Auckland, New Zealand | 3rd Vasanta School Gardens Talk 2nd April, 1934
First of all, when are you patriotic? You are not patriotic every day. You do not keep up that patriotic feeling. You are being trained carefully to patriotism at school, through history books saying that your country has beaten some other country, your country is better than some other country. Why has there been this training of the mind to patriotism, which, to me, is an unnatural thing? Not that you do not appreciate the beauty of one country perhaps more than other countries; but that appreciation has nothing to do with patriotism, it is appreciation of beauty. For instance, there are some parts of the world where there is not a single tree, where the sun is blazing hot; but that has its own beauty. Surely a man that likes shade, the dancing of leaves, surely he is not patriotic.
Patriotism has been cultivated, trained, as a means of exploitation. It is not an instinctive thing in man. The instinctive thing in man is the appreciation of beauty, not to say "my country." But that has been cultivated by those who desire to seek foreign markets for their goods. That is, if I have the means of production in my hands, and have saturated this country with my products, and then I want to expand, I must go to other countries, I must conquer markets in other countries. Therefore I must have means of conquering. So, I say "our country", and I stimulate this whole thing through press, propaganda, education, history books and so on, this sense of patriotism, so that at a moment of crisis we all jump to fight another country. And upon that feeling of patriotism the exploiters play till you are so bamboozled that you are ready to fight for the country, calling the others barbarians, and all the rest of it.
This is an obvious thing, not my invention. You can study it. It is obvious if you look at it with an unprejudiced mind, with a mind that does not want to identify itself with one or the other, but tries to find out. What happens when you find out that patriotism is really a hindrance to complete, full, real life? You do not have to battle against it. It has gone completely.