Can you be an anarchist and a patriot?

Alex asks:

“Can you be an anarchist and a patriot? Like in the sense of you love your country or home and you would do anything for it but having the absence of government?”


To be an anarchist, you cannot be a patriot as you may know it. I hesitate to even call it patriotism. Your love and pride of your community/geographical area and the extent to which you act upon that love/pride should be something you are careful with. If you consider yourself a patriot, I think you should ask yourself  (at least) these questions:

  • As a patriot, are you hoping to further your community’s interests/goals? If so, what are these interests/goals?
  • Does your patriotic agenda infringe on the rights of other individuals or communities?
  • Does it restrict their access to social goods or natural resources based on their own association with the subject of your patriotism?
  • Does it align you with the state, the ruling class, or other oppressive entities which seek to maintain and benefit from the state and inequitable societal conditions?

For example, the USA uses the military to push forth its own agenda. However, widespread imperialism and violence in the name of profit is always at the expense of others. The victims of such an agenda likely have more in common with the working class men and women sent to war than those who have sent them and those sent to war rarely see the ‘profits’ of these wars.They are encouraged to participate, anyway, as their patriotic duty. This is an example where patriotism is a form of social control, used to manufacture loyalty to a nation state while the furthering of their agenda encroaches on the rights of others.

To anarchists, maintaining freedom of association (the right to leave or join groups freely) is important. In the ideal world, multitudes of communities, including political ones would exist. And indisputably, patriotism is political. The hope is that no group or individual will infringe on the rights of others or their access to resources in the name of patriotism.

If your patriotism leads to you defending privileges/interests associated with you and your compatriots but your pride and love denies access or rights to strangers for no other reason than their lack of association, you would be in conflict with anarchist ideals- at least in conflict with those of the communal anarchist.