Respectful Patriotism is Good – Nationalism is Poison

We live in a globalised world. But for some years now a countermovement has been emerging. Proliferating and aggressive nationalism.

This is a wave-like global attack on United Nations human rights and the need for respect and tolerance for other races, ethnic minorities and religions 

What is acceptable and true patriotism?

Nationalism exaggerates the interests and values of one’s own nation in relation to those of others. It results in arrogant chauvinism, isolation and aggressiveness towards the outside world and foreigners at home. It is often the beginning of the end, with war, destruction and millions of dead. Germany had its most bitter experiences in 1914 and 1939. So did imperial Japan in the last century with its attacks first on Korea and China and finally on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

We should follow the wise words of Archbishop Alfons Nossol of Opole in Poland: “We should welcome tolerant patriotism, but fight nationalism and chauvinism.”

Xenophobia, the oppression of minorities, or wars against neighbours have nothing to do with true patriotism. They are a perversion of patriotism and betrayal of the homeland.

Former German Chief of Defense Staff and Chairman Military Committee NATO, General Dr. h. c. Klaus Naumann, wrote: “Patriotism and the defence of absolute values are the reasons why soldiers are prepared to give their lives. It requires the knowledge of all achievements. This includes respect for people and their rights and their protection by the state. Patriotism never rises above others or allows the suppression of freedom. Progressive patriotism includes practical unity with human rights and practised tolerance towards other nations.“

We must not leave genuine patriotism to the preachers of hate. True patriotism with overall responsibility for the state and all people is good, nationalism is poison. Real patriots are committed to fighting hatred, violence and the denigration of others. They are the knightly patriots. Proud and open-minded.

Patriotism is not absolute. Everyone should love their country, but nobody should discriminate against other people because of their different skin colour, religion or ethnicity.

A nationalistic-egoistic policy must be rejected because it contradicts the principles of the United Nations and human rights, does not take into account the far-reaching international interdependencies and also limits learning from the best abroad.

The new edition of a national egoism is a return to the past. To a failed order that culminated in the Great War in 1914.

Nationalism is a beautifully shimmering nostalgic soap bubble. It shines seductively, but eventually bursts.

For the Free West, this national temptation is a white flag of surrender of freedom and our fundamental values.

Only together North and South America, Europe and the few other democracies in Africa and Asia can balance out the huge autocratic China by 2050. In the end, a nationalist is bound to lose because he will be too weak to survive alone with ten billion people in the new world order of 2050. Every state – even the USA – is too weak standing alone.

Therefore, future policy must strengthen the cooperation of the forces of freedom and not weaken it through isolationism.

Rethinking requires a global approach to better policies and the rejection of any short-sighted fixation on national advantages. In our globalised world, most major problems can only be solved on a multinational basis. An international approach is essential.


  1. On the national holiday and the annual UN Day of Tolerance, November 16th, there should be intensive discussions about true patriotism, human rights and globalisation.
  2. Patriotic role models symbolising the broad approach among people are honoured on the national holiday.
  3. The Minister for Tolerance integrates a chapter on “Patriotism and Tolerance for Minorities” in the “National Tolerance Agenda” and the annual “Report on Tolerance”. 

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