Nationalism is a bad word. A red flag. Nothing good.

The idea that your country is the best, bordering on racism (in point of fact: racism+xenophobia+eugenics: the classic 20th century trifecta). This is what separates it from Patriotism…one’s love for country. Nationalism is about your country being better and superior to all others. It invigorates conflict and the dominate populace to hate outsiders and encourages all sorts of bad policy. Nationalism led the Nazi party; labeling and dislocating the Jews to outright murdering them en mass (and others)!
Genocide I feel is almost impossible without Nationalism. And worse, Nationalism justifies atrocities in hearts and minds.

Nationalism is evil.

In history class I mostly learned about nationalism in the context of certain movements that in the 19th and early 20th centuries struggled against larger empires and hegemonies. Slavic nationalism, Polish nationalism, that sort of thing. I never got any sense that those movements were primarily about ‘your country being better and superior to all others’; my impression was that it had more to do with a desire for independence based on certain shared linguistic/ethnic/geographical/cultural characteristics. It must also be noted that certain nations had to carry their idea of themselves culturally and linguistically during periods where they were largely or entirely subjugated by more powerful neighbors - again, Poland springs readily to mind.

I’m sure the concept and the associated movements have been problematic in all eras, and obviously the same impulses that empower individuals and cultures to struggle against empires can also turn them into bastards when the worm turns; but simply calling it ‘evil’ seems rather reductive.

Historically nationalism was associated with the self-determination movements of various (and variously synthetic) “nations,” but it’s not like that movement was devoid of chauvinism, and I think the dictionary definition captures modern usage quite well:

identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations

Personally I don’t see a lot of distinction between nationalism and patriotism in the real world, but that could be because I’m an American.

Historic movements are one thing, but what are your thoughts when someone says they are a Nationalist? Today.

I know what you’re getting at, but even today, you can talk about, say, Palestinian nationalism and it might not have the same implications that you’re trying to load on it. I’m no expert, but I want to say that there is nationalism that exists to promote the rights and well-being of the privileged and nationalism that exists to promote the rights and well-being of the under-privileged, and those two can have very different characters. Arguably, they both can be used to justify some ugly stuff, but I don’t know that that’s inextricable from nationalism generally.

I guess you can also say that any form of nationalism is predicated on distinguishing an in-group and some number of other-groups. That kind of basic chauvinism may be distasteful to us, but its also the nature of any real politics. Again, if the other-group is an oppressor, than the in-group’s nationalism may be a force for good.

The nation state is one of the greatest lies ever told.

Very few are more than 300 years old, yet people in my country walk around pretending like the Danish state is somehow directly tied to the vikings.

The vikings didn’t even have a state. If people lived a couple of villages away from each other, they could be alien to one another.

The nation state is just another case of telling people something pretty that they like to hear, and they fall so in love with it they don’t even think to question it. It’s a form of religion.

I don’t think it’s the root of supremacy or otherness though, so much as another expression of it. Before the nation state, it was the king, before the king it was something else.

Patriotism is “we’re great!”
Nationalism is, “they’re bad!”

Nationalism is like religion. Something created long ago that is no longer needed or wanted.

Religion is no longer wanted?

Well… not by some of us. :)

Nationalism is inherently adversarial, and combative. And promotes a zero-sum game view between nations.

Nationalism isn’t about self-determination. It’s about thinking your nation must win while others lose. Moreover labeling your nation “Good” and “Best” while labeling others “Bad” and “Worst.”

A Nationalist will be blindly loyal to their own government, even while they carry out crimes against humanity. As long as it is against other people, that is good enough.

You guys all seem to be defining nationalism as something that exists within an already-existing nation state. I at least was taught in school that it was often a concept used among people who did not have their own nation state, but wanted one.

I would say you were done dirty. It isn’t about that, and if you think it is, it isn’t what we are talking about at all.

To quote George Orwell because I am lazy right now.

A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige. He may be a positive or a negative nationalist – that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating – but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the up-grade and some hated rival is on the down-grade. But finally, it is important not to confuse nationalism with mere worship of success. The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakeably certain of being in the right.

Well, if it’s between you and dear old Dr. Bickman of AP History, I will not simply accept without further research that I was “done dirty.” And yeah, it’s quite clear it’s not what you guys are talking about, which is my point - I believe the word is being caricatured in this thread.

Honestly what you guys are describing seems pretty synonymous with Assholeism. Which is bad, I agree.

Edit: very briefly, this is what I am referring to e.g.

Defined as a movement to “create a nation.”

I’m with Gordon on this. To me Nationalism as it first existed was a reaction to continental European imperial conservatism. It was about self-determination of peoples. I come from a country that was ruled by a foreign empire for centuries, and only became independent in (barely) living memory. That independence was the culmination of a national romantic movement built up over a century. The message was not “we are better than others”, it was “we are not Russians, and should not be ruled over by Russia”.

If we want to caricature words, I’d bet that to most of the world “Patriotism” is purely a thing Americans say when they’re planning on doing something evil, and wrap themselves in an American flag as part of the justification. Classically the target will be foreigners, but it seems like in the modern times the word has been mostly yielded to your lunatic right wing.

If somebody spontaneously described themselves as a patriot, I’d probably assume they are a white supremacist. Not because patriotism is evil as a concept, but because normal people would just not use the word like that, as the core of their identity. I assume that’s similar to the the problem that people have with “nationalism” as a word.

The nationalist approves of your message, because it means they have a nice cover story.

But we are talking about completely different things now, and I disagree that Nationalism only means what you say. In other words:

You: Nationalism = Self-determination. A group of people who want to form a nation.
Me: Nationalism = Support of one’s nation at the exclusion of others (this is what the thread is originally about)

Moreover I think it is more useful to view Nationalism my way in the context of the world today. Movements to form independent nations are inherently revolutionary, and temporarily periods. Does the Nationalist during such a movement cease being one when it is completed?

Nationalism is a sustained belief of superiority of country, which influences and creates bad policy.

Sure, if you go all humpty-dumpty and define words to mean exactly what you want them to mean. But by doing so, you’re just confusing things and depriving the world of a useful word and a concept. The people who need that concept to exist are those who aren’t yet lucky enough to have a country to be patriotic about. But screw them, you’ve got yours.

This is not some kind of archaic use of the word. There are plenty of totally benign nationalist movements still around in the modern world, and still looking for independence. E.g. the Scottish National Party, Parti Quebecois, whatever the Catalans have going these days. As far as I know, none of them claim any kind of superiority over others.

If what you want to argue about is some kind of national supremacy, how about you use some other word?

Ah, so you are butt hurt about me using Nationalism in a negative light, and it should only be reserved for independence/self-determination? And I should use a different word…

Too bad. So sad.

Nationalism in Europe during the 20th century taught me to hate it. Chinese Nationalism continues this tradition. And when Donald Trump self-identified as a Nationalist I thought, of course he does. I hear the term White Nationalism is being used. As in America is for white people…

This thread isn’t really some hot take but rather how the word is used and understood today.

I encounter this term a lot in my day-to-day so I’m hesitant to enter the fray here, but some of these comments aren’t really fair to @roguefrog, whose usage of the term is more in line with how it is used in academia. Which is to say that the idea that nationalism is merely the movement for national self-determination does not capture its contemporary usage. In part because the emergence of nationalism was so well-trodden in the distant past (i.e., the 1980s) that now most discussions—much more interesting ones at that—of it are centered around examining the failures of nationalist polities (nation states) and of nationalist movements and sentiments. For example, there’s loads being written about how the European Union, a supranational entity comprised largely of nation states, functions during an uptick in nationalist attitudes.

So sure, nationalism is a movement toward self-determination, but that’s merely one facet of it. The beliefs that enabled such a movement—that is, that a state should be for a people (the French, say)–persist long after the fact. It’s us vs. them (an other, so someone not French) binary does not go away once a state is created—and can emerge even after the creation of a state (France, again, but also the United States)—and is in fact the core tension nation states face in a more cosmopolitan, globalist world. It’s hard for France to be for the French when Paris is a global city.

Roguefrog seems to be using the term without reference to its historical context, which is what I found objectionable. Consider for example Polish exiles like Chopin and Mickiewicz who culturally carried the torch of their subjugated nation. What they did had nothing to do with claiming that Poles were better than other people.

Certainly I concede that the word and its connotations and uses are not frozen in time, but a blanket condemnation with no historical context seems pretty uninteresting to me, at least.