By Arnold Kling
The full-blown triumph of political correctness, of hypersensitivity plus one-sided education, is patriotism.
A few random comments.
1. Piers Brendon, in The Dark Valley says that Adolf Hitler’s policies, although they produced full employment, served to impoverish Germans. Because of autarky and the drive to expand the military, the average standard of living declined. This was the “age of ersatz,” as Brendon puts it. On the other hand, Brendon claims (as do many other historians) that Hitler restored the German people’s pride in their nation.
Say that again? A government burns books, murders and tortures dissidents, persecutes Jews, and thereby restores people’s pride?
2. In America, patriotic sentiment is expressed most strongly in statements like, “Men died so that you can enjoy the freedom you have now.” The implication is that if you are not loyal to the government, then you are spoiled and undeserving.
3. I think that the Left is equally sentimental, about such things as public education and Social Security.
4. I think that there is some hope that political sentiments of this sort will decline over time.
I focus a lot of my historical reading on the first World War and on the 1930s. I think that people were really stupid back then. I take the Flynn Effect seriously, which suggests that the average IQ several generations back was what today would be considered to be mentally retarded. In my view, this helps to explain how cheerfully the nations went to war in1914. Yes, the war turned out to be worse than what they expected. But how were their expectations not influenced by the Civil War or the Franco-Prussian war?
On the whole, I think that political sentiment is something that deserves a lot of skepticism. Instead of thinking that because so many people have sentimental views toward government that those views must be right, I believe that one should try to think independently about such issues.