Patriotism

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(from Gr. patriotes, fellow countryman). Feeling of affection for one’s native territory, and the disposition to defend it from external attacks. Underlying this sentiment is the biological tendency to mark the territory inhabited and to defend it against outside incursion. During the period of formation of the national states of Western Europe in the nineteenth century, this feeling, humanized by the movements of national and social liberation, contributed to the consolidation of the nation states. However, on numerous occasions it degenerated into a chauvinism manifested, for example, in the Napoleonic wars, some of the Balkan wars, the war of the Triple Alliance that pitted Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay against Paraguay, the war of the Pacific between Chile, Bolivia and Peru, etc. Subsequently, this mass patriotic feeling was exploited by imperialists in the first and second world wars. This speculation in the lowest and basest of ends was most evident in the imperialist conquests and other crimes of the regimes of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin. Today, patriotic sentiment often cloaks horrendous crimes which are committed in “local conflicts” such as those that have taken place in the territories of India, Ethiopia, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, and the former USSR. Humanists love their countries, but they condemn the speculation in and manipulation of patriotic feelings, which leads to xenophobia, nationalism and racism, fomenting bloody conflicts.