Nationalism or Patriotism, which is it?

George Orwell

George Orwell

“Nationalism,” wrote George Orwell, “is not to be confused with patriotism.  Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved.” Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter I, Page 44, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.

Dr. John Lukacs

Dr. John Lukacs

“That nationalism differs―and often profoundly―from patriotism is a reality to which we should have paid more attention, especially in the united states where the two terms are still regrettably confused: when Americans speak of a super-patriot they really mean an extreme nationalist.  When Dr. Johnson pronounced his celebrated phrase, “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,” he meant nationalism, since the definition of the word in English did not exist.  When Hitler, writing about his political philosophy in Mein Kampf, said that “I was a nationalist; but I was not a patriot,” he knew exactly what he meant, and so ought we.  Patriotism (as George Orwell noted in one of the few extant essays about its distinction from nationalism) is defensive, while nationalism is aggressive; patriotism is rooted to the land, to a particular country, while nationalism is connected to the myth of a people, indeed to a majority; patriotism is traditionalist, nationalism is populist.  Patriotism is not a substitute for a religious faith, whereas nationalism often is; it may fill the emotional―at least superficially spiritual―needs of a people.” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter I, Page 107, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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