National Pride in a Global World

Abstract

Is it possible to establish a concept of potentially legitimate national pride? I do so by distinguishing a more sophisticated and even, in a broad sense, moral or ethical kind of national pride from more primitive kinds of national pride. While primitive national pride is a challenge to any global supranational integrative project, sophisticated national pride, on the contrary, may even support and promote such a project. To show this, I first explain what pride generically is in order to then turn to national pride and to show how it establishes an inherent connection between a nation and its members so as to contribute to the constitution of the latter’s identity. It does so, I submit, because, in experiencing national pride, the subject feels entitled to dignity and (self-)respect for belonging to a certain nation whose characteristics she sees as achievements or values. The concept of being entitled to such dignity defines national pride. The second step of my argument addresses the difficulties in judging whether supposed national achievements or values could be dignifying in the sense required. Despite such difficulties, I claim, we should not and could not bluntly ban national pride from normative discourse. Instead of willingly leaving it to populist forces, we better give »national pride« a positive meaning.

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