more and more poverty (e.g. Poverty In The U.S. By The Numbers) and less and less freedom (economic freedom) in America. Although neither is as bad as in Communist China yet, the worst is yet to come.
It's not easy to be a "ruler" in America - you must remain popular in order to be re-elected again (and again). One effective way to do it is to keep the defense industry strong. The major downside is that the world must have conflicts and America must have enemies ...
With conflicts and enemies come the excessive needs of keeping the defense industry strong and the exaggerated need of sending troops everywhere, often in the name of patriotism. As a result, since the Cold War ended in 1989, America has been busily involved in many conflicts all over the world, especially in the Middle East (U.S. Middle East Policy: What's Wrong?). Remember this picture?
WMD was the justification America invaded Iraq in 2003, which turned out to be totally false. Here are some stats about the Iraq War: Tens of thousands of Iraqis died. What about the U.S. casualties? 4,486 deaths and over 100,000 wounded! But for what? George W. Bush's re-election, most likely! For more, read: Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War and Blagojevich and Pearl Harbor: They Are Related!
Another justification for the Iraq War was "it's better to fight them over there than here." The similarity to the Korean War as it was portrayed in China is obvious.
Oh, do you know someone who went to the Iraq War? If yes, what was his/her official reason? Patriotism, like my uncle's?
If yes, then America's brainwashing machine has actually worked better than Communist China's propaganda machine.
If no, have you found out the real reasons yet? If no, maybe in a few years. Meanwhile, read: Dumb and Dumber - The U.S. Army lowers recruitment standards ... again.
Now, what about The Afghan War: Read: For Obama the Road to Reelection Runs through Kabul. Here is an excerpt:
"The real goals of the Afghanistan escalation are domestic and electoral ... The real purpose of these 300,000 soldiers is to make Obama look tough as he heads toward the next US presidential election."
While the reality is debatable, the perception alone is frightening! Michael Hastings's article (The Runaway General) further confirms the perception. Worse yet, it is patently obvious that the troop withdrawal plan was timed perfectly for President Obama's re-election schedule. Apparently, no price was too high for Americans to pay for President Obama's re-election!
Here is a must-read article: Thomas Young, Dying Iraq War veteran, Pens 'Last Letter" to Bush, Cheney On War's 10th Anniversary. Here is an excerpt:
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans-my fellow veterans-whose future you stole.
Here are two quotes:
Winston Churchill: "One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'."
Sun Tzu: "All war is deception."
Here is a simple but succinct criterion to judge the validity of a war: If you are not willing to go yourself or send your child there, the war is not worthwhile! With this criterion, ask yourself this question: after WWII, which war with American involvement was worthwhile?
Okay, I know what you are thinking: 9/11. Here is a must-read article: Ron Paul on 9/11: Ask the right questions and face the truth.
Yes, America has been the major source of instability around the world since 1989, when the Cold War ended!
No, the U.S. military is not (supposed to be) a global 911 service. But it has been, thanks to the war hawks in the U.S. political-military complex.
Yes, America has been trying to save the world, while bankrupting itself at home. Read this recent story: Afghanistan Manufacturing the American Legacy. Here is an excerpt:
"A decade ago, playing music could get you maimed in Afghanistan. Today, a youth ensemble is traveling to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. And it even includes girls."
Is it progress in Afghanistan? Yes! Should we Americans pay for it? No! Is this a justification, in any way, shape, or form, for the decade-long war in Afghanistan? A bloody "no"!
Now, a piece of advice from a gun-enthusiastic friend of mine: "watch out, the military that is 'patriotically' protecting us now may one day turn against us. So keep the guns!"
Need more reasons to keep the guns? Read this: Why Is Obama's Growing DHS Army Buying Armored Vehicles?
America is a great country and Americans are a great people. But it's the political system, stupid! More specifically, it's getting re-elected ad nauseam, stupid! So whenever an American politician utters the word "patriotism", be it for a war or a tax hike, watch out! To me, it sounds eerily like a communist talking when I was growing up in China ...
Here is a quote: "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."
Who said it? Mark Twain!