9 of the world’s greatest thinkers on the stupidity of nationalism

Over-eager nationalism is hardly known for its great outcomes. So, it’s hardly surprising that some of the world’s sharpest minds have had less than flattering things to say about provincialism, flag waving and fanatic patriotism.

Let’s take a look at their wise words.

 

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

— Voltaire

 

“Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it….”

— George Bernard Shaw




“Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer

 

“Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages, it is the rule.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

 

“Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious”

— Oscar Wilde

 

“Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind.”

— Albert Einstein

 

“People who enjoy waving flags don’t deserve to have one”

— Banksy

“National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.”

— Carl Sagan

“National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same.”

— Umberto Eco

Title photo credit: Walt Jabsco

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more super stories




20 replies
  1. PurtonJohn
    PurtonJohn says:

    There is no problem with having a national identity and pride provided it’s attached to a knowledge of that nations history (both good and bad) and not taken to jingoism. Nationalistic pride can give a sense of belonging and security and is to be encouraged in the young, but it should be instilled along with a sense of social responsibility and concience. Saying there is no need for nationality is refusing society and cohesion, humans do need a sense of belonging.

    Reply
  2. Annie Osb
    Annie Osb says:

    Does that mean that Farage and his Faragian empire is ‘stupid’. Wow, Many of Her May’s Neo Nasty RW Tories want to give him a medal for being the leader of Brexit. And now he has media contracts and is lauded across the globe. So being a Neo Nasty has it’s rewards…..

    Reply
  3. Franklin
    Franklin says:

    We should be more concerned about the welfare of the Earth and mankind as a whole rather than our little bit of it. Some celebrate globalisation others fear it. One day there will be a world government.

    Reply
  4. Darcher
    Darcher says:

    How has patriotism been hijacked by right wing nationalism to the extent that we now associate flying the English flag and to a lesser extent flying the British flag with the far right nasties ? Both isms should be positive forces for good in any country surely as in many EU countries who happily display their national flags for their countries. I am a patriotic British European who was in service to my community my country and the EU and waving the flags too.

    Reply
  5. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    It’s all about tribalism and territoriality. Which are essential for survival in hunter/gatherer societies. But we’ve moved on from hunter/gatherer, so it’s completely unnecessary. Some people should focus their efforts on looking for one of those ‘job’ thingies.

    Reply
  6. Satusaari
    Satusaari says:

    We should be more concerned about the welfare of the Earth and mankind as a whole rather than our little bit of it. Some celebrate globalisation others fear it. One day there will be a world government.

    Reply
  7. AdeRuano
    AdeRuano says:

    It is basic but you can’t be an internationalist in a nationalistic world – otherwise you get stripped off your industry and resources whilst the nationalistic places retain and grow theirs… basically what happened to the West since the 1970’s.

    It’s like being the only guy who turns the other cheek in a world of slappers…

    Reply
  8. Gautam Gangopadhyay
    Gautam Gangopadhyay says:

    I would add Rabindranath Tagore to the list. One of his essays, ‘Nationalism in India’ has the following words for India under British rule: ‘Nationalism is a great menace. It is the particular thing which for years has been at the bottom of India’s troubles.’

    Reply
  9. RagMamaRag
    RagMamaRag says:

    Patriotism is the last refuge to which the scoundrel clings/Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king. Bob Dylan.

    Reply
  10. Paul W
    Paul W says:

    It depends on the type of nationalism. If it is the type that suggests one group of people are superior and that foreigners are inferior then I have no time for it.

    However, I consider myself to be a Welsh nationalist in the sense that I want the people of Wales to have the right to self-determination. But my nationalism is inclusive – everyone that lives in Wales is valued and welcomed by me, regardless of race, creed, colour, religion etc – they are all part of my Wales which I want to see as an independent nation but part of the global community

    Reply
  11. Roy Langmaid
    Roy Langmaid says:

    Patriotism is the last refuge to which the scoundrel clings/Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king. Bob Dylan.

    Reply
    • Eric
      Eric says:

      No we are not as a matter of fact [west Africans, uniquely, carry the alleles of Gorillas and Chimpanzees], and even if we were all the same people have a right to live their own lives among their own kind and not be troubled by outsiders. I’m guessing you advocate open borders because you’re from a part of the world that has contributed precisely nothing to the civilisation you think should keep you in welfare cheques. The authority fallacy on a large scale is to think someone is right in opposing ‘nationalism’ because he’s [a] famous [i.e. promoted for his usefulness] and [b] says things you agree with. Do get a grip.

      Reply
  12. MAGAfi
    MAGAfi says:

    Liberals… ha in practice you’re all wrong we believe in what is truly right security and stability for all

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *