Extreme patriotism and nationalism are both linked to the term “racism” which is the bane of social development on the globe. Racism usually denotes a process of collective injustice where a group of people effectively enforces social subordination and economic exploitation upon another group of people based upon certain physical differences such as skin tone, or nationality. The term has been specifically designed to address interactions between groups distinguished by their racial traits. In the historical context, the movements against racism like abolition of slavery during the American civil war and antiapartheid have inspired some form of analysis that applies to concepts such as sexism, hetero-sexism, and other forms of global systematic injustice.
Global Perspective on Racism and Patriotism
In the global context, racism should apply as referring to a broad organization of international relation tending to give higher privilege to lighter skinned populations residing in the northern hemisphere compared to the darker skinned populations in the southern hemisphere (Chatterjee, 2011). Structures of racism suggest that the identities of the racialized groups follow the changing systems or the requirements of exploitation before which there are no fixed identities.
As such, there are concepts that go along with racism such as stereotyping that functions as a symptom of the problem. These concepts function in service to prejudice and racism by way of providing perceptions of collective relationships into some expectation that individuals from a certain group will express some essence. This would give or rationalize systematic conflict to the point of oppression or subordination in the global perception, relationships between these groups were the relationships with rare opportunities for direct interaction, mass communication is rampant, and the potential for stereotypes is quite intense.
In recognition of an ongoing and urgent need, when it comes to the critical identification of operations of stereotypes, the scholarship of prejudice and racism includes some research into social or symbolic processes of identity formations (Chatterjee, 2011). This does not say that patriotism in itself is a distasteful habit; however, there is a criterion it should follow to become morally acceptable. For one, it has to combine two acceptable features, which is a positive commitment to act on the country’s behalf. It should be in a way they would not act for other states. Secondly, they must have a negative commitment to avoid action in ways that fail to respect common humanity that follows the universal rules globally.
Moderate patriotism for one can be illustrated by special affection for one’s country as well as special but not exclusive concern and conditional support of the state (Nathanson, 1993). Extreme patriotism, on the other hand, fails to show respect for other nationalities and the rights awarded to their citizens on a global/ universal level. In this way, it encourages a sense of overcommitment to one’s own national group. At this time, it fails to support the attitudes of respect and concern for those beyond the borders of the country. On the other hand, moderate patriotism cannot be attached to delusions of grandeur.
The points illustrated suggest that moderate patriotism is morally superior to the extreme version. It is true that both forms of patriots want their country to flourish, though in the case of the extreme version, it is all they care about. They put the matter as a priority over which others seem inferior or judge almost every action with how it is related to the aspect of national well-being. From these factors, it is no wonder that Leo Tolstoy described the concept of patriotism as a kind of egoism (Nathanson, 1993). In this way, individual egoists care only about themselves and will do anything they perceive will promote their well-being.
Extreme Patriotism and Egoism
Extreme patriotism may correspond to theory regarding it as a form of egoism. Extreme racism also falls within the category of egoism as well as ‘frendism’ (Nathanson, 1993). For the moment, the overcommitment to oneself or group seems harmless though upon further analysis, one can extrapolate the relationship between morality and the pursuit of individual goals and purposes.
The trouble with the extreme egoist is not that he cares for himself more than he does for others or that he cares for his affiliate country more than other states: however, he cares for them alone. This exclusivity bars him from caring about anything else and the moral principle attached to other similar entities. The extreme patriot displays a certain amount of selfishness by caring about his nation to a point that he or she would enjoy the downfall of other states at the advantage of his/her country.
There are many forms of the concept applicable in the real world. Some examples include the feelings of extremist groups toward the western nations such as the European bloc and America. It led to many attacks like terrorist attacks on a minor level to disrupt and confuse normal way of life. They are not designed to come as an act of war because specific governments do not initiate them, but groups within the state that may or may not be state sanctioned. Most of the attacks in this context have originated from the Middle East, because the region contains the globe’s highest amount of Muslims. As an ideal, the egoists are using their identity as Muslims as religious identification. Therefore, they use it as a justification for their actions against civilian populations even at home. This can be attributed to a form of racism because they perceive other religions as belonging to people not of rightful culture.
Such people are probably light-skinned and follow freer systems of thought especially related to gender that opposes their teachings. On this note, Muslims would classify them as infidels or heathen because they do not ascribe to the chosen tradition or faith. Thus, Muslims fit the profile on account of the egoism when it comes to their religion; however, only a percentage are extreme egoists for their nationalities, and these few are the top candidates to form extremist organizations such as the Hezbollah and Hamas.
Some scholars suggest there is a way to cure the condition supposedly. If one wanted to turn Tolstoy’s example of an egoist into a moral person, there is more need to destroy the aspects of self-concern or make him an altruist (Nathanson, 1993). Instead, the plan would be to leave the elements of self-concern intact and add some degree of concern for others and recognition of their rights and interests. Therefore, if one wants to change an extreme patriot, it would be better to change their attitude from one of exclusive concern for themselves to one of special, but non-exclusive concern.
