“Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.”
George Orwell, Author
Pros and Cons of Patriotism & Nationalism
Nationalism and patriotism are similar ideologies that aim to promote the interest of a nation and its population.
While there are many benefits related to those concepts, there are also some problems related to them.
In this article, the pros and cons of patriotism and nationalism are examined in detail.
Advantages of Nationalism and Patriotism
- May be able to unite a country
- People may be better able to identify with their culture
- Feeling of community
- May promote solidarity
- Patriotism may give you a goal in life
- You may find many people with similar attitudes
- May promote senseful human values
- Nationalism may help to protect a country
- Increase in wealth of the local population
- Can be beneficial for local firms
- Creation of jobs
- May increase the productivity of workers
- Higher level of independence from other countries
- Confidence levels may improve
- People may have the common goal to serve their country
May be able to unite a country
One advantage of nationalism is that it might be a great tool to unite a country. Especially in difficult economic and social times, it is crucial that people believe in their nation in order to stay motivated and carry out their work. In difficult times, people also often get frustrated and the social tensions increase significantly.
Through the promotion of patriotism, people can be united since they feel that there is a higher goal and that they all have to work together in order to achieve the goal to make their country great again.
People may be better able to identify with their culture
Many people also feel the need to really identify with their country and their culture. Since our overall technological progress advances quite rapidly and our way of life in general changed significantly over the past years, people often feel quite overwhelmed and may not feel as part of society anymore.
In order not to feel lost, those people may profit from their belief in nationalism since this might be the only thing that is left for them. Therefore, nationalism may also give some people a feeling of security.
Feeling of community
Some people in our current state of the world will also miss a certain feeling of community. In former times, people often got to gather in order to talk about what happened in their lives.
However, in our current state of the world, people are often quite busy using their smartphone and rather chat with each other instead of meeting in person.
Through this shift in human behavior, many people may miss this community feeling they had experienced in the past and may feel quite lonely due to that.
In turn, those people may put their faith in patriotism since they feel that this may change how we interact with each other and may strengthen the overall feeling of community in a country.
May promote solidarity
Patriotism may also help to promote solidary amongst the local population. Life can be hard from time to time and unexpected adverse events in our lives may really hit us in a way that we don’t know how to handle those things.
In those dark times, it is crucial to have people around us who give us power to move on. Patriotism can promote this kind of solidary towards others since it promotes common national values and people may be more willing and eager to help each other in difficult times of their lives.
Patriotism may give you a goal in life
Some people may also be quite desperate to find a goal and purpose in life. Many people may feel lost in our current state of the world since they have not found their passion yet and therefore, they may suffer from serious mental issues. In order to improve the quality of life for those people, nationalism might be a valid tool since it may give people a purpose in life.
You may find many people with similar attitudes
The majority of the local population of a country is usually quite proud of their country and their national values. Thus, especially if you want to fit in society and rely on the admiration and confirmation of others, practicing patriotism is a great way to do so since you will find many like-minded people.
Yet, in my opinion, relying on the admiration of other people is a quite toxic and unstable construct and may lead to a great level of unhappiness in the long run.
Hence, in my opinion, it is better to form your own character and belief system since it will give you much more stability in difficult times and you will become independent from the opinions of others.
May promote senseful human values
If patriotism is lived in a moderate manner, it can also lead to the promotion of senseful human values. For instance, freedom and justice are values that are not country-specific, but should be promoted on a global scale since those values tend to improve the overall quality of life for people, independent from where people live on our planet.
Therefore, nationalism can also lead to the promotion of senseful human values amongst the local population.
Nationalism may help to protect a country
In times of international conflict and tensions between countries, nationalism may also be important to defend a country. For instance, nationalism may make it more attractive for people to join the army.
If more people join the army, it becomes more likely that a country will be able to defend its borders against attacks. Consequently, nationalism can also help to protect a country from attacks of other countries.
Increase in wealth of the local population
Since nationalism also aims to protect the local economy through the introduction of trade barriers and tolls, the national economy will be strengthened, which in turn can also lead to an overall improvement in wealth for the local population.
Therefore, also from a financial standpoint, nationalism can make sense to increase the overall wealth of locals, at least in the short run.
Can be beneficial for local firms
Nationalism often implies some sort of protectionism where local companies are protected against the fierce global competition through subsidies or other measures that make buying those products from local companies more attractive.
Thus, also from a profit-maximizing perspective of local firms, nationalism can be a good thing under certain conditions, especially if those firms would not be able to compete against big global players otherwise.
