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Amidst the unfortunately predictable reaction from extremists to the horrific attack in Woolwich yesterday (not necessarily helped by the way it was reported, but that’s a debate for another time), I can’t help but be reminded of George Orwell’s essay ‘Notes on Nationalism’ and his¬†distinction between patriotism and nationalism. In brief, and I believe this is the most common understanding of his essay ((which means I’m not going to get into a debate with any scholars of Orwell, even though I was one in my university days)) is that patriotism is a love of your country while nationalism is a hatred of other countries.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. […]¬†By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, NOT for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

from George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism

That word defensive is interesting…

Post title lyric taken from The Beautiful South – Have You Ever Been Away?