Back in our Grandparents era, people seemed to take pride in their country, and were willing to lay down their lives at the say-so of their elected officials. These fighting men would be welcomed home with ticker-tape parades and enormous fanfare. Fast-forward half a century, and we find a new generation of people, the majority of whom probably wouldn't do the same, except maybe under dire circumstances. What's prompted this change, and is it for the better?
I think the answer is within your post, Shaun. "...and were willing to lay down their lives at the say-so of their elected officials."
Today, the collective consciousness of America holds its elected officials at arms length, if not in contempt. It's not easy for our young men and women to lay down their lives for something they just simply don't believe in.
"were willing to lay down their lives at the say-so of their elected officials."
Yeah, well, the draft can have that effect on people. Between the years 1940 and 1946, over 10 million men were drafted for the 2nd World War.
I do agree with you that nationalism and patriotism is on the decline in our country and I attribute it to a number of things.
1. The shrinking of the globe. Ok, maybe not literal shrinking, but figurative. In the 1940s and 50s, a boy or girl in Iowa could only dream of moving ot even visiting someplace like the UK or Japan, or Oz. They loved their country because that was all they knew, and all they could know. Fast forward 40 to 50 years and you have kids out of high school taking jaunts through Europe, studying abroad, etc. It is much easier now to see the world and when you are introduced to a number of new things, you may find that you like that more than what you have now. Couple that with all the new activities at home that can take up your time (videogames, internet) and you see people with completely full plates. Patriotism takes time, nationalism takes time and some people have too many other things they consider a high priority.
2. The military is no longer considered an escape. Now while we can debate the enrollment figures if there was no draft, for many people of that generation, the military was a chance to get out of their town, see the world, and get an education. They could start fresh. Well, as I alluded to in my first point, a large number of people can to that now without the military. Granted, there are still those that look at the military as a means of escaping their life, but (I'm pretty sure) that number is much less than in the 40s.
I do feel as though you are starting to see apathy more and more prevalent in the younger generations, mine included. They don't really care because they don't have to care. There is no draft and the chances of an attack on American soil are VERY slim. Ironically, they are comforted by this cocoon provided by a country that they are indifferent towards, which is a nod to the surge of entitlement in these younger generations as well, but that's a whole other story.
On a somewhat related note, I must say that I have never felt so patriotic as when I was coming home from a 2 week trip in China. You don't realize what this country gives it citizens until you have to go without it.
I'm going to say yes. Although people are still in their country, its hard to stand behind it 100% when you are able to see exactly how much America (I'm asuming we're discussing American patriotism) has exploited countries around the world. We understand that this is the result of the government, and not the country, but everyone should admit that America has been involved in some heinous incidents in other countries. I don't want to go into specifics, but these are events that would diminish ones patriotic views of their country.
Secondly, I'm going to argue that America is NOT the greatest place on earth to live. A lot of people are going to hate me for saying that, but unless you've travelled around and visited or lived in several other countries, then you can't honestly say that America is the greatest place on earth. That would just be ignorant. No doubt it is WAY better than most countries, but at the same time it is far from the top. I understand that its home and its where you grew up and you love it. I get that. But I would also challenge Americans to leave their country regularly to see what things are like in other parts of the world. You could either find another place in the world that you enjoy way more, or at the same time you could come back loving America more than ever before.
America is becoming less classy, less sophisticated and less respectful with every generation.
This brings about questioning authority, out of the box thinking and "shaking things up"....and more importantly, narcissism.
Consider the differences between the way the Marylin Monroe/JFK situation was handled/viewed compared to the Lewinsky/Clinton situation... If JFK had a Linda Tripp, she would have wound up under Giants Stadium with Jimmy Hoffa.
The American people didn't want a Paula Jones rocking the boat, and who (besides Jackie O) cared if Marylin was dusting Kennedy's broom?
Fast forward to Clinton, and not only is it acceptable to degrade the leader of your country on national media, but people cannot get enough of it, and the media can't spread the word fast enough.
Here is a closer to home example... In my generation (I'm 35) if you were disrespectful to an adult it was very likely you would be the unhappy recipient of some corporal punishment. In some cases, that adult may not even be part of your family, if the offense was brazen enough.
These days, corporal punishment is long gone and as a result kids/teens think nothing of being rude, disrespectful and terrible to whomever they please... And who is some stranger to ask them to stop cursing or acting like a jerk?
