top of page

Patriotism and Nationalism

I would argue that many people mix up patriotism and nationalism.  They misrepresent or misunderstand the idea of being loyal to a cause, entity, or idea in the same way they mix up understanding anarchy and chaos.  These words do not always mean what they are conveyed to mean even though they have similar connotations. 


Patriotism is possible without the existence of an entity such as government; where nationalism is only possible by supporting/claiming loyalty to an entity, mainly governments.


I can be a patriotic American in the sense that I defend the rights of other Americans choosing to reside on the American continent without claiming the need to uphold some entity they may or may not agree with.  Nationalism on the other hand is about taking pride in something many have no control over; genetic accidents concerning their births among many things. 


The root of nationalism is the celebration of justifying acts of unwarranted aggression through a centralized monopoly on the use of legalized coercion.  The root of patriotism is about supporting a cause or idea without a specifically implied kind of idea.


So again, I can be a patriot to a cause or idea without being subjected to coercive authority such as government, while being nationalistic is the support of a coercive authority claiming immoral jurisdiction over all people without regard to consent to being governed.


So let me put it another way.


Patriotism is the devotion to an idea or cause without specifically being one thing or the other.  For example, I can be a patriot of liberty.  That doesn’t mean I am a supporter of government in any sense.  However, nationalism is specific devotion to the idea of governance. 


Nationalism is about supporting one’s governed country, one’s nation.  But let’s break that down, shall we?


A country is not necessarily the same thing as a nation.  A country is a particular land bordered with natural barriers and or cultural customs of that land’s inhabitants.  A nation is a country that is governed, that is ruled over by a single entity or structure of entities that claim a right to restrict entry and or charge fees for existing within its claimed jurisdiction; a jurisdiction that often has arbitrary borders not always akin to natural barriers.


It seems as if this might be sophistry.  And I’ve come across many who will vehemently refuse to think anything other than this is sophistry.  However, words evolve in meaning over time based on popular usage.  All I’m doing is merely reflecting on the usage of patriotism and nationalism.


Just consider the use of these two words.  And consider the context in which I placed them and the words ‘country’ and ‘nation.’


It’s okay to disagree, but if you disagree with someone and neither can come to terms on what the definition of context is, then all debate is lost regardless of civility.  Everything will be open for interpretation and no agreements will ever be reached because people won’t accept the greater reasons for why something is what it is.


Case in point…taxation and theft.





Download a free PDF  of Liberty Defined here!

bottom of page