George Orwell: True-believer "nationalism" vs. honorable "patriotism"

Copyright 2002 by Hugo S. Cunningham

Added 20020924
Latest update 20020924

"...One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."

Orwell's article made a distinction between a virtuous, defensive (live-and-let-live) "patriotism," and a true-believer, aggressive, often irrational "nationalism." A curious touch of Orwell's was that the "nationalist" need not blindly worship his own country (indeed he often detested it). Some of the most extreme "nationalist" devotions were to foreign entities, eg Stalinist Russia and the Catholic church.

These distinctions may have been picked up (obviously without attribution to this counterrevolutionary swine) and adapted by Stalin's ideologists in the late 1940s. They contrasted virtuous "Soviet patriotism" with evil "bourgeois nationalism."

Orwell's nuances did not take root in the USA. Some right-wing reactionaries (eg Pat Buchanan) identify themselves as "nationalists," but the multiculturalist Left has taken an indulgent view toward Third World "nationalism." Indeed, Eric Hoffer's later (1951) introduction of the term "true-believer" made Orwell's idiosyncratic reading of "nationalism" superfluous. Meanwhile, the word "patriotism" has been devalued by various Blimp-ish blowhards.

This reworks an earlier Usenet posting:
From Wed Jul 24 23:14:10 2002
Subject: "Notes on Nationalism" [Was: Cite? "Some ideas are so foolish only intellectuals can believe them."
From: (Hugo S. Cunningham)
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 03:14:10 GMT
We thank (Gene Zitver) for originally pointing us to the "Notes on Nationalism" article.

Return to insults and ideologically preferred language for the USSR.