Is bad about nationalism

Nationalism also has its good sides

Is Nationalism a Bad Thing? If Germany's Chancellor warns of his excesses, her love of home has come a long way. And isn't Angela Merkel right? The balance sheet of the nation states of Europe is terrible: For centuries warring empires brought endless wars to the continent and colonialism to the planet.

When proud or even rabid nationalism returns as the dominant culture, preferably in neighboring countries, we like to add adjectives such as “dull”, “narrow-minded” or “yesterday” to these flushes. But that's a misunderstanding. Because enlightened Europeans cannot avoid nationalism.

That's because of the power of habit. Nation states like Great Britain, France or Denmark simply had almost a millennium with royal houses, the implementation of a language, all kinds of rites, songs and myths to enter the minds of their subjects with a positive image. In the midst of this proud self-celebration, who wanted to be regarded as a patriotic fellow?

Homogeneity in language and culture

As always, Germany came too late at this party, but then caught up fatally with the help of Prussian cannons. The bad outcome is well known and, in addition to the necessary feelings of guilt, left us with a completely disturbed relationship to our own identity.

We tend to overlook the fact that many positive achievements of democracy would not have been possible without nationalism. Fortunately, a state not only finances the army, prison and the Ministry of Propaganda, but also schools and streets, hospitals and orchestras.

Due to its relative homogeneity in language and culture - even if it was once enforced by force - the state can now help its citizens to an identity. With all regionalization and globalization, it is not possible without a nation for the time being.

“If you want to know who you are, you have to belong to some club.” This sloppy definition of national identity comes from Prince Consort Henri, who as French and father of the future King of the Danes has his own national ego problems behind him.

Nation state functions as a "club"

And as a “club” that creates a sense of belonging, the nation-state still functions very well despite its poor record vis-à-vis the young and elusive European Union. Otherwise, millions of Europeans would not wear the national colors of their national teams when they play football. Otherwise we would only see ourselves as an over-population of post-national Europeans or as down-to-earth Hessians, Westphalia, Mecklenburgers.

But what advantage would this division of labor have over the nation? The Germans in particular have recently learned that a national team made up of Boateng and Neuer, Özil and Schweinsteiger miraculously enables positive pride and a relaxed approach to their own strengths.

It is the same with nationalisms as it is with cholesterols; there are good ones and there are harmful ones. Other nations have come to know positive nationalism through the tragedy of their own history. Try teaching an Irishman that the age of nationalism is behind us, and that the Irish, too, are English-speaking Europeans in the midst of an Americanized pop culture.