Mark Twain on imperialism and national dishonor

There’s always been a difference between two versions of patriotism: one that admires cheating, as long as we win, and one that despises cheating as beneath us.

A reader points out that there’s nothing new about the distinction between the patriotism that celebrates acts of national dishonor, as long as they’re successful in the short run, and the patriotism that rejects such expedients with disgust. Nor, for that matter, is there anythine new about the habit, among those who would turn our unique republic into just another empire in the dreary history of imperialism, of calling those of us loyal to the republic “traitors.”

I don’t mind a bit being on Mark Twain’s side of this controversy, and I’m happy to let George W. Bush and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Reynolds imitate those who called Twain a traitor for opposing the Philippine adventure and those who disparaged Lincoln’s patriotism for charging that President Polk had lied us into the Mexican-American War.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: