Daniel DeLeon

The Daily People
July 26, 1900

(Note: The military action mentioned in the following editorial is the multinational force sent to China in 1900 to suppress the Boxer Rising. — M.L.)

To love your country, and be willing to sacrifice and battle for it, that is patriotism. To have no home, to be unable to provide self and loved ones with food, clothing and shelter, that is poverty.

At first sight it would appear that a man afflicted with poverty could not possibly be a patriot. He owns no part of any country, and patriotism means love of one’s own country, not love of a country owned by others.

What matters it to the poor devil who is starving whether the country in which he is hungry is owned by this ruler or that ruler, if his miserable status changes not?

But we see that poverty, instead of crushing patriotism. actually appears to produce it. The troops who left New York yesterday to fight the Chinese were mostly men who own nothing in the way of property in this country. They are not going to fight for love of their country. That have none. Their very poverty gave birth to the bastard patriotism of the Hessian.

Here is a sample of the leave-takings between the soldiers and their wives:

“Oh, why did you go and enlist, Charlie? And now you have to go and leave me and the child all alone,” said a weeping young wife, as she held her strapping soldier husband about the neck.

“It had to be done, Lizzie.” he replied. “You know I could not find any work.”

The capitalist papers which contain the above item also contain the usual silly talk about the “patriotism of our volunteers,” and thus furnish proof for the socialist contention that the capitalist class is at once ignorant and corrupt. Ignorant in not knowing that this paid-for bastard patriotism portends the doom of their class, and corrupt in attempting to pass this counterfeit for the genuine article.

Capitalism attacks and destroys all the finer sentiments of the human heart; it ruthlessly sweeps away old traditions and ideas opposed to its progress, and it exploits and corrupts those things once held sacred.

Instead of the American freeman bidding his wife be of good cheer that he was going to fight for his country, we have the wage-slave driven by hunger to fight for a hireling’s pittance.

Instead of repelling a foreign foe, he goes to loot and ravage a peaceful race, so as to swell the coffers of his own capitalist masters.

The patriotism which poverty produces is as yellow as the gold which buys it.