Liberty, morality and patriotism in the US

Liberty,morality and patriotism in the US


Isthere a tension between liberty and morality? Explain.

Yes,there is tension between liberty and morality. Liberals have for thelongest time supported liberty and human freedoms while theconservatives have supported morality. In global politics and in thiscase the US, political, social and philosophical discussions haveaddressed the contrast between morality and liberty with the variousfunctions taking opposing sides. Fox (9) indicates that the foundingfathers of a nation’s orientation in terms of liberal view versusmorality view determine the laws and the constitution of the land.The conservatives believe that morals, shared values, set standardsand acceptable tradition are enough to maintain stability and orderin a society. On the other hand, liberalists insist that individualfreedoms and liberty are the cornerstone of preserving and upholdingvirtue in society. In short, for morals to be present, individuals’freedoms must be there. Both sides agree that there is need tomaintain order and stability in society through a constitution butwhat role the constitution plays is not agreeable between the twosides.

Conservativesargue that a constitution should be created to provide a guidingframework for morals, traditions, values and standards. In contrast,liberals argue that the constitution’s main purpose should be toprotect individual freedoms that will create a suitable environmentthat allows morals, values and traditions to prosper. Fox (35)categorically identifies a constitution as one of the five keyelements of founding a nation as it provides a “system offundamental law creating an essential political order” (9-10). Thetension thus between morality and liberty emanates from the ambiguousissue of which promotes which or which hinders which. Fox (374)clearly states that for nation to prosper, religion and morality mustbe there. Religion is critical as it provides the common support formorals.

Libertyin the case of the American history has been a source of contention.The founding fathers questioned the existing conservative approachesto governance being used by European colonialists. The Americannationalists felt that the conservative approach used by colonialiststhat sought to enforce civil obedience and morals in the constitutionwas not right. They argued that human freedoms that were largelysuppressed by colonization must be allowed to thrive for morality tothrive. For a nation to exist, what must come first? The conservativecolonialists, morality was integral to the existence of a nation.They believed that human beings were inherently bound to be unruly ifallowed unrestricted freedoms. Liberals and nationalist counterargued that morality would only exist if individual freedoms wereallowed. The argument here assesses the role of government shouldgovernment enforce morality through suppressing certain freedoms orshould it promote morality by promoting individual freedoms. Todate, this argument still persists with modern governments trying tostrike a balance between the two.

Isthere a tension between liberty and patriotism? Explain.

Yes,there is tension between liberty and patriotism. Patriotismrecognizes the nation as greater than the self while libertyrecognises the self and individual freedoms as greater than the stateor nation. Fox (98) explores how liberty and patriotism have played apart in America from its origins. As individual states recognized asthe confederations, they had to sacrifice their individual libertiesfor the patriotism and allegiance one unitary nation called the US.Of the five founding elements mentioned by Fox (10), mythicalfounding argued that the founders of nation were demigods or at leastan extraordinary group of men who pursued the common good. By beingextra ordinary, Fox indirectly admits that the natural allegiance ofany human being or entity is to the self and thus protects theliberty of the self. The willpower to suppress this desire topreserve the liberty of the self by showing allegiance to anotherrequires an unnatural ‘demigod’ mindset or amounts to violationsof individual liberty.

Patriotismis used to suppress individual liberty. Very simple scenarios exhibitsuch as governance, patriotism, leadership and patriotisms are allways that suppress individual liberty. Take the issue of taxationwhich Fox (14) says is an icon of patriotism in America. Throughtaxation, individuals lose out their hard earned money for the loveof the country. However, it is clear that human beings are naturallyoriented to keeping the money as many people seek to keep their taxesas low as possible and if possible none at all. However, patriotismideologies are used to suppress the human liberty and take away oneperson earnings and give them to the state through various forms oftaxation. Patriotism thus is a threat to liberty.

Patriotism’seffect on liberty is evident in the origins of the US as a country. Though founded on protecting human freedoms, the country is a productof voluntary suppression of the individual liberties of individualconfederations or states. Take for instance the American Revolutionwhich was triggered by the British colonial government’s acts ofpunishment against rebellious colonies. The colonial government hadimposed new taxes on tea and other goods as well as the Stamp act.Such activities by a government sparked patriots and nationalismamong the people that they sought to revolt against the government.What is funny about this is that the sates and individuals gave uptheir liberties join together and fight the oppressive governmentonly to replace it with a new government. Purely liberalist viewswould suggest a society devoid of government that imposes rules onthe people while a purely patriotism approach would mean ceding allindividual freedom to the government (Yack 40). Either way, the twoextremes are unacceptable.


Fox,Frank. TheAmerican founding.New York: Pearson. 2005. Print.

Yack,Bernard. Nationalism and the Moral Psychology of Community. Chicago.University of Cgicago Press. Print.