Essay About Nationalism And Patriotism

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It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a government or a country, still less to country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist.

To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling: but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universally accepted. without developing a corresponding loyalty to any other unit.

In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name.

As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation – that is, a single race or a geographical area.

But secondly ­– and this is much more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

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.

However, in this essay I am concerned chiefly with the reactions of the intelligentsia, among whom jingoism and even patriotism of the old kind are almost dead, though they now seem to be reviving among a minority. as his Fatherland and feels it his duty to justify Russian policy and advance Russian interests at all costs.

Among the intelligentsia, it hardly needs saying that the dominant form of nationalism is Communism ­– using this word in a very loose sense, to include not merely Communist Party members but ‘fellow-travellers’ and russophiles generally. Obviously such people abound in England today, and their direct and indirect influence is very great.

By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people.

Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.


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