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Tapping the sign: the important differences between patriotism & nationalism. “Patriotism: pride in who you are. Nationalism: pride in who you aren’t.”

Discussion  2 comments


I’ve commented on a separate post about how I’m a “citizen of nowhere”, being a child of multiple migrant generations with no country where I would be treated as a “native” (whatever that means) either legally or socially.

One of the big upsides to this is that I can see patriotism and nationalism for what they are – extensions of the same primitive, narcissistic and acquisitive impulses.

Thankfully, having never benefited from patriotism or nationalism, I feel no need to differentiate between them, much less defend them. There is no good form of this impulse. At best, it tricks people into thinking contingent cultural practices are somehow inherent to their “nation”, when in fact culture transcends borders and demonstrates our shared humanity. At worst, patriotism/nationalism turns us into violent devotees of weird, militarised border-cults. You can call the best-case by one name and the worst-case by another, doesn’t change the fact that the whole situation is problematic.

In my view, it doesn’t matter how people respond to their childish impulse towards “my country is the best” – the impulse itself is the problem. Countries are only meaningful in contingent ways, mainly related to how they exercise power. Civic duty means something, but it should be pursued with all humanity in mind, not just constrained by imaginary lines. Patriotism and nationalism inherently cannot extend beyond those imaginary lines, so they are useless to us.

If you think that it’s unrealistic to expect humans to outgrow these impulses – maybe you’re right, but imo that’s pessimistic. We’re going extinct if we don’t outgrow this stuff. We only have a thin cushion of air to share on this little space rock and our crude need to impose ownership and parcel it up into border-cults is driving us (and many other living things) towards the brink.

Colter Mccorkindale

Lately I've been wondering if countries don't actually exist, and there are just people, governments, and real estate. Politicians exploit the linguistic haziness between these things to get people to do what they want them to do.

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