Creation of jobs
Since local firms can be better protected through nationalism, they will also be more likely to increase their profits and to create many new jobs for the local population. In turn, also unemployment rates may drop significantly, which may in turn improve the quality of life of many locals.
May increase the productivity of workers
Another advantage of patriotism is that it may also significantly increase the productivity of workers. Since people may be more motivated if they can serve their country and local firms, they may be more eager to work hard.
In turn, the overall productivity of workers tends to improve, which in turn also contributes to higher profits for companies and also to higher wages for employees.
Higher level of independence from other countries
Dependence is almost never a good thing and the same is true when it comes to trade with other countries. A high level of dependence often implies that one country has to accept unfavorable trading conditions that can be dictated by another country.
Therefore, it is crucial for countries to stay as independent as possible in order to avoid those dependencies and the adverse effects related to them.
One way to avoid a high level of dependence on other countries is a nationalistic attitude since by engaging in nationalism, more goods will be produced inside the country borders and the dependence on imports may be greatly lowered due to that.
Confidence levels may improve
Patriotism can also help to boost the level of confidence of people. Many people nowadays feel quite lost and not as valuable members of society.
However, through the promotion of nationalism, those people get a feeling of self-worth and confidence since they think that they can serve a bigger goal.
People may have the common goal to serve their country
Another benefit of patriotism is that people may get a feeling that everyone of them should serve their country as best as possible and that it is the duty of every citizen to behave in line with a country’s overall goals and values. Therefore, people may work hard and support each other to make their nation great again.
Disadvantages of Patriotism and Nationalism
- May lead to the social exclusion of minorities
- Some people may take it too far
- May promote arrogant behavior
- May prevent people to value other cultures
- Nationalism may prevent people from learning new languages
- People may feel superior to other nationalities
- May lead to the exploitation of foreign countries
- Patriotism may lead to unhuman behavior
- May serve as justification to start global conflicts
- May lead to resentment towards other countries
- Patriotism can be used for radical movements
- Immigrants may have a hard time
- People may suffer from a serious level of blindness
- Too much nationalism may hurt international trade
- People may become quite prejudiced
- GDP may suffer in the long run
- We are all one big family
May lead to the social exclusion of minorities
Apart from the many advantages of nationalism and patriotism, there are also many issues related to them. One disadvantage of nationalism is that it may lead to the social exclusion of minorities.
If people are told that their national values are the gold standard and that everything else is not in line with the goals of a country, people may become quite intolerant towards minorities since they will not recognize those alternative values as useful for their goal to strengthen the national values of a country.
Thus, patriotism may also lead to the social isolation of minorities if it is taken too seriously by the general public.
Some people may take it too far
Nationalism also poses the danger that some people may take cultural values and ideologies too far. There are many examples in human history where this led to quite horrible outcomes.
One of them happened in German history which led to WW2. Hence, if nationalism is used by the wrong people, it can imply serious dangers on a global scale.
May promote arrogant behavior
Patriotism may also often lead to a state where people become quite arrogant since they think that their value system is the only thing that matters and that other nations should adapt to their value system as well since it is the only right way to go.
Thus, in such a case, people may completely neglect the possibility that their values might actually be flawed and the resulting level of arrogance can lead to serious problems in the long run.
May prevent people to value other cultures
In general, nationalism may also contribute to a state where people will not value other cultures and social norms anymore. For instance, there are some people on our planet who still live a pretty basic and original life in remote parts of our planet.
Those people are often quite happy and there is no reason to devalue the cultural values of those people. Yet, through excessive nationalism, the cultures of those people are often belittled which is not justifiable under any circumstances.
Nationalism may prevent people from learning new languages
If you really want to get to know a culture and to travel to other countries, you will also have to learn the foreign language in order to be able to communicate with people.
Sure, many people speak English on a global scale, yet people will build a stronger and deeper connection with you if you speak at least a few words of the local language.
However, if you are taught excessive levels of nationalism in your home country, you might come to the conclusion that learning foreign languages is not worth it and this may prevent you to build up strong connections with locals while you are traveling and will take part of the fun out of all of this.
People may feel superior to other nationalities
Another big problem of patriotism is that people may feel superior to other nationalities and countries. This unjustifiable level of arrogance and flawed perception of the world can lead to serious issues, especially if people and leaders of a country think they can dictate to other countries how to behave.
