Nationalism and patriotism are two different words and ideologies that one can misunderstand or mix, with both words mostly being used to mention a general love of one’s country. People think they have the same meaning and concepts. These two words may have shared a special sense in the 19th century, but they seem to have grown apart since. Or rather, it would be more precise to say that only nationalism has grown apart since the meaning of patriotism has remained unchanged. In this essay the meaning of both words, the similarities and differences, and the effects of both word’s ideologies on people during World War II, especially the Germans.
Firstly, we should know the definition of both words in the dictionary. The word Nationalism, according to Merriam-Webster, means loyalty and devotion to a nation especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups. Also, according to the definition by experts of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (1939:16), Nationalism means \”a desire to forward the strength, liberty, or prosperity of a nation, whether one\’s own or another.\” Nationalism is an ideology which is the claim that people belonging to a particular group called a nation should inhabit a particular area and control a state of their own
Patriotism, according to Merriam-Webster, means love for or devotion to one\’s country. Also, according to Webster Online Dictionary patriotism is defined as the virtues and actions of a patriot, and the passion which inspires one to serve one\’s country. While we see a patriot as a person who puts his country first in opposition to another country, the term meant one who supported the rights of \”country\” against the King and his court. Meaning, a patriot stood for the rights of local self-government. So, true patriotism is the motive to defend one\’s land, country, or way of life against unjust governmental suppression.
From the past paragraphs, one can come with a comparison between both nationalism and patriotism. First, both concepts are related to an individual’s relationship with his nation. Patriotism is the love for a nation emphasizing values and beliefs. Nationalism, on the other hand, is the love for one’s land emphasizing unity based on cultural background, language, and heritage. Second, nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all aspects, but patriotism is a feeling of admiration for a way of living. A patriot’s love for his country is passive based on peace and feelings of affection, however, a nationalist’s love for his country is aggressive because a nationalist may involve in wars to prove the superiority of his country. As a result of a nationalist’s aggressive love, a nationalist cannot tolerate any criticism and considers it an insult. Unlike, a patriot tends to tolerate criticism as a trial to learn something new from it.
According to the Quora website, “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.” According to George Orwell, Patriotism is devotion to one\’s country or nation and its lifestyle without wanting to impose your way of thinking on others. By contrast, nationalism is about seeking power and prestige for one\’s country/nation/ power unit.
As mentioned, patriotism and nationalism mean, in general, one’s love towards his country, land, or nation, but this love differs. A patriot peacefully loves his country, with no need for wars or militant problems. In contrast, a nationalist’s love is aggressive, because a patriot can do anything to prove his country’s superiority, even if it means a militant interaction, such as wars and occupation. But, were any of these concepts the reason for World War II Germany? The answer is yes, nationalism, German nationalism, is one of the reasons for World War II Germany. Firstly, Johann Gottlieb Fichte – considered the founding father of German nationalism – devoted the 4th of his Addresses to the German Nation (1808) to define the German nation and did so in a very broad manner. In his view, there existed a dichotomy between the people of Germanic descent. Some had left their fatherland (which considered to be Germany) and had become either assimilated or influenced by Roman language, and culture, and those who stayed in their native lands and continued to hold on to their culture.
Nationalism, in Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism, largely influences the thoughts and actions of people, even in such everyday tasks as decision-making and reasoning. The example provided is of asking the question, \”Out of the three major Allies, which contributed most to the fall of Nazism?\” But, what is Nazism? It is a totalitarian movement led by Adolf Hitler as head of the Nazi Party in Germany, after World War I. Aggressive German nationalism and territorial expansion was a key factor leading to both World Wars. This is due to its beliefs in an extreme form of German nationalism. Extreme German Nationalism came out of J.G. Fichte’s Addresses to The German nation. In his addresses he stated that the German people are the most spiritual people of Europe, and should be Europe’s leaders. He also pointed to the German language as the purest language; besides, when he addresses the German race, he says that it is “a new human race.”
To sum up, German Nationalism, known as Nazism, with its extreme beliefs, was one of the reasons for World War II. The Nazi ideologies and thoughts also led to the systematic murder of all European Jews in the Holocaust, in 1942 and 1943. That bloody event was the turning point in the war. All this events and war came out of the nationalist ideology, in which a true nationalist loves his nation and puts it in the first place.