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Samizdata quote of the day

I used to consider myself a patriot… no more. There is simply nothing to be proud about and we have the government the voters deserve. But I didn’t leave England, England left me.

Thaddeus Tremayne, overheard over dinner.

29 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Yes I can understand this.

  • This is more than a little whiney

  • Julie near Chicago

    Which is why “My country, right or wrong” is not on my list of Absolute Principles.

  • joel

    I feel much the same way about the U.S.A. This is not the country I was born and raised in. It is an entirely different place now. We used to lead the world in every category that counted, now we are a declining to the status of a 3rd world country. Look at Detroit and weep. Look at California and feel anger.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Whiney”? Well…maybe just realistic. It’s the same as Pres. Reagan’s “I didn’t leave the [Democratic] Party–the Party left me.” Meaning, he saw that the Dims (my pet name for them) no longer held his moral-political beliefs and so could no longer represent him; he had to stop supporting them because he felt they were in the wrong, too often, over the things of bedrock importance.

    You can come to that point with respect to your country, too–and as part of it, come to feel it’s an alien society, an alien culture…no longer what it once was, or what you thought it was.

    There’s an aspect of things that argues against allowing ourselves to feel that way entirely, however, and it’s this: The left (in its various guises–but all of them intent upon demoting human beings to denizens of the Ant Farm) has been trying for centuries to destroy our moral self-confidence and our sense of the value of our various nations’ customs, traditions, values. In other words, to demoralize us to the point that we won’t stick up for ourselves–as individuals, as societies, as nations, as a Civilization worth preserving and building upon.

    So before I (spiritually) left the totality of my particular country (or any of the Anglospheric countries, come to that) I would want to be quite sure I wasn’t being seduced into a state of paralysis. Kind of like the Tree in the Old Forest: “Hark at it singing of sleep now! This won’t do!” said Sam Gamgee.

    Sorry to muse at length…but I’ve been feeling pangs of out-and-out shame lately (and at my age!), and wondering if it’s the result of genuine learning and having to give up certain illusions which support pride in “my country,” or rather of constant immersion in the leftist narratives, which are so constantly front-and-center in our minds because we have to confront them daily.

  • Bruno, say something intelligent or fuck off.

  • As an expatriate Brit – I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly. By the time I left in 2009, I felt that the brash, self-confident Britain which I had known in my youth had been almost completely extinguished by 13-years of Labour statism and the Conservatives under both John Major and David Cameron haven’t been much better.

    During my final years living in the UK (around 2003 – 2009), I began to feel as if I was living in some bizarre open prison camp where I was only as free as the camp guards would allow me to be.

    For me the final straw was the introduction of ID cards, the final nail in the coffin. Thanks to the efforts of Guy Herbert and the folks at NO2ID amongst many others, the ID cards scheme was strangled at birth, but it can always easily be resurrected – just waiting for the next manufactured bogeyman to require more security “for my protection”. I’ve never believed that putting people in chains protects them, it only protects the state – not the people.

    This is why I left and why neither I nor my family will return. We have not turned our backs upon the UK, rather we found that the place we lived turned into a foreign country around us.

    I see no future for the UK as a welfare scroungers paradise and a vassal slave state to the EU. The glory that was Great Britain was defined by what it achieved through invention and innovation, but more than anything else because its people were free.

    As it says in Rule, Britannia! “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves“, but as it’s citizens now seem to be either clients of the state (welfare scroungers, MP’s, civil servants, local government officers, quango’s, etc.) or taxpayers to be fattened and treated as cash cows, that is exactly what the majority of the population have become. Slaves to the state and nothing more.

    Why should I feel patriotism for that? This is why I feel that I have not left my country, but rather escaped from a Gulag.

    Having discussed this at length with many people, some (especially Americans) see my departure as being a form of treason to my country.

    I have given up trying to explain, to paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas – “For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.”

