Patriotism is intuitively understood as a love of one’s forefathers’ symbolic community, usually expressed as emotional and culturally legitimized attachment to a person’s homeland (location, language, history, forefathers, tradition, art, culture, religion). This patriotically loved homeland can, and often is, either a contested or an imagined community, or both. President Theodore Roosevelt called it standing by one’s country, as opposed to obeying an elected official, and the Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert said that it should be the last of the emotional bonds that a rebelling individual must break. Patriotism has been hotly defended as a profoundly felt and noble emotional attachment to a broader community, and equally hotly attacked as an instrumental ideology of a nation-state and, according to dr Johnson – the last resort of a scoundrel. Patriotism has contributed both to the emotional mobilization of individuals in service of a broader community and to the dramatic exclusion of others’ from the solidarity with mankind. Mankind is not an abstract idea for a patriot, since a pragmatic justification of tolerance requires him or her to acknowledge other patriotisms, as equally legitimate and emotionally appealing. This is where patriotism runs the risk of degenerating into a nationalism or even chauvinism. Recent initiatives of the European Union link history education and the construction of national identities in facilitating dialogue of patriotisms (Museum of the History of World War II under construction in Gdansk) and stimulating joint negotiation of historical heritage against the background of globalization and regional integration.

“The difference between nationalism and patriotism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does, the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war”( Sydney J. Harris)

“If war was formerly the focus and ‘test’ of nations, today it is immigration that fulfills this function. Under the impact of culturally diverse waves of immigrants, national identities are being redefined and reshaped. ”(Anthony B. Smith)

Additional Metadata
ISBN 978-1-4051-8978-1
Persistent URL
Magala, S.J. (2015). Patriotism. In The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Race, Ethnicity and Culture. Retrieved from