Dec 3, 2008

Sheldon Richman on conservatives and nationalism

Worship of the nation and its government is in fact inconsistent with America’s founding ideals. Thomas Jefferson said the appropriate attitude of a free people toward the government is “jealousy” not “confidence,” much less adoration. He spoke of the need to keep it caged. He was right, but if he were around today, conservatives might accuse him of not loving his country. Stripped of its incidental characteristics, government is nothing but physical force. So government, even under the best of circumstances, must always be eyed with suspicion. No Jeffersonian can be comfortable with government activism in foreign affairs. Appeals to security are to be met with high skepticism, for it’s too easy a cover for political intrigue.

That conservatives relish almost any foreign activism shows how un-Jeffersonian they are. They are nationalists and state-worshipers. For them, to love America is to love the government (at least if it is run by one of their own) because it is the government that embodies the nation and the nation is great and deserving of reverence.

~ Sheldon Richman, "How Can You Love a Country?," Freedom Daily, December 3, 2008

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