Neither side owns patriotism

David Brin
3 min readJul 6, 2019

There’s something I want to say in the wake of a July Fourth celebration that cretins and foreign agents tried to hijack, aided by the reflex that some of our own citizens express, toward any sign of overt patriotism.

It’s easy to shrug off the powers that Pax Americana used to craft the greatest human lifespan of all time, 70+ years during which unleashed science discovered 99% of what we now know. When the percentage of kids in school worldwide skyrocketed from maybe 20% to roughly 90%, when nine out of ten nations got to spend perhaps 5% of their GDPs on military expenses, instead of the historically normal 50%. When, despite a continuing litany of horrors, only maybe 5% of living humans have seen war or famine with their own eyes. That last one is a doozy, by the way. Cynicism addicts of both the entire right and far-left wither before it.

For all its many faults Americana was the pax during which several mad cults — Nazism and Japanese imperialism, were quelled in ways that earned those peoples’ eternal gratitude. When another mad cult was held in check, despite its attractive incantations, till the world got over the Leninist scam. And we did that while struggling with our own bad/horrid habits, that our parents took for granted, taking those bad habits on at a much accelerated rate, compared to the long, rough span from 1776 to 1954.

It’s not that we and our pax were hugely popular. But we have been (till Trumpism) by far the least-hated empire, with a RATIO of good deeds to bad that is unparalleled. (Go ahead, name your counter-example of another great nation that behaved better, when tempted by vast power. Don’t just fume! Come on with that counter-example!)

And the soft power of Hollywood has utterly remade world moral systems so that individualism and the basic notion of positive sum systems has spread to far corners, taking on more traditional reflexes of machismo and/or tribalism and/or revenge, that fill almost every myth or fairy tale from the Campbellian past. (Um, where do you think YOU got your fervent values of Suspicion of Authority, Tolerance, Diversity and appreciation of Eccentricity?)

Alas, those ancient, brutal reflexes — machismo and/or tribalism and/or revenge — are fighting back, deployed by feudal hierarchy via new media and old, in order to poison us here, in the very heart of the Great Experiment.

Be positive sum! You can both be determined to push change and reform, on the one hand, and appreciative of what got us here. Be large.

= Revisiting the Gettysburg Address =

Something to try. Take a minute. Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — only envision he’s talking to you, right now.

About us, right now.

It’s shockingly pertinent. “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Amen. He’s talking to you, this very moment, about this very moment. And every word is relevant now. Every word, right now. We are struggling against real enemies of this great experiment, to ensure “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” …

Moreover, if you can feel the power of the Great Emancipator pouring through you, read it aloud to that teetering RASR (Residually Adult-Sane Republican) you know. It’s brief, potent...

And tell your RASR that yes, this is how we feel. And he needs to choose which side he is on, in this potentially lethal phase of our endless Civil War.

Make no mistake. Our enemies’ aim is the same as always — as Putin made clear when he laughed and told his puppet that the great “liberal experiment” was obsolete. He doesn’t mince words. His axis of Kremlin-KGB agents, oligarchs, Saudi princes, casino moguls, carbon barons, mafiosi, Wall Street cheaters, communist despots, Fox liars and inheritance brats…

…they plan nothing less than to ensure that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall perish from the earth.



David Brin

Author, scientist, public speaker. My books include The Transparent Society, The Postman, Earth, Existence, and Startide Rising.