16 July 2012

Patriotic Zeal

Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer, 2010, Excerpts

Patriotic zeal runs strong in the United States, and young Americans are no less susceptible to the allure of martial adventure than young males from other cultures, including fanatical tribal cultures. When the president of the United States declares yet another war on some national adversary, a great many men [and more than a few women] will doubtless stream forth to enlist, just as eager to join the fight as the Americans who flocked to recruiting offices during previous armed conflicts – regardless of whether the war in question is a reckless blunder or vital to the survival of the Republic.

Hermann Goering, who in 1946, shortly before he was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, notoriously observed: “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in any country.” 

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