I will state here my firm belief that patriotism is a virtue and nationalism a sin.
Vital to such a statement is some picture of the chasm between “virtue” and “sin” which I entreat my readers to acquire as soon as possible. There cannot be a bigger difference between nationalism and patriotism as there cannot be a bigger distance between Philadelphia and the moon.
Yet many people are confused on the subject and thus call patriots “nationalists” and nationalists “patriots.”
To describe the difference, and to show the great chasm between these two positions, I would present a parable in the form of two men: Caesar and Horace. Caesar represents nationalism. Horace represents patriotism. Caesar is a nationalist because he cries “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered.”) Horace is a patriot because he cries “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (“It is sweet and fitting to die for the homeland.”)
The nationalist’s identity is in his nation. The patriot’s identity is in his home. The nationalist will fight because he hates what is in front of him; the patriot will fight because he loves what is behind him. To put it another way, the nationalist’s identity is in his nation (its government, people, and economics). The patriot’s identity is in his home.
The nationalist is insane because he thinks his country is superior in all respects. The patriot is sane because he believes in the concrete idea that home is where the heart is. The nationalist has caused countless wars in human history, but it is the patriot and the patriot alone who has ended those wars; the pride of a nationalist is no match for the habitable humility of the patriot.
A patriot could care less whether the country outside of his home was as big as seven square miles or seven-times-seventy square miles. It matters little to him if the government was democratic or barbarian.
Yet he loves that country because he loves his home. Thus, I believe nationalism is a vice because it is founded on the vice of pride. I believe patriotism is a virtue because it is founded on the virtue of familial love.