I pledge alliegance to my respective country…

This was a Reuters headline today:
Serb Vote Halts Feared Slide Back to Nationalism
The AP story led with:
A reformist politician defeated a nationalist ally of Slobodan Milosevic…
I wonder, seriously wonder, what in the world we Americans do think about nationalism. Do we think that we are nationalistic? If so, do we take that to be a good thing? We definitely think patriotism is a good thing. But do we think of Serbs as patriotic?
The Reuters piece continued:
Serbia turned its back on a generation of hard-line nationalism…
Is there such a thing as “hard-line patriotism”?
The New York Times was more circumspect:
…allaying fears of a possible revival of nationalist extremism
Again, is there such a thing as “patriotic extremism”?
The two Webster’s entries are nearly indistinguishable:
nationalism: Devotion to the interests or culture of one’s nation.
patriotism: Love of and devotion to one’s country.
What I wish I could get at is not how strongly people feel–or should feel–about their countries. It is what seems to me a morally corrupting conceptual asymmetry, probably in all counties, but, I’m guessing, especially in the US (compared to other “advanced countries,” at any rate).
It would be interesting to see a survey that asked first:
“Do you approve of patriotism?”
“Strongly?” “Moderately?” etc.
Then follow with:
“Is that only in the United States, or also in other countries?”
“Strongly?” “Moderately?” etc.
I think a lot of Americans would feel blind-sided by that, that it was “a trick question.” And my impression is that Europeans would mostly not feel tricked in the same way.






2 responses to “I pledge alliegance to my respective country…”

  1. Anthony Cary Avatar
    Anthony Cary

    It is one of those conjugations:
    I am patriotic
    You are nationalistic
    He is xenophobic
    I have to say (as a European who has lived in the US, and as a huge fan and champion of America) that one of the things I found least appealing there was the constant refrain that America is Best in every possible respect. Veneration of the flag, the Constitution, etc may be necessary to bind such a multiethnic society – and has no doubt helped to absorb successive waves of immigration. But it often comes across as ‘nationalism’ in the pejorative sense.

  2. David Kolodney Avatar
    David Kolodney

    It is very dangerous stuff.