PATRIOTISM: A MENACE TO LIBERTY

PATRIOTISM : A MENACE TO LIBERTY

WHAT is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place  of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it  the place where, in childlike naivety, we would watch the fleeting  clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place  where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest  each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our little  souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds,  and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or the  place where we would sit at mother's knee, enraptured by wonderful tales  of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it love for the spot, every  inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous,  and playful childhood?

If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be  called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned  into factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have  replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of  great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of  sorrow, tears, and grief.

What, then, is patriotism? "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort  of scoundrels," said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest  anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will  justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires  better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the making of such  necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that  guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the average  workingman.

Gustave Hervé, another great anti-patriot, justly calls  patriotism a superstition--one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane  than religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's  inability to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man  heard thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and  therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than  himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in the  various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a  superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of  lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect  and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.

Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of  patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is  divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those  who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider  themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living  beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone  living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to  impose his superiority upon all the others.

The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of  course, with the result that, from early infancy, the mind of the child  is poisoned with bloodcurdling stories about the Germans, the French,  the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood, he is  thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord  himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of  any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a  greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition. It is for that  purpose that America has within a short time spent four hundred million  dollars. Just think of it--four hundred million dollars taken from the  produce of the people. For surely it is not the rich who  contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at home in  every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are not our rich  Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or Englishmen in  England? And do they not squandor with cosmopolitan grace fortunes  coined by American factory children and cotton slaves? Yes, theirs is  the patriotism that will make it possible to send  messages of  condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any mishap befalls  him, as President Roosevelt did in the name of his people, when Sergius was punished by the Russian revolutionists.

It is a patriotism that will assist the arch-murderer, Diaz, in  destroying thousands of lives in Mexico, or that will even aid in  arresting Mexican revolutionists on American soil and keep them  incarcerated in American prisons, without the slightest cause or reason.

But, then, patriotism is not for those who represent wealth and  power. It is good enough for the people. It reminds one of the historic  wisdom of Frederick the Great, the bosom friend of Voltaire, who said:  "Religion is a fraud, but it must be maintained for the masses."

That patriotism is rather a costly institution, no one will  doubt after considering the following statistics. The progressive  increase of the expenditures for the leading armies and navies of the  world during the last quarter of a century is a fact of such gravity as  to startle every thoughtful student of economic problems. It may be  briefly indicated by dividing the time from 1881 to 1905 into five-year  periods, and noting the disbursements of several great nations for army  and navy purposes during the first and last of those periods. From the  first to the last of the periods noted the expenditures of Great Britain  increased from $2,101,848,936 to $4,143,226,885, those of France from  $3,324,500,000 to $3,455,109,900, those of Germany from $725,000,200 to  $2,700,375,600, those of the United States from $1,275,500,750 to  $2,650,900,450, those of Russia from $1,900,975,500 to $5,250,445,100,  those of Italy from $1,600,975,750 to $1,755,500,100, and those of Japan  from $182,900,500 to $700,925,475.

The military expenditures of each of the nations mentioned  increased in each of the five-year periods under review. During the  entire interval from 1881 to 1905 Great Britain's outlay for her army  increased fourfold, that of the United States was tripled, Russia's was  doubled, that of Germany increased 35 per cent., that of France about 15  per cent., and that of Japan nearly 500 per cent. If we compare the  expenditures of these nations upon their armies with their total  expenditures for all the twenty-five years ending with 1905, the  proportion rose as follows:

In Great Britain from 20 per cent. to 37; in the United States  from 15 to 23; in France from 16 to 18; in Italy from 12 to 15; in Japan  from 12 to 14. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that the  proportion in Germany decreased from about 58 per cent. to 25, the  decrease being due to the enormous increase in the imperial expenditures  for other purposes, the fact being that the army expenditures for the  period of 190I-5 were higher than for any five-year period preceding.  Statistics show that the countries in which army expenditures are  greatest, in proportion to the total national revenues, are Great  Britain, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy, in the order  named.

The showing as to the cost of great navies is equally  impressive. During the twenty-five years ending with 1905 naval  expenditures increased approximately as follows: Great Britain, 300 per  cent.; France 60 per cent.; Germany 600 per cent.; the United States 525  per cent.; Russia 300 per cent.; Italy 250 per cent.; and Japan, 700  per cent. With the exception of Great Britain, the United States spends  more for naval purposes than any other nation, and this expenditure  bears also a larger proportion to the entire national disbursements than  that of any other power. In the period 1881-5, the expenditure for the  United States navy was $6.20 out of each $100 appropriated for all  national purposes; the amount rose to $6.60 for the next five-year  period, to $8.10 for the next, to $11.70 for the next, and to $16.40 for  1901-5. It is morally certain that the outlay for the current period of  five years will show  a still further increase.

The rising cost of militarism may be still further illustrated  by computing it as a per capita tax on population. From the first to the  last of the five-year periods taken as the basis for the comparisons  here given, it has risen as follows: In Great Britain, from $18.47 to  $52.50; in France, from $19.66 to $23.62; in Germany, from $10.17 to  $15.51; in the United States, from $5.62 to $13.64; in Russia, from  $6.14 to $8.37; in Italy, from $9.59 to $11.24, and in Japan from 86  cents to $3.11.

It is in connection with this rough estimate of cost per capita  that the economic burden of militarism is most appreciable. The  irresistible conclusion from available data is that the increase of  expenditure for army and navy purposes is rapidly surpassing the growth  of population in each of the countries considered in the present  calculation. In other words, a continuation of the increased demands of  militarism threatens each of those nations with a progressive exhaustion  both of men and resources.

The awful waste that patriotism necessitates ought to be  sufficient to cure the man of even average intelligence from this  disease. Yet patriotism demands still more. The people are urged to be  patriotic and for that luxury they pay, not only by supporting their  "defenders," but even by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism  requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to  kill father, mother, brother, sister.

The usual contention is that we need a standing army to protect  the country from foreign invasion. Every intelligent man and woman  knows, however, that this is a myth maintained to frighten and coerce  the foolish. The governments of the world, knowing each other's  interests, do not invade each other. They have learned that they can  gain much more by international arbitration of disputes than by war and  conquest. Indeed, as Carlyle said, "War is a quarrel between two thieves  too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from  one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them  with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other."

It does not require much wisdom to trace every war back to a  similar cause. Let us take our own Spanish-American war, supposedly a  great and patriotic event in the history of the United States. How our  hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards! True,  our indignation did not flare up spontaneously. It was nurtured by  months of newspaper agitation, and long after Butcher Weyler had killed  off many noble Cubans and outraged many Cuban women. Still, in justice  to the American Nation be it said, it did grow indignant and was willing  to fight, and that it fought bravely. But when the smoke was over, the  dead buried, and the cost of the war came back to the people in an  increase in the price of commodities and rent--that is, when we sobered  up from our patriotic spree it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of  the Spanish-American war was the consideration of the price of sugar;  or, to be more explicit, that the lives, blood, and money of the  American people were used to protect the interests of American  capitalists, which were threatened by the Spanish government. That this  is not an exaggeration, but is based on absolute facts and figures, is  best proven by the attitude of the American government to Cuban labor.  When Cuba was firmly in the clutches of the United States, the very  soldiers sent to liberate Cuba were ordered to shoot Cuban workingmen  during the great cigarmakers' strike, which took place shortly after the  war.

Nor do we stand alone in waging war for such causes. The  curtain is beginning to be lifted on the motives of the terrible  Russo-Japanese war, which cost so much blood and tears. And we see again  that back of the fierce Moloch of war stands the still fiercer god of  Commercialism. Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War during the  Russo-Japanese struggle, has revealed the true secret behind the latter.  The Tsar and his Grand Dukes, having invested money in Corean  concessions, the war was forced for the sole purpose of speedily  accumulating large fortunes.

The contention that a standing army and navy is the best  security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most  peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed. The experience of  every-day life fully proves that the armed individual is invariably  anxious to try his strength. The same is historically true of  governments. Really peaceful countries do not waste life and energy in  war preparations, With the result that peace is maintained.

However, the clamor for an increased army and navy is not due  to any foreign danger. It is owing to the dread of the growing  discontent of the masses and of the international spirit among the  workers. It is to meet the internal enemy that the Powers of various  countries are preparing themselves; an enemy, who, once awakened to  consciousness, will prove more dangerous than any foreign invader.

The powers that have for centuries been engaged in enslaving  the masses have made a thorough study of their psychology. They know  that the people at large are like children whose despair, sorrow, and  tears can be turned into joy with a little toy. And the more gorgeously  the toy is dressed, the louder the colors, the more it will appeal to  the million-headed child.

An army and navy represents the people's toys. To make them  more attractive and acceptable, hundreds and thousands of dollars are  being spent for the display of these toys. That was the purpose of the  American government in equipping a fleet and sending it along the  Pacific coast, that every American citizen should be made to feel the  pride and glory of the United States. The city of San Francisco spent  one hundred thousand dollars for the entertainment of the fleet; Los  Angeles, sixty thousand; Seattle and Tacoma, about one hundred thousand.  To entertain the fleet, did I say? To dine and wine a few superior  officers, while the "brave boys" had to mutiny to get sufficient food.  Yes, two hundred and sixty thousand dollars were spent on fireworks,  theatre parties, and revelries, at a time when men, women, and child}en  through the breadth and length of the country were starving in the  streets; when thousands of unemployed were ready to sell their labor at  any price.

Two hundred and sixty thousand dollars! What could not have  been accomplished with such an enormous sum? But instead of bread and  shelter, the children of those cities were taken to see the fleet, that  it may remain, as one of the newspapers said, "a lasting memory for the  child."

A wonderful thing to remember, is it not? The implements of  civilized slaughter. If the mind of the child is to be poisoned with  such memories, what hope is there for a true realization of human  brotherhood?

We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate  bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over  the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon  helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone,  who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon  that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the  thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and  that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other  nations.

Such is the logic of patriotism.

Considering the evil results that patriotism is fraught with  for the average man, it is as nothing compared with the insult and  injury that patriotism heaps upon the soldier himself,--that poor,  deluded victim of superstition and ignorance. He, the savior of his  country, the protector of his nation,--what has patriotism in store for  him? A life of slavish submission, vice, and perversion, during peace; a  life of danger, exposure, and death, during war.

While on a recent lecture tour in San Francisco, I visited the  Presidio, the most beautiful spot overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate  Park. Its purpose should have been playgrounds for children, gardens and  music for the recreation of the weary. Instead it is made ugly, dull,  and gray by barracks,--barracks wherein the rich would not allow their  dogs to dwell. In these miserable shanties soldiers are herded like  cattle; here they waste their young days, polishing the boots and brass  buttons of their superior officers. Here, too, I saw the distinction of  classes: sturdy sons of a free Republic, drawn up in line like convicts,  saluting every passing shrimp of a lieutenant. American equality,  degrading manhood and elevating the uniform!

Barrack life further tends to develop tendencies of sexual  perversion. It is gradually producing along this line results similar to  European military conditions. Havelock Ellis, the noted writer on sex  psychology, has made a thorough study of the subject. I quote: "Some of  the barracks are great centers of male prostitution.... The number of  soldiers who prostitute themselves is greater than we are willing to  believe. It is no exaggeration to say that in certain regiments the  presumption is in favor of the venality of the majority of the men....  On summer evenings Hyde Park and the neighborhood of Albert Gate are  full of guardsmen and others plying a lively trade, and with little  disguise, in uniform or out.... In most cases the proceeds form a  comfortable addition to Tommy Atkins' pocket money."

To what extent this perversion has eaten its way into the army  and navy can best be judged from the fact that special houses exist for  this form of prostitution. The practice is not limited to England; it is  universal. "Soldiers are no less sought after in France than in England  or in Germany, and special houses for military prostitution exist both  in Paris and the garrison towns."

