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Books and Quotes by Bertrand Russell => Books and Quotes by Bertrand Russell => Topic started by: Raymond Perkins on December 16, 2012, 02:33:19 PM

Title: Quote on patriotism Source?
Post by: Raymond Perkins on December 16, 2012, 02:33:19 PM
One of my favorite BR quotes is his definition of patriotism. I think it goes (roughly) as follows:

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."

I suspect this may have come out of his WW1 statements, perhaps _Why Men Fight_. Does anyone know the source?

Ray
Title: Re: Quote on patriotism Source?
Post by: Ken Blackwell on December 17, 2012, 08:38:54 PM
One of my favorite BR quotes is his definition of patriotism. I think it goes (roughly) as follows:
"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."
I suspect this may have come out of his WW1 statements, perhaps _Why Men Fight_. Does anyone know the source?
Ray

Close, Ray. Why Men Fight says this: "Blind obedience, unlimited willingness to kill and die are exacted of the modern citizens of a democracy as much as of the Janizaries of medieval sultans or the secret agents of oriental despots." (1917 edn., p. 48) But in "Freedom in Society", a 1925 essay in Sceptical Essays, BR writes: "Education authorities, as opposed to teachers, have not this merit [of being sometimes fond of the children], and do in fact sacrifice the children to what they consider the good of the State by teaching them 'patriotism', i.e. a willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." (1928 Norton edn., p. 184; 1960 Unwin paperback edn., p. 124)

So if this is indeed the source, someone long ago altered the intent of the quotation by removing BR's scare quotes. For in this passage he doesn't maintain that all patriotism is bad. This allows him the patriotism of the later "love of England" passage in which he said it was very nearly his strongest passion.
Title: Re: Quote on patriotism Source?
Post by: Michael Berumen on December 17, 2012, 09:23:19 PM
That's a nice find, Ken.  I thought maybe in What I Believe, but couldn't find it there.  Then I went to the I'net and nowhere could I find a source, including Wiki Links, which had it listed as unsourced. But it is widely attributed to Russell, much as Ray wrote it, and by scads of sites.  I did a Google book search (patriotism) on a few likely suspects...nothing.  They've done to Russell what they've done to Churchill and several others...modified his quotes as though one could improve upon them. MB 
Title: Re: Quote on patriotism Source?
Post by: Raymond Perkins on December 20, 2012, 07:56:13 AM
Thanks, Ken. Glad you found it.
You saved me (and Mike) some work. I was just starting to go thru _Unpopular Essays_ again. Some great stuff there, esp. "Outline of Intellectual Rubbish" and his "Ideas that Have Harmed Mankind."

Ray