Nationalism vs Patriotism

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George Orwell wrote that nationalism was one of the worst enemies of peace. He defined nationalism as the feeling that your way of life, country, or ethnic group were superior to others. These types of feelings lead a group to attempt to impose their morality on any given situation. When those standards were not met, more often then not, war would result.

In contrast he stated that patriotism was the feeling of admiration for a way of life etc. and the willingness to defend it against attack. The obvious difference between the two is that while patriotism is a passive attitude, nationalism is aggressive by nature.

Orwell was writing this during the years just prior to World War Two when nationalism in Europe was running rampant. Not only was Hitler stoking the fires in Germany, but Mussolini was taming the savages of Ethiopia, and Stalin had just finished Russiafying the Ukraine and was contemplating “reclaiming” Finland.

Since the end of World War Two nationalism has escalated beyond what Orwell’s worst nightmares could have visualised. The first wave began with the dissolution of the colonial empires through out the developing world. As they retreated they left behind cesspools of ethnic tensions.

In some countries it had been official policy to play the race card as a means of keeping unrest in check. By creating conditions where it seemed one group was favoured over another, especially a minority over a majority, resentments were built up to the boiling point. As far as the colonial masters were concerned as long as they were fighting each other they won’t come after us.

From one country to the next as independence was achieved nationalistic violence was the rule rather then exception. In India Hindu leaders like Gandhi who pleaded for restraint were murdered by extremists of their own faith. In Israel terrorist groups from both sides set bombs and attacked civilians in order to solidify their claims to territory.

But it was with the big...
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