The distinction between nationalism and patriotism is often overlooked. Unlike the United States, most countries were nations long before they became states. And nationalism has traditionally been an ideology that advocates the aggrandizement of particular national groups—not whole countries inclusive of minority ethnicities and nationalities. The word nationalism was first used in this sense in 1772 by the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, and it came to be embraced as an animating ideology by Germans in their response to the ideals and invasions of the French Revolutionary era. They rejected the liberal ideas of political citizenship and universal rights and instead embraced a unifying vision of a German volk rooted in ethnicity, language, blood, and mythology. German nationalism predated the creation of the German state by a century.
Patriotism, on the other hand, is a concept whose etymology and history is closely linked with ancient Greek and Roman ideas of membership in a political community. It is a term for devotion and commitment not to the ethnic group into which one is born, but to a political state of which one is a citizen. It does not exclude minorities within that state, nor does it extend to members of a common national group outside that state. An ethnic German living in Poland as a Polish citizen in 1939, for instance, could have fought against the Nazi invasion as a Polish patriot, but not as a Polish nationalist. Likewise, the defense of a political republic can be patriotic even if it undermines nationalist goals. The Wehrmacht officers who broke their oath and tried to kill Hitler in 1944, for example, are regarded as German patriots, not nationalists.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Nationalism and Patriotism
Daniel Krauthammer at The Weekly Standard: