Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The State Is Not the Nation

While the State is a pernicious and coercive collectivist concept, the "nation" may be and generally is voluntary. The nation properly refers, not to the State, but to the entire web of culture, values, traditions, religion, and language in which the individuals of a society are raised. It is almost embarrassingly banal to emphasize that point, but apparently many libertarians aggressively overlook the obvious. Let us never forget the great libertarian Randolph Bourne's analysis of the crucial distinction between "the nation" (the land, the culture, the terrain, the people) and "the State" (the coercive apparatus of bureaucrats and politicians), and of his important conclusion that one may be a true patriot of one's nation or country while – and even for that very reason – opposing the State that rules over it.

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