Thursday, January 22, 2009

Patriotism and Nationalism

Patriotism Vs Nationalism

You hear a lot about the argument of patriotism and what it constitutes along with the idea of nationalism. Some take a dim viewpoint towards the idea of patriotism because they associate it with nationalism. A lot of the confusion results from using a couple of words interchangeably and out of context of their meaning and intent. Those words being nation and country.

The United States is a country in terms of its geographical location on this Earth. Its borders run from sea to shining sea. And all of the land within the borders is called as the song puts it “Our country ‘tis of thee.” It is also contained within the territorial boundaries of Alaska, Hawaii and a few territories, which the United States claims as its own. So, when you hear the word country or speak the word it should be said along these lines without real thought of the people that call it home.

The United States is a nation in terms of its people. The people give meaning to the phrase within the pledge of allegiance of “one nation under God.” It is declaring that regardless of the diversity of the people that make the United States their home that we still are but one people united. The nation of the United States, not the country of the United States, is called the melting pot of the world.

We might inject another word in here also that is used in a confusing manner. That word be State. It depicts the political status of the United States. The United States is a State that is made-up of 50 smaller states, free, independent and self-governing.

With this, we can see how nationalism differs from patriotism. Since nationalism is a derivative of the word nation then it depicts one’s feelings at being a member of a group of people that is united by a very special bond and is considered unique of that people. When we say, with pride, “I am an American.” We are speaking in nationalistic terms. When President Obama speaks of reuniting this nation, he is speaking of nationalism.

Patriotism addresses more than just nationalism. Patriotism is a love of country that you consider as home. Patriotism is pride of the nation of which you belong. Patriotism recognizes with jealousy the political structure that we have the privilege of participation. Patriotism is the willingness to fight and even sacrifice your life before giving any of these up.

It is not my country, right or wrong. It is my country in all of the beauty and majesty that it beholds. It is a nation of people that knows of its imperfection. To each, I have pledged my allegiance. For I am united with each. This, to me, is what patriotism means in all that it honors, both, of the past as well as of the present.

It has fulfilled its promise of shelter to the downtrodden. It is the home of the brave. Though many may question it, I can ask no more of it. I am an American and when I speak of it I do so with love, pride and jealousy of what it has meant to me.


BB-Idaho said...

One supposes it is mostly opinion. No patriot considers themself a nationalist and every nationalist considers themself a patriot..such is the power of personal POV. The Latin rootword 'natio = tribe, race, breed or class: patria = native land or town..home. It would seem, at least originally, one refers to a people and one refers to an area. Since people require area, we already have a seeming overlap. Discussion comparing and contrasting the definition typically calls on Orwell. In our human fashion, we pick and choose from his work to support our POV.
As seems inevitable, we choose to make one term admirable, the other perjorative. IMO, they overlap quite a bit, although it is odd that we are quick to declare someone 'unpatriotic', we hardly ever accuse anyone of being 'unnationalistic'. Huh..
So, it would seem the semantics
change through the years and now we
consider a nationalist sort of a uninformed patriot?

The Griper said...

"now we
consider a nationalist sort of a uninformed patriot?"

or one could say that a nationalist was one who is blind to the faults of a nation just as a mother appear blind to the faults of her children or unconditional love. Hitler used it to promote the idea of superiority of a race and the inferiority of another race.

it seems to lead us back to a previous discussion of the use of demeaning words to describe a certain class of people, doesn't it?

BB-Idaho said...

Heh, or one could say a nationalist is a patriot run amock,
led astray and/or bamboozled, in that light. IMO, that is why Germany still today is listed as the least patriotic industrialized country..their patriotism was twisted into a swastika before they knew what hit them. :) As an additional conundrum about the concept, we need consider the two
most patriotic countries in the world. ..which, as you note brings us back to labling, POV, connotation and the problems of definition.

The Griper said...

hehe, i would have to question their idea of patriotism in that study. i would see it as a study of nationalism.

take sports for instance. look at how a nation reacts when one of their own comes out as the winner of some event.

the olympics are a good example of this. a nation reacts as if it was the one participating, not the athlete. this is true even of the third class nations.

even here we go crazy when the local football, basketball or some other sport team become known as the best.

the winners are even labeled as heroes in their country. and if you look over in europe that craziness even goes beyond the normal when it comes to soccer.

even as i was sitting here i was thinking that nationalism by its nature invokes the feeling of superiority within the people. it seems to create a sense of empowerment within the individual that cannot exist without it.

i might even hazard a guess that wars would not be fought without it. for without existence of that bond of nationalism, wars would not have any meaning anymore.

repsac3 said...

Griper: i might even hazard a guess that wars would not be fought without it. for without existence of that bond of nationalism, wars would not have any meaning anymore.

Some guy named Lennon:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

I think he was speaking of "nations," rather than "countries," too...

Tempting as it may be, it just wouldn't be worth it, unless/until we could all agree on the ideas & ideals by wish we'd all want to live... If we could convince everyone else to become Americans, though... It'd never happen, of course...

The same goes for religion, too... There are several who believe that when everyone (or a large enough number) converts to their faith, peace will reign over the earth. Again, it'd be great in theory if we could all simultaneously became Jewish, Catholics, Buddhists, or even fundamentalist Muslims (who would we terrorize?), but it just ain't gonna happen.

Good post, Griper. For once, we pretty much agree...

The Griper said...

ohh we agree on a lot more then you think we do, repsac.

as for what you said i think that might be one of the motivations of those who promote the idea of a single world government, no more wars. but that is an illusionary thought of assumption though. they don't consider the reasons behind revolutions or civil wars.

as for religious unity, that too is an illusionary assumption. we only need to look at the religions of Christianity and its history to see that.

if history is any guideline of human nature then human nature declares that there will always be extremists and radicals who think they know best of what the people need or should have.

Average American said...

....Since nationalism is a derivative of the word nation then it depicts one’s feelings at being a member of a group of people that is united by a very special bond and is considered unique of that people....

I would submit that this is why nationalism is a dying entity here in America, because the "very special bond" has been broken by polarization of ideologies. There are a lot of Americans who are ashamed to be Americans, and that is tragic.

Gayle said...

I could run with Average American's comment and easily rant and rave as to why there are a lot of Americans who are ashamed to be Americans but that would take the post off topic, which is rude, and besides, I think everyone already knows why.

As for your post, Griper, I don't see anything to disagree with here. I doubt many people even consider the difference between nation and country. I confess I've never given it much thought, so I thank you for clearing that up for me.

I either think better after visiting you or wind up being confused. This time I think I "think better". Thanks! :)

BB-Idaho said...

Whether patriotism or nationalism describes love of country, home, is curious that at the beginning of the American Civil War, folks in large numbers seemed to possess more love of state than nation. Even more curious were the few military officers from the south that sided with the north and the few from the north that sided with the well as the divided families. Go figure...Civil War is another oxymoron. :)

The Griper said...

you need to also remember BB, that at the time of the Civil War the states were, in essence, each person's nation. and Constitutionally we still are. it was a time when people identified themselves by their States.

we need to remember that Lincoln offered the job of leading the union troops to Lee and Lee turned him down.

people stare at me in awe when i tell them that every U.S. citizen holds dual citizenship, first to the state they reside in then to the nation as a whole.

it was only after the Civil war that our allegiance seemed to change from the State governmentto the Federal government.

The Griper said...

as for the divisive nature that it caused i believe that had a lot to do with the reasons that each person was using to justify the war to themselves, states rights or slavery.

DD2 aka Debonair Dude said...

Beautifully said and written


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