Friday, November 21, 2014

Nationalism and Patriotism

by Antonio C. Antonio
November 21, 2014

Brian dela Masa, a close friend of my daughter at the University of the Philippines, posted a comment/question in response to my article “Nationalism and Environmentalism” ( which I published on my blogsite ( and the Pro EARTH Crusaders Facebook page ( today.  He asked: “What’s the difference between nationalism and patriotism?” It was a very good question indeed so I responded: “Hi Brian Dela Masa... Nationalism is "political" while Patriotism is "cultural". The difference is the perspective by which this feeling and emotion emanates.”  Brian said he would rather be a patriot and generously shared this link:

“Difference Between Nationalism and Patriotism…

Nationalism and patriotism both show the relationship of an individual towards his or her nation.  The two are often confused and frequently believed to mean the same thing.  However, there is a vast difference between nationalism and patriotism.

Nationalism means to give more importance to unity by way of a cultural background, including language and heritage. Patriotism pertains to the love for a nation, with more emphasis on values and beliefs.

When talking about nationalism and patriotism, one cannot avoid the famous quote by George Orwell, who said that nationalism is ‘worst enemy of peace’.  According to him, nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all respects, while patriotism is merely a feeling of admiration for a way of life.  These concepts show that patriotism is passive by nature and nationalism can be a little aggressive.

Patriotism is based on affection and nationalism is rooted in rivalry and resentment.  One can say that nationalism is militant by nature and patriotism is based on peace.

Most nationalists assume that their country is better than any other, whereas patriots believe that their country is one of the best and can be improved in many ways.  Patriots tend to believe in friendly relations with other countries while some nationalists don’t.

In patriotism, people all over the world are considered equal but nationalism implies that only the people belonging to one’s own country should be considered one’s equal.

A patriotic person tends to tolerate criticism and tries to learn something new from it, but a nationalist cannot tolerate any criticism and considers it an insult.

Nationalism makes one to think only of one’s country’s virtues and not its deficiencies.  Nationalism can also make one contemptuous of the virtues of other nations.  Patriotism, on the other hand, pertains to value responsibilities rather than just valuing loyalty towards one’s own country.

Nationalism makes one try to find justification for mistakes made in the past, while patriotism enables people to understand both the shortcomings and improvements made.


Patriot:  Expresses the emotion of love towards his country in a passive way.
Nationalist:  Strives for independence and the interest and domination of a nation and expresses his love or concern for the country in an active political way.”

As I’ve already mentioned, the difference between nationalism and patriotism is one’s perspective and the context by which these feelings and emotions emanate.  But Brian (through his researched material) not only defined but detailed other necessary elements that separate nationalism and patriotism.  So when the smart question is asked of us, we could always give a smart answer on the difference between nationalism and patriotism.

 Just my little thoughts…

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