Home Society & Culture Patriotism Is Not a Dirty Word. It’s Time to Reclaim National Pride

Patriotism Is Not a Dirty Word. It’s Time to Reclaim National Pride

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Listen to the article.

With the Euro 2024 football tournament on the horizon for early summer 2024, we will undoubtedly be seeing a great number of Saint George flags across England and a surge of patriotism as the Three Lions brace for competition, aiming to bring the coveted football trophy home. But in the current socio-political climate, expressing love for one’s country, especially in Western nations, is often increasingly met with scepticism and stigmatisation. The polarisation of political ideologies, coupled with the influence of social media, has contributed to the misperception that patriotism equates to right-wing extremism.

Undoubtedly, instances of aggressive nationalism, often associated with the far right, have fueled this misconception. It’s true that fierce, intolerant, and bellicose loyalty to one’s nation often originates from this side (the left is typically preoccupied with expressing disdain and contempt for the nation). However, being patriotic, whether through sports, cultural events, or other avenues, does not automatically align one with ultra-right-wing ideologies. 

People assume this because, despite their slight differences, nationalism and patriotism are frequently conflated. Fundamentally, being a patriot means appreciating and being proud of one’s native (or adopted) land and its accomplishments. It involves a genuine attachment to the cultural, historical, and social fabric of a nation, including the values it embodies. On the other hand, nationalism is typically perceived as an extremely strong, even violent kind of patriotism. But its essence is not inherently problematic, particularly when expressed in moderate forms. 

Moderate nationalism contributes to unity and social cohesion, acting as a binding force that brings individuals together under a shared commitment to the well-being and progress of their country. This form of nationalism plays a pivotal role in shaping a national identity, countering the societal fragmentation and disintegration that arise in the absence of a shared cohesive element. In such instances, individuals and communities exist as separate ethnic entities, coexisting without a shared commitment to a collective identity, ultimately leading to instability and chaos. Therefore, embracing moderate nationalism becomes indispensable to preserving social harmony and order. 

The only form of nationalism that warrants caution is jingoism – an unwavering, bellicose endorsement of one’s own nation. Such sentiments can cultivate an “us versus them” mentality, fostering the belief in the superiority of one’s nation while perceiving others as potential threats or adversaries. This exclusionary stance often results in discrimination and animosity towards those who don’t fit a narrow definition of national identity. It’s worth noting that many extreme far-right individuals fall into this category. Unfortunately, the conflation of terms indiscriminately labels anyone expressing pride or positive feelings towards their country in the same, overly broad category.

How many ethnic minorities hesitate to embrace patriotism or openly express their patriotic sentiments, fearing the label of “traitors”, simply because some individuals on the right may harbour similar convictions? 

Expressing patriotism and celebrating the country is not a betrayal of our ethnic background or racial identity; it’s simply demonstrating pride for the place we currently call home. All too often, those with political agendas are quick to turn a positive into a negative and search for issues that aren’t there. 

Anyone, including ethnic minorities, can show loyalty and support for their country and be proud patriots. It doesn’t make them far right or racist, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are deluded, white-washed or self-hating. The far-right doesn’t have a monopoly on national pride. Minorities should not fear charges of disloyalty for celebrating their adopted homelands. Showing support for the place we call home does not mean we have forsaken our backgrounds or mean we’ve been brainwashed. 

There’s no need to politicise patriotism. Patriotism is a universal sentiment that should transcend political affiliations, race, or ethnic background. Patriotism can serve as a powerful force in the creation of a national identity. Given the current divergence of interests among various groups, the time has arrived to articulate the values and principles that unite us and, equally importantly, those we firmly reject. 

Patriotism can function as a catalyst for the development of a universal national culture – one that can draw strength from the diverse backgrounds and experiences of its citizens while articulating a shared set of values that bind us together. This forms the foundation to address the growing disorder observed within our society.

Ada Akpala is the senior content officer of The Equiano Project.


© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd