Patriotism is the Religion of Hell

This is one of my favorite quotes, yet I hesitated to post it to my spacebook wall for many years. I post it here as I finally posted it there a couple months ago, and will follow up with more thoughts below…

I fear this will be misunderstood by most, even the ones who at first think they get it. Some will think it means I do not believe in sovereign borders. Incorrect; this is not about that. Others will think it means that I believe it is immoral to love one’s country, one’s identity, and even one’s skin color. This too is incorrect. In fact the opposite is true.

Perhaps its message cannot be fully understood until one has read and pondered Conwell’s Acres of Diamonds, General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket, Peck’s People of the Lie, or Covey’s Principle-Centered Leadership. Perhaps it is only understood deeply by those who instinctively saw the superficiality of college rivalries for what they were… and sees the politics of the Left-Right paradigm in the same way.

To me, it is an expression of why we must endeavor always to focus on facts, not feelings. Even why we must not blindly accept the doctrines of our youth. All this said, I do not mean to be an elitist. I only want this quote to sit in the back of your mind, always, as a check against what you are seeing, hearing, reading… and thinking.

Most of us are filled with love when it comes right down to it, frustrated only in its expression. Do not let those with motivations you may not comprehend take it away from you. Be vigilant, and realize that all war is deception — even spiritual warfare.

Here is the quote…

“Patriotism is the religion of hell.”
— James Branch Cabell

It was in fact misunderstood. Most assumed that I meant patriotism only as it regards one’s country. I meant it however in a larger sense, as I believed I had fully described. I meant it in the way in which Peck detailed group narcissism in his book People of the Lie. I meant it in the way that propaganda is used to manipulate minds for nefarious purposes.

I never understood how some people took college rivalries or sports teams SO serious. It was their religion. It is the same with politics, and it’s almost always bogus. Then again, I believe the world would probably be a lot better place if there were little or no “religion” at all… and politics too.


I have a number of great books in the eBooks section of this site. This area is password protected. I have spent quite some time accumulating clean volumes to archive here. Full access is provided to those who have shown interest in the site.

James Branch Cabell – Wikipedia

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