Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

On patriotism

  1. Apr 26, 2003 #1
    On patriotism

    What is patriotism? Let us call it by its more accurate name. It is none other than nationalism. Two words. Same meaning. Different connotations. One is meant somehow as a good thing, while the second aptly describes the bigotry involved.

    Why worship a political institution or a group of people that happen to share the same political boundaries? Why exclude others in order to feel that your group is better? There is no reason to think that people are “more worthy” (if such an attribute even exists) of respect or admiration because they happened to be born or located in some political region that you are also affiliated with. This is true if for no other reason than the staggering diversity present in any society.
    There are 3 types things that a person can bear allegiance to that I will discuss—people, institutions, and ideals.

    First, I shall address allegiance to nation’s people—not just allegiance, but espousing the belief that one nation’s people are “better.” Being born in one particular country does not make a person any “better” than any other. By that reasoning, one could say that my orange flashlight is better than my red one because the orange one was made in a factory that is 2 miles away from my home, while the red one was produced 670 miles from my home.
    Being a citizen of one particular country does not make a person any “better” than any other. A person is either a citizen by birth, which is covered above, or by living in a particular country and meeting some legislated requirements. To say that a person is better than others because he/she is living inside some political boundary is ludicrous. People living in different regions of the world do so for various reasons. Sometimes, it is because of conditions that are out of their control. Sometimes, they wish to stay with loved ones or in a place that they are used to. These are perfectly valid reasons to not live some country that is purported as the best, and don’t in any way lesson the value of anyone who doesn’t live on that specific parcel of land.
    Caring for the concerns of the people of one specific society is one thing, and acceptable, but to say that that group is somehow “better” than another and to pursue their interests by hurting others is not and is clear bigotry.

    And then there is allegiance to the government. Why should one have allegiance to a government? Is not government only a tool for people to get what they desire? Shouldn’t a government work for its people, and not the other way around?
    Is the allegiance because of the ideals that the government espouses? Then why not discard with the middleman symbol of the government, and bear allegiance only to ideals? What happens when the government’s actions contrast with the ideals? Shouldn’t the ideals take precedence? What reason is there to support the government, other than the ideals? It should be that the government should only be a way to manifest ideals, not that the ideals are merely justification for the government. When the symbol of the government or nation is worshipped, that sets a dangerous setting where things such as Nazi Germany appear.
    Should one support a government only because it controls the region in which one was born and/or lives? By this reasoning, a person born and living in China should believe that China is the best, and a person born and living in Poland should believe that Poland is the best. The person who promotes this thinking believes that two people should believe two contradictory, mutually-exclusive ideas.
    What is the value in saying that one country is “the best in the world”? Every country has its positives and negatives, and we should, as analytical creatures, make judgment of these attributes in order to make our societies better. However, rendering a final verdict of “this country is best” is useless, and serves only to pump egos and draw lines of separation among fellow humans.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 26, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    does patriotism include one being grateful for the country they live in? i am grateful to live in america because of the higher standard of living then most countries...
  4. Apr 26, 2003 #3
    I have no problem with being grateful. However, I wouldn't call that patriotism.
  5. Apr 26, 2003 #4
    And what about all of us foreigners? Should we be crying for our inferior quality of life (speaking generally here)?
    I think Dan's right. I don't think that's a good reason for being patriotic.
  6. Apr 26, 2003 #5
    You are grateful for the cash, not the country, I think...if you had the same standard of living somewhere else, would you be less happy?(No, I'm not attacking your patriotism, just inquiring about this specific instance)
  7. Apr 26, 2003 #6
    No, you should compromise your ideals,
    Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash!

    Hey, money is no better or worse a thing to like about someone than anything else. My mamma always told me its just as easy to marry rich as it to marry poor, so go for the rich ones. Poor people leave their countries all the time looking for better prospects! Where do you draw the line between rich and poor anyway?

    Why not? What would you call patriotism?
  8. Apr 26, 2003 #7
    You're saying that it's justifiable to have pride in your country for having great riches? It's a bit of a fickle reason, if you ask me.
  9. Apr 26, 2003 #8
    I'm not say one should have pride, merely observing with a touch of humor that many do have pride for precisely this reason. Another way to look at this is from the opposite viewpoint that poverty is bad, it reflects badly on an individual and, thus, on their personal pride and public image. The situation is a bit like judging people on how they look, their race, or whatever. Thus, so much attention is focused on propoganda to always promote such attitudes from whichever of the two angles is constructive towards the goals at hand.
  10. Apr 26, 2003 #9
    Loving a country. Feeling that your country and/or its people are superior to all othrs.

    I am grateful to live in the United States. However, I'm not going to go around flaunting, "I live in the best country in the world." or any other pointless, inflammatory stuff like that.
  11. Apr 26, 2003 #10


    User Avatar

    I would agree that the only valid patriotism is the patriotism of values, and hence pride in the world view of your particular nation. From that all other patriotism and belief springs.
  12. Apr 26, 2003 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    wow, how assumptious of some of you to think i was referring to a higher amount of cash here in america, especially when i am helping in raising two young children, not something cheap these days in america's standards...

    i was actually referring to the standards with higher food quality, higher water quality, standards with health care, traffic laws, laws in general to protect the american citizen, and of course many freedoms not enjoyed in other countries...

    no, i do not think that AMERICANS are better then other citizens, but i do believe america is one of the best COUNTRIES to live in...and along with being grateful to these higher standards to protect myself, my children, and all other citizens of this country...i think that pride and gratefulness qualifies for old fashioned patriotism...
  13. Apr 26, 2003 #12
    That's a negative interpretation, the dictionary definition is:

    Love of and devotion to one's country.

