The Curse and Blessing of the Ultimate Comparison Class Posted on September 15, 2004 by Will Wilkinson Patri Friedman makes a nice point about comparison classes and self-esteem over at Catallarchy. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Published by Will Wilkinson Head of Policy at TBD (Block Inc.) View all posts by Will Wilkinson
6 thoughts on “The Curse and Blessing of the Ultimate Comparison Class”
It’s hard for people abroad to “ease up on the Americanism” when the classical liberal ideas that are, in theory, supposed to having nothing to do with the organized violence that is the American state constantly appear to be coupled with it.
This makes for cynicism, not a love of Frederic Bastiat.
I think that many tend to unfortunately equate ideas of loving one’s country with valuing one’s countrymen above another country’s citizens. These are the sentiments associated with the jingoistic advertising urging us all to “buy American”. I think these values are wrong. Common humanity should mean far more than common nationality. One should care just as much about the life of an innocent Iraqi civilian as I should about the life of an American soldier. In my opinion, there is only one broad classification of people whose lives one should value less than any civilian, an opposing armed force.
I completely agree with the main sentiments Will is expressing here, though for me America’s heterogeneity gives it a lead in lovableness over places with comparable commitments to liberty.
Actually, I think this is way off.
Tim Lee says, “Loving your country because it embodies specific political ideals isn’t patriotism, it’s called having a political philosophy. Patriotism is loving your country because it’s your country, regardless of what political ideals it may or may not embody.” Right. A revolutionary can love his country as much as the head of its intelligence service, though they’re fierce enemies. Devotion to the country and its people should lead a patriot to try to see his ideals enacted because he sincerely believes the country would benefit.
Okay, then Will totally misses the point. “If another society does better in securing these things, it’s a better society, and I would indeed switch my allegiances if it came down to it.” Crap, Will. You don’t book a one way flight to the Netherlands every time they best us in marginal utility. What about fixing your country? What about the rest of us who will be stuck here in this suckier system? Are we so cheaply abandoned? You say, “If you really care about liberty, you’ve got to ease up on the Americanism.” I say if you really love liberty, you ought to insist on it in America.
All that said, I suspect that defining patriotism is a mug’s game. You know it when you see it.
I feel incredibly lucky to live in the place that best (albeit imperfectly) embodies my ideals and that does so better than any country in history.
Note that Bush has said over and over that “that liberty is not an American invention but the common heritage of mankind” and he is right.
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