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Tolstoy on Patriotism
Via Bryan Caplan, we get this quote from my favorite author, Leo Tolstoy:
If an American wishes the preferential grandeur and well-being of America above all other nations, and the same is desired by his state by an Englishman, and a Russian, … and all of them are convinced that these desires need not only not be concealed or repressed, but should be a matter of pride … and if the greatness and wellbeing of one country or nation cannot be obtained except to the detriment of another nation, … – how can war be avoided?
And so, not to have any war, it is … necessary to … destroy what produces war. … the desire for the exclusive good for one’s own nation – what is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism, and to abolish patriotism, it is necessary to it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil, and that is hard to do.
A hundred years later, Tolstoy seems more perceptive than ever. In the modern world, how often do countries actually have anything to fight about?
I intend to take this position: I prefer what is good for the world, over what is good for my country, and when USA patriots disagree with others about what is good for the world, I’m not particularly likely to take their side. But I wonder: Do I really take this position?