Sunday, November 11, 2018

Patriotism vs. nationalism

Emmanuel Macron, president of France, speaking in Paris at the Armistice Day centenary:

Le patriotisme est l’exact contraire du nationalisme : le nationalisme en est la trahison. En disant « nos intérêts d’abord et qu’importent les autres ! », on gomme ce qu’une Nation a de plus précieux, ce qui la fait vivre : ses valeurs morales.

[Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.]
I’ve taken the text and translation from a Macron tweet. The speech can be found at YouTube, with a Euronews translation.

Has Macron been reading George Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism”? Orwell distinguishes patriotism (“devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life,” “defensive, both militarily and culturally”) from nationalism (“inseparable from the desire for power,” “more power and more prestige”). But Macron’s emphasis on nationalism as the erasure of moral values is markedly different.

Was the American president listening? He appeared to have an earphone in his right ear. But even in translation, Macron’s message wouldn’t have gotten through.

[At 17:42, Macron mentions the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who fought with the French infantry. Born to a Polish father and Italian mother, Apollinaire was naturalized as a French citizen in March 1916, days before he was wounded in the head by shell fragments. He died of influenza on November 9, 1918, two days before the Armistice.]

comments: 4

The Arthurian said...

"Orwell distinguishes patriotism ... from nationalism ..."

Okay, and that's pretty interesting. But I think it would be more relevant to pin down the meaning of "nationalism" as defined by people lately claiming to be nationalists.

Michael Leddy said...

The word is often used as a form of code, standing in for terms still unspoken, or just barely unspoken.

zzi said...

Boy I long for the days when the NYT brandished Reagan for calling the Soviet Union/Russia an Evil Empire.

Michael Leddy said...

See this post for a reply that was too long for Blogger to accept here.