  • veryretired

    My great-grandparents on one side came to the US in 1881 from Belgium as a reaction to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and at the invitation of the local Catholic church here, which promised available farmland of good quality. They were successful farmers, had a large family, and prospered.

    My great-great-grandparents on the other side came here from central europe somewhat earlier, possibly driven by the turmoil of the mid-1800’s throughout the area in which they lived, and settled in Chicago. The men were butchers, the women bakers, and they worked hard, first in the stockyards, and then in their own shops.

    My grandparents still spoke some of the old countrys’ languages, my mother very little, and myself none at all.

    I am as completely an American as I can be, and yet I can understand the feeling expressed here on a very sympathetic level, as something I have felt the ache of also, and feared as a possibility if certain trends towards statism continued unabated.

    I am at home here, anywhere in the US, in a way I have never felt anywhere else I have lived or visited. I cannot imagine the emotions that would be involved if, at some future time, I came to the conclusion that I must leave, as my great-greats did, and settle in another land.

    I am hoping against all evidence to the contrary that this will not be necessary, and that the seemingly inexorable slide into collectivist autocracy can be halted, and then pushed back.

    I have believed, as long as I have memory of my own consciousness, that I could say, or read, or think, or believe whatever my mind and heart concluded was valid.

    I could not, and will not, live any other way. I will not allow my life to be diminished, and reduced, to what is “acceptable” to some post-modernist, pc, multi-culti, tranzi, elitist arbiter.

    Besides, I’m afraid I don’t have any good ideas about where I might go. Maybe Oz. I just don’t know.

  • Ok Perry… I just find it a bit unlikely that something as complex and multifaceted as a country can devolve in a couple of decades from being worthy of adoration to deserving nothing but contempt. Nations, and the ideas that shape them, are harder to kill than that.

    Also, the melodramatic delivery and implicit self-pity in the quote seem to me somewhat antithetical to the values the quotee believes have been lost.

    My point being, of course, that England (or the USA, or Brazil, or wherever) is still England (ditto). It may be substantially worse off now than before; but if it was worth defending a generation ago it is probably still worth defending now.

    I hope this raises to your minimal acceptable levels of intelligent discourse.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Bruno, why bother? Yours was an intelligent comment- the original piece didn’t explain himself well.

  • Alisa

    JG, it’s funny that you seem to encounter least understanding of your position from Americans – especially in light of facts such as described here by VR.

  • @Alisa:

    My comment was not in relation to US citizens who post here as they have by and large managed to break their programming. American patriotic propaganda begins at a very early age and is very difficult to see through.

    My comments relate to US citizens I meet in the real world.

  • Nuke, don’t be a dick. It was a quote of the day and as a result not going to be ‘explained’ at all.

  • Alisa

    I understood that, JG. My point was that the vast majority of Americans being Americans in the first place are themselves the result of people looking for a better place for themselves and their families, for whatever reasons. One could argue that this even applies to American Indians, as their ancestors also seem to have migrated to America from Asia. This whole notion of loyalty to one’s country really has no meaning whatsoever, since countries always change, just as do people who live in them. The only loyalty worth anything is that to one’s values and principles.

  • Alisa

    That should read: ‘the vast majority of Americans being Americans in the first place is itself the result of…’.

  • MakajazMonkee

    I emigrated during the Last Blair years, maybe it was all the drugs, but the UK seemed pretty grim at the time with all the CCTV and war on terror. The TV series Monkey Dust seemed pretty much spot on. Saying that I can’t see the UK being more statist now than how I imagine Clement Atlee’s days to have been.

    Also, I’ve always got on with the people in the various countries I live in but sometimes you miss you’re own people. Last night I was listening to talk radio where a bunch of Africans were having conversations about how god is a man and couldn’t possibly be a woman, thinking these people are flipped out.

  • RRS

    “Patriotism,” seems to be a mixed illusion.

    From what is it generated, of what is it comprised; one’s feelings about those one knows (the “little platoons”); one’s assumptions about others observed, but not known?