    The Tao Te Ching has this to say:


    All the world says,
    "I am important;
    I am different from all others.
    I am valuable because I am unique,
    Were I the same, I would be insignificant."
    Yet here are three treasures
    That I cherish and commend to you:
    The first is compassion,
    By which one can find courage.
    The second is restraint,
    By which one can find strength.
    And the third is humility,
    By which one can find influence.
    Those who are fearless,
    But without compassion,
    Powerful, but without restraint,
    Or influential, yet proud,
    Cannot easily endure.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2003
  14. Apr 26, 2003 #13
    I don't understand patriotism. How do you 'love a country'?!?
  15. Apr 26, 2003 #14
    What Zero, Yo mamma never taught you the facts of life! I think the all time record now stands at one man fathering 450 children. :0)
  16. Apr 26, 2003 #15
    what is patriotism? let us actually use our brain instead of making rampant and ignorant generalisations. patriotism is not the same thing as nationalism, or is it all a conspiracy and the people behind the dictionaries are actually in bed with them trying to warp our minds for their own dastardly plan? might be, but i doubt it. Nationalism is defined as the right of a people with close to identical history, language, culture and ideals to exist as an independant and unified state. patriotism plays a part in defining this unity, but it is not the same thing.

    and what's this about patriotism being the same as racism? there is a difference between being proud of something and thinking it to be superior, i am a woman and damn proud, but i consider men and women equals. it's the same with patriotism, it's just pride. and from this pride can come the love and devotion that has been described. but this love is of the idea of america, australia or vatican city, not the race, religion or otherwise of the country, and since when does loving one thing mean hating everything else? or should we have a uniform feeling of ambivilence to everything in the world, god forbid we might love our family/country/whatever more then someone elses.
  17. Apr 27, 2003 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Sorry, but I didn't get past this point in the thread - maybe I'll read it later.

    Patriotism and nationalism have different connotations because they are different words with different definitions. Patriotism is love for your country. Nationalism is love for your country and screw everyone else for being different. Subtle, but vastly important difference. Nationalism starts wars. Patriotism does not.

    Best poly sci course I ever took was titled "Nations and Nationalism."

    HERE is a good link explaining the difference.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2003
  18. Apr 27, 2003 #17
    Re: Re: On patriotism

    I was trying to address different aspects of the patriotism that people express, and not all apply to any person who calls him/herself a patriot.

    I see the same thing when people talk about patriotism as I do when I see things that are described as being nationalistic. If patriotism doesn't start wars, then what started the Iraq war?
  19. Apr 27, 2003 #18
    This definition of "nationalism" from webster.com meets my understanding of what nationalism is:

    Their definition of "patriotism":

    Both start out basically the same, only the "nationalism" definition continues to explain in more detail. The "sense of national consciousness" and "exalting above all others" are very in tune with what I have seen in "patriotism".
  20. Apr 27, 2003 #19
    So Dan, are you saying that what people in the US are currently calling patriotism is often really nationalism?

    If so, I concur. I'm a military brat myself and grew up around a great deal of patriotic, nationalistic, and fascist sentiments. The current presidental administration's aggressive foreign policy has been notably called many things by the mass media including "evangelical", but not one reporter I have heard has dared refer to it as nationalism much less fascism.

    Most people I've known with extremely "evangelical" nationalistic and fascist sentiments have reminded me a great deal of Carol O'Connor's famous tv characature role, "Archie Bunker." In fact, my own parents resemble such people to a great degree, who are often entirely unaware that their sentiments and feelings go beyond mere love of country into the realm of unquestioning and unquestionable beligerent self-righteous pride. In fact, whether as contentious and unaware as Archie Bunker or not, such people will associate their feelings with the very definition of democracy and deny where their logic leads.

    For my family and countless other like Archie Bunker's, questioning the head patriarch or your superiors is considered not just bad manners but insulting and an attempt to usurp the hierarchy. This inherently contentious social dynamic dates back to the original democracy in Athens.

    The Athenian motto was: "Strike if you must! But hear me first!" Although democracies insist there are certain human rights everybody shares, these are often abstractions and social conventions rather than heart felt sentiments. In a sense, you could say democracy has taken self-perpetuating and self-serving negative and evangelical sentiments and turned them back on themselves.

    However, this is a work in progress, a never-ending-story. The conservative evening news commentators I have listened to recently have all without exception inserted their personal comments at one point or another that those protesting the war show a lack of humility. Instead of a mature and open discussion of people's feelings on the subject, it is usually an ongoing battle to belittle each other. Instead of a realistic appraisal of the situation, it is more often a self-righteous attack on the opposition. In other words, politics as usual.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2003
  21. Apr 27, 2003 #20
    I still don't understand the idea of having pride for things outside yourself. I find the same lack of understanding for supporting a sports team, and having pride when they win. I personally do not identify with any group larger than ME.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: On patriotism
  1. Patriotism (Replies: 104)

  2. Patriotic MUSIC! (Replies: 2)

  3. Eagles or Patriots? (Replies: 24)