The Patriot and the Nationalist

Yet more great stuff from Paul Cella: “The Two Freedoms.“.

As time goes by, I identify more and more with his archetype of the Patriot:

Let us give names, both abstract and particular, to these two theories of freedom. The first is the Patriot. The second is the Nationalist. The first wants to preserve and shelter the patria; the second to advance and expand it. That is in politics. In religion, say, the first is the Dualist; the second the Puritan. The first never loses sight of the bifurcation of man into his animal and angelic nature: that man is a creature of both matter and spirit, and by this perpetual division a limited being, is a truth never far from the first’s mind. The second is greatly impressed by man’s potential, or by his depravity; and his emphasis on one or the other issues in the Puritan’s characteristic restlessness, and carries him into the realm of abstraction where concepts may be purified. The Puritan, that is, may be “pure” in his concept of human sin or of human glory — Emerson and Thoreau were both of New England puritan stock, though hardly Calvinists.

I find the particularity to which I am increasingly drawn to be rather ironic, considering that my basic tendency is firmly toward the abstract. Ideas used to be my world, but I’ve realized that they just don’t translate all that well into real life. Without being tempered with a dose of humility, the Puritan (or Nationalist) ends up wrecking more than remaking, because man cannot be reduced to either the animal or the angelic.

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