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My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. The country is the real... Options
Daemon
Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM
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My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
TirumalJ
Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:58:22 AM
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Shouldn't Mark Twain have used "Nation" instead of "Country." Nation is a collective entity of people, whereas Country connotes a physical entity (boundary) that contains the people of the nation. Any thoughts on why Mark Twain used country and not nation, especially in the context of what he is discussing. Thanks.
FounDit
Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:16:41 AM

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Country and Nation can have the same meaning. The two words are often used interchangeably. The National Anthem of the U.S. for many years (around 150) was, "My Country 'Tis of Thee", sung to the tune we "borrowed" from the UK's "God Save the Queen". However, in the Pledge of Allegiance, we say, "...one Nation under God...". There really is no conflict with the words that I can see.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Bully_rus
Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:35:48 PM
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At that particular point (change of clothes) goals of "the real loyalists" and "the real scoundrels" are suspiciously match each other, including an external hostile forces. "Real loyalists" must understand that in case of failure their own country might be ceased to exist or take a monstrous disproportionate form. Exactly what's happened in early of 1917 with the Russia.
Verbatim
Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:08:11 PM
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Daemon wrote:
My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)


Loyalty is difficult enough to define in itself, let alone its object. Mark Twain who authored the phrase, clearly meant the largest possible sphere and the most tangible when he addressed this kind of loyalty: to one's country. That sphere already includes institutions-- e.g.any established laws, customs-- and in his time included some office-holders-- e.g.kings or queens. But his loyalty was first and foremost directed to "country", the real thing.
And yet, the larger the sphere the more general its understanding and so the harder it is to hold someone to a specific notion of it.

Obviously, Mark Twain had the necessary discernment for putting the country ahead of its symbols or institutions. But not many others have, even in our times. So we use the flag or the constitution to swear allegiance and the oath of office.
It is an improvement that we don't swear allegiance and loyalty to the king. In another thousand years we may be capable of loyalty to a "clean individual conscience", for a universal good, without any need to swear it.

The quotation is found here: http://www.twainquotes.com/Loyalty.html
"You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions, or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags--this is loyalty to unreason, it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it." End quote- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889 novel, "in which transmigration of souls and transposition of epochs—and bodies", simply happen) My underline!

As to Mark Twain's opinion : "Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will." - "Consistency" speech, essay.





MTC
Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:04:39 PM
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TirumalJ wrote:
Shouldn't Mark Twain have used "Nation" instead of "Country." Nation is a collective entity of people, whereas Country connotes a physical entity (boundary) that contains the people of the nation. Any thoughts on why Mark Twain used country and not nation, especially in the context of what he is discussing. Thanks.


I think you have an interesting point which bears discussion, TirumalJ. About.com defines the difference between "nation" and "country" as follows:

"What's the difference between a nation and a country?

While the terms country (synonomyous with "State") and nation are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. A country is a self-governing political entity while a nation is a tightly-knit group of people which share a common culture."
(http://geography.about.com/library/faq/blqznationstate.htm)

But the question arises, regardless of their dictionary definitions, how was Twain using these terms? Remember, this is a writer who immortalized his reverence for word choice in the saying, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." So we must assume Twain had something specific in mind in his word choice. Looking at the context for a clue to his meaning, in the quotation Twain draws a distinction between one's "country" and "its institutions or its office holders." If we stopped there, we might conclude by "country" he meant the people themselves as opposed to their institutions such as the State. We should be loyal to the people--not the State. And Twain's disdain for government is well-known. However, Twain then goes on to say "(t)he country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing." Therefore, by "country" Twain cannot be referring to either the people or the State, neither of which is "eternal." He must mean the land itself which for practical purposes is "eternal" and "real" (Here Twain hints at land as "real estate.") This is a rather startling interpretation (like "lightning" earlier), but it is borne out by the context. Arguably Twain meant our first loyalty should be to the land itself. This is perhaps not surprising when we recall the veneration Twain shows for the land in his other writings.
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