Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Late, Great Sobran on Patriotism vs. Nationalism

from The Western Confucian

 The Late Joseph Sobran hits the mark on an issue I have written about before. Here it is, in his own words:

Patriotism is like family love. You love your family just for being your family, not for being “the greatest family on earth” (whatever that might mean) or for being “better” than other families. You don’t feel threatened when other people love their families the same way. On the contrary, you respect their love, and you take comfort in knowing they respect yours. You don’t feel your family is enhanced by feuding with other families.

While patriotism is a form of affection, nationalism, it has often been said, is grounded in resentment and rivalry; it’s often defined by its enemies and traitors, real or supposed. It is militant by nature, and its typical style is belligerent. Patriotism, by contrast, is peaceful until forced to fight.

The patriot differs from the nationalist in this respect too: he can laugh at his country, the way members of a family can laugh at each other’s foibles. Affection takes for granted the imperfection of those it loves; the patriotic Irishman thinks Ireland is hilarious, whereas the Irish nationalist sees nothing to laugh about.

The nationalist has to prove his country is always right. He reduces his country to an idea, a perfect abstraction, rather than a mere home. He may even find the patriot’s irreverent humor annoying.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Someone has put into words what I have felt and believed for a long time. I am a veterans and a patriot but definitely not a nationalist. I detest the 'nationalist spirit' of many Americans who claim they are patriots. The funny thing is, most of them have never served in any military but are the biggest warmongers around!
Thank you for this post.

Matthew the Penitent