At the same time, the subject should be able to pursue his own good, but only within the limits of set constraints on their actions to prevent harm from coming to others or themselves. This is a high level of rehabilitation for such behaviour disorder. It would work if the numbers were not in favour. The only way the method would work is in an ideal world. Of course, it is impossible to round up every individual that has egoism tendencies or ill intentions brought by extreme patriotism.
Extreme patriotism is, therefore, responsible for vices including racism and ethnocentrism as well as much of the stereotyping that happens across race and nationality lines. However, where does nationalism enter the argument? It is a political, social, and economic phenomenon and has social-psychological tendencies whereby the individuals tend to develop attitudes about themselves in relation to other nations (Druckman, 1994). The attitudes reflect the feelings that people have to the objects and the amount of loyalty they attach. These feelings of attachment in the first place form the central basis of nationalism. The current state of affairs though troubles even the casual bystander.
Present Day Examples and Their Applications
The impact that loyalties have on what people are doing in the political sphere threatens most aspects of positive global interactions. The extreme attachments that people have for ethnic, religious, national and clan identities have pushed some individuals to engage in some of the most inhumane activities toward those perceived to be the enemy (Druckman, 1994). This happens at both sides of the enemy lines in the case of war. For example, the Iraq occupation that began in 2003 was in the noble interest of bringing a rogue group to book and prosecute the leader that sanctioned them. However, atrocities happened on both sides due to interests in the mother countries.
On the side of the United States, they harassed civilians with mandatory searches for weapons and sometimes killed innocent people with blasts when aiming for terrorists hideouts. The battle up to date is still quite messy with the international community implementing pressure to withdraw forces from the area. Another example is the Israel-Palestinian situation. The Israeli military fires mortars into areas where it claims Hamas inhabits in a bid to quell the rocket fire it receives from this end. However, Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire heavily populate these areas. Self-preservation turns into hatred for other parties. This would happen if they represent a viable threat against that self-preservation.
One should ask himself where the feelings come from and why they arise. How do feelings of loyalty to one group generate hostile feelings toward corresponding groups? In order to understand how the individual forms of loyalties affect the inter-group forms of conflict, one must first consider the importance of the group and loyalty to the organization and the members of the group. Feelings of attachment comprising loyalty for the many are not whimsical, but they are basic to the definitions of one’s personality in that they strengthen the sense of being a part of something greater (Druckman, 1994).
The feelings of attachment see the individual perceive him or herself as a part of the group or whole picture. When another group by way of space or economic competition or harmless interaction threatens the whole, it is perceived as an attack on the self, and thus the reaction to defend by whatever means necessary or simple dislike of the opposing party. Both nationalism and patriotism share the feature of positive in-group evaluation and are positively correlated on a conceptual and empirical basis (Druckman, 1994).
The difference between the constructs lies in relationship to intergroup attitudes: nationalism, on the one hand, is negatively related to internationalism, but positively related to the concept of militarism while patriotism is compatible with cooperation and internationalism. They may operate as two sides of a coin where extreme patriotism is related to the values that nationalism stands for (Brewer & Qiong, 2004). Patriotism may be related to values such as liberalism or tolerance in view of diversity, but nationalism, though, leans toward authoritarian aspects and intolerance. It is possible that the love of one’s nation can be associated with the benign patriotic attitudes.
In other circumstances, however, it goes along with malign nationalistic attitudes with the same individual. They are both forms of social identification and increase during threats such as terror attacks. A perfect example is the 9/11 attacks, which resulted in visible and evident expressions of national identification and unity across America. The period of intense national identification and emotionalism following the tragedy created an unusual set of circumstances (Brewer & Qiong, 2004). It was in order to test implications of the different meanings of American identity in the context. It is true that the attacks inspired people to unite and become more patriotic. However, one should ask whether this was divided into racial or state lines.
Of course, Arabian popularity in America plummeted since the attacks with most government agencies monitoring the Arab-Muslim population. For once, the attention moved from the other minorities. In this case, it is safe to say patriotism went into overdrive because certain groups in the country started to take it upon themselves to purify the state of unclean elements, which mean the immigrating parties. Nationalism, in this way, was taken to mean revenge for the lives lost in the attacks that eventually led to the occupation of Iraq in order to subdue the Taliban, but eventually ended up costing the country more than it had bargained.
The relationship between patriotism and nationalism is co-dependent like between the two sides of a coin. They are both essential to a nation. As much as there are incidences of extremities of patriotism or nationalism, which is worse, they form a necessary evil or good depending on the set of circumstances and population. As in all things, these concepts work better for the social sphere when used in moderation.