Paul Temple

We Say That This Country Belongs to the Workers

(November 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 33, 25 November 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

“I saw the movie Foreign Correspondent last night,” said Johnny. “I know you think it’s just propaganda, but when that reporter made the speech at the end about arming to defend American democracy and they began playing the Star Spangled Banner, well –”

BILL: Well what?

JOHNNY: I could feel it in my blood. It makes you think.

BILL: You mean it STOPS you from thinking. Since when do you think with your blood?

JOHNNY: Aw hell, you know what I mean. It appeals to something deep down inside of you.

BILL: So does a juicy steak. What does it appeal to – your brain or your glands?

What Kind of Patriotism?

JOHNNY: There you go joking again. I’m dead serious. It seems to me, if you’re an American, you’ve got to feel that sorta thing with your heart. There IS such a thing as loving your own country and wanting to see it get ahead, even though a lot of fakers talk that way too. And there’s such a thing as standing by your country, just because you’re an American.

BILL: All right then, let’s love our country and make it get ahead and stand by. That goes for all Americans, huh?

JOHNNY: Certainly.

BILL: And all Englishmen –

JOHNNY: I should say so.

BILL: And, of course, all Germans –

JOHNNY: Of cour – Wait a minute! A real patriotic Gerrnan’d be against Hitler and that bunch of lice that runs the German government.

BILL: So it all depends on whether you like your government! – But look, Hitler is making Germany get ahead, he’s made it powerful. Shouldn’t a German patriot be glad about that?

JOHNNY: Say, you’re not justifying Hitler, are you?

BILL: Not a chance. BUT YOU ARE. If thinking with your patriotic blood is all right for Americans, then what’s wrong with it for Germans? This propaganda is drugging you the same way as Hitler drugged the German people. Hitler tells the Germans: “Stand by! England and France have kept us down since the last war and took away our colonies and tried to make us a second-class nation. Now, we even up. Don’t be a traitor to your country just because you don’t like the government!” Then the band plays and everybody feels it in their blood ...

JOHNNY: I know there’s something wrong with what you’re saying ... Here’s the way I’ll put it: I’m a patriot for democracy. That’s why I’m for America, because it’s democratic.

BILL: Then the Star-Spangled Banner and your blood has nothing to do with it. If what you say is so, it ought to be the same to you if you were born on a desert island. – The propaganda gets you both ways. If your brain works a bit, they tell you: Fight for democracy. If it doesn’t, they wave the flag and tell you: Fight for your country and the Red, White and Blue.

JOHNNY: So what? It comes out the same both ways.

BILL: Not exactly. It didn’t in France. They’ve got the Red, White and Blue there too, and they waved it at the beginning of the war. Now the lice who ran the government are doing what? KOWTOWING TO HITLER. But they’re still waving the flag. Patriots, aren’t they?

JOHNNY: No sir, they’re traitors. And anybody who supports them is scabbing on the fight against Hitler.

BILL: I’ll go you one better: same goes for anybody who supported these same lice last year too. I told you then that they weren’t interested in democracy OR patriotism but only in defending their PROFITS against Hitler. That’s why they can make a deal with Hitler. THAT’S WHY THE “PATRIOTIC” MANUFACTURERS IN THE U.S.A. GO ON A SIT-DOWN STRIKE WHENEVER THE GOVERNMENT MAKES A MOVE TO LIMIT THEIR PROFITS. And you haven’t heard Roosevelt making any speeches denouncing them, have you?

JOHNNY: Damn it, you always get me all mixed up. But I STILL think my kind of patriotism is all right. And if the bosses try any double-dealing I’ll say, Down with ’em.

Be a Patriot of Your Own Class!

BILL; Trouble is, it’s too late AFTER the double-dealing, when you’re all shuffled up. – Well, you’ve been two kinds of patriot so far. First you were patriotic about the Star Spangled Banner. Then you were patriotic about democracy. The bosses are patriotic about their profits. OK, I’M A PATRIOT TOO.

JOHNNY: About number one?

BILL: No, ABOUT MY CLASS. I’m against Hitler because he crushes the workers, not because he’s a German. That’s why I’m against the American bosses and their stooges in Washington too. – And what’s more, I love this country more than they do.

JOHNNY: Now you’re talking.

BILL: Sure – I love this country so much I want to take it away from these Wall Street parasites and give it back to the people.

Last updated on 28.10.2012