Had Mr. Havelock Ellis included America in his investigation of  sex perversion, he would have found that the same conditions prevail in  our army and navy as in those of other countries. The growth of the  standing army inevitably adds to the spread of sex perversion; the  barracks are the incubators.

Aside from the sexual effects of barrack life, it also tends to  unfit the soldier for useful labor after leaving the army. Men, skilled  in a trade, seldom enter the army or navy, but even they, after a  military experience, find themselves totally unfitted for their former  occupations. Having acquired habits of idleness and a taste for  excitement and adventure, no peaceful pursuit can content them. Released  from the army, they can turn to no useful work. But it is usually the  social riff-raff, discharged prisoners and the like, whom either the  struggle for life or their own inclination drives into the ranks. These,  their military term over, again turn to their former life of crime,  more brutalized and degraded than before. It is a well-known fact that  in our prisons there is a goodly number of ex-soldiers; while, on the  other hand, the army and navy are to a great extent plied with  ex-convicts.

Of all the evil results I have just described none seems to me  so detrimental to human integrity as the spirit patriotism has produced  in the case of Private William Buwalda. Because he foolishly believed  that one can be a soldier and exercise his rights as a man at the same  time, the military authorities punished him severely. True, he had  served his country fifteen years, during which time his record was  unimpeachable. According to Gen. Funston, who reduced Buwalda's sentence  to three years, "the first duty of an officer or an enlisted man is  unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the government, and it makes no  difference whether he approves of that government or not." Thus Funston  stamps the true character of allegiance. According to him, entrance into  the army abrogates the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

What a strange development of patriotism that turns a thinking being into a loyal machine!

In justification of this most outrageous sentence of Buwalda,  Gen. Funston tells the American people that the soldier's action was "a  serious crime equal to treason." Now, what did this "terrible crime"  really consist of? Simply in this: William Buwalda was one of fifteen  hundred people who attended a public meeting in San Francisco; and, oh,  horrors, he shook hands with the speaker, Emma Goldman. A terrible  crime, indeed, which the General calls "a great military offense,  infinitely worse than desertion."

Can there be a greater indictment against patriotism than that  it will thus brand a man a criminal, throw him into prison, and rob him  of the results of fifteen years of faithful service?

Buwalda gave to his country the best years of his life and his  very manhood. But all that was as nothing. Patriotism is inexorable and,  like all insatiable monsters, demands all or nothing. It does not admit  that a soldier is also a human being, who has a right to his own  feelings and opinions, his own inclinations and ideas. No, patriotism  can not admit of that. That is the lesson which Buwalda was made to  learn; made to learn at a rather costly, though not at a useless price.  When he returned to freedom, he had lost his position in the army, but  he regained his self-respect. After all, that is worth three years of  imprisonment.

A writer on the military conditions of America, in a recent  article, commented on the power of the military man over the civilian in  Germany. He said, among other things, that if our Republic had no other  meaning than to guarantee all citizens equal rights, it would have just  cause for existence. I am convinced that the writer was not in Colorado  during the patriotic régime of General Bell. He probably would have  changed his mind had he seen how, in the name of patriotism and the  Republic, men were thrown into bull-pens, dragged about, driven across  the border, and subjected to all kinds of indignities. Nor is that  Colorado incident the only one in the growth of military power in the  United States. There is hardly a strike where troops and militia do not  come to the rescue of those in power, and where they do not act as  arrogantly and brutally as do the men wearing the Kaiser's uniform.  Then, too, we have the Dick military law. Had the writer forgotten that?

A great misfortune with most of our writers is that they are  absolutely ignorant on current events, or that, lacking honesty, they  will not speak of these matters. And so it has come to pass that the  Dick military law was rushed through Congress with little discussion and  still less publicity,--a law which gives the President the power to  turn a peaceful citizen into a bloodthirsty man-killer, supposedly for  the defense of the country, in reality for the protection of the  interests of that particular party whose mouthpiece the President  happens to be.

