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Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry

Volume 6, Issue 14, Winter 2011

John Murray
Pages 30-43

Nationalism, Patriotism, and New Subjects of Ideological Hegemony

This essay traces threads of nationalist sentiment from three different historical periods of 19th Century Britain, to pre-World War II Germany, to the United States of post-9/11, and evidences how even most noble expressions of nationalism and patriotism might be corrupted by the dominant cultural hegemonies. The term “nationalism” is frequently considered a synonym of “patriotism.” Although the terms emphasize the value of self-determination and solidarity among members of nation-states, nationalism is the governing principle that unifies disparate social entities through a common national identity that is made accessible to many but not all members of the public. Patriotism is the attitudes and behaviors we exhibit within a public forum to validate our placement within national discourse. How we synchronize nationalist agendas with patriotic fervor determines our success in nation-building and in the creation of a global community responsive to needs and interests of our human condition, a condition that dwarfs and precedes all other ideologies and modes of classification. The prefigurations of culture and society predispose us toward assuming a normalized subjectivity that predicts potential patterns of behavior and attitudes in response to hegemonic domination. In seeking to refine and preserve national identity, each of these societies has embraced the replication of hegemony and situated oppositional narratives within coercive doctrines of patriotism and national unity.