Patriotism is Good, Nationalism is Not

There is an important distinction to be made between nationalism and patriotism

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By Crosley Jones | USA

In the modern western world, there is a stigma against “loving” your country. Many would label this “love” as nationalism, which deservingly gets a bad rap in our minds. Nationalism has driven some of the world’s worst nations, some of the worst people, and some of the worst wars. But the love I’m talking about is not nationalism. I’m talking about patriotism. Patriotism sometimes gets associated with nationalism, and some people think that the two words and ideas are synonymous. The fact is that they aren’t the same. Not even close. Before I continue, let me explain the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

Nationalism is a dangerous and, quite frankly, a scary ideology that many people have. Nationalism is the belief that one group of people of a similar cultural and racial identity should be in the same nation. Nationalists also believe that a group of people is always superior to all others, making them hostile towards those they see as inferior to them, which in turn makes them more likely to start a conflict between themselves and those they see as inferior. A historical example of a nationalist was Adolf Hitler, who believed that Germans were the superior race above all others. His beliefs eventually led him to invade Poland, a nation of Slavs, and begin World War II. Nationalism is a dangerous ideology and is not similar to patriotism. Patriotism is the love one has for their own nations, regardless of personal racial or cultural beliefs. Patriots love their country’s values, love their country’s people, and love the idea of a united country in the pursuit of a better future for themselves and their children. Patriotism has driven some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of mankind. Patriotism also has driven the advancement of the greatest nations on Earth.

Patriotism is good for a society. It gives a person or a nation something to work towards, a goal for a people to achieve together. Patriotism has driven many of the world’s greatest nations to work for a better nation, for their people and around the world. In the United States, patriotism drove us into a competition with the Soviet Union in the form of the Cold War. Yes, that competition involved the growth of nuclear weapons stockpiles, but it also included the space race, where we developed new technology that improves our lives today. It also included the development of new energy sources, such as nuclear power plants and solar panels. And it caused us to develop new forms of global cooperation, like through economic unions, military alliances, and forums for nations to speak their concerns about how the world is going. Patriotism has driven nations to strive for greatness but in peaceful terms.

Unfortunately, many people in the western world associate patriotism with nationalism. They see the destructiveness of nationalism and think that patriotism is another way for the dangerous tactics of nationalism to get into a country, making them more susceptible to nationalist ideas and leanings. But the fact of the matter is that nationalism and patriotism are two separate things. They are different ideologies with different goals. Patriotism is good for advancing a society, while nationalism reverses the progress made since World War II. We must, as a society, realize the benefits that come from patriotic beliefs, while also realizing the difference from and dangers of nationalism.

  1. While I agree with the idea that Nationalism was dangerous in the past, many people who describe themselves as Nationalists nowadays do not agree with the ideas of Hitler and other statists. Nationalism in the modern sense is putting your own country before others, which there should be a distinction made there.

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