    Is it fundamentally derived from a sense of commonalities, which are now appearing much less evident?

    What generates the dissatisfactions among us with the conditions developing in our social orders such that “patriotism” is being re-evaluated?

  • Gareth

    Why you need something English to be proud of in order to be an English patriot?

    I don’t have any claim on the present or historic achievements of others so I’m not sure why I would ever take pride from them. Be supportive, yes. Take an interest in the spectacle or struggle, probably. Be impressed by a job well done, maybe. Pride doesn’t come into it.

  • Tedd


    The only loyalty worth anything is that to one’s values and principles.

    Well said. Trying to have pride or patriotism that’s not based on values and principles only leads to ethnic nationalism.

  • Alisa

    Thanks, Tedd. It was clarified to me by a very wise man fairly recently – and at that moment a lot of things in my mind suddenly fell into place.

  • Why you need something English to be proud of in order to be an English patriot?

    Why be a patriot at all?

  • Laird

    Bruno, if you truly think that it impossible that “something as complex and multifaceted as a country can devolve in a couple of decades”, then you either haven’t been paying attention or are simply too young to know what this country was in the past. It most certainly is possible for that to happen; the evidence is all around us.

    My country (the US) is now engaged in massive warrantless spying on its own citizens, summary executions (via predator drones) in foreign countries, the militarization of local police forces, and military interventions across the globe (both acknowledged and unacknowledged). And we have devolved into a nation of welfare sponges, where over 50% of the population doesn’t pay federal taxes and nearly that percentage is wholly dependent upon government for its livelihood (either via direct employment or welfare). What’s there to be proud of? Joel said it well.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Various thoughts, in no particular order, and absolutely nothing intended to denigrate any of the thoughts or feelings above….

    Patriotism–meaning? Love of country, feeling of identifying with its people, traditions, customs, manners, mores, and the main body of the society’s* beliefs, understandings, values, worldview (“meta-context”); the feeling that one has a shared heritage with (most of) the other members of the society; all of this resulting in a strong bonding with the “country.” Which tends to result in feelings of loyalty to the country. It’s like having a circle of close friends, and being not about to let some nogoodnik break up the friendships.

    (*”Society’s beliefs, etc.”: shorthand for the beliefs, etc., and especially the overall worldview, held by most individual members of the society. Any single one of whom, of course, might share or not share any particular belief or outlook or value.)

    Leaving the country…I’m very much on the same page as v.r. there…in terms of how I feel…still, I’m increasingly uncomfortable here in the U.S. It just doesn’t feel like “America” anymore. So I too play around with the idea of leaving. If my circumstances were a little different–so, I am very glad for J.G. if he’s found a spot in which he doesn’t have to spend every waking moment wondering which unknowable rule he’s broken, which bureaucrat or neighborhood narc he’s somehow become a target of. –Still, there’s nothing new in that: Growing up in Smallville, USA in the ’50’s, I felt that way often enough.

    The country, changing in a few decades. Well–yes and no, I suppose. One’s parents can change in a few years from a source of love and wisdom and security to a couple whose minds are all but gone…maybe only, once in a great while, a flicker of expression that shows an echo of what used to be the whole person. How do we feel? That this person is no longer the beloved parent (which is, after all, the physical reality–what made him him is gone, or almost) and we can as a matter of principle no longer feel bonded to him, feel loyalty toward him (loyalty–in a deep, non-platitudinous sense; generally speaking I’m not a big fan of “loyalty”), wish to help him or be a source of pleasure in his life–and so feel that it isn’t wrong to abandon him? (And I mean, leave him in the best of circumstances, where he can be placed among kind people who really will take excellent care of him–not just dump him.) Or do we remember what he was to us, and stay with him physically, so as to be able to have some interaction with him…maybe even hoping in secret that he might improve. After all, it HAS happened….