Our writer claims that militarism can never become such a power  in America as abroad, since it is voluntary with us, while compulsory  in the Old World. Two very important facts, however, the gentleman  forgets to consider. First, that conscription has created in Europe a  deep-seated hatred of militarism among all classes of society. Thousands  of young recruits enlist under protest and, once in the army, they will  use every possible means to desert. Second, that it is the compulsory  feature of militarism which has created a tremendous anti-militarist  movement, feared by European Powers far more than anything else. After  all, the greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism. The very moment  the latter is undermined, capitalism will totter. True, we have no  conscription; that is, men are not usually forced to enlist in the army,  but we have developed a far more exacting and rigid force--necessity.  Is it not a fact that during industrial depressions there is a  tremendous increase in the number of enlistments? The trade of  militarism may not be either lucrative or honorable, but it is better  than tramping the country in search of work, standing in the bread line,  or sleeping in municipal lodging houses. After all, it means thirteen  dollars per month, three meals a day, and a place to sleep. Yet even  necessity is not sufficiently strong a factor to bring into the army an  element of character and manhood. No wonder our military authorities  complain of the "poor material" enlisting in the army and navy. This  admission is a very encouraging sign. It proves that there is still  enough of the spirit of independence and love of liberty left in the  average American to risk starvation rather than don the uniform.

Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize  that patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the  necessities of our time. The centralization of power has brought into  being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations  of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of  interests between the workingman of America and his brothers abroad than  between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity  which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers  to the point when they will say to their masters, "Go and do your own  killing. We have done it long enough for you."

This solidarity is awakening the consciousness of even the  soldiers, they, too, being flesh of the flesh of the great human family.  A solidarity that has proven infallible more than once during past  struggles, and which has been the impetus inducing the Parisian  soldiers, during the Commune of 1871, to refuse to obey when ordered to  shoot their brothers. It has given courage to the men who mutinied on  Russian warships during recent years. It will eventually bring about the  uprising of all the oppressed and downtrodden against their  international exploiters.

The proletariat of Europe has realized the great force of that  solidarity and has, as a result, inaugurated a war against patriotism  and its bloody spectre, militarism. Thousands of men fill the prisons of  France, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries, because they  dared to defy the ancient superstition. Nor is the movement limited to  the working class; it has embraced representatives in all stations of  life, its chief exponents being men and women prominent in art, science,  and letters.

America will have to follow suit. The spirit of militarism has  already permeated all walks of life. Indeed, I am convinced that  militarism is growing a greater danger here than anywhere else, because  of the many bribes capitalism holds out to those whom it wishes to  destroy.

The beginning has already been made in the schools. Evidently  the government holds to the Jesuitical conception, "Give me the child  mind, and I will mould the man." Children are trained in military  tactics, the glory of military achievements extolled in the curriculum,  and the youthful minds perverted to suit the government. Further, the  youth of the country is appealed to in glaring posters to join the army  and navy. "A fine chance to see the world!" cries the governmental  huckster. Thus innocent boys are morally shanghaied into patriotism, and  the military Moloch strides conquering through the Nation.

The American workingman has suffered so much at the hands of  the soldier, State and Federal, that he is quite justified in his  disgust with, and his opposition to, the uniformed parasite. However,  mere denunciation will not solve this great problem. What we need is a  propaganda of education for the soldier: antipatriotic literature that  will enlighten him as to the real horrors of his trade, and that will  awaken his consciousness to his true relation to the man to whose labor  he owes his very existence. It is precisely this that the authorities  fear most. It is already high treason for a soldier to attend a radical  meeting. No doubt they will also stamp it high treason for a soldier to  read a radical pamphlet. But, then, has not authority from time  immemorial stamped every step of progress as treasonable? Those,  however, who earnestly strive for social reconstruction can well afford  to face all that; for it is probably even more important to carry the  truth into the barracks than into the factory. When we have undermined  the patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for that great  structure wherein all nationalities shall be united into a universal  brotherhood, --a truly FREE SOCIETY.

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