Difference Between Nationalism and Patriotism

Nationalism and patriotism are two different things, yet they are often confused and used interchangeably by most of the people. Nationalism takes a step further than patriotism and reflects a strong affiliation of a person with their nation, tribe or country. Regardless of their literal meaning, nationalism and patriotism both denote loyalty and love for a country, and people who are patriotism are often regarded as nationalist.

However, practical definitions of the two words reflect that nationalism and patriotism are two different things. Patriotism is usually used for a person, who loves their country or state, but nationalism places more emphasis on cultural background and ethnicity.


  • 1

    As mentioned earlier that nationalism denotes a stronger meaning than patriotism, people who call themselves nationalist are branded so by people harbour hate toward other nations.

    Regardless of the literal meaning of nationalism, nationalists usually do not believe in the superiority of other nations. While on the other hand, patriotism is much more lenient and has a more conciliatory tone compared with nationalism.

    A patriotic man loves his nation with all his heart, but does not feel hatred toward other nations and countries. Simply put, patriotism is based on love, harmony and peace, while nationalism is based on enmity, resentment and grudge.

  • 2

    Nationalists and patriotic people can live in harmony as long as their interest do not clash, but there are lots of factors and reasons that usually drive a wedge between the two sides.

    It is common for nationalist organizations in a country to go against the state and government due to differences and human rights violations, but those who are regarded as patriotic, usually remain loyal to the state and the people of that country. Since nationalism is rooted in tribes, difference of languages and skin colour, people who call themselves nationalists can also get involved into rebellion and betrayal.

  • 3

    It is often seen that nationalists do not want to live in a friendly environment with other countries and nationalities. They usually create differences and try to sow discord between other two countries or nationalities that live together in peace.

    On the other hand, patriotic will never want other countries and nations to differ. Even in tough conditions, patriotic people will go to any length to avoid wars with another country, as they think living in peace is in everybody’s interest.

  • 4

    A nationalist does not stand criticism and often takes it as an insult. On the other hand, a patriotic person is more open-minded and likes to rectify his mistakes and lapses.

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