May lead to the exploitation of foreign countries
Nationalism is also often used to justify the exploitation of other countries. For instance, it is often claimed by politicians that in order to assure the wealth of the local population, we have to exploit other countries, no matter what.
While the exploitation of other countries might indeed be beneficial for some countries, it is quite detrimental to the exploited countries since they may never get out of their misery. Thus, exploiting countries should not be the way to go from an ethical perspective.
Patriotism may lead to unhuman behavior
As we can see from human history, too much patriotism can lead to serious adverse outcomes. People may behave in a quite unhuman way and are quite easy to manipulate by government authorities.
Hence, in order to avoid those unpleasant outcomes from the past, we should avoid nationalism or only promote it on a moderate level so that people don’t get the impression that it is ok to behave in an unhuman manner.
May serve as justification to start global conflicts
Nationalism can also be instrumented by politicians in order to justify starting conflicts with other countries. The local population is often told that other countries behave in a way that is against the value system of their home country and that this is reason enough to fight those countries.
Therefore, in case nationalism is used to engage in conflicts, that can lead to serious detrimental outcomes on a global scale.
May lead to resentment towards other countries
Some people may even develop a high level of resentment towards other countries due to the excessive promotion of patriotism in a country.
Some people may start to think that their values are the only values that matter and that everybody else has to adopt those values and is considered to be an enemy if he or she doesn’t comply with those values.
Consequently, nationalism can also lead to serious levels of resentment towards other foreign countries.
Patriotism can be used for radical movements
In some cases in human history, nationalism had also been used for the rise of radical movements, which in turn led to horrible outcomes. Therefore, in order to avoid those unpleasant outcomes from the past, we should avoid excessive levels of nationalism.
Immigrants may have a hard time
Since the level of tolerance towards minorities or towards people from foreign countries tends to decrease through the promotion of nationalism, immigrants may have a quite hard time since they may suffer from serious levels of social exclusion.
People may suffer from a serious level of blindness
Due to the promotion of nationalism, people may also become blind regarding their true inner beliefs and their value systems. People are quite easy to manipulate and through media channels and other instruments, nationalism can be used to lead people into flawed beliefs, which may turn into serious unpleasant outcomes.
Too much nationalism may hurt international trade
If countries engage in excessive protectionism that is due to nationalism, this may also significantly hurt international trade. A big fraction of the wealth in our rich Western World is due to the fact that countries specialize in some goods and produce them at a rather low price so that consumers can buy them at a reasonable price.
However, if a country stops its trade activities, chances are that the overall wealth in this country will significantly suffer over the long run.
People may become quite prejudiced
If nationalism is taught in school from an early age on, there is also the danger that those children will become quite prejudiced in their opinion regarding their value system.
This may lead to a state where those children might become quite intolerant when they turn into grownups and this kind of intolerance should not be the values that we want to promote as a global society.
GDP may suffer in the long run
Through nationalism and the protectionism that is often practiced around the world, also the local GDP may suffer in the long run.
While protectionism can have some positive effects in the short run, it often leads to serious negative economic effects in the long run.
Therefore, through excessive levels of nationalism, also the overall income of people and the overall local GDP may decrease significantly.
We are all one big family
You should never forget that at the beginning of human history, there had been no country borders and we are in fact one big family. Thus, nationalism and patriotism are actually quite flawed constructs that do not make too much sense if we take a look at how humans evolved over time.
Therefore, instead of promoting our national values, we should rather aim to promote global values that aim to improve the quality of life of as many people as possible in order to serve our global family.
Top 10 Nationalism Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Nationalism Pros||Nationalism Cons|
|Feeling of community||Exclusion of minorities|
|Important for security||Radical ideas may spread|
|Nationalism may unite a country||Patriotism can lead to arrogance|
|May help to get through difficult times||People may take it too far|
|Might show you a goal in life||People may not accept other cultural values|
|Nationalism may help the local economy||May result in unhuman behavior|
|Job creation||Migrants may have a quite hard time|
|May be beneficial for local firms||May hurt international trade|
|Patriotism may improve confidence levels||People may become prejudiced|
|Independence from other countries||We are all one big family|
As we can conclude from the previous analysis, there are several benefits of nationalism and patriotism. Yet, there are also many problems related to those concepts and rather than relying on patriotism or nationalism as our absolute fundamental values, we might want to abstract from national goals and promote global value systems and goals instead.
Only then will it be possible to improve the living conditions of billions of people around the world.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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