Hellraisers Journal: John Sloan & Charles Erskine Scott Wood 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

Saturday December 18, 1916
From The Masses: "Do You Believe in Patriotism?" Part II

In the March issue of The Masses, various Socialist writers responded to the question, "Do you believe in Patriotism?" Yesterday Hellraisers featured the answers to that question from two prominent Socialists women, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Sara Bard Field. Today's edition features the responses of John Sloan and Charles Erskine Scott Wood:

From John Sloan

the masses cover june 1914 ludlow (2).jpg

If I had to love a country I could love no country but this, nor could I find a fitter one to hate.

I put Patriotism with the other isms,-Militarism, Anarchism, Capitalism, Individualism, Socialism, Dogmatism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Rheumatism (I had almost written Catechism), but I am answering your question. I hope that social progress will eliminate all isms-though in the case of Futurism we have a hard one to catch.

Patriotism licks the boot of capitalism and until the earth-worms get the latter's carcass, he will need patriots. As the wage system will never enable the people of any country to consume all their products with a profit to the owning class, foreign markets are a necessity to be fought for. Patriotism is a potent means of providing the fighters. Conscription is another powerful persuader and Our Country has both (see Dick military law passed by congress in 1903 and 1908).

Yes, I believe in Patriotism, but I have none of it; I don't like the present-day variety, nor that of the past, but I have great faith in that of the future-till then, yours, JOHN SLOAN.

From Charles Erskine Scott Wood

Charles Erskine Scott Wood, ab: 1910.png

Do I believe in Patriotism? No. But stop. How can I disbelieve in that noble quality which makes men and women go to the scaffold or the battlefield embracing death gladly,-not for self, not of necessity; but because of an heroic soul? What is Patriotism? Is it not the same quality which made Greenwood pass his whole gang through the air chamber of the Hudson River tunnel and remain to die? Peace is full of that quality of the soul which makes up patriotism. But if I ask what is patriotism, the common answer is, "Love of Country. Willingness to die for the Fatherland." But what is that country? That Fatherland? Is it the generous fields, the benevolent rivers, the profligate mountains, or is it a certain machine called Government? The fields, the rivers, the mountains do not ask their children to die. What is government? Is it all the people each governing the other (That is nonsense), or is it a few governing all the people? And what few? The privileged, the rich, the powerful, governing the unprivileged, the exploited and submissive. Is the German government the fine German people, or the Kaiser and his plutocracy, called aristocracy? Is the government in England, Russia, France the whole people, or the privileged plutocracy? What quarrel have the peoples with each other? What to gain by war? Who makes wars? Not the peoples. Every war has been made by a Government. Would our young men have died for Patriotism in a war with Mexico?-or for Wall street's heavy investments in Mexico? I may admire the young man's heroic sacrifice who dies for such patriotism, but I cannot admire the inside of his skull.

If you define Patriotism to be "The lure to fools to die for their masters," I do not believe in Patriotism. Even were you to say that Patriotism is willingness to die for one's country, I must know what that means. Is that "country" worth dying for? I could easily answer that I would be willing to have the land drenched with the blood of the young men if that sacrifice forever over-turned this feudal system which automatically breeds poverty at one end and plutocracy at the other, and I would not spend a drop of blood to save it.

[Drawing by John Sloan and photograph of C. E. S. Wood added.]


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

The Masses Cover by John Sloan, June 1914, Ludlow Massacre
Charles Erskine Scott Wood

See also:
"Hellraisers Journal: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn & Sara Bard Field on "Patriotism" from The Masses"
-by JayRaye

John Sloan

Military Act of 1903 (& Amendment of 1908)

This is about all I could find on Greenwood, Hudson River tunnel, and air chamber

My Country Tis Of Thee, Abolitionist Version - Chase Holfelder

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kharma's picture

Yes, I believe in Patriotism, but I have none of it; I don't like the present-day variety, nor that of the past, but I have great faith in that of the future-till then, yours, JOHN SLOAN.

Isn't that a progressive statement? Always looking to make for a better future. Constant change to heal future inequities.

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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

JayRaye's picture

to pub them all in Hellriasers, but I think the 4 I chose were the best of the lot.

thx for stopping by, always great to see you at HJ.

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