Re: Is rational patriotism anti-extropian? I don't think so...

From: James Wetterau (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 09:27:15 MDT

"john grigg" says:
> Charlie Stross wrote:
> However, I'd like to note in passing that _no_ country today is a utopia, or
> has abolished poverty, or has abolished civil rights abuses. Some are better
> than others, but that's as far as it goes -- and even then, the relative
> position varies depending on your status within your own culture.
> (end)
> I totally agree with you. As I said in my post, there is still much to be
> done, even in the United States. But again, the U.S. does have much to be
> proud of in terms of making the world a better place, as does the United
> Kingdom.

Who has a "right to be proud"? Politicians, half of whom promise to
put a stop to everything the other half stand for? The people on
their payroll, who collect salaries for doing those politicians'
executive and often dirty work? The taxpayers, who fork over the
money demanded from them? I'm not proud of the U.S. bombing Kosovo,
or using the atom bomb, or slaughtering the indigenous peoples and
taking their land, but I guess my tax money helps pay for those things
or things like them. I'm not proud of mob rule, of two million people
in jail (Two *Million* people in jail!), of trillions in debt, etc.,

I wish people in the territory of the U.S. were ashamed, bitterly
ashamed, of any active participation in the fraud called the
government, and resolved to resist it in any way they could.

> And yet isn't extropianism an ideology also that has guiding principles to
> 'influence' or even 'pigeon-hole' members? I realize that Max has written
> "these Principles are not presented as absolute truths or universal values."
> I am just playing devil's advocate here.

I actually find the idea of identifying and "pigeonholing" people as
"extropian" or "non-extropian" kind of creepy and scary. I'm on this
list because I enjoy and hope to benefit from the ideas. I want to
stay informed about developments in nanotechnology, computational
application of same and quantum mechanics, transhumanism, general
technology advance, the philosophical implications of the above,
privately produced law, etc. These concerns emanate from my rational
self-interest, not from any allegiance to extropianism as a movement
that I can feel good about, learn the anthem for ("... the artificial
intelligences shall raise the human race!"), and wear the nifty
uniform of (now with epaulets!). I feel extremely disinterested in
the prospect of converting anyone in particular or in assessing
anyone's extropian purity. I'm only interested in the question of an
extropian movment as an ancillary consideration to assisting building
momentum for those advances which can raise everyone's standards of
living and scope of choices and freedom: a practical problem (almost
an engineering problem) of education or consciousness raising. But I
don't need or want a club of like-minded people or set of beliefs to
cling to, and I hope and expect that this list won't become about "us
vs. them" stuff.

> you continues:
> I'd also like to note that from a non-American perspective making children
> swear an oath of allegiance in school each day looks positively Orwellian,
> and I don't see massive military power as being admirable, either.
> (end)
> I sure don't consider children taking the oath of allegiance to be
> 'brainwashing!' ...

Yes, but did you learn the songs? How about the dances? The marches?
The salutes? The proper way to wear the uniform, and polish (not to
say, lick) the boots? How about the high kicks? Finally, no child's
education would be complete without learning how to bend over in the
presence of authority.

> the words to be 'funny' and making eachother laugh. But generally I took it
> seriously and felt patriotic as I spoke the words. I would want any future
> child of mine to continue taking the pledge.
> I have never thought of the connection with the divine right of kings, very
> interesting. The social contract between the citizen, other citizens and
> their government is supposed to bind us together in mutual
> self-interest.

I didn't sign it, anybody claiming to have seen me sign it is a damn
liar, and you can't make me sign it! :-) See Lysander Spooner on this

> Modern democracies are just a degenerate form of the monarchial system? For
> reasons stated above I would have to disagree. I can see some connection
> but not the wholesale link you do. I appreciate having the vast power one
> man used to have as king being spread around with various branches of
> government that are limited by checks and balances. And we can try to
> influence or change things without being hung or imprisoned if the king
> really dislikes the idea.

Unless the king really, really dislikes the idea, at which point he
might burn your house down with you, your friends and your children in

> I take pride in seeing my nation kick some else's work over when their work
> is going to be used for unjust aggression. Kicking over Saddam Hussein's or
> Omar Quadaffi's pile of blocks is no problem to me.

That Omar -- such a naughty boy! Omar Quadaffi? Oh well, whoever he
is, he probably has a good block kicking coming, right? Or else why
would the U.S. be kicking his blocks? Must be his fault.

James Wetterau

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