Hellraisers Journal: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn & Sara Bard Field on "Patriotism" from The Masses

Let those who own the country, who are howling for and profiting
by preparedness, fight to defend their property.
-Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Friday March 17, 1916
From The Masses: "Do You Believe in Patriotism?" Part I

In the March issue of The Masses, various Socialist writers respond to the question, "Do you believe in Patriotism?" Today Hellraisers features the answers to that question from two prominent Socialist women, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Sara Bard Field. Tomorrow's edition will feature the responses of John Sloan and Charles Erskine Scott Wood. K. R. Chamberlin also offers an artistic answer to the question:

Artist K. R. Chamberlain on Patriotism

Patriotism by KR Chamberlain, The Masses, Mar 1916.png
PATRIOTISM by K. R. Chamberlain.
The Editor, the Munition Maker and Investor: "Outrage! American Killed in Mexico! War!"

Do you believe in Patriotism? Asked & Answered:


From Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 1915, with Name.png

Do you believe in patriotism? What an odd question to ask revolutionists! Might it not be better put, "American Socialists, have you the courage of your principles? Shall it be 'America First' or 'Workers of the World, Unite!'"

Count me for Labor First. This country is not "our" country. Then why should the toilers love it or fight for it? Why sanction the title deeds of our masters in the blood of our fellow-slaves? Let those who own the country, who are howling for and profiting by preparedness, fight to defend their property.

I despise the rule of Rockefeller and Morgan as much as that of King or Kaiser, and am as outraged by Ludlow and Calumet as by Belgium. Joe Hill was as cruelly martyred as Edith Cavell, and I cannot work myself into a frenzy of patriotism wherever a contraband ship is sunk and we lose a few prominent citizens.

I save my concern for Quinlan, Lawson, Ford and Suhr, and the innumerable victims of the class war.

The majority of our workers are foreigners, one or two generations removed, and with their European home-ties and American environment, internationalism becomes the logical patriotism of heterogeneous population.

America-not as a melting-pot, that produces a jingoistic, mercenary, one-mold type, but as a giant loom weaving into a mighty whole the song, the poetry, the traditions, and the customs of all races, until a beautiful human fabric, with each thread intact, comes forth-would stretch forth a myriad hands of brotherhood to the four quarters of the globe.

The train on which I write rushes by factories where murder instruments are made for gold. I would be ashamed to be patriotic of such a country. In the black smoke belched from their chimneys, I see the ghostly faces of dead workers-our poor, deluded slain brothers. I re-affirm my faith, "It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class!"

From Sara Bard Field

Sara Bard Field on Cross-Country Tour 1915.png

I believe in the patriotism of John D. or Billy Sunday because this land has furnished enough exploitation possibility in the material realm for the one; in the spiritual realm for the other, to make both men rich. Their patriotism is a sound reaction from the stimulus of wealth thus acquired. Their patriotism is a practical and natural gratitude to the country for value received-a sort of scented note of thanks. I despise the patriotism of the disinherited poor-the great army of toilers, for to them the country has yielded nothing but the chance to be fuel for the fires of the rich. Their patriotism is an idiotic gratitude for something less than no value received-it is grace said at a bare table. I believe in the love of the local soil that gives men the things that mean abundant life-comfort, health, beauty, security, companionship. When all men are thus served by the soil, patriotism will not only be intelligent but justified.

Patriotism is not made out of flags and kings' birthdays and battle dates and soldiers' monuments. Patriotism is a question of latitude and longitude; of climate and soil; of things which man does not control; of things which make a Slav a Slav and a Latin a Latin. Patriotism is the result of the forces that make French literature, German music, Norwegian philosophy and Japanese art.

These same forces will localize and intensify a man's love for his special abiding place and communal expression, no matter how great his belief in internationalism, exactly as the force of love localizes and intensifies a man's affection for some particular woman no matter how universal is his regard for the race.

I believe intelligent patriotism is the instinctive recognition on the part of people of what has made them what they are and given them what they possess.

The awful thing about this noise which Europe and American preparedness advocates call patriotism is that most men, under present conditions, are nothing and possess less than what they are.

[Photographs and emphasis added.]


The Masses
(New York, New York)
-March 1916
"Do You Believe in Patriotism?"

Patriotism by KR Chamberlain, The Masses, Mar 1916
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 1915, with Name
Sara Bard Field on Cross-Country Tour 1915

See also:

Kenneth Chamberlain

Barbarous Mexico by John Kenneth Turner

Insurgent Mexico by John Reed

Preparedness Movement

"WE NEVER FORGET April 20, 1914 The Ludlow Massacre" -by JayRaye

"WE NEVER FORGET: December 24, 1913 - The Italian Hall Massacre, Calumet, Michigan"
-by JayRaye

Belgium, WWI

"WE NEVER FORGET: Fellow Worker Joe Hill, True Blue Rebel" by JayRaye

Edith Cavell

RMS Lusitania

"Hellraisers Journal: Eugene Debs for the Appeal to Reason on the Crime Against Patrick Quinlan" -by JayRaye

Hellraisers Journal: Lawson, "I shall fight for these principles as hard as I can, in jail or out." -by JayRaye

"Hellraisers Journal: Ford & Suhr will each leave a wife and two children to battle with this world." -by JayRaye

Sara Bard Field

"Hellraisers Journal: Billy Sunday "measures his religion in dollars & cents," Elizabeth Gurley Flynn" -by JayRaye


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detroitmechworks's picture

I think of it like an advertising slogan for prepping folks to kill other folks in the name of country.

There's a reason it's been referred to as "The last Refuge of the Scoundrel".

And now I feel the urge to hum this song, just because it pisses the HELL out of the capitalists.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

JayRaye's picture

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Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.-Lucy Parsons

kharma's picture

Thanks for the installment JayRaye.

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There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties.. This...is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.--John Adams

It has me thinking things.

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'Well, I've wrestled with reality for thirty five years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it." Elwood P. Dowd "

JayRaye's picture

the more magic the better among sisters!

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Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.-Lucy Parsons

JayRaye's picture

of our times.

It would be right up there with Solidarity Forever except that it isn't all that singable except as a performance. But what a great performance by the Drop Kick Murphy's!


thx for stopping by kharma!

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Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.-Lucy Parsons

I always learn from your posts, JR.

Unfortunately at DK, I only read them when I saw them floating by. They will be much easier to find here.

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JayRaye's picture

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Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.-Lucy Parsons