A German Ayn-Randian Guy Talking About Patriotism

Sascha from Heroic Dreams writes about The Virtue of Patriotism, presumably paraphrasing Rand’s “Virtue of Selfishness”. I was never a fan of Ms. Rand, but this piece is good without regard to the Randian citations. His definition: “… patriotism is a constitutive part of the virtue of integrity; it is loyalty to rational moral-political-economic principles and the moral ambition to modify the social order of the society one lives in according to these principles.” Not bad. Worth reading. (I weigh in with a comment.)

When a writer starts talking about “virtues”, for definitions I turn to orthodox Catholic doctrine, which has a very refined typology of virtues, derived from Aristotle, but going beyond him, and embedding two millenia of observation.

The Catholic Encyclopedia refers to patriotism under the heading of Civil Allegiance, which is divided into two duties — not virtues — patriotism and obedience. Patriotism is defined as “Patriotism requires that the citizen should have a reasonable esteem and love for his country. He should take an interest in his country’s history, he should know how to value her institutions, and he should be prepared to sacrifice himself for her welfare. In his country’s need it is not only a noble thing, but it is a sacred duty to lay down one’s life for the safety of the commonwealth.” The discussion then segues into the scope of the duty of obedience, and the distinctions between duty to the civil power and moral and religious duty. Patriotism is also seen as a virtue under the general heading of the cardinal virtue of justice, i.e. giving to each what they are due. Under the subheading of piety, there are duties of loyalty such as to parents, and also to country, i.e. patriotism. So, the virtue lies in living out this loyalty.

UPDATE April 18, 2011: “I was never a fan of Ms. Rand …” This is not accurate. I was a fan. I was never an adherent of her philosophy. I got a lot out of Atlas Shrugged.

9 thoughts on “A German Ayn-Randian Guy Talking About Patriotism”

  1. Sascha is one of the shorts for Aleksander; there is also a female version, Aleksandra. So any other shorts (Shura, Alex, Sanya, etc) apply to both genders.

  2. But Nikita is a male diminutive for Nikolai, so Elton John advertised his sexuality long before it was widely konwn that he was gay ;-).

  3. I knew a Russian guy named Alexander whose nickname was Sasha.

    We are used to the soft “a” ending being feminine in the Latinate languages. I don’t think it is necessarily the same in Germanic or Slavic languages.

  4. Lex – the “a” ending is feminine in the Slavic languages (note: Alexandra versus Alexander and Olga versus Oleg) – in fact the common “ov / ev” ending for surnames is changed to “ova / eva” (Mikhail Gorbachev, but Raisa Gorbacheva) in females. The female patronymic middle name in Russian also ends in “ovna / evna” instead of “ovitch / evitch” for males.

    All bets are off for the diminutives, which are only used with children and intimate friends, so the male / female distiction of the “a ” is lost. Sasha is a diminutive for both Alexander and Alexandra.

  5. J: correct.
    Still some exceptions allowed. Misha, f.ex., is always a diminutive of Michael, 100% male name and so is Nikita. Same goes for Dima (Dmitry), Vanya (Ivan) and Petya (Peter).
    Any Russian would be puzzled to learn that Misha Barton is a female.

    In Bulgarian, however, Vanya and Petya – female names.

  6. Nikita is originally a greek name and it literally means ‘winner’. Nikolas (originally Nikolaos) means ‘winner of the people’.
    Actually the name is Nikitas and a few other greek male names or diminutives end in -as, such as Kostas, Nikolas, Pellopidas or Brasidas.

    The main misconception and the adoption of ‘Nikita’ as a female name in the West comes from a song from Elton John. He was attracted by a Red Army Guard in Moscow whose name was Nikita and wrote the lyrics. Since it was the 80s, it was convenient that it sounded like a female name…

    Later, in 1990, Luc Besson directed the film ‘Nikita’ with Anne Parillaud, about a woman spy. The actual french title is more precise: “La femme Nikita” (The woman Nikita)

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