Patriotism as Idolatry- An overview

Patriotism is a feeling of love and devotion to one’s own homeland (patria, the land of one’s fathers). This article surveys the concept of patriotism from the viewpoints of history, politics, ethics, and biology. If you would like to learn more about this, please check out http://www.rightreason.org/2009/patriotism-as-idolatry/

Different people have different opinions about whether patriotism is morally good. Often, these opinions vary according to what sort of patriotism is involved. Some instances of patriotism induce almost universal admiration. To give just one of many possible examples, in 1940, a number of Dutch soldiers gave their lives in a hopeless cause attempting to defend the Netherlands from invading Nazi armies. This act would be considered by almost everyone to be a clear case of selfless, admirable patriotism.

Yet many of the invading Nazi soldiers doubtless felt, too, that they were engaged in a patriotic act, in this case on behalf of the German nation. Many of them had been indoctrinated in a form of unquestioning patriotism during their teenage years, while they were members of the Hitler Youth. Very few people today, even in Germany, would consider the unprovoked German attack on Holland to have been justified, and to the extent that patriotism facilitated it, then patriotism could be considered, in this case, a bad thing. Throughout history, various governments have invoked patriotic feelings to support military aggression, arbitrary imprisonment of aliens, and even murder, acts considered evil by most individuals.