    I think it depends very much on the makeup of the person. I also think maybe as we grow older it becomes more difficult for many of us to break away, partly because we tend to grow more at home in our home, and partly because we do, gradually, lose physical energy and also flexibility both physical and psychological.

    But some people have a well-developed enjoyment of adventure, and at age 200 are perfectly comfortable to up stakes and move to someplace new and strange.

    And some people simply cannot bear to see what the parent, or the country, has become. And some people come to feel unbearably threatened, so that anywhere where there’s real security of the kind they most need (such as being able to do what you want without getting in trouble for it) would be worth the pain of leaving.

    It depends on the person.

    And what about the U.S.? Well, first, despite the fact that the juggernaut is rolling over us, we HAVE after all been here before–I guess. By all accounts Wilson’s administration must have been a truly terrible time to be an American. (One of the disillusionments I mentioned before. I grew up believing that our Administrations had been benevolent, even if some were misguided–like FDR’s.) And I imagine that if I’d been born 20 years earlier, I’d have been horrified at the goings-on of the 30’s.

    But–the fact is that there IS still a genuinely American people, although it’s slowly getting watered down. We are the mass of folks who are neither inclined to let others pay our way (the Welfare Class) nor part of the so-called “Liberal” Elite–the Ruling Class and entourage. Joe Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) is here, and so is Michele Bachmann, and any number of people whose names we don’t know but who don’t think anybody owes them a living and also don’t think they ought to be running other people’s lives.

    As for leaving or not, based on your principles…there might come a time when one must, as some of the Germans (even non-Jewish Germans) did as the Nazis became established. But which principle will you put first? What about the USSR’s KGB people who actually stayed in the USSR so as to spy for the West, KNOWING that eventually they’d be caught, and tortured, and die? Should they, as a matter of Principle, have devoted their energies to escape instead–because by staying in the USSR they gave moral support to the dictators?

    More “just musing”…at length. :>(

    PS. This is a fascinating discussion. Thanks for the O.P.!

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Well, I think that a person’s loyalties will shift and grow as one develops. You start off liking only your nuclear family, and then you think in terms of your neighbourhood, and also you extended family, and then you feel patriotic because the people in ‘your’ country are probably distant cousins, but as your ideals develop, you will be selective, and start to like people by their attitudes and beliefs (i.e., I feel a kinship with all anti-slavers, even Americans!), and you finally prefer the company of like-minded people, wherever they are, and whatever race they come from. Why, I’d probably even buy Perry a drink at a bar, if we ever met! (That is NOT a promise!)
    So I wonder if Thaddeus simply kept growing, and the country stayed the same?

  • Alisa

    I love reading your musings, Julie.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thank you, Alisa. :>)

  • Paul Marks

    Julie near Chicago – you could try something less radical than leaving the United States.

    Why not go a bit further from Chicago?

    America may still be out there – perhaps as near as South Dakota.

    Even next door Indiana may be more like America than Illinois is.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hi, “p,”

    Indeed, I like Indiana–central and southern Indiana–very much, and keep bringing the idea up to my daughter, but she’s got her heart set on leaving the Midwest (silly girl )–she wants to go to Colorado (Boulder!!!) and then, G-d help us, Taxachusetts. I haven’t seen much of S. Dakota except for driving through the Black Hills, but I like N. Dakota too. Of course it seems S.D. is preferable politically.

    But you know, there are very few places that are immune from the oppressions of, for instance, the EPA. What, you dared to collect rainwater on your property! And on and on.

    But thanks for the suggestions. :>)

  • Paul Marks

    One advantage of everything falling apart – which it may.

    The EPA (and so on) will not be a problem any more.

    Indeed the Feds may not be a problem any more.

    Although the times would be very dark.

    I remain a reformist (hoping for a restoration of liberty) – even though I know endless statism (till breakdown) is more likely.

    In what is now the United States that breakdown might be lot LESS terrible than in Britain.

    As there are structures in America that have real strength – below the Federal level.