My point is, the respect people had for one another, and especially for leadership, is disappearing as American Society devolves in personal interactions and evolves technologically.
I know I may get a lot of heck for some of these, but I think the lack of patriotism is largely for three reasons:
1: We're more educated. The smarter we are, the more cynical we become. Ignorance is bliss, and the more we know, the more unhappy we are with the slightest of blunders.
2. There's less to be proud of. I know there are many people who will call me out on this, but think of it this way: back in 1944, we were most definitely the forces of good fighting against evil. We had just come out of a depression, with a hopeful attitude, brotherly connections, and were doing a very big difference in the war every day. After the war, throughout the 50s, the United States of America was a true golden land. Everything was very bright, very happy. Even the darkest parts had a glaze of shine on them.
Now as you said, Shaun, fast-forward half a century. We are fighting two "wars" in which we have, arguably (everybody's numbers are different; I don't trust any of them) killed more civilians than enemy combatants. The enemy is taking a Boer card and playing hide-and-seek with us. And that's not good for morale at all. For the last 8 years, we've had a president who was generally ridiculed by the rest of the world, with a good deal of help from his own citizens, as well. Before that, the president was impeached for an affair with an intern. We are known by the rest of the world as the country where 73% of its citizens are overweight or obese. We make the majority of our products not at home, but in China, exploiting the poor for cheap labour. We are known as the only one, of 183 countries, who signed but does not intend to ratify the Kyoto protocol. What does this show the rest of the world?
3. We're richer. Similar to education, wealth exponentiates the perceived importance of difficulties. Our lives are a conglomeration of memories of our past miseries, and when there aren't enough memories, we find new ones. This is also why television (and especially soap operas and reality shows) is so popular, but that's a topic for another day.
In university I did a single unit on international relations as an elective, so I can't pretend to be well educated on the subject ... but it did open my eyes to the phenomenon of globalism.
The idea is that nations as entities are becoming less and less important as players on the international scene, and that might explain why we identify less with them. Lots of people might [come to] identify more with some other group they belong to, rather than with their country ... It would make sense that nationalism would be in decline if nations are.
I suppose it doesn't help that we have a media who seem to make it their mission to broadcast every failing of our people in power to every pair of ears in the developed world. It's hard to say whether our elected officials nowadays are better or worse than they were fifty or more years ago, as fifty years ago we'd know a lot less about the people in power, and the scandalous news that got out wouldn't have spread as far, or as fast. Perhaps we were a little less obsessed with scandal back then, too...
I have to disagree with the first point. I think as a whole, Americans are becoming less educated.
Simple things like writing a letter, making change manually, gramar and dress and appearance are glaring areas of concern.
I work for a company who have many international clients.
Often, when returning from trips abroad, employees tell me the biggest differences in places like Russia and Europian contries, is the high standards of dress, appearance and manners practiced... even in places with slower economies.
Those travelers frequently comment on how lax things are in the US, and how we could learn lessons in professionalisim from many places most Americans think of as second class.
I definitely agree with that, Americans are getting a bit less educated. Actually you all should watch Idiocracy, it's hilarious but it also foretells the future if we're not careful.
Another reason that nationalism isn't big in the U.S. has to do with the words we use. Everyone wants a label. Black people white people. Black and white are colors not nationalities. Not only that but noone wants to be an american anymore. Everyone wants to be mixed, or black, or white, or caucasian, I'm from this country, or I'm asian-american, Pacific-Islander. Just look at the census. In other countries people refer to themselves as whatever country their from.
I'm in Germany right now and it's interesting to have conversation with them about these things. Like a German person will say "I'm German, but my mother is Croatian and my father's from Spain" Americans will say "I'm mexican and black, but I LIVE in America".
Not only that but politics has taken the pride out of being American. Our former president whose job is to represent us on a global level became a laughingstock of the world. His foreign policy was a joke and he basically embarrassed an entire country. Also with the conspiracy theory surrounding 9/11 that one can't dismiss as false because of all the loopholes in the 9/11 commission reports and all of the solid evidence. All of the documentaries coming out that basically put down the american way of life. You don't have to be well educated to understand that something is amiss.
This question depends on the context, if you are talking about the USA then yes of course, by extension I can include Western Europe in that category as well. But if we consider the global community as a whole than no I would say nationalism/patriotism is alive and well, to our detriment.
Ok in brief, the global system of government that almost all of humanity has adopted is the nation-state model, you know, country's.
Why is the USA and Western Europe seeing a decline of nationalism/patriotism? I can answer it in one word: Immigration. The USA and Europe have historically consisted of white, Judeo-Christian, post-colonial societies, but after the end of both World Wars which many believe to be western civilization's civil war, the former colonial possessions in the third world fled their native lands to seek new lives in Europe and America.
Now why this is important is because as "diversity" has increased in Europe and the USA, "identity" with the established culture of the land has proportionately declined. The "melting pot" has diluted the west to the point that the original ideals that made up Europe as a Christian continent has morphed to a fast approaching Islamic one. The WASP White Anglo Saxon Protestant majority in the USA is quickly being outbred and imported into minority by Latin Americans also morphing the USA into a different society than in its inception
Because both the US and Europe are rapidly transitioning into entirely different cultures, its become impossible to instill nationalist/patriotic ideals into unassimilating and growing portions of the population.
Now here's the bad news.....Why is the rest of the world actually growing in the nationalist/patriotic arena? The end of the Cold War is to blame. The new world order after the collapse of the Soviet Union created a major power vacuum in eastern Europe and Asia. The USA instead of rebuilding Russia in the 90's as we did Germany and Japan at the end of WWII contributed to this power vacuum.
One advantage of the USSR was that it kept Asia largely stable, in its absence a tsunami of Islamic nationalism has swept her former holdings in Central Asia and emboldened rogue states throughout the Middle East and Africa to nationalistic/patriotic fervor not seen since Germany and Italy in the early 1930's.
Simultaneously in the orient, Red China has capitalized on the ineptitude of the west to see it is as a legitimate economic competitor and now the west is too late to inhibit China from competing with the US and Europe for scarce resources to feed its ravenous appetite for manufacturing and exportation. India has also seen a sharp rise in Hindu nationalism and extremism against its muslim population and its Islamic neighbor in Pakistan.
Meanwhile back in the US and Europe, the progressives seek to erode the nation-state borders that define us in favor of "post-nation/state" societies. This is evident in Europe with the growing powers in the European Union, Euro currency, and the international bank and monetary fund. In the US its less far along because we are still a center-right nation but through the UN, NAFTA, and other far left groups, the erosion of the US-Mexican border and the merger of a Canadian-American-Mexican federation in the next several decades is not too far fetched to imagine.
So what's the point? Scotland recently liberated the Libyan terrorist that destroyed the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in the 1980's on grounds of compassion. All to fulfill Scotland's altrusitic anti-nationalist self-esteem. In Libya the terrorist was welcomed home as a hero and the dictatorship was able to use the lack of spine by the UK to stoke the fires of Patriotism in Libya.
The point is that history repeats itself. While we in the West continue to bicker with each other through the false prism of race politics, we have allowed ourselves to forget that we aren't White Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic, or Native Americans, we are first and foremost Americans! We must respect each other equally as brothers and sisters of the same cloth, liberty. We shouldn't continue to erode our nation into a quagmire of opposing demographics and unify NOT for nationalistic conquest, but we should never forget that freedom isn't not free and the price we pay is vigilance against those abroad who seek to juxtapose our great society in favor of foreign fascism and religious fanatics on the far right or the one world uber-government from the left! Thank you for reading, I respect dissenting opinions because FREE SPEECH is NOT hate speech and is the first freedom of every American!
Something concerns me very deeply about using Patriotism and Nationalism as synonyms, especially given the connotation of the latter in modern vernacular. Typically, nationalism is tantamount to blind, religious zeal equivalent to the kind of fervor commonly whipped up in foreign countries against the United States. It is ethnically centered, and religiously clung to.
Now look at Patriotism.
Patriotism in our country typically reflects a dedication to the principles of our Founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Federalist papers, Presidential speeches, etc) rather than a blind love of country of anything else. If anything, patriotism in the US represents values that the world should strive for: liberal democracy, republican virtues, dedication to liberty, etc. It reflects the sentiment of being willing to defend someone's right to speak their mind, despite your disagreement with their views.
In short, Nationalism and Regionalism (ie flying a confederate flag in your yard) are completely unmanly, and not in keeping with the principles upon which this country was founded.
Patriotism is manly, and an expression of devotion to ideals, liberty, and rights regardless of geographic location.