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Patriotism is love of and/or devotion to one's country. The word comes from the Greek patris.[1] However, patriotism has had different meanings over time, and its meaning is highly dependent upon context, geography and philosophy.

Although patriotism is used in certain vernaculars as a synonym for nationalism, nationalism is not necessarily considered an inherent part of patriotism.[2][3] Among the ancient Greeks, patriotism consisted of notions concerning language, religious traditions, ethics, law and devotion to the common good, rather than pure identification with a nation-state.[4][5] Scholar J. Peter Euben writes that for the Greek philosopher Socrates, "patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be."[6]

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama tells Lakshmana Janani Janma Bhoomischa Swargadapi Gariyasi (Mother and Motherland are greater than heaven), which greatly lays the foundation for consciousness of patriotism for Hindus.[7]

During the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, the notion of patriotism continued to be separate from the notion of nationalism. Instead, patriotism was defined as devotion to humanity and beneficence.[2] For example, providing charity, criticizing slavery, and denouncing excessive penal laws were all considered patriotic.[2] In both ancient and modern visions of patriotism, individual responsibility to fellow citizens is an inherent component of patriotism.

Many contemporary notions of patriotism are influenced by 19th century ideas about nationalism. During the 19th century, "being patriotic" became increasingly conflated with nationalism, and even jingoism.[2] However, some notions of contemporary patriotism reject nationalism in favor of a more classic version of the idea of patriotism which includes social responsibility.[8]


Philosophical issues of patriotism

, in this case freedom.]] Contemporary scholar of ethics, Paul Gomberg, has compared patriotism to racism. He argues that the primary implication of patriotism in ethical theory is that a person has more moral duties to fellow members of the national community, than to non-members. Patriotism is therefore selective in its altruism.[9] Gomberg notes the view (in ethics) that moral duties apply equally to all humans is known as cosmopolitanism.

Patriotism is strengthened by adherence to a native religion, particularly because such a community usually has its holy places inside its motherland. This is evident in cases of countries like India and Israel.

Patriotism implies a value preference for a specific civic or political community. Universalist beliefs reject such specific preferences, in favor of an alternative, wider, community. In the European Union, thinkers such as Habermas, however, have advocated a European-wide patriotism, but patriotism in Europe is usually directed at the nation-state and often coincides with Euroscepticism.

Some religious believers place their religion above their 'fatherland', often resulting in suspicion and hostility from patriots. Two examples of groups that have experienced this suspicion in the United States are Roman Catholics and Muslims. In the United States and the United Kingdom, Roman Catholics were seen as owing loyalty to the Vatican rather than the nation. Muslims are sometimes seen as owing loyalty to the Islamic community (Ummah) rather than to the nation. Other groups find a conflict between certain patriotic acts and religious beliefs. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mennonites may choose to refuse to engage in certain patriotic acts or to display certain symbols.

Supporters of patriotism in ethics regard it as a virtue. In his influential article "Is patriotism a virtue?" (1984), the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre notes that most contemporary conceptions of morality insist on a blindness to accidental traits like local origin and therefore reject patriotic selectivity. MacIntyre constructs an alternative conception of morality, that he claims would be compatible with patriotism. Charles Blattberg, in his book From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics (2000), has developed a similar conception of patriotism.

A problem with treating patriotism as an objective virtue is that patriotisms often conflict. Soldiers of both sides in a war may feel equally patriotic, creating an ethical paradox.

Within nations, politicians may appeal to patriotic emotions in attacking their opponents, implicitly or explicitly accusing them of betraying the country. Minorities may reject a patriotic loyalty and pride, which the majority finds unproblematic. They may feel excluded from the political community, and see no reason to be proud of it. The Australian political conflict about the Black armband view of history is an example. Conservative Prime Minister John Howard, who would undoubtedly describe himself as an Australian patriot, said of it in 1996:

The 'black armband' view of our history reflects a belief that most Australian history since 1788 has been little more than a disgraceful story of imperialism, exploitation, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

In the United States, patriotic history has been criticised for de-emphasising the post-Colombian depopulation, the Atlantic slave trade, the population expulsions and the wars of conquest against Native Americans.

Patriotism is often portrayed as a more positive alternative to nationalism, which sometimes carries negative connotations. Some authors such as Morris Janowitz, Daniel Bar-Tal, or L. Snyder argue that patriotism is distinguished from nationalism by its lack of aggression or hatred for others, its defensiveness, and positive community building. Others, such as Michael Billig or Jean Bethke Elshtain argue that the difference is difficult to discern, and relies largely on the attitude of the labeller. [10]

Patriotism for other countries

There are historical examples of individuals who fought for other countries, sometimes for their independence - for example the Marquis de Lafayette, [959+96[Tadeusz Kościuszko]] and Kazimierz Pułaski in the American Revolutionary War, and the "Philhellenes," western Europeans who fought in the Greek War of Independence, notably Lord Byron. Was Lafayette an American patriot, or the Philhellenes Greek patriots? Alasdair MacIntyre would claim that they were not; that these and similar cases are instances of idealism, but not of patriotism. Under this view, Lafayette was only devoted to the ideals of political liberty that underlay the American Revolution, but was not specifically patriotic for America. For MacIntyre, patriotism by definition can only be a preference for one's own country, not a preference for the ideals that a country is believed to stand for. Charles Blattberg's conception of patriotism, however, is more nuanced: to him, a patriot can be critical of his or her country for failing to live up to its ideals.

Patriotism by country

Several surveys have tried to measure patriotism for various reasons. The Correlates of War project found some correlation between War propensity and patriotism.

The results from different studies are time dependent. Patriotism in Germany before WWI ranks at or near the top, whereas today it ranks at or near the bottom of surveys.

The Patriotism Score table below is from the World Values Survey and refers to the average answer for high income residents of a country to the question: "Are you proud to be [insert nationality]?" It ranges from 1 (not proud) to 4 (very proud).[11]

First Survey: 1990-1992

Country Score
Ireland 3.74
USA 3.73
India 3.67
South Africa 3.55
Canada 3.53
Slovenia 3.46
Spain 3.28
Denmark 3.27
Italy 3.25
Sweden 3.22
France 3.18
Finland 3.17
Belgium 3.07
Netherlands 2.93
Germany 2.75
Average 3.26

Second Survey: 1995-1997

Country Score
Venezuela 3.92
South Africa 3.73
India 3.72
USA 3.70
Peru 3.68
Slovenia 3.64
Poland 3.55
Australia 3.54
Spain 3.40
Chile 3.38
Argentina 3.29
Sweden 3.13
Moldova 2.98
Japan 2.85
Russia 2.69
Switzerland 2.59
Lithuania 2.47
Latvia 2.10
Germany 1.37
Average 3.12

See also

This entry is related to, but not included in the Political ideologies series or one of its sub-series. Other related articles can be found at the Politics Portal.


  1. ^ Mirriam Webster"
  2. ^ a b c d Historical Dictionary of the Enlightenment By Harvey Chisick
  3. ^ "Nationalism" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  4. ^ Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle By Kenneth James Dover
  5. ^ Five Stages of Greek Religion by Gilbert Murray
  6. ^ "Critical Patriotism" by J. Peter Euben
  7. ^
  8. ^ Patriotism's Secret History by Peter Dreier & Dick Flacks in the magazine The Nation
  9. ^ Paul Gomberg, “Patriotism is Like Racism,” in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism, Humanity Books, 2002, pp. 105-112. ISBN 1-57392-955-7.
  10. ^ Billig, Michael. Banal Nationalism. London: Sage Publishers, 1995, p. 56-58.
  11. ^ Patriotism in Your Portfolio

Sources and further reading

  • Alasdair MacIntyre, 'Is Patriotism a Virtue?', in: R. Beiner (ed.), Theorizing Citizenship, 1995, State University of New York Press, pp. 209 - 228.
  • Joshua Cohen and Martha C. Nussbaum, For Love of Country: Debating the Limited of Patriotism, Beacon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8070-4313-3.
  • Jürgen Habermas, “Appendix II: Citizenship and National Identity,” in Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, trans. William Rehg, MIT Press, 1996.
  • Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism, Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-829358-5.
  • Daniel Bar-Tal and Ervin Staub, Patriotism, Wadsworth Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-8304-1410-X.
  • Charles Blattberg, From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First, Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-829688-6.
  • Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism, Humanity Books, 2002. ISBN 1-57392-955-7.
  • Paul Gomberg, “Patriotism is Like Racism,” in Igor Primoratz, ed., Patriotism, Humanity Books, 2002, pp. 105-112. ISBN 1-57392-955-7.
  • Craig Calhoun, Is it Time to Be Postnational?, in Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Minority Rights, (eds.) Stephen May, Tariq Modood and Judith Squires. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. pp 231-256. Online at
  • George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism,” in England Your England and Other Essays, Secker and Warburg, 1953.
  • American Patriot Party on defined patriotism.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From patriot +‎ -ism





patriotism (plural patriotisms)

  1. Love of country; devotion to the welfare of one's country; the virtues and actions of a patriot; the passion which inspires one to serve one's country.
    • 1803, Thomas Jefferson, Letter to George Clinton, volume ME 10:440:
      In the hour of death we shall have the consolation to see established in the land of our fathers the most wonderful work of wisdom and disinterested patriotism that has ever yet appeared on the globe.
    • 1896 January 2, Leo Wiener, “Patriotism or Peace”, in The Kingdom of God is within You; Christianity and Patriotism Miscellanies[1], translation of letter to Manson by Count Lev N. Tolstoy:
      Patriotism cannot be good. What produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one’s own nation – that is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism, and to abolish patriotism, it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil.
    • 1990, Ivana Edwards, “A funeral in Prague”, Massachusetts Review, vol. 31, no. 3, page 317: 
      The most extraordinary positive development in Czechoslovakia since its creation in 1918, the tumultuous outpouring of patriotism and protest was dared by students and intellectuals and soon embraced steel-workers and elderly pensioners.
    • 2006, “Danger and Opportunity in Eastern Europe”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 85, no. 6, Nov/Dec, page 117: 
      Economic protectionism within the older member states has, in fact, increased in the past year. Calls for economic patriotism have given rise to efforts to create national champions designed to protect key strategic industries from foreign competition.
    • 2007 Feb 6, Michael Moynihan, “For First Time, Croke Park Is Ireland^s Common Ground”, Washington Post:
      The idea that Ireland's rugby and soccer fans would have to go to England to follow their teams was intrinsically unpalatable, Kelly said, but he was also motivated by common sense: "That would have been an immense cost to the economy, it would have been a major drain on the fans, but the prestige and image of the country would also have been affected badly." / His pragmatic patriotism paid off.
    • 2008 Jan 27, Pagag Khanna, “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony”, New York Times, page 34:
      In Europe's capital, Brussels, technocrats, strategists and legislators increasingly see their role as being the global balancer between America and China. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a German member of the European Parliament, calls it 'European patriotism.' The Europeans play both sides, and if they do it well, they profit handsomely
    • 2008 February 15, Peter Ford, “Spielberg helps spoil China^s hope for a politics-free Olympics”, Christian Science Monitor, page 1:
      "It is not only an international sports event, but also a very important political mission," stated a 2006 opinion article in the People's Daily. "It is not only an Olympic feast for the Chinese people, it can also arouse Chinese patriotism."
    • 2008, Lisa Ingrassia, “Flying High with Craig Ferguson”, vol. 69, Iss. 24, Jun 23, page 71: 
      "I have the intense patriotism of an immigrant," says Ferguson


Derived terms


Simple English

Patriotism means loyalty of person to his/her own nation or the leaders of nation. A patriot is a person who is on the side of his/her own nation or its leaders. Patriotism is different from nationalism. Nationalist thinks that every ethnic group should have its own nation, so nations are to serve the people. In other words in nationalism the nation is just a tool to have freedom for an ethnic group, while in patriotism the nation itself is the highest value.

A patriot may also be loyal to imperialist or colonialist nations, while nationalism is opposed to imperialism